10 Steps To Improve Your League

Fantasy draft season is that special time of year when everyone falls in love with their league again. Fresh ideas surface on draft strategies and roster construction. But what about the real reason we play fantasy football? THE LEAGUE.

For most playing fantasy is a way to connect with friends near and far. Simply drafting online and having a boring message board doesn’t cut it anymore. Here are 10 ideas you can implement that will spice up your league.

1. Get Social!

The NFL is a year round league so why shouldn’t yours be? Message boards shut down after your championship week so get your league together via social media. Start a private Facebook group that allows everyone to post smack or funny photos all year round. This is simple and most people already have an account. As any Commissioner can attest, the less you need to ask from your league mates to do the better. A league only Twitter can be fun also. Simply have everyone create a new handle and make them only follow each other. This keeps your private jokes, you guessed it, private.

2. Hangout even if you aren’t together

Schedule monthly off season “hangs” via Skype or Google where everyone can connect. These can become weekly in-season smack talk sessions. Set a time where the group can meet and “have a beer” together while discussing the upcoming matchups. You’ll be amazed how much more active the trade market becomes when someone throws out a player to the live group.

3. Everyone has a podcast why not you?

Imagine you as the host of your own weekly fantasy football podcast! It’s not as far fetched as you think. Now that you all have Facebook or Skype you can easily set up a weekly State of the League address. Pick an owner to be your guest weekly and see how much more excited guys become about the league.

4. Draft order matters!!

Please don’t let me find out that you let the computer auto pick your draft order. This can be such a fun time for your group it needs to be taken seriously. Yes you could go in reverse order of last years results but every year is different. Unless you have a keeper league that option is pointless. If you are all together find a way to make a day of it. Again, we are trying to make your league something guys enjoy YEAR ROUND. Have a free throw shooting contest, closest to the pin, 5k road race, or simply arm wrestle. My home league has a tradition of meeting the night of the NBA draft (what else are you doing in June?) at a local bar and hosting what we call the “Draft Lottery”. Each persons name is on a piece of paper inside a large envelope. We have 12 owners so there are 12 envelopes. The owners get to shuffle the unmarked envelopes and one by one put any number 1-12 on a blank envelope. Once we have all 12 marked we begin at 11 and similar to the NBA open the envelopes to reveal who owns that pick. The final two left to open are 1 and 12. Doing this in person builds incredible excitement. Find something to bring your league mates together. Traditions like this will only make your league stronger.

5. F*#K it we’ll do it live!

Doing in person drafts are the best part of any fantasy season. Sure you might not be able to do this but by all means try! There are plenty of options now where guys can follow along remotely from anywhere in the world. Do a Google search and find out how simple it is to have an off site member draft along with the group. Online drafts suck. Period.

6. You get a logo, and you get a logo, and you get a logo…

Everyone has a creative fantasy team name but does anyone have a team logo? Here’s your chance as Commish to wow your draft buddies. You don’t need to be a PhotoShop wiz to make something fun either. Simply Google everyone’s team name and see what pops up! Get creative and print out these new team icons and hang them above the draft board in order and at each table where owners will draft. Simple, fun, that extra mile that will enhance the draft day experience.

7. Little things go a long way

The day before my draft I go to the local party supply store and grab some football related swag for the draft room. A piñata filled with tiny liquor bottles will turn 40-year-olds into toddlers in more ways than one. Get some cheesy streamers. Throw a table cloth down. These might seem dumb but it makes the day seem more festive. If you want to blow guys away head to Staples and have them print large format signs with your past champions listed. Hang them along side the draft board for all to see. Stores like that can print anything on low grade paper for almost nothing. These days you can even find D-list celebrities to show up and work your board. It’s all about how creative you want to be.

8. I’m here for the articles

So many of us wish our league would be more active on the message boards. Maybe guys are shy or busy? Maybe they just don’t care. F That, make them care. Write up league specific articles for the message board throughout the season. I love to do mock draft articles, post draft predictions, mid-year reviews, who needs to make a trade and why, and of course playoff predictions. These aren’t going in Sports Illustrated so have some fun and poke the bear a little bit. It’s fantasy, if you can’t bust balls why do it? People love to talk about their own team, now they get to read about it?!? Trust me this will inspire conversation.

9. Kickers? Defenses? Get lost

Nothing makes my stomach turn more than hearing a fantasy player describe his 10 team league that starts two wide receivers. If you are in a 10 team league you MINIMALLY should have three WR’s and a flex position or two. More starting players = more points = more fun. Wide Receiver is a position that easily goes 50 players deep who have some sort of value. If your league is only starting 20 it’s time for a change. Kickers and defenses are positions that by and large are luck driven. Why not swap them for more flex spots? I’d much rather be hunting trades for a better flex than wondering if I’m picking up a kicker that week. Also if you have minimum roster requirements (you HAVE to roster 3 RB, 4 WR, etc) you are doing fantasy wrong. Nobody wants to be told they have to keep certain guys, open it up!

10. Have Fun and remember it’s fake football

I’ve sat on my couch fuming mad that an owner stole someone I had my eye on. I’ve been upset at a rib on the message board. I’ve thought guys were just plain jerks for making bad trades. But the bottom line is these are friends and it’s supposed to be fun. Everyone wants to win but everybody really wants to enjoy themselves. Don’t be that guy who crosses the line. When owners quit leagues it’s either because money isn’t paid or they stopped having fun. Bring people together, don’t push them away. We’ve got too much of that in the world today. Let’s keep our fantasy leagues a haven for good times.

Good luck this draft season everyone and try to employ some of these ideas to create a better reality for your fantasy.

Follow Brian on Twitter @DrakeFantasy

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