I’m a list guy. I make “to do” lists, follow “honey do” lists, and will take time to read a top ten list of almost anything. This series of articles will bring you a top five ranking about a myriad of topics in the world of dynasty football.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me Tweeting about my favorite dynasty league – Kitchen Sink, which I detailed in an article last off-season. Now that we are a nearly a full year into the unique league, which features multiple popular dynasty features, I have been reflecting about what has worked well and which aspects require some fine tuning. As I have thought about this, I wanted to share with you my favorite features that could make your existing or future dynasty leagues even better.
1. Developmental Players
This is, by far, my favorite feature for any dynasty league. If you are unfamiliar with the general concept, leagues that involve developmental players allow owners to draft and carry current college (or even high school) players on their rosters. This is often done through some type of taxi squad. The developmental player stays with that team until the time they reach the NFL and they can then be moved to the team’s active roster. I first joined this type of league nearly ten years ago and I immediately felt very intimidated. I did not follow college football closely and even when I did, I did not feel confident in my “scouting” ability. Over the years though, I have become more of a fan of the college game and have found plenty of resources I trust when it comes to predicting the future of college athletes. This is far from an exact science though and a large percentage of “devy” picks often become busts, but it adds to the quality and fun of the dynasty league. In all fairness, one criticism of the use of developmental players is the affect it has on future rookie drafts. In many of my developmental leagues, some of this year’s top rookies like Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Lache Seastrunk and Teddy Bridgewater are already on a roster, so what does this leave for our rookie draft? Plenty actually. Each year, there are players that enjoy breakout years in their final college season and see their dynasty value skyrocket. Among the players routinely available in developmental leagues this year include Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Carlos Hyde, Kelvin Benjamin and many others. The point is that while the use of developmental players does slightly water down the rookie draft, there are still many valuable options in rookie drafts.
Just as I mentioned an intimidation involving developmental players, I used to have an even stronger concern when it came to auctions. I didn’t really understand how auctions worked and had what amounted to a fear of even trying them. Finally, about three years ago, I decided to educate myself on how exactly auction leagues really work. I had some preconceived assumptions and thought I was ready for a challenge. What I soon discovered is that every auction league I could find used the auction format only as a way to disperse players at the outset of the league. In the years to come, these leagues used a draft format like every other league. This made little sense to me. If an auction was truly a quality alternative to a serpentine draft, then why abandon the idea after it’s first use? I went in search for a league that included an annual rookie auction, yet couldn’t find one. Instead, I created one. I wrote about the Dirty Dozen league in my Keeping Dynasty Weird series. Since then, I have been in several other leagues which use a yearly rookie, or even developmental player, auction and it’s always my most anticipated event on my fantasy calendar. The biggest benefit of an auction format
3. Super Flex or Two Quarterbacks
If you have tried to trade away a quarterback in your traditional start one quarterback league lately, you probably did not have much luck. With the sudden emergence of some young top tier quarterbacks, the entire position has lost value. With relatively little difference in value between the top ten quarterbacks, dynasty owners are happy to simply have any one of the top group, and there’s almost enough to go around. Even if you don’t have one of the top ten options, veterans like Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo are solid options that won’t lose games for your fantasy team. With all of this depth, many leagues are looking for ways to increase the value of the quarterback position as a whole. I see two fairly simple ways to do this, though incorporating either into an already existing league would be difficult. The first option is to simply increase the scoring of the quarterback position. Many leagues award four points per passing touchdowns, though leagues with six points per are somewhat common as well. A scoring format of six points per passing touchdown and one fantasy point for every twenty passing yards are quick and easy ways to increase the value of quarterbacks. Unfortunately, this option does nothing to downplay the depth, only to increase scoring. The better option to truly increase the value is to include an additional starting quarterback option. This can be done by creating two starting quarterback positions for each team, or, if you’d rather maintain some flexibility, a “super flex” position can be used. This refers to a flex spot in a starting lineup that can be filled by any offensive skill position player, including quarterbacks. This is the option I prefer as it give owners who can consistently start two quarterbacks each week a big advantage, but doesn’t pigeon hole every single owner into the same strategy of chasing quarterbacks.
4. Player Contracts
This is another feature that I’m still learning. The premise is fairly simple. Each player on your dynasty team is assigned a contract, often with a limit of four years. Each team has a cap, or a limit on how many contract years can be assigned in total. I am really enjoying this feature as it adds a new level of strategy that requires long-range planning from day one. Depending on the penalties, assigning a long-term contract to a player who busts can be debilitating. On the other hand, once a player’s contract is set to expire, there are decisions to be made. Contract leagues often incorporate franchise tags, which allow owners to keep a specific player for a season beyond the expiration of his contract. Also, contract leagues can include varying types of free agents, just like the NFL. A restricted free agent in a dynasty league could be available to a new owner, but only at a cost. In my experience, the greatest benefit of contracts in dynasty leagues is increased player movement. Not only are players moved from one team to another through the free agency process, but also the entire setup lends itself to more trade opportunities for active owners.
Editor Note: Be sure to check out DLF partner Reality Sports Online for the best contract and auction system around.
5. Toilet Bowl Playoffs
Even in dynasty leagues, teams can fall out of contention fairly early in the regular season, not to mention the teams that know from the beginning of the season they will be rebuilding. To ensure that these teams maintain a high level of interest in the season at hand, I suggest a toilet bowl playoff system. I know many leagues use this for the teams that do not qualify for the playoffs. Some reward a small financial prize while others feature a less than desirable “prize.” The reward I like most, and the one I think is most likely to keep all owners engaged is an additional first round draft pick. In my leagues, we assign an additional pick at the end of the first round, making that opening round thirteen picks deep. It’s a huge incentive for teams that can not win the ultimate prize at the end of the season and since these teams are obviously not as competitive as they’d like to be, an additional early draft pick will help as they strive towards contention.
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