The Complete Commissioner’s Compendium: Designing the Ultimate Dynasty League

Fantasy baseball websites offer us endless advice on how to run our teams. There are many articles for us to read about hot players, sleeper players, two-start pitchers, players to avoid, elite prospects and draft strategies. Now we have The Dynasty Guru providing great advice focused on helping us improve our dynasty league teams. We love all this stuff, but how about some guidance for those beleaguered Commissioners out there? That information is much harder to find. To fill that gap I will chip in with the occasional column to help you guys get the most out of your fantasy leagues rather than your teams.

Starting a new dynasty league can be a ton of fun. You get to design the league from the ground up exactly the way YOU like it. The commissioner gets to pick and choose from all the available features to build a league perfectly suited to his gaming pleasure. The tricky part is that you have to be careful to ensure the rules aren’t so wacky that you have trouble finding enough other people to join your league, so don’t get too crazy with your rules or you will be playing all by yourself in your “perfect” league!

I have been the Commissioner of two dynasty leagues for 5 years now. Those leagues are healthy and fun and I hope they continue for many more years. But it seems like I am always dreaming of starting yet another new league. I have to control myself lest I end up with too many teams and leagues to manage. I am not one of those guys that plays in 10 or more leagues every year. I like to limit myself to 3 or 4 leagues because any more than that would require too much time to manage effectively on a daily basis. If you have too many teams you can’t manage every one of them at your highest capacity. Yes, you can set your lineups every day pretty quickly, but you can’t adequately research trade offers to send nor thoroughly scan the waiver wires every day if you are spread too thinly across several leagues.

With that said, I am making the leap this offseason and creating a new dynasty league! I am excited about it. I think I have come up with a plan for a new league that should be really fun and challenging. I will describe the league here then you can tell me what you like and what you hate in the comments section below. I don’t know everything so I am looking for some good advice from you on how I can improve my league.

I have decided to host the league with CBS Sports’ Fantasy Commissioner even though that site is not my favorite and it costs a lot of money. I had to do this because Yahoo and ESPN don’t have all the features I want to implement, particularly the extra-large roster sizes, the huge minor league roster and the ability to use any player in the minor leagues rather than the limited pool of minor leaguers offered by Yahoo and ESPN. Yahoo is by far the most popular fantasy provider and they offer a ton of cool features and awesome access to player data, but there are some key dynasty league features Yahoo doesn’t yet offer. For this reason my best option was the expensive CBS Commissioner package.

The league will be a 7×7 Rotisserie league with 12 teams and daily lineup changes. The scoring categories will be Runs, Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases, Batting Average, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage for the hitting stats. The pitching stat categories will be Wins, Quality Starts, Strikeouts, Saves, Holds, ERA and WHIP.

I chose a roto league because I think there is more opportunity for skillfull management than there is in a Head-to-Head league. H2H leagues have the added excitement of a weekly matchup (or two) against another team owner, but it also introduces a large degree of luck because oftentimes a team who puts up a low score will get a win while a team with a much higher score takes a loss. You can’t play defense in fantasy baseball, so the outcome of your game each week is determined as much by luck (your opponent’s score, which you can’t defend against) as by the quality of your team. Plus, H2H leagues have playoffs, which give lesser teams a chance to knock off better teams. If I have the best team I want to win the league. I don’t think one good week in a playoff game should outweigh the entire season when fighting for a championship. For these reasons a roto league is a truer test of skill than a H2H league. I play in H2H leagues too and they are still fun, but my ultimate league will be a roto.

The roster size will be 55 players per team. I love big rosters. That is why I limited the league to 12 teams. 12 x 55 = 660 players will be taken (plus up to 10 DL players per team). That means we will be very deep into the player pool. You better have some good backups on your team because there will be slim pickings on the Free Agent list!

The positional breakdown for hitters will be 2 starters at each position:

  • 2 catchers
  • 2 1st basemen
  • 2 2nd basemen
  • 2 shortstops
  • 2 3rd basemen
  • 2 left fielders
  • 2 center fielders
  • 2 right fielders
  • 2 utility players / designated hitters

That makes a total of 18 hitters in your starting lineup. Each position will be limited to 324 games (162×2) per season. Multi-position players and guys who can play premium positions like shortstop, centerfield and catcher will be especially valuable.

