Fantasy Football – 8 Rules For A Perfect League, Volume 2 (Part 1)

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July is approaching, and that means it is just about time to start the preparations on your 2013 fantasy football league. Whether you are new to the game or a long-time player, there are a few things you need to know before you click “Start League” and send out the invitations to your pals this season. I’ve seen far too many leagues sprout up recently that are, well… pretty terrible to be perfectly honest. So while you may think you have everything down pat, I’m here to give you aspiring Fantasy Commissioners my 8 Simple Rules for Playing Fantasy Football.

Veteran fantasy football players know there is nothing worse than having to sit and listen to some guy bend your ear for ten minutes telling you all about how awesome his fantasy football team is or how his league is the best around. This is especially true when you ask a question about the league and you find out it’s actually 5 guys and 1 of their girlfriends all with loaded teams. Except for hers of course, since she obviously drafted Eli Manning in the second round because “He seems so nice on TV”. Or even worse, you find out the guy’s playing in a public league on ESPN with a bunch of strangers, and only 3 of the 10 team owners actually remember they signed up for it and even bother to participate. Where is the fun in that? It’s nowhere to be found, that’s where.

Well fear not, fantasy ballers, because I am here to assist you in your never-ending quest to form the mythical “Perfect Fantasy League” (PFL for short). I assure you, the PFL does exist; it is just extremely rare. I’m talking “turnover-free Mark Sanchez game”-type rare. There are something like 11 bajillion fantasy football leagues out there and maybe 6 leagues that have reached the top of the mountain. Fortunately for you, I happen to be the Commissioner of one of those leagues and I want you to join the party. Now, did my league start out as a PFL? No, but after 8 years of evolution, rules tweaking, 2 members kicked out and replaced, and even a 2 team expansion from 10 to 12, I have been to the Promised Land. And now my goal is to bring the rest of you with me.

So without further adieu here is an easy 8-step guide to forming your very own PFL! You can thank me in December when you tell that boring guy at the cubicle next to you who is bragging about his ESPN public league how you have seen the light, and that you are uninterested in his crappy story about how he scooped up Russell Wilson off the waiver wire last year. Here we go..

Step 1. Get 10 or 12 guys together who know each other well and are comfortable enough to unleash insults on one another. This is very important — Not 8 guys, not 14, I’m hesitant to even put 10 in there. 12 is the perfect amount, but 10 will suffice, especially if the alternative is to invite one of your buddy’s cousin’s roommate’s friend’s that nobody knows into the league. Or even worse, a girl. (Sorry ladies, I just can’t risk having you think less of me after you witness me attempt to demasculinize and humiliate a good friend, all in the name of trash talk). Just as important, you have to find a good league website to use. It’s hard to find a good free one, so don’t hesitate to pay for a quality one. They can be pricey, but 150 bucks split 12 ways hopefully isn’t a big deal. You should look for a league where you can write your own league articles, post pictures, have a good message board, and post polls without any restrictions. This will all come into play later.

And like I said, you have to be close to, and comfortable with, at least the great majority of the other league members. That’s because in a PFL, nothing is off limits. The time you got cut from the JV football team and cried? Not only is that fair game, it is hilarious and encouraged that someone brings it up. Repeatedly. The time you got caught looking a little too long at the pictures of Tim Tebow running shirtless in the rain? You better believe that’s going to get mentioned a time or twenty.

You get the point. The league should consist of friends. And that’s what friends do: Bust each other’s chops relentlessly. Fantasy football is no different. It’s about friendship (and drinking) as much as the football.

Step 2. No girlfriends/wives/significant others allowed. No exceptions.  Not only are they not allowed to play in the league, they are not allowed to read your league home page. They are not allowed to know the entry fee into the league (“you spent $250 on fantasy football but won’t take me out to dinner?” Um, yes). They are not allowed to know who is winning the league. If you were in line to collect a large sum of money as your prize, do you want your girlfriend knowing about it so she can start harassing you about buying her a new bag, or pair of shoes, or Twilight books or whatever the hell it is girls like these days? (Clearly I have no idea.) No, of course not. You want to blow that prize money on drinking beer, eating wings, and gambling on the NFL playoffs that are coming up. If one of the other league members brought up an embarrassing story from your past, do you want your wife reading it and questioning you?

