A Dynasty Constitution From Scratch

A good dynasty league requires a constitution – a set of rules and clauses to govern the league above and beyond those stipulated by your fantasy vendor of choice. I recently designed such a league which I named Dynasty To Be Named Later or DTBNL for short. The constitution – a 1,800 word whopper – includes every custom rule plus just about anything from the FanTrax rule page I thought might be the slightest bit important to know.

Today’s post has two purposes. First, to enumerate certain details thatĀ must be included in a successful constitution. Second, to highlight some of the custom rules I’ve baked into this particular dynasty league.

If you want to follow along, a link to the constitution is in the first paragraph. Let’s begin with a few disclaimers. Parts of this league are highly experimental. This is meant to be a living document and will adjust as needed. Even simple, mature leagues require an occasional update to the constitution to cover unusual circumstances. As this is a fresh draft, I’ve forgotten things. For obvious reasons, I don’t recall what I’ve forgotten. Portions of the language may be fuzzy and will require future edits.

Some details should be spelled out very clearly in a successful constitution. Describing any custom elements including intended and potential unintended consequences is an absolute must. The most important standard element to explain is trading. Ensuring all trades are handled in an even-handed manner is essential to the long term health of a league. While I tend to take sweeping powers for myself when I run a league, it’s usually best to avoid any situation where a commissioner is mandated to make a decision favoring one owner over others. It creates ill-will and a sense of unfairness. Better for as many scenarios as possible to be covered by a written document. You should also describe all draft scenarios, scoring, the prize pool, and keeper, roster, waiver, and eligibility rules.

Unique Stuff

This particular 25-team, 45-player roster dynasty league is designed to discourage full-out tanking without explicitly penalizing it. The benefits to finishing last place are very small relative to most deep dynasty leagues. This is my personal repudiation of the classic all minor leaguer approach to rebuilding in dynasty formats. I’m a firm believer in it being easier to rebuild when you’re also trying to compete. That’s reflected in my league design.

Many of the rules further incentivize contention. We’re using the Roto-to-Head format I detailed a couple weeks ago. The prize pool is split almost evenly between the roto-portion of the season and a 12-team playoff. Up to nine of 25 teams could earn some amount of money in a given season. ThisĀ should mean that more teams will view themselves as buyers of MLB talent. Any team mired in a rebuilding process should find it relatively easy to acquire actually good prospects for core performers.

There are two drafts, one to redistribute back-of-the-roster talent and a post-keeper draft of 15 players per team. This post-keeper draft includes all players selected in the previous MLB draft as well as recent international signees. As such, it is expected to be a major source of rebuilding. All owners with $0 of earnings over the previous two seasons have an equal chance to land the first pick. In this way, unsuccessful owners are helped while outright tanking isn’t rewarded. While this may make it marginally more difficult for an owner with a terribad roster to recover, the hope is that this is counteracted by fewer owners intentionally entering a state of utter decrepitude.

The aforementioned redistributive draft is designed to inject some frantic activity into a boring portion of the baseball fantasy calendar. It’s designed with the real world Rule 5 Draft in mind. Teams protect 25 of their players then participate in an up-to-five-round draft to nab from other teams. A few details are still being ironed out. It doesn’t necessarily favor rebuilding owners even though the worst team is guaranteed the first pick. This is because rebuilding clubs tend have diluted talent. I’ve chosen to offset this by giving them a chance to take the best player available.

One last quirk is the Slowly Mutative Rules clause. I often rant about the importance of managing the meta in any game or sport – something actual sports leagues fail to do. This is my opportunity to do so. I can use this to adopt any game balance tweaks above and beyond fixing gaps or mistakes in the rule-set. Although it theoretically could be abused by a malicious commissioner, rule changes are announced about a year and a half before they are implement. That gives everybody plenty of time to adjust.

Feel free to adopt any aspect of this constitution. Please note, you should consider the items discussed after the “unique stuff” heading to be experimental. In other words, be careful. Don’t be surprised if there are blips.

We hoped you liked reading A Dynasty Constitution From Scratch by Brad Johnson!

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Slowly Mutative Rules clause sounds like an “it ain’t broke, let’s fix it” rule. The Saves to SV/HD, daily to weekly, roster composition examples seem like big rules changes to hand wave away.


I interpreted the Slowly Mutative Rule as a way to give the commissioner power to make small changes to help the league evolve and grow without having to put everything to a vote, where you inevitably have a pocket of anti-change owners.