Fantasy Football League Modifications July 16, 2013  |  Jeff

As a proud fantasy football league commissioner, I often view myself as a mechanic at home in my garage tinkering with my old hot rod while enjoying a few ice cold adult beverages. Unfortunately, I have zero mechanical talent and my time in the garage is spent pounding frosty drinks with little to no vehicle restoration. Either way, tinkering with the setup of my home town league is a passion of mine and over the past decade I have managed to overhaul most of the league’s structure until every minute detail is to the liking of myself and my fellow league mates. As the humid days of summer roll on and training camps can’t seem to arrive quickly enough, it is a great time to fire up the old thinking cap and consider making some modifications to the way your league is constructed. Here are a few possible changes to consider presenting to the owners in your league:


Draft Format


Stuck in the boring world of snake drafts? Try switching your league’s draft format to an auction. Anyone that has been stuck at “the turn” in a fantasy draft will appreciate the limitless possibilities that auction drafts present. Each and every owner gets a fair shot at any player they like. Crazy homers can blow their stack on their favorite players, and your cheap buddy that never tips the bartender at your local watering hole can meticulously spend each dollar at his own pace. Auctions are very easy to set up (each team generally begins with an auction budget of $200 imaginary dollars to assemble a roster), and great fantasy football auction advice can be found very easily, including right here at The Fake Football. Even if your league is a keeper league, the transition is still possible. I spent a grueling summer once converting snake draft keepers into auction keepers and managed to not have a stroke or spark a mutiny in the league I preside over. If you’re curious on those details, hit me up in the comments below. Either way, consider the world of auction drafting if your annual snake draft is growing stale.




Fake football league standings are often a hotly debated topic once the NFL season is in full swing. If you are new to Twitter, you will realize this quite quickly as tweets like, “I am the highest scoring team in my league and I am 1-6! What the @#$*&%!” are frequently blasted over Twitter airwaves. If you dabble in the world of imaginary football, there is a strong chance that you’ve felt the stinging pain of a rough stretch like that and wondered how justice could ever be restored to our precious game. Fortunately, there are some solid options to curb this dilemma without turning your league into a rotisserie scoring league. The first and most simple option is to adjust your league’s tiebreakers. Instead of involving head-to-head records to break ties in the standings, simply use total points scored. This gives a slight edge to higher scoring teams, which is the point after all.

A better and even more effective option is to decide league standings using “victory points.” Host sites like offer this option for leagues and I highly recommend checking it out. If you haven’t encountered this feature, don’t worry, it is actually quite simple. Each week you play your head-to-head opponent like usual. The outcome of your game and your points total dictate how many “victory points” you receive. Points are accumulated in two ways each week:

Head-To-Head Outcome

WIN = 2 pts    TIE = 1 pt    LOSS = 0 pts

Points Scored Total

Top Third of the League = 2 pts

Middle Third of the League = 1 pt

Bottom Third of the League = 0 pts

Each week your team can earn a maximum of four points and a minimum of zero points. The “victory points” then decide the order of league standings, taking precedent over win/loss record. This is a great feature to install in your league because it helps reward teams with strong point totals while keeping the integrity and intensity of the head-to-head schedule intact.


Entry Fees


Many leagues enjoy installing a small (or extremely large in some cases) entry fee to keep things interesting. I generally find that leagues with a little United States currency on the line are more competitive and have owners that are more engaged in league interaction, which is what makes this game of fake football so awesome. Simply handing your league commissioner a crisp Andrew Jackson (or ten) on draft day is certainly an option, but there are even better ways to handle league finances that can keep your league more competitive. I covered the “pay per loss” system in depth this offseason, so I won’t go too far into it here, but the gist is that general league entry fees are abolished, and each owner coughs up a predetermined monetary penalty for each regular season loss. It requires some fifth grade level math, so be sure to slurp down your morning coffee before clicking the link. In a nutshell, the idea is to keep owners engaged each and every week despite falling out of contention, as money has a very funny way of motivating us fantasy degenerates.


Points Per Reception


If you play in a standard league that awards no points per reception, this is a critical adjustment that needs to be considered. PPR leagues are becoming more and more common and will eventually become the “standard” that is referred to when drafting in a “standard” league. Remember cracking open a fantasy football magazine and seeing cheat sheets for “touchdown only” leagues? Weird, I know. Leagues that award no points per catch will soon follow the Velociraptor, Triceratops, and Touchdown Only leagues into extinction. If a full point per catch seems like a steep jump, test out the waters by using a half point per reception. Either way, consider this league modification and stay on top of the curve.


Imposing change on a league full of stubborn headed fantasy owners can certainly be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Even if your league retains its current structure for the 2013 season, at least spark some conversation among your league mates and debate the pros and cons of making some modifications to your league. Have other suggestions for fantasy league optimization? Let’s hear them in the comments section!



11 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Like what Mike said before, in my league we award the high score of the week with $10 to help keep everyone active. AND if you don’t set a competitive lineup (could be by having injured players in or players that have bye weeks in the lineup) then we fine you $10 as well.

    Since we made that change to our league, it’s been crazy competitive bc people know that every week they can win back $10 of their entree fee, or have to pay in $10 for not staying active. Both of these payouts are meant for keeping everyone active. Even if you are 0-8 on the year you still have a chance to win back some money, or we fine you additional money for not doing it.

