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Making the Switch to Dynasty Football?
When is there time to forget about football? If you have a hard time answering the question let’s continue.
The term ‘Dynasty Football’ has sent shivers down the spine of those who have yet to cross over from the redraft world. To a degree, many fears are valid if you’re jumping into the deep end of pool without being taught how to first swim.
For those unfamiliar with Dynasty, I found it best described by Ask.com.
Dynasty leagues are for the serious fantasy football owner and require a commitment over multiple seasons. After the draft in a dynasty league’s inaugural season, players remain on the same roster from one season to the next unless they are traded or released. Each year after the initial season, a draft is held for rookies only, so fantasy owners must be more in tune to the talent in college than an owner in a standard draft league.
This type of fantasy football league also allows owners a more realistic experience managing a franchise as they must take into consideration how each transaction affects the future of their franchise.
I joined my first league in 2008 barely knowing a thing about it. Once I began playing I first and foremost enjoyed the ‘General Manager’ aspect of building and maintaining my own team through rookie drafts and player trading. It has since become my favorite format of fantasy football.
Let’s see if I can convince you to give it a try.
Major Con… and Pro
I’ll begin with one of the biggest drawbacks… the Dynasty owner must stay committed to their team. You cannot expect to be on top of any league every year. Much like the actual NFL, Cleveland being the exception, teams will rise and fall through the years.
The pro? You have football 24/7/365 and are the true ‘General Manager’ of your squad. Questions you’ll constantly ask yourself… do I make that trade to take me over the top this year? Do I begin a rebuild and sell assets for future rookie draft picks?
Choosing A League
This is a critical question for both the novice and experienced player alike. It’s an inexact science. One point of reference I can give is to find out what the turnover rate of owners for a league has been. However, this only helps if the league has been in existence for some time. If you are joining a start-up, be sure to know at least a few owners and their commitment level. Nothing kills a Dynasty league quicker than frequent owner turnover.
Next, make sure you understand all of the rules. There are so many variations of this game and they continue to get more exotic. You will want to comb through every nook and cranny of the rule book and make sure it’s a league you can enjoy for years.
Is bigger necessarily better? When looking for a league you will find roster sizes as small as 20 up to a league I play in; 50 active players with another 10 on a taxi squad. This will be a preference as there are equally two schools of thought. Shorter rosters have owners making tough decisions on who to keep; who to cut. The waiver wire is constantly ripe with fantasy fruit. On the other hand, a larger roster will reward the owner who really digs deep; does his/her homework to find those nuggets of gold while the waiver wire is barren.
This is one area I highly recommend the new Dynasty player consider before choosing a league.
The type of league you join can have several variances. My first league was a start up auction draft with contracts … by far my personal favorite. Below are some variances I’ve run across.
Standard: Draft your team and that’s it; offensive players only. Trading and rookies additions are the only means of transforming your team. There is little else to worry about. I recommend this type for beginners.
IDP: Same as Standard with Individual Defensive Players included.
Contract: In this format the owner is given a set amount of contract years, which must be assigned to individual players. Once their contract expires, a free agency draft will commence at which point those players will become available. Each league will have different means on how to acquire these players. In addition, some leagues may have rules in place for designating Franchise and Restrictive Free Agent tags… which usually come at a price.
Salary Cap: These tend to be combined with Contract leagues. Getting closer to the real ‘General Manager’ experience, this is quickly gaining popularity in the Dynasty world. In this format, the startup league usually assigns a dollar amount to each draft pick where your total cannot exceed a predetermined limit. This situation can become tricky during the draft if you decide to trade draft picks. Have a calculator handy to estimate your team’s value before and after a potential trade. Going forward, it can become much more difficult because if you have a large contract for a player who fades fast… calling Doug Martin… there are usually stiff repercussions for cutting before the contract expires. To make matters worse, or better depending on how demented you are, your rookie draft picks each has a value that you have to weigh into your overall budget.
Developmental: This type of dynasty league is the ‘new kid on the block’ and appeases those who love to follow not only the college game but in many instances the high school game. Devy leagues allow team owners to draft college (and in many instances high school) player while they are still in their aforementioned classroom. These players may be used in trades thus upping the ante for those general managers well versed in the minor leagues.
No matter which version you select, there will be the constant process of reorganization from making trades to releasing players for that new batch of rookies which hit your squad. These are but a few of the variations I’ve experienced. Yet each has its own charm and level of work (pleasure) involved.
The ‘Orphaned’ Team Rebuild
This is not for the faint of heart. Much to our dismay there are owners that will abandon a team and it’s usually a bad one containing extensively aged players. Fortunately, there are a group of owners that live for these downtrodden franchises. Some people love to rebuild and should you be the Bob Vila type, you will find a number of these franchises out there. My only word of caution before embarking on such an adventure… make sure the league isn’t turning over teams on a frequent basis as the problem may lie deeper than this one franchise.
One aspect that thrills many owners is having to pay special attention to the college game. Every year each league will have their variation of a rookie draft where sharp owners can flex their recruiting knowledge. For those who don’t pay much attention to the college game… like me… we follow the All-Star (East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl) games along with the NFL Combine to catch up. This element alone separates the Dynasty world from redraft.
Active Owners vs. Inactive Owners
This one is tricky. I’ve seen owners who love to trade… and trade… and trade again. Seems like they like nothing more than trading and could care less what the base of their team is. On the other hand, we have the tentative owner who’d have to be water boarded prior to considering a trade for fear of being embarrassed. Everyone has their own style of play. You will find varying opinions on this subject. I tend to find a balance between the two works. Know my base; know my weaknesses and trade to improve my team for the short and long term.
I suggest doing some research into behavioral economics to further your understand of the extremes in player trading behavior (see Prospect Theory). Keep in mind that everyone has his or her own style of play.
You will find varying opinions on this subject. I tend to find a balance between the two extreme behaviors of always and never trading players. I spent time to know my core players and focus on my teams weaknesses. All my trades are meant to improve my team for the short and long term.
Follow the Leader
Having mentioned turnover being a death sentence to any league, it’s not always the team owners who are at fault. Many of the best leagues I’ve been in left me shaking my head when the commissioner sends out a reminder about tanking and collusion. I then quickly remind myself that no matter the quality of owners, constant attention to the basics is vital. I’ve often stated the job of the commissioner is a thankless one. Yet, the best of the best will continue to make sure their leagues stay strong and there is no format outside of this where a commissioner can make or break a league with lack of due diligence.
Dynasty vs. Redraft leagues
Last year, I co-authored a series of articles that discussed key elements that differentiated between these fantasy football formats. Dr. John Bush and I dug up research that suggests biases existed in the drafting within these two different fantasy football formats. If you are new to dynasty and/or coming from a redraft background, we suggest you read those articles to reset your viewpoints in dynasty positional worth. Simply stated we propose that wide receivers are perceived as more valuable in the long term than running backs in dynasty leagues.
There are still more variations of this style of fantasy football which makes it continually intriguing. One point I’ve yet to make is when you find the right league with the right owners, this experience will be unlike any you’ve discovered in our fantastic world called fantasy football.