How to start a dynasty fantasy football league

Have you ever thought about starting a dynasty fantasy football league but have been unsure how to go about it? In this article, I’m going to outline some basic steps to make that happen.

Round up some dedicated, committed owners
The first and most important step to starting a dynasty fantasy football league is finding committed owners to participate. You can’t have a league without owners. Not much good will come from having a flawless league constitution and rule book if you can barely scrounge up enough owners to participate. I would recommend at least 10 owners, but ideally 12 to participate in your league. The kind of owners you want to include are those who are smart about football, are dedicated and committed to playing multiple seasons, who won’t flake out and miss your league’s draft and will play the entire season even if their team bombs.

Declare a league commissioner
When you have assembled all your owners, make sure you find the right commissioner for the job. Maybe this is already you and thus you can skip this step. But the commissioner should be someone who is honest and has integrity. Somebody who will enforce the rules and not work under the table like a Chicago politician. Someone who values the success of the league over the success of his own team. It’s not an easy job. It is often thankless and requires a lot of work to keep the league afloat.

Decide on your league rules
Now that you have the owners and commissioner in place, you’ll need to set up your league’s constitution and rules. What sort of things go into this step? You’ll need to decide lineup rules, scoring rules, trading, waiver wire and free agency rules. Should you have a dynasty start-up draft, or would you rather do an auction? Are you going to have a salary cap complete with player contracts, or would you rather just hold over players endlessly until they’re no good anymore and you decide to drop them from your team? Do you want to limit the number of players teams are allowed to keep each year a la keeper leagues, or is everybody eligible to be retained? These are the types of things that need to be decided and you have to get a consensus from your league owners. Be forewarned, there will be a lot of debate about the best way to go about doing things. That’s why a good, ol’ fashioned democratic vote should take care of differences of opinion.

Find a fantasy league manager hosting service
This step along with the previous one could often be interchangeable. You might have ideas of rules for your league that don’t quite fit into any of the league manager services out there, so you might have to tweak your rules. Conversely, if you did this step first before setting your rules, you might realize after the fact that the league manager service you selected will not allow you to implement an important rule you desire, thus you might have to switch providers. There are a lot of league managers out there that are flexible as long as you don’t have too obscure of rules, so I think you’ll be fine doing this step after setting your league’s rules.

Host your league’s start-up draft or auction
When you have all the league logistics set up, then it’s time for the fun part. This is also one of the more frustrating parts for commissioners. Trying to wrangle up your league owners for your league’s draft or auction can be a stressful thing, especially when everybody has conflicting schedules during the summer. And since this is the most fun day of the entire fantasy football calendar — even doubly important for dynasty start-up drafts which can make or break your teams for a couple years — you want everybody at the draft or auction. This is something you should ask prospective owners about before bringing them on board earlier in the league start-up process. Ask them what their summer schedules are like and if they have the flexibility to make a draft any day of the week and at specific times. If an owner is too busy and can’t find a few hours to spare sometime during the summer, maybe they’re too busy to participate in your league.

Make the first year a rousing success
There are a lot of dynasty leagues that cave after a year or two because owners often realize the demands of the format and can’t keep up with it. We live in an online world, thus owners who relocate don’t necessarily have to quit the league. But there are many other life changes that occur that might cause an owner to drop out. I certainly don’t appreciate or respect owners who drop out because their teams fall on hard times. That’s bull honkey. See it through; fix your team. But because of the potential volatility of a dynasty league, it’s important to make your first year a rousing success. Oh, there will be missteps along the way, you can be sure of that. But the hope is that you avoid any kind of scandals or shady dealings that sour owners on your league. And perhaps just as important as keeping it clean and filled with integrity is that you have 12 owners (or however many are in your league) actively participate, get involved in trade talks, set their lineups even when they’re out of the playoff hunt, and be genuinely interested in the well-being of your league. Because if you don’t have active and engaged owners, no amount of rules can change the success of the league.

Propose and vote on changes to your league’s constitution
Take note: you’re going to get something wrong the first time around. I’ve been in leagues that have a lot of different rules and tweaks from their original inception. There’s no law that says once something has been set, it can’t be amended. That’s the whole purpose of an amendment to the United States constitution, for example. After your inaugural season is over (and after each subsequent season), the owners in your league should decide what seems to work and what appears to need changes and should offer rule proposals to fix those issues. Your owners should talk about them, exchange ideas, and have an official vote on making amendments to your league’s constitution and rule book. This is also a time to consider owners’ participation in your league. I wouldn’t advise that you start kicking people out of the league on a whim. But have serious talks with such owners who don’t seem fully engaged and ask them if this is something they really want to do.

That’s about it. A dynasty league in a nutshell. After this process, you have your rookie-only draft, you pick up the veteran scraps who might have been dropped from other teams and you rinse and repeat from that point forward.

Good luck, fantasy owner!