42 Fantastic New Fantasy Football League Ideas

Great Fantasy Football league ideas have come across my desk over the past 27 years of play, and many of them, I have personally instituted in some of my leagues.

Back in my day, we had to wait until Saturday to watch cartoons. (It was inhumane!) And we’d get detention for passing notes because texting didn’t exist. And my Fantasy league was Basic TD-only scoring. The Fantasy Football league ideas were few and far between back then!

Basic scoring! That’s right. Barry Sanders averaged seven touchdowns over a 3-year stretch, making him a fleet-footed RB2 in Fantasy Football, averaging 42 points a season. Can you imagine!?! He would have been a top-10 player overall in leagues today.

But everything evolves, including Fantasy Football over the past 20 years. From adding points for yardage, to adding a third wide receiver, to adding a flex position, to drafting IDPs, to auctions, to survivor leagues, to two-QB leagues, to DFS — a Fantasy Football league is always being modified every five years or so.

There are a ton of Fantasy Football league ideas that are for much bolder people than I! That certainly doesn’t keep me from sharing them with you!

As a matter of fact, I want you to drop some comments on the bottom of the page, and share your great Fantasy Football league ideas with everyone else!

That’s the thing about this hobby of ours – everyone can make little adjustments or customizations in their own leagues, and report back to the rest of us to see what was a success or a failure. In many cases, these successes only work because of the types of people in their league, and their failures might be because of the people in the league are duds!

Either way, the Fantasy Football commissioner is usually the player most interested in making the league experience that absolute best, and they often bring up some of these new Fantasy Football league ideas – only to get shot down by grumpy owners.

If you find yourself wanting to try out some of these crazy ideas, but you don’t have people to do it with, jump on Reddit’s Find A League and recruit!

Make no mistake, these new Fantasy ideas will take some work by the commissioner, and you might need to iron out the kinks over the course of a couple seasons. Also, you’ll need to find a league draft service that can accommodate any customizations you want to make. In many cases, MyFantasyLeague.com will allow for a ton of customized scoring, draft and lineup setups, which makes them much more commissioner-friendly than CBS, ESPN or Yahoo!.

New Fantasy Football League Ideas

These new Fantasy Football league ideas are mostly for yearly or keeper leagues, but some refer to other types of leagues, including dynasty and IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues. Also, the assumption is that you already play in a standard Fantasy Football league, and you’re looking to make some improvements or try some new things out. If you are just looking for regular, traditional Fantasy Football rules, this is not that. But you can learn about those basic rules here at NFL.com.

New Fantasy Scheduling Ideas

These new ideas are basically just based around the different ways the Fantasy Football schedules can be set up.

  1. Set Up Double-Headers Twice During the Regular Season

With a 13-week regular season for most Fantasy Football leagues, it’s really tough to gauge who the six best teams are, especially when you consider how many times a good team loses to a bad team, just because they had stars on byes that week. So one way you can fix that is by making more regular season games! Luckily, you don’t have to worry about wearing your players out by making them play two games in one week! Brilliant!

The commissioner will set up two double-headers – bookending the bye weeks – so that Fantasy teams will have full rosters to go up against two teams each before and after the bye weeks. (In 2017, that means your double-headers might be Weeks 4 and 12.) Ideally, these double-headers will be scheduled against division rivals!

Just think about the excitement surrounding that Week 12 set of double-headers, when everyone has their players back off byes, and playoff spots are starting

  1. Add Rivalry Weeks to Your Fantasy Schedule

During your Fantasy Draft Day, figure out a rivalry for each owner. So if you have 12 teams, figure out which six rivalry matchups you could create. These rivalries could consist of matchups between:

  • Brother vs. Brother
  • Father vs. Son
  • Husband vs. Wife
  • Neighbor vs. Neighbor
  • Worker vs. Boss
  • In-laws
  • Husband vs. Wife’s Former Boyfriend!

Basically, you just want to make each game to take on a little special meaning. The winner of these rivalry weeks gets to do something to the loser. Obviously, you don’t want to make it too painful, but it could be something like the winner renaming the loser’s team, or changing their team logo for one week.