    We made the switch to a keeper league about 7 or 8 years ago now. The way a keeper is set is based on what round you draft that player in. A few years back I drafted Foster in RD 9. Since then, I’ve made him my keeper. If you have a FA pick up, that FA takes the place of the player you drafted. Example, I have Foster in RD 9. He goes on IR and I drop him for Ben Tate. Tate now becomes my RD 9 option. If I drop Tate for KC DEF, KC DEF is now my RD 9 option as a keeper etc…

    But this year, we are doing a 2 player keeper. The way this will work is 1 player is kept as I have listed above. IF you choose to have a 2nd keeper it will be your first or second round pick depending on how you finished last year. If you made the playoffs, and IF you want a second keeper, he will be your 1st rd pick. If you did not make the playoffs and want a second keeper, this player will be your 2nd round pick.

    My example of this, I have pick #7 this year. I will keep Foster in RD 9 and will make Martin my 2nd keeper at pick #7 overall.

    • Jeff says:

      I like those rules, Adam. I really enjoy the $10 fine for not setting a competitive lineup. Anyone who has seen that situation knows that it really sucks and has no place in a competitive league. The keeper rules are cool as well. I like seeing unique keeper rules because that is one aspect of fantasy leagues that can be changed however you want as long as your owners agree.

  2. Brandon says:

    How would you suggest transitioning a no-cost auction keeper league to a keeper system that increases a players cost ($5-$10) every year, when all the current keepers are the top 20-30 players every year (rarely drafted, usually kept and traded around) which in turn artificially inflates the draft cost of the remaining players?

    • Jeff says:

      Good question, Brandon. This is a tough situation. I would run this by your fellow owners and see what they think:

      Take the 2013 auction values from a source you trust (here or anywhere else, doesn’t matter) and use those as your baseline prices. Then, since the top players are keepers, I would pick a percentage of those 2013 prices and use that for each player’s 2013 keeper cost. For example, our auction values have AP at $51. Since they are keepers, you could give them a discount and say everyone’s current keepers can be kept for 75% of their open market value. In this case, that would mean AP would be kept for $38. Just apply that, our whatever percentage sounds good, to each player to determine their keeper price.

      After this season, I have found that an increase of $5 or 25% of the player’s salary (whichever is greater) works well for price increases.

      Good luck!

  3. Bryan says:

    We are tweaking our DST scoring this year to reward the defense for doing what it is intended to do.

    Turnovers forced: 2 each
    Punts forced: 1 each
    Fourth down conversions stopped: 2 each
    Sacks: .1 points per yard lost (eg. a sack where the QB loses 8 yards would get the defense 0.8 points)
    TDs: 6 each
    Safeties: 2 each

  4. ChalupaBatman_ says:

    Our 12 year league is FINALLY moving to Victory Point scoring this year. Tired of those high scores going wasted. Also – we give out weekly prizes that are pre-set before the draft. This gives everyone a chance to win something each week. For example Week 1: Top QB pts, Week 2: Blowout Loser – team that loses by the most Week 3: highest kicker pts., Etc, etc. Keeps everyone engaged even when they get beat.

    • Jeff says:

      Thats good, I like the predetermined criteria for the weekly winner. You could really get creative with who wins the prizes…highest kicker week is pretty solid!

  5. Mike says:

    Good stuff, Jeff.

    I’ll add a few that I’ve found to be very successful in the leagues I run.

    1) Move to 2 QBs instead of 1. In a 10 or 12 team league, it’s really easy to wait on a QB and still land a solid player to start every week. It’s also easy to play the waiver wire and find a borderline stud midseason, or find a QB with a favorable matchup to cover your bye. If everyone starts 2 QBs, it changes draft strategy considerably. There are more RBs and WRs available in the middle rounds, since people end up spending early round picks on QBs more frequently. The FA/WW will be a barren wasteland for QBs by week 3 or 4, so it encourages more trading to fill holes/cover byes.

    2) Award prize money (how much is up to you) for highest single week and most regular season total points. These are pretty straightforward, but like the “pay-per-loss” idea, it keeps more people interested and motivated to field the best possible lineup until the bitter end.

    3) Use FAAB instead of rolling waivers. FAAB (free agent aquisition budget) is a system where everyone starts the season with the same amount of “money” which is used to bid on players who are on waivers. This takes away the dumb luck of having #1 waiver priority and landing a superstars backup when he gets injured. If you want that hot new pickup, you have to decide how much of your budget you are willing to spend to land him.

    • Jeff says:

      I like those, Mike. the FAAB switch is a great one and sort of mirrors the switch from snake to auction, where you are no longer at the mercy of a draft slot or waiver wire position. I feel like the 2QB formats are gaining some steam as well.

  6. Greg says:

    Streamline Defenses
    I don’t think Defenses should be scoring more than 15 points per week nor should you be punished with a negative point outing. Defenses should only focus on one important thing: Prevent teams from scoring.

    0 Points Allowed= 15 points
    1-6 Points Allowed= 12 points
    7-13 Points Allowed= 10 points
    14-17 Points Allowed= 8 points
    18-21 Points Allowed= 6 points
    22-27 Points Allowed= 3 points
    28-34 Points Allowed= 1 points
    35+ Points Allowed= 0 Points

    Sacks= .25 points
    INTs= .5 points
    Defensive TDs= 1.5 points
    Fumble Rec= .5 points
    Safety= .5 points

    • Jeff says:

      Not a bad idea, Greg. People that were burned in the fantasy playoffs last year by Seattle’s defense going bonkers would certainly agree. This could also go hand in hand with adjusting or all together eliminating the crapshoot that is kickers as well.

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