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5 Tips for Dealing with an Absentee Owner in Your Fantasy Football League

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
May 3, 2020

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If you’ve played fantasy football long enough, then you’ve likely been in a league with an absentee owner.

The absentee owner shows up to the draft to party, if they show up at all. At the beginning of the year, the absentee owner is mildly engaged because they believe this is their year, even though they’ve missed the playoffs every year since 2013. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of poor production, their playoff hopes and their participation have diminished. By season’s end, their starting lineup is a wasteland consisting of injured players, players on bye weeks and early-round busts.

While these AWOL owners might think their seasons are over, their absences result in easy victories that impact the final standings.

Here are five tips for dealing with and preventing early absentee owners:

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1. Offer season-long incentives

As a commissioner of a league entering its 16th season, I know how hard it is to keep everyone involved the entire year. That’s why we’ve introduced incentives that have successfully kept all 10 owners engaged from Week 1 to Week 16.

The best incentive I recommend is a weekly prize for the highest-scoring team each week. Whether it’s a monetary prize or first priority on the waiver wire, this bonus gives your owners a reason to care every week. Even the worst team in the league can catch fire once or twice. Make those great weeks count and you’ll instantly see increased participation.

2. Make the consolation matter

Nobody wants to finish the season in the consolation bracket. But even the consolation can have a purpose. Spice up your consolation bracket with either a monetary prize or a small advantage for next season’s draft.

In my league, the consolation winner is guaranteed a top 3 pick in next year’s draft. You could also give the consolation champion the ability to choose their pick. Making the consolation feel less like a loser’s bracket helps.

3. Make trade offers early and often

Even absentee owners have good players worth acquiring in a trade. But remember that when the going gets tough, absentee owners get going.

As the first month of the season progresses, keep a close eye on the absentee owner’s roster. Identify your team’s needs and make fair trade offers before the owner’s interest reaches its expiration date.

Making a deal early not only helps you shore up your own roster, but it also helps the absentee owner feel more invested in their team. That’s a win-win for the entire league.

4. Communicate with the absentee owner

This isn’t just the job of the commissioner. Every league member should do their part to make their league as competitive as possible. If you notice an owner neglected to set their lineup or never got to your trade offer, reach out and politely let them know.

There’s nothing wrong with holding owners accountable, especially if they paid money to play. And don’t be afraid to send weekly reminders to those forgetful players.

5. Turn the absentee owner’s games into bye weeks, or forfeits

Imagine how your league would react if the absentee owner checked back in and knocked off a playoff contender? Even worse, what if the randomness of fantasy football helped an absentee owner’s team pull off a massive upset with an incomplete lineup?

Both of these outcomes hurt the integrity of any fantasy football league. If an absentee owner goes weeks without making a single lineup change, then it’s time to freeze that owner’s team completely. Then, hold a vote to determine whether that owner’s games should become bye weeks, or forfeits. A forfeit is likely the better option to ensure every team in your league plays the same amount of games.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive

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