March 22, 2011

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Improve Your Fantasy Experience

By: Joe Williams

We are just nine days away from baseball’s opening day. With labor uncertainty hovering over the future in the NFL and NBA, it could be your last chance to play in a fantasy league for a while.

I have been in all kinds of leagues in the last 15 years. More than any person should according to my family. Some leagues were a blast. Some were a waste of time. Here are a few ideas for anybody looking to spice up their fantasy experience.

Active league members

It doesn’t matter what sport you play. If you have a person or two in your league that are not actively participating, it can ruin the league. I hate when you go into the last week of the season fighting for a playoff spot, and someone you are competing with gets a cheap win because their opponent has stopped participating. Maybe the only thing worse is when a manager stops playing and agrees to lopsided trades because they just don’t care anymore. Bottom line: Find players who are serious or a way to replace people who stop playing.

Everyone knows everyone

Fantasy leagues are the most fun when everyone knows everyone. It is so much easier to have the necessary elements of a fun fantasy league when everybody knows everybody. It is easier to trash talk to someone you know. I play in a baseball league with a group of guys that go way back. When we hold the draft on Saturday, I can guarantee there will be 10-15 jokes about a certain player’s sister. It may not be original, but it is hilarious. It happens every year.

Speaking of the draft

In professional sports, the highlight of the season is at the end when the champion is determined. It is the exact opposite in fantasy sports. When you get to the championship week at the end of the year, there are probably just two people still paying attention. The highlight of the season is the draft. Do whatever you can to make the draft memorable. If players live close enough, get together and have a draft party. Schedule the draft at a time when the most possible people can be there. A fantasy league is just not the same if you end up with a team that you were not able to draft yourself.

Something to play for

You should have a prize of some sort. Some people have entry fees and play for the cash. That’s not my style. But neither is playing for bragging rights. You want something to show off when you win the title. We play for a championship belt. It is great when you can walk into a friend’s home wearing the title belt after defeating them for the league championship. And you can rub that in their face all year long.

Make them pay

My favorite way to make the league fun is to win. Punishing those who lose is the next best thing. There are lots of things you can come up with to provide incentive to avoid being the loser of a fantasy league. One thing we like to do is allow the winning player to choose the team name of the player who finishes last. They have to use that name for the next season. And it’s not going to be a name you want representing your team. Trust me on that.

Anything else?

Be creative. There is no limit to what you can do. A few ideas: weekly power rankings, game of the week, and rivalry props (such as the trophies two schools will play for in a collegiate rivalry). Let your imagination run wild.

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