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.