What’s going on fantasy footballers?! Although the season is less than 24 hours away, there’s still time to spice up your league by adding unique payouts and prizes to keep your managers interested from week 1 to week 16. Unless you win your league every single year, you’ve probably experienced the late-season blues and/or lack of motivation to keep chugging along. It happens to the best of us when our top draft picks go down with torn ACL’s, MCL’s, PCL’s, ABCL’s, etc. Yet the 2nd half of the season doesn’t have to be a complete drag for those .500-and-under managers. There are plenty of ways to keep the league intriguing and competitive throughout the year. It’s not too late to suggest to your league some changes – I’ll throw out a couple of ideas for you to get started!
Pay out the weekly high scorer – I’ve referenced my General Management™ league in both the 1st and 2nd article of this series (subtle hint to check them out if you haven’t), but for this example, I’m going to reference another league that I run: “The Greatest Fantasy Football League Ever”. Super clever name, I know. In this league, I pay out $10 each week to the top scorer. But Marcotte, where do you get the money for that? Great question, reader! There are 2 easy ways to make this happen each week:
- Have the lowest scoring manager pay the highest scoring manager. You can make it $5, $10, $20, or whatever your league can/would like to afford. My league is a $100 buy-in and everyone agreed that $10 was a reasonable number that wouldn’t break anyone’s bank.
- In my Greatest League, I charge players for waivers & player adds. Managers use real money for waivers with a season limit of $50 and pay $1 for each free agent add. By doing this, I generate an additional $250-$350 each year to payout the league with. $160 of this is used for the weekly payouts to top scorers and the rest goes to winners in the regular season, playoffs, and the other ideas listed below!
Player predictions for each manager – Another feature I implemented into my “Greatest League” was to have each manager in the league select 2 players at each position (QB, RB, WR, TE) that they believe will outscore their draft day projections. I record all the players, along their Yahoo projections on day 1 of the season, then go back and compare their final scores after 16 weeks. Each manager gets 1 player removed (for injury relief or terrible selecting). The manager with the greatest point differential (player points after 16 weeks minus projected player points) wins $40. Again, this $40 comes from the player adds & waiver money I charge for the league, but you could easily have 10-12 mangers donate $5 each to win $50-$60!
Fantasy Playoff March Madness – I’ve also implemented this ode to the NCAA Tournament into my “Greatest League”. Once week 13 rolls around, I have each manager fill out a playoff bracket for both the championship and consolation brackets. Correct first round selections get +1, second round is worth +2, and +3 if the manager selects the correct champion (real or fake). Another $40 goes to this winner, no matter how bad your team is at this point.
Weekly league pick’em – We used to do this in “Greatest”, but have since moved on now that we payout weekly high scorers. Yahoo has a feature where you can select the winner of each fantasy matchup. If your website doesn’t have this feature, it might take a little extra manual work. Either way, have your managers select which team will win each week and tally up overall records throughout the regular season. The manager(s) with the best records win a cash prize. If you run a keeper league, you can even think about rewarding managers with extra draft picks the next year. I would suggest keeping the reward here small, yet incentivize it enough to make everyone focus on it weekly (something close to an additional 10th round pick the following year).
Guess the highest scoring player each week – This one could get really interesting. I’d suggest starting with everyone donating $1 in the 1st week of the season. Each manager then selects who they think will be the highest scoring player that week. Have each manager submit their pick to you through email/text and keep track of all selections each week. If no one gets it correct, the money carries over to week 2 and everyone again donates $1 to the prize pool. In case of a tie, have the two managers either split the money or choose a player the following week as a tiebreaker. Winner takes all once the top scorer in a week is selected. I believe that someone would hit it eventually, but if no one does you can use that extra money for any other suggestion above or pay it out to the most regular season points, playoff champion, etc. You could even just track the costs for each manager and not make them pay until the end. That way, if no one ever wins it, everyone can just keep their cash!
Top scoring players for each position – Have each manager select who they believe will score the most points at each position (QB, WR, RB, TE, K, DEF). If the manager selects the top scorer, they get 5 points. If the player they selected finishes 2nd at their position, they get 3 points. And finally, a 3rd place selection gets 1 point. We did this in “Greatest” before upgrading to the player prediction differential listed above.
These are just some ideas to throw at your league if you feel that managers get complacent throughout the season. Another common one across fantasy leagues with trophies is to have the last place manager pay for shipping of the trophy to the winner’s house. This at least ensures that “Mr./Mrs. Irrelevant” of your league doesn’t fully give up and throw in the towel. If you all live in the same town, make the loser take the winner out to a dinner of his/her choice.
Let me know if your league has any other interesting strategies to keep the managers interested throughout the entire season. Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! I’m always looking for new ways to spice up my leagues. Happy week 1 and stay tuned for your weekly dose from your FakePigskin Commissioner!