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Reinvigorating a Stale League at the Midway Point (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Feb 26, 2020

It happens to the best of leagues. They get boring, dry, played-out and stale by the midway point in the season. While it’s a problematic phenomena, there are steps to take to colorize a league that’s gone black-and-white. Your experience in a fantasy football league should be exciting, and to keep it that way, we’re hear to help. Let’s take a look at some helpful tricks and tips to reinvigorate a stale league at the midway point.

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Incentives, Punishments, & Other Changes

Sure, the league might be stale as currently constructed, but how about upping the ante for all managers in the league? It’s easy to get more participation from the top teams in the league if you offer incentives for winning or other milestones, but you can also draw in those in the league who are bringing up the rear. Incentives for not finishing in last, a higher future draft pick, and more are all great ways to do this. You’ll want to tailor your incentives to personal league settings and group consensus, but here are some suggestions:

  • Toilet bowl – The last-place finisher in the league suffers a punishment voted on by the remaining league members. This should feature equal parts creativity and humiliation. If your league doesn’t already have something like this in place, get it going. It’s a huge incentive for under-performing managers to try their best. You can have a lot of fun with this!
  • Consolation bracket– If you really want struggling teams to get more involved, this is the move for you. The consolation bracket is comprised of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, and typically, seeding for the following year’s draft is based on reverse order of finish. Mix it up, and award the highest remaining seed of non-playoff teams to the winner of the consolation bracket. It’s a bold change, so if your league-mates aren’t on board, consider awarding a small prize to the winner of the consolation bracket.
  • Additional prizes – Most leagues offer prizes (cash or otherwise) for a first or second-place finish, though you can award prizes for a variety of accomplishments. Some of the most common are for third and fourth-place finishes, finishing with the best regular-season record, and scoring the most regular-season points.
  • Encourage trading – Stale leagues can suddenly become fresh with renewed interest in trading. Trading gets league-mates talking, mixes up rosters and gets everyone in the league involved. After all, trades are seen by all members of your league, and general discussions of who won the trade, whether it was good or bad, etc are enough to boost participation and re-invigorate your spirits. To encourage trading, try removing the veto option and the waiting period between when a trade is accepted and when it is processed.
  • Rivalry Weeks – Implement this one to get your league feeling more like the NFL. Rivalry weeks should be on a league-by-league basis, pitting family members, best friends, or league-mates with a torrid history against each other. Calling a matchup a “rivalry game” is a great way to build participation and excitement, but if you want to take things up a notch, make those games matter.
  • Add two more playoff spots – This one might be a tough sell for the higher seeds in your league, but they’re probably not the owners you’re trying to excite, anyway. Adding additional playoff spots should encourage managers near the bottom of the standings to make more moves on the waiver wire and the trading block with a renewed hope of making the fantasy post-season.

Implementing one (or more) of these changes takes a joint effort from all league managers, and you’ll have to get everyone on board to make any mid-season changes. Mixing things up when you’re halfway through your season is a risky proposition, but desperate times call for desperate measures if your league is on its last legs. Those are just a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Be creative!

Communication & Community

Nothing stirs the pot quite like some good, old-fashioned trash talk. If you feel the league is stale, inject some excitement by agitating your league-mates. Chances are, if they see that you still care about the league and are impassioned enough to make these sort of comments, they’ll get back on board. If you don’t already have a group chat set up for your league, get one going immediately. This is the perfect place to keep up with everyone you’re playing with in addition to discussing the NFL, trash talking, posting trade ideas, airing grievances and kudos for  group discussion, and voting on important changes you’ll want to make. Better yet, if you live near one or more of your league-mates, host a Sunday watch party to foster a sense of community in the league. Best of all, if you live near your opponent for a given week, meet up at a bar one-on-one and spend the day watching football and keeping track of your matchup in real-time. Keeping the lines of communication open and getting together with league-mates are two great ways to create a positive environment that your league can thrive in. Get the conversation started, go hang out, and inject some life into your stale league.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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