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How to Keep Everyone Engaged in Season’s Final Weeks (Fantasy Baseball)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
May 21, 2020

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Maintaining late-season activity is particularly a problem in fantasy baseball. Six months is a long time to keep everyone’s attention, especially given the schedule’s unrelenting daily grind. The added distractions of summer and football make it impossible to keep everyone active when a title is no longer in arm’s reach.

This is admittedly a roadblock to rotisserie; its greatest feature — the best team wins — turns into a bug if a powerhouse runs away with the championship by August. While head-to-head leagues aren’t spared from managers abandoning their posts, there are more ways to combat the problem.

Committed managers see this inactivity as a chance to shine. The league’s commissioner, on the other hand, will want to fortify the group’s competitive spirit to the very end. It’s a difficult but achievable goal in re-draft leagues when you implement the following initiatives.

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Consolation Incentives
Gamers with no realistic shot at capturing a championship need some motivation to keep checking. In head-to-head leagues, this can come via a consolation tournament.

While the playoff squads vie for glory, the others can play for pride in a separate bracket. Of course, the solace of finishing seventh instead of 10th isn’t enough to inspire everyone. Unless you’re in an ultra-competitive league (where inactivity won’t be an issue anyway), the commissioner will need to get creative and up the ante.

Perhaps a small prize — whether it’s the owner’s entry fee back or some kind of small gag gift — will suffice. Or the league, regardless of the scoring system, can reward a first-half winner, as well as the team that made the biggest second-half leap. If that’s not enough, you may need to use a stick instead of a carrot.

Last-Place Punishment
Avoiding humiliation is often a more powerful motivator than seeking a reward. This has propelled many fantasy leagues to penalize the last-place finisher with some sort of embarrassing task.

Given how many gamers take an all-or-nothing approach to drafting, most don’t see much of a difference between finishing eighth or 12th place. That will change if they need to eat something gross, wear something silly, or expose themselves to some other degrading form of public ridicule. To kill two birds with one stone, the consolation tournament winner can decide the last-place finisher’s fate.

If it’s a competitive, long-standing league that others are jonesing to join, the bottom club(s) could even face relegation like in the Premier League.

This is all, of course, best saved for a league comprised of friends, all of whom must agree to such a stipulation before starting the season. While adding salt to someone’s wound could seem cruel to some, it’d certainly dissuade the league’s laggards from checking out in September.

No Trade Deadline
A lull often follows the league’s trade deadline, which usually follows the MLB’s July 31 date or extends into early or mid-August. Remove it altogether, particularly in a keeper or dynasty league, and everyone might be more inclined to stick around.

This is the riskiest plan of the bunch. After all, an 11th-place team not setting a lineup isn’t nearly as harmful to the league’s integrity as that same manager helping a friend win with lopsided exchanges. Eliminating the trade deadline will only work with an honest grouping that has a legitimate reason to keep fighting to the bitter end.

Add a Keeper Component
Inactivity should not be as much of a problem in keeper and dynasty leagues. Rebuilding teams can look ahead by trading veterans for prospects or, if the trade deadline has passed, adding younger talent on the waiver wire. The final standings will also determine the offseason’s draft order. Leagues worried about tanking can award the first pick to the consolation tournament’s winner.

If your league is constantly dragging itself to the finish line, perhaps it’s time to embrace a keeper element.

Even a few keepers could incentivize managers to pay attention. Capping their eligibility can also create strategic scenarios where a contender sells a strong keepable player for a struggling squad’s top-shelf star who must be tossed back into the draft pool next season.

Keepers can serve as the ultimate boost to a long-standing re-draft league that often falls into a late-season rut.

Replace Absentee Managers or Find a New League
The aforementioned suggestions all apply to leagues worth saving. But if this is your first foray into an active league — or a long-standing one where engagement remains a prevalent issue — perhaps it’s time to cut your losses.

For a commissioner, this means replacing the absentee owner(s). This action should only be enacted after giving the inactive player more than one warning and consulting the rest of the league. Forgetting to set a lineup one week is forgivable, if not inevitable. Only boot someone if inactivity is a recurring problem, and the person in question doesn’t respond to your check-ins.

An owner disenfranchised with the league’s competition level may have no course of action beyond playing out the season and finding a new league next year. Fantasy baseball is way more fun when playing among an active and intelligent group. If you’re disappointed in the league’s listlessness, there’s no shame in saying goodbye.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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