The Verdict: Turn your league into a dynasty

There are several ways you can customize your fantasy baseball league to make the experience as realistic, enjoyable and competitive as possible. With the technology available from league hosting websites, you can add all the bells and whistles you want to make the league more simple or complex. But categorically speaking, your league is either a keeper (dynasty) or non-keeper (redraft) league.

Many keeper leagues also refer to themselves as dynasty leagues because the idea is that you will manage a team of players over the course of multiple seasons either by protecting a finite number or signing players to long-term contracts within the scope of your league’s salary cap restrictions. It is believed that dynasty leagues offer an experience more akin to being a general manager because you must consider the future while balancing the needs of the present.

That is not to say that non-keeper leagues don’t offer similar enjoyment or intuition. But many non-keeper leagues choose, at some point, to become a keeper league. The question is how to do that correctly.

When transitioning from a non-keeper league to a dynasty league, it is crucial that everyone starts out on an even playing field. From here on out, each team in the league is building its roster for the upcoming season and beyond. The past season’s standings and performance should not have a bearing on this new system. This concept would apply only to leagues that employ a snake-style draft because draft position and order are vitally important. In an auction league, everyone starts out with the same budget. If you choose to use a snake draft, you should have a procedure in place to randomize the draft order offering no advantages or disadvantages to anyone based on past performance.

One major factor all league members should consider is whether the commissioner is implementing any procedures that would inherently give him/her a distinct advantage. Most league commissioners are honorable and would not operate this way, but you would be surprised how many Machiavellian commissioners create advantageous rules or procedures for themselves. It never hurts to ask questions or be overly conscientious of everything.

Additionally, the commissioner should clearly lay out the rules and guidelines of how players are to be retained or signed to contracts for following seasons. This will affect everyone’s draft strategy because selecting a player near the end of his career won’t have the same long-term benefits as selecting a younger player who will be around for many more years. Knowing the rules and how to project for the future are key elements in preparing for a newly established dynasty league.

You will need to know whether your league permits roster spots for minor league for a period of time. Many dynasty leagues do allow teams to have minor leaguers who can be held under contract at a fixed rate until they are promoted to the big leagues. This is significant for league owners who really do see the big picture and look to build a solid foundation for many years to come.

Trades and transactions, are another key element of fantasy baseball roster management, are evaluated differently in dynasty leagues than in redraft leagues. This is because the value of compensation being offered or received must be looked at with both present-day and future value. Teams that fall out of contention for the current season tend to work on building their rosters for the future. To do this, they will trade away established and more expensive talent in exchange for players that have less value.

In a redraft league, players are on a roster for only the current season so whatever value they have will only serve to benefit a team right now. That is why trading an established superstar for an unknown rookie in a redraft league would likely get rejected. In a dynasty league, the same trade would likely be approved because there is more of a long-term benefit being received. Other factors used to evaluate trades in dynasty leagues include salary cap flexibility, a player’s fantasy contract status, and future draft picks or other projected compensation.

One final thought on transitioning from a redraft league: the concept of continuity and commitment. This is now a long-term commitment you are making since you will have ownership of your team and many of its players for several seasons down the road. Presumably, you are dedicated to honoring this commitment and will be a part of the league for many years. You should make sure you are in a league where the other members are just as dedicated to the long-term aspect that is now in play. If you have league owners who show little interest in their teams and the league has constant annual turnover, then the concept of a dynasty league is lost. That is not to say you can’t make it work, but ideally you should be in a league where everyone else is just as committed as you for the long haul.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me by email at
, on Facebook or on Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).

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  1. james said...

    there is nothing wrong with turning a league into a keeper (i have always used dynasty to describe leagues where you keep everyone on your roster).  the single biggest thing that kills leagues that i see all the time is that keepers should be drafted as keepers.  DO NOT turn a league that already drafted into a keeper/dynasty.  Player values are very different.  In a 1 year league Justin Upton is likely going in the 3rd or 4th rounds, in a keeper he is a tail end of the first round guy (same with Heyward and a few others).  Trout easy passes braun in value, ect. 

    Also decide on the number of keepers before the draft.  if you keep 20, you may want to grab oscar tavares in the 12th round, but if you keep 3, he is way too far away to stash.

  2. AtomicDumpling said...

    I agree that dynasty leagues are the ultimate form of fantasy baseball. There is a lot more strategy and skill involved in building a team that can dominate a league over the long term.

    I agree with the previous poster, who noted that a dynasty league is a league where you keep ALL of your players each year. A keeper league is a league where you only keep some of the players.

    Adding a minor league roster to your dynasty league adds a whole new level of strategy and intrigue.

    It is important to get rid of any sort of trade veto system in a dynasty league. With all the different strategies in play in dynasty league there can be all sorts of disagreements regarding player values and it results in lots of perfectly rational trades getting vetoed and starting arguments. For a dynasty league to last a long time you need to eliminate arguments by making all trades final. If you think a trade was lopsided you should have gotten to the victim first. Trade vetoes ruin leagues and most serious fantasy baseball players avoid leagues that allow vetoes like the plague.

  3. jj said...

    I almost agree with the no trade veto voting in keeper leagues This being said, I think having rules that try to ‘even out’ trades by making sure both sides are truly affected by the trade. Who wants a first place team getting Verlander for some random highly touted prospect that the other team may or may not keep. It doesn’t seem fair to affect the league this year and then not keep the guy next year.  so I think there are some rules that need to be made before saying ‘all trades are final’.

  4. Philly said...

    I disagree on the trade veto. We set our dynasty league (on Fantrax) at a 50% veto vote, and our league has 30 teams, so 15 of them would have to veto a trade. How can that spoil legit trades? Unless 15 people are in cahoots … not likely.

  5. AtomicDumpling said...

    I think you misunderstood. The point I was making about trade vetoes is that they cause arguments and cause people to quit the league. Either someone gets mad that their competitor benefited from a supposedly lopsided trade, or else somebody gets mad because other owners vetoed his trade.  Either way it can cause a league to break up. If you allow trade vetoes then you will have a high rate of turnover in your league. Turnover destroys dynasty leagues. For a dynasty league to work you need all the owners to stick around for a decade or more, arguing causes people to leave. Just a piece of advice from a long-time dynasty league player.

    Nothing ruins the excitement of the game more than having your trade vetoed by other jealous owners. Arguing over trades ruins leagues. Serious fantasy baseball players don’t play in leagues that allow other owners to decide what they can and cannot do with their own teams.

    In dynasty leagues, where you have people using widely differing strategies, different owners will have widely different opinions on player values, which leads to people thinking trades are lopsided when in fact they make perfect sense. People getting trades vetoed often causes them to leave the league. I have seen it happen time and time again. When we switched all three of our dynasty leagues over to no-veto leagues the arguing stopped. All trades are final. No whining and crying because someone got a good deal. It works, believe me.

    Trade vetoes are a relic of random Internet fantasy football leagues for beginners. If you have a commissioner there is no need for trade voting. It is a sign of a poorly-run league.

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