Those new Fantasy team names could change to something like:

  • David is a WAAAAAY Better Fantasy Player Than Me!
  • My Wife Picks Losers, Just Like Me
  • Loserville — Population: Me
  1. All vs. One and One vs. All Scheduling

Part of the problem with Fantasy Football is that scheduling can sometimes lead to bad teams finding their way into the playoffs, and good teams get bounced because they had a terribly difficult schedule. What if you set up your 12-team league so that every single week, each team plays against each of the 11 other teams. Then schedule the same thing for the next week, and so on. This means the best teams would win more than they lose, and the other way around. Obviously, once the playoffs start, it has to go back to one-on-one Head-to-Head play.

  1. Remove Luck By Awarding Extra Wins

Similar to the All-vs.-One scheduling model, each team ends up being judged each week against the other 11 teams in the league. In this way, though, there’s regular Head-to-Head play, like we’re all used to, but the top six scoring teams get an extra win added to their standings, and the bottom six scoring teams get a loss added. This helps good teams facing great teams still get out of the week with a 1-1 schedule, and it prevents bad teams from getting undue higher rankings in the standings.

  1. Schedule Double-Headers Every Week

Once again, in an effort to remove the good luck from bad teams and the bad luck from good teams, scheduling double-headers every single week will make the cream rise to the top.

  1. Schedule Fantasy Double-Headers Twice Per Season

Rather than make a huge change in the scheduling with some of the aforementioned new Fantasy Football league ideas, maybe tweak the schedule just a little by adding a couple double-headers. Think ahead, though, and add them during the weeks when no NFL teams have bye weeks. Wouldn’t that suck if you had a double-header to play and your first-round pick was resting on a bye?

  1. Turn Week 17 Into an Awesome Daily Fantasy Pro Bowl Week!

Considering we have been taught to avoid Week 17 in our Fantasy Playoffs because stars sometimes get benched for rest and there are too many uncertainties to make that week the Fantasy Football Championship week. So let’s make it a week where every owner picks a team on FanDuel or Draft Kings and they all play against each other in a DFS Pro Bowl! Now, those backups that are seeing more snaps become cheap superstars! You could even make it so that each Fantasy owner is allowed to “lock in” one player from their real Fantasy team that no one else is allowed to use.

New Fantasy Commissioner Ideas

Commissioners are usually the linchpins to the entire league, so it stands to reason that if they get some new ideas, they can be the stimulus to get the rest of the league to join.

  1. Give Your Fantasy Football League a Theme

I wrote a piece on 15 Great Fantasy Football Themes you should check out. Whether you use Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Simpsons or a dozen other solid options, your fellow leaguemates will have a lot of fun coming up with creative Fantasy Football team names related to that theme. Help your league stand out from the others! Have your league vote on what theme you should use!

For instance, I’m in a Seinfeld league, where all the divisions, teams and even the championship game (The Festivus Bowl!) has names related to Seinfeld! My team used to be “Scandals and Animals,” named after my favorite episode with The Merv Griffin Show set, but I’ve recently changed my team name to “These Pretzels are Making Me Thirsty!” It’s dumb. And awesome, all at once!

  1. Reward the Regular Season Scoring Champion, Too!

Everyone understands that the Fantasy playoffs have an awful lot of luck involved, and the team that scores the most Fantasy points during the regular season is the best team of the year. You should still reward the winner of the playoffs with the biggest payout, but don’t forget to reward the team with the most Fantasy points (not the best record!) in the regular season, too.

  1. Get the League to Vote on End-of-Season Awards

The end of the Fantasy Football season is usually sluggish and slow, as most of the league is already eliminated and everyone’s dealing with the holidays and visiting family, while getting ready for the new year ahead. But when January rolls around, get the league involved again by asking everyone to vote on some Fantasy league awards (they’re not allowed to vote for their own teams!):

  • Fantasy MVP
  • Fantasy Bust of the Year
  • Fantasy Sleeper Pick of the Year
  • Owner of the Year
  • Free-Agent Pickup of the Year
  • Fantasy Rookie of the Year
  • Fantasy Team Name of the Year
  • Best Keeper Pick of the Year

You can also have some fun and vote on:

  • Worst Fantasy Owner of the Year
  • Worst Luck of the Year
  • Worst Fantasy Trade of the Year
  • Worst Drop of the Year
  • Worst Fantasy Team Name of the Year
  • Worst Keeper Decision of the Year

In many of these cases, the commish should go back and list off some nominations for each of the awards, so people don’t have to do a ton of research. It’s nice to get everyone involved again, and reward some Fantasy owners that didn’t make the playoffs.

