What is a Dynasty League?
A dynasty style fantasy football league is a league where you retain most or all of your players from year to year. This creates an environment which is very different from that of a redraft league. By enabling team owners to keep players and build a team over time, there is a much stronger sense of team ownership, and success is achieved with a greater sense of satisfaction.
Mistakes or successes in a dynasty league can affect the fortunes of a franchise for years to come, just like in the NFL. A dynasty league also facilitates trades, including trading of draft picks, and it encourages a deeper roster pool, so young ‘project’ players can be identified and groomed.
What’s the difference between a Dynasty League and a Keeper League?
A keeper league is similar to a dynasty league, but involves keeping a smaller portion of your players. Basically, a keeper league allows for a few players to be retained. A dynasty league allows for most or all players to be retained.
The analysis and advice we offer here at DLF is applicable to both dynasty and keeper leagues, so regardless of which you play, DLF can help you become a champion!
If all this interests you, and you are ready to give a dynasty league a try, you have several options available to you;
1. You can join a start-up or existing dynasty league. You’re better off getting in on the ground floor of a dynasty league, as the initial draft in a dynasty or deep keeper league is critical to the future direction of a team. But if you don’t know anyone starting a league, and you have an opportunity to take over an existing team, then go for it. Just be aware that turning around a struggling dynasty franchise can often take several seasons.
2. If you don’t have access to a new or existing league, then you can start your own dynasty league. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never played in a dynasty or keeper league before. If you are familiar with fantasy football, you can do this, and we are here to help!
The DLF Forum is a terrific resource for finding a league in need of a player, or joining a start-up league. Check the Help Wanted section often, or post there to get something started. You’ll also find a ton of useful advice and helpful dynasty veterans willing to help you get started.
Creating Your Own Dynasty League
Starting a dynasty league is much like any other league. Some decisions must be made regarding rules and format, and an initial draft is held with all of the available NFL players, just like a regular fantasy league. But there are some things to think about which are specifically relevant to creating a dynasty or keeper league.
Rosters and Keepers – The most fundamental decision regarding a dynasty or keeper league is determining the size and starting position requirements for each team, and how many players a team can retain from season to season. While the numbers will vary depending upon league size, position starting requirements, and personal preference, a good starting point for your first dynasty league would be something like this;
12 team league – three divisions, 30 player rosters, fairly standard starting positions (1QB, 1HB, 2WR, 2OffFlex, 1TE, 1K, 3IDP), team may keep all players, annual rookie/free agent draft.
The basic idea is to allow each owner to keep most if not all players on their roster from season to season if they wish. If this seems like too much of a commitment for your first dynasty league, then you could slide the number of keepers back down the spectrum a bit, more towards a keeper league, and let each team keep 50% to 75% of their roster. Just remember, the more players each team keeps from season to season, the greater the challenge and sense of ownership.
IDP’s – If you’ve never used Individual Defensive Players (IDP’s) on your fantasy team before, we’d highly recommend you begin doing so. IDP’s add a much greater degree of depth and interest to the game. Using a team defense, while not incompatible with a dynasty or keeper format, does somewhat go against the objective of creating a more challenging and dynamic league.
If you’ve never used IDP’s before, you may want to start out with just a few starting positions on each team, maybe three to six per team. You could allow each team to start any three defensive players (defensive flex players), though this often leads to each team seeking out LB’s. These guys tend to be very consistent tackle producers, and therefor offer more predictable production than other IDP positions.
Another option for those just starting out with IDP, and one which we’d recommend, is starting at least one IDP from each defensive category. For instance, 1 DL, 1LB, and 1 DB. Or start two from each if you are wanting to jump into the IDP world a bit more.
For those who’ve played in IDP leagues before and are familiar with the options and strategies, then by all means go as deep as you like. Some IDP heavy dynasty and keeper leagues use as many as 10 or 11 defensive players per team.
Just remember, a dynasty or keeper league does not necessitate any type of defensive player requirement. Your league could use IDP’s, team defenses, or no defense at all. But if you are looking to move to a dynasty format to make your fantasy league more interesting and more challenging, then you should seriously consider using IDP’s.
Free Agency – Just like with IDP’s, a dynasty or keeper league neither requires nor excludes any specific system for handling free agents. If this is your first dynasty league and you have never used any system to manage free agent and waiver wire activity, then you will probably want to keep it simple, and use a traditional method for handling free agency. Jumping into a dynasty format, especially with IDP’s, will probably be enough of a change that you don’t want to introduce too many additional complications to your new league.
If however you (and the rest of the league) are really up for the challenge, then you should consider using a blind bidding system for managing free agent acquisitions during the season. Basically, each team gets a certain number of dollars or points to spend each year during the regular season (100 or 1,000 are typical numbers). During the free agent portion of the week, teams will bid on available free agents using the bidding dollars. Once all of a team’s money is spent for the season, they cannot acquire any more free agents from the waiver wire. This system forces owners to be much more judicious in their free agent activities. Just be aware that not all league services support the use of a blind bidding system.
