It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the mid 90’s I had been playing redraft fantasy football for several years at that point and was getting bored to a degree, I wanted a deeper experience in fantasy football. I learned about dynasty style fantasy leagues and was intrigued. Keep your players from year to year? Cool. Draft only rookies each year? That’s different. Individual defensive players? Now we’re talking!
So, I started to look around and see what it would take to start a dynasty league with my friends. I was surprised to learn that there were very few fantasy league sites that could handle IDPs let alone keeping players on the roster every year and managing rookie drafts. In the early 2000s I took the dive and decided to create a dynasty league. I’m a finance guy by trade and Excel is my canvas. Since I didn’t find a fantasy site that can handle the league I wanted to set up, I built the league framework in Excel. I found some free NFL weekly stats that I could scrape and pull into excel and do everything a website could do, save for update in real-time! But it got the job done and we built a league from six owners up to 12 several years later. I learned a lot by starting it myself, I knew what I wanted from a platform and wouldn’t accept anything less. After a few years platforms for dynasty leagues became much better and we moved to CBS Sports for a couple of years and finally to MyFantasyLeague.com.
Building a dynasty league is a ton of fun but it is also a ton of work. For me, it was a labor of love and in 2016 my main dynasty league is going on it’s 15th year and still going strong with 8 original members in a 12 team league. My goal is to provide a series of articles that highlights the work necessary to create a successful dynasty league that will last. To do this we have to start with the basics and that’s what we’re going to cover in this article. Below are several basic ideas you have to consider when starting a dynasty league. Some of them may be obvious, some may not, but all of them are critical to the success of your league. Let’s get started.
Who will be in your league?
Before we even get to what the league structure looks like, you have to consider who will be competing in your league. A dynasty league requires a commitment from all parties (or at least most parties) for multiple years and you want to have people in your league that are ready for that commitment. Do you have a group of friends who want to play fantasy football together over a long period of time? If so, that is probably your best scenario. You don’t want to start a dynasty league if you are devoted to it but you don’t have 8-10 other people that are just as devoted to it. In all of the dynasty leagues I’ve been in, turnover is always part of the deal. You’re rarely going to keep all 10-12 owners in the league for a decade or more. Priorities change, people change and that’s ok. What you do want is a strong core of owners that LOVE the league and want it to keep going. If you have that, you’re ready to start a dynasty league!
It’s important that once you are sure you have a core of owners that are devoted to your league that you identify the structure and options you will play within it. It’s important because the next step will be finding a league platform and you cannot make an informed decision on your league platform if you don’t know what options you want for your league. Do you want PPR or not? IDP or not? What scoring do you want? How do you handle trades, free agency, waivers? What about auctions, drafts? How big of a roster are you going to play with? Will you have roster limits? Position limits? How will you set up your annual schedule fairly? What will the playoffs look like? What do tiebreakers look like? How much money does the champion win? 2nd place? 3rd place? Last place? A bit overwhelming right? Maybe, but if you are truly interested in dynasty these are just some of the more important questions you have to answer to make your league interesting and dynamic. My next article will go through some of these choices but for now, the point is make sure you know your structure so that you can move to the next step…finding a league platform.
Once you have a core of owners that want to play dynasty, the next question is where to house the site. These days there are plenty of websites that cater to dynasty leagues and you won’t have a problem finding one you like (nor will you have to build one in Excel like I did). When choosing a league platform it’s important to consider value. If your league is a money league, then part of the funds taken in will go to the annual website cost. You want to find the least expensive site that gives you the flexibility you want for your league. A good example of this is my league, which started on CBS sports which costed $120 a year at the time. I wanted more of the ante to go to payouts rather than admin costs so I started looking around and found MyFantasyLeague.com (MFL). MFL happens to be more flexible at half the price, so we moved to that platform and have been there ever since. This is not an advertisement for MFL of course, there are plenty of good sites out there. You just have to make sure you do your homework and assure that the site will provide the options you want in a league at a price you like, and pull the trigger.
Once you have a dedicated group of people, a structure that works for everyone and a platform to join, you’re ready to start a dynasty league. Dynasty leagues take many forms and in our next installment we’ll talk about league structure a bit more to consider some of the ways you can differentiate your league.