Customized Fantasy Football Draft Boards 2017

Commissioners! Buy a customized Fantasy Football Draft Board with your league’s name on it, with team name stickers and everything! Buy it here!

  1. Use a Three-Headed Commissioner

If one person doesn’t want to step up to be the commissioner, separate the duties among three different people for a Commissioner Committee! Try to choose owners that are already really involved and excited about making the league better.

Plus, with three commissioners, they can vote on trades and rules, and do what they can to make the league better. If one or two of the commissioners are involved in a trade, then bring in alternates for the voting.)

My suggestion for separation of duties:

  • Logistics: Let this person handle the website duties, from league setup to roster cleanup to rules and scoring settings. He’s the numbers guy!
  • Treasurer: This person collects the league fees and harasses people until they pay – then he also pays out at the end of the season. He’s the accountant you all better trust!
  • Media: This guy is the one that sends out the fun emails to the league to get them pumped about the draft, and maybe he announces the Fantasy MVP each week, etc. He’s fun dad!
  1. Last Year’s Champion Gets Penalized For This Year

This could be for a keeper league or a redraft league, and it really just punctuates how much everyone hates a winner! In order to keep a Fantasy dynasty from forming, make last year’s champion draft at the end of Round 1. If it’s a keeper league, make them lose one of their keeper slots! So while everyone else is holding over three players, they only get to hold over two.

  1. Use Relegation To Move Owners In & Out of Your League

Are you running a really successful Fantasy league already? Do you have a waiting list of six or seven owners hoping to get in, waiting for a spot to open up? Make your league elite! Start a second league for the “waiting list” guys, and have the top two teams in that six- or eight-team league (the league champ and the league’s scoring champ) join the big league the next season. They would replace the two bottom teams from the main league.

This is called, “Relegation,” and it happens in European soccer leagues all the time. The best clubs move up and the worst clubs move down. Then the next year, it starts all over again, and the “minor” league will battle to get back into the majors!

Make the smaller league’s entry fees about one-quarter of what the fees are for the big league, helping keep that league stocked with potential.

Ideally, you’d have both of these Fantasy drafts happen at the same time, with all of the owners together at the same location. The big league would get the big table, and the smaller, minor league would have to do their draft at the “kiddie table.” Humiliation can be a great motivator! YAY!!!

  1. Every 4 Years – It’s the Fantasy Football World Cup!

This is for leagues that have been around for a decade or so, preferably keeper or dynasty leagues. Have teams pay an extra 25-percent of the league fees every season, while keeping the payouts at the same amount. Then every fourth year, have a Fantasy Football World Cup season, where the winner of that year gets TWICE the payout amount! So if you have a $100 league entry fee each season, that number goes up to $125, and the payout goes from $1,200 in that fourth year to $2,400! This is also great for owner retention.

  1. Commissioners Should Start Keeping Owner Records

Some league services, like CBSSports.com, has league histories, which includes stuff like the standings every year, the draft results, the owner records versus other owners, and assorted other records, like highest points scored in a season, etc. I wish it would also have records like average first-round draft position, best average finish, most Fantasy League MVPs on your team, most Busts, etc. These are great to refer to during the season – and especially just before the season to build excitement.

  1. Allow For Public Trade Counteroffers During a Veto Window

I used to work with numberFire’s Matt Musico at FanDuel, and I completely stole this idea from him – props! It’s definitely one of the best new Fantasy Football league ideas I’ve seen in a while.

One of the most annoying things that happens with Fantasy Football trades is that people always say, “What a horrible trade – I would’ve given you a much better deal for that player! You got robbed!” This idea solves that.

Basically, once a trade is agreed upon between two teams, the commissioner then opens up a 24-hour window where other teams can now try to beat the trade offer for either side. Once a counteroffer is accepted, THAT trade goes up for more counteroffers! You’ll never ever have a trade get vetoed again!

  1. Discounts & Penalties: Collect League Fees Faster Than Ever!

Collecting league fees is always a pain every season. Maybe make it so that the first six teams to pay their fees get a 10-percent discount and the last three teams have to pay a 20-percent penalty? That would make it a race for owners to pay you!

New Fantasy Football Scoring Rules

When people are considering new Fantasy Football league ideas, new scoring rules ranks among the most popular changes they’re willing to make.