Salary Caps – Here too use of a salary cap system for your league is entirely optional. If you’ve never run a dynasty or keeper league before, and you are already feeling a little overwhelmed with this format, then you may want to hold off . If however you are up for the challenge, or you’re familiar with running a salary cap league, then by all means, go for it! Again, just be aware that not all league services support a salary cap system.
Annual Draft – You’ll want to clarify early on how future league drafts will be handled. Typically the subsequent drafts are rookie/free agents drafts which happen after the NFL draft is complete. Teams can then select from the new rookies in the league, as well as from any free agents currently un-drafted. Many leagues will lock down the waiver wire at the conclusion of the NFL regular season, so that by the time the draft rolls around, changes on teams will have created some opportunities for free agents who were not all that attractive just a few weeks before. Some leagues separate out the rookie draft and the free agents draft, handling them as two distinct events.
Trades – Trading is without question one of the best parts of playing in a dynasty or keeper league. Trades rarely occur in a redraft league, simply because there is little impetus to trade in-season. Both teams are looking to win this year, so it’s a lot harder to structure a deal which benefits both sides.
In a dynasty league, it’s a whole different story. Some teams are rebuilding or building for the future, and are willing to trade away an older veteran who may only have a couple seasons left in exchange for a promising young rookie, or to acquire a draft pick or two in next year’s draft. Other teams are looking to win this season, and will give up some future potential in order to solidify their chances now.
Plus there is always the fine art of trading for some gems in the rough who may not shine for a season or two. Or trading away a fantasy stud at the peak of his career, and watching him crash down to earth while on someone else’s roster. Finally, during each season’s drafts, there will often be many trades made involving just draft picks.
As with any league, you may set your league bylaws to require all trades be approved by a commissioner, or you can just let the trades fall where they may with little or no intervention. Either way, a dynasty or heavy keeper league will stimulate far more trading activity than a redraft league, and the entire league will benefit from the added strategy and fun.
One final note regarding trading draft picks. Most leagues allow for teams to trade away future draft picks. It would be wise to start out limiting how many seasons in the future draft picks may be traded. If you allow a team to trade away picks for the next three or four seasons, they could easily trade those picks away foolishly, and dig themselves into a hole from which could be extremely difficult to recover. If their team tanks and they have no more draft picks for the next three years, they may very well lose hope and abandon the team. And if that happens, getting someone to take over that team could be a real challenge. For this reason many leagues choose to limit trading of future draft picks to just the next season or two.
Coaching Commitment – It cant be overstated how important it is to ensure the league is comprised of coaches who are dedicated to the league for the long haul. Being a dynasty league, teams can sometimes find themselves in a hole which may take several seasons to overcome. Owners must be committed to seeing their teams through the good times and bad. Make sure the coaches in the league are as reliable as possible.
Selecting a League Host – Where you will play your league is one of the most important decisions you will make. There are many good options which will accommodate both dynasty and keeper leagues. You’ll want to identify one which is affordable, meets all your league needs, has good service and up-time, and provides good support. A few we would recommend can be found on our links page.
Options, always more options – This is by no means a definitive list of all the league options which are available to you. Each league can be run a little bit differently, and can posses unique rules and guidelines. It’s all up to ou, the league commissioner, and the participants in the league how they want a league to operate. These rules are simply general guidelines and suggestions – run with it as you see fit!
Building Your Dynasty
Now that your league is in place, it’s time for you to dominate the competition. We here at DLF are committed to helping you create an enduring dynasty. Whether it is getting ready for your initial draft, trade advice, player ranking(s) and sleeper suggestions or draft analysis, DLF is committed to getting you into the playoffs and keeping you at the top of your league.
Get started by registering on our forum and connecting with the DLF community. There you’ll find friendly, experienced experts who are very willing to help get you started and share ideas for your continued success. We cannot stress enough the importance of connecting with a community of like-minded, dedicated fantasy football enthusiasts to further your knowledge and enable your long term success! There is no better way to learn this game than from those who’ve been playing it, and winning it, for a long time. So Join the DLF Forum right now, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a champion!
Also be sure to keep up on the articles and advice we constantly provide. All of our offerings are geared towards dynasty and keeper league formats. There are also a number of other sites we suggest which may prove useful to you in your quest for league domination.
Additional Dynasty Strategy Articles
06/14/2014 - Ryan McDowell
They Might Be Giants
07/23/2013 - Eric Hardter
Keep Dynasty Weird: The Second Chance Dynasty League
07/13/2013 - Ryan McDowell
Dynasty Start-Up Tips and Strategies
04/14/2013 - Ryan McDowell
A Bucket of Cold Water
04/03/2013 - Tim Stafford
Dynasty Stock Market: Analyzing Your Team’s Value
04/01/2013 - Ryan McDowell
DLF Rookie Draft Board: An Introduction
03/24/2013 - TheFFGhost
A Better Ball Game?
12/01/2012 - Ken Moody
The Summer of 24
08/07/2011 - Ken Kelly
Building Tactics: Winning Now
08/06/2011 - Brian Levine