League Formats: A One Stop Shop

It is startup draft season and time to begin formulating your thoughts on the types of dynasty leagues you plan to join this year. The diversity of settings that are now available can seem overwhelming, so the DFF team came together to offer an overview of your options:

Roster settings (@DFF_Tom)

There are nearly endless variations of roster size and starting lineup configurations. Most dynasty managers tend to recommend between 25-30 players with 1-3 Injured Reserve slots. This provides enough depth to hold players that have yet to develop, but also offers occasional opportunity to find gems on the waiver wire. “Taxi squads” can be added. These are a separate roster of rookies or players in their first several years in the league. These players do not count against the main roster and cannot be used in a starting lineup unless activated. This can be helpful for players drafted late in rookie drafts since it is hard to determine if a 5th round rookie selection is worth a roster spot. Lastly, I advocate having a taxi squad since it encourages pick trading. Managers are more likely to accumulate more rookie picks if they know there is a reserved spot to stash those players until ready.

For starting lineups, it can range from a traditional one QB, two RBs, three WRs, one TE, one Flex to one QB, one Superflex, and 6 Flex. Some of these unique settings are detailed below in the discussion of superflex, tight end premium, and individual defensive players (IDP). I’d recommend first-time dynasty players to select a league that mirrors more closely with a traditional redraft lineup. For those more experienced, don’t be limited. Each format presents a new set of challenges, benefits, and enjoyment.

Points Per Reception (PPR) vs. Standard (@DFF_Tom)

Most sites and leagues have made the transition to one point per reception as a standard format. There are pros and cons for each, which are detailed here in depth by @dibari22. The jist is that PPR was first created to even out the imbalance between running backs and wide receivers. The downside is that it can inflate the value of certain players, specifically pass-catching backs and slot receivers, beyond what they possibly should be worth. I have found the sweet spot to be 0.5PPR scoring, since it provides a boost to receivers but prevents the Danny Woodheads of the world from being a top 10 fantasy scoring running back.

Keeper vs. Dynasty (@DFF_Tom)

You and your league-mates are ready to upgrade from redraft and are trying to find the right fit for a transition into a keeper-style format. There are some ways to structure your league to reach this aim depending on your preferences and the desired longevity of the league. The least extreme transition is to a keeper league. This begins with a redraft startup and allows teams to designate a predetermined number of players to be held on their roster for subsequent seasons. This typically comes at the cost of losing the draft pick or auction price paid when the player was originally drafted. There is strategy involved in weighing performance vs. value in making this selection. For example, is it worth keeping Ezekiel Elliot and sacrifice your first round pick, or keep Nick Chubb for a 15th round selection?

A dynasty league is a step up from a keeper league, allowing you to keep your entire team year after year. The only additions are from the waiver wire, rookie drafts, and trades. It is important to craft a strategy for your startup since this is a team you’ll have for the long haul. There are variations of the length of dynasty leagues. Most are intended to not have an end date, while others can have agreed upon terms to end when a team wins a certain number of years (either total or in order). This is called an empire league and can be worthwhile for leagues that want to have a reboot if the teams become overly lopsided.

Superflex (@FL2drinkminimum)

Back in the good ol’ days, fantasy football was touchdown only, then came standard and onto PPR and everything in between with carry bonuses and tight end premiums, as you have read or will read in the rear of this article. You can add whatever version of scoring you want but make sure when choosing a new dynasty league that it is SUPERFLEX, which allows you to play a quarterback in a flex position. Sure you can play running back or wide receiver or, worst case scenario, a tight end in that slot, but we all know quarterbacks score more points on average, with the safest floor, and need to be rostered as such.

League size will determine the number of quarterbacks that should be on your roster. My minimum amount of quarterbacks on a dynasty roster is four starters in a 10 team and three starting quarterbacks in a 12+ team league. Not only do I want to protect myself against bye weeks but put other teams at a disadvantage in that particular position as well. Quarterbacks are never cheaper than they are during your startup draft. A hold firm tip in Superflex: a surplus of quarterbacks on your roster does not mean discount to others in your league. It’s about supply and demand, you have it and they need it…or let those other teams roll out DJ Chark (Doo Doo Doo Doo, shout out to the @DynastyDummies) in their Superflex slot come bye week 8.  Period.

