What is a Dynasty League in fantasy football?

Looking at some of the basic information and how a dynasty can differ from a redraft or season-long league.
Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Rob Carr/GettyImages

With the popularity of fantasy football increasing each year, die-hard fans over time have added wrinkles to the game that allow them to interact with the sport they love. The specific origins of dynasty leagues within fantasy football are unclear, but the concept has been welcomed by thousands of followers in the United States.

Dynasty leagues do not change the gameplay of fantasy football but rather the overall format of the league. The rules can vary from league to league depending on the commissioner but the general idea is to mimic the life of a real-life NFL general manager.

What is a dynasty league in fantasy football?

Dynasty is one of the largest growing sections of fantasy football. It is a league in which your roster carries over from year to year, meaning you get to keep all your players for as long as you want. As you can guess from the name, a dynasty league is a long-term league that will carry on as long as the managers are willing. A dynasty team, at its heart, lets us be more than just a fan of a single team and allows us to broaden our fandom into being fans of players as well.

In essence, you get to manage like an NFL team, making decisions on when it is time to sell a star player to get younger at a certain position, or if you are looking to trade for someone to help your team for just a couple of seasons. Maybe you want to get the upside of a young player who might end up being a star but just hasn't proven it yet. These are just some of the decisions you get to make as you begin on your path to building a dynasty.

In the beginning

At the formation of the league, there is one large draft where every position player (Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, and Tight End) is available to be drafted. This initial draft is important because it will determine who you will have on your roster for the remainder of their career unless they are dropped or traded.

After the initial draft, the only ways to add a new player to your roster is to add them from free agency, trade for them, or through the annual rookie draft. The rosters in a dynasty league are usually larger than a season-long league, allowing managers to stash young players and keep injured players who would normally get dropped.

Numerous strategies for team building depend on roster construction, like when to take a quarterback or if you prefer to start with a wide receiver, or youth versus production. Younger players will hold value for longer but may not help you win right away like some veterans. No matter what type of roster you want to build, you have several options to be able to mold it the way you desire.

Two major differences

There are two main times a dynasty season differs from a normal fantasy football season: the offseason and the middle-to-end of season. 

By the middle of the season, most managers know if their team will compete for a championship or are stuck in a rut. In season-long fantasy football, the latter manager might stop checking the waiver wire, stop making roster changes, or simply stop setting a lineup. This does not usually happen in a dynasty league, as a manager can decide their team is not set up to win a championship and start to trade their players for better value or future rookie draft picks.

One of the beautiful things about dynasty fantasy football is that everyone values different factors at their own level. A player's youth, production, potential, and stability are all up to individual interpretation for each manager. This facilitates trades throughout the year in a way no manager can ever really see in redraft leagues and brings a whole new wrinkle to fantasy football.

The NFL offseason is typically a dead period for a regular fantasy league, but for a dynasty league, we need to always have an eye out for news and transactions because they will affect players on our teams.

Between the end of the fantasy playoffs and the beginning of the NFL Free Agency tends to be a quiet time for dynasty managers as there is very little news coming from NFL teams. Free agency and the NFL Draft can bring major changes to NFL rosters, which means dynasty rosters change their values as well. Analyzing these in the offseason can help us to inform the decisions we make for dynasty teams throughout the year in ways we do not have to in a redraft league.

The Rookie Draft

The rookie draft happens every year in place of the usual draft with all players. This draft will typically take place shortly after the NFL Draft but sometimes can be held closer to the beginning of the NFL season. These rookie drafts are usually held similarly to the NFL Draft, meaning the team with the worst record will pick at the beginning of each round, rather than a snake draft.

The rookie draft tends to be the best way to add talent and depth to our rosters between seasons. Rookies are the lifeblood of a dynasty team, so the ripple effects of missing or hitting on a draft pick can be felt for years to come. One of the amazing things about building a dynasty team comes through drafting a player you believe in and watching them become a star, it builds a sense of connection that re-draft simply cannot give.

Why Dynasty?

Dynasty leagues are a great way to stay plugged in for more than just the regular season, and can help us to become better redraft players too as we get better informed of how talented younger players are. You get a chance to interact with your league mates for more than the 3 to 4 months of a regular NFL season. It is also can bring a better sense of how a real NFL team is run, as the decisions we make as managers can affect our teams beyond the current season.

Where can I play dynasty?

The best places to start playing in a dynasty league with normal rules are either Sleeper or Yahoo. Both sites offer easy-to-build, easy-to-manage, and easy-to-interact hubs, and are free to use.

If you are looking for a place that allows tons of custom rules beyond a simple dynasty league, My Fantasy League is the place for you. While it is not free, the customization options they allow for roster construction, league types, and all-around league support are second to none when it comes to setting up a dynasty league.

No matter what you're looking for, there are options for anybody so you can get your dynasty started whenever you're ready.