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Fantasy Commissioner – A Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It

Being a good fantasy commissioner takes a lot of work and dedication, so if you decide to run a league with a bunch of your friends, make sure you have the time to dedicate to your league or it won’t amount to much. My league has been running strong for 18 years now and there’s no end in sight. A good fantasy league requires a good commissioner.

First, you need to round up at least 10 of your friends/colleagues/co-workers who enjoy fantasy football with the same enthusiasm as you do. My league started out with eight members and has grown to 14 over the years. If your league has less than 10 teams, every team tends to be a powerhouse. Over-sized leagues, say more than 14 teams, tend to be “watered down.”  It may take a few years, but you’ll need a nice core of diehard owners to make your project run smooth enough to be both fun and competitive. A great fantasy league not only needs capable management and direction from the commissioner but also strong ownership to endure the many changes that your league will experience over the years.

Put everything in writing so you’re not making up rules as the season goes along. Nothing can tear apart a league quicker than having bickering owners because the commissioner never outlined and explained the rules and regulations beforehand.

Be creative! Most leagues are either head-to-head or total points. Mine is a hybrid of both! We have two championships! The overall fantasy champion is the team with the most overall points and the normal head-to-head Fantasy Bowl champion. It keeps more teams involved in the running for a championship and keeps things more interesting for everyone. You’d be surprised at how many lower-ranked total points teams can end up with good enough head-to-head records to make the playoffs and still have a shot at fantasy gold.

Also, be creative with your league scoring. I find that distance-based scoring is the most interesting. Why should a boring 1-yard plunge be worth the same as a Barry Sanders-esque 80-yard scamper?  Heck, even I can score from the 1-yard line if you give me the ball three times!

Take advantage of today’s technology. Up until a few years ago, I ran everything on paper. Nowadays, there are many, many sites to help set up your league and keep the scoring for you. FantasySharks is a good place to start for this. Make your league elaborate but not too complicated. Advocate trades and frown upon vetoes. Spend a few hours during the week to write newsletters highlighting the events of last week’s results. Make them fun and interesting to read. Praise the good teams and bash the bad ones (but don’t overdo it – owners of bad fantasy teams tend to be testy and grumpy). My league’s newsletters have previews of the upcoming week’s matchups chock full of past history between teams, just for fun point-spreads and predictions. Encourage guest articles written by your other owners.

Enjoy the privileges that come along with being commissioner, but act accordingly. As commissioner, you have the final say. But you are not God. Put in a system of checks and balances, such as electing a committee of three other owners who know almost as much about fantasy football as you do. This committee can help you make decisions about any problems you may encounter during the season. Respect your owners, and they, in turn, will respect you. Over the years, my owners have honored me with numerous “Best commissioner” plaques, trophies, coffee mugs, etc. 

And last but not least – the draft! Make your draft an annual event that every owner looks forward to each summer. Provide a fun, party-like atmosphere with pre-draft food, drink, music, games (horseshoes, darts, etc.). Make an entire day out of it! Another important aspect is to encourage spousal involvement. Let’s face it, at least 90-95 percent of your ownership will be male. Get the wives/girlfriends involved somehow, and I don’t mean by letting them cook/serve the food and fetching drinks during the draft. Many females have a genuine interest in football, so let your owners partner up with their significant other even if it’s just to cross the players off the cheat sheet! My wife has taken part in our league as an owner in years passed and she has served as our league treasurer since its inception, and once my duties as commissioner are over at our draft and I transform into just an owner, I turn the league over to her as timekeeper and recorder for the entire draft.

Just remember that fantasy football is a game. And, like every other game, you need to keep it fun. So whether you’re playing for money, trophies or bragging rights, it’s not worth losing close friends over. It’s better to just keep kicking their butts year after year! Good luck in forming your league, and here’s wishing you a successful venture into the wonderful world of fantasy football!

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