  1. Award Fantasy Points For First Downs Gained

I stole borrowed this idea from DynastyLeagueFootball.com, where Dan Meylor mentioned it in his column. By adding single points for any first downs made by a running back, wide receiver or a tight end, you even out the scoring between RBs and WRs a little bit more. Use this rule instead of points per reception or else you’ll over-reward WRs again. This new Fantasy scoring rule also eliminates a running back or wide receiver getting a point for catching a screen pass and losing two yards. It does, however, award a running back that can plunge forward with some extra effort for that third-and-short conversion.

  1. Award a Bonus Touchdown For Fantasy Team With Best Backups

Doesn’t it suck if a backup player has a huge game and you’re unable to benefit from it? Make it so that whichever team in a Head-to-Head matchup has the set of reserves that scores more points gets six more points added to their Fantasy score. A bonus TD! NFL teams use their backup players, right? So why can’t you? This should also initiate some interesting lineup strategies as people forego sleepers at running back and wide receiver in favor of a backup quarterback or two.

  1. Award Half-Points to Backup Quarterbacks

The quarterbacks position is one of the most important in the NFL, as he’s often the leader on the field and in the clubhouse, and he makes the offense go. But in Fantasy Football, quarterbacks have been neutralized because you only start one, and the top 12 are generally all very good, with little separation.

By awarding half-points for every point a Fantasy backup quarterback scores, you make the position more important, and you keep from having to go to a full Two-QB league, which changes everything.

  1. Choose Team Captains For a Turbo Boost to Their Scoring

Let’s face it, Fantasy Football and video games go together pretty easily, so why not combine the two? Each Fantasy owner names a “team captain” and that player gets a 50-percent boost in their Fantasy points that week. The team captain can be changed throughout the season, as owners try to take advantage of some great matchups!  You can also make it so that a team can’t name a captain more than twice in a season.

For example, if Odell Beckham Jr. is your team captain, and he scores 32 points against the Eagles this week, you’ll get an additional 16 points added to your final Fantasy score! But you have to yell, “Turrrbo BOOST!”

New Fantasy Lineup & Waiver Ideas

Through the years, the major changes to Fantasy Football leagues come to the lineups (flex positions, WR3s, QB2, super-flex, etc.).

  1. Make Offensive Lines a Fantasy Position In Your League

Pretty much every NFL position can score you points in Fantasy Football, outside of offensive lines and punters. While we don’t have plans to change anything for the punters, we can make the offensive line position more interesting from a Fantasy perspective. Let owners draft “Team Offensive Lines,” sort of like how people draft “Team Defenses.” Then award five Fantasy points if that offensive line’s NFL team rushes for over 150 yards, passes for over 300 yards or doesn’t allow any sacks! This could be a great way to stack if you own Ezekiel Elliott and are smart enough to also draft the Cowboys offensive line! Or it’s a way to negate another team, but starting their star running back’s offensive line.

  1. No Free Agent Pickups Until the Week 3 Supplemental Draft!

When I first started in Fantasy Football, back in 1989, we drafted large teams, so we had plenty of backups, but we wouldn’t allow for waiver pickups in the traditional sense. We had in-season supplemental drafts at different points. By not allowing owners to make free-agent pickups after the draft, forcing them to wait until after the first two weeks of the season are over, then the worst teams in the league suddenly get a chance to add a superstar to their teams.

In the past 20 years, players like Kurt Warner (1999), Alfred Morris (2012), Justin Forsett (2014) and Dak Prescott (2016) all ended up being great waiver-wire pickups at the beginning of their seasons. Let those players build up for a couple weeks and have a Week 3 Supplemental Draft!

  1. Make Tight Ends More Important In a 2-TE Lineup

Tight ends, like quarterbacks, have plenty of talent, but just one lineup slot on Fantasy teams. Rather than having a tight end mix into your flex position (what a waste!), make each team start two tight ends, along with two running backs, three wide receivers and a flex position! Now, that second tier of tight ends really mean something, and sleeper tight ends can start being drafted. Rookie tight ends can finally see a starting Fantasy lineup!

  1. It Might Be Time to Give Kickers the Boot!

Hey, I’m an old school Fantasy player, so kickers hold a special place in my old decrepit heart (I once drafted Donald Igwebuike, for goodness’ sake!). But I played in the FLEX Leagues, run by Jake Ciely, and he has eliminated the kicker position from those leagues. At first, I protested. But then, as you play, and you realize just how nice it is not to have to maneuver your lineup around to accommodate kickers on byes or kickers coming off byes or an injured kicker, etc., the idea sounds pretty awesome.

