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How To Start a Fantasy Football League

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Guide to Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League

Starting a fantasy football league is easy; some of the least competent people I know have started leagues.

A fantasy football league is two things:

  1. A collection of rules
  2. A collection of players

Put together both elements, and you have a fantasy football league. But it’s easy to forget something, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a fantasy football league.

Starting a Fantasy Football League – League Rules

You’ll need fantasy football league rules. The rules will cover your league’s scoring system, number of owners, number of players on each roster, draft rules, free agency, trades and trade reviews. Once these rules are in place, the people you ask to join your league will know what kind of a game they’ll be playing.

Our articles on fantasy football rules and fantasy football scoring systems can help you make these decisions. Many fantasy football league management sites offer scoring options as a point-and-click process.

You’ll need to decide if you’ll be playing for money and, if so, how much money will be in the pot. You might start a league and decide to have a $100 entry fee. If you have a 10-team league, the prize money totals $1,000. Once you have your prize pool, decide how to divy up money at the end of the year. The most common options are the winner-take-all format and the even more common payouts to the Top 3 finishers (50%/30%/20%).

Decide League Size – How To Start a Fantasy Football League

Next, choose how many teams will be in your league. A 12-team league usually works best. 10 team leagues are common, but there are so many players available that everyone has an all-star team. Luck determines winners and losers in a 10-team league more so than in a 12-team league. 14-team leagues frustrate new players, because the talent is spread thinner. 12-team leagues fit the talent pool of the NFL the best.

Invite People To Play – Starting Your Fantasy Football League

Once you decide how many teams you’ll have in your league, make a list of the people you want in your league. If you’ve played in other fantasy football leagues, ask some of the players from some of these leagues. This way, you can collect people you get along with, whom you know will compete the right way and are fun to compete against. But don’t ask more than 2 players from any one other league, because your league will seem too much like these other fantasy football leagues you’ve played in.

If you haven’t played fantasy football before, make a list of friends and family who enjoy football and the NFL. Ask these people to be in your league. Gauge interest. You’ll probably find a few have been in fantasy leagues before, and they might give you advice. Check out their advice against what you read online or in magazines, but if it checks out, you might take a few of the veteran suggestions. You might even let them make a suggestion or two for other league members, but don’t let this get out of hand. No matter how much you like someone, you don’t want him stacking the league with cronies.

Fantasy Football League Membership

When you’ve approached all the veteran fantasy football owners and NFL fans you know, if you still have a few holes in your league, you might ask for people in the league to recruit. Another option is to go online to find the last few players. If your league is hosted online, you can find players at an online fantasy football forum or Craigslist. Hang out on a ff forum for a while and figure out a few guys to invite into your league there. If you decide you like the site, you might even post a request for people looking to join a league. If you have a live draft, remember to post they need to be within an hour or two’s drive of your draft.

Once you have a league membership set up, consider adding one or two emergency or alternate members. People sometimes cancel on draft day. These teams are usually drafted from a cheat sheet by someone in the league, but it’s better to have a person ready to take that spot in the league – or at least draft for that spot. You might find a friend who enjoys fantasy football drafts, but doesn’t want to commit to another league. These people often enjoy drafting a team, but don’t want to pilot that team for the next four months. Fantasy football drafts are the funnest part of fantasy football, so this person won’t be as hard to find as you might think.

Host a Fantasy Football Draft

Once you have your league membership, decide when and where to host your draft. You’ll need a place that can fit 12-15 people, because some might bring a buddy or two. BringĀ  snacks and drinks for a 4-5 hour draft, much like you would if you were going to watch an NFL game in your living room.

Host a Fantasy Football League Online

Finally, pay the extra $75 or so to have your fantasy football league online. This means $5 per team in the league, but it dramatically increases the enjoyment of the teams. Owners can interact on the message board, follow the games and scoring minute-by-minute, make trade offers through the league site that are sent to email addresses, add/drop free agents with ease, and keep in touch with one another through your hobby.

While you’re getting the $5 site fees and $5 pizza contributions , remember to take up the entry fees at the draft. If you let people walk out of the draft without paying their entry fee, you’re likely to never see that money – especially if that owner falls out of contention before the playoffs.

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