There will be up to 18 pitchers in your starting lineup each day broken down like this:

  • 6 starting pitchers
  • 12 relief pitchers

The total innings limit for the entire pitching staff will be 2700 innings per season. You can mix and match starters and relievers as you wish, but you will have to try to maximize each stat category without going over the innings limit.

Since we will have 36 players in our starting lineup, we will have another 19 players on the bench, plus up to 10 injured players on the Disabled List.

The minor league roster size will be 40 players. Any player in the CBS player pool will be eligible. CBS has the largest selection of minor leaguers among the major fantasy baseball providers, with the vast majority of minor leaguers who have signed with a real major league team being available in the player pool. Maybe we can gradually grow the minor league roster beyond 40 as the years go by.

The inaugural draft will be a slow, snake draft beginning in early February. Each team will have a 10 hour timer to make his pick on the league message board. If he does not make his pick within the allotted 10 hour window the next team can skip him and make a pick. The owner of the skipped pick does not lose his pick – he can post his selection whenever he logs into the site, even if several picks have been made in the interval. This helps to keep the draft moving instead of constantly waiting for slowpoke owners to get around to taking their turn. This first draft will last for 95 rounds! We will need to fill our 55 man major league rosters and our 40 man minor league rosters. Beginning with Round 30 each team will make two picks per turn to speed things along. Owners can choose to draft either type of player based on their own strategy. Some owners will concentrate on major leaguers early in the draft while other owners may decide to snatch up as many prospects as possible. Some people will try to win early while others will try to build up a team that will start slow but dominate over the long term. That is the magic of a dynasty league – there are a myriad of unique strategies to employ.

In subsequent seasons there will be only a short three-round, slow, straight (non-snake) draft. Draft order will be reverse of prior season’s standings. In a league where you keep your entire roster (up to 95 players) there are not many desirable players available for drafting in the Spring. Pretty much the only good players to be drafted will be guys whose roles changed due to off-season MLB personnel moves. Most of them will be newly minted closers and Japanese imports and guys who had been bench warmers but got traded to a new team where they will be a starter.

Every season there will be a second fantasy draft coinciding with the signing deadline for college and high school players who were just drafted (July 12th currently). International signees will also be available in this draft. Like the other fantasy drafts, it will also be a slow, straight draft and will last for 10 rounds and the draft order will be reverse of current standings.

There will be no trading deadline. I hate trade deadlines, especially in dynasty leagues. We should always be trying to improve our teams, either for the short term or for the long term. In dynasty leagues trades are the best way to improve your team. In real baseball trades are made all year round, even after the non-waiver trade deadline passes on July 31st. Trading is one of the most fun aspects of playing fantasy baseball, so don’t put a damper on it. Trading will also be encouraged during the offseason.

There will be no trade vetoes. Trade vetoes have no place in a serious fantasy league and only contribute to endless arguing and debating that often turns nasty. All trades are final unless the Commissioner has overwhelming proof of collusion. If you think a trade was lopsided then you should have gotten to the victim first. So called “lopsided” trades very rarely turn out to have a major impact on the league. They certainly harm a league much less than arguing over other peoples’ trades does. Arguing breaks up leagues, lopsided trades don’t.  In dynasty leagues owners often have widely diverging strategies and opinions on how players will be valued in the future, so what seems like a lopsided trade to some people usually makes perfect sense to other people. That is why I don’t allow arguing over trades in my leagues. Everybody is allowed to run their teams the way they think is best. If they make bad trades their team will suffer for awhile, and that is how it should be. If you invite good, experienced owners to your leagues the dumb trades will be few and far between. I realize some people like to be able to veto other peoples’ trades and I respect their opinion, but in my league there will be no vetoes.

There will be no prize money in this league. I play for fun and bragging rights. I have also found that dynasty leagues with money on the line tend to experience frequent turnover amongst team owners. Players who realize their teams stink will often drop out instead of pumping money into a lost cause year after year. Then you have to go find new owners willing to pay good money to take over a bad team. If you want your league to last a long time with most or all of the original owners then don’t make it a money league.

I will keep you guys posted about my progress building the new league. Next Spring you should see some articles about how I am choosing the team owners (won’t be first-come-first served, that is a terrible way to fill a league), how the draft pans out, and how the season develops.

If you have some ideas to improve my Ultimate Dynasty League post a comment below. Tell me what your dream league would look like…

Nick Doran also writes for Blazing Fastball and discusses baseball on Twitter @BlazingFastba11.

