So you wanna start up a dynasty fantasy football league, huh?

Understandable as they seem to be just as much the rage as best-ball leagues these days. Truth be told, though, I have no idea why. We’ll talk about how to set one up – get you all organized and at least have it structured properly – but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a proper fantasy consigliere if I didn’t do my best to dissuade you. Yeah, that’s right – dissuade you.

First off, let’s establish what a dynasty league actually is. Do not confuse a keeper league with a dynasty league. You have a limited number of players you can hold over from year to year in keeper leagues while you build the majority of your team in a draft every season. A dynasty league has a deeper-than-usual roster size and you keep nearly your entire roster from year to year. Some leagues allow you to draft college players, some don’t. Some leagues force you to keep your entire roster while others allow you a handful of cuts and kick off the season with a short, rookie draft.

With that out of the way, let me give you a few reasons why you want to avoid the dynasty format.


Shelf-Life of Players – The average NFL player offers 3-to-5 seasons. This isn’t baseball where you can own a 20-HR hitter for 10 years. Football players take a pounding and rarely do you see anyone outside of the quarterback or kicker position who offers legitimate long-term value. But it’s more than just the physical abuse a player takes. With so much player and coach movement from year to year, a player’s value can fluctuate to the extreme. A guy can be productive for two years but if his offensive coordinator takes a head coaching job elsewhere and a new coordinator implements a different system, your player could lose significant value.

Shelf-Life of Leagues – People move. People change jobs. People’s lives change when they start a family. Leagues just don’t run as long as they used to, so why are you building a team to win in five years when the league may not even exist then? Sure, you can get people to pick up an orphaned team here or there, but the whole point of playing in a dynasty format is to compete against the same people for years and years. Owner turnover is a killer.

Lame Trades – When a guy is looking to solidify his championship run, he’ll mortgage his team’s future to land a game-changer or two towards the end of the season. Draft picks, injured players and rookies still hoping to break out are traded excessively and the returns leave the majority of owners nauseous. You wouldn’t deal the two players straight up for each other, but is the potential value of the pick enough to make up the difference between them? You’ll see plenty of these and, as a result, even more turnover as frustrated owners walk away in protest.

OK, so maybe these are just pet-peeves of mine, but I’ve gotten involved in enough of these leagues to know better than to join. The drama just isn’t worth it.

But if you’re still convinced you want to do a dynasty league, let’s start you up the proper way.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Draft Style

Your choice between an auction or a snake-style draft, but overall, an auction is better. Having actual dollar values makes it easier to work out inflationary costs, keeper values and, as you’ll see below, contracts. There’s nothing wrong with a snake draft, but having to keep track of rounds can be a bit harrowing.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Roster Size & Structure

You can treat this just as you would any other league. Traditionally, you roll out the 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1 D/ST for your starting roster and then have a 20-man bench. But, obviously, you can change things around any way you like. You want to make it a 2-QB league? Go ahead. Add another flex or two? Sure. Why the heck not? The key is the overall number of players you can own and 25-30 players seems to be the most common.

Dynasty Fantasy Football League Depth

The bigger the league the deeper you have to dive into the player pool each year. This is why most dynasty formats hover around the 12-team level. If they only have 10 teams, you can expect the roster size to be closer to the 40-man mark while you can expect just 20 to 25-man rosters in dynasty leagues with 14 teams. Twelve teams is the wheelhouse and if you choose to dive deeper into the player pool, you can simply increase the size of the rosters.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Contracts & Inflation

There should always be some sort of inflation to the cost of a player you are keeping. You may get lucky in your auction and pay just $3 for a rookie running back who has a breakout campaign and returns first-round value. Being able to keep him every year for that price is just plain silly. You should have to pay a little more each season until the player cost comes closer to market value. Some leagues have a standard 15-percent increase in salary each year while leagues that use a snake draft charge you a draft pick that is a round or two higher than where you originally drafted him.

Using contracts can often be helpful as it allows the owner to sign a player for longer at a discounted inflationary cost or they can simply choose to go year to year with the player. Your more consistent, high-end players are the ones you sign to long-term deals. If you pick up a player for $10 in your auction, the following season you can either sign him for three or four years at a five-percent increase in salary each year or you don’t sign him and pay the 15-percent increase each season. Just keep in mind that contracts travel with players. You can’t sign Saquon Barkley for four years, trade him after two and the other owner gets to start fresh with him. Once a player is signed to help control his cost, he plays out the full deal.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Collegiate Players  

You have to decide what makes up your player pool. Is it limited to players under an NFL contract or can you draft collegiate players? That is entirely up to you. Some auction leagues which use FAAB bidding for waivers allow you to pick up a college player midway through the season. If you allow for that, keep in mind that you’re going to see a lot more bargains coming into the league as not everyone is as in-tune with the NCAA as others and any rookie/free agent draft you run prior to the start of the season is going to be bleak with respect to depth.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Waivers/Free Agents

This runs just the same as any league, but similarly to your draft style, using bid dollars to set values should be preferred. Waiver priority means you have to set a round value for a player picked up during the season while FAAB bidding already puts an actual dollar value on players.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie/Free Agent Draft

You've got your roster size set and you've made the decision of whether or not you're allowing collegiate players to be drafted or picked up using your waiver system. Now you've got to make the decision of how to handle a potential rookie draft. Some leagues allow you to make cuts and then run a smaller draft before the season opens where owners can fill out their rosters with players not yet owned. Some say just rookies while others say rookies and any available free agent. That's entirely up to you. If you allow collegiate players to be picked up during the season, this may not be all that necessary, but if you don't, this is always a good time for teams to fill in some of the blanks. In the SiriusXM Dynasty League for example, we have two separate 14-team conferences with 30-man rosters and the ability to cut up to six players in the offseason. We don't allow college players to be drafted, so every year we kick things off with a six-round rookie/free agent draft. Seems to work pretty well.