With the NFL season done for us degenerates, the lull that persists from late December until August weighs heavy like Mark Ingram giving Derrick Henry a piggyback ride. I assume the vast majority of the people reading this are involved in at least one redraft league, but I’m not so sure I can say the same about dynasty. Whenever “dynasty” is brought up, you may think of the Patriots or the Celtics, but to me, a true fantasy football fanatic, it means something completely different: I get to spend every waking hour of the entire year acting like a game will be played this upcoming Sunday. Even if it’s January 19th, with seemingly nothing to look forward to, there’s the Super Bowl, where a 2015 Chris Matthews-esque receiver will fool you into trading a second round rookie pick to acquire the talent that had spent more time lacing up other people’s shoes (in a Footlocker) than he did his own cleats. Even if it’s February 27th, well after the biggest game of the year, there is the combine, a day that reminds you that if you didn’t tear your ACL in high school, you would’ve made it to the league (you totally would have, I believe you). Then, how about in April? Surely nothing to look forward to then. Wrong. The draft is right around the corner, which, for some like me, is the day of reckoning where you tell yourself you’ll put your years of fandom in a dumpster if the team you root for takes a player you have never heard of, which surely means he’s bad and the front office is incompetent (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis now ring bells that previously never existed). I say all this to say, if you enjoy the thrill of a sixteen week grind from September to December, you’ll surely love the 12 month headache that is dynasty fantasy football. If you have any interest at all, I urge you to keep reading and hopefully find some ways to not only join a league, but find one that is built to last.
Unlike Drake, if you’re reading this, it’s not too late to get involved in a dynasty league, although, if Aubrey did play, he’d likely trade away all his players for rookie picks because, well, we all know how much he loves young talent. Anyways, I think the most important part of any dynasty league is finding one that is filled with people that plan on sticking around. Nobody wants to dole out a $100 buy-in two straight years, knowing they won’t see a penny of that money for those couple seasons because they decided to rebuild, then having the league fold like Charlie Babbitt without Rainman. To avoid this, I’d say, if you can, try to convince the people you already play in current leagues with to adopt, or start anew, a dynasty league. I get that this could be hard because people tend to avoid change and already tell you redraft is a big enough time commitment as is, but I’m sure you’ll find a handful that are willing to give it a shot. If not, there are other platforms to kick things off with like-minded people, such as on the Sleeper App, where we have a private forum that can be used to organize a league, or even on Patreon.com. Whichever path you decide to go on, just remember, if there’s a will, there’s a way, and if there’s a good will, then Robin Williams will show him the way.
Now, after you get your league set up, it’s time to decide on not only how much you’re willing to put into the pot, but where exactly this pot exists. If you’re doing it with your hometown friends/family, then it’s no different than how you’re setting things up now: you give your buy-in to the commissioner. If you’re playing with a bunch of randos and don’t trust them, which I wouldn’t because, if you circle back to the first statement of this whole article, we’re all degenerates, then there’s a different path to paying. One good resource is TeamStake.com. It sets your PayPal up on the website to connect to your league, streamlining the buy-in process, and if/when you take home the title, at season’s end, they pay out your winnings. In doing this, you can bypass any potential Frank Abagnale’s lurking in your league.
As for the second part of the buy in, a good strategy, one that pairs with my first sentiment of building a league that’s going to last more than a couple of seasons, is require people to buy in for 50% of the following year. For example, your buy-in is $50? Pay $75. Then, from that point forward, you only pay the original, which is then also paying for 50% of the following season (75-50=25 for next year, next year pay 50, 50+25 rolled over = $75, and the pattern continues). This way, it incentivizes people to stick around while also not being a major turn-off by telling them to pay in for two full years.
Ok, so now you have a league set up, everyone is bought in, but what is a fantasy league without banter and shit trade negotiations? This step is possibly the simplest. Create a GroupMe, get everyone in it, and start talking that ish. You can always mute the conversation if you don’t want your phone blowing up at 2:47 A.M. when some guy is trying to trade three 2020 4th round picks for Terrance West’s left ACL and gift card to Arby’s, so no need to worry about that. You can also direct message someone to discuss trade secrets that the Russian government wouldn’t be able to breach. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s a good time, so why not?
The last step in this process, and possibly the most important, is deciding a league format, if you haven’t already. At this point, I only recognize SuperFlex leagues, and honestly, I don’t see any reason to fade this format, unless you’re in a 20-man league, but let’s be real, nobody has that many friends. Having the option to start two quarterbacks not only makes every week of gameplay more engaging, but it allows you to implement different strategies into the draft and trade talks. If you hoard picks in the startup by trading back, then spend 3-4 of those on QBs in the mid rounds, once the draft ends, I can almost guarantee a leaguemate will be offering you someone they drafted in the 4th for a QB you took in the 7th because they though waiting until the 9th to grab a quarterback was a smart strategy, only to feel a pit in their stomach when they saw Mitchell Trubisky’s lifeless eyes stare into their soul when he was the only human being wearing a number between one and 19 available for them. To go along with SuperFlex, your league HAS to have at least 20 (mine, personally, has 21) bench spots. Sounds crazy, yes, but when you take a Raheem Mostert in the 23rd round, you’ll be thankful. Along with the deep bench, a taxi squad is essential, as it allows you to hold onto rookie/sophomore players without taking up bench spots for guys that you convince yourself will be usable (yeah, I agree, this IS Kevin White’s year, pal). I’d say five of these is more than enough, especially if you’re already boasting a 20 player bench.
If you’ve made it this far, it means one of two things: you either really wanted to see how many shitty puns I could throw into an article centering around starting a dynasty league, or you’re actually interested in dipping your toe in the fountain of youth that is dynasty fantasy football. If your reason is the former, then I’m sorry, but if it’s the latter, then I encourage you to get to it. Yes, there is still a lot of time before the 2020 season kicks off, but the earlier, the better.
If you’re apprehensive about playing with 11 other people you don’t know, then there is one possible solution. I will be organizing a start-up this offseason with approximately eight spots to fill, so if you want in on that, stay tuned or shoot me a DM if you have any questions.