Fantasy Football: Four ways to spice up your league to get excited for 2022 NFL season

·9 min read

By Scott Pagel, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

When the fantasy football season comes around, those of us who run leagues want it to be the greatest experience for the managers in their league.

But year after year, the same old league and rules can start to loose some luster. Draft day and the season are supposed to be fun but keeping people interested from August through January isn’t always easy. Halfway through the season, there are usually a handful of teams who have got off to a slow start and next thing you know there are teams that aren't as engaged as you head down the stretch of your season.

A friend of mine who runs a league I’m in does a great job of spicing things up year after year. He’s always changing rules and finding ways to keep things interesting and keep people engaged. While I try to do this myself in a league I run, it can be a challenge. You have to be motivated and put some time into it. That can be difficult when everyday life is there to get in the way.

But the good news is there are a lot of ideas I’ve been a part of that fantasy commissioners can use to keep people wanting more. And even if you don’t run a league, take some of these ideas to your commish. As a commish myself, I like the idea people care enough to want to make the league better, and I always have an open mind.

So let’s take a look at some ways to spice up your league:

1. The draft

Why not start with draft day? It’s the biggest day of the year for your league. It’s a time when everyone is 0-0 and has high hopes for a championship season.

If you can make it work, your league should have a live draft. If everyone isn’t local, hold it on Zoom and at least do half the draft without a timer. Have a few drinks, and get some conversations going among league mates. Making a great pick or an awful pick and seeing everyone’s reaction is a big part of the fun.

You can make your live draft a party, a tailgate, or a cookout. Have whole families come and hang out. If not everyone in your league knows one another, it’s a great way for mangers to get more familiar and may even make your league more active when it comes to trades.

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Leading up to the big day, you can even hold a draft lottery if your league is a redraft format. There are lots of ways to do this — pick out of a hat, use an online randomizer, ping pong balls, etc. You can do it on Zoom a couple of weeks leading up to the draft, or do it right before the draft.

Digging deeper into your live draft, why not think about making it a salary cap draft? I admit I don’t have a ton of experience in salary cap drafts. In fact, I’ve done more hockey fantasy drafts this way than I have football. But this type of draft is something different and something everyone should be able to get behind as all the managers have a chance at any player on the board. They just have to pay the highest salary. 4for4 has plenty of information on how to run or succeed in a salary cap draft.

2. Rosters

Aside from draft decisions, roster positions are also a way to change things up and make your league different from others.

Superflex

By now, just about every league that starts anew goes with the superflex rule, meaning, you can, but don’t have to, start a second quarterback week to week. That’s obviously a big deal and gives an advantage to those who prioritize the position in the draft. Many of my superflex leagues limit the numbers of QBs you can have on your roster to two. But that’s not a mandatory rule. However, limiting the number to two does offer some strategy as in QB bye weeks managers can either elect to play another position in the superflex or be forced to drop a QB and pick up another one. Do you stream the position and always play a QB in the superflex every week, or do you target two stars early and take your chances on bye weeks? Either way, making managers think about a strategy keeps everyone interested and it’s fun to see which one ends up more successful.

Quarterbacks become much more valuable in fantasy football leagues that use a Superflex. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Quarterbacks become much more valuable in fantasy football leagues that use a Superflex. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Flex

You can even add an additional flex position to your lineup. I play in a 20-team league that just starts five flex spots with a QB, kicker, and defense. But even typical 10- and 12-team leagues can simply add a flex spot to make those later-round picks in your draft more important as now you’re starting an extra player who may normally be on your bench.

Drop the kicker and/or defense

While this isn’t anything I’d do, it’s becoming more and more of a staple to just get rid of the kicker position. I’ve never liked the idea, but I’m approaching 50 and even though I’m open to changes, it just doesn’t seem right to get rid of the kicker. However, I will say most people don’t value kickers, and addressing the position can be more of a pain in the behind than it’s worth during the season. I admit, I tend to grab a kicker early at times, but for those who wait until last and stream, having to change their kicker week can be a hassle.

3. FAB could be fabulous

One of the best decisions I’ve made as a commissioner was to move to a Free Agent Budget (FAB). Simply put, instead of giving the worst team the first chance to pick up a potential difference-maker on the waiver wire every week, having a FAB system gives everyone a chance to acquire that player. Briefly explained, every team in your league gets a budget of 100, 200, or whatever you want it to be, to go after free agents. The highest bidder every week gets the player.

Now maybe that will get frustrating to see a 6-0 team end up spending more to pick up a guy who could be the next great starter in the league after an injury. But the thing to keep in mind is using FAB does require some more strategy, and as I said above, you want your managers to think a little about the rules in your league. Adding FAB is just another way to do that.

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(If you’re new to fantasy football, FAB is only used during the waiver period. So if you’re in a bind later in the week, your league would still allow you to pick up players without spending any of your FAB.)

4. Everyone likes fun stuff

Once your rules are in place, there are endless ideas of fun things you can do in your league. These are the little extra things that can really get people talking about your league.

Draft your divisions

This idea is probably better for keeper leagues. In a six-man keeper league I do, it’s pretty clear who the better-off teams are versus the lesser-off teams. So what this league does is allows the team which finished last in their division the previous year to essentially pick their division mates. Obviously, you want to pick the weaker teams first, but believe it or not, not everyone uses that strategy. It gets pretty interesting to see the order the teams go and can even offer a preview of your season. In the end, it’s just a little event that takes about 30 minutes over email to pull off but gets your league flowing before the draft takes place.

Name your divisions

Another league allows the division winners to name their division for the current season. Again, this is something that takes just a few minutes but is something people will notice from August through January.

Trophies

A couple of my leagues have moved to a league trophy the winner gets to keep until the following year. In each of these leagues, the trophy is rather nice and can even have extenders if the league stays around for a while. Another option is to set aside league money to give the winner a smaller trophy they can keep. No matter which one you choose, I can tell you I’m probably more excited to display a trophy than I am about the money. So I really like this idea.

Another newer idea is to award a trophy for last place. Several of my leagues now do this and 4for4 even offers some more in-depth ideas for your league if you want to as well. At the very least, it keeps people motivated to not finish last. The best idea I’ve seen that’s low-key is an “I Suck at Fantasy Football” license plate cover the loser is forced to put on their car for a year.

Outside of the winners and losers, you can always have awards for other teams. You can award the highest points, lowest points — anything you want. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend money as a commissioner. You can always just print something out and even have an award ceremony at the end of the year. By that point, you’re looking at January and in a lot of places, there isn’t a lot to do or look forward to after the fantasy season and the holidays are over. So, why not get your league mates together for an award ceremony.

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your fantasy league going for years to come, and most importantly, keep everyone wanting more.

This article was originally published on 4for4.com

Scott Pagel is Sports Editor for the Bethlehem Press and has covered Philadelphia Eagles training camp since 1997. Scott has played fantasy football since the 90s and has been contributing at 4for4 since 2005.

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