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What is Dynasty Fantasy Football? | How Does It Work?

By Jared Smola | Updated on Thu, 16 May 2024 . 12:32 PM EDT

The Most Immersive and Realistic Fantasy Football Format

Dynasty fantasy football leagues are the fastest-growing format for fantasy players! 

Why? Simple.

Dynasty fantasy football leagues allow you to keep all or most of your players from season to season.

Trading players and future draft picks are allowed for most or all of the year. Dynasty season never ends!

Let’s run through how a typical dynasty league works.


Startup Draft   |   Rosters & Lineups   |   In-season Play   |   Trading   |   Rookie Draft   |   Keeper League


Startup Dynasty Draft

A dynasty league begins with a startup draft. Watch out because startup drafts can get a little addicting. 

They typically resemble redraft, with managers taking turns adding players via a snake-style draft.

So the team that picks first in Round 1 will pick last in Round 2, first again in Round 3, last in Round 4, and so on.

A dynasty league might also award players via an auction 

Each team starts with a designated amount of auction dollars (your budget) in this format. Managers take turns nominating players for bidding.

Every owner can then bid on that player, and the highest bid wins the player.

Because you keep players from season to season in dynasty, you’ll want to consider long-term fantasy value when adding players in the startup draft.

Auction dynasty startups are a lot of fun! But are more time consuming and complex than traditional snake drafts. 

Make sure to understand the rules of any startup draft you join!


Do you have a crucial startup draft coming up? Prepare for it by checking out our Dynasty Draft Strategy »

Rosters and Starting Lineups

Virtually all Dynasty leagues require you to roster QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs. Most also require Kickers and Defense/Special Teams.

Dynasty rosters are generally deeper than redraft rosters

You’ll commonly hold 20-30 players (or even more) in a Dynasty league. This lets you stash players who might not have immediate fantasy value but could help in the longer term.

It also generally means that there’s less value available on the waiver wire.

Dynasty starting lineup requirements are typically similar to redraft. The most common alignment includes:

  • 1 QB
  • 1 TE
  • 2 RBs
  • 2-3 WRs
  • 1 - 3 Flex

Some dynasty leagues will still include kickers or DSTs, but it looks platform-dependent. IDPs (individual defensive players) are catching on in more dynasty leagues and can make the rosters even deeper. 

There are nearly limitless dynasty formats out there, and more are being created daily.

All these formats have pros and cons. Variety is the spice of life, and we recommend checking out as many formats as possible to find the one that fits you best.


Superflex and 2-QB setups tend to be more popular in dynasty leagues than redraft

A Superflex league includes a flex position at which you can play a 2nd QB or a player from another position, usually RB, WR, or TE.

A 2-QB league, as the name suggests, requires you to start 2 QBs.

Dynasty Fantasy Football: Tools For Winning

In-Season Play

Head-to-Head Play

Most dynasty leagues use a head-to-head format. Teams play against each other every week on a rotating schedule. The team that scores the most points that week gets a win. 

The other team, of course, gets a loss.

The league standings are determined by win-loss records, with the top teams most typically advancing to league playoffs to determine a champion. 

Total Points Play

In this format, rather than facing another team each week, your team simply collects points throughout the season. The league standings are then determined by who has the most total points.

This style of league usually runs without playoffs. The team with the most total points at the end of the year is crowned champion!


Trading is an integral part of dynasty leagues – and one of the best ways to improve your roster after the startup draft. It is also one of the most fun parts of playing Dynasty.

Dynasty leagues typically allow trading year round.

That means you can take advantage of changing player values during the season and key points of the offseason, such as free agency and the NFL Draft.

Dynasty leagues allow owners to trade draft picks for future-year rookie drafts.

Check out the full Dynasty Tools Breakdown

Rookie Draft

Your dynasty league will hold a rookie draft each offseason, usually just after the NFL Draft. As the name suggests, this is how teams add incoming rookies to their rosters.

Some dynasty leagues also allow unrostered veterans to be selected in the rookie draft. But this blurs the line between a dynasty and keeper league.

The rookie draft will typically use a worst-to-first order

That means the team that finished last the previous season gets to pick first in the rookie draft, followed by the team that finished 2nd-to-last, 3rd-to-last, and so on. The league champion picks last.

That same order is used for every round of the rookie draft. Rookie drafts usually range from 3 to 8 rounds, with 3 being the most common.

What’s a Keeper League?

Keeper leagues typically follow a similar structure and format as dynasty leagues. 

The key difference is this: 

You keep a set number of players rather than keeping your entire roster from season to season. That could be as few as one player or as many as 10+.

Some keeper leagues allow you to keep players for an unlimited number of seasons, while others cap the number of seasons (usually at 1-3).

Many keeper leagues force you to give up the draft pick from the round each of your keepers was previously selected in. 

For example, if you took Garrett Wilson in Round 5 last year and want to keep him, you lose your 5th-round pick in this year’s draft. 

A common variant is to lose an additional round each year. From the previous example, Wilson would cost a 4th in 2024 and a 3rd in 2025. The increasing costs makes the keeper decision a lot more interesting and difficult!

Final Thought

Not sure how best to draft or manage your dynasty roster? We are here to help!

The Draft War Room live syncs your draft in real time and automatically assesses player values to generate the top pick recommendations based on your team and scoring format.

In a startup but drafting to win now? There’s a mode for that. Rookie-draft time? The Draft War Room is ready. The Draft War Room uses 17 player-value indicators to analyze the best value throughout your Dynasty draft constantly.

See how the Draft War Room conforms to your dynasty league

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
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  4. Ceiling, injury risk, ADP, and more!

You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

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