by Ivar Anderson
A lot of fantasy players were enticed to obtain their first team by hearing from their friend, “It’s just like running a real sports franchise.” If you play in a redraft league, however, you should have realized the fallacy of that promise, considering I don’t know of any professional sports league that requires its owners to redraft their entire team each year. Even playing in a keeper league, while providing for some continuity, does not mimic the sensation of being a true GM of your team.
No, for that you need another type of league setup, which if you read the title to this article you will have gleaned as being a Dynasty League. The purpose of these articles that I will be authoring over the course of the 2013 fantasy baseball season is to introduce the dynasty concept to those that haven’t yet tried their hand at owning a long term fantasy franchise, as well as to provide some assistance for those who are current dynasty owners. We shall also dip into the keeper league pool, occasionally, since in many cases the choices we make about keepers also have an impact on dynasty roster decisions, and vice versa.
First things first, what exactly do we mean by a “Dynasty League?” Typically, the league is composed of teams that continue from season to season, with only a rookie draft being held before the start of the season. The entire active roster remains intact from season to season. Theoretically, you could keep the same core of players for several years without any changes, but in reality trades, free agent moves and rookie call ups change your starting roster and bench the same way as happens in a redraft league during the season.
It is between seasons that we see the difference, in that the only infusion of new life is a few rookies. Rookies can either be kept as a reserve portion of the roster, only joining your team if activated while still qualifying as rookies, or the league can require that you drop veterans to be replaced with whatever young players you draft. If that is the case, then it becomes a balancing act to determine how many rookies you want to take a chance on, which has a lot to do with how young the rest of your roster is overall. One of the best things about being in a dynasty league is the impetus to keep up to date with the talent being developed in the minors. It may seem daunting at first, but there are great resources available, and I would humbly suggest that this portion of the Rotoprofessor site can assist you in keeping current. Plus, I am always willing to answer questions from readers, so don’t be fearful to e-mail me at my address at the end of this and future articles.
Next, let us examine how to start up a dynasty league. While some dynasty leagues start out fully formed (kinda like how Athena burst from Zeus’s head as a fully formed goddess), many start as keeper leagues that morph into a full dynasty format after a few years. The league may decide that yearly redrafts don’t reward owners with foresight to draft young talent enough, and thus, a vote is held to establish that a handful of players can be
kept from season to season. There may be penalties for keeping players, such as forfeiting a draft slot (if you keep Kemp, you give up a first round draft choice), or an inflation penalty (a fourth round draft choice moves up 3 rounds so that he is keepable only for one additional season, for example, or in an auction league a player takes on an additional amount of value, say $5 per season kept). A good way to develop a dynasty league is by adding additional keepers until a team’s entire roster is kept from season to season. I’ve been involved in both, and prefer the slow change from 3-5 keepers in the first year to full dynasty a few years down the road. It allows for more leniency in developing your team, especially with injuries and disappointing progression from rookies.
If your league starts up as a dynasty league from day one, you need to balance the mix of veterans and rookies/prospects when you draft. While taking all proven veterans will help you in the initial years, you will be scrambling to compete once those established players’ skill begin to erode. Ideally, you will have young players to jump in and keep your roster competitive as your veterans’ skills decline. For example, were I joining a new dynasty league this March, I would target players like Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers, Dylan Bundy and Billy Hamilton for my bench. It should be noted that dynasty leagues typically have a deeper bench than a redraft league, simply to allow you the opportunity to stash good, young ballplayers for future use.
If you are developing a dynasty league, please seriously consider a pre-season rookie draft. This avoids the problem of having one or two savvy owners from cornering the market on all the top rookies. If you are going to hold a rookie draft, or even if you aren’t, you might also consider banning rookie pickups during the season unless a player gets called up the majors. This avoids the run on rookies that are rumored to being called up to the MLB imminently. Again, just an attempt to keep the playing field level.
I would also suggest that the straight draft method be used as opposed to a snake draft with the rookie draft, slotting teams from worst to first. You can tinker with this system to avoid having teams tank the season to get the top pick in the draft by rewarding the teams that just missed the playoffs with the top picks; that is, if the top 4 teams make the playoffs, then the 5th and 6th team draft first, followed by 12-7, then 4-1(assuming a 12 team league). This provides an impetus to try to win until the playoffs begin. It works similarly with money leagues and roto leagues, although the league should decide where the cut off is in a “fun” roto league.
A league constitution is also strongly advised. Try to cover the situations I have detailed above, as well as providing for Commissioner power to resolve the inevitable squabbles that will arise. League voting is not my preferred method of solving disputes. All leagues should be run as benevolent dictatorships, not democracies, in my humble opinion as this removes the thought that the inmates run the asylum. My experience is that requiring a super-majority to make ruling will fail because not every owner wants to vote. Putting the vote threshold too low (51%) allows for poor decision making to ruin the league. Get tough, be fair and make the decisions, Mr. Commissioner, that’s my advice.
I will be writing about dynasty and keeper leagues this season, and am hoping on a weekly article (except when I go off on a baseball park tour vacation mid-summer). If you have a question about keeper or dynasty leagues, don’t be shy, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you put the phrase “Rotoprofessor” and either “dynasty” or “keeper” in the subject line, or I may miss your message (sorry, but I get hundreds of e-mails daily with my fantasy obsession).
Also, I am running mock drafts weekly at Mock Draft Central on Thursday evenings, at 8:30 PM EST. This week’s is almost full, but you can get in with this link:
Password is Alarm 5, and make certain you insert the space. If you want to be advised of future mock drafts, send me a message and I will add you to the invitation list. If you have a specific league setup you want me to mimic, as far as roster or scoring, send me that information as well and I will do my best to accommodate. By the by, if you sign up for the mock, it’s always nice to add your name to your moniker so I can chat with you by name.
Pitchers and catchers report soon. I am so excited. Already ordered my Tigers season tickets.