Fantasy Football League Ideas
My absolute favorite part of fantasy football is being the commissioner of whacky fantasy football leagues. Every season I run over a dozen leagues on multiple platforms and with a wide variety of scoring, roster, and rule variations. I love going “mad scientist” on leagues, but I also respect more traditional approaches. In either circumstance, though, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and try one of these whacky league changes in 2019.
You can use this article to convince stubborn league mates that a change is needed or as a launching point for a new league you want to create. I have ranked them in order from least whacky (10) to absolutely bonkers (1).
10. Make it a Super League
If you are really rooted in a traditional league changing to superflex is an easy switch to make without causing a riot from league mates that are scared of change. Superflex refers to an additional starting roster spot-one that allows you to start any position in it. This differs from the regular flex spot because it allows you to start a quarterback in that slot as well. Since most league scoring models are more favorable to quarterbacks, so the majority of players will start 2 quarterbacks per week. This increases scoring, raises the value of quarterbacks, and adds in an easily digestible spark to your stale league.
9. Bigger is Better
One of the easiest changes to make is to add more players to your league. A lot of fantasy football leagues have 10, or even 8 people participating in it. This reduces the difficulty of the initial start-up draft and makes it easier to win claims for better players when working the waiver wire. I encourage every league, whether expanding or starting, to have a least 12 players in it. When starting leagues myself, I prefer to have 16 players-it makes just about every part of playing fantasy football a lot more challenging. This also allows you to be more creative with divisions. You have the ability to run 3 or 4 divisions, award playoff spots per division, or set up your playoffs so that players can earn byes.
8. Change can be FAAB-ulous
This is a change I have only just come around on myself, but I refuse to go back now that I have experienced the FAAB system. FAAB stands for Free Agent Aquisition Budget and is an alternative for the reverse standings approach to the waiver wire claim process. In the FAAB system, everyone starts with a budget (often $100) which players can use to bid on players they would like to claim off the waiver wire. Most FAAB leagues are blind bidding, meaning you can’t see how much your league mates have bid. This system forces players to manage their bankroll all season since there is no opportunity to get more FAAB budget. If you already play in a FAAB league but want extra spice, you can add in variations like allowing $0 bids or allow FAAB budget to be included in trades.
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7. Award Weekly Payouts or Prizes
The fantasy football season can seem long for those who are not locked into NFL action 24/7 like the rest of us degenerates. Moving from a standard model of paying out the entire prize pool at the end of the season to awarding a portion of the prize pot at the end of each week could help keep league mates engaged all season. You can award weekly payouts for a variety of categories but the most popular one is the highest scoring team of the week. Awarding weekly payouts also helps motivate league mates who may stop checking if their team is performing poorly, or to stop tanking in dynasty leagues.
“Beat the Champ” Side game
I’ve heard of office pools where the league champion starts the season with the belt, but when he loses a game, the owner that beats him gets to wear the belt. This continues all season as a mini side game of defeating the champ.
If that sounds like a fun side game for your league, especially if you work with your league owners, check out FantasyJocks for all types of Fantasy Football trophies and awards. They sell Fantasy Football Belts.
6. Make Tight Ends Relevant
Tight ends are quickly fading into irrelevance. I have two suggestions for ways you can make the tight end position one that your fantasy football league mates need to fight over. The first is to give the position a “premium”-or increase the points they receive when scoring. TE premium leagues can provide extra points for any combination of the following: receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, receiving first-downs. You can also make your league a 2 tight end league. In 2 TE leagues, players are required to start 2 tight ends per week. If you’re feeling really whacky you can combine both of these suggestions to have a 2 TE premium league.
5. Copy That
This suggestion is an expansion on the “bigger is better” concept from suggestion 9. I like making my leagues even bigger than 16; I run a 32 team league and participate in a 50 team league. When you get bigger than 16 teams, though, I suggest you introduce player copies. Player copies simply allow players to be rostered more than once. For example, two players can have Saquon Barkley on their roster; or one team can have Saqoun Barkley on their roster twice. You can either allow every team to play with the same pool of NFL players or separate the player pools into divisions so that only one copy of each player is available in each division. I prefer the latter option, but either are sure to cause some much desire chaos.
4. Try your Luck at the Auction
Auction style leagues are gaining popularity every year. In an auction league, you do not draft in the traditional “snake” order. Instead, you are given a budget (example $1000) and you must create your roster by winning bids on players. In auction drafts, league mates all have the ability to nominate NFL players, often one at a time and everyone has a set amount of time (4-8 hours traditionally) to place a bid on them. Auction drafts can become quite intense, especially if you allow pubic bidding-meaning everyone can see what the current high bid on a player is. This type of draft takes roster construction and bankroll management to a whole new level.
3. Playoffs? No, we are Not Talking about the Playoffs.
Every league seems to have a preference for playoffs: 4 or 8 teams, sometimes league leader(s) earn bye weeks and the ever debated topic of whether or not to use week 17. Instead, I suggest you do not use playoffs at all. I have introduced this concept, mirroring the way standings work in European Soccer Leagues, in a very intense league. Instead of playoffs, the regular season runs through Week 16 (in case you wanted my answer to the aforementioned debate). The team with the best record at the end of Week 16 is crowned the league champion. This system offsets one of the most common complaints of players: they spend the whole season towards the top of their league and get knocked out of the playoffs with a few fluke performances in a particular late season week.
2. Make it Legit with a Contract
Contract leagues are a whole new level of whacky. In contract leagues, players are assigned dollar values (their contract) and teams are given a salary cap in which they may not exceed. In a contract league players can receive the assigned dollar values/contracts in multiple ways but the most common way I have experienced it is by taking the value they went for in the league’s start-up auction draft (see: suggestion 4). Contract leagues must also account for how an NFL player’s value might appreciate/depreciate over time; the most common way to account for this is to limit the duration of the contract. These style of leagues must also account for rookie contracts; which can be pre-assigned based on the draft position of the rookie (i.e. all first-round picks will have contracts of $10 per season for 2 years). Assigning contracts to players makes everything more difficult but, in particular, trading players becomes a whole different ball game.
1. Take the Devy Dive
Devy fantasy football leagues are the ultimate challenge, in my personal opinion. Devy leagues are an expansion of dynasty leagues, the difference is that they include college players. Devy leagues have rosters that reflect the traditional dynasty roster but also include 4-7, on average, slots for players who are currently in college. Players can be eligible for any of the next four NFL draft classes (any player currently playing, or committed to, a college program). Devy leagues can then have one of two major variations. In some leagues the devy (or currently in college) players do not score points, they simply transition automatically to your roster when they are drafted to the NFL. Devy leagues, however, can also allow devy (currently in college) players to score points, based on either the same or a customized scoring system.
In both variations, Devy players can usually be traded. Devy leagues hold drafts to fill the spots left open on their devy roster from players being drafted and switching to the NFL side of your roster. These leagues, due to the complicated nature, often have to run on multiple platforms and/or have standings and rosters tracked “off-sheet”, or in a customized way that is not facilitated by a major platform.
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Thanks for reading
Matt is a seasoned fantasy football analyst that writes dynasty and devy fantasy football content year-round. In addition to writing for Gridiron Experts, he writes and hosts a podcast for The Dynasty Draft Room and publishes all of his work at patreon.com/theffeducator