For those that are interested in creating or joining a dynasty league, there is no better time than the present to do so. This article is dedicated to overviewing the basic components of such a league, while providing an in-depth introduction as to how the format differs from all other fantasy structures.
Inaugural Startup Drafts
Similar to that of a redraft league, dynasty startup drafts require an extensive amount of preparation. The main difference between the two formats is longevity, as dynasty involves both short-term and long-term strategy. Once a league is formed, an inaugural draft will take place. Instead of drafting skill position players in the NFL for the duration of one season, owners will need to consider the value and risks of athletes in the present and future. After an inaugural draft is completed, it will represent the only instance in which an entire roster is selected from scratch. As a result, each and every draft pick needs to be carefully chosen. As a dynasty owner, it is imperative to serve as a GM would in the NFL seeking a Lombardi Trophy. That is, evaluating and collecting talent that will build a competitive roster for the foreseeable future.
A substantial difference between a redraft and dynasty league is the depth of rosters. For the latter, inaugural drafts often last 25-30 rounds. As a result, waiver wires are relatively thin in dynasty leagues. This makes each and every player valuable in such a format, as it is difficult to accumulate talent outside of a rookie draft or trade. On the other hand, it emulates the structure of the NFL as far as managing limited resources is concerned.
In the dynasty community, age is arguably the most debated topic and is often at the forefront of player value discussions. There are legitimate arguments that can be made for both ends of the spectrum, which translates to drafting a team with an influx of youth or veteran presence. Each represent a sound strategy, but employing a blend of both tactics often results in the best success. If a roster is assembled solely on upside and youth, it could take numerous years to construct a competitive starting lineup. At the same time, if a team elects to only draft proven commodities that are approaching the end of their careers, then a complete rebuild will inevitably be on the horizon. Therefore, it makes the most sense to compile a balanced roster that consists of players with a safe floor or high ceiling in terms of production and age.
In fantasy football, the term value is rather arbitrary. It’s even more complex in dynasty, as player value fluctuates based on a variety of factors. Some of the more notable ones are a player’s age, NFL contract, injury history or level of consistency. The key to determining an individual’s value in dynasty is patience. In redraft, it is a common tendency to dismiss a player after a poor season by deciding to avoid drafting them altogether the following year. In dynasty, it is crucial to remove emotion from the player value equation, as a sufficient sample size is needed before labeling someone as a star or bust. This is especially the case for rookies, as it often takes time for them to acclimate at the NFL level.
Rookie Drafts and Rookie Draft Picks
For a detailed explanation of how to assess the value of rookie draft picks in dynasty, be sure to reference a previous article I wrote that is solely devoted to the subject matter. In summary, dynasty rookie drafts are structured similar to that of the NFL Draft in the sense that each team annually earns the opportunity to expand its roster with incoming talent from college. A rookie draft typically consists of five rounds, with a draft order being determined by the previous season’s standings. The difference between a rookie draft in comparison to a redraft serpentine format is that the order remains the same in each round. For instance, if “Team A” owns the 1.01 rookie pick after finishing the previous year with the worst record in the league, then the same team will also own the 2.01, 3.01, 4.01 and 5.01 in a draft.
Every team in a dynasty league has the opportunity to trade or hold onto rookie draft picks. In most cases, the evaluation of rookie draft picks is entirely subjective. In fact, the discussion of age is prominent in this debate due to the likelihood of rookies making a larger long-term than immediate impact. As a good rule of thumb, first round draft picks should be treated as gold in dynasty. Each provide the opportunity to select a possible elite talent from a rookie class, or trade for an already proven asset. Collecting rookie draft picks during the fantasy season is extremely beneficial come the offseason, as owners often fall subject to NFL Draft fever by overpaying due to scarcity.
Average draft position is a critical tool to utilize in dynasty. It assists in determining the market value of a player, as well as shaping the direction of startup drafts and trades. ADP is often computed in the form of mock drafts by reputable dynasty websites, such as Dynasty Nerds or Dynasty League Football. Similar to redraft, ADP is merely one component of player value, as it is often subject to the bias of recent performance. Hence, it is best to use the tool as a thermometer of player value alongside personal evaluations and opinions.
Perhaps the largest factor that differentiates redraft leagues from that of dynasty is the art of trading. Although common in redraft, trades are often made with primarily short-term benefits at stake. Dynasty trades can make an immediate and future impact, as players or rookie draft picks can be dealt simultaneously. This makes trade offers considerably more difficult to compile, counter or ultimately accept. Unlike redraft, trades in dynasty can be made throughout the entire year, as a roster is not reassembled on an annual basis. Of course, waiver wire acquisitions and rookie drafts represent small exceptions to this rule. Nonetheless, the goal of developing a dynasty roster is to regularly make improvements via trade when possible.
If scouting and waiting for talent to develop at the NFL level peaks an interest, then enabling taxi squads in a dynasty league is a rule to adopt. Similar to that of an NFL practice squad, a taxi squad in dynasty enables teams to stash the talent from rookie drafts on a roster. The one caveat is, a player must have two or fewer years of NFL experience in order to be eligible. After being placed on one before the regular season begins, owners are able to promote or demote players to an active roster in order to be submitted into a starting lineup. For example, Michael Thomas was viewed as an ideal taxi squad candidate in dynasty circles last season. Instead of being a popular waiver wire acquisition, those that used draft capital on the wide receiver were able to activate him onto an active roster with no penalty. A taxi squad usually consists of up to five players depending on league structure and size, but rewards those who invest time in the offseason to scout and analyze the future value of rookies.
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The beauty of participating in dynasty fantasy football is that there is no offseason. That’s right, impersonating an NFL GM in fantasy necessitates constant attention across an entire calendar year in order to gain a competitive advantage over opponents. In a sense, dynasty enthusiasts follow the schedule of an NFL team by scouting rookie talent, monitoring free agents and acquiring or selling players when necessary via trade to improve the likelihood of winning a championship. Maintaining a roster over the course of an offseason for a dynasty league also better prepares an owner for redraft, as player news and personnel changes are already accounted for.