A league manager’s guide to make the fantasy season lively

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As the NFL season draws closer, football fans anxiously count down the days until the first kickoff. Alongside each new NFL season, though, comes a new fantasy football season that creates just as much anticipation and excitement for many football fanatics as the real game itself. With the first game of the season in sight, fantasy football league managers (LMs) are searching to fill the last few spots in their leagues, if they have not done so already.

Though they may find team owners to join the league for fun, LMs looking to construct a competitive league may find it difficult to recruit enough dedicated team owners. Filling the league with so much as one or two inactive members can result in spoiling the season for the entire community. To help prevent this situation, LMs can add excitement to their league through the use of various tactics that will help attract active and competitive team owners to make this year’s fantasy football season a success.  

League managers looking to create a simple, competitive environment in their league need to look no further than requiring participants to put forth an entrance fee (typically money) at the beginning of the season that will be awarded to the winner at the end of the league year. While this tactic to make the fantasy season more worthwhile is common in many leagues, some LMs tend to continue facing inactivity issues, despite the money up for grabs.

Though all owners in a money-based league are usually active and make moves early in the season, once the middle of the season hits and the true championship-contending teams become clear, the owners already eliminated from playoff contention tend to lose interest in keeping their team competitive. Once again, this creates a distasteful environment for the league, as only a fraction of the total teams are paying attention. This specific cause of inactivity may be a result of when the winning team at the end of the season receives the entire pot. While this works in some leagues, it is important not to forget about engaging the teams that will not make the playoffs. To make sure this potential issue never arises, LMs could consider using the money towards some end-of-season incentives that are common in many successful leagues. Examples of such incentives include rewarding the team with the best record, most points or even each team that makes the playoffs by rewarding them a cash sum determined by what place they finish in. These tactics tend to prove useful in keeping owners interested, in that although their team may not be in the playoff hunt, they can still vie for one of the end-of-season incentives the LM established.

Co-league owners that led their team to last place in their league are pegged with tomatoes as punishment. The league, known as the “Tomato League,” uses this method as an incentive to prevent teams from losing interest in the league throughout the season. While not all leagues looking to punish the last place team have to follow this path, LMs could look to this as an example of a tactic that works. (Photo/Fantasy Sports Network)

Another option LMs could look at to keep their team owners active would be end-of-season punishments. These consist of implementing an incentive of sorts in order to discourage people from losing interest in their team, stop paying attention, and consequently finishing in last place. While some leagues have been known to incorporate extreme punishments, such as forcing the last place finisher to allow the other team owners to pelt him or her with tomatoes, most leagues tend to keep it simple. Ideas for such simple punishments can range anywhere from making the team in last place host next year’s draft or pay a small cash sum to the league winner.

Though LMs trying to run a successful, competitive league should consider implementing some of the methods mentioned throughout the article, they should not limit their options to those. With some creativity and input from their team owners, LMs may find it relatively simple to come up with engaging tactics unique to how they envision their league that should make for a promising season for all. 

Sammy Rosenthal is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation Fla. and is entering his third year writing for the newsmagazine; his first year as the publication’s Sports Editor. Sammy takes pride in being a die-hard Miami Heat and Dolphins fan as well as dedicating his Sunday to watching football.

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