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Dynasty 101

You've been playing Fantasy Football for a few years now. You're addicted, it's OK, we all are. Up to now, you've mastered the basics of drafting a dominating team, trash talking the other owners in your league, and collecting your prize money. At some point, the guys in your league got their heads together and decided that they wanted to keep players like Shawn Alexander, Randy Moss, and Peyton Manning on their teams. At that point, your league went to a keeper format, where you each held a handful of players from year to year. Your team stayed strong behind the power of the great players you drafted and kept. Up until now, you might have thought that your league had progressed as far as it could. There is another step. Do you want your league to better reflect the NFL? Are you ready to find the next unknown Kurt Warner and ride him to the Super Bowl while the rest of the owners in your league wonder how you did it? Do you want to be fully rewarded for the time and dedication you've put into your team while other owners just ripped a cheatsheet of out a magazine on draft day? Then you're ready to play in a Dynasty League.

Quite simply, Dynasty is keeping each and every player on your roster from year to year. You build, well, a Dynasty as the great players on your team carry over to the next season. You want to have a team with the likes of Dante Culpepper, LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, and Terrell Owens? You can have all of them at the same time in a Dynasty League. It won't be easy, not in the slightest, and it will take a few years slowly crafting your juggernaught, but you can build the greatest Fantasy Football team the world has ever known in this format. Dynasty goes 365 day a year. You manage your team in the off season just like you do in the regular season.

If there is a goal in a Dynasty league, it's to win the championship two, three, even more times in a row. You want the other owners in your league to say, "not the Folsom Felons this week? That's a guaranteed loss".

There are two ways to set up your Dynasty League. The first is what most leagues do; they simply convert their Keeper league and start holding every player on the roster. This is popular because once you've owned Randy Moss for a year or two in your keeper league, the last thing you want to do is risk giving him up and start all over. Unfortunately, the teams in your league with poor rosters or that are loaded with older players are at a disadvantage day one. The fair and recommended way is to start over entirely with a new draft, or better yet an auction. In an auction, each owner has a pre-set amount of dollars to bid with, and every player goes to the highest bidder. You're the greatest Seahawks fan in the world, and you just have to have Shawn Alexander? You can get him, but it might cost you. That's the advantage of an auction. In a Dynasty league, it's possible that you might have a player on your team for 10 or 15 years. If you want Shawn Alexander, and you drew the #11 spot out of hat in a draft, you might never get him on your team before he retires.

If you start over from scratch, throw every player in the NFL into the pool of players for the draft or auction. As you draft or bid, remember that while Priest Holmes may still be one of the best RBs in the league this season, this might be his last year before he retires. How you draft is going to change dramatically. Because of the number of seasons that each will play RBs like Julius Jones and Steven Jackson are far more valuable than Tiki Barber and Priest Holmes. If your league decides to jump to a Dynasty Format right out of last season, then each team will be holding every player it had last year, and you will only have a rookie/free agent draft. In this draft, every rookie and player not on a roster at the end of last season is put in the player pool, and you run a straight draft from worst to first. The worst team in the league last season gets the first pick in every round of this draft. The best team or Super Bowl winner gets the last pick in every round. Even if you start completely over this season, this is how your annual draft will run from here on out. Don't be surprised when the top of your rookie draft is almost entirely RBs. Almost expect that the owners in your league will reach for RBs Frank Gore and Eric Sheldon long before top WRs Mike Williams and Troy Williamson are off the board. RBs are the scarcest commodity in Fantasy Football, and although he might be great down the road, QB Aaron Rodgers isn't starting for Green Bay any time soon. As a Dynasty Football Shark, take advantage of this, and be prepared to trade up in the rookie draft to grab these great non-RB talents that are falling. Your rookie draft can go for as many rounds as the guys in your league want to draft. It won't matter in the end result. If your league's roster size is say 24 spots, then before the first game of the season, every team in your league will need to cut down to 24 players whether you drafted 5, 7, 12, or even 20 rounds deep in the rookie draft. In the KBBFL, a Dynasty league I've played in since 1990, Terrell Davis was drafted in the 9th round of the rookie draft, and went on to start for that owner until he retired. It's better to give every owner a chance to find greatness by drafting deep.

