The 4-part introduction series to Dynasty fantasy football is ceremoniously wrapping up. There are millions of people who play fantasy football, and my goal was to reach those who are looking for more than just your standard redraft league (not that those are bad). For the hardcore, I’m looking forward to going deeper into the world of Dynasty with you, so be prepared. Until then here is a quick recap of the first 3 parts of the intro series:
Part 1 – Defining Dynasty football. It’s important to know what sets it apart from other formats.
Part 2 – Size. Whether it’s roster size, league size, or the roster positions you choose for your league, all of it becomes a big factor in playing Dynasty football.
Part 3 – Scoring system. Leagues can set themselves apart in many ways, including an original scoring system.
And now, Part 4 – Draft and Miscellaneous. Choosing the style of draft helps create an exciting dynamic for owners. There are several aspects to ponder, including waiver wire, playoff structure and miscellaneous ways to invigorate your league.
DYNASTY DRAFT DAY(S)
“Someone pinch me,” are the words I usually utter when the annual Dynasty league draft day reigns supreme.
Selecting which players to draft may require a fantasy PhD, but the actual concept of a Dynasty league draft is not complicated.
When you’re starting up in year one, a snake or auction is the way to go. All NFL players will be eligible to choose from, as will incoming rookies. Every year after, the drafts are much shorter since the majority of players on rosters will be kept, albeit they’re vital to building a roster.
Depending on the commissioner’s preference, it’s feasible to separate the annual draft into two: rookie-only and free agent. Leagues may decide a combination rookie/free agent draft is more logistically sound – and I’d agree. Most owners will prefer to combine because they’d rather use their picks on all rookies as opposed to being forced to draft free agents.
As for how many rounds there’ll be, that really depends on how many owners are in the league and the size of rosters. A 2 or 3 round free agent draft and a 3 or 4 round rookie draft works. Again, if you combine them, anywhere from a 5 to 7 round Dynasty draft every offseason is what you get.
INITIAL (STARTUP) DRAFT
The initial draft for your brand new Dynasty league is also referred to as the startup draft. Once the commissioner sets up the league size, roster size, and positions for lineups, they will determine how many rounds it’ll be.
Your league may have a practice squad (Also called a taxi squad, which we’ll get it in future articles) in play as well. In this scenario, it would make your startup draft that many more rounds.
It’s basic math. If your commissioner wants the league to have 16-man rosters, you’ll have 16 rounds. What about an 18-man roster with a 2-player taxi squad? Well, elementary addition says you’ll have a 20 round startup draft.
The one caveat to this is, some commissioners will, let’s say, have a 20 round draft for a 16-man roster, then tell owners to cut 4 players before the first week of the fantasy season.
STANDARD (LINEAR) DRAFT
So after the initial draft to start your league, the decision comes down to a standard versus auction draft for the years following.
First, the standard draft. It is linear, as in, it does not snake back around, so the first overall pick doesn’t have to wait 22 more picks (assuming it’s a 12 owner league) to choose again. This also means the last owner in each round doesn’t pick, and then in succession, pick again on “the turn.”
Anti-standard drafters complain about the monotony and predictability of it. How, based on where you finished in the standings the previous year, you know which slot you’re entrenched in, and if you do enough of your homework, what players will potentially be available to you.
The counter stems from linear drafts tipping the scales so the league can be competitively balanced, since the worst team gets the first pick of the first round (aka 1.01), the first pick of the second round (aka 2.01) and so on. Obviously the owner still has to choose the right players to improve their squad.
But the biggest argument for the linear draft is the notion of trade value.
TRADE VALUE OF DRAFT PICKS
Draft picks are worth the price of gold in Dynasty fantasy football. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of the overall structure.
You won the championship so you’re at the end of Round 1? Well, you can still trade up if you have the assets. In fact, you can trade any round pick at any point in time during the year. Maybe even trade draft picks in future years – not just the one coming up, but two, three or four years from now. Players for picks, picks for picks, picks for players and picks, and so on. It may sound elaborate, but that’s the point of a Dynasty league – the process of constructing the ultimate roster.
I suggest being a part of an auction for a fantasy draft at some point, whether it’s for football or not. There is a different type of adrenaline rush to it.
Basically, the commissioner decides an allotment of points or “dollars” heading into your drafts. You should know how large your roster size is, and then divide the total auction dollars you receive. That’s the average amount you will spend on your players at the auction. A $200 total budget is typical, but it can be any amount.
AUCTION DRAFT STRATEGY
Understanding your budget is vital. It’s common to have your top player use up about 30% of your overall money/points. There are owners that may want to use the majority of their budget on 2 or 3 studs, and then get cheaper, last-man-standing players later in the auction.
Meanwhile, plenty of owners may take the opposite approach and have a roster full of average to above average players. It’s important to know your league members and read the room, too. There may be owners who employ the same strategies, so you adjusting on the fly is a must.
To me, the latter of those two strategies is the way to go, because you will get a number of quality players, plus players with the upside of having a breakout season (See: Antonio Gibson at a $5 value; Justin Jefferson at a $2 value in 2020 auction drafts).
In addition, there’s no guarantee if you break the bank for two studs that they will work out for you. Look no further than Michael Thomas ($55), Saquon Barkley ($56), or Christian McCaffrey ($67) in 2020.
Granted they may not work out for that particular season, but will likely be worth it in terms of future production for your Dynasty squad.
WHY AUCTION OVER LINEAR DRAFT?
To preface, I prefer linear drafts.
The biggest reason owners prefer an auction, whether it’s for the startup or rookie/free agent drafts, is because they have more control over their roster. Doing your homework and setting a priority list is important. Plus, it’s exciting not knowing which player will be up for bidding next. To top it off, bidding wars can get quite entertaining.