  1. Speaking of Kicking, Let’s Punt Flex Positions, Too

One of the original goals of creating the flex position was to help make wide receivers more important, and trying to equalize the importance of running backs. So teams could choose to start a third (or fourth) wide receiver instead of a third running back. How about having four wide receivers and no flex, then you can add a third running back slot, too. To me, the flex is a copout, and this forces owners to make decisions.

  1. Name Emergency Quarterbacks to Eliminate Injury Issues

Injuries in Fantasy Football happen just like they happen in the NFL, but NFL teams deal with it in a much different way. When a quarterback gets injured in the first quarter, they don’t play the rest of that game without a quarterback, they bring in a backup quarterback! The NFL is smart like that! But a Fantasy Football owner loses his NFL QB in the first quarter and he’s screwed for the entire weekend.

Make teams draft two quarterbacks, with the second quarterback being their emergency quarterback. If QB1 gets removed from the game, the Fantasy owner can choose to have his Fantasy backup quarterback enter his lineup instead, even if it’s after the games have happened.

Another option, if you don’t want to have to draft two quarterbacks, is to just have the points scored by the NFL backup to an injured quarterback count for your team.

  1. Let Waivers Be a Twitter Free-For-All

Another fun Fantasy Football league idea is to have your waivers play out on Twitter! Players can be picked up and dropped at any time — even during a game! That would definitely make Sunday dinner at the in-laws (more) stressful!

The first one to pick up a player gets him — and whomever he drops is instantly available to other owners. This reminds me of a boiler room at some finance firm on Wall Street with people yelling “Buy! Buy!” and “Sell! Sell!” and “Who ate my sandwich!?!” (I honestly don’t  know what goes on in those boiler rooms, but I like to think there are a lot of sandwiches being pilfered out of the breakroom fridge.)

Twitter is underutilized by many Fantasy owners. There’s a lot to be learned on there, and I’ve set up a huge list of 66 Fantasy Twitter people to follow that will help you for free.

New Fantasy Football Draft Lottery Ideas

Now that you have the scoring and lineup settings ready, it’s time to look to changing up the draft lottery! My buddy George is Australian and he loves Fantasy Football. Did you know their Fantasy drafts go in a counter-clockwise order, and the 12th pick selects first and the first pick drafts last? OK, well, sometimes I lie.

  1. Make the Draft Lottery Another Big Event

People don’t take advantage of how exciting the draft and the draft lottery can be. Too often, we’re all so excited to get the draft going, that we zoom through the lottery and rush our way through the draft. Take a step back and enjoy it!

Rather than just doing a quick lottery and sending out the results, consider getting as many owners as you can together for the lottery a few weeks before the actual draft! Go to a restaurant or get together at someone’s home for beers, and do the drawing! Maybe video it or do a Google Hangout so everyone can watch it if they were unable to attend.

By doing the draft lottery ahead of time, you really increase the chances of owners working out some pre-draft trades! (Make sure you can trade draft picks in your league settings.)

Bring one of our customized Fantasy Football draft boards with you to put in the stickers across the top!

  1. Change Your Draft Lottery Every Season

The Fantasy draft lottery is always a fun event, and commissioners should think about changing how the draft order is chosen every year.

There are a ton of different ways you can do your draft lottery, from as simple as drawing names out of a hat to holding a Skee-Ball competition at the local Family Fun Center. Some other ideas:

  • Beer Pong: Write random numbers on the bottom of 12 red solo cups, fill them partially with beer, then have owners take turns shooting a ping-pong ball into them from across a table. When they make a shot, remove that cup, and they announce which pick they have!
  • Pick a Racehorse: Find a horse race that’s coming up and do a drawing for the horse names in the race.
  • NASCAR: Do a drawing with the different drivers’ names, and the person who drew the highest finishing driver picks first!
  • Play miniature golf!
  • Longest putt competition during a round of regular golf!
  • Have a Hooters waitress pull names out of a hat!
Fantasy Football League Ideas - Beer pong draft lottery

Playing beer pong to decide who gets to draft when seems like an AWESOME idea. Just make sure the sober people document the results.

