I believe that a Fantasy Football League is the best way to love the NFL. You may follow or be a fan of one particular team but Fantasy Football forces you into supporting other teams week to week. Not only does it mean you now support all 32 teams, but you also see much more ball games increasing your knowledge tenfold. A better basic knowledge makes for a better fantasy player.
In this, I will share with you the trials and tribulations of being a Commissioner and everything I’ve dealt with to make my main league the most competitive it’s ever been. In addition to the standard league, I created a side league. Also, for the 2020 season, I am creating a new Dynasty League. Hopefully, you can take something from this to help your own leagues or inspire you to become a new league Commissioner, helping others enjoy the sport as much as you do.
When I first started to enjoy the NFL I was on my own. Nobody I knew was into the game. Trying to be part of something that no one else cared for was tough. Eventually, I have made new friends. I have also helped existing friends and family get into the NFL. Fantasy Football was one of my easiest methods of helping people enjoy, and learn, the game I love. It’s taken almost 10 years to get my main league to the position it’s in now. Also, many things have had to happen along the way to make it what it is.
My first year of playing Fantasy Football was very much a year of trying and learning. I joined multiple random NFL.com public league’s and was hooked from the off. Unfortunately, quite early on, it was clear to see that people join the public league’s, draft a team then more often than not they disappear. Doing this gave me an understanding of how Fantasy Football worked. I then used that experience to create my first league.
I created my first league in 2012 and kept the standard settings to keep things easy. The problem was finding people to play with. Looking back, the thing was a joke. It had a grand total of 6 teams. Of those, 2 were filler teams, which I ran just to get the league up and running.
Hindsight would suggest I should have waited to fill the league with active members to play. However, the league was set-up and I was keen to get started. I didn’t know many people that knew about the NFL, let alone understood it enough to play Fantasy Football. Time to find some players!
I found three! But I was addicted to the NFL and I just wanted any part of it. A fantasy league was that part. So I created two email addresses to get the league to 6 teams and away we went. All the while learning and enjoying the NFL in a new way.
Being A Commish
After harping on about the NFL and Fantasy Football for almost a year, I then created a work league and had more of an uptake than my home one. 14 teams started in 2013 and so it began. This was much easier than my home league. Or so I thought!
Needing a Right-hand man!
Over the years, it has been a challenge to get teams sorted and rules in place. The best thing I did was to make sure I had a right-hand man that I could bounce ideas off and help me run the league.
I’d make all the final cuts and decisions on the league but my buddy would help me work things out. He would push me when decisions were needed to be made. Lastly, and most importantly, back me up when people throw hissy fits.
One particular instance was after the teams had been set into the divisions, our resident league villain that we all love to hate, spat out his dummy saying I had put him in a particular division on purpose just to spite him.
Luckily, my RHM had actually filmed the randomiser we used to split the divisions fairly. As standard, he still had something to say about it but we proved everything was above board.
A lot of standard league’s have a straight set up of one league of all the teams and the top 6/8 get into the playoffs. I wanted to create a more exciting look so I changed a few things.
The points system was upgraded so each position got more points for a lot of different game stats. I also split the league into 2 divisions. This is one thing I’ve kept the same every single year as In my opinion makes things interesting.
The playoffs are always week 14-16. 6 teams with 2 of them on a bye for the first week.
If you are creating a league, never ever play week 17! Some of the better teams could potentially rest your star RB or half your stars in your team because they have already made the playoffs. JUST DON’T DO IT!
It takes a bit of work. However, I make sure the schedule has division teams play each other at least once, and if possible, twice depending on how many teams are in the league.
We had 14 teams in 2013 so it was easy for the schedule. Every team in the league played each other once. We also had just 2 divisions.
The thing that I like most about divisions is having the winner of each division getting a bye into the semi-finals. It then moves back into overall position for the full league to see who makes it into the rest of the playoff spots.
Throughout the years the league has had 20 teams. This means four divisions of five teams. 16 teams with four divisions of four teams. Now stands at 10 teams with two divisions of five teams.
In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, I had the division teams play each other twice and the remaining fixtures go against teams in the other division. The rationale behind this is trying to get that playoff bye. Going up against teams in your own division makes it a lot spicier battling for that one bye spot.
With 10 teams in the league this past season, it worked very well. Each team played each other once and twice for the division teams.
We have created the divisions in many ways in the past but have finally found a way that the league is happy with.
From the previous season, 1st and 2nd are heading up each division. The rest of the league then get their names randomised using an internet randomiser. We can then video it, so the usual suspects don’t complain they have been cheated over.
Dealing with collusion in the league is always going to be tricky. I’ve had to deal with it over the years and working with everyone in the league throws up its fair share. Sneaky trades, hissy fits, throwing solid players onto the waiver wire or throwing games to get a better draft spot.
The league will always let me know how they feel about certain goings-on. Commissioner abilities are used more than I want to but a necessity at times. Placing players back onto teams or changing teams trades.
