How to start a dynasty fantasy football league [2019 update]

Do you enjoy fantasy football but are looking for a new challenge? Start a dynasty fantasy football league!

Redraft leagues are fun and refreshing because they give you a clean slate each season. And you know what they say: hope springs eternal, and there’s always next year!

But if you’re looking for a new challenge and want to try to build a team that you can sustain year after year, then dynasty football might be for you.

But how does one join a dynasty fantasy football league? You could search online or ask some of your fellow fantasy football owners. Or, you might just want to start your own league.

Here’s how to start a dynasty fantasy football league:

What is dynasty fantasy football?

For the newbies and the uninitiated, dynasty fantasy football is a league that rolls over its rosters from year to year. It injects a touch of reality into your fantasy league.

Real NFL general managers are tasked with building a successful ball club that competes for a title every season. They sign free agents, draft rookies, and try to build a dynasty.

As a dynasty league owner, your job is basically the same. The challenge is sustaining a competitive roster.

If you have a bad team one year, it’s all the more difficult digging it out of a hole for next season. But if you have a successful team, your job is to try to win multiple championships with the same players.

What are keepers in dynasty fantasy football?

The players who conclude one season on your roster and then begin with your team the next year are called “keepers.”

Depending on your league’s rules, you might be allowed to keep all your players, or there might be a restriction on how many you are allowed to protect.

You determine which players you want to keep each offseason and then replace them with rookies or other available veterans.

Determine the dynasty fantasy football keeper league rules

It is important to set the right rules if you are creating a dynasty fantasy football league from scratch.

You decide what is most important to you and how you want your league to run. I would decide the rules and structure of your league before you find owners to play in it.

Some keeper league rules you’ll want to consider include (but are not limited to):

  • How many teams should be in a keeper league? (My advice: 10-12)
  • How many keepers should be allowed? (My advice: unlimited)
  • Should keepers count as “draft picks” in the next year’s draft? (My advice: No, allow teams to keep players without it costing them draft picks)
  • Do you want to have a salary cap league where players cost money? (My advice: It’s a lot of fun, but make sure you have fiscally smart owners)
  • Should you hold a draft or auction? (My advice: Both are fun, but unless you run a league where players cost money, I’d stick with drafts)

Other things to consider:

  • Should there be a trade deadline? (My advice: yes)
  • Should you allow owners to veto trades? (My advice: in redraft leagues, I’d say no. But in dynasty leagues, where an unbalanced trade can screw up a franchise for years, I’d say yes)
  • When should teams have to declare whom they will keep? (My advice: at least a month before your league’s draft, but after the NFL Draft in April)

(More: Fantasy Football Rules)

Choose the right type of owners for your league

Choosing your dynasty fantasy football league owners is one of the most important things you can do. This could make the difference between a successful league and a total flop.

These are the qualities you should be seeking in fantasy owners:

  • Dedicated and not flaky
  • Responsible
  • Fiscally aware (for salary cap leagues)
  • Passionate about fantasy football
  • Knowledgable about football
  • Not gullible or capable of being swindled
  • Willing to commit to playing many years
  • Pays attention and checks their email regularly

If you have owners who fail any of the above qualifications, it could make for a rocky league. I’ve participated in dynasty leagues where half of the owners never checked their email and were impossible to get ahold of.

What is the fun of participating in a league like this where only half the owners pay attention?

Set a date for your dynasty fantasy football draft (or auction)

As a fantasy commissioner, one of the most frustrating duties I have — just below chasing down owners for their entry fees — is trying to schedule the draft on a date that all owners can make.

My advice would be to schedule your league’s draft on the same weekend every year. Obviously, days will change each year, meaning you can’t schedule it on a specific date unless you want to have a weeknight draft. But pencil it into a specific weekend every year.

My recommendation is to schedule it for the third or fourth Saturday or Sunday of August. These weekends are after the third preseason game, meaning injuries that occur after your draft will be minimal.

One of the prerequisites you can ask of your owners before inviting them into your league is ensuring that they — or a proxy — can attend that date each year (barring an unfortunate and unseen incident).


Fantasy Football is one of the most popular and insanely fun activities you can do. It’s also quite the challenge for those who are up to it.

If you’re ready to take the challenge to the next level, then a dynasty fantasy football league might be right for you.

But be forewarned: if you do not take the proper steps to set up your dynasty league, you might be stuck with lemons as owners and the league could be a total flop.

Set the rules, get dedicated and committed owners who are willing to abide by such rules, and then get ready for a wild ride!