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The Simple, Idiot’s Guide to the DynaBowl
(and Dynasty League Football in General)
Q: What is the point of a dynasty league?
A: In a dynasty league (DL) you get to keep some or all of your team each year and build a squad over a number of seasons.
Whereas in a normal fantasy football league (FFL) there’s little point investing in youth – not many rookies have great seasons, it takes experience to become a viable asset – in DL, you can draft a player in the rookie draft and stash them for when they do become viable.
The rosters are bigger in DL, to allow you to develop more players and take more chances.
The core of the challenge is the long term nature of the game. In a standard FFL next year a GM can start again and draft a whole new team. In DL it’s an iterative process. A bad team may seem impossible to turn around but a good GM can do it through clever trades and savvy drafting. However, a GM needs to be prepared for the fact that it may take several years to turn around. In a DL you are in it for the long term.
Q: And what about the salary cap?
A: So some DLs are essentially just multi-keeper leagues, allowing GMs to keep a large number of players each year, or with some restrictions – eg you may only keep one player over 30 or you can only keep 2 players at each position. Others limit the total number of years you can have players on your roster contracted for at one time – eg 75 years for 25 players – with restrictions about the number of extensions you can offer each year and all other players falling into an annual veteran’s draft.
And then we have the big leagues – a full salary cap contract DL, which is what the DynaBowl is. Other types of DL might be a hearty meal, the DynaBowl is the kind of thing that might be served up on Man vs Food.
The deal is that you have a budget to spend on contracts. In the DynaBowl’s case, the total to spend at auction (we’re getting to that) is $500, and GMs are granted an extra $100 for restructuring contracts (getting to that too) and to pay for waiver pick-ups (and that) during the year.
The total value of your contracts must be at or under $600 for each game week of the DynaBowl season. In addition, the contracts you offer have a number of years attached, which can be extended when they’re running out.
Q: About this auction then…
Q: How does that work?
A: Everyone has a budget of $500 to buy 50 players for their roster. Everyone takes it in turns to nominate a player. Bidding happens. Highest bid takes the player. The minimum bid is $1 and bids must be in whole dollars. You do not need to nominate players you actually want for your team, but by nominating them you are logging a $1 bid so you could be left with someone you don’t want. The winning bid becomes the player’s salary.
You must always have at least $1 left in your budget for each empty roster spot – ie, if you have signed 35 players you must have at least $15 left in your budget.
Q: And the length of the contract?
A: After the auction, each GM will have 2 weeks to determine how long each player’s contract will last. Each team will have an initial budget of 125 years to spread across their players. However, this restriction is only in place for this initial set-up. Going forward, the total number of years on player contracts will not be monitored.
Q: Why the initial restriction then?
A: Because there’s a risk every player would just be given a 5 year contract. By placing this restriction it means there will be players needing an extension or entering free agency much sooner, which will (hopefully) make for some fun coming up earlier in the league, with the calculations about how much extensions will cost vs the risk of letting players hit free agency and trying to re-sign them.
Q: You mentioned restructuring contracts. What does that mean?
A: In the real, actual, real NFL, players get different amounts of money each year and have different cap hits. This helps teams balance budgets and manoeuvre things to ensure they can keep their best players and compete for new talent. DynaBowl contracts attempt to do something similar.
Every contract given to a player has a guaranteed sum against it – from 0% for cheap contracts ($1-$3) to 75% for contracts of $51 or more (see rules for full breakdown). If a player has a $60 contract for 4 years, he will be guaranteed $45 each year of the contract. Guaranteed money has to be paid, even if the player is cut. However, when the contract is signed the guaranteed money can be shifted through the years. In this example, $45 guaranteed per year for 4 years means a total of $180 is guaranteed across the life of the contract. The GM can keep this split evenly or can move it about in any way they choose – eg frontload it so more is paid in years 1 and 2 and less in years 3 and 4 so there’s less dead money in later years should the player be cut.
Q: So I can backload it too, right?
