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Two Rules to Better Your Dynasty Fantasy Football League

Don't create a new startup dynasty fantasy football league this offseason without including these two rules.

Dynasty fantasy football is constantly evolving. Consequently, league commissioners are always looking for ways to keep their leagues fresh and engaging while being fair. Superflex leagues, tight-end premium settings, and even PPR scoring can trace their origins to this constant evolution. If you aren’t using them yet, here are two rules I propose adding to make your leagues even better.

Two Rules
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 15: San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) scores on a 13-yard touchdown catch during the first quarter of the National Football League game between the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns on October 15, 2023, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Rule 1: The Most Points Scored Playoff Spot

Recently, rule changes to increase the fairness of how playoff teams are determined have gained a lot of traction in the dynasty community. Awarding the last spot in the playoffs to the team with the most points is increasingly popular. How so? The team with the most points scored of the teams who did not qualify makes it in!

Traditionally, wins and losses determine playoff teams in fantasy football. However, this can sometimes lead to frustration when a high-scoring team misses the playoffs due to bad luck in matchups. This change ensures that a consistently high-performing team isn’t penalized unfairly by the randomness that is fantasy football scheduling.

Nonetheless, while this change enhances fairness for that team, is it fair to the other playoff teams? Using this format, the third seed would likely now play a much stronger opponent. Moreover, the top seed is also stuck with a tougher matchup should this tougher six-seed win in the first round. That hardly seems fair. Can we implement this rule while also maintaining fairness for the other teams? Yes!

Rule 2: Choosing Your Playoff Opponent

The second part of my proposed rule changes introduces a new strategic dimension: the highest-seeded team in the playoffs gets to choose their opponent each week. This twist adds a layer of strategy and gamesmanship to playoff matchups. Before choosing, the higher seeds must weigh various factors, such as their opponent’s recent performance, injuries, and matchups.

Speaking as someone who has used this rule in their leagues, it keeps higher seeds engaged and rewards them for their regular season success. It ensures that their effort throughout the season has a tangible playoff benefit when it matters the most. Finally, it increases excitement in the league chat and promotes friendly rivalries. There is a lot of “Oh, really?” energy when someone chooses you to be their opponent!

The Synergy of the Two Rules

Implementing these two rules together creates a dynamic but balanced playoff system. The points-scored spot ensures that a strong team isn’t left out due to bad luck, while the second of the two rules, the opponent-choice rule, rewards regular-season performance with a strategic advantage. The setup strikes an ideal balance between fairness, strategy, and engagement in dynasty fantasy football leagues. Every game matters, every point counts, and every decision could be the difference between a championship run or an early exit.

BONUS – One Final Playoff Rule Change Idea: Fewer Teams!

In the 32-team National Football League, 14 teams make the playoffs. Why should 6 of the 12 teams in your dynasty league be eligible to win a championship? Notably, when multiple dynasty managers in your league are openly trying to lose to get better rookie picks, why reward the mediocrity of teams stacking wins against tanking opponents? We have all seen it before. A team sneaks into the playoffs, and all they need to do is get lucky twice to be in the money. The solution? Simple. Have fewer teams make the playoffs!

Imagine this league setup—only five playoff teams. The top seed earns a bye. Three teams after that qualify based on record. The team with the most points scored is the fifth and final team. There is one round of wild card games, but instead of playing head-to-head, the three highest-scoring teams move on to the next round. Then, from that group of four, things proceed as usual with the top seed choosing their opponent. That leaves the other two teams to face off against each other. It is very similar to the system the NFL now uses, with seven playoff teams per conference where only one team earns a bye.

Having five teams make the dynasty playoffs rather than six is not a massive change, but it does increase the likelihood that only the best teams make the playoffs. Combine that with the previous two rules, and you have a recipe for fun, fairness, and overall league success. As a league commissioner, what more could you want?

10 Responses

  1. love idea. only tweak is that top record gets bye. remaining four teams are based on top 2 records and then highest points. rewards consistency over season as well by giving TWO spots for highest scoring teams beyond 3 best records. I proposed this to my long running 12 team dynasty league. curious on our managers responses.

    1. It’s a careful balance. Different people “like” different things. Years and year ago, I thought “of course the highest scoring team for the season should win the league!” I was also once in an all-play league where the team with the most “wins” at the end of the season won the title. Some people prefer the “randomness” that comes with head-to-head matchups. There’s no definitive answer. Just like in the NFL, sometimes “bad” teams get lucky and make the playoffs.

  2. I might be totally missing something, but if 5 teams make the playoffs don’t you have 3 teams left after a Wild Card round? How do things “proceed as usual” with this implementation?

    1. You aren’t missing anything, sorry. My fault. I missed a (pretty important) sentence which clarifies that section. Thanks for reading!

  3. Come on now. You can’t have 5 playoff teams.
    Team 1 gets bye
    Team 2 vs Team 3
    Team 4 vs Team 5
    The next week you’d only have 3 teams and couldn’t do matchups. Works for 7 because it nets 4.

    1. My fault. You can do five teams, but I did miss a sentence which clarifies that section. Thanks for reading!

  4. In the 5-team playoff proposal, the top 3 teams get a 1st round bye and only the 4&5 seeds play in week 15. Is my understanding correct?

    1. No, sorry. My fault. I missed a sentence which clarifies how it works. Only one bye, and the four teams all “play” each other with the top three scores advancing. It then becomes head-to-head.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. I don’t see how a 5 team playoff would work.

    After round one you’re left with 3 teams. How would that work? Does 1st place get a bye all the way to the championship?

    1. No, sorry. My fault. I missed a sentence which clarifies how it works. Only one bye, and the four teams all “play” each other with the top three scores advancing. It then becomes head-to-head.

      Thanks for reading!

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