It’s that time of year again. Time to start studying, taking notes and reviewing last year, seeing your highs and lows and setting your sights on newfound levels of success. No, I’m not talking about school. I’m talking about fantasy football.
With the NFL season less than two weeks away, fantasy football draft season is in full swing, and optimism and excitement are at their peak. But it doesn’t always stay that way.
The long and grueling fantasy football season can really take a toll on a person. Participants often suffer from anxiety due to pressure-packed games or loss of interest if your team is performing subpar. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself in week 8, staring at your phone stressing over who you should start at kicker while yours is on a bye week, all the while wondering if it is even worth playing.
So, while most fantasy football guides tell you how to win your league, this guide will tell you how to prevent the fantasy football blues.
Incentivize winning to keep players participating
This is probably the most important factor to keep your fantasy football league exciting and from turning into a ghost town. Even one participant ignoring their lineup can be a major downer. Of course, there are always excuses like “I wasn’t doing well,” and “I don’t really care that much about football.” If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be in a league in the first place!
The key to solving this issue is to incentivize people to want to win, which will cause them to continue playing and changing their line ups. The easiest way to do that is to lean on the most reliable resource of all-time: money.
With money on the line, people will always care more, leading to better matchups and more exciting games. Sports, especially fantasy sports, are infinitely better when there is money involved. It’s just science.
And it doesn’t just have to be a reward for the winner at the end of the season. You could also go the route of doing weekly rewards for participants. Like the team with the most points, or most touchdowns or best running back in a given week can win smaller amounts of money. That way there is still a reason to try and do well each week, even if your team is already out of the playoffs.
Create a league punishment
A league punishment for the player in last place can also spice things up over the course of a season. Not only does it keep league members playing even if they’re out of the playoffs, but watching one of your buddies suffer from whatever embarrassing act you decide on can be pretty darn hilarious.
Having a league punishment is actually a pretty popular thing to do. Just google fantasy football punishments and you’ll find hundreds of examples, from throwing food at the loser to making them take the SAT.
Get the right people
Filling your league with not just people you know, but good friends is crucial to increase your enjoyment of playing. Sure, it is almost inevitable that you will be desperate to fill the last spot or two in your league, and your friend’s brother’s neighbor’s cousin might have to hop in. But, being in a league made up of your best friends makes a huge difference.
This is especially true because talking about fantasy football is one of the best, if not the best, part of playing fantasy football, and it is so much more fun doing that with friends. I mean it’s kind of weird talking trash to people you don’t really know. Even if the league members are far away, creating a group chat or using the message board can easily keep the insults flowing and keep the season lively.
Limit the number of leagues you are in
“Last year was too much,” you tell yourself. You were going to try and limit yourself, but then your new college friends made one, your boss invites you to join the office league and next thing you know you’re juggling eight leagues on one phone and no sleep.
You stress about forgetting to set one of your line ups or making sure you picked up the hot waiver wire player that week. You get excited when DeAndre Hopkins catches a touchdown pass because you have him on two of your teams, but then immediately get sad again when you remember you are playing against him in your other league. It’s just too much.
Limiting the number of leagues you join will allow you to really focus on your teams and players without feeling overwhelmed. It will also allow you to become more invested in your players without worrying about facing them in other leagues. Everyone is different, but I have found three to be my limit. Any more than that and I find myself seriously questioning how I make life decisions.
Create a league constitution
Writing a league constitution is a great way to build excitement for the upcoming season. It serves as an excuse to get together with your buddies and can maybe even get the trash talk started. Laying out some ground rules and guidelines early might also keep members in check throughout the season to make sure they are actually participating. There’s nothing like being able to quote a legally-binding (well, maybe not exactly) document when calling out your friend for some wrongdoing.
Get invested and watch your players
It can sometimes be hard to remember, but fantasy football is based on real-life football, meaning there are actual games that are going on live each week. If you play fantasy football, chances are you already enjoy watching games, but getting invested in your players can make it that much more enjoyable.
Games are much more fun to watch when you have a rooting interest, so pulling for your players can make games more exciting, even if your favorite team isn’t involved. Just don’t be one of those guys who roots for their fantasy football players over their real-life team.
But above all, just remember, fantasy football is supposed to be fun!
So next time you’re feeling like it’s a burden to pull out your phone and debate who you should start at running back this week, take a step back and remind yourself that fantasy football should be a good time, and it isn’t the end of the world if you lose this week. Because everyone is a winner if they’re having fun, even if you still suck at fantasy football.