Dynasty leagues are a growing part of the fantasy football world. Many people love how it feels more like running your own NFL team. Rosters roll over and you have the chance to keep players and have their entire careers unfold. Still, each of these leagues has to start somewhere. It can be great to get involved from the beginning of a league and start fresh. However, sometimes you can find a league just looking to add one or two people. If you can gather a group and start a dynasty league, here are some of the pitfalls that happen all too frequently.
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Ok, let’s get down to it, the following are seven mistakes you will make in your first Dynasty League
1. Failing to Understand the Commitment
This can have a couple meanings. First, too many people think they can just roll out of bed and be ready. Everyone getting into a league needs to know you will have to be more involved in a dynasty league than a normal league. There are off-season trades, there is a rookie draft, there is a free agency period. So many things you do not have to worry about if you are someone who usually drafts in August and then checks their team once a week. Make sure you are ready for the responsibility. Every league deals with people who play a season and quit because they never understood the commitment
The second part is just a corollary that pertains more to the commissioner of the league. Commissioners in dynasty leagues need to make sure they plan out the rules and make them easily accessible. After the initial draft, you need a clear plan for how the league will address free agency, the rookie draft, contracts, and even (yes) tanking. There are many different ways to handle these things, but you need to prepare for them all up front. If you wait for the problems to emerge before enforcing new rules in an ad hoc fashion, you will fail. Managers will likely get frustrated and the rules created will likely be half answers that will need to be changed again. Figure out your rules in key areas. Do you have a salary cap? How do you bid on free agents in a season? What is the plan for settling disputes? How are new rules proposed and passed? Get ahead of the problems.
2. Treating Your First Draft Like a Redraft League
If you are there for day one of a dynasty league, you will get that opportunity to conduct a draft similar to a normal redraft league. Avoid falling into the idea that it is exactly the same. Again, this comes down to planning. No reason to throw off all the old veterans entirely, but put it in your thought process. The value of a player now has to account for their long-term contributions to your team. Do not just grab a newsstand magazine and use their rankings to build your team. Most rankings are based on a redraft model. You can start your research with a few of these rankings to get an idea, but be sure to move players around with an eye toward building a solid, lasting roster.
3. Overvaluing Handcuffs
This next part goes hand-in-hand with number two. Whether in drafting or in future transactions, do not put as much trust in handcuffs. Taking up a bench spot with a handcuff in a redraft league is useful because it might save your entire season. In a dynasty league, the value is greatly diminished. You want your bench players to be someone who can meaningfully contribute in-season or be someone who will be your full time starter in the next year or two. There is much less value in having a player you know will likely never be the starter. If you get a backup who can function as a handcuff, make sure it is someone who has potential to replace the starter in the coming years or someone who might possibly be moved in a trade or through free agency.
4. Not Setting Serious Goals
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Sound advice for those heading into a dynasty league. Decide your strategy. Are you making a singular run to win now? Are you building the long term winning model with hopes one year will pay dividends? Trading away assets to get proven players can help you win now, but means you will be rebuilding soon. Building with young players with the hopes enough turn out is also a plan. Maybe start looking young and make a few trades to solidify a title run. Either way, do not take half measures. You are either building for a championship or contending for one. Do not be confused as to which one you are.
Do not be afraid to blow up your team and take a hit for a few years. Dynasty Football is a game of patience. Everyone wants to win every year, but it just is not possible. Take a view of the landscape. Is the team you have really going to win this year? If not, do you have young players on the rise or veterans you thought had enough to win this year? Target out how long your rebuild will take, preview upcoming drafts, look for the teams who will desire your players, make a plan. Make a serious plan.
5. Making Trades Without Reviewing Next Year’s Rookies
Again, this is something interlinked with the point above it. If you need players, it does not always mean trade everything for high picks next year. You need to know what sort of players are going to be there for your picks next season. Remember when I said that dynasty leagues take a more serious commitment? Here is some more of that. You need to look at the college players who will be entering the next draft. For Example, if your team is solid at WR and needs to add a QB and an RB, you need to know if trading your players for picks will actually get you someone for those spots.
What you can do, is make a trade for the best picks you can get and then start looking to move the picks. While specific locations and picks might not actually help your team, they might be valuable to someone else.. Still, you need to be aware what the actual value of your picks will be. Be aware of where teams will be drafting in the coming year (both the teams in your league and the NFL teams). Giving a team the final pieces for their championship run will likely mean that first rounder you picked up is not nearly as valuable. If your team is bad, getting that one big player might not matter as much. Trade back with better teams and get a few pieces, but always know the players likely available in the areas where you are trading.
6. Ignoring or Devaluing IDP
Most dynasty leagues have IDP. Since having a team defense does not make sense in a dynasty format, this should be expected. Far too many players look for the names they know. They try to build offenses and devalue or completely ignore their defensive players. Without the DEF or D/ST position, IDP can massively shift the balance of any single week. If you just imagine they are all the same, you are ignoring a significant portion of your team. Since there are very few standard IDP scoring formats, you will need to read and internalize the IDP scoring for your league. Then, build a defense. These will generally be lower picks in rookie drafts. So, if you have an offense and no defense, consider trading back some and build up later round picks to secure these players.
7. Ignoring Real World Contract Situations
Getting to some of the more “deep in the weeds” concepts. Keep yourself up-to-date on actual NFL personnel situations. Unhappy players. Players going into contract years. Players with huge bonuses due. These things might suddenly and drastically change the value of your players. Just think of having Jeremy Maclin and then suddenly not knowing where he was going. Suddenly, the value of a player on your team just changing without an injury. Before adding free agents to your team, check on their stability with their teams. Tying you team to a player for four seasons when his contract runs out in two (with a big base salary increase in that second year) is more of a gamble than it initially appears. Also, players with possible looming contract talks and holdouts might hurt their early season performances. Just put this in your mind and make it part of the process. Again, dynasty football takes a lot more work and demands a lot more patience.
Jonathan Barnett is a son of Wisconsin, born and raised. He grew up playing every sport he could. After High School, he attended Seminary before moving on to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Jonathan went on to study History and Economics in undergraduate work before attending UW Law School. Jonathan is also a retired Army Combat Engineer officer. Jonathan uses his considerable training in research to manage his many fantasy teams. Jonathan writes for several different websites focusing on professional football and fantasy sports. Jonathan is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). Jonathan now practices law in Central Wisconsin.