Calling all commissioners!! August is in the air, and we all know what that means… fantasy drafting season! We’ve come a long way in the fantasy world, from basic manual calculation of stats based on sports page box scores all the way to the varying and exciting ways we are able to play today. Yet, even the best of leagues can sometimes feel a bit…typical. The same old thing year in and year out gets tiresome after a while, and every now and then your league needs a bit of a makeover to get owners feeling just as excited as they were on Day 1. Take a look at some of the methods you can use to add a spark to your league and really start the season off with a bang:
1. Make the change to a FAAB waiver system
Seriously, are we still doing the Waiver Wire Priority Method?? I don’t know about you, but I am sick of missing out on a top waiver add when I get moved to the end of the priority list just because I added a kicker mid-week to fill a bye. Or how about the owner who adds your waiver target, only to drop him a day later, which in turn, prohibits you from picking up that player for 2-3 extra days. SICK OF IT! In a league where 1st and 8th are separated by 1 or 2 wins, the waiver priority can throw off the competitive balance and ruin a season for a very good team. A Free Agent Acquisition Budget gives each owner a set dollar amount to spend on free agent acquisitions all season, and once your budget is gone, you are unable to make waiver claims. Each week, there is a blind bidding process, in which the highest bid wins the player. It forces you to use more strategy in making waiver adds, and discourages other owners adding/dropping just to gain an advantage, not to mention, requires more due diligence and skill to execute effectively.
- Have a live draft!!
Make it a party! Tell me what sounds more exciting: sitting alone in your room in front of a dimly lit computer screen OR fIlling an ice chest with your favorite drinks, firing up the grill, and making fun of your poor intoxicated friend who drafts a retired kicker in round 8?? (Yes, that actually happened) If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing an in-person draft, do yourself a favor and give it a go. Trust me, the only thing better than stealing a player your league rival desperately wants is looking them in the eye while you do it.
- Add in Multi-game weeks
It happens to the best of us… You have every player score above their projection, you start all the right players, put up 150 points in your matchup, only to play the guy who has an equally great week and scores 151. To top it off, the guy who scores 84 points just happens to be playing the team with 3 IR players and 2 bye weeks and somehow gets a win. We have all been there. What if you could get rewarded for a great week regardless? Multi-game weeks are best described as a combination of Head to Head scoring and total points scoring. Each week is scored as a 2 game week: you get 1 win/loss for the result in your Head to Head matchup, but in addition, the top half scoring teams in the league get an extra win, while the bottom half scoring gets an extra loss. Each team either goes 2-0, 1-1, or 0-2 on any given week, which essentially eliminates luck from the equation and allows the best teams in the league to make their playoffs. Sorry bogus luck teams, no more stealing playoff spots from unfortunate owners!
- Add in Rivalry weeks
You have to admit, every season when the fantasy schedule is finalized, one of the first things you do is circle those matchups against your most hated league rivals. But why limit the stakes to simply a win or a loss? Schedule 1-2 rivalry weeks throughout the season where everybody goes head to head against a rival, family member, or plays a grudge match from last years playoffs. Rivalry weeks come with elevated stakes, where the winner can change the losers team logo and team name for the rest of the season or the losers can’t make a waiver claim the following week. Adding a little fire to these already heated matchups gives the league a little boost and can heat up even the most contested battles on your schedule.
- Change up your trophy
I must admit, having a league trophy is a great way to ensure every owner is hungry at the beginning of the season, especially when you get the names of past winners engraved onto it to cement the champion in eternal fantasy glory. But, if your league is anything like mine, the trophy somehow gets lost or damaged every year, and the time, cost, and effort it takes to replace it is simply not worth it. Maybe it’s time to consider a jersey trophy! Hear me out… Instead of a trophy, every year the losers of the league pitch in to buy the winner a jersey of their team’s fantasy MVP. In a 12 team league, losers only have to pitch in around $10 for a replica Game jersey on NFL.com, or if you want the real deal, $28 per loser can snag you an Elite Authentic jersey. Have your past champions wear their jersey trophies to the draft every year, and in a few years, your draft party could be filled with the memories from previous champions.
- THE MEGA BOWL!!!!!
Not only does the name sound cool, but I mean who doesn’t want a Mega Bowl!! Every year, add a Mega Bowl tax to each owner’s league dues but stock the proceeds away, and pay out the league at the normal payouts. Every 4 years will be a MEGA BOWL SEASON, in which all the Mega Bowl tax proceeds from the previous 4 years are added to the championship pot. For example, consider a 12 team league with a $100 buy in, with an additional 25% Mega Bowl tax and a $700 championship prize. Every year, the league treasurer will collect $1200 to be used for payouts, and retain $300 in Mega Bowl tax. During MEGA BOWL SEASON, your league will have an additional $1200 prize to add on to the traditional championship pot. With a championship pot almost 3 times higher than usual, no doubt it will add some fire to the competition.
- Have some fun with unique payouts
When you have a great year, sure, restricting payouts to podium finishes sounds like a no brainer. However, when you finish 4th or lower, I bet all of us would like a shot to win at least some of our money back. In one of my 14 team home leagues, we are piloting 16 different ways to be paid out. Don’t get greedy, we do this for the love of the game. The more likely an owner is to get paid out, the more likely they are willing to come back next season. Take a look at our payout structure for some ideas. 14 teams-$100 buy in- $1,400 total pot
|Toilet Bowl Champ||$35||Winner of 6 team consolation bracket|
|BUSTED||$20||First player to get arrested/suspended for 4+ games|
|INSURANCE||$20||First major injury (6+ weeks, starts week 1)|
|SKINS||$5/Week||Outscore the league by 15+ points. If nobody does, rolls over to next week|
|DOMINATION||$10||First team to have a player score 40+ points in a single week|
|SMACKED||$10||First team to lose a game by 50+ points|
|UNLUCKY||$20||Most points against at end of regular season|
|SURVIVOR||$40||Each week, lowest scoring team is eliminated. After 13 weeks, the only team left standing wins the pot.|
|PRO BOWLERS||$20/Each||Top scorer at each major position at seasons end (QB, RB, WR, TE)|
**Any Pools not paid out at the end of the season, get rolled over into League Champions payout
- League relegation
This is an idea I have grown to love- If you are familiar with the English Premier League, you know where this is going. If you have a league with the majority returning from year to year, and a waiting list to get in, this could be your solution. Allow room for 20-24 owners, and separate into a top tier league and a bottom tier league. Each year the bottom half finishers in the top league will be relegated to the bottom league, and the top half finishers of the bottom league get to move up to the top league for the next season. Make the payouts and buy ins 2, 3, or even 4 times higher in the top league to get teams really striving to get that top tier payout, and be the best of the best.
These are just a few ideas that have saved my leagues, so try them out and it may just save yours as well. What are some other ways your league is shaking things up? Share your thoughts with me on twitter @M_Garza20 & @fantasyreport_ and let us know how your league stands out!