Welcome to the May edition of Commissioner Calendar, a monthly off-season series breaking down the activities and responsibilities of a commissioner during each month of the off-season. But in dynasty, especially for commissioners, “There is no off-season”. If there are other May dynasty events that I missed, put them in the comments! And if you’re running a bit behind, check out last month’s article to get caught up.
DYNASTY STARTUP DRAFTS
Once again on the monthly calendar, we will start with the everpresent dynasty startups. May is the first month of the dynasty off-season where most managers are comfortable including rookies in the startup. No rookie picks, rookie slots, or drafting rookies without draft capital or landing spot information. Once the NFL draft has concluded, May is mostly quiet on the player news front, active player news times like March, April, and August present various advantages and disadvantages based on information coming out while someone is on the clock. Having rookies in the startup does get rid of the debate/dilemma related to rookie draft order in the startup year which is a hotly contested debate each off-season.
For some leagues, off-season roster expansion occurs in February when the league year rolls over. I do this in my leagues to allow teams to clear their injured reserve from the previous season without having to cut a large number of players to get back to the in-season roster limit. However, some leagues use those potential cuts as another way to spur action with a cutdown time of sorts at the year rollover.
In leagues that don’t expand their rosters until the rookie draft or auction, they often do this to signify roster expansion is intended for the ability to draft and roster rookies without having to make premature cuts to your dynasty roster, this is particularly helpful for late round rookies, because in leagues without any roster expansion, teams have to make the choice of making their 4.05 pick of the day 3 Tulsa wide receiver or holding onto the like of Tutu Atwell at the end of your roster. Roster expansion allows this to be an August/September decision when you have a better idea of the rookies’ NFL fate than you do in May, days after they were drafted.
In my opinion, roster expansion, whether it be in February or May is a necessity for rookie auctions. In rookie auctions without roster expansion, it forces teams to make cuts just to bid on players that they may not even win as the software counts bidding on a player the same as leading on a player and subsequently rostering that player.
The most common rookie draft that you will see in May is your basic rookie draft which will be 3-5 rounds in length(or longer in IDP leagues) that only allows you to draft rookies from the incoming class. There isn’t a ton of variation at play with this format.
Another rookie draft format is a rookie draft with waiver wire free agents. This is commonly called a Rookie/FA draft which can open up a bigger pool of available players, especially in leagues with no waivers from January-April, there is a chance that the off-season has made certain players more valuable and would create interesting decisions with veterans and rookies when pitted against each other. In this format, it is imperative to either have roster expansion to where people won’t be dropping players during the rookie draft or make any players dropped during the rookie draft locked, because there can be an unfair advantage/element of luck based on when players get dropped to make roster room. For example, if the person picking at 3.01 drops Kyle Trask to make room for their 3.01 pick and then the person with 3.02 picks Kyle Trask, there is a chance that the person at 2.12 also would’ve preferred Kyle Trask to the player they selected at 2.12, which means that in this scenario 3.02 was a better pick to have than the 2.12, which is not something that should ever be the case.
A less common format for rookie drafts is the combined rookie and devy draft. Most of the changes in a combined rookie/devy draft have to do with the rules around devy players being taken in the rookie/devy draft. The three main types of these drafts are “Free for all”, “Limit total devys”, “Limit devy players drafted per team”.
In “Free for all”, the draft is a certain number of rounds, and any amount of rookies or devy players can be selected within the confines of those rounds and any undrafted devys will be available in the following years’ rookie/devy draft while undrafted rookies will be put on the waiver wire. This format can make for some more valuable rookies making it to the waiver wire in your league as some teams stack deeper devy players.
In “Limit total devys”, it is a race to a specific number, so for example, it could be a 4 round rookie/devy draft with a limit of 12 total devy players taken by all teams, so whether the 12th devy taken is the 1.12 or 3.12, every pick after the 12th devy must be rookie, but if you have 12 rookie/devy picks, theoretically, you could exit the rookie/devy draft with 12 devy players drafted.
In “Limit devy players drafted per team”, each team has a limit on how many devy players they are allowed to select. For example, a 6 round rookie/devy draft may have a cap of two devy players drafted per team per year, so in this format a team could draft a devy player with their first two picks, last two picks, or any combination in between, but once a team has selected their 2nd devy player, any picks for the rest of the rookie/devy draft must be rookies.
Most of the things discussed about rookie drafts can be carried over to rookie auctions as well and there are so many ways to do your rookie auction. Important decisions for rookie auctions include proxy versus non-proxy, length of the auction clock, mandatory nominations, what happens when people don’t meet those mandatory nominations, nomination limits, if and when unlimited nominations will occur, does rookie money carryover to blind bid waivers, future rookie years or potentially other auctions like free agent auctions or devy auction, or is “use it or lose it”.
