The Big 10 and other major college conferences are looking at big-time overhauls in the upcoming years. This is potentially going to impact a number of schools across the country and result in a major metamorphosis in college football. While these changes could be beneficial to them, you never want to go through this in your own dynasty league.
One of my colleagues here at DLF likes to say, “It’s never a bad time to make a good change.” While that’s very true, you want to do some serious thinking when you put together a startup dynasty league. The last thing you want to do is put all the time into the major aspects (scoring, positional requirements, etc.) and forget to put some thought into some of the “little things” that keep the league fresh and exciting. If you don’t, you’ll likely be looking for new owners who get bored or frustrated. That type of change is difficult and sometimes leads to major overhauls in league format or even the league folding for good. Here are the “Big 10” ideas for consideration to make your startup leagues a little more interesting. Some could be used for existing leagues, too. However, it’s much more difficult to implement some of them later.
1.) Be Creative with the Initial Draft Order
One of the best ideas out there is in relation to the initial draft order. You have a random draw of owners and slot them at #1-#12 (or 8, 10, 16, etc.). The team drawn first gets to PICK their draft slot. They can stay at #1, move to #12, basically go wherever they want. The 2nd team then gets to make their choice on a draft slot. This process continues until all spots are filled.
2.) Create a Rookie Draft Lottery
This is certainly much easier to do at the league creation stage. In essence, the last place team gets a weighted number of chances to win the 1st pick in the rookie draft. All other teams also have chances, but simply not as many as the last place team. This creates an element of excitement on the day of the NFL Draft unmatched by most leagues. Imagine drawing for the draft order on the day of the NFL Draft. How fun is that! This can be easily managed to fit your league’s personalities. The flexibility is endless, really. You could keep the division champions out altogether, or give them a 1 in 1,000 chance if you want. It’s really up to you. If designed properly, you minimize a team’s incentive to tank the last few games of the season – something that’s never a good thing and keep teams interested all year, just because of that little shred of hope they have.
3.) Use Bid Dollars for Waiver Pickups
Most leagues are moving to the blind bidding format for waiver pickups. Essentially, each team is given a certain amount of money to spend throughout the year. They bid on certain players each week and buy them if they’re the high bidder for the week. When you’re out of money, you’re out. This helps you avoid the “I made it here first” aspect of waiver wire pickups and avoids having that one guy sit on top of the wire all season. Essentially, it gives every team a fighting chance to get the player they want off waivers. If they want them bad enough, they can pay to get them. It also adds another interesting element of strategy to the league.
4.) Have Side Pools
I’ve been in many leagues where the money is paid out to the winners at the end…and only the winners at the end. On occasion, that just makes the bottom feeders lose interest. If you have weekly payouts towards the end of the season for highest point total for the week, most points by a QB, most points by a RB, etc., it keeps every week exciting.
5.) Have Penalties
Nobody likes having “that guy” in the league. If you have some clear cut expectations at the outset about weekly lineup setting and general competitiveness, there’s no problem with having these in place. Some leagues make the last place team for the year pay more, a weekly low scoring team pay the highest scoring team for the week, or even penalize teams who consistently fail to set their lineups. Most of the time, the fear of having draft picks seized or paying more will make owners responsible, but you certainly run the risk of losing them, too. As we said at the beginning of this article, that’s never a good thing. However, you can always reinstate those draft picks to a new owner if you absolutely had to. The idea is having control systems in place to guarantee you have a responsible group. If you don’t, you’ll have no recourse against them – that’s even worse.
6.) Create a Rivalry Week
This is one of the highlights in the DLF Owner’s Dynasty League. Every league has competitive people and personalities. You usually know right at the outset who those rivals are. Consider making Week #1 a “rivalry week” by having the enemies of the group play each other. You can easily manipulate the schedule to do this and this certainly makes Week #1 of every season even that much more exciting. There’s really nothing better than the crisp, cool air of a September morning knowing that football is back and your enemy is going down.
7.) Have your Commish Agree to Cite Draft History in Upcoming Years
You obviously need an active commissioner to keep your Dynasty League alive and breathing. One of the best ways to keep a rookie draft interesting is to have your Commissioner cite draft history with each pick. One of the most interesting ways I’ve seen is sending all picks to the Commissioner and having him post them to the site with data – we’d suggest using a league forum on the DLF site to do it! It takes a lot of effort, but makes the draft very fun. Here’s an example:
With the first selection of the 2008 Rookie and Free Agent Draft, the Mississippi Penguins select:
Darren McFadden RB OAK
McFadden becomes the 4th straight running back taken #1 overall, joining Adrian Peterson (2007), Reggie Bush (2006), and Ronnie Brown (2005). This is the first ever #1 overall selection for the Penguins, but the fourth straight draft where the Penguins have had a top-3 selection. McFadden joins Carnell Williams (#2 in 2005), Laurence Maroney (#2 in 2006) and Calvin Johnson (#3 in 2007) as a high profile Penguins draft pick. McFadden becomes the highest Oakland player ever taken (JaMarcus Russell was taken #4 in 2007). He is also the first #1 selection from a team in the AFC West. Ironically, this is the second straight season where the Penguins have taken a Raider RB in the first round as McFadden joins Michael Bush (#6 in 2007). You may think this is the first Arkansas player ever taken in the first round, but Matt Jones was taken at #9 in 2005. McFadden also does not have the distinction of being the first SEC RB taken #1 overall since Ronnie Brown (#1 in 2005) played at Auburn.
8.) Allow “Conditional Draft Pick” Trades
This is going to be a lot of work as well, but it’s worth it. Consider allowing teams to trade “their worst 2nd round pick,” or their “best 1st round pick” for future drafts when they hold more than one. This requires a little more paperwork on the commissioner’s part, but it adds some flexibility and interest to deals. Some leagues even have performance based trades as well. For example, Calvin Johnson could be traded for the 1.01 in 2010, plus a 1st rounder in 2011, and a 2nd rounder in 2012. However, if he scores 12 TDs or more in both seasons (2010 and 2011), the 2nd rounder becomes a 3rd in 2012. You could also have future draft picks be “top 5 protected” where the pick would move to the next year, etc. The sky’s the limit, but allowing your league mates to be creative keeps them interested.
9.) Unveil the New Schedule the Day after the Season
Why wait until Summer to make the new schedule? Create some interest right after the season is over. This helps to generate some interest after week #16 or #17 where some owners tend to disappear for a little while. Seeing their matchups, schedule strength and possible new divisions right away could ignite some offseason trade discussions that keep owners engaged in a time that’s usually a little dead.
10.) Use DLF for your league’s forum
OK, yes, it’s a little self-serving. However, we pride ourselves in the ability to offer any league their very own forum on our site. You can use it to have league discussions, post draft picks, and manage any issues you may have. This hub is yours to use for free and we’ll even set up a moderator for you. Check out the league forums we have now and you’ll see how valuable they can be.
Some of these ideas are a little out there and may not work for your league. Just don’t get caught holding the bag when it comes to the “little things.” Every Dynasty League is a little different based on their rules and requirements, but the “little things” go a long way in helping you create a fun, exciting and most importantly, long-lasting league.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK