Football is upon us and joy spreads throughout the land. So you are picking (or fighting over) your draft date and setting up this year’s league. Maybe you have your format down and you are ready to roll, but here are some options and variations on league formats that may add to the fun.
To Flex or not to Flex
Your league host will in part determine how you can set things up, but almost all of them give you options to create flex and superflex spots.
An argument for superflex – Quarterback in most standard scoring leagues of 12-teams or less has become a devalued position. Adding a “superflex” spot, which is a flex spot that includes quarterbacks along with running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, provides an added element of strategy to your draft and brings back the value of the position.
Roll your own roster structure (flexible position limits) – Something that I have seen in several leagues I am in, and love, is a roll your own roster. It will look something like this:
QB 1-2 (if you opt for superflex. If not 1 QB)
And then defense and kicker if you use those positions.
This format allows for each owner to draft a different way and still have equal footing. It opens the door to a zero running back or zero wide receiver draft or best player available. The flexibility adds to the fun.
Rewards and Penalties
Super Pot leagues: I recently joined one of these and love the structure. It is a redraft (although this is used in dynasty leagues as well) but a portion of the dues goes into a super pot. This pot is won by the person with the most points in X-amount of years (two in this league’s case), giving a rotisserie option in head-to-head leagues and rewarding owners who maintain dominance. This is perfect for the owner who crushes it each year and then gets knocked out of the playoffs.
Loser penalties: This one is well documented including being a running gag in The League and by Matthew Berry. In my dynasty league, the worst team gets the first-round pick but the league winner gets to decide the league loser’s design, including team name, accompanying pictures and music if they want. Nothing motivates someone to try harder than listening to the Titanic theme every time they log in to their Hello Kitty themed team … plus it’s funny. I also fully support public humiliation as you see fit.
Prop bets: Somewhere out there is a Haiku about another owner’s greatness because of a prop bet involving the Miami backfield. Proposition bets are side bets. In fantasy football it could be something easy and league wide (a common addition to leagues is highest score rewards) or bets between individuals. Every year at least one owner in my dynasty league trades his picks to someone else for theirs. One bet I made was Facebook pages for a month. If my opponent won, my page would be plastered with pictures of her husband and son. If she lost, her Facebook page would be full of cat pictures…lots of cat pictures. I invited our friends to join in. It was crazy cat lady glory. I am not advocating the use of cat pictures or Justin Bieber songs, I am advising using silly things and side bets to make the season more fun and the league more interactive.
The Finer Points of Scoring
Scoring bonuses: In a rut? Is your league one position dominant? Mix up your scoring. Add a per carry bonus or increase the penalty for interceptions. A common variant is a tight end premium which awards an extra 0.5 points per reception for tight ends. The Fishbowl has a 0.25 per carry bonus that I love because it helps add value to running backs again.
Change Your Waivers
I hate the traditional waiver wire. It rewards teams that are doing the worst and punishes teams that are doing the best. In leagues, home leagues in particular, this often rewards less active players. Here are two variations to change the traditional worst picks first waiver wire.
1) The wire doesn’t reset, once you use your pick you drop to the back of the line. There is at least some strategy there in determining when to burn that pick.
2) Blind bidding waivers is significantly better than a wire order. Blind bidding gives everyone an equal shot at a player and rewards the active players.
Picking your order – If you are doing a snake draft you may be using a random number generator or a hat. Instead, have a card tournament. In one dynasty league I am in our developmental pick order was determined by the winners of a NASCAR race.
One idea is to set up a free (or for money depending on the laws of your state) preseason league on one of the daily fantasy sports sites. Most of them allow the creation of private leagues. If you don’t want to use preseason football, pick another sport. The order, best to worst, of that league then determines your draft order. Instead of grumbling about a random number generator you now have another level of competition.
I made my friends switch to auctions and they fell in love, too. Auctions put the power in your hands. You no longer have a draft order to blame. You can have any player you want, as long as you are willing to pay. Just like blind bidding waivers, you are no longer subject to position. Skill, nerve, patience, and wisdom are rewarded and blind dumb luck is diminished.
So you are trying to find a day to draft and can’t do it. This happens all too often, especially as football season rapidly approaches. If you can’t get it done, look at doing a slow draft. I find this option particularly helpful in leagues where I have different players in different time zones. A live draft is always more fun but a slow draft is often more practical.
However you set up your league, make sure to make it as fun as possible. This is a hobby you love so draft the players you love and play with gumption and gall. Go big and bring those trophies home!