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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.

  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. The weekend before the start of the NFL regular season usually works best.

  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.

Your first order of business after forming 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.

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 several ways:

  • Find a stats service. This is the easy, low-maintenance, but most expensive way to track your league. Pay a stats service up front, and they do all the work for you and e-mail reports directly to you. Include a portion of the cost in each team’s entry fee.

  • Buy stats software. Buy good fantasy football statistics software and download NFL stats from the Internet. You input all your league’s teams into the program and then kick back as the program spits out weekly reports and standings. This method isn’t as expensive as a stats service, but you do have the one-time cost of the software — split the cost of the software among all the owners. Using software also involves more work.

  • 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 all the team’s stats manually are pen and paper, a calculator, and the sports page.

Search the Internet and the classified ads in fantasy football publications for information about both stats services and software packages.

Use a stats service for your inaugural season. 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). Make sure to find a service that takes care of scheduling as well. Talk to your fellow owners after the first season to see whether they would rather save money and do the stats themselves.

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