As a fantasy football enthusiast (addict, yes I’m past step one) and avid player, I have an insatiable drive to research, experience, and write about all the different facets of the game. If you’re reading this, you can relate. Time is a wicked mistress, though, and we have to pick and choose our priorities to protect quality of writing, experience, and sanity. This year, I chose dynasty football as a priority. For years, snippets of dynasty snuck onto my timeline and caught my attention but not until this year did I finally take an opportunity to dive into dynasty. I couldn’t resist using the idea for an article, since I think some of my readers, like me, play mostly redraft and may be missing out on being a more well-rounded fantasy player through the magic that is: dynasty fantasy football.
The Basics: Setting a foundation
Before I segway into my experiences of transitioning to dynasty, I’ll quickly review the basics for those unfamiliar. Basically, dynasty mirrors what it might be like to be an owner of a football franchise and is a year-round commitment. Whether you start from scratch (do a full draft) or take over an orphaned team, the level of investment is high as you build the team of your choosing. Through the yearly draft, trades, and waivers, you try to strike a balance between youth, upside, experience and consistency. You’re given picks in each year’s rookie draft (after initial full draft) just like an NFL owner, so you can use these to barter all “off-season” long. Differentiating between a start-up and a takeover later is outside the realm of this article, but the names are pretty indicative of the actuality.
Biggest difference between dynasty and redraft? You keep basically your ENTIRE team from season to season. Players can be in the same league and constructing their teams for YEARS. No off-season at all, due to the “trading blocks” opening after the Superbowl (in most leagues) then attention turning to the NFL draft and rookies. Once the regular NFL seasons begins, fantasy owners play similar to redraft—having a starting lineup of players each week and trying to win their head-to-head contests against league opponents. Dynasty league players covet winning their league from year to year, with winning in a row being a tough but well respected feat.
Sound easy? I didn’t think so. But fun? Yes! Owners have to constantly balance their squad’s short term needs vs long term plan while gaining familiarity with college players as they progress through the combine, draft, and into their NFL careers. Now, all this said. This might sounds horrible to some fantasy players. No break or off-season?! Trades talks that can go on for months?! Having to keep the players (even “duds”) from season to season?! If this is you, be not afraid. Speaking to the positives of dynasty does not mean that I’m saying it is for everyone. Quite the opposite actually. The level of investment is exponentially higher and some might prefer the “break” after NFL season to participate in other fantasy sports, take up a hobby, or just get a breather. However, if you’re on the fence, give me (and some helpers), a chance to show you a little more behind the curtain.
Redraft to Dynasty: What’s the biggie?
For those of you familiar with my work, redraft has been the name of my game and I have no shame about that. Love redraft. But…the transition to dynasty from redraft feels somewhat like watching a movie, and then seeing the prequel later. Pieces start clicking into place and, all of a sudden, you see the forest through the trees. Plainly speaking, dynasty altered my fantasy perspective and will only give me more knowledge with which to base my redraft (or any other format) player picks. On top of that, it is just fun and challenging! I’m seeing more to football than I ever have before, watching tape, paying attention to more than just the first round of the NFL, excited about the NFL Combine, and, more than ever, feel like there is no “off-season”. For a fantasy addict, that’s a dream come true. Finally, a cure for my seasonal depression.
Sometimes you need an experienced dynasty player to invite you “into the fold” and ease the transition. For me, this was Kevin O’Brien (@FF_Engineer). He provides some dynasty advice in the “seasoned synopsis” below and invited me to take over an orphaned team in a league for just dynasty beginners (@dynastytrialbyfire). Read more here, as Ryan McDowell (also a trusted voice in dynasty football) describes our league. It really is an ideal set-up for a beginner: all other newbie owners, active, and supportive. I hope any newbies out there are as lucky as I have been in receiving such an invitation. Welcomed with open arms by many in the dynasty community, I’ve been impressed by the willingness to help, the constant football discussion and trade talks, and quality content available.
Taking over an existing dynasty team has been a challenge, as it may take time to work my way to a winning record. However, the “underdog” lover in me kicked in and now the task of making this team my own is an exciting one. In my Twitter poll (nifty, aren’t they?), 90% of the sample voted they would rather own a start-up vs a take-over dynasty team. I can see the positives and challenges of both. I plan to also participate in a start-up dynasty league, to gain the experience of drafting my team from start to finish, but I think the balance of them both, as well as my yearly redraft teams, will keep me busy and plugged into the fantasy football world for years to come.
