Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series from our own Andy Miley. The Dynasty Basics will run this month and explore taking over a new team, roster management issues and trading tactics.
Dynasty is a passion of mine. Dynasty leagues come in many shapes and sizes and with important questions. Many of these things I had to learn the hard way. You may get a chance to take over an orphaned team, but how do you go about that process? When you drafted your initial team or took a team over, how should you manage it?
Feel like challenging yourself by taking over an abandoned team? Do you need more leagues to play in? Are you interested in trying a dynasty league, but you do not know anyone who has a start-up league (a league that is drafting from scratch)? Well, it isn’t for the faint of heart; however, you might want to try taking in an orphaned team on an existing dynasty league. I have done it three times and each time was a unique experience.
Why a takeover?
Dynasty leagues have grown in popularity each year. Unfortunately, some owners leap before they look and get in way over their heads (that was me at one time). A new owner may not understand the rules or the concepts for a dynasty league and draft a horrible team. Sometimes, owners simply can’t say no and end up in too many leagues to manage or enjoy the greatness that is fantasy football. These and other reasons lead owners to drop out of leagues.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like the team you’re thinking about taking over?
This is a very important question. Having a couple of players you like can make a big difference in how much you like or dislike a potential new team.
- Can you make this team a champion?
Most people don’t like coming home to an empty cupboard when they are hungry, so you wouldn’t want to start with a team that had nothing to offer. If you don’t have the players and draft picks to build the team you want, you should reconsider taking over the team. If the team is lacking in star power, are there good young players that will become starters rostered? I always look for big names I can trade away for a lot of young talent, if the potential team is not ready to compete.
- How long will it take you to turn this team around?
If this league has a big league fee, it may not be feasible in your budget to donate for a few years to turn this team around. Make sure the investment is going to be worth the enjoyment! Trust me, I have done that once and I regretted it by week ten. Don’t let that be you!
- Do you like the scoring?
Sometimes we try new things and enjoy them, but if you don’t understand or enjoy the scoring system used, your stay will likely be short. Make sure you are comfortable with the scoring. Check out the stats from the year before to make sure you understand your commitment. As a commissioner it is always frustrating that once people draft, they ask scoring questions. Not all leagues are alike.
- Should I join this league to make someone happy?
Everyone feels pressure to be social; however, joining a league to make a friend or family member happy is not a good idea. Dynasty leagues take time and depending on your league…money. You need to have the passion. The challenge and joy of beating a friend, loved one, or heated rival can be a strong reason to join just to prove you know more about football than they do. In my experience, someone has to LOVE football to get into fantasy football. Don’t expect a causal fan to get the “fantasy fever” once they are in a league.
- Can you handle being the subject of every silly, unbalanced trade offer imaginable?
Seasoned dynasty owners are always trying to take advantage of the new owner, because the owners assume you are unwise in the dynasty format. Thick skin is most often needed when some league mates are testing you. On the flip side, a new owner can come in and be overaggressive in their trading style. Once you make a trade where you get a tremendous advantage, your new league mates will be wary of trading with you (I know one of these guys well and chances are so do you). Instead, I make trades that help both teams; this is invaluable to building relationships within the new league. You show your social side and are willing to make solid trades. This will help raise your league credibility. It has worked for me, not only as the new guy, but also as an existing team welcoming a new team. It’s fine to lose slightly in a trade early as it will drum up more business later. When I have a strong team, I help a disadvantaged team and likewise, when my team is weak or too old, I trade with a powerful team that may not have need for 1-3 year players who are still developing. After doing that in a league where I had a bad initial draft, my initial weak team and his strong team have reversed after two years. I consider it almost a business relationship as we help each other – one wins now and one in the near future.
Before you commit to a take over, ask the commissioner these questions:
- How active is this league?
Many dynasty leagues have owners who are not active or don’t participate in off-season trading. If you are serious about turning your team around, you will need owners willing to talk trade with you. If you are like me, once you take over a team, you want to make changes right away and an inactive league impedes your plans of domination by fall. In my main dynasty league which I am commissioner, I try to trade with every team. I give them a little more so the first email/phone call when they are looking to move someone goes to me.
- How long has the league existed?
Leagues do get stagnant and need new blood. However if you are the new owner in a league with 11 people who have been in the league for many years, no question about it, you will be an outsider. You have the advantage of surprise, but it will also make starting dialogue with owners you don’t know more difficult. I know I can talk to my boy, Joey Bag “O” Donuts, about trades as we have been in many leagues together for many years and built a good relationship. I always start out entering a new league by saying I’m willing to hear trade offers for everyone. This seems to get conversations started.
- Why did the other owner leave?
Did they have money problems, were they in too many leagues, or did they just not have a good feel for dynasty are acceptable answers. Stories of personality conflicts and bad blood between owners or lack of trading should raise a red flag. Please take the time to do research and talk to a few owners in the league. I jumped into a league without understanding why one of the teams left. Turns out, it was because he won and hadn’t gotten paid. I was gone the next year..lesson learned.
- What should I know about this league before I join it?
Seems like a simple enough question, but you can get a world of answers. Don’t trade with Old John Town (changed to protect the guilty); Tom and Steve are brothers, etc. Going a into tight group that has been together for awhile can be a difficult situation to overcome. I speak from experience.
- Does this league have rules about teams leaving?
Those who do not learn from the past will be doomed to repeat it. A league built for the long haul will have rules in place to handle owner turnover. A league that doesn’t have them may have issues sooner than later. I am a big fan of having replacement owner drafts if more than one team leaves so the new owners can draft their own team from the teams that were dissolved and free agents. Zealots’ leagues were the forerunners on this front. Being a commissioner, this comes in handy when you need to replace $250 dynasty teams.
It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to take over a dynasty team in an existing league. You need to ask yourself and the commissioner several questions. Always remember, you don’t need to join this particular league. Let them try to sell you and not the other way around. If they are selling you too much, run, don’t walk away.
Let’s put these lessons to work. Before taking over a team, ask yourself if you have enough talent to make it work? Are there enough people willing to make trades? Ask the commissioner questions to make sure you know what rules are at your disposal. Most of all..have FUN!