Types of Dynasty Leagues

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February 27, 2018

The term dynasty has been used throughout our human history. Whether it refers to political empires, dominant sports teams or an 80’s soap opera, the word is synonymous with excellence. In the world of fantasy football, there is a format of the game that is called dynasty. And just like in other walks of life, dynasty is truly extraordinary.

Dynasty fantasy refers to the philosophy of retaining players from year to year. The ying to dynasty’s yang is re-draft, where owners select an entirely new team each year.

In this lead off article, we will be looking at dynasty fantasy football in its most common form, what I call lifetime dynasty. In these leagues you keep all or most of the players on your team from year to year.  You can potentially have a player for their entire career, hence my use of the term lifetime. The only ways you can loose a player are by trading him away or by dropping him. This article will draw from collective research and personal dynasty experience in order to inform about this amazing format. For those interested to participating in dynasty leagues, these next couple of articles will help you in deciding what settings you want to use for the up-coming season.


In the inaugural season of a dynasty league, there will be what is called a startup draft. That is where all players are available to draft, just like in re-draft league. However, unlike in re-draft, a dynasty owner must take into consideration the long term outlook for a player. An emphasis is put on taking players before they enter their prime so that an owner can profit from as many productive years as possible.  

The startup draft can be either a snake draft or an auction. Snake order refers to a style of drafting where the pick order reverses every round. For instance, in a 12 team draft, the owner who has the 1.01 (round 1, pick 1) will next be drafting at 2.12 or 24th. For details on the auction draft, see my next article Types of Dynasty Leagues - Variations.

Rookie draft

Every season after the inaugural one, there will be a rookie draft to determine landing spots for the incoming rookies. In some league you can have the rookies from the first season as part of the startup draft or they can be kept for a separate rookie draft.

Dynasty rookie drafts may occur either before or after the NFL draft. There are advantages in either option. Having the dynasty draft before means that owners will need to make projections based on individual talent and college production. Having the rookie draft after the NFL draft means that owner will need to factor in elements from a players NFL team such as the depth chart and the offensive system.

A rookie draft can be done using the snake order draft. However, in a dynasty setting, where the spirit of the league is have players and results carry over, I recommend reversing the previous year’s standing for the draft order. So the cellar dweller will start each round and the league champion will always select at the end of the round.

The amount of rounds is not fixed and is up to the discretion of each league. However, having too few rounds will mean that some valuable players will be left on the waiver wire and having too many will means that teams will have too many players who aren’t producing desired fantasy points. Based on my experience, I would recommend either three or four rounds in the rookie draft. Leagues with less than ten or more than fourteen owners might consider a different number.

Roster size

In re-draft leagues, we usually see 15 or 16 roster spots. Some dynasty league might use these numbers, however, that would leave a lot of quality players as free agents. Having more roster spots will force owners to do more work in their evaluation process in order to find out which players will break out and become useful fantasy assets. I have been in a leagues with 10 owners and 26 roster spots, which still leaves enough players as free agents who are worthy of in-season pickups. While there is no set number of roster spots, I recommend somewhere around 20 if you are hesitant of having too many.

Throughout this article, I have mentioned that one can own a player for their entire career. However, you cannot actually keep all of your players from every season. That is because you must make room every year for the incoming rookie class. How this is formatted is up to the discretion of the league itself. Some leagues will have a limit on the number of player you can keep which is lower than the roster size. Other leagues make you cut a certain amount of players before the rookie draft. Finally, some leagues will allow an expanded roster amount during the off-season, with final cuts coming the just before week 1 of the NFL season.

Dynasty leagues seek to simulate team management and development decisions real owners make in the NFL. That includes comparing up-and coming talent to older but productive players and deciding what fits best for the team.

With all these options of dynasty league, it is important that active discussions are had between the commissioner and the other members to ensure that everyone is aware of the league settings and that everyone is willing to work with those settings.

That concludes this introduction to dynasty fantasy football. In the next article, I will be taking a look at the possible setting variations in dynasty football leagues.

-Kyle Senra ( Follow on Twitter )

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