First, for proxy versus non-proxy, it is a debate that has raged on for years in the fantasy football community, not many people sit in the middle of this argument as each side is ardent about their side of the argument. I vastly prefer proxy auctions for slow auctions. It is a true definition of a player’s value as a proxy auction will show if a player is at $100, that shows at least two managers value that player at $100. While in a non-proxy auction, a manager can accidentally overpay for a player, moving a bid from $50 to $100 while no one else in the league would’ve even bid $51. For non-proxy enthusiasts, this is an additional element of strategy and part of the reason they prefer the format.
For the length of the auction clock, this often can depend on how “online” you and your league mates are. If you know your entire league is going to be checking into the auction multiple times per day, you can have an auction clock as low as 9-12 hours. If you know not all of your league mates are chronically online, an 18-24 hour clock is more apt, allowing a participant to check in as little as just one time per day and mostly be fine. Inactivity in an auction is not just bad for the inactive manager, but also bad for the entire league as certain players will go for cheaper prices due to the inactive manager not raising their price like they would have if they were fully active. So make sure your auction clock meets the needs of your league participants.
For nominations, some leagues have unlimited nominations from the outset, allowing any and all players to be on the board as soon as the auction begins. I would not recommend this implementation for a variety of reasons including the necessity for everyone to be available to bid at the outset of the auction, it speeds up a process that doesn’t necessarily need to be sped up and it can create a lot of luck based on when players get put on the board/when players are scheduled to be won and it eliminates the strategy of when each player is nominated. Most auction leagues have a daily mandatory nomination for all teams with money, the reason I implement this in my leagues, it is the easiest way for me to see that participants are checking in at least once a day, which is important for the health of any auction league.
In my leagues, the “punishment” for not fulfilling your daily nomination is forfeiting the right to bid or nominate any players nominated on future days. Not fulfilling your daily nomination is a way of saying “I am no longer interested in players that can be nominated for the remainder of this auction”. For the maximum number of nominations a team can do in a day, the answer to that is purely how quick do you want the auction to go? I like my rookie auctions to last four-five days, your typical rookie auction will have 40-50 players that teams will want to roster, so that puts one nomination per team per day for three days followed by unlimited noms on day four. If you wanted your rookie auction to last just two-three days, you could do two nominations per day, putting 48 players up in the first two days of a 12 team league followed by unlimited nominations on day three.
One additional tip for nominations, when nominations are based on a day, like you can nominate one player on Thursday, one player on Friday etc, etc, a “day” for most fantasy participants in the United States is measured as midnight eastern time. One wrinkle I use in my leagues is each “day” starts at 9 PM EST. In leagues where nominations can “start” after midnight EST, nominations are spread across the morning as people wake up all the way to the afternoon and evening. In my leagues where the “day” starts at 9 PM EST, 9 PM EST is a time when a lot more people are awake and on the internet than midnight EST, which creates a flurry of nominations, and most people fulfill their daily nomination before they wake up the following day. This is very convenient for commissioners with mandatory nominations as it is often a pain to remind people to get their daily nomination(s) on the board.
Lastly, for what happens to rookie currency following the rookie auction, this information should be laid out in the bylaws and communicated to all managers to ensure no one keeps money with intentions of it carrying over in a “Use it or Lose it” or a manager overspend on the last player on the board not knowing that the currency is able to be carried over in some form or fashion.
After the rookie draft or auction is a popular time for leagues to re-open the waiver wire. Most of the leagues I participate in like to have that waiver “break” from January-April where managers don’t have to worry about scouring the waiver wire for end-of-roster players.
With waivers opening up, there are several decisions to make as the commissioner, will waivers be first come first served throughout the rest of the off-season? Will they only be blind bid waivers for the off-season? Or a combination of the two? I recommend only blind bid waivers during the off-season to avoid the potential advantage of having the “fastest finger” after random news of a player getting arrested and his backup becoming more valuable or breaking news that a trade has made a waiver wire player more valuable. First come first served waivers have a place during the NFL season as there is that urgency of potentially needing to pick up a player on waivers due to a last minute injury, but that urgency is not necessary during non-lineup setting season.
The other commissioner decision to make as off-season waivers open up is the allocation of blind bid dollars. Some leagues have two separate blind bid budgets, one for the off-season and one for the in-season and these budgets get reset as week one begins. Alternatively, teams are given a budget when waivers open up and that is the money they have until the season ends. I do not necessarily think there is a right answer between these two options, but I do think the off-season and in-season separate budgets are probably more applicable with year-round waivers.
Catch the next article in this series in June!
- Dynasty Commish Calendar: May - May 3, 2023
- Dynasty Commish Calendar: April - April 18, 2023
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Championship Solutions - January 6, 2023