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How To Play Fantasy Football: What Is A Dynasty League, How To Start One

Kyle Dvorchak



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A dynasty fantasy football league is the next step in emulating the NFL  within your own fantasy league. They’re mainly for the more hard core fantasy football fans out there, committed to the long haul and having a pool last for years. Here’s a quick summary of how to play fantasy football, dynasty style and what you need to do to start your league up and keep it running.

How To Play Fantasy Football: Starting A Dynasty League

Not every dynasty league will function as outlined below, but the general setup of a dynasty league relies on three factors.

  1. One initial draft for players that you keep each year
  2. Rosters that are significantly larger than a standard league
  3. A yearly draft for teams to acquire the incoming class of rookies

Most dynasty leagues still operate on a head-to-head basis — each team faces one opponent per week, highest score wins — and the season culminates in a playoff. Last player standing wins. The rules outlined above transform fantasy football into an entirely different game. We’ll dive a little deeper into each rule and then go over some final tips on creating and winning your first dynasty league.

Dynasty Startup

You only get one major draft in a dynasty league so you better make it count. The startup draft is where you acquire the bulk of your players for the near future. Most leagues will allow you to keep every single player until you cut or trade them. 

One of the first choices you’ll make is whether rookies will be included in the initial draft or not. Throwing them into the overall pool the first year is the simplest route. However, drafting them separately kicks the league off with the option of rookie pick trading, and you get an extra draft out of it.

Check out this breakdown of the Awesemo Staff League dynasty startup to get ready for your first draft.

Roster Size

The draft and corresponding roster size can vary wildly from league to league. The average dynasty league typically starts with 20-25 roster spots but some leagues go beyond 50 players. 

Bench versus total roster size is another choice to make. You should, at a minimum, start with a bench that is equally as large as your number of starters. This gives you the freedom to hold young players that may not be producing now but have the potential to boom in the future. At rosters three times the size of the number of starters the waiver wire becomes barren. Some players prefer this style of league as it allows them to roster players who are extreme long-shots.

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The starter positions are up to you and your league-mates. The more flex spots you have, the more rewarding it is for the fantasy players who can build rosters deep with talent. Superflex — a flex spot that a quarterback can occupy — can help balance the replicability of the quarterback position.

The Rookie Draft

Every year after the startup draft, you’ll get the rookie draft. Just like the NFL, you and your league-mates get to draft the incoming rookies from college football. Your rookie draft can last as many rounds as you want, but most leagues force you to cut veterans to make room for the players you’ve drafted. A good benchmark for draft length is to have rookies make up 20-25% of each roster. If every team has 25 players, a four- to five-round rookie draft will do. Also like the NFL, picks are generally awarded in reverse order of previous season finish. The worst team gets the first pick, while the best team takes the final pick.

Throughout the season, you can trade your future picks to acquire immediate producers or vis versa as well a simply using the picks as a form of currency. Most leagues will set a trade deadline to ensure some balance as the playoffs begin but this too is optional.

Where to Host Your Dynasty League

There are a number of different sites that offer dynasty leagues. Each allows for different levels of complexity and depth to the league, typically offset by relinquishing a certain amount of user-friendliness:

  • Sleeper – Optimized specifically for mobile users with a sleek app but low customization
  • FleaFlicker – Increased customization but still easy to set up for first-time dynasty players
  • MyFantasyLeague – Absurd amount of league settings for dynasty players who want to get in the weeds
  • FFPC – Mid and High Stakes dynasty with Best Ball, Superflex, Tight End Premium and more

Have Fun!

Dynasty leagues are the ultimate format for year-round fantasy fans. Players who are learning about rookies, reading the news and checking in on the league in March out of boredom will love them. They’re a step up in commitment from your standard league, but more than worth it if you live fantasy football.

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If you like fantasy football and care about data, there's a 50/50 chance I've written for your favorite site. In a few short years I've covered, season-long, dynasty, best ball, and DFS for football. I used to be watching games and pretend to know what I was talking about but now I just spew numbers that forecast outcomes better than any scout. Come for the numbers, stay for the bad jokes and Zach Zenner references. RIP XFL.

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