2017 Fantasy Football Draft prep: Setting up your first keeper or Dynasty league
So you're thinking about diving into dynasty or keeper leagues? Great! Here's what you need to know to make the best of it.
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Over the past week, I've updated my dynasty rankings for every position and rookie only drafts -- look to the right, and click away to your heart's content. Dynasty leagues are my favorite way to play Fantasy Football and these rankings are good way to get you prepared for the transition if you decide you're ready to move in that direction. Understanding the difference in value when you're looking at three years as opposed to one is the biggest key to success.
But before you decide which players you want to draft, you need to figure out what type of league you want to have. They all have their benefits. It's August, and here where our offices are located in Fort Lauderdale the swimming pool is the best way to beat the heat. But, you have to figure out how big of plunge you're willing to take. You're going to the deep end of the pool, but how are you getting in?
Here's what I mean...
- Keeper leagues. This is taking the ladder into the deep end. Maybe not even letting go of the edge, if you only keep one or two players a year. If your league isn't sure if they're ready for the full Dynasty experience, this is a great way to get your collective feet wet. You get to select the number of keepers each team keeps each year, and then redraft the rest. You can even assign a round penalty that stays the same each year or escalates over time.
- Dynasty leagues. You're certain you can swim, and you don't mind if you get your hair wet. Jump right in. In a true Dynasty league, owners keep as many players as they want each year. The only draft each subsequent year is a much smaller rookie-only draft, typically three-to-six rounds. You can make free agent acquisitions throughout the summer -- use FAAB so the night owl getting CBS Sports alerts doesn't beat everyone to the latest add when news breaks in the summer.
- Dynasty IDP leagues. If you're going to jump in, why not go off a diving board? Maybe even do flip or something. This is where it gets fun, and where the water gets really deep. Remove that team defense, kick kickers to the curb -- you should have done that already, in any format, but that's for another time -- and add individual defensive players. At the minimum, I suggest two defensive lineman, two linebackers and two defensive backs. You can determine whether you want to reward big plays (sacks, INTs) heavily, or focus more on the guys making all the tackles. You need expand not only your roster spots but also your rookie draft to at least six rounds.
- Salary cap Dynasty leagues. Does your local pool have a high dive? Remember how high it looked when you were a little kid? That's probably how you're going to feel going straight from redraft to this monster. But it is so much fun. The best way to do this is to have an auction in Year 1 to establish each player's auction value as their salary for the coming year. You can then add yearly escalators and long-term contracts. Because you have to manage a salary cap this will add to the player turnover in the league, creating an enhanced offseason free agency period. This is the most immersive experience you can have in Fantasy Football, especially when combined with full IDP.
Regardless of whether you're doing a salary cap league or not, I highly recommend using the auction format. Auctions allow owners to target players they want, and provide a more engaging experience overall. Especially if you can do them live. The downside is that they are generally longer and can be difficult to manage if you don't have everyone in one location. CBS Commissioner offers online auctions with customizable timers and bidding processes, which can ease that burden.
Once you've figured that out, it's time for the rules. Here are my preferred rules, in order of importance.
- Decimal scoring (ex. 0.1 points per rushing yard as opposed to 1 point for 10 yards).
- Ban kickers.
- All touchdowns count (I prefer points for kick & punt return yardage as well, but that's up to you).
- IDP (At least two starters per position).
- At least one IR spot so you don't have to cut a young player that is lost for the year.
- Two practice squad spots that are solely for rookies. (Once a player is taken off practice squad they cannot be replaced until next season).
There are other decisions to make: PPR vs. non-PPR; the number of receivers you want to start; how many points a passing touchdown should be worth. Those are all personal preference issues that really shouldn't affect how enjoyable your league is. If you don't have a preference, just go with the standard settings. Now, for the things that don't really have anything to do with scoring or lineups. These things are absolutely silly, but they help build camaraderie and pride in the league. The most important aspect of a good dynasty or keeper league is keeping the league together long-term. These will help:
- If your league is a local one, institute an owners meeting at the end of the year. This is another time for everyone to get together, discuss rule changes, mock the worst team, and hand out the trophy.
- Oh yeah, get a trophy. Or a belt. Or something to give to the winner of your league. Yes, it's silly. But it gives people positive memories and a sense of pride. At the very least it gives everyone something to talk about.
- Don't be afraid of change. You won't get your league perfect in Year 1. Be prepared to have discussions and votes on rule changes after Year 1 and moving forward. Just don't change rules in the middle of the year.
One of the most important functions of Fantasy Football is the way it can hold a group of friends together for decades. While all leagues are good at that, the best are leagues that are ongoing and incorporate keeper or Dynasty rules. Whether you want to dip your toe in the water or dive right in, I'd highly recommend give Dynasty leagues a shot.
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