A: Sure, you can backload it. That could be used in a ‘win now’ strategy to create room for more expensive players on the roster, but remember that you’ll have to pay that money eventually and backloading may win you the title now but may cause you to turn into the Raiders and suffer a decade or more of underperformance.
Q: So tell me about my roster…
A: So you have 50 roster spots you can use any way you like. However, you must be able to field an appropriate team every week of the year. The line-up is as follows:
Offense (11 players total):
1 x Quarterback (QB)
2-3 x Running Back (RB)
3-4 x Wide Receiver (WR)
1-2 x Tight End (TE)
1 x Place Kicker (PK)
1 x Punter (PN)
Defense (11 players total):
1-2 x Defensive Tackle (DT)
2 x Defensive End (DE)
3-4 x Linebacker (LB)
2 x Cornerback (CB)
2 x Safety (S)
What this means is that on offence you have 2 flex spots but can only add 1 more player in any specific particular position.
There’s less flexibility on defensive players, with only 1 flex position. This, in a very simple way, mirrors either the 4-3 or 3-4 defensive formation.
Q: Wait, we’re using defensive players? How does that work?
A: Yes, yes we are. You didn’t think it was 50 roster spots all for offensive players did you?
This is a ‘Big Play’ defensive league. What this means is that players get loads of points for the things that really matter – forced fumbles, sacks and interceptions, and minor points for tackles and passes defensed.
A lot of work went into getting the system to work. The top guys at each position score lots of points and should be predictable to a point, and there’s a fair degree of separation between players at the top end. This should create a good market for the most valuable guys.
Q: Any other scoring irregularities I should know about?
A: Well, there are points for kick-off and punt returns. Not that many but still. Don’t worry, it doesn’t overpower those who return, but it’s enough to make you consider players who do take kick returns over those who don’t.
Also, punters are in there. They get points for punt yards (only 0.025 pts per yard – not many) and for punts inside the 20.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much what you know already.
Q: Back to the roster – what happens with injured players?
A: Good question. You have 10 Injured Reserve (IR) slots. You can put a player on there if they are listed as IR or O (Out) on the MFL site. However, if they go on the list, they are locked there for a minimum 8 weeks (or until the end of the season, if that comes first). The value of a contract for a player on IR does not count towards the salary cap, but will do when they are reactivated.
Due to the time restriction, you probably won’t want to put a player on IR unless they really are going to be out for that amount of time.
In addition, if, after the 8 week period is up, the player is no longer listed as IR or O they MUST return to the main roster (or be dropped, and incur a guaranteed money penalty).
Q: Anything else I need to know about my roster?
A: One last thing. You have a 5 man ‘Taxi Squad’. This is the equivalent of an NFL practice squad. You can only put rookie players with contracts of $1-3 on the taxi squad and the money does not count towards your cap limit. However, this is essentially like having first dibs on the player, it does not mean you completely own the player.
If another GM spots a player on your taxi squad they would like, they can ask to get that player. The current owner then has a choice – they can either move the player to their own main roster or they can let the player move for free, with no compensation. They would obviously need to create space for that player. Because a player cannot be moved from the main roster to the practice squad during the season, GMs are prohibited from activating players to avoid them being called up by someone and then moving them back to the taxi squad again.
Q: So how do I get new rookies for my taxi squad each year?
A: There’s a draft. It’ll happen just after the NFL draft. Each team will get picks in the draft based on their finish the previous season (worst picks first etc). Rookies will get paid according to a rookie scale, starting with the first pick (standard reference is 1.01 – meaning round 1 – pick 01) being paid $20 and getting a 4 year deal. Each pick slides down the scale a little further and picks lower down the draft can be given shorter contracts. The 4.01 pick is the first that is paid $3 or less.
Rookies can be cut before the start of the season with no guaranteed money penalty, and all rookie contracts only have 25% guaranteed money anyway, regardless of contract value, so they aren’t that expensive to ditch if they don’t work out.
Q: But that doesn’t give me many players on contracts of $1-3, like is needed for the taxi squad…
A: Very true. You can also pick up players via a bidding process and the waiver wire, and, if they are rookies, these players can go on your taxi squad too.
