Dynasty Takeover
Guest Submission By Andy Miley of DynastyBlitz.com
May 19th, 2011

Dynasty is a passion of mine. Dynasty leagues come in many shapes and sizes, and with important questions. Many of these things I had to learn the hard way. You may get a chance to take over an orphaned team, how do you go about that process? When you drafted your initial team or took a team over, how should you manage it?

Part One: Dynasty Takeover

Feel like challenging yourself by taking over an abandoned team? Do you need more leagues to play in? Are you interested in trying a dynasty league, but you do not know anyone that has a start-up league (a league that is drafting from scratch)? Well, it isn't for the faint of heart; however, you might want to try taking in an orphaned team on an existing dynasty league. I have done it three times and each time was a unique experience.

Why a takeover?

Dynasty leagues have grown in popularity each year. Unfortunately, some owners leap before they look and get in way over their heads (that was me at one time). A new owner may not understand the rules or the concepts for a dynasty league and draft a horrible team. Sometimes, owners simply can't say no and end up in too many leagues to manage or enjoy the greatness that is fantasy football. These and other reasons lead owners to drop out of leagues.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you like the team you're thinking about taking over?
    This is a very important question. Having a couple of players you like can make a big difference in how much you like or dislike a potential new team. I am a Steelers fan and would put more thought into taking over the team if I had Mike Wallace or Rashard Mendenhall (before his Twitter antics) on the team. Of course, if there are plenty of Browns players on the potential team, I would rather eat some vegetables and I'm not a fan.

  • Can you make this team a champion?
    Most people don't like coming home to an empty cupboard when they are hungry, so you wouldn't want to start with a team that had nothing to offer. If you don't have the players and draft picks to build the team you want, you should reconsider taking over the team. A squad with Carson Palmer and Steven Jackson is far less appealing than a team with Aaron Rodgers and Ray Rice. If the team is lacking in star power, are there good young players that will become starters rostered? I always look for big names I can trade away for a lot of young talent, if the potential team is not ready to compete.

  • How long will it take you to turn this team around?
    If this league has a big league fee, it may not be feasible in your budget to donate for a few years to turn this team around. Make sure the investment is going to be worth the enjoyment! Trust me, I have done that once and I regretted it by week 10. Don't let that be you!

  • Do you like the scoring?
    Sometimes, we try new things and enjoy them, but if you don't understand or enjoy the scoring system used, your stay will likely be short. Make sure you are comfortable with the scoring. Check out the stats from the year before to make sure you understand your commitment. As a commissioner it is always frustrating that once people draft, they ask scoring questions. Not all leagues are alike.

  • Should I join this league to make someone happy?
    Everyone feels pressure to be social; however, joining a league to make a friend or family member happy is not a good idea. Dynasty leagues take time and depending on your league...money. You have to have the passion. The challenge and joy of beating a friend, loved one, or heated rival, can be a strong reason to join to prove that you know more about football than they do! In my experience, someone has to LOVE football to get into fantasy football. Don't expect a causal fan to get the "fantasy fever" once they are in a league.

  • Can you handle being the subject of every silly, unbalanced trade offer imaginable?
    Seasoned dynasty owners are always trying to take advantage of the new owner, because the owners assume you are unwise in the dynasty format. Thick skin is most often needed when some league mates are testing you. I've seen seasoned owners offering their 2nd round rookie pick in 2011 for Brandon Marshall and justifying the trade because Miami doesn't throw that much. Sorry, I'm never going to buy that heap of horse pucky. On the flip side, a new owner can come in and be overaggressive in their trading style. Once you make a trade where you get a tremendous advantage and your new league mates will be wary of trading with you (I know one of these guys well and chances are so do you). Instead, I make trades that help both teams; this is invaluable to building relationships within the new league. You show your social side and are willing to make solid trades. This will help raise your league credibility. It has worked for me, not only as the new guy, but also as an existing team welcoming a new team. It's ok to lose slightly in a trade early as it will drum up more business later. When I have a strong team, I help a disadvantaged team and likewise, when my team is weak or too old, I trade with a powerful team that may not have need for 1-3 year players that are still developing. After doing that in a league that I had a bad initial draft, my initial weak team and his strong team has reversed after two years. I consider it almost a business relationship as we help each other, one wins now and one in the near future.
  • Before you commit to a takeover ask the commissioner these questions.

    How active is this league?
    Many dynasty leagues have owners are not active or participate in offseason trading. If you are serious about turning your team around, you will need owners willing to talk trade with you. If you are like me, once you take over a team you want to make changes right away and an inactive league impedes your plans of domination by fall. In my main dynasty league which I am commissioner, I try to trade with every team. I give them a little more so the first email/phone call when they are looking to move someone goes to me.

  • How long has the league existed?
    Leagues do get stagnant and need new blood. However if you are the new owner in a league with 11 people who have been in the league for many years, no question about it, you will be an outsider. You have the advantage of surprise, but it will also make starting dialog with owners you don't know more difficult. I know I can talk to my boy, Joey Bag "O" Donuts, about trades as we have been in many leagues together for many years and built a good relationship. I always start out entering a new league by saying I'm willing to hear trade offers for everyone. This seems to get conversations started.

  • Why did the other owner leave?
    Money problems, too many leagues, or just didn't have a good feel for dynasty are acceptable answers. Stories of personality conflicts and bad blood between owners or lack of trading should raise a red flag. Please take the time to do research and talk to a few owners in the league. I jumped into a league without understanding why one of the teams left. Turns out, it was because he won and hadn't gotten paid. I was gone the next year..lesson learned.

  • What should I know about this league before I join it?
    Seems like a simple enough question, but you can get a world of answers. Don't trade with Old John Town (changed to protect the guilty); Tom and Steve are brothers, etc. Going a into tight group that has been together for awhile can be a difficult situation to overcome. I speak from experience.