  1. Draft Your Draft Picks!

Scott Engel loves to poke fun at me for this one. I started a four-sport experts league back in 2001, and Engel was in charge of the CBSSports.com team (SportsLine back then). Anyway, the point is that owners get to pick where they want to pick in the first round. Of course, a lottery has to be done for the order in which the teams would pick their picks!

For the 2017 NFL season, here’s how I see that draft of draft picks go down:

  1. Pick No. 1
  2. Pick No. 2
  3. Pick No. 3
  4. Pick No. 4
  5. Pick No. 5
  6. Pick No. 6
  7. Pick No. 7
  8. Pick No. 12
  9. Pick No. 8
  10. Pick No. 11
  11. Pick No. 9
  12. Pick No. 10
  1. Use NFFC’s Third-Round Reversal Order

This would be for non-keeper drafts. The NFFC figured out that those lucky owners with the first few picks of the drafts were finishing much higher than those with later first-round  picks. The reasoning was that while a late-pick owner got two of the top 15 players, as opposed to just one for the early pick owner, it was the fact that those early pick owners got three of the top 25-30 picks that made a much bigger difference.

The Third-Round Reversal rule makes it so that the third round is reversed what it normally is, and the second round order is essentially duplicated. For example, the owner with the 12th pick would now also have the 13th pick, and the 25th pick. The owner with the first overall pick would also have the 24th pick and the 36th pick, as well as the 37th pick to start off the fourth round.

  1. Award Sandwich Picks Last Year’s Bad Luck Owner

Is there anything worse than losing your first-round pick to a torn ACL in Week 4? I like the idea of awarding a team that had to deal with that type of loss by giving them a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of this coming year’s draft. You could also decide to do a lower sandwich pick, depending on the injury bust. For example, whoever took Keenan Allen in 2016, the biggest injury bust of the year, would get a sandwich pick between the second round and third round.

  1. Use an Auction/Draft Hybrid Setup

Have you ever done a Fantasy Football auction before? If not, you and your leaguemates are definitely missing out. With that said, you probably already have a good thing in your yearly draft setup! So consider mixing the two, and doing a combination auction/draft for your player entry system. Auction off the top 50 players in Fantasy scoring from last season, and then do a straight draft for all the remaining teams! Start with $50 per team for the auction, and players go off the board in $1 increments.

If you’re really interested in Fantasy Football auctions, here’s an extensive list I wrote about some helpful auction strategy tips.

New Fantasy Football Dynasty & Keeper League Ideas

You should be in several different leagues every year, including one dynasty league, one keeper league and one IDP league! Make your Fantasy Football life colorful!

  1. Keeper Leagues: Help Have-Nots and End Serpentine Order

Part of the trouble with keeper leagues is that once a team gets some studs, they’re tough to shake from the top. So one way you can help those teams that have had some bad keeper luck is to give them the higher draft picks, and stop the serpentine drafting. I am only in favor of this if there are five or more keepers, which makes it closer to a dynasty league than a keeper league.

By moving the have-nots up in the draft, they’ll have better chances at better keepers – in each round.

  1. Try a Limited Keeper League

Some people love the deep research that goes into dynasty leagues, but not everyone in the league wants to go that deep. Try what I like to call a “limited keeper league,” which means it’s a keeper league, but the only players that are keeper eligible are the ones drafted beyond a certain point of the draft, like after Round 9.

This keeps the first few rounds stocked with superstars, especially incoming rookie studs like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, since they’ll be picked well before the cutoff point (start of Round 10). But if someone does the right amount of research and locks down a good sleeper late, then they should be rewarded by getting to keep that player going forward (I like to set three-year limits on keepers, after the year they were drafted. So they can be owned for four years, essentially.)

Also, try to make the keeper round an even-numbered round, so you don’t reward whoever wins the first overall pick with the first keeper pick, too.

  1. Start a Devy League

What’s a Devy League, you ask? The name is short for a “Developmental” dynasty league. Think of it like Major League Baseball, where they have an entire minor-league organization that provides talent to them season after season. Owners draft college and high school football players for their Devy Leagues, along with regular NFL players. You can add devy players to your regular rookie draft, or set it up so they can be added throughout waivers in-season.

  1. Make College Players Eligible in Keeper Leagues

In a keeper league I ran dating back to 1989, we started allowing the two worst teams in the league (after Week 12) to pick up ONE college football player that they’d be able to hold over as one of their three keepers heading into the following season. This is different from a Devy League in that it’s just a keeper league, as opposed to a Devy dynasty league.