So any player who is not signed to a team after the auction or draft is a free agent. Until the beginning of August, these players are bid on using an open bidding system. This means you can see the previous bid – it’s basically an auction. To win the player, you have to have held the highest bid for 5 days (120 hours). If you manage to get a rookie for $3 or less you can put them on the taxi squad.
From August 1st we move on to the standard weekly process. While this isn’t strictly all waiver wire, we will refer to the weekly process as ‘Waivers’, despite there being bidding involved in some of it…
During Waivers we have blind bidding from Sunday evening through until Wednesday at 10pm (current UK time, be it GMT or BST). The highest submitted bid will take the player on Wednesday evening. From that point until Sunday it is first come first served. You have two options with a first come first served player – if you get the claim in in time, you can either sign them to a $1 1-year contract, or a $5 2-year contract ($2 guaranteed).
Any rookie signed via the waiver process for $3 or less is viable to be added to the taxi squad too.
Q: How else can I get players? Can I trade?
A: Of course you can! In fact, it’s vital you do. Trading is a massive part of DL football. Because players are contracted and people will play the long game by stashing young prospects, there is less to find in waivers. This is where your talent as a GM will really come to the fore. Most DLs see trading going on throughout the year, not just in the season. Dynasty League Football is a year round game, not just for 16 weeks.
The rules are that you can trade anyone for anyone, and you can package deals with draft picks up in the next two drafts. So from the moment the initial rosters are set up until the 2015 rookie draft occurs, you can trade picks in that 2015 draft and in the 2016 draft. As soon as the 2015 (fantasy) draft is completed, you can trade picks for the 2016 and 2017 drafts.
There’s also something I omitted from the draft question earlier, because I needed this question to come up. The rookie draft each year will be a slow draft. This means teams will get about 12 hours to make their picks (precise pick time is still to be confirmed) and trades of picks can be made while teams are on the clock. The draft will probably take about 2 weeks to complete (though we won’t know precisely how long until we try) but this is another fun element.
Finally, you can place conditions on the trading of picks. So, for example, you can say “If I win the DynaBowl this year, I will also give you my 2016 2nd round pick”. But that’s just an example. You can come up with your own conditions you can put down, but I’ll offer a few more for fun: if player X scores over 150 points this season then a 1st round pick is traded; if the team makes the playoffs, the 3rd round pick included becomes a 2nd round pick.
It’s also worth noting that multiple players can be traded and often in dynasty leagues you will see complex trades which amount to 3 players plus 1st round pick and 2nd round pick for 2 (bigger name) players. The deals can get quite complicated. It’s fun trying to balance them out.
A quick note on the tactics of trading. If one team is in full-on rebuild mode while another is heading for the title, you might see the rebuild team trade an aging star for a number of prospects and/or picks. It might be a trade which would look very unbalanced in normal FF but in DL it’s much more common because age is a significant factor in the value of a player (as is the value and length of that player’s contract in a salary cap league like the DynaBowl). A lower team can be looking 2 or 3 years into the future and a star with only a couple of years left might not be worth it to him, while someone looking at the title might love him to make a difference now. At the end of the day it’s down to the GM to work out what he wants to do now.
Now, the one important thing I’ve not mentioned is that any player traded immediately shifts his contract to the new team, meaning they must have cap room to bring the player in.
Q: We got side-lined from an earlier line of questioning. Did you say I can extend contracts?
A: Why yes I did. Well remembered. If a player is entering the last year of his contract you can extend it, but this must be done between March and the end of July. The value of the extension is based on the performance of the player and the values of the contracts of other players in the same position.
If a player was a top 5 fantasy points scoring player* in any one of the last 3 years then the extension will cost the average value of the top 5 paid players in his position, +15%, rounded up. The scale slides, so if the best he did in the last 3 years was 6-10th top performing, his contract is measured against the 6th to 10th best paid players +10%, and so on. The full scale is in the rules.
