"What is a Dynasty League?"
It will forever stick with me as the beginning of the end of everything I thought I knew about Fantasy Football. Which is quite a lot. According to my Yahoo fantasy profile, I started playing fantasy football in 2003, my sophomore year of high school, when a youth minister at my church started a youth group league. I have been in at least 2 leagues a year since then, capping out at 9 last year (not doing that again). It is literally an obsession of mine. I always make my own set of player rankings before my first draft that upload onto all my platforms and bring to my live drafts, adjusting as necessary between half-point and full-point PPR, 2 QB, etc. Last year my addiction even paid off in connecting with the awesome group of guys at Fantasy News Hour to be able to get on their radio show and write/do the weekly rankings for their website. That wasn’t my only fantasy milestone last year though. I decided it was time to finally grow out of my redraft cycle and play the ultimate form of fantasy football. The apex of digital sports management: a dynasty league.
For those that may not know, a dynasty league in many cases is a form of fantasy football where your league is scored week-to-week just like normal, the difference being roster construction. Rather than being done with your roster at the end of the season and redrafting a team next year, you keep your entire roster. So next-level elements of managing like buying for a title push, selling for pieces, and even tanking come into play (although we nip that in the bud with the winner of the consolation bracket getting first overall pick in the following year’s draft). Drafting is obviously different as well, as your draft consists only of rookies instead of the entire player pool.
So, I wanted to put together an all-star team of the best redraft players I have played with in my many, many leagues over the years. This wasn’t going to be a league where a comment of “I’m in” on a Facebook post gets you in. You had to prove you knew your shit to get into the Big Country Dynasty League. I wanted this 12-team, 25-man roster, 1/2 pt PPR league to be the most competitive league for everyone that was in it. So that is exactly what I did. It took a bit, but it filled up. Right as I found my last fantasy veteran to join the battle, I got a text from one of my very best friends Levi:
“What is a Dynasty League?”
Now, a little bit about Levi. Levi knows football, but not necessarily fantasy football. He is one of my favorite people to watch football with because he sees and notices things that I don’t even look for as I am trying to mentally calculate how many points that 4-yard swing pass got my Flex RB. But that’s not surprising considering he was a decorated Center and team captain on a state championship high school team and three-year varsity lineman on one of best ACU Wildcat offenses ever. I have been in fantasy leagues with him before, but they are more the “he's already been drafted, take a shot!”, “just give me the next best Tight End” as they’re pouring a drink type leagues. The optics of this draft would more closely resemble a game of Dungeons and Dragons than that.
“Man, a Dynasty League is like a normal league on steroids lol. It’s got a huge roster, you have a budget to bid on Free Agents during the year, and you keep your team into next year and we just draft rookies.”
“Oh damn, that’s intense. I don’t know if I could handle all that haha.”
“Yeah, the league is filled up right now, but if anyone ever drops out I’ll holler at ya!”
“Okay sounds good.”
Well, last minute, we did lose one. I couldn’t be so selective in my league construction now and I didn’t want to kick anyone out and condense to ten. So now instead of taking applications for the league, I am goading a hesitant Levi into joining. Hell, we spend most of our Sundays together posted up at R Bar or The Zone watching football anyway, I’ll just use all my vast fantasy football prowess to guide him along. Every league needs a Browns, right? He’s a good sport, he won’t mind…
I won’t give a whole season recap because, as much as I love fantasy sports, I am self-aware and observant enough to know that no one gives one single damn about your fantasy team or league. There are few high points worth noting though.
The draft: In a cruel act of the Fantasy Gods, the lamb I have led to the slaughter gets the 12th pick in a 12-team league, the statistical worst spot to draft in with hopes of winning the league. His draft is something “experts” would have absolutely scoffed at. Dak Prescott, the first QB off the board, in the 4th round (he’s a football fan in Abilene, TX, of course he is taking the Cowboys QB!), drafted 5 TE’s including REALLY reaching on Jason Witten (because you can’t draft O-linemen, Tight End is next best thing), and drafting 2 Defenses and 2 Kickers (because I need to plan for bye weeks, right?). The room didn’t give him much guff because we were grateful he joined on such short notice…but you could sense the judgement from high atop Experienced Fantasy Football Player Mountain.
