I recently returned from a week long tent camping trip with my family that consists of my wife and three young children. As many of you know, the founders of DLF live here in the great Northwest, so this is simply a way of life. However, this was the first time we braved the wilderness in a tent since all of our children are age five and under. I really figured this was a good way to hit the open road and detach from fantasy football a bit after spending so much time on our recently unveiled Dynasty Essentials Guide.
I was wrong.
You see, I never really detach from DLF or my passion for dynasty leagues. In fact, I find myself thinking of articles and comparisons all the time. This trip gave me enough writing material for a long, long time. This article is all about some tips that are universal in both camping and participating in dynasty leagues.
1. Have a Fire
In camping terms, this is an absolute must. No real camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows and some type of animal flesh over an open flame. At one point, I overheard some people in the campground saying they didn’t want to have a fire because they were afraid their clothes would smell like smoke. I looked at their car and saw it was a BMW with a license plate frame that said, “I’d rather be shopping at Nordstrom.” I remember thinking they’ll probably be dead or missing in the wilderness by Thursday.
In dynasty leagues, you also must have a fire, but it’s of a whole different variety. In a yearly redraft league, you can afford to make some mistakes and not focus on what you’re doing because there’s always next year. In a dynasty league, you simply can’t afford to do that. You must have a fire to win burning inside you. One that gets stoked every time there’s a rookie draft, a hot free agent acquisition or a trade concept.
Show me a league with a decade or so of history and I’ll bet the owners who have the best winning percentage are the ones who spend the most time perfecting their rosters. Again, they have the fire.
2. Kids come first
We were camping just outside Bend, Oregon, over the 4th of July. For those of you who have been there, you’ll likely agree it’s one of the best outdoor cities in America. You can hike, raft, kayak, fish or do just about anything you want until you hit one of the several local breweries at night.
I did none of those things.
You see, my kids are very young. They’re just learning how to ride bikes, and in one case, walk. While there were many other things my wife and I could have been doing, we spent our time going around the same loop of the campground pushing a tricycle, balancing a bike with training wheels, or standing in 90 degree weather to watch a pet parade in town.
I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
As a side note, there’s a guy in Bend who takes 30 or so giant helium balloons and straps his Chihuahua to them to make him a flying dog for the parade. He’ll probably get cited for animal cruelty one day, but it’s actually pretty funny to see a Chihuahua wearing motorcycle goggles and flying 20 feet in the air.
In dynasty terms, kids have to come first as well. You can’t overload your team with veteran talent in the hopes to win an initial championship. No matter how talented you may be at evaluating young talent, there’s simply no easy way to keep your team competitive if you have a roster full of players near 30 years old. It’s tempting during the draft to go for those veterans and shoot for production over potential, but it’s a rookie mistake that happens far too often with owners unfamiliar with the dynasty format.
3. Pay Attention to Details
I had to laugh one night when a couple rolled up to a camp site and started arguing shortly thereafter. It seems they had forgotten their tent stakes at home…five hours away. For anybody who has ever camped in a tent, you’ll agree those are just a little bit important. Luckily, I always pack some extra stakes in case I have some that break. I was able to help them out, but I couldn’t help thinking about how important it is to pay attention to details.
The same tip applies in dynasty leagues. You have to truly understand your league’s rules, player scoring tiers, strengths and weaknesses of all the teams in the league and the waiver wire. If you find yourself saying, “Oh man, I didn’t even realize that guy was available,” you probably aren’t paying attention to details.
4. Prepare for an Emergency
It sounds simplistic in nature, but you honestly never know what can happen. I always pack road flares, first aid kits and extra drinking water just in case whenever I go camping.
In dynasty league terms, you have to do the same thing. It’s sometimes very easy to get complacent with a winning team and think the work is done. However, that one torn ACL to your RB1 on a Sunday morning can quickly get you into scramble mode. Do you have the depth to cover for it? Do you know who may be on the trading block? Do you understand which of your commodities is most attractive to others? Do you have a working relationship with other owners in your league so making a trade isn’t so painful? If you answered no to these questions, you’re not prepared for an emergency.
5. Don’t be a Moron
My favorite camping moment came at 2:37 in the morning on a Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning to be more accurate). A camper in a site a few meters away was playing his guitar pretty loudly. He was attempting some John Denver tunes that simply weren’t working out too well after downing a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
After he failed to sing the words “West Virginia” multiple times, one of my camping neighbors had enough. She screamed over to him and asked him to stop since people were trying to sleep. I’ll keep his response with me for the rest of my life since it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard anyone say. His response? “I have my own business.”
Seriously, what does that mean?
If someone can tell me where you get the license to be a jerk because you own your own business, sign me up. It was truly amazing.
In the land of dynasty leagues, the same idea applies. You can’t be a moron. Yes, you’re going to make some bad trades and drop some players you wish you hadn’t. What I’m talking about is treating other owners like you know more than they do. Don’t burn a bridge with someone because they won’t take your deal or hold up a draft for a few days. Every league seems to have “that guy.” If yours doesn’t, take a good look in the mirror and make sure it’s not you.
6. Find the Right Combination
We were making some s’mores one night (see rule #1), and one of our friends put one together without a marshmallow. What!?! You can’t take something OUT of a s’more. If so, it’s NOT a s’more! I can be talked into adding a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup instead of a chocolate bar, but I draw the line at leaving out the marshmallow.
Same thing goes in dynasty league. You really need to find the right combination of running backs, quarterbacks, receivers and all other positions to truly be successful. All too often, I see teams who are totally stacked at running back or wide receiver and end up having to bench some truly great players because they’re overloaded. Some of these same owners refuse to move their surplus of players at the same position because they feel like they have a competitive advantage by keeping them away from other teams.
7. Choose the Right People
When you camp with a group, you’re likely going to see the best and worst of every individual who you’re with. Face it, it can be stressful at first when you’re trying to unload everything, set up tents and take care of your family at the same time. If you’re with someone who has extreme highs and lows, it’s going to be a long trip, especially if they drink!
Choosing the right people for a dynasty league is the biggest decision a league manager makes. If you have a couple of owners who don’t take the draft seriously or do other things to make the league not seem like fun, you’re doomed. Make the right decision and get committed people to join – this may mean not including the same people you have in a redraft league. While that may be a hard decision for you to make, it’s going to best in the long run.
Find the right mix of people and you’ll be in good shape.
Those are the seven best tips I have for camping that translate into achieving success in a dynasty league. Follow these rules in both endeavors and you’ll find yourself one happy camper.