Fantasy Football Etiquette
Fantasy Football Manners and Behavior
If you're new to a fantasy football league, you might need an etiquette guide to understanding fantasy football etiquette, fantasy football manners and fantasy football behavior. A lot of fantasy football etiquette is based on the idea of keeping the game fun for the other players. If you don't take into account that a fantasy football league involves generally 8-16 people and not just yourself, actions you finding funny or pleasing might be interpreted as rude by the other players in your league. Rude behavior in fantasy football usually means you won't be asked back next year. And if you don't understand or follow normal fantasy football behavior, you can actually put a strain on friendships with friends you have in the league who don't appreciate your fantasy football bad manners.
With that in mind, here's a guide to the manners and behavior you are expected to know when you join a fantasy football league.
Always Start a Full Lineup
This one is simple: always start a full lineup. Don't start players who are inactive due to injury or bye weeks. Even start a full lineup when your team is out of playoff contention and even when you think you have no chance of winning. Starting injured players or players on bye and giving your opponent might not sound like much of a sin, but consider that other teams in the league might need you to compete to help them make the playoffs. Imagine you needed one league rival to lose (and a win by yourself) to make the playoffs. Then imagine your opponent gets an easy win because his opponent have three zeroes in the lineup, because his opponent didn't bother to take the 15 seconds it would take to change his starting lineup. People don't mind losing; they just don't want to lose because of your indifference. Understand that others are playing this game and they need your participation to make the game challenging and fun. The New York Giants wouldn't refuse to show up for a Week 17 game, just because they were out of playoff contention. It's rude in a fantasy football league if you refuse to field a team.
Don't Collude With Other Owners
"Collusion" is when two or more teams in a league are conspiring to determine some outcome in the league. The most common means of collusion is when two teams make a trade to stack one of the two teams. Imagine one team is out of contention, because their team isn't very good. But just about every fantasy football team, regardless of how lousy they are, have one or two star players. When team stacking occurs, the lousy team trades their one or two valuable players to another team in a one-sided trade to help that second team win the league. Sometimes this is done in an attempt to win prize money, and sometimes it is done simply to spite the rest of the league. In either case, it's bad fantasy football manners to make a trade for any reason other than to improve your team.
Once again, this should be simple for everyone to understand. When you start to plot with another team in the league to stack teams, you are ruining the integrity of the game, and therefore ruining everyone else's fun. You can't win, but you want to help determine who the winner eventually is, so you cheat and make a one-sided trade. Even if some other owner or set of owners in the league have made you mad at some point in the season, you aren't justified in cheating to help another team beat those owners.
You wouldn't see the Green Bay Packers trading Greg Jennings to the Chicago Bears just to keep the Minnesota Vikings from winning the division, which is the equivalent of a collusive trade in fantasy football. As you mother would say, you should know better.
Accept or Reject Trades in a Timely Manner
Being in a fantasy football league implies a certain amount of participation. Participating in a fantasy football league takes a tiny amount of time in a week. In the Internet Age, it really requires only 5 minutes of your time in a week to see which players of your are hurt and replace them with healthy players. It also takes a moment of your time to accept or decline trade offers made to you.
Few things enrage a dedicated fantasy football owner than to make a legitimate trade offer to another team and then have that team ignore the trade proposal for days or even weeks. While someone isn't required to get on the fantasy football site every day and it's certainly understandable when special things come up and you can't participate for a week at a time, when you make a habit of not logging into a site for weeks on end, you're not being a very good owner. And when you see a trade offer and refuse to take the two seconds to reject or accept that trade, it's simply rude behavior in fantasy football. You said you would play, so play the game.
Even more infuriating is the fantasy football player who only trades with friends. This might not necessarily be collusion, but you simply refuse to listen to even legitimate trade proposals from anyone but your one or two buddies in the league. If you ignore trade offers from several league teams and then take an inferior trade offer from a friend a couple of weeks later, you can expect to hear from it from the active league owners. It's not good fantasy football etiquette, manners and behavior to play favorites in your fantasy football league. Everyone will know what's going on. It's also not very smart to limit your options when trying to improve your team.
Don't Barrage Other Teams With One-Sided Trade Offers
At the same time, it's rude to send an endless stream of unrealistic trade proposals to league owners. There are some fantasy football players who simply refuse to understand that teams are only likely to make trades when they see some benefit to their team. It becomes insulting to receive trade proposal after trade proposal that only a moron would accept. It also becomes counter-productive, because the owners you're sending these insulting offers to become less likely to accept even legitimate trade offers. They're naturally going to assume you know something about the players you're trading that no one else knows - and you're trying to rook them out of their good players in exchange for damaged goods.
Along the same lines, it's rude to pester people at their work or home. Generally speaking, it's better to make a trade proposal through your league site and leave it at that. If you start calling a person while they are at work and start trying to sell them on a trade, you are going beyond the normal boundaries of the fantasy football league. If you call a person at home while they're trying to spend an evening with the family to "talk trades", that's almost certainly an unwanted intrusion into their home life. Fantasy football is something best done in one's spare time, not during work or family time. Even legitimate trade offers aren't likely to be accepted in this situation, since the guy probably has a boss or a wife looking over his shoulder.
It's tempting to call an owner who respond to your online fantasy football trade offers and call their attention to your trade proposal. But even if that person is rude and won't reply, it's probably best you not take it to the next level. It's probably better you write that person off as a trade partner and then make sure they aren't in the league next year.
Fantasy Football Etiquette and Manners
While there are all kinds of minor fantasy football behaviors that can cause offense, if you start a lineup every week, only make trades based on how it improves your team, accept or decline trades as soon as you receive them and don't stalk other league owners to get them to make a trade with you, then you're probably going to be considered a pretty good owner in your fantasy football league. In other words, consider the league and the other members of the leagues and don't be entirely selfish and you'll do fine in your new fantasy football league.
See also: Fantasy Wrestling Etiquette