With training camp underway in the NFL, now is a good time for the first 2015 Fantasy Football post on First Score Boston! Over the course of the next month, we’ll be providing a few Fantasy Football posts which will include rankings and commentary on draft strategies for this year. Today’s post will focus on the set up of leagues. There are a lot of different options including draft type, number of teams, scoring setup, free agent setup, and draft order. Everyone has various preferences and, over the course of time, a lot of interesting ideas have helped enhance the interest in Fantasy Football. It has gotten so big that we’re now constantly seeing stats run across the TV during our favorite games and we can follow our teams with instant scoring updates. People who don’t play can’t stand this, but we enjoy it! Here are some various options to consider.
Live Draft vs. Online Draft
Most people would say that the live draft is a lot more fun. Pizza, wings, nachos, drinks…it all sounds great! In addition, you get to hang out with friends you may not see all the time for a few laughs and stories. The only negative to it is that people get so enamored with the social gathering that they aren’t focusing on the draft. We’ve all had the guy who takes five minutes to make a pick because he wasn’t paying attention, right? I actually think that was me one year! And then there was the year that a friend drafted a baseball player. Yes, this actually happened and he had to keep that pick. Those are the rules! There’s so much going on that it’s tough to focus and you may end with a team you don’t like as a result. With that said, there is nothing that beats the trash talk during a live draft. Darren McFadden over Megatron in the first round?! Drafting a kicker in Round 8?! Ouch!
The online draft is easier. It’s not as fun, but it still is a great night to look forward to. You can always still order the pizza, wings, and have the bag of chips ready if you would like. Have I done this? Absolutely! Is that bad? Connecting with people online isn’t the same as in person, but it’s still a great night as long as someone’s computer doesn’t freeze up and everyone has to wait for a pick. You can actually draft right from your phone now in some leagues. Everyone looks forward to this date every year regardless of draft type. It’s just as big as the opening game of the season for Fantasy Football players.
Pick out of a hat? Reverse order of the standings? Some type of competition to pick the order? There are a lot of options here. Picking randomly out of a hat is probably the most common. Everyone gets a fair shot and it’s interesting as everyone anticipates the next team picked. The only negative is that it has nothing to do with the actual results. There’s nothing additional to play for. Some leagues have the draft order based on the reverse order of the standings. The worst team gets rewarded. I’m completely against this strategy for the following reason: You’re rewarding teams for a bad season and sometimes not paying attention. In Fantasy Football, who wants a team in their league who tries to lose the last game for the #1 pick? It can have a very negative impact on playoff scenarios as well. Not good! In one of the leagues I’m in, we actually reward the team with the best record with the #1 pick option and go down the line with the best records. This way, even if you don’t win the championship, you’re rewarded the following year with a good draft pick. More importantly, it keeps each team motivated to win every game at the end of the regular season. Again, there are a lot of options here, but playing for a draft pick the following season keeps players engaged. After all, the goal is for the league to be competitive and fun at the same time.
16 or 18 seem to be the most common. Most standard leagues have nine starters whether you go with three receivers or you have a flex spot. There are some leagues that have two QB’s so the number could be as high as ten. Seven bench players is sufficient. It gives teams the option to get a backup QB and them load up on RB’s and WR’s. Then there’s always the buddy who drafts the backup kicker and defense. Thank you for playing! Anything less than 16 roster spots is really pushing it because now teams are going to have to drop key players during bye weeks. No one wants that besides the guy in last place who is trying to pluck away other teams good players.
Keepers are becoming more common now. There are different rules around keepers which can make things a lot more interesting. The number of keepers is key. Two or three are solid numbers because it rewards teams who kept strong players, but it’s still a small percentage of the overall team. The draft is still the driving factor for successful teams. In some leagues, there is no restriction on keepers. You can keep the #1 pick for as many years as you want. Other leagues set restrictions such as years a player can be kept and the elite players not being eligible. This can be done by putting a cap on the rounds a player can be kept. The elite players are open to draft year after year, but if you hit on a late round pick such as Odell Beckham Jr. last year, you get rewarded by getting to keep him. Keepers certainly make the league more fun and interesting. If you draft well, you get rewarded for the following season even if you don’t win it all!
There are a ton of options here. Do you go heavy with QB points? Points per reception? Bonus points? I prefer league with six points for TD’s for all players including QB’s. Naturally, this makes the QB position the top position in terms of points, but shouldn’t it be that way considering all of the passing in the league? I think it’s important to spice up the scoring system with bonus points for yardage. It gives you a milestone to focus on for each player during the game. You want to get that 100 yards and not just 99 to get the extra points. I find the PPR leagues to be more fun. It also makes people think more about draft strategy. Players like Matt Forte and Shane Vareen become more valuable. The more points, the more fun it is!
Standings and The Luck Factor
Nowadays, most leagues are head-to-head. It makes it more interesting with matchups each week and it gets the trash talk going with friends. The downside is that pretty much every week, an undeserving team gets a win and a deserving team gets a loss. We’ve all been there and seen both sides of it. When it happens repeatedly, it can be frustrating. Usually, over the course of a 13 games season, the luck factor evens out. There are ways to avoid it if it doesn’t. You can add a points rule into your league standings. The only way to really ensure that the best team wins is to do a points system which just isn’t as fun. No setup is perfect, but head to head is the most fun and engaging with friends. Setting up a solid playoff system with at least half of the teams in the league in the playoffs is also important to keep teams engaged all year.
OK, now that we’ve established league setup options, we’ll be onto preparing for the draft! Good luck with your preparation! There will be more Fantasy Football posts to follow including rankings. Preseason football starts this weekend!