Fantasy Football: It’s Time To Ditch That Cookie Cutter League

fantasy football

As the new fantasy football season is right around the corner, most owners will find themselves in the traditional fantasy league with standard scoring, rosters, and settings in general.  Standard re-draft leagues are fine and dandy, but if you’re like me, you yearn for a more challenging and more complex league.

Here are a few ways you can break free from the everyday fantasy league, and add elements of complexity to your fantasy life for the upcoming season:

  • Increase the number of teams in your league

More teams means more competition.  Have you ever played in an eight-team league where every team is an all-star team?  Not exactly challenging or fun.  Having 14 or more teams in your league rewards active owners and good drafting.  Another benefit is that it obviously can also increase your winnings if you play for money.

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  • Start more players

Shortening the bench and adding extra players to the starting lineup makes it harder to get lucky and win.  This again rewards the active owner.  Thinking about bye weeks is a must and it is much more difficult to stash players.

  • Change starting lineup positions or scoring system

Adding in a second quarterback to the starting lineup changes the league immensely.  The same can be said for altering the scoring settings such as 1.5 PPR for tight ends.  The draft is drastically different in these type of leagues as well.  For instance, quarterbacks are obviously much more valued in two QB leagues compared to a standard league.

  • Use IDP over Team Def and ST

Much more research goes into a league that uses individual defensive players over team defenses.  This again is another example of rewarding the active and prepared owner.  IDP leagues add more starters to the lineup also hitting on the minimization of luck element.  Also, this type of league doesn’t allow teams to forget about defense completely in the draft and/or stream all season.  Individual players accumulate points and can have a large effect on your team from week to week.

  • Have a draft lottery

One of the worst things about fantasy leagues are when owners start to slack off on their teams as the season nears its end.  A team may already be eliminated from the playoffs so that owner no longer cares to set their lineup, which affects not only their head to head match up for the week, but also the entire league itself.  Having a draft lottery encourages participation all season long, even with teams that are out of playoff contention.  Make the winner of the consolation bracket, or the team that finishes just outside the playoffs have the highest chance of winning the lottery so teams have something to play for all season.  A lottery can also can help prevent tanking, just like in the NBA.  A last feature of a draft lottery is to also have the winner of the lottery choose their draft slot instead of automatically being awarded the first overall pick.

  • Have draft in person

If you haven’t had a live or offline draft yet, I strongly encourage you to try it.  They are much more fun than a typical online draft.  Having the entire league get together to draft promotes league unity.  If league mates don’t know each other, they are less likely to trade and possibly less interested in the league.  Connecting a face to a team creates familiarity and cultivates interest.  Having a draft in person also changes the draft itself.  Autopick is not an option and valuation, plus where a player is chosen can change drastically when not everyone has the host site’s rankings right in front of them as they pick.  The prepared manager is again rewarded.  Plus you can trash talk much easier than online, which is always important.

  • Have a Back-to-Back or Three-Peat pot

If your league plays for money, set aside a portion of the league fees in a separate pot each year.  If a team wins the league championship in two or three consecutive seasons, whatever is chosen by the league, they win the separate pot plus the winnings for being league champion that season.  If the previous year’s champion does not repeat as champ, then the pot continues to grow each season until it is won.  This adds another element of competition as owners may do whatever it takes to prevent a team from repeating as champion and winning the pot or inversely, the reigning champion may make some bold moves to put themselves in a position to win the extra stash of money.

  • Implement relegation and promotion

If the league is big enough, have two divisions, conferences, or leagues where one is considered slightly (or not so slightly if you choose) superior to the other.  Maybe the top league has larger payouts for the winners, or something along that nature.  At the end of each season, the worst three (or whatever number is chosen) teams from the top league are relegated to the bottom league for the next season, and the best three teams from the bottom league are promoted to the top league for the next season.  Just another way to add intrigue to the league, and also ensures teams stay active and fight it out to the end of the season.

  • Form a dynasty league

Dynasty leagues are a great way to make fantasy football feel more realistic.  Owners are able to keep players from season to season and act as a pseudo General Manager of their fake teams.  Even if a team is not currently competing in a given season, they can make roster moves to set themselves up to win in the future.  Dynasty leagues require commitment and much participation from the owners, but a well ran league could last for many years.  Once you play in a dynasty league, you will question why you didn’t join one sooner.

  • Use contracts and/or salaries

Another way to spice up dynasty leagues even further are with contracts and salaries.  Players can already be kept from season to season in traditional dynasty leagues, but what about only being able to keep a player for a certain number of years before he is resigned or waived?  What if your star player is becoming too expensive due to inflation of his salary?  What about the bargain young player who blossomed into a star and has a salary at a fraction of what he is worth?  All these scenarios can be played out in a league with contracts and salaries.  If a dynasty league was already more complex than a re-draft league, adding these features will only take the complexity level that much further.  However, the most die-hard fantasy owner will surely be up for the challenge that is not only managing multiple players from year to year but also managing a salary cap.


What other features, aspects or settings does your league have or implement that make it much more interesting and dynamic?  I’d love to hear any other suggestions.  For the record, I would love to create a super dynasty league with 20 teams that uses contracts and salaries and also implements promotion and relegation.  Maybe next year!


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