Quick Advice from the Newbie:
- Be selective with which dynasty league you join. Joining with players you know/respect will lead to optimal fun and competition. Nothing worse than joining a long-term league and then not liking the players you have to interact with all year. You’ll probably end up doing it halfway or dropping out and letting someone else take over your orphaned team.
- If you like dynasty, try both a start-up and a takeover to get both experiences.
- Learn from the dynasty players around you (very welcoming community) and learn about trade values. If you’re in an active/fun league, there will be plenty of trade talks on a pretty consistent basis. Use twitter to help!
A Seasoned Synopsis: Words from the Dynasty Experienced
As research for this article and to give the readers some more experienced words of wisdom, I asked some of the best and brightest in the dynasty community right now a few standard questions. To those like me who may only have experience in redraft or are just picking up fantasy, let these guys give you some tips. If the answers were similar, I listed only some to keep this article’s length from getting too out of hand. The helpers to my cause? None other than:
Kevin O’Brien, @FF_Engineer, Writer for DynastyLeagueFootball.com and Commish of @DynastyTrialbyFire
The Ghost, @TheFFGhost Senior Writer/Draft Analyst for Dynasty League Football ; Writer for RotoViz & numberFire
Ryan McDowell, @RyanMc23 Dynasty writer and commish @dlfootball @hyperactiveff @rotoworld @dynastyscouts @dynoblueprint
Frank, @DynastyFrank Podcaster for @BullRushPodcast
Scott Fish, @ScottFish24 Senior Writer/Developer @DLFootball; Commish of #SFB480; @FSWA Member; Former Owner of FFOasis
Samuel Feldman, @ThaDudeFeldman Contributor at numberfire.com, DynastyFantasyFootball.com, and PlayerProfiler.com
Q1: What is your background in dynasty football? What got you into dynasty?
@FF_Engineer: I am in 13 dynasty leagues in varying formats. I have played since 2012 and each year increase the number of leagues. After years and years of enjoying fantasy football between August and December, I was looking for something that tracked with all aspects of the NFL, including the rookie draft. Dynasty trades are year round, and rookie drafts are in March or April. For some leagues, there are also restricted free agent drafts, unrestricted free agent drafts, and even development (college) drafts. There truly is no off-season in dynasty leagues.
@TheFFGhost: I’ve been playing dynasty for nearly a decade and have been writing about it for roughly five years as a senior writer at dynasty league football.
@DynastyFrank: I have 7 years in dynasty. The thing about dynasty is that it’s a year-long commitment. I love football. I’d talk football at a baseball game. Matter of fact, I prefer to talk football at baseball games. Dynasty quenches my year-long football addiction.
@RyanMc23: The first FF league I ever tried was actually a dynasty league. A friend at work had been talking about his college buddies league for a long time and when a team opened up, I joined in. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I loved the team management part of FF.
My friend’s discussion about making trades and drafting were what really drew me in. These were the types of things I loved in Madden/NBA2K type games so I knew I would enjoy it with FF, even though I had never been a huge football fan. I’ve played most formats: best ball, dynasty typical redraft, survivor, 2QB, IDP, devy and so on and so on…
@ThaDudeFeldman: Helped a friend for a few years, and now joined startups and am inheriting orphans.
@ScottFish24: Dynasty was actually the first format I was introduced to. I started playing fantasy football in 1992 in a dynasty league and that league still exists today. I tried it because playing dynasty fantasy Big10 basketball with my dad was fun but I was more of a football guy.
Q2: What are the major differences between dynasty and redraft?
@FF_Engineer: Redraft I like to compare is the commitment level of dating, while dynasty is marriage. In redraft, it’s fun, but it runs its course and the season ends with no strings attached. In dynasty, it is a year after year commitment with your roster. In dynasty, it resembles more the actual NFL with GM’s managing their roster 365 days a year, and their success and failures are accumulative.
@TheFFGhost: Dynasty allows you to build your team as you see fit and to nurture and grow the team for as long as the league exists. Redraft only allows you to create teams in one year stints, no matter how great your team is for that year you cannot hold onto it beyond that season. Dynasty also allows you to take risks on rookies and reap the benefits down the road where redraft forces you to draft known commodities.
@RyanMc23: There are a few key differences that really make dynasty stand out, IMO. First, the year round aspect is what I enjoy most. When football season ends, dynasty season is just getting started. The fact that you keep your entire roster from year to year makes the younger players so valuable. This means events like the NFL Combine and the Draft are so much more important for dynasty players. Playing the waiver wire and making trades also has increased strategy, as you might be picking up a player as a one week fill in, like in a redraft league, or you might be stashing someone you hope might produce in a year or two.