  • Does this league have rules about teams leaving?
    Those who do not learn from the past will be doomed to repeat it. A league that is built for the long haul will have rules in place to handle owner turnover. A league that doesn't have them may have issues sooner than later. I am a big fan of having replacement owner drafts if more than one team leaves so the new owners can draft their own team from the teams that were dissolved and free agents. Zealots' leagues were the forerunners on this front. Being a commissioner, this comes in handy when you need to replace $225 dynasty teams.
  • It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to take over a dynasty team in an existing league. You need to ask yourself and the commissioner several questions. Always remember, you don't need to join this particular league. Let them try to sell you and not the other way around. If they are selling you too much, run, don't walk away.

    Part Two: Roster Management

    Now you are in the dynasty league, let's break down dynasty roster management down into four steps:

    1. Taking care of your starters.
    2. Deciding on how much and what kind of depth to have.
    3. Using the rookie draft to your advantage.
    4. Scanning the waiver wire and always be closing.

    Lock Down Your Starters

    Dynasty, just like any other league, is played to have the best starters possible every single week. Finding players that excel in your leagues scoring system is crucial. For example, if you are playing points per reception league RBs like Jamaal Charles are more valuable than Michael Turner, because Charles, will catch a lot more passes. When playing in an IDP (individual defensive player) league, scoring either favors big plays or tackles. Clay Matthews, Jr. is a better LB for a big play league and Stephen Tulloch is better to have in a tackle-heavy league. Some silly rabbits still think fantasy football scoring is universal and in my younger days I was one of them, lessoned learned.

    Make sure you have enough starters to play each week. This means watching bye weeks and making sure you have those covered well ahead of time, especially if it is a position that is scarce on the waiver wire. Don't get caught without a starting kicker or defense because you weren't paying attention to bye weeks and then lose your game by two points! Make sure you read the injury reports and get daily information on all your players which are available at footballguys.com. You don't want to be surprised at game time that a player isn't playing. Keep your starters strong every single week! I love fielding those calls/texts from league mates "hey is this guy starting?" while they are in the middle of a kid's birthday party or hiding their phone in the hymnal during church.

    Stay at Proper Depth

    Teams often have two different philosophies of handling positional depth. Some owners load up on certain positions and only keep a minimum of others, such as a kicker, defensive linemen, etc. Depth can be a huge factor due to the potential injuries that occur during the season. It is a tricky balance. In leagues with 8-12 teams having limited rosters (20 players or less), there is usually sufficient free agents to handle depth issues that you can pick up and drop when needed. Players like Jason Hill can be found and used in shallower leagues. Teams with too much depth may find that there is not a great deal of separation between the amount of points scored by the starters and the non-starters. These points are wasting on your bench week in and week out. I always streamline my roster, but get a feel for your league. Watch out for those position hoarders and you peeps know who you are!

    Also, teams with great depth will play the "who should I start? (WDIS)" almost every single game of the year. I like to choose healthy players not on bye, doesn't always happen. Chances are that after playing that WDIS game, many teams will be wrong almost as many times are they are right! The argument can be made that it is better to convert your team to one with a great starting lineup and limited depth. Positions with the greater chance of injury like RBs are the ones to have several backups, but other positions such as TE will do just fine with a starter like Jason Witten and then maybe a backup like Jermaine Gresham. Maximize your starting lineup by limited depth.

    Advantage Rookie Draft

    The rookie draft is the best way for a team to stay young by reloading talent. A good owner should always be looking for talent above opportunity or position. Don't try to fill your starting positions using the rookie draft unless your team is rebuilding. Take the best available rookie and hold them for the year with no expectation of playing them unless you need bye week help. When you have some starters that are getting older, select players to backfill their position in a year or two. Be careful not to reach for them. Last year I selected Eric Decker later in a rookie draft, because I have Hines Ward. Ward is 35 years old with some young WRs (Sanders and Brown) that will take playing time from him this year. I didn't expect anything last year out of Decker, so I could afford to trade out of the first round and get him while injured on my 25 man roster. Use the roster space to grow young players. Make sure you have strong starters so you can let your rookie picks develop. PLEASE don't go rookie crazy! Collect those first and second year players like Sanders and Decker by trading a 2nd or 3rd round rookie pick.

    Waiver Wire and Potential Trades

    Every year there is someone who was not drafted in your draft make a huge impact. Last year, Ryan Torain came off the waiver wire to make many teams' starting lineups. Research in the summer and watching the waiver while everyone else is watching baseball or enjoying the beach can have a positive effect on your team. There are a lot of missteps that can be taken on the waiver wire as well. Keeping your eye open to injuries can help make trades to improve your team's starters. Last year, I traded two 3rd round rookie picks and Earl Bennett for Wes Welker. That trade took my starting WRs from Larry Fitzgerald, Dwayne Bowe, and Pierre Garcon to Fitz, Welker, and Bowe/Garcon. Don't stop trying to improve our team ever. Get on Twitter. Follow team beat writers and the guys at footballguys.com as they will break team news and give you an edge on whom to pick up first.

    Conclusion

    Get off your butt and let's put these lessons to work. Before taking over a team, ask yourself do I have enough talent to make it work? Are there enough people willing to make trades? Ask the commissioner questions to make sure you know what rules are at your disposal. Then once you have your team, either by taking over an abandoned one or drafting a team, it's time to manage your team. Get your starters in place, keep the right amount of positions stocked, use the rookie draft to build young depth, and use the waiver wire and trades to build a better team. Last but not least...DOMINATE!

    You can find me on twitter @AndrewMiley and find more of my writing at www.dynastyblitz.com.

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