Beyond the Default Part 1 – Skill & Luck

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Whether or not people (or governments) who are generally against gambling, want to admit it, skill/expertise are obviously major factors for success, but so is dumb luck. They are conjoined at the heart of fantasy basketball. Watching your team stockpile numbers releases that dopamine that binds to the receptors in your brain, and well…fantasy success can hit the spot.

When you strike it big with your sleeper, pick up a guy off waivers right before he becomes a new starter, or trade a player right before their production takes a dive, there’s obviously a skill and effort involved in that win, otherwise, it might as well be fantasy football (come at me bro). At the same time, we must also acknowledge the influence of chance and randomness as being a factor in both success and failure within fantasy basketball, but also part of what makes it fun. We are here to have fun, even if taking money from chumps is the main motivator.

Watching your team stockpile numbers releases that dopamine that binds to the receptors in your brain, and well…fantasy success can hit the spot.

This Beyond the Default series will be exploring and discussing different league rules, components, additions, and other concepts that can help to create a better experience for your dynasty league. I’m definitely not claiming to have created all or any of these, but I have experienced them all and give my official stamp of approval. Let’s look at 2 league components, 1 skill and 1 luck, that can create fun in the dead time following the NBA finals, up until the NBA lottery. We are an 11 ½ month a year sport now.

As I alluded to, incorporating chance and skill throughout your dynasty league is a formula for fun and success, and laziness is really the only reason to not at least try to put this into your league as much as possible. You’re in dynasty, it’s not catered for the casual crowd. We’re all nerds in some way here. Take pride and go all in to create the most fun for your league.

Let me paint you a picture:

Your league was a success last year with most teams giving their effort, being active, talking trash, or whatever the tone is for the league. Still, at the end of the season, you find that out of your 30 team league, 5 GMs let you know they can no longer commit to continuing to next season. This happens to even the best leagues. GM’s have new work assignments, children, illnesses, and any other life circumstance you can think of. It’s sad to see them go, but be glad that they let you know this early. The worst GM is the one that tells you last minute when they’ve known for a long time. Once you find replacement GMs (we’ll get into how to do that in another article) it’s time to have fun.

Offseason Dynasty Component #1 – Replacement Draft (Skill)

Instead of just handing an entire, stale roster to a new owner, one that they had no hand in constructing, pool all of the players and draft picks owned from the replacement teams and run a Replacement Draft.

  1. All of the rosters + owned draft picks from the replaced teams are removed from the league and placed in a pool.
  2. Choose the draft order (whether by random assignment, or whatever your league decides), or plan for an auction.
  3. Run the draft or auction until all of the replacement teams have compliant rosters. Make sure the entire league can view.

This allows for a few things: control and fun. It lets the GMs have control over the creation/direction/strategy of their newly acquired team. You can have some teams that look at the remaining players and realize they have a shot at winning now and will build their team accordingly. In that same replacement draft, you will have GMs decide they want to totally rebuild and pick lots of young players and draft picks. It’s all very interesting to participate in, as well as observe if the rest of your league is as obsessed as you are. Fun for the Replacement GMs and fun for the rest of the league. Participating in the draft, you are building your team, which is always fun and exciting. The rest of the GMs are watching to see who the shrewd GMs are, and who they want to target for trade talks.

Fun for the Replacement GMs and fun for the rest of the league.


While the Replacement Draft will be under the skill and strategy bucket, I also wanted to add an idea that brings the fun of chance into the dynasty equation.

Offseason Dynasty Component #2 – Lottery Determination (Luck)

I know I’m not the only nerd that actually tunes into the NBA lottery every year. I often ask myself why, when it’s just the league spending an hour to list 14 teams. There is some drama, but not quite enough to really warrant the time. I recently discovered a way to tie the NBA lottery into the rookie drafts for your own dynasty league. As long as there are at least 14 teams, you should be good to go.

  1. Correctly order the 14 lowest ranked teams from that season, based on record, or whatever your league rules dictate.
  2. Make an association between each team and the NBA team that holds the same rank. (i.e. If the Sacremento Kings have the 2nd worst record in the NBA, the 2nd worst team in your dynasty league would get the Kings pick, wherever it lands in the lottery process.)
  3. Finally have a reason to watch the draft. Enjoy.
  4. Set the order for the first 14 picks of your draft to match any changes that occurred in the order from the NBA lottery. If the Hawks have the 5th worst record but end up winning the lottery, the team in your league that had the 5th worst record now owns the #1 pick in your upcoming rookie draft.

This gives each team a horse in the lottery race and a chance at the #1 pick in the rookie draft, or at least a chance to upgrade their position. This component is way more fun than it has any right to be and gives me enough justification to watch the NBA lottery, which I was going to do anyway. It also can slightly curtail tanking in your league the same way it does in the NBA. Now the worst team is no longer guaranteed to get the #1 pick in the rookie draft.

This gives each team a horse in the lottery race and a chance at the #1 pick, or at least a chance to upgrade their position.

2007 NBA Draft Lottery

I hope these explanations make sense, make you want to either incorporate them into your league or at least propose it to your league. Remember that there is always room for improvements and more potential fun to be had in your dynasty leagues, sometimes you just have to think outside of the default. If you have any questions or comments, please comment below or talk to me on twitter @kevinso

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