In a Dynasty league, the roster sizes are greatly expanded. The typical Dynasty team has 22 or more players on the squad, many more if you also play IDP (individual defensive players instead of just having the entire defensive team). The reason that you need more roster space is that you will have players like QB Aaron Rodgers where you have zero expectation that they will play this season. In a redraft league, having a guy like Rodgers is a waste of a roster spot. He isn't going to play. However, in a Dynasty league, Rodgers is exactly the type of player you want on the roster. He should be the starting QB for the Packers in the future, and he shouldn't be expensive to acquire and hold for a few years. When he becomes the starter in Green Bay, you could have a great young QB, which you developed on your bench. No redraft league owner in the world had Tom Brady on their roster before he won the starting job. Let me assure you that he was on a few Dynasty team rosters. In Dynasty, if you truly believed that Barry Sanders was coming back, you can pick him up and carry him for the next 3 years. It will cost you a valuable roster spot, but that is your choice to make. Rocket Ismael was carried in one of my leagues for the two years he was in the CFL. As long as they are not in College, and they are eligible for the NFL, they are free game. That is what you want to accomplish. Find a virtually unknown player with tons of potential, stash him away, and build a stronger team year after year as the other owners in your league wonder how you do it.

You always want to be thinking about and planning for the future in a Dynasty League. In a redraft league, securing certain situations is good strategy. You might go after Jay Fielder and AJ Feeley so you can have the Miami QB situation. The Vikings RBs are another example. That's really a one-year strategy to ensure you have a starter for bye weeks and injuries. In a Dynasty league, you will get burned chasing these combinations because the situation will change from year to year. Most likely an NFL team will use a top pick in the draft to fill a position of weakness like this, and next season you will be caught holding a number of mediocre back up level players.

After converting your league, or drafting new teams from scratch, the art of trading players is the most important skill in a Dynasty League. In this format, a great trade can propel you into league championship after league championship. A poor trade will haunt you for years to come. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects in all of Fantasy Football is trading to fix holes in your roster, and create a stronger team. In your redraft league, you might have found that getting a trade done is rather difficult. This will not be the case in a Dynasty league. In fact, expect trading to happen at an almost feverish pace right after the NFL season is over, right before your league's rookie draft, and all throughout the regular season. Remember the annual rookie draft? In that draft, you have picks just like the NFL teams, and you can trade them just like NFL teams. Say it's week 5, and your #1 RB just went down for the season. You have a surplus of WR talent, and you want to trade a WR for a RB. You contact various owners in the league, and try and get a deal done. We've all heard the dreaded "It's a close deal, I just need a little more" from other owners. In a redraft league, with smaller rosters, you often don't have that "little extra" to trade and still have a team with a shot at the title. So you are stuck with giving away too much and hurting your team, or not trading at all. It's a no win situation. In a Dynasty league, you have tons of firepower to trade with. First, you have an expanded roster, and a number of developmental players that you aren't using this season that can be traded away without hurting your chances at the title. Secondly, you have draft picks in the upcoming annual draft. The other owner needs a little more? Throw him your second round pick in next year's draft to even out the trade. You are the greatest Raiders fan on the planet and you HAVE to have Randy Moss in Silver and Black? Offer a WR and your first round draft pick for the next two or three years. You will get Moss. Build your team however you want to. It becomes fun as any player in the league suddenly becomes tradable for the right price, and although it might cost you dearly, you have the ability to meet that "right price" with all the extra players and draft picks in your possession. When trading away future draft picks, make sure that you have a plan in place if an owner trades away a lot of their future, and decides to simply quit the league instead of work on rebuilding. If an owner trades away a future draft pick, they must go ahead and pay their entrance fee for that season. If you want to trade away a 3rd round pick in 2007, then you need to pay your league dues for 2005, 06, and 07.

Dynasty takes more thought and skill as you build an unstoppable juggernaught capable of winning year after year. If you've already mastered redrafting every year, it's time to start building your Fantasy Football franchise.

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