Fantasy Football Rules
Fantasy Football Options and Choices
Fantasy football rules are what sets one fantasy football league apart from another. You might have a friend who plays in 5 different fantasy football leagues and wonder what the point of playing in multiple leagues is. Likely, each of these fantasy football leagues has a different set of fantasy football rules and scoring systems, so the challenge is slightly different in each league. Keeper league rules, dynasty league rules, IDP league rules and high performance rules are just some of the options available to commissioners. Here are some of the most common rules options and choices available to your fantasy football league.
Fantasy Rules Options and Choices - Fantasy Football Scoring Systems
Many fantasy football rules have to do with your league's scoring system. Players and positions have different values based on which player stats equal points in your league. I'm in one league where kickers get 20 points for a 55 yard field goal, so field goal kickers are actually difference makers in the league. I'm in another league where head coaches get 10 points plus point differential, making the best NFL head coaches among the highest point scorers in the league. In certain leagues, drafting wide receivers high (1st or 2nd round) makes no sense, but in leagues which value receptions, drafting two wide receivers becomes a viable strategy. Here's a review of scoring rules and options for you to consider.
Touchdown Only Fantasy Football Rules - This is the oldest and simplest scoring system for fantasy football, but one that's not in use much anymore. If your player scores a touchdown, you get 6 points. Yardage gained doesn't matter, or matters little. (I know of a league where rushing or receiving for 100 yards gets a minor +3 point bonus.) Often, quarterbacks only get 4 points for throwing a touchdown in this scoring system. In my experience, luck becomes a big factor in the touchdown-only fantasy football rules, because there's no telling who punches the ball in from 1 yard out. Often, short yardage runners are as good or better than every down runners in this scoring system.
High Performance Fantasy Football Rules - High performance leagues are the most common fantasy football scoring rules out there today. Not only do players get 6 points for a touchdown, but they also get points for yards gained. It's very common to see a player get 1 point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, while getting 1 point for every 20 yards or 25 yards passing. Bonuses for reaching certain yardage plateaus are often common, such as +3 for 150 yards rushing or receiving, or +3 for 350 yards passing. This rewards players who make a big contribution to their team's winning effort, but who don't necessarily score the touchdowns. Since you can predict players getting yardage more than who gets the final few yards of the drive, high performance scoring systems are thought to involve a little more skill to win.
Point-for-Reception Fantasy Football Rules - Very similar to the high performance league, and in fact fits under that description. Because many high performance leagues don't have point-for-receptions, I list it separately. The point of this rule is to make wide receivers and tight ends more valuable, putting them on a par with quarterbacks and running backs. If you play in a point-per-reception league, players generally receive an extra point for every reception they make. This turns a player like Wes Welker into a fantasy football star, while making some running backs, like Brian Westbrook, worthy of first round consideration. If you play in a receptions league, drafting wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald or Randy Moss become viable as early as the late 1st round - and certainly by the 2nd round.
Individual Defensive Player Fantasy Football Rules - Most fantasy football rules have a defensive element, but the most common defensive rule is to start a "team defense". You'll draft the "Baltimore Ravens Defense", for example, and get points for every sack, interception and fumble they get, and often bonus points for the amount of points or yards they allow. In the "Individual Defensive Player" or IDP league, though, you play individual defensive stars. In the IDP format, you receive points for every tackle, sack, interception, fumble recovery or touchdown your defensive player records. I definitely recommend playing in an IDP league, because it makes watching defensive players in a televised game much more interesting. If you play in a team defense league, it makes watching your defense play an irritating experience, because they slowly lose points throughout the night. If you play using IDP fantasy football rules, start as many linebackers as possible, because tackles rule in IDP formats. Middle linebackers on losing teams are best.
Fantasy Football Drafting Rules Options and Choices
There are also several drafting rules options and choices to consider: redrafts, keeper leagues and auction leagues. Each of these present different challenges for the fantasy football owner.
Redraft League Fantasy Football Rules - This is the most common format. Every year, every player on a roster is placed back into the draft pool. League rosters change completely from one year to the next. Typically, the draft will take a "serpentine format", where order of draft selection is inverted from one round to the next. So if you have the 1st pick in the 1st round, you'll have the 12th pick in the 2nd round (in the standard 12-team league, of course). Redrafts are fun, because every year is a totally different experience. If your team stunk last year, you get a whole new team this year.
Keeper League Fantasy Football Rules - The keeper league is where you keep a certain number of players from one year to the next. Many keeper league fantasy rules limit the number of keepers you can keep every year - often from 1 up to 10 players. However many keepers you keep, you lose a corresponding number of draft picks. For instance, if you have 6 keepers, you won't draft in the first 6 rounds of your draft. Very similar to the keeper league is the "dynasty league" rule, where you can keep every single player from one year to the next. Often, the fantasy football draft consists only of true NFL rookies. The idea of the dynasty league is you build a fantasy football team the way an NFL GM would build an NFL team. It's called a "dynasty league" because a fantasy football owner can win multiple league titles with the same roster - though it's harder to do that than it sounds.
Auction League Fantasy Football League - Instead of drafting players in a draft format, league owners bid imaginary money figures on the NFL players. You go around a circle, throwing out individual names for an NFL player. Players get to bid on that player. For instance, someone might throw out the name "Tom Brady" to start the bidding. Players bid on who gets Tom Brady. It's common to see auction leagues have $100, $200, $250 or $500 "salary caps", which are (usually) monopoly money used to build a team. In the case of the $100 auction league, Tom Brady might go for $50. That player would then have $50 to build the rest of their 15-20 man roster. Since an auction fantasy football league is about resource allocation, many fantasy football players find it offers a whole new challenge.
Fantasy Football Trade Rules - Rules Options and Choices
Trade Deadline - Many leagues have a trade deadline, which is essentially a week in the season after which trades are no longer allowed. This is to keep teams who are no longer in contention from making "sour grapes" trades or "spoiler trades" to try to determine who wins the league title. This kind of collusion often involves "buddy trades" where one friend who is out of contention trades their only star player to their buddy, to help them win the league. This might be done from bitterness or greed, since a friend can be bribed with a promise of money in the case their friend ends up winning the league - and therefore the prize money. Trade deadlines presumably cut down on this practice, since fewer teams will be out of contention halfway through the season than in the final weeks. While trade deadlines have some value, the following fantasy football rule needs to be in effect in most leagues.
Trade Reviews - Trade review rules give the commissioner or other league owners some oversight, to keep league owners from making unfair, unbalanced or collusive trades within the course of the season. You might have a rule where the league commissioner can veto any trade he views is unfair, though this puts pressure on the fantasy football commissioner - and assumes he isn't corrupt. Other leagues require a majority of owners to vote a trade in or vote a trade out. Others require a 3-owner trade commission to vote whether a trade should be allowed. Many fantasy leagues allow unrestrained training, though this works best in leagues full of friends who are mature and who didn't put a lot of money on the line. There is no perfect way to police league trading besides outlawing trades, but I've played in leagues with no trades, and no trades equals no fun. Figure out which rules work best for your league's owners, allow trades and institute some way to review trades. Get rid of any owners who are a constant problem when it comes to unfair trades.
Fantasy Football Rules Options
Fantasy football rules are the framework that makes for a successful league. Collect a good set of fantasy football owners and then write a set of rules that works for those owners. Agree on all league rules before the fantasy football season starts and never change the rules midseason to please a disruptive owner or to give a win to one or another team. The only fair fantasy football rules are the ones written before you know who benefits from those rules.