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Implementing Side Action in Fantasy Football Leagues

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
Jul 17, 2020

What’s the worst part about playing fantasy football? Is it the bad beats? The blowout losses? Sometimes it’s missing out on your favorite player on Draft Day. Other times it’s seeing your first-overall pick suffer a season-ending injury in Week 1. We’ve all experienced these headaches and heartaches in fantasy football before, and because the season is so long, we’re constantly exposed to any number of catastrophes in any given week.

But for my money, there’s nothing worse in fantasy football than when a player in your league straight-up quits halfway through the season. It’s happened to all of us at least once, hasn’t it? Some knucklehead in your league loses six of the first seven games of the season, forfeits interest, and then flat-out disappears, leaving your league in the lurch.

Just brutal.

But what if there were a way to mitigate that risk? What if there were a way to guarantee that every person in your league would remain as committed as you are—from Draft Day to Championship Weekend?

To answer these questions, I did a little bit of digging. I conducted polls and surveys with the guys in my home league of unlovable drunks. I revisited old scoring systems, buy-ins, and payouts from previous seasons. I scoured the internet for unique ways to make the fantasy season as rewarding as possible. In short, I went hunting for some sweet sweet side action. And wouldn’t you know it? I found some, which brings us to the fruit of my fantasy football pursuits.

Here’s how to make your league as engaging and active as possible in 2020.

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Weekly Contests

Establish multiple games within the game to create more opportunities to win throughout the year. When there’s a prize on the line each week of the regular season, everyone in the league will have something to compete for—whether their team is undefeated, winless, or in the middle of the pack.

Reassess your league’s buy-ins and payouts and consider setting some cash (or other prizes) aside for these weekly challenges (shout-out to jonasdash on Reddit for introducing me to these weekly side games). 

Week 1: Hot Start
The team that scores the most points wins.

Week 2: Endzone Celebration
The team that scores the most offensive touchdowns wins.

Week 3: Deadliest Catch
The team with the most WR receptions wins.

Week 4: Blackjack!
The team with a player who scores the closest to 21 points without going over wins.

Week 5: Biggest Loser
The team that scores the most points in a losing matchup wins.

Week 6: Like a Boss
The team that wins its matchup by the biggest margin of victory wins.

Week 7: Rushing Attack
The team with the most RB rushing yards wins.

Week 8: Nailed It
The team that scores closest to its projected point total (over or under) wins.

Week 9: Dead Weight
The team that wins its matchup with the week’s lowest scoring starting player wins.

Week 10: Hot Flex
The team with the highest-scoring FLEX position wins.

Week 11: Dirty Thirty
The team with any player who scores the closest to 30 points (over or under) wins.

Week 12: The Longest Yard
The team with the longest QB passing play wins.

Week 13: Lucky Stars
The team that defeats its opponent by the smallest margin of victory wins.

Even if your team stinks, you’ve still got a shot at winning a weekly prize. Whether you want these challenges to apply to starting lineups or entire team totals is entirely up to you.

League Roles and Responsibilities

If you’re the commissioner in your fantasy league, you spend a ton of time and effort on setting up your league, handling money and prizes, assessing questions and concerns from your league, and so on.

But what if you’re not the commissioner in your league… but you still want your voice to be heard? You’re a pretty good fantasy football manager, don’t you deserve to be heard?

If each person in your league has a particular role or responsibility – some sense of ownership and authority – your league will be much more interesting. More to the point, it’ll give everyone a good reason to stay active and engaged throughout the season. Here are a few examples of league roles you can implement:

Your right-hand man or woman, this person will serve as a personal consigliere to the commissioner. He or she will take over all league responsibilities if the commissioner is indisposed.

League Treasurer
Pick a person in your league who has a career in finance or is generally just good with money. Assuming you’re in a league with close and trusted friends, this person will be in charge of collecting and disseminating league dues as necessary.

Director of Personnel
Your director of personnel is the person who’s constantly checking other people’s lineups to make sure that all rosters adhere to league rules. If someone isn’t rostering the exact right number of players, this person calls ’em out.

Content Manager
You’re in a fantasy football text thread with your league mates, right? Which person is most obsessed with scrolling, reading, and sharing news? Best reserved for the out-of-towner, this role will help league mates stay involved and active in your league.

Secretary of Commerce
Whenever league mates are discussing a trade in my home league, they always rely on one guy for his input. They’ll ask him, “Is this a fair trade?” or “Who do you think wins this trade?” Sound like anyone in your league? If voting for or against a trade goes awry, the secretary of commerce is called upon to make the final decision.

Biggest Loser Awards

I’m not really into fantasy football punishments. However, I am into the idea of awarding ridiculous prizes to the worst fantasy players in your league. For example, if someone in your league is deathly afraid of spiders, reward them for their horrible season with a DVD of Arachnophobia (or better yet, a VHS tape).

Whether they had bad luck or just plain stink at fantasy football, they deserve some light-hearted and good-natured ribbing (at the very least). Here are some ways to “reward” your league mates for being complete and total losers. What exactly should their prizes be? That’s up to you! 

Ice Cold Draft
The team whose original draft picks combined for the fewest points “wins.”

Mr. Glass
The team that rostered the most players who ended up on IR at some point “wins.”

Get Shorty
The team that scored the fewest total points in the league “wins.”

Absolute Zero
The team that finished in last place with the worst overall record “wins.”

The Invisible Man
The team owner who was a no-show for most of your season-long get-togethers.

How can you spice up your fantasy league with a little side action? Give out weekly prizes. Assign specific roles or responsibilities to league mates. Award heinous prizes to the biggest losers at the end of the year. Whatever you do, keep it real and have fun!

Dominate with our award-winning fantasy football draft software >>

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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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