This is why this is perhaps the most important rule. After all, I’m sure we all have that one whipped guy in your league, and it won’t take much for his lady friend to get mad, forbid him from playing any longer, and then you’ll never see — or hear from — him again. At least not until he finds a better girlfriend. Now that we got that out of the way…

Step 3. Have a strong scoring system. I hate hearing people talk about how they scored 215 points in fantasy and I think “Wow! They must have had all the top guys”, only to find out their league is so poorly run that it would make Jeff Ireland blush. Huge bonuses for getting 300 passing yards or 100 rushing yards? No. Bonuses for a 50 yard run? Get out of my face.

I’ll make this one even easier for you. There is one set of scoring rules that should apply in any league. These rules make the most sense. Take special note that receptions count as 1 point. That’s very important. These rules are fair, they are balanced, and they even the playing field across the board. Plus they take into account every yard gained by your team. How annoying is it in some of these leagues when you see a guy had 99 rush yards, but you only get 9 points for it? Those 9 extra yards don’t count? I hate that. I hate that more than I hate Calvin Pace. Here is your new scoring system:

Starting lineups: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 flex (RB, WR or TE), 1 TE, 1 K, 1 team defense/special teams

  • Passing TD: 4 points
  • Rushing TD: 6 points
  • Receiving TD: 6 points
  • 1 passing yards: 0.05 point (comes out to 20 yards = 1 point)
  • 1 rushing yards: .10 point (comes out to 10 yards = 1 point)
  • 1 receiving yards: .10 point (comes out to 10 yards = 1 point)
  • 1 reception: 1 point (VERY important. PPR leagues are Far superior)
  • lost fumble: -2 points
  • interception:  -2 points
  • 2 pt conversion (pass, run or receive):  2 points
  • FG up to 39 yards: 3 points
  • FG 40-51 yards: 4 points
  • FG 52+ yards: 5 points
  • XP: 1 point
  • missed XP:  -2 points
  • Sack-  2 points
  • Int-  2 points
  • block kick/punt-  2 points
  • fumble recovery-  2 points
  • safety- 3 points
  • Defensive td-  6 points
  • Kick return-  6 points
  • 0 points allowed-  15 points
  • 1-3 points-  10 points
  • 4-9 points- 5 points
  • 10-17- 3 points
  • 18-24- 2 points
  • 32+ points allowed-  -4 points

That’s it. No questions asked. Just plug those in and watch how smoothly the league will run. Let’s move on.

Step 4. Now that you know what the scoring should be, you need to know what kind of league you are going to run. I strongly, strongly recommend you get yourself involved in a keeper league. It’s more fun that way. The players become your players. You’ll always remember what your guy did for you and you’ll form bonds with those guys. Here’s how I run my keeper league: Each team is allowed to keep up to 3 keepers each year, but you don’t have to, you can keep 0, 1, or 2 if you see fit. Now here’s the kicker — you lose the round in this year’s draft that the player was drafted in last year. Example: If you picked Matthew Stafford in the 6th round last year and you want to keep him for this year, you lose a 6th round pick and you just fill Stafford in as your 6th rounder this year. (If you want to keep an undrafted player, he gets designated as a 10th rounder) Then for each subsequent year, if you keep a player more than once, his keeper value gets cut in half. So if you keep Stafford for two years, the second year his value would be 3rd round. This adds a whole new element of strategy when it comes to who to keep. Is Reggie Bush better as a 5th round value or Frank Gore as a 3rd? Should I just keep both? Or neither? You may spend 6 weeks agonizing over that decision, but trust me, somehow that becomes a lot of fun.

Click Here for Part 2, and be sure to let me know about your league and what you think about these rules here in the comments or on Twitter.

25 thoughts on “Fantasy Football – 8 Rules For A Perfect League, Volume 2 (Part 1)

  1. Good article! I will say that it is possible to run a very fun and competitive 14 or 16 team league. I run a 16 team work league, and although it took some tweaking to find the right settings, it’s great now. It is a half-PPR league with these roster spots:

    QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, Flex, K, DEF, BN, BN, BN, BN

    Only having 4 bench spots is essential. Any more than that and there is nobody worthwhile on waivers, and benches are deep enough to discourage trading. 4 bench spots makes decisions about cutting an injured player that much more difficult.

