The Top 10 Tips for Starting a Successful Fantasy Football League
5. Be Fair Even if it Screws You…Hard
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There’s nothing worse than when a rule you create as commissioner stings you first. It’s all hypothetical until one point makes the difference between winning and losing. When you were the advocate of a ruling that costs you a win it can be tough to swallow. Take it like a man. It sucks, but other owners will see it, and their trust in you will grow by leaps and bounds. Look at it like you’re a parent setting an example for your kids. It inspires fair play from the entire league.
4. Make the Draft a Total Event
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For 90 percent of the people who play in your league, the draft is going to be the best memory they have of each season. Make it a total throwdown and pull out all the stops. The memory of an incredible party is often enough to get annual losers to sign back up each year. Buy a draft board so that every pick feels like it has some gravity. Create formalities like giving the winner of the prior season a round of applause or making owners call out their picks like the real NFL draft. Set a timer for each pick and start counting down the last 30 seconds. Enforce penalties like doing shots for drafting players who have already been taken. Make sure as many owners make the draft in-person as possible. Stories are created during drafts that you’ll be sharing for a lifetime. Set your league up to facilitate as many of those stories as possible.
3. Provide as Much Incentive for Losers as Possible
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As previously mentioned, all but one owner is going to end up a loser. You need to make sure that you soften the blow as much as possible. The best way to do this is to have a toilet bowl. Basically, the worst owners of each conference play each other the same week as the fantasy Super Bowl. The loser must then buy the suds or food for the next year’s draft or must have the draft at their place. It keeps all the owners on their toes until the end of the season. It’s also a good idea to allow as many owners to make the playoffs as possible. Generally, that means more than 50 percent. Just make sure you build in rewards for those who kick ass, like a bye week during the first round of the playoffs.
2. Spend the Money for a Decent Web Site
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It may be hard for you young whippersnappers to believe, but there was once a time when old fogeys like me had to have everyone leave their starting lineups on an answering machine and then add up the scores by hand. Web sites have remedied that with live scoring, but they can supply much more than that. A great web site is paramount in running a solid league. The more reputable the site, the better the chance that live scoring won’t crap out due to server overload, owners will be able to upload logos and talk smack on the message board to really live the fantasy, and there will be adequate research tools to make sure everyone stays competitive. Most importantly, make sure the site has time stamps for each move so that any disputes over people starting/not starting players in time will be eliminated. Have all the owners chip in to pay for a solid web experience. It’s worth every penny.
1. Write an Exhaustive Rule Book
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Without a doubt, this is the most important thing. Nailing down the details of your scoring system and rules may seem like a no-brainer, but if you only do it verbally, you’ll be surprised how some peoples’ memories become fuzzy when they want a rule to work in their favor. Write it all down and send it to everyone in your league several weeks before the draft. One of the most important things to remember to address is tie-breakers. You can allow ties during the regular season, but in the playoffs it’s not an option. This is one thing that you can let the owners vote on before the season starts. We recommend team defensive score since a defense is technically half a football team, but feel free to work it out amongst your league. A tie-breaker system that determines who makes the playoffs is just as important. We generally go with total points scored throughout the season. Also, do not allow owners to pick up players they’ve previously had on their rosters and dropped. It keeps them from "borrowing" players from each other when they’re in a pinch and makes the gravity of adds and drops much more intense.
Fantasy football is filled with nuances that you’ll only learn as you play, but if you follow these tips you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthy, fair league that people will want to come back to each year. Stay tuned to Spike.com this season for exhaustive coverage of the entire fantasy football season to give yourself an edge including our brand new 10 UP/10 DOWN articles that cut through all the garbage to give you the 20 players to watch for each week.