How to Start a Fantasy Football League

If you want to, you can start your own fantasy football league. It only takes a few steps, and you’re ready to begin the season. Here’s how:

  1. Recruit enough friends, co-workers, or neighbors so that you have eight or ten teams. (Each person fields one team.)

    Definitely keep to an even number of teams. Scheduling is too difficult with an odd number of teams.

    Alternatively, you can start a public league online where random players may elect to join your league.

  2. Name your league and have each owner name his or her team.

    Each owner must submit a team name. (Get creative!)

  3. Select a date for your annual player draft.

    This date is when you choose the players for your team, also known as the fantasy football draft. The weekend before the start of the NFL regular season usually works best for hosting your draft.

  4. Agree on an entry fee.

    This dollar amount can be as high or low as you like. Pool the entry fees together to form the “pot,” the cash paid out as prize money to the lucky winners. Not all leagues need an entry fee — you can also play for fun, and for bragging rights!

Your first order of business after setting up your league is to appoint an almighty commissioner. The commish arbitrates any and all disputes that crop up (and controversy rears its ugly head in most leagues).

Once a commissioner is in place, draw up a set of written league rules. Feel free to customize the so-called standard rules of fantasy football — the goal is to minimize disputes during the season while still keeping everything fun. Here are some rules that you are able to customize as the league commissioner:

  • Scoring – Select how much fantasy points a player gets for each action (yard gained, touchdown, reception, etc.)

  • Playoffs – Determine how many teams make the playoffs and which NFL weeks those games will be played

  • Waiver Wire – Outline rules for waiver wire pickups including how many free agents a team can add, the selection order, etc.

  • Trades – Create a process for allowing/vetoing trades. You may implement a voting policy where other league owners can veto a trade if it is clearly one-sided.

Next up is deciding how to track and record the statistics for your league. In most leagues, owners receive reports that show the preceding week’s results and summarize season-to-date standings. You can tackle this reporting task in one of two ways:

  • Use a free fantasy football hosting site (recommended). Major players like ESPN, Yahoo!, NFL, and so on now offer fantasy football platforms that will automatically track player and team stats for you. Auto-tracking takes the manual work out of conducting scores for each player and each team every week. These platforms also track performance in real-time, so you can stay updated on your fantasy score by the minute!

  • Calculate the stats yourself. This is the good, old-fashioned (and most time-consuming) way to do your league’s stats. All you need to calculate the team’s stats manually are pen and paper, a calculator, and the sports page.

Use a free fantasy football hosting site for your league. Using a service allows you to focus solely on playing the game (the fun stuff) rather than worrying about all the administrative and stat-keeping junk (the boring stuff). It may be a good idea to test between the major hosting sites to see if one platform suits your league better!

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