The anti-auction owners rightfully argue that it diminishes trading amongst league members. Yes, they may be able to trade some of their auction dollars, but it’s not the same as using current and future draft picks as leverage.
Commissioners could also choose to do an auction for the start up draft, and each offseason go with a linear draft for the rookies/free agents. Plenty of options to keep it fresh.
Individuals who are not involved in Dynasty may be turned off by the fact that, other than the startup, the drafts are short. Indeed they are, but there’s more research and preparation needed to be done than a typical redraft league. Dynasty has a distinct format, so if you are not interested in projections of up and coming college players, or drafting individuals whose development will take time, then it’s not for you.
These short, but essential rookie drafts are where owners make their money, so to speak. Anyone worth their salt knows which players should be taken, at minimum, in the first round. In turn, using your draft picks to acquire other assets, moving up in the draft, and/or planning for the future, is what makes Dynasty fascinating.
In future articles, look for my own Dynasty rankings and thoughts on specific rookies for the 2021 season.
There are always league-altering decisions for commissioners to make. How to determine waiver wire pickups is one of them.
Honestly, there are a lot of different options for commissioners. Everyone is familiar with the standard waiver wire setting. The current last place team gets bumped up to waiver priority number one, so they would have the advantage of picking up the “best” free agent that week. This idea is pretty antiquated though.
The waiver wire option that is gaining the most popularity is called FAAB, or Free Agent Acquisition Budget. It’s similar to an auction draft in a sense – but in-season. You have an allotted amount (it can be anything – $100, $500, etc.; in the end, it’s all perspective), and there’s blind bidding every week for free agents. Whichever owner ponies up the most dough, gets the player.
If an owner values a player, they’ll spend the cash. But again, budgeting is key, as you don’t want to be down to nothing too soon.
One thing to keep in mind here is, if you have a really deep roster, you probably won’t spend as much money on free agents every week. So when you do find a player you think you could utilize (i.e Mike Davis after CMC went down in Week 2, or James Robinson after he went off the first couple weeks), then you may want to spend big.
There are a ton of other ways to utilize FAAB that it could take an entire article. The long and short of it is, this is the way you want to do your free agent pickups. There are ways to make quality adjustments to the process as your league develops.
Depending on the number of teams in the league and/or divisions there are, your playoff structure will be pretty straight forward.
Some leagues decide just to do a straight 12 or 14 team league with no divisions. The ones that do split them up will make the winners playoff bound, and then the remaining best records from there. But again, variance is the optimum word.
I’m a part of a 12 team Dynasty league with 3 divisions. The 3 winning teams are the top 3 seeds, and between those teams, whoever has the two best records (Points For is tiebreaker) have the top 2 seeds and a Round 1 bye.
I’m also in a 14 team league where all 8 teams who make the playoffs will suit up in the first round. The 8th seed is the team not who necessarily had the 8th best record, but whoever had the highest point total for the remaining 7 teams out of the playoff picture.
Just whatever you do, please, please don’t make Week 17 in the NFL mean anything to your Championship game.
Listen. To each their own, here.
The previously mentioned 12 team Dynasty league I’m in was a $25 buy-in back when it started 14 years ago. We just voted to bump it to $50 for the upcoming 15th year. The monetary increase had been brought up before, but we literally would rather have the bragging rights than the cash – we’ve all known each other since we were in elementary school 25-ish years ago. But, you know, inflation. The winner took home $175, second place was $100 and third got their buy-in back.
A lot of owners argue that a ton of effort, research, and time go into winning a Dynasty league as opposed to your standard redraft league, so a larger pool of buy-in money is necessary. It’s a valid point. If you put that much time into something, a nice payout would be ideal.
You can use your league money to divvy out in ways that may satisfy all owners. Throw a chunk of money every week to the team who scores the most points. A little extra cash to the division winners. Give some money to the team who has the most points at the end of the season (we all know the leading point getter does not always finish in the money).
A couple other options could be some cash for the biggest blowout each week, or the longest winning streak.
Basically, spreading the cash out will incentive owners. It’s all a mental thing.
Practice Squad: This basically means you can draft a rookie and instead of using them on your active roster, have them on a separate practice squad. It adds another strategy for owners who want to accumulate draft picks and store a player on their taxi squad in hopes of them becoming a valuable tool.
Give your league a name: It’s a great way to identify yourselves. Even though if you bring it up in casual conversation nobody will know what you’re talking about, at least you will. My 15 year Dynasty league may have the worst name known to man – Fantasy Football Keeper League Style (we call it FFLKS). But it’s our identity and we aren’t changing it. Might even get a tattoo.
Have a rule book: This is important, especially if you continue to adjust what you do. This way the commissioner won’t have to answer a million questions, they can just say “refer to the rule book.” It’ll also give owners the opportunity to see what rules may need to be changed, added or simply gotten rid of.
Podcast? Snapchat?: Lastly, I recommend camaraderie amongst owners. Talk some trash, get to know each other, etc. We have a group Snapchat for our FFLKS in which we constantly communicate – about Dynasty football and life in general, really. Myself and another owner also host our own podcast and publish it once a week. Literally we do it just for us 12 owners in the league. It has brought another layer of excitement. It’s all about thinking outside the box.
WHAT’S TO COME
I’m excited to share some insight with you, whether you’re a veteran Dynasty player, a rookie, or someone who is thinking of starting up a league (if you do, let me know and maybe I can join!). But honestly, what I’m looking forward to is taking a look at the offseason news and moves around the league – specifically rookies – and share my thoughts. Stay tuned!