@ScottFish24: Dynasty is much more of a fantasy stock market as far as roster construction in knowing when to buy and sell assets. You also need to know when to start building for next year and when to make deals to win now. You can’t operate outside of a 3 year window. It’s a fool’s game. It’s beyond stupid. It doesn’t take a genius to see that a vast majority of the top wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends weren’t even in the league this time 5 years ago… especially wide receivers. People who predict the upcoming fantasy season at 60% accuracy win awards (literally, they get awards from fantasypros.com). If you think you can predict out more than 1 year at better than a coin flip, you are climbing a very steep hill, covered in baby oil with no grips to hold onto.
Q3: Words of Wisdom for Newbies, like myself?
@FF_Engineer: Well, for starters, a shameless plug. Subscribe to dynastyleaguefootball.com. Excellent content year round and can help shape your own approach. The best encouragement I can give is to not to get overwhelmed. Just soak it in and read as much as you can about how to re-think your fantasy football approach to be more longer term, or at least longer than 1 year as compared with redraft.
@TheFFGhost: Don’t build your team too old or too young. Both approaches open you up to some serious risk. Too old and your team will need to be rebuilt after a couple seasons due to injuries and retirements. Too young and you will have a team where most of the players do not have clear roles on their teams or may not have rolls at all.
@DynastyFrank: Know your league rules. Many leagues have different rules, like start 2RB, TE Premium, 2QB leagues etc. I’d start with your standard dynasty league before jumping into more complicated formats. Read as much information as you can. There are plenty of great sites with great dynasty minds that are more than willing to help a newbie out. Don’t be afraid to “fail”.That’s the only way you learn.
@RyanMc23: My number one tip would be to stay active. That means make trade offers all time, scour the waiver wire weekly, check the news on Rotoworld daily and follow the trends of your fellow dynasty owners. Their moves can really tell you a lot.
@ThaDudeFeldman: Do not be overly infatuated with youth. It is great, but if it happens on your team then great if not don’t sweat it. People get written off for dead younger than they should be. Age becomes a concern after we actually start to call it one. If you just want youth, you will put yourself in an easier position to fail than you expect.
@ScottFish24: Based on my last response this might shock you, but my suggestion would be to build young, but young and safe. Fill the non-starter roles with unproven young flyers and a few safe vets who might help you bridge that gap. You should always be reloading the back end of your team and at least TRY to win each year. Also, draft picks have become more and more valuable over the years because of dynasty twitter hyping them. This has allowed a savvy owner like me to zag and trade picks for assets at a high rate. I’ve won 7 years in a row in one dynasty league and been to the champ game 3 in a row in another. Thank you to everyone who made draft picks ridiculously valuable over recent years.
Q4: Why try dynasty?
@FF_Engineer: Simply put – you crave the roster management of fantasy football all year long. The challenge of drafting a roster, shaping it as players fade and others emerge separates dynasty fantasy football from the pack. The added dynamic of being a fantasy GM, where you can cut, add, trade, and build your roster for the now and the future is an experience like no other.
@TheFFGhost: Players should give dynasty a try because it allows owners to be more engaged with their teams and to have a tangible product after a few seasons if everything goes right. By this I mean you can build a team that you like, maintain it year over year and win several seasons in a row provided everything goes your way. Also, while injuries are devastating for a single season, in Dynasty you can regroup with the same players for next year and try again where as in redraft one or two injuries could completely doom that team to failure.
@DynastyFrank: Dynasty keeps you year round in fantasy football. If that’s not something that’s appealing to you then maybe dynasty isn’t for you.
@RyanMc23: Dynasty is fun, but it’s not for everyone. If you find yourself disappointed when the football season ends, you might want to try dynasty. If you like redraft leagues, but wished there was more trading, you might want to try dynasty. If you are the most active guy or girl in your league, you might want to try dynasty. If you brainstorm FF strategy all the time, you might want to try dynasty.
@ThaDudeFeldman: Because who doesn’t want to play fantasy year long. It makes for a lot more strategizing than just drafting and hoping for waiver wire adds. Less players are on the waivers, so strategy has to be on point at all times.
@ScottFish24: I guess the biggest reasons are wanting more of a challenge and the ability to keep players you like. There is a skill and a pleasure derived from finding talent before others and getting to reap those rewards for years to come.
Well, you heard it here folks. Valued and trusted voices from the dynasty world, straight into your living room, helping you decide if dynasty is for you. So, ask yourself, if you dive into dynasty, would you sink or swim?