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How To Keep More Owners Engaged in the Season’s Final Weeks (Fantasy Football)

by Shane Manila | @ShaneIsTheWorst | Featured Writer
Apr 16, 2020

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No matter how hard you try, it’s human nature to lose some interest when you’re no longer in contention in your fantasy leagues. Depending on what format you play in, your interest level could range from non-existent (redraft) to mildly interested (dynasty). Because dynasty is a year-round endeavor with no offseason, it’s typically easier to keep all of the league owners engaged despite their records, but that doesn’t mean it’s a given. A good commissioner should do everything they can to keep all parties engaged until the season is over to ensure the integrity of a league. Below are a few steps you can take to ensure that even as the regular season wanes, the interest in the league doesn’t.

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Keep the Waiver Wire Open

This refers only to dynasty leagues. In redraft leagues, I am of the mind that there’s no reason to keep waivers open beyond the start of the playoffs, and I even suggest that once a team is eliminated from playoff contention, their waiver rights should be revoked. I understand that not everyone will agree with this sentiment, and some may even see this as something that could cause an owner to tune out. The suggestions below should counteract those concerns in redraft leagues, though.

As noted by anyone who plays in dynasty fantasy football leagues, there is no offseason. Regardless of your record, you are always keeping one eye on the future. The NFL season is a war of attrition, and every year players emerge that no one could have predicted would do so. Boston Scott started the 2019 season as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. Due to injuries to Corey Clement, Jordan Howard, and Darren Sproles, the ineffectiveness of a washed Jay Ajayi, and a general shortage of playmakers on the Eagles roster, Scott was promoted to the Eagles active roster before their Week 6 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

In his first seven games, Scott had accumulated a total of 14.9 fantasy points. Scott was provided a significant role from Week 14 through Week 17. He did not disappoint, scoring 24.8 points against the Giants, following that up with 13.5, 7.9 fantasy points the following two weeks, and then smashing the Giants again to close out the season with a 35.8 week to close out the NFL regular season. Scott now enters the 2020 season as the prohibitive favorite for the Eagles back up running back role. Even if the Eagles deviate from their recent past of a running back by committee, Scott should still have a role that provides anywhere from 10-12 total touches every week.

If teams that are eliminated from the playoffs aren’t able to add players from the waiver wire, then they have no chance to acquire a player like Scott. Locking waivers for non-playoff teams punishes the teams that need to improve their rosters the most. Even incremental improvements to a lousy roster can help. Acquiring an asset for blind bid money, which typically doesn’t carry over to the next season, is the cheapest way to improve a bad team. If not allowed to add players once a team is eliminated from the playoffs is a sure-fire way to cause an owner to lose interest in a league, which in turn makes them a less active owner.

Payouts for Weekly High Scores

Everyone likes money. The chance to win back some of a league’s buy-in is enough to keep even the most easily distracted owners engaged. The cost of your league will dictate how much is paid out for each week’s high score. For instance, if it’s a 12 team league with a buy-in of $50, your league could easily absorb paying $5 for each week’s highest-scoring team. Paying $5 to the highest-scoring team every week during the regular season would only account for 10.83% of the total league pot. This would leave more than enough money to pay out your fantasy bowl champion, runner up, semifinalists, and the team with the best overall regular-season record (if you so choose). You could also structure these payouts to be only made from weeks nine through 13, which is when teams are eliminated from playoff contention. This would allow the payouts for those weeks to be higher, which should undoubtedly keep everyone engaged. This is something that you can use in both redraft and dynasty leagues to keep everyone’s attention.

Toilet Bowl

Is there a worse feeling than the fantasy playoffs kicking off without you in them? Probably, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll pretend there isn’t. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but take a peek at the fantasy playoff scores every week just to see how your team would have fared if you just could have snuck in the back door to the playoffs. Adding a “Toilet Bowl” can make this exercise less of sadomasochist endeavor and give it real meaning.

For those of you that don’t know what a “Toilet Bowl” is, I’ll explain. The “Toilet Bowl” is a playoff for the non-playoff teams. If you have a 12 team league, the six teams that don’t make the real playoffs get to play each other. Where the team with the best overall record would be the one seed in the fantasy bowl, the team with the worst record would be the one see in the “Toilet Bowl.” The reward for winning the “Toilet Bowl” can either be a cash prize (which works for both redraft and dynasty leagues) or an extra rookie draft pick (for dynasty leagues). The draft pick is usually between the first and second rounds or the 1.13 in 12 team leagues. I don’t need to explain to you why winning cash money is a good thing, whether you’re in redraft or dynasty leagues. In dynasty leagues, the additional draft pick is a great way to ensure even the worst teams have something to play for. This also provides one of the worst rosters with an asset to help improve their roster, hopefully increasing league parity.

If you’re having issues with owners not setting rosters or just generally checking out as the end of the season approaches, go ahead and give one of, if not all three, of my above suggestions a try. Feel free to let me know some of your tactics to keep league engagement high during the final few weeks of the season.

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Shane Manila is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @ShaneIsTheWorst.

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