    In general, a league with no trades is not a fun league. Regardless of league size, you should always try to have enough roster spots such that it is impossible to always restock strictly from bench/waivers.

  2. This is awful… 1 qb leagues are a joke. ALos 2 WR is not enough! You have guys like tony romo, Russel Wilson and Eli Manning on your bench. Common that’s crazy talk.

    In my league we are 10 guys.(All Great friends)
    QB QB RB RB WR WR WR FLEX TE DEF DEF w 5 Bench… you have no depth in your league.

    That’s not even your biggest mistake… Drafting is the worst system for fantasy football. Its completely outdated and anyone who does it has no idea how good fantasy football can be. Its a complete joke!

    I used to do a draft and changed it 4 years ago and my league has gotten 100x better. I do an auction everyone gets $300 and you can buy anyone you want. When you draft you get stuck into picking players you don’t like or want. If you changed from draft to auction your life will change.

    Regarding girls i couldn’t agree more but as for fantasy football you most definitely do NOT have PFL. You actually have a lot of work to do.

    Peace Out

  3. In 12+ team leagues, 1 QB is absolutely the way to go. In fact I think 2 QB leagues are weak, no matter how many teams.. Romo and Wilson are easily top 12 QB’s so they shouldn’t be on anybody’s bench. And I don’t see how my format means my league has no depth when your league starts just about the same amount of players at the skill positions as mine throughout the league (24 RB, 24 WR, 12 flex, 12 TE, 72 total vs. 20 RB, 30 WR, 10 Flex, 10 TE, 70 total)

    And you make a fair point with the auctions, I know some people love them. I much prefer the keeper league re-draft format though and once you start a keeper league it’s hard to change the rules and format that drastically. Thanks for the input though.

  4. Yea last year was my first time joining a league. I joined a friend’s league and on draft day only half of the people signed on. I was able to get a lot of good players but its wasnt as fun since a lot of the guys werent a threat. Im starting my own league this year with close friends and Im hoping it will be a lot more fun.

  5. Richard, good luck with your new league.. it will definitely be more fun if you can get a full league with a bunch of friends where everyone will participate. Make it worthwhile for everyone and charge money for each team to join even if it’s just a few dollars, then everyone will be much more into their teams. Check back later for part 2, hopefully it helps.

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  7. Mike you are right about the depth i didn’t take into account that you have 12 guys.

    However you really should move to auction their is no comparison.

    I am seasoned Fantasy Football Commissioner. Going on 10 years strong!!!

  8. Mike, thanks I got about 9 guys in it right now and hopefully 2 more will join. I figured it would be a lot more fun too since I watched sunday football with most of them and we can talk smack to each other during the game. Right now its only 50 bucks but Im trying to get it up to 100. I’ll make sure to read the second half of the article as well.

  9. Richard A – I definitely hear you about the auctions and I certainly wouldn’t fault anybody for running that type of league. I’ve participated in auctions before and I have no complaints about them. I would say, however, that they are probably for more experienced fantasy players, and if anybody is just starting a league from scratch the draft format is certainly easier.

    Richard C-R : 12 would be ideal imo, but 10 works as well. It’s absolutely more fun when you are friends with everyone and can watch the games while talking trash. Hope you liked the article.. I plan on putting out more fantasy content before the season starts. Hope it helps.

  10. How do you address keeping 2 players that were drafted in the same round last year? I have an owner that wants to keep 2 players that were each drafted in the 1st round last year. Thanks.

  11. Tom, there are two ways to go about this. One is to make him choose just one player for the first round and drop the other. The other is if there are two guys with the same round, let one be for the round after, so his two first round guys would be his first and second. In my league we use the second way and bump the second keeper to the following round. Hope that helps.

  12. FF is a gateway drug. Yahoo default scoring, settings and stats become so boring after awhile you need to up the ante. In one way or another. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin!’ BTW…there is no right way either. My girlfriends and friends wives shit talk way better than most of my dumbass male friends. It’s all good though. I’m just glad to be playin’ again!!!

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  14. Mike, great write up, I’m transitioning to a PPR league this year, I have 12 teams with the same rosters, what does your bench and IR consist of? How much? And also how much RB, WR, QB your allowed to have?