The Author

Nick Doran

Nick Doran


  1. Rob
    September 5, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Contracts? Or maybe a limit to the number of years you can keep the same player? Might add a wrinkle to the draft in subsequent years as owners try to fill spots.

    • September 7, 2013 at 5:57 am

      Contracts can definitely add a whole new level of strategy and fun to a fantasy league. I tend to think of contracts being better suited for a keeper league, whereas a dynasty league lets you keep your entire roster.

  2. PJ Alston
    September 5, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I want to make a comment about your Roto CAT’s. I think you can eliminate one CAT from the offensive side and one from the pitching side making it a 6X6 roto. If you have OBP and SLG, I don’t see the real need for AVG.

    On the ptiching side, I think you can do away with W’s if you’re using QS. I think QS is a better indicator of ptiching performance. I look at it this way. I can have two pitchers, one throws a 1 hitter, but gets a loss. The other gives up a ton of hits and walks, but gets the win. The possibility of this happening gives me no faith in wins as a CAT. Wins can be based on luck, QS is based on performance.

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:19 am

      I wholeheartedly agree that Wins are a poor measure of pitching performance. Things like Wins and Saves and Holds are really team stats rather than individual stats. Sabermetricians prefer to focus on metrics that better define the individual performances of a player, and I am a big fan of sabermetrics. But fantasy baseball has always used the more traditional stats like batting average, RBIs, Wins and Saves. I think it works better that way. The idea is for saber-savvy team owners to use the saber-stats to predict which players will produce the best traditional stats.

      I wanted to use OBP-against and SLG-against for pitchers instead of Quality Starts and WHIP, but CBS does not offer the SLG-against stat as an option, so I had to go with the old-school stats.

      If I were doing a 6×6 league I think your suggested stat categories would be perfect. I just wanted to do a 7×7 for this new league.

  3. Joe
    September 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    If you ever have an open spot I would love to join.

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Send me a tweet to @BlazingFastba11 and we can talk more about it. I probably won’t make the final choices until around February 1st. I will be looking for active, dedicated team owners willing to commit to playing in the league for several years minimum.

      • PJ Alston
        September 7, 2013 at 10:02 am

        I would love to be considered also, sounds like something I would like to be a part of.

  4. Spenser
    September 6, 2013 at 3:21 am

    if im looking to join a dynasty league, where is a good place to look for openings? thanks!

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:00 am

      I would look at message boards dedicated to your favorite team, such as for example. Or you could always search the message boards on Yahoo fantasy sports, but be extremely choosy. Don’t just join the first league you come across. Talk to the commish and make sure it is a well-run, serious league before you commit your time and energy to what could be a junk league.

  5. warrenrz
    September 6, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Any thoughts on contracts? Or limiting the number of consecutive years you can keep a player (be it a big number or a small one) just to freshen up the draft pool in later years?

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Contract leagues are a good option for commissioners to consider. That type of league can certainly be fun and challenging. I just don’t think of contract leagues as being dynasty leagues. If you want to have the yearly draft be a major event then contract leagues can be a nice blend between a keeper style league and a pure dynasty league.

  6. pamela finklestein
    September 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I had a commish ban the trade of draft picks in a league. what is your take on draft pick trades?

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:04 am

      I like draft pick trades! Why did he ban them? Trading is one of the most fun aspects of fantasy baseball. I see no reason to restrict trades of any sort.

  7. Rich
    September 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Have you ever considered or heard of Fantrax? It is a great site to host your league and much more dynasty friendly than other sites. It is also a fraction of the cost CBS charges and the pool for minor league players is WAY deeper than CBS or anywhere else. Commish tools are similar and give you a lot of flexibility. Check it out sometime..

    • September 7, 2013 at 6:06 am

      No I have not heard of that before. I will definitely look it up and report back here. Have you played there before? What can it do or not do compared to the big guys like Yahoo, CBS and ESPN? Thanks for the suggestion!

      • September 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        I won’t take Fantrax seriously until they have a phone app.

      • Boogieman
        September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        Big fan of Fantrax and they are introducing a phone app as we speak.

  8. November 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Still fillin the league? @keeks_66 if you are, but we use Yahoo and Proboards for our 14 team League, 40 man rosters and deep Minors, and that works great. We post the links on the Yahoo Commish Message and can create spreadsheets for each team, track taken players, etc. And of course it doesn’t cost a dime.

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