What a journey! 

I remember the first time I visited the Grand Canyon. From Cleveland, it was a long flight and a long drive, but when I first saw the view, I was blown away. Words don’t do it justice, but I was thinking, “Wow, the journey was worth it for this view alone, much less all of the fun hiking that would ensue.”

I also remember flying down to Florida to visit my brother. During Red Tide. Now don’t get me wrong, it was great seeing my brother, but the smell that wafted throughout the region was pungent, stinging the nostrils.

Quality family time aside, it certainly put a damper on things. 

Now, this dynasty season may have felt like the Grand Canyon or Red Tide Florida, but regardless, it has reached its end. 

All of the hard work that goes into crafting our dynasty teams, all of the time we contemplated enticing trade offers or how to spend our FAB budget, all of the match-ups that were white-knuckled finishes on a Monday Night showdown are in the books for the 2020 season.  

Perhaps it’s time to step away from your team for a while. Space is good and important for perspective. And it can prepare us to hit the ground running as draft season approaches.  

Perhaps you’re ready to wheel and deal, setting your team up for the draft and unloading those aging stars while they still have a modicum of value. This can be a great time to take advantage of playoff performances and either buy low or sell high, depending on how a player competes.  

Either way, 2020 is in the books. Time to move on with our sights set on 2021 — and beyond.

However, our rosters aren’t the only things that may need a bit of a tune-up and that’s why this week, we will be exploring league rules and how they can make the game we all love more exciting and entertaining. 

So, if you’re a commissioner, I’d implore you to consider some of these proposals. And if you aren’t, invite your commissioner to read this or bring these proposals before your leage-mates for a vote (or however you do things in your corner of the dynasty universe).

No Trade Deadline 

Trade deadlines in seasonal leagues are an important and necessary tool to prevent collusion, especially as things wind down and teams are eliminated.

Trade deadlines in dynasty are arbitrary and rob non-playoff and playoff teams alike of the opportunity to better their rosters year-around. 

We can all agree that having active teams in dynasty leagues is a good characteristic. There isn’t much worse than an inactive team; not responding to trade offers, refusing to move stars even when they’re out of contention, etc. So why would we shut down trades during an intense part of the season when owners are doing everything they can to get an advantage? 

Eliminating the dreaded deadline is a great way to keep the league active throughout the entire season and can open up some great trade windows that would otherwise be closed. And it provides competing teams with interesting dilemmas.

Here’s an example:

I made the playoffs in a 14-team league this year. It was a team with Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry. I was not the favorite, and I was leaning towards a rebuild in the off-season. It had been a nice run, but I’m carrying some aging vets and am always wary of running back “cliff years”. I’d rather get off of a running back a year early than a year late.

With news that McCaffrey would miss Week 14, I actively began shopping him, hoping to find someone who had hopes that he might play in Week 15 and 16. I was in luck. A fellow league-mate was interested and I was able to land a solid package of picks as well as Terry McLaurin and Bryan Edwards. The rebuild was officially on.

Week 14 went poorly, despite a Herculean effort from Henry (McLaurin didn’t help me at all, unfortunately). As a result, it was time to shop “Tractorcito”. I couldn’t make the deal happen in Week 15 after failing to come to terms on a package of picks and Jerry Jeudy. However, the stars aligned in Week 16. One of the teams in the championship game had James Robinson (out) and Ezekiel Elliott (questionable). The owner, rightly panicky, came knocking for Henry, and we were able to work out a collection of picks, Gabriel Davis and A.J. Dillon.

Henry flame out, Elliott played and outscored him, and the other championship team traded for Tom Brady and won the match-up, but it was exciting and entertaining with “Woj-esque bombs” throughout the playoffs. All the while, I got a head start on my rebuild, collecting a treasure trove of 2022 picks and some interesting prospects. 

Don’t deprive your league of such fun and competition: Dismantle the deadline!

Unique Playoff Formatting

With a four-team playoff, there is only so much you can do. The traditional 1-4, 2-3 configuration is ideal. You won’t see me complain. 

However, being in plenty of leagues that implement a six-team playoff structure, I find the classic, “Bye week for Seeds 1 and 2” to be rather meh. Having a bye is just so boring. Sure, the top seeds are usually happy that they are “safe” for a week and some leagues allow the top seeds to keep their bye week score if they really go off, providing a fun dilemma for the owners ahead of their semi-final showdown. 

But why not spice it up? 

Here’s an idea that makes for a wild six-team playoff experience.

Week 14:

  1. Seeds 1 and 2: Play each other. The winner moves on to the Week 16 Championship Game. The loser plays in the Week 15 three-way-free-for-all.
  2. Seeds 3 thru 6: Play in a free-for-all in which the two highest scoring teams advance to Week 15 and the two lowest scoring teams are eliminated.

Week 15:

  1. Winner from Game 1 Gets a Bye Week (less-than-ideal, but they’re playing in the Championship Game next week, so I’m sure they won’t complain).
  2. Loser of Game 1 and winners of Game 2 play in a three-way-free-for-all. The winner advances to Week 16 Championship Game.

Championship Game, Week 16:

What I like about this format: 

  1. It gets rid of the two-team, Week 14 bye in favor of a one team, Week 15 bye. 
  2. It makes the path to the championship more difficult yet more rewarding for Seeds 1 and 2. Ordinarily, Seeds 1 and 2 would need to beat one team in the Week 15 semi-finals to play in the championship game. In this unique format, the winner of Game 1 still only needs to win one game, but it is presumably against a better team (Seed 1 or 2 as opposed to Seeds 3 thru 6). The loser, on the other hand, gets a bad break and loses right off the bat to arguably the best team in the league but gets a shot at redemption in the three-way-free-for-all, needing to beat two teams instead of one.
  3. It eliminates match-up luck. The best teams from Seeds 3 thru 6 advance without worry of match-up luck, as does the best team in the three-way-free-for-all. 
  4. It has a three-way-free-for-all! Let me tell you, it is exhilarating to play and win that match-up. 

What I don’t like:

  1. Still can’t eliminate bye weeks entirely.
  2. Perhaps overly favors Seeds 1 and 2 as one of the two teams are guaranteed to play in the Championship Game. 

If you like this idea, steal it!

If not, feel free to tweak it, or come up with something else! Regardless, changing the playoff format can be a great way to add extra excitement to your league.

“Toilet Bowl” Incentives 

Toilet Bowls, consolation brackets, wild card weeks, whatever you call them, are all a nice way to keep non-playoff teams invested in the last few weeks of the season. You can set it up however you would like, but be creative.

The key is this: Make it worth setting a lineup for non-playoff teams. I’ve seen some leagues have a Toilet Bowl for pride, but that approach just doesn’t move the needle for me. So here are some ideas to keep it fun and interesting.

  1. Prize money: If you’re in a cash league, keep some prize money back for the winner of the Toilet Bowl.
  2. Determine draft order: This can be a great way to work against tanking. Let the draft order come not from record, but from how teams do in this stinky tournament.
  3. Some hardware: If you’re in a home or office league, this can be a fun prize. It’s better than playing for pride, because you get to show off a trophy or championship belt or t-shirt. You get the picture.
  4. Extra draft pick: This might be my favorite, by the way. You can have the teams compete for an extra draft pick at the end of the first round (or wherever in the draft you want it to be). This could be a great way for teams to fight for an additional asset to put them over the top next year. 

Whatever strikes your fancy is great! Simply having something of value and meaning can keep players involved to the bitter (or glorious) end.

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