How to Run a Fantasy Football League

Over the last few years, fantasy football has become wildly popular. No longer is it played by the steady die-hard of National Football League fans, today it’s played by just about everyone with Internet access or without. Although you don’t need an Internet service to play or run a league in fantasy football, this how-to guide will show you how to use the Internet to create a fantasy football league. If you would like to run one at home amongst you and your friends, just use the principles and enjoy the fun.

Fantasy Football is a game played between a group of people who draft teams made up of actual NFL players. During the regular season the players (real life) performance will determine who wins the league. That’s the basic idea behind a fantasy football league. Now we’ll go more in-depth on how to run a fantasy football league.

Many popular sports web-sites offer a fantasy football service such as Yahoo!, ESPN or even the NFL itself. As a matter of fact, just this season both ESPN.com and NFL.com have begun offering free fantasy football as opposed to the past when they only ran pay-leagues. That brings up the first question to answer, do you want to play for fun or do you want to play with more of a serious nature with prizes and/or money at stake? If you wish to enter a pay-league for prizes, the average price to start a league can be in the $120-$140 range. The price to purchase room for a single team can run around $20-$30 depending on the league. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll feature what it takes to creating a league and other tips.

After you name your league and invite friends or decide to open it up to the public, you’ll want to decide on just how many teams you allow. You don’t want too many (16+) or else many teams will be reaching for players to fill needs. Also, you won’t want a small amount (less than 8) or else every team will be full of superstars. The safe amount of teams would be 12 or 14.

The amount of positions on the roster must be set prior to the draft. You can have as many or as little starters or bench spots as you wish (within reason, of course). The routine would be one starting quarterback, three starting wide receivers, two starting running backs, a starting tight end and one each of a kicker and starting defense. If you want specific defensive players or more offensive starters, do so. When creating bench spots, make sure to have enough so teams can have a single back-up for EACH of the starters. The maximum number of roster spots available on a Yahoo! fantasy football team is 25.

Now comes the meat and potatoes portion of creating a league, all of the league settings. One of the most important settings is the type of scoring you’ll have. Mainly two options are Head to Head or Points only (rotisserie). Head to Head allows the scheduled teams to actually be scored like a game. The team with the most points that week will win. In a
single week during the regular season, there will be anywhere from four to six or even more games going on. In a points only league, each statistical category is ranked as far as how many teams there are. For example, if your team leads in passing touchdowns (in a 14 team league), you’ll get 14 points. But, if your last in that stat, you’d only get a point. It’s a league-wide format pitting every team against each other. My suggestion would be to have Head to Head scoring as it allows for a more professional type of feel with teams versus teams and actual games being scored.

You’ll have the option of selecting how you want the playoff format to be handled. Normally, playoffs in fantasy football occur during the final weeks of the NFL’s regular season (14-17). You have the option to include 4, 6 or 8 teams in most league formats. I’d suggest not to allow too many or too little into the playoffs, try for a peaceful middle number. I would suggest not holding a playoff week during Week 17 of the NFL season as that’s a time when some teams will bench star players in hope of keeping them healthy for the upcoming playoffs. Try for weeks 14-16 for a maximum amount of fairness.

You’ll have the opportunity to decide all the point values given to the stats you decide to count. Everything from passing yards, to rushing touchdowns to fumbles to sacks and field goals is included. It’s suggested that you take the fantasy site’s own suggested totals as it will be the routine and everyone should be satisfied.

Here are some commonly used stat values:

  • 6 points for passing/rushing/receiving touchdown
  • -2 points for a interception thrown
  • 1 point for every 50 yards thrown
  • 1 point for every 20 yards rushed/received
  • 1 point for an extra point kicked successfully
  • 2 points for a sack recorded by your defense

Probably the most important factor in starting up a league is the draft, where all the players are put into a pool. Usually there are three types of drafts for you to choose from when creating a league. A Live/Online, an Autopick or an off-line draft. Many people love doing the live drafts as it makes you feel like a real team executive. A live draft requires you to set a date/time and have as many people show up as possible. There, the draft takes place usually around 16 rounds. An autopick draft is done by the computer system based on the sites preset rankings or the teams own rankings. An off-line draft requires you as the league creator to get a copy of everyone’s picks and send them to the league to make them official.

Here are some tips for a draft strategy, the most common factor is the power of the running back. In fantasy football, running backs are the most valuable for the main reason that they’ll usually get at least 20 attempts running with the ball and a few more catching. Good quarterbacks can be had in the middle rounds as guys like Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck will last until round 6. NEVER TAKE A KICKER EARLY. It’s too much of a risk in losing another positions production. A good kicker can be had in the final two rounds.

Now to the tough part of being a fantasy football league commissioner, dealing with everyone. The first rule of thumb is to try and be fair and reasonable to everyone. Don’t be biased in your dealings because after all, your trying to have fun. If someone comes to you with a problem you’re having difficulties dealing with, don’t be afraid to put it to a league vote.

Now that you know all the in’s and out’s of creating your own fantasy football league, go sign up somewhere and have fun. If you’d like to learn more about fantasy football, follow the links.

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