Fantasy Football Tricks Of The Trade

Tips and helpful hints for individuals who are starting or currently run a pro football fantasy league.

Admit it, you are a football fantasy geek. So you've got a few of your friends and relatives and you have decided to organize a football fantasy league. Perhaps you downloaded some information off the Internet or purchased fantasy football magazines and software.

But even with these resources, you still need to make a few decisions about your league that could have a profound effect on the outcome. Here are a few rules you may want to have a league vote on to reduce the amount of controversy among team "owners."

Point System

It's all about wins and losses (in head-to-head competition) and therefore there should be some consensus as to how points are awarded based on position. For example, some leagues like to lessen the effect of kickers, increase the effect of team defenses, or add a head coach to change the level of points awarded.

Season length

Most leagues have their "Super Bowl" in one of the final two weeks of the regular season. With a 17-week schedule in the NFL, you may want to consider having your Super Bowl in Week 16 or even 15, because many playoff teams sit some of their star players the last two weeks of the season if a playoff berth or divisional title has already been wrapped up. This happened to me a few years ago when Brett Favre played one quarter of his final regular season game causing me to be the league runner-up.

Overall point awards

Many leagues give some type of prize to the team that records the most points during each week of the regular season, which is a nice bonus in addition to head-to-head competition.

Establishing franchises/salary caps

Once your league gains some consistency over a couple years, many leagues choose to keep 1 or more franchise players from year to year or even sign multi-year contracts. Salary caps seem to be a little too complicated for me, but again it is up to league owners.

Draft Day

Of course not all league owners live in the same area. So if you can't all be in the same place in person on draft day, try getting in an online chat room or even a web cast when possible. If you do get together in person, I highly recommend getting pizza and a few drinks to make it a festive gathering. Our league even has its own "draft board." Yes we are geeks I admit.

Weekly Reports

I highly recommend getting some type of fantasy software or managing your league on a fantasy football website. The statistics are automatically programmed for you. However some commissioners like to add their own, often humorous, weekly reports that work well in a league where all participants know each other.

One potential problem is having an odd number of teams in the league. Some possible solutions are: a) having a true bye week; b) developing a computerized "dummy" team; and c) during a team's bye week, have them play against the median or average score of all other teams.

If you are interested in joining a free online fantasy football site, there are plenty of web addresses out there.

The CBS Sportsline cite just began offering a comprehensive free league this year where you can either program an automated draft or set a time and date for a virtual online draft in real-time.

If you are looking for fantasy football research and stats, you can subscribe to literally hundreds of free online newsletters during the season. I recommend The Sporting News for its up-to-the-minute injury information and comprehensive teams reports every week.

There are plenty of websites available that offer fantasy leagues for a fee where you can win valuable prizes - you will literally stumble across those. But for me, competing in a league with friends and relatives for a small entrance fee is more enjoyable. It's all about bragging rights anyway!

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