One year the threat of losing a draft pick was needed to stop our resident league loud-mouth to throw a game to get a better draft pick for the season.
The same player is always complaining of schedule fixing, or being put in a tough division. It’s always nice at the end of the season to remind this player what his complaints are.
He’s the type of player that gets in your head. I like to go through the schedule and score my points against his schedule and vice versa. 9 out of 10 times I have a harder schedule and we all let him know.
I must admit, it’s players like this that make the league a little bit spicier.
We redraft every season. No Dynasty here folks. New year, new teams. The winner of the Championship has to pick last just like the NFL. So the last place gets the number one overall pick to try to keep the league players interested if they have a bad season.
When new players come into the league it was decided that they would get the first pick. That was a full league decision so everyone was on board.
We needed to make sure we didn’t randomise the draft but had to find a place in the draft that wouldn’t be a disadvantage to the new player. So the first pick was theirs.
Draft night is always the last Sunday night before the first NFL game. It’s the best time to do it as none of the league work on a Sunday night. It also means all meaningful preseason games are complete. Usually, this gives us a good understanding of who is free from injuries and active on a depth chart.
As commissioner, I had two rules to be in the league.
1. You have to work at our place of work.
2. Be active! I don’t care if you are the best fantasy player or not. You just have to be active.
You might not know much about the game, but that will come. As long as you compete every week, take part in waivers and set a line-up (including changing IA players on game day) then you were in the league.
As commissioner, I’ve been ruthless and you have to be to make the league work.
I give new players a 2-year window. If they show they can compete then they can stay but if they slack off they get a warning in season. If it doesn’t change, they then get booted from the league.
The fantasy villain and my RHM actually come together well in this issue. They help me keep track of the slackers and if I’m being to slack on them, the two come together and push me to make a decision.
Unfortunately, we have lost some very good teams due to rule 1 when they leave the company. But half the league banter is face to face and wanting to get one over on your workmate.
There is nothing quite like smashing someone over the weekends games and turning up on Tuesday morning with the bragging rights.
Over the years we have added new players taking it up to to 20 teams. We have also whittled bad players away eventually leaving us with 10 players that compete every week.
Because of this, we have just had our most competitive and closest season since we started.
Don’t feel bad for the good players that got booted. They got transferred into my original league.
A Write Up – Personalising Your League
We pay a small amount into a pot for 1st, 2nd and 3rd to collect at the end of the season. This can help keep teams active longer.
However, near the beginning of the work league starting, I was finding it hard to get teams to set line-ups and make some players active.
I originally started by writing up the fixtures on a Thursday evening. I posted them on our league chat to subtly give the teams a reminder to play. This also gave the league a place to start the weekend’s chat and banter.
Midway through the 2nd season, I put a little extra info on the fixtures. Past results or enhancing rivalries. From this, the weekly write up was born.
It still has the same principle, to make teams remember to set a line-up. But the league now pesters for the write up if it’s not on time.
They now get a Tuesday review of the matchups and a Thursday preview of the upcoming games. Filled with info about the ongoing rivalry or winning and losing streaks and team standings.
This has been the easiest way of keeping the league competitive and active. Everyone has something to say when the write-ups are published, which adds to the league and builds the match rivalry.
This is something I then did for The 5 Yard Rush boys when in their 1pt PPR League.
We have some great characters in the group and it would be very interesting to see if these translate into other leagues.
In our league we have…
The grafter/right-hand man- the guy who’s good at Fantasy Football, competes hard but helps you out in the league.
The league villain- everyone loves to hate them. Ours is good at Fantasy Football but is over cocky, chats a lot of nonsense and doesn’t shut up about thinking they are the best.
The rubbish enthusiast- they play each week but make awful waiver moves and set mediocre line-ups. They add random facts to the chat to try to keep up. Never hate on this player. They are just as vital to the league as anyone.
The quiet assassin- They go about their business. Knocking off wins but doesn’t add a lot in the chat.
The good guys- they compete, they chat they win some, lose some and keep the league competitive.
The frustrating ones- these guys can rattle off wins when paying attention. However, they take the pan off the boil for short periods of time through the season. Setting a line-up on a Thursday but don’t look again. Thus handing out wins to other teams as they didn’t change a Sunday Inactive.
The OG League and Dynasty.
So after starting the original league back in 2012, it started to fill up with ex-work players that were too good to lose and a few family and friends from home.
I actually use this league to test new rules, player selections and points scoring. If it works well, it then gets transferred into the work league.
The 2020 season will see both league’s combine with the best players joining to compete in a dynasty league.
The final word
The only way to make a league work is by making sure the league is active. Find a way that works for your league but make sure you lead by example.
An active Commissioner can start the ball rolling with a chat group. A league that talks, becomes more and more active. New rivalries can come from banter and league chat. The rivalry makes teams set their line-ups. They try to grab that player in need off the waivers or jump ahead and take the player the rival needs. In turn, all of this can only be beneficial for the league as a whole.
An active league is a happy league and a happy league is a competitive one.
Until next time, Keep Rushing!