TE premium (@DFF_Tom)

There has been a recent surge of leagues attempting to improve the tight end position so it carries greater value. The solution has typically been to increase TE scoring to 1.5 PPR or add two designated slots (or both). The belief is that this adds value to options outside of the elite tier and will allow owners to use them in flex spots. Read this recent article for a full breakdown of the different TE premium options and recommendations for which will actually add value to your league.

Individual Defensive Players (@DFF_DWIN)

As we all know fantasy football is a way for us to pick the players we like and pretend that they are on our teams. For the most part, it has been offense based, but now there is this following of people who want the full experience of owning a full team, offense and defense. That’s where IDP comes in to play. Just like with your offense only leagues, there are some variations of IDP, depending on your time and devotion. It can range from your basic league to your super advanced leagues, which include devy. Your basic leagues mostly consist of starting one defensive lineman, one linebacker, and defensive back. Your more devoted leagues are position specific, salary cap leagues, and even dive into the devy world of fantasy. There are so many options to IDP fantasy; it just depends on what you desire. If you truly want the full experience of running a complete team, then IDP will fulfill that need.

You can follow me on the following social media platforms, on Twitter at Hollywood @DFF_DWIN, on Facebook on my IDPNation page, on Reddit in the fantasy football IDP sub I’m user KingTitan1, and you can tune in each week and listen to the IDP EdgeCrushers podcast that I co-host. Feel free to hit me up with any questions that you have, as I’m always glad to help fellow IDPers. #IDPNation

Multicopy (@Dibari22)

A quick introduction to multicopy leagues: they are often larger leagues, most commonly 32 teams, split into two 16-team, NFL-style conferences with two copies of each player, with one in each conference. The intent is to create some depth for what would be statistically very shallow leagues. I play in a few large leagues, some with multi-copy, and some without. Although each is fun, there is one huge advantage to multicopy leagues: the draft. For example, I am in a 96-team league with six copies of each player. Let’s imagine this year, during the rookie draft you had pick 56, and you really wanted D.K. Metcalf. Ahead of your pick, you see Metcalf get picked a 1.04. 1.14, 1.37, 1.42, 1.43. You could cross your fingers and hope he falls to you at 56 or knowing there was only one copy left; you can get aggressive and trade up to 1.44 to guarantee you get your man. As copies of players disappear, teams get desperate to get the players they want, and you’ll see lots of trading during the draft. Speaking of trading, let’s say you want to snag Josh Rosen on the cheap this year. Instead of having one owner who is historically difficult to trade with, you now have six teams to put offers out to. It creates many more options for you in that regard as well.

Salary Cap (@bdhawkes)

The NFL is the most successful powerhouse in all of the professional sports because they maintain a year-round calendar of events to keep fans engaged. In my opinion, a good dynasty league should follow the same format to keep owners engaged every step of the way – salary cap leagues do just that!

Salary cap leagues mirror the NFL offseason, adding a layer of intrigue as the franchise tag deadline and free agency approaches. Owners scramble for cap space as they identify upcoming free agents they would like to acquire. This leads to the one thing all dynasty owners love – trade activity!

The activity doesn’t end there – Following free agency, teams assess their remaining needs and rookie picks to become a commodity. Rookie contracts are cost controlled and carry added value for that reason. Sound familiar? This is exactly how it works in the NFL!

If you’ve ever dreamed of what it would be like to be an NFL General Manager – salary cap leagues are the answer! This format offers dynamic player values and layers to the offseason – making it the most active year-round format I’ve experienced and the most challenging to sustain success year-over-year.  

If you have any questions about this format, please feel free to DM me on Twitter, @bdhawkes. I’ve written bylaws for several leagues and am happy to help with questions. I’d also love to hear about any salary cap leagues you’re a part of and any league rules that make the format enjoyable.


This is an exciting time to get into dynasty. Boundaries have been stretched to explore formats that present new challenges and require more in-depth knowledge and expertise than ever before. Fantasy platforms have adjusted to fit this demand with increasing customizable options. As detailed in this article, there is always a new format on the horizon worth giving a try, and hopefully, we have sparked your curiosity to branch out into a new one for the upcoming season. Good luck!

Thanks for reading. You can follow us at @DFF_Tom, @Dibari22, @bdhawkes, @DFF_DWIN @FL2drinkMinimum, @SuperFlexPod


Dynasty and Analytics writer for @DFF_Dynasty. Fantasy football and Dynasty fanatic. Lucky husband and father to two wonderful girls. I am interested in the practical application of analytics and next generation statistics to fantasy football. Follow me @DFF_Tom

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