*For some positions it is top 3, as these positions have fewer players taking the field.
Q: That sounds like it could make things quite expensive.
A: Indeed it could. And that’s where a GM has to make a call. Guarantee they keep a player by paying big bucks or let him go to free agency and see if they can get him back for less. Of course, spending big bucks on one position may prevent you from signing other players. It’s hard being a GM.
Q: Will the salary cap change at all? You know, like in the NFL.
A: It may. It may not. We won’t know how salaries may balloon until the league is up and running. The Commissioner will make a decision about the salary cap as things go along. Of course, a raised salary cap may change the cost of rookie contracts and how much of a contract is guaranteed. There’s a lot to consider.
Q: So if I choose to let a player go to free agency, that’s it – there’s open warfa… I mean open bidding on him, highest bid takes him?
A: Yes and no. Some players will become unrestricted free agents (UFAs), and that will happen with them. However, if a player had a 3 year contract (or more) and started at least 10 DL games for his team in the last season (barring injury), he will become a restricted free agent (RFA).
RFAs will be the subject of open bidding – with a minimum bid equal to the player’s previous contract + $1. When bidding closes at the end of February, the team who held the player before will have the option of matching the contract being offered, or letting the player go to the new team.
If a team loses more RFAs to other teams than it picks up it will get compensatory picks in the next rookie draft. However, if no one bids on the RFA, the player will enter UFA and no compensatory picks will be given.
Q: So how does the league work?
A: There are two divisions of 5 teams (Peter and Tim). They will play 13 games through the season. The two teams to win their Division will go through to the playoffs. The two wildcards will be determined using different means which are still to be set in stone. They may include the team with the best total points scored through the whole season, and/or the team with the best all-play record, or it may just be the two best regular season records from the non-Division winning teams.
These 4 teams will play a semi-final and a 2-week final to determine the DynaBowl champion.
The other 6 teams will play a ‘Toilet Bowl’ against each other. It is not yet confirmed how the draft picks for these 6 teams will be determined. However, a suggested methodology is an all-play style ranking, except just within these 6 teams (ie if the 6 teams had played head to head each week, the team which would have won the fewest games gets first pick). Alternatively, it may just be based on worst regular season record, with the Toilet Bowl section being about pride only. This will be confirmed prior to the start of the season.
Q: Some teams are co-managed. What if the co-managers want a team of their own?
A: It may be that after a year some people find it too intense and decide to drop out. Likewise, there is an opportunity to expand to 12 teams (but no bigger). In either case, co-managers will get first dibs on the teams, Chatterbowl managers who aren’t co-managers will get second dibs, with primary managers getting to vote on who should be awarded franchises.
Q: So how do we expand? Do the new teams just get to pick from free agents and rookies?
A: No, there will be a process whereby expansion teams get to take a few (but minimal) players from existing teams and then fill out their rosters with free agents and rookies. It’s all in the rules, but it’s a hypothetical at the moment so don’t worry about it too much.
Q: Is there anything else I’ve missed?
A: Yes, yes there is. Frankly, you didn’t seem to fussed about the salary cap thing. So, just for clarity, there is a salary cap, but it is a soft cap, so it can be breached. However, I don’t recommend you do. If you go over the cap then the next season your cap is a hard cap, and it is reduced by the amount you go over. So, if you spend $630 in season 1, in season 2 your cap will be $570 and will be closely monitored to make sure you don’t go over. Repeat offenders will be dealt with more harshly.
Q: Ooh, scary…
A: There’s no need to be sarcastic. And it is (sort of) serious business. In general, do too much the commissioner doesn’t like and you can be fined some of your salary cap, have players forcibly released, have points docked from games, lose draft picks, or even be ejected from the league. So don’t mess with the Commish, OK?
Q: OK, OK, I geddit… Thanks for going through all this and being so patient.
A: That’s more like it. And it was my pleasure. For more detail, please see the in-depth rules. If you spot anything that seems wrong or contradictory, let me know. If anything doesn’t make sense, feel free to ask…