  15. SupaFly, my league is a keeper league so we added two extra spots to make roster sizes 18. A standard league would be 16 usually. I wouldn’t set any limits on how many players you could have at any position either. If you want to load up your bench with all RBs or something you should be able to. And unlike fantasy baseball, I don’t have any IR spots.. If you want to carry an injured player you should have to decide if he’s worth a bench spot or not. Hope that helps and good luck.

  16. hey mike, thanks for the input, how bout your defense scoring settings? do you mess with Yards allowed (scoring) besides points allowed as well?

  17. I’ve been running a league through ESPN for about 5 years, so I’m still getting my legs. Maybe I’m just missing something, but it sems to me that a roster of 16 in a 12 team leagus is too many. Even in a 10 team league for that matter. Halfway through last season there was nobody worth picking up when you needed to because all of the talent was sitting on your opponents bench. This year, we’re doing a 12 team league with 6 starters: QB RB WR Flex K DEF, and 5 bench spots. And acquisitions from waivers/FA’s is limited to 10 for the season.

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  19. would love this if it weren’t for the generalization of girls in your rule… especially when you deem it “your most important”. As a girl who is an avid football fan, I play in a 10 person league with 8 guys and 2 girls. We have all been best friends since our college years and we have no problem taking and/or dishing out smack (think Jenny from the League, without the Kevin link). In fact, I’d say us girls get the jucier embarrassing info considering we become friends with the guys’ girlfriends.

    While I understand that significant others in the league is more often than not, a terrible idea, I think you’re doing many females a disservice by arbitrarily declaring having a girl is a bad idea. I am one of the lucky ones, but I know how hard it is for some girls to find a league because the guys won’t take them seriously or think they can’t handle the trash talk and harassment. We’re a rare breed, but there are good ones out there ;) my friends have admitted they like having us on their league better (we help you get girls, too, remember that single guys). So discount the ladies completely… unless you’re too scared of losing to a girl?

  20. Yeah, dude, I gotta agree with da_girl. Yeah, user your point about a men’s frat-type mentality, but, hey, this is 2013, and I do know a few females that are stats machines and follow football better than a lot of guys I know. If it’s a tight group of buddies, and your settings are set to private, that’s one thing, but if you are playing with coworkers and your settings are public, well, the no-holds-barred trash-talk on the message board could really lead to major problems in this day and age. For example, I randomly pulled up a league of Costco employees once. They had a message board that would make a sailor blush, ripe with jokes of child porn and all sorts of pretty risqué stuff. Now I ain’t no prude, but these knuckleheads had their store name and store number as their league name. Costco HR would have had a field day with these clowns, if they ever found out about it. In this day and age, you have to be inclusive, and you really have to watch what you post online. It could come back and bite you I’m ghe butt.

  21. PPR leagues are idiotic. So you’re going to artificially inflate the fantasy point totals of running-backs because they catch a lot of high percentage receptions at the line of scrimmage?

    Often times a pass to a rb is just a check-down, because the wideouts were too well covered by the opposing d. Many times these passes result in minimal or negative yards, but you think these players should be disproportionately rewarded, because the opposing secondary is playing well?

    PPR blows. Everything else seemed legit in this article though.

  22. Wow – I was excited to read this until I remembered that I’m just a stupid girl that wants nothing more than to spend “my man’s” money on Twilight and shoes.

    Way to be a misogynist asshole.

    Glad I’m in a league that understands that I’m female AND a football fan. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Good luck with your Bro-fest.

  23. I really found your article informative until the no girls allowed section. I am a female and I am the commissioner of an all girl FFL. I was the only girl in a 12 person league for 8 years and held my own. Girls can dish it out and take it just as well as guys can. Woman are just as competitive and knowledgeable about football as guys are. We have a big ass trophy and $50 buy in so we have just as much at stake as a guys only league. Not to mention our draft party is epic. We would welcome any guys with open arms if they thought they could hang being apart of a league full of women and named Brew N Screw Chicks Fantasy Football League!!

  24. I agree with you Robin!

    What say you Donnelly? I say you join the Brew N Screw Chicks Fantasy Football League…

  25. I’ve been in a keeper league for 10 years now. It started out pretty standard and now is a 12 team IDP dynasty league with 35 man rosters (total keeper). We didn’t like how you could draft a rookie with a ton of potential only to have to drop him at the end of the year if he didn’t get a chance to play immediately. With a total keeper league it feels more like you actually own a team.

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