Fantasy Football: Serious suggestions to make your leagues more interesting (and fun!)

The job of Commissioner of the Fantasy League is thankless. Where else can you find “jobs” designed to keep people from doing selfish or stupid things while getting complaints from whiners on a regular basis, all without a paycheck?

Worse, after the 17th week, the commissioners had to make difficult decisions. These decisions don’t usually happen often, but making sure your league isn’t scammed is part of the deal. It’s also important to make your league as fun as possible and make sure it doesn’t get old.

With the 2022 regular season wrapping up, I thought now would be a good time to bring some fresh fantasy concepts to the minds of league bosses around the world. For the most part, these are fairly simple and straightforward things to work with on any web platform you play on (including CBS Sports, of course). Some of them may make you laugh, but this one is at least worth a read. If you are a commit, please consider them all. If you are not a committer, put this article in front of your committer and get him/her to read it. Or become a commissioner yourself.

The concepts are listed in order from “easiest to implement” to “yes, that’s right mate, there’s no way my league would go for that… I guess.”

Concept #1: IR spots should be versatile

The NFL expanded injured reserve rules during the Covid-19 pandemic and has never looked back. But they corrected them – only eight players from each team can leave IR per season.

The whole point of Fantasy is to mimic player and lineup management, so there really isn’t a good reason NOT to have room for IR in every league. These spots allow Fantasy managers to keep their injured players without wasting that traditional bench spot. Anywhere from two to five is fine.

Just make sure your league mates are using the IR dots correctly. Yes, you will find smart ones using IR to hide players who are actually in the wounded reserve. The people who chose Jameson Williams last August did just that. This is part of the game and should not be judged. Most league host sites will not allow you to make roster changes until all IR-eligible players have been agreed. As long as people don’t abuse this privilege, IR spots should be allowed.

Concept #2: Reward offensive fumble recovery for a touchdown

Maybe two or three times a year a player fumbles for the ball in the end zone, where it is picked up by a teammate. When this happens, questions immediately arise as to whether this should be considered fantasy.

The answer is simple: all touchdowns must count.

Nearly every league website has the ability to scoring what is called “offensive fumble recovery on touchdown”. It’s so easy for the commissioner to find the setting, tick the box, and get on with his life. And no Fantasy manager should complain about this scoring. To start with, touchdowns are pretty random—they’re just very, very random. And rarely. So let them count.

Idea #3: Use two flexible points

Cordarrell Patterson has lined up as a wide receiver in 11.6% of his snaps this season. Chig Okonkwo lined up in the outfield in 11.9% of his snaps. Deebo Samuel lined up in the outfield 14.3% of his snaps.

Smart teams use their best players creatively. Why shouldn’t Fantasy managers have the opportunity to get creative with their lineups too?

At CBS Sports, the most common starting lineup requirement last year was one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and one flex (RB, WR, or TE), as well as a DST and a kicker. I think the fantasy experience would be greatly improved if you used two curls instead of one.

By switching to two flexes, Fantasy managers will have more, ahem, flexibility in their lineups. They could start up to four wideouts, or four runners, or three tights. Obviously there are pros and cons as to which of these specific builds you’re leaning towards and obviously league points will also matter, but the bottom line is that it will deprioritize any particular position on draft day and it will also make The weekly waiver application process just got a lot more interesting and less tedious.

Ultimately, using two flex points would mean that a person could use their best players without much restriction.

Concept #4: Avoid Bounces, Use FAB

One of the latest (and most popular) enhancements to fantasy leagues is the creation of free agent blind bets, also known by the acronym FAB (free agent budget). It works like eBay, except with fictitious dollars to get players on your fictitious team. Instead of setting waivers according to the order used by your league, you are betting on players. If your bid is the highest, you get a player.

This levels the playing field when it comes to adding/removing – the worst teams get no perks compared to the available players, and the boldest teams get the players they want the most. There’s an additional strategy: if a manager spends his dollars, he won’t get free agents later in the year, while the budget spenders will have a better chance of making a big break in the second half of the season. .

Concept #5: Skip the full PPR

We’ve come to a point where the awards got a little silly. The quarterback steps back and delivers a quick hit to the receiver, who catches him but is defeated. Why is that catch worth the same as running back running 10 yards?!

How about this: when a running back scores on the ground, that’s six points. When the receiver scores a touchdown, it’s a seven. Six for a touchdown, one point for a catch. Don’t make me start with move bonuses or TE-premium scoring.

Yes, catching the ball is an integral part of football. And yes, anything that adds more points to the fantasy score is fun. But the overemphasis on technique has made fantasy football in a way that has overshadowed everything else. Chris Godwin made it to three touchdowns and barely passed 1,000 yards, but because he caught 104 passes, he finished FIFTEENTH in PPR points per game!

We had many discussions in the office about how to counter full PPR. (Yes, that’s right, we have an office and we talk about fantasy there! We even have a huddle room where we can sit down and discuss deals and add/drop! That’s not bad.) Here are a few ideas:

  • go to half PPR
  • reward something more than a catch: add a full point for the first down (snatch or catch only)
  • use a combination of both of the above: half PPR and 0.5 points for the first attempt (h/t @HeathCummingsSr)
  • start awarding full catch points after a certain number of catches

Please note: I am in no way advocating to drop PPR entirely, though I do say that Fantasy will be a bit more difficult if you do.

Concept #6: When Kelce retires, so does the TE position

One thing that is NOT universal in the NFL is how tight ends are used. Some teams barely use tight ends. Others, like leaders, make them the focal point. Most teams are in the middle – they use titles but are not the typical #1 goal earners.

You have time to think about it, but the bottom line is that whenever Travis Kelsey decides to hang them, the fantasy leagues throw the TE spot out of the rosters. Narrow ends can only be considered flex or even wide receivers, but they will go the way of dinosaurs, VCRs, and Wildcat attacks.

We’ve heard from leagues that have already abandoned the tight position and mixed these guys with wide receivers. Kelce obviously remains a stallion, but once you get past eight or so well-known tight ends, the interest fades. Why force Fantasy managers to cram weak players into their rosters and create such an advantage for a handful of people who have a productive tight end?

Concept #7: Retake

We’ve all experienced it: you start with a player who gets injured early or suddenly finds himself on the bench, leaving your lineup with a donut hole. Your chances of winning are falling and you are forced to endure a heavy defeat. It’s part of fantasy football. But this is optional.

For this idea, imagine that you have one chance to fix a bug. You can take a player off the bench and put him in your squad as an instant replacement.

Sound crazy? For certainty. This is completely against the basic principles of fantasy football. But it will also add another incredible layer to the decisions you make as a manager. And obviously, that’s what real NFL coaches do during a game.

How often will you receive a retake? Glad you asked. Some options:

  • One per week. You can do it, but your opponent can too, and you should be aware of this possibility before making changes. In the end, it’s fair if your opponent also makes a substitution.
  • Once every four weeks. You can do this one week, but not the next four weeks.
  • One per season. Finally, you can use “One Time!”

The strategies are different for each of them, but one thing is certain: you should NOT be allowed to take a fold when your teammate is in the fourth quarter, and you certainly shouldn’t be allowed to fold on Monday. It has to be something instantaneous, through a smartphone app.

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