The second part of the Fantasy Football for Dummies series focuses on setting up your league and deciding on a point system.
The first part of our Fantasy Football for Dummies series explored the decisions you need to make when first deciding what type of fantasy league you want. Now that you know that, it’s time to start the league and get into the specifics.
An important thing to know is what kind of prize you will reward the winner of the league with. Are you a bunch of gamblers who want money or do you enjoy the in-your-face reminders like a trophy? I’ve done both and, from my perspective, I prefer the trophy. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my gambling, maybe too much if you ask my wife. But dealing with money in a fantasy league can be one a frustrating thing for any commissioner. You have to come up with an amount everyone can agree on—not too much that people don’t want to play but enough to make the prize worth it in the end. Then you have to collect the money (good luck with that) and hold on to the money for five months. I will say the problem of getting people to pay and distributing the winners is getting easier thanks to some new websites. If you are wanting to do money, I suggest using a website like League Safe to track your money pool. It’s a reputable and easy way to ease the burden of the commissioner being the banker.
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If you want to cut out all that fuss of money but still have a badge of honor at the end of the season, then a trophy is the way to go. If you are going to maintain a solid group of managers, I recommend having a traveling trophy that spends the year with the winner. This trophy should also have a place to put names because it is always interesting to people viewing the trophy to see past winners as well. My main league has a block trophy with a football player on top and name plates that go around the block. There is room for 16 nameplates on the current block, once it runs out we will add a larger block underneath it, Stanley Cup style. If you have a random league, then I think an annual trophy is the way to go—something smaller that you can give without having to worry about collecting from someone who moves on from the league.
I have seen leagues that have loser trophies, too. It’s usually something like a designed plunger that shows that team stunk. Of course you can go as extreme or as tame as you want. I’ve seen friends who didn’t do anything for their league; it was just fun to play and they didn’t pay or hand out anything. On the flip side of that, I’ve seen an ESPN story about a group of guys who forced the last place team to get a tattoo designed by the first place winner. That’s a little too crazy for me, and I don’t think my wife would like to have my friend’s face tattooed on my leg or something.
Find a website
Now that you know what kind of league you want and everyone has agreed to the cost or prizes, it’s time to get on the computer and start the league. There are multiple websites that run fantasy football leagues but they are all about the same. I prefer Yahoo mainly because it’s what I’ve used for over 10 years, so I’m familiar with it. I’ve also played leagues on ESPN and NFL.com as well and they work fine. I’m just not as familiar with them, so it takes me awhile to find things, but they all have the same stuff. Pick what you prefer and get it started.
Decide on a point system
With the league organized and the website loaded, it’s time to click through the site and get the league set up. The most important part of the league setup is deciding how the points should break down. The point breakdown will determine how your league is played and how balanced it is. Some people like high scoring league so they make large point values such as 10 points for a rushing touchdown. Others don’t care so much about how many points are scored, so they may have six points for a rushing touchdown. What really matters is how balanced you make your positions based on their points possible.
I have been in leagues that were quarterback-heavy in terms of points. One point for every 15 yards passing, six points for touchdown passes and even bonus points for going over certain yardages. The leagues I’ve played in with points like that have been easy to predict, since the champion team either had Peyton Manning, Dree Brees or Tom Brady. If you didn’t have one of those three quarterbacks, then it didn’t matter who else you had because your team didn’t stand a chance. I’m not a fan of those leagues because I don’t think they are fair and balanced. I prefer a league where the best all-around team wins, from quarterback to kicker. It takes most leagues a few years of tweaking the numbers to get that true balance you want.
Most websites have the ability to track either whole points or partial points. “Whole points” mean if you set up a runner to get one point for every 10 yards they rush, they don’t get any points until they hit that 10 yard mark. Partial points are leagues that give that running points for every yard, so if that same runner only gets 9 yards rushing than he’d get .9 points. I’m a fan of the whole number tracking because it makes it easier for me to track when I’m not at my computer. I can look and know if my running back has 87 yards rushing I get 8 points. I’ve seen others who love the fact that each yard counts and love that their matchups can come down to just one yard.
Defenses and kicker scoring really doesn’t matter too much because they are so random week to week. As long as you don’t have the numbers out of control, sticking with the presets on those isn’t a bad idea. For all other positions you need to play with and see what works best for you. Our league here on Arrowhead Addict is set up pretty equally. Quarterbacks get one point for every 30 yards, 4 points for passing touchdowns and negative two points for interceptions. Running backs get one point for every 10 yards, six points per touchdown and negative two points for a fumble. Receivers get same as RBs for yards, touchdowns and fumbles. I don’t do points per reception because I feel it unbalances the league in favor of wide receivers, but it is available. I also don’t do any bonus points for any yardage plateaus. My league probably isn’t the best setup, but it works for my group.
Adjusting over time
The key to points is always be ready to change things as the game changes. Ten years ago, running backs dominated the league so we had to change the points to bring the league into balance. But since then, most teams have gone away from feature backs and the running game, so the backs almost became pointless in our league. So we adjusted the points back up to bring them up to par with the rest of the lineup. No matter how you setup your league points, always be open to changing them and tweaking them to maintain a fair and balanced league.
With your points all set up, your league is ready to start. Send the invite to all your managers and give them time to get registered. The next step in the process is building your team, and like the NFL, you build a great team through the draft. Part 3 of the Fantasy Football for Dummies series coming out soon will be all about the draft.