The season: This is where we kind of start to give away the ending. Again, no week-by-week breakdown because I really want you to stick with me for the moral. However, Levi’s Peerless Team, yes he kept the Yahoo assigned team name and graphic (pictured), started the season 8-1. Turns out, some of his non-Cowboy/TE picks panned out pretty well to the tune of Kareem Hunt and Aaron Jones. Heck even his Adrian Peterson draft pick wasn’t all that crazy for a few weeks. Ending the season on a 4 game losing streak brought everything back to reality though. Welp, that was fun! Heck, he even made the playoffs, so now I don’t have to worry about him quitting the league!
The playoffs: This is where it all should have ended. Levi’s Peerless Team, on a 4-matchup losing streak averaging 92 pts per, going against the red-hot Shane’s Injured Mules (college intramural team, long story, shut up) on a 4-matchup win streak after pulling off a heroic Antonio Brown trade deadline move, averaging 148 pts per in the 4-5 seed matchup. Do y’all remember those last few games last year when Blake Bortles actually looked like an NFL QB and was a top 6 fantasy QB? Guess who got fed up with Dak and decided to roll the dice on Blake Bortles? Aaaaaanyway, Levi’s Peerless Team slaughtered Shane’s Injured Mules in a 164-148 first round defeat, and rode that momentum through Fantasy News Hour (the guy that literally knows more about Fantasy Sports than any human I have ever known) and Dukey Style (my best friend who I have watched and played more fantasy football with than anyone) on his way to the first ever Big Country Dynasty title!
From a fantasy perspective, this absolutely shook me. I literally do HOURS of work and research every week on fantasy football, as does everyone else in this league. I get up at 5:30 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during football season to write a weekly rankings article. I field texts, calls, and messages throughout the week asking for my fantasy football input, as do many of the other experienced players in this league. And we were all bested by the scab. The “Yeah the league is filled up right now, but if anyone ever drops out I’ll holler at ya!” guy. The “made one roster move all year and spent $20 of his $100 FAAB all year”, guy. How? HOW does this happen??
Because it’s all freaking luck is how.
Now granted, there is an element of skill. Knowing matchups, field performance, fatigue…those are still all absolute parts. As cliché as it sounds though, we can’t predict the future and “any given Sunday” applies just as much to if not more to fantasy than “real” football.
So, as a fellow fantasy player, I ask one favor of you. Shut the hell up. When you see that post on Facebook or Instagram and they took Gronk with the first overall pick because “they want to lock up the best TE in the game” but you know it was really because he freaking killed it on Shark Week, shut the hell up. Or your girlfriend took Jimmy G in the second round of the Family League because he’s cute as hell, shut the hell up. You don’t know shit. There are 16 weeks between now and the title, and you don’t know anything about what is going to happen between now and then. What you ARE doing is turning someone off one of the most fun ways to enjoy one of the most fun sports around. That’s what I love so much about fantasy, it takes the casual one team fan, and turns them into a rabid addict. Suddenly it makes sense why I insist on watching that Bengals-Ravens game on Thursday because it’s my starting QB’s bye week and have to see if that flyer I took on Dalton pays off (it never does by the way). Yeah, your lists and rankings are knowledge, but they’re not gospel and they are all one injury away from being complete garbage.
So, let people draft they way they want to draft, play the way they want to play! Hell, I’ve gotten to the point where I like a few wild cards in the league. How boring would it be to just play in a league with 11 Matthew Barry’s? It’s their team, let them play it! The more fantasy players having fun the better!
Levi was actually pretty gracious in his victory. It came time for the first rookie draft and due to us being kind of a mixed bag of friends of mine from various walks of life, it was the first real time they all got to congratulate him in person. Then the shit-talking started. I of course was teasing him about his computer-assigned moniker and how “isn’t it about time to change it from that dumb ass name? I mean, Levi’s Peerless Team?” Then, in his only trash he really talked he cut right to the core.
“Well…it kinda fits doesn’t it?” You’re damn right it does bud, you’re damn right.