In the mid- to late-‘90s, we had several great college players end up on bad teams, helping improve them considerably the next year. Guys like Randy Moss, Eddie George, Ricky Williams, Peyton Manning and Tiki Barber were all college player keepers back then. (Someone also drafted Curtis Enis, HA!) What’s really fun about it is people can’t change their pick, so they have to a) guess about their draft value, and b) hope their players end up with good opportunities on NFL teams. There was also the risk of picking a player that didn’t decide to enter the NFL Draft, only to go back to school for the next season.

Guys like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette likely would have been college keeper picks, as well as people like Amari Cooper and maybe Christian McCaffrey.

Also, you should consider setting up rules that teams can only have one college player on their team at a time, and if you pick a college player one year, you can’t pick a college player the next year.

New Fantasy Football Playoffs Ideas

The first 13 weeks of the NFL season is kind of like one season, and the Fantasy Football Playoffs are a one-and-done second season. Here are some ideas on how to make the Fantasy postseason even better.

  1. Award Home Field Advantage For the Playoffs

I never understood why more leagues don’t award three-to-six points for home-field advantage to the higher seeds in the Fantasy Football playoffs. What’s the use of getting a higher seed, other than the bye week? This way, the fight for playoff seeds means even more. Of course, for the Super Bowl, there’s no home field advantage, as it’s played on a neutral playing field.

  1. The Last Playoff Spot Goes to Highest Scoring Non-Playoff Team

Rather than do playoff seeding by record only, consider giving that final playoff spot, whether it’s sixth in a 12-team league, to the team remaining with the highest points scored. Once again, we’re trying to eliminate luck from the hobby, so a team that has a horrible Fantasy schedule (with the most points against) and the second-most points in the league, to go with a 6-7 record, gets rewarded with a playoffs spot.

  1. Do a Consolation Bracket For the Non-Playoff Teams

Once teams are eliminated from the Fantasy Playoffs, they often completely lose interest and pack it in. Commissioners have to harass them to set lineups sometimes in the final weeks. So if you have a “Non-Playoff Team Playoffs,” with the winner getting half their league fee back, then they’ll have something to play for!

  1. The Biggest Loser Buys Drinks For Next Year’s Draft!

I like the Toilet Bowl setup, personally, pitting the two worst teams of the regular season against each other, with the loser of that game being the Toilet Bowl Chump. That’s the worst spot ever! Whoever becomes Toilet Bowl Chump has to buy shots at the bar during next year’s draft, or they have to bring the beer if the draft is at someone’s house.

I like the ideas of handing out penalties, like many of the people did in Matthew Berry’s “Fantasy Life” book. One league forces their league loser to get a horrible tattoo! That might be a little much, after all. That’s like penalizing the guy’s wife and kids.

If you have some great Fantasy Football league ideas, we’re dying to hear them! Drop a comment below and let everyone know – especially me!

David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 45 Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online You can contact David Gonos here.

By | 2017-06-17T10:37:53+00:00 June 12th, 2017|Fantasy Football|

48 Comments

  1. Fantasy football beasthouse August 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Great article David. Awesome ideas and i love the idea of making the draft order a bigger deal. Keep up the good work. Jakaz22 – fantasy football beasthouse

    • Gonos August 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Thank you, sir! Very kind! I love leagues that twist things up just a bit to make it something special.

      • PoopDolla July 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

        We came up with an idea this year to hopefully distribute a few bucks back to (maybe) most of the owners so everyone gets at least a little something. In a $100 12 team league, we will have weekly position winners. Before the draft/season we will randomly pick out of a hat say…1st week = RBs. 2nd week DEF. 3rd week Tight Ends, etc. The guy with the highest RB in week 1 gets the weekly $10 prize. Best DEF in week 2 gets the weekly $10, etc.

        • Gonos July 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

          I like that! I like the randomness of it, too. Cool idea.

    • Todd September 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Check out http://www.betterfantasydraft.com for a new way to determine draft order – it helps pair owners with picks they actually want so every’s (more) happy!

  2. Shannon Fain August 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Good ideas… one that I came up with for my league is a “lottery”. In our league 3rd place gets their money back. Out of what is left after that, 2nd place gets 20% and 1st place gets 80%. With the lottery we had everyone pay an additional amount on top of their entrance fee that is equal to the entrance fee divided by the number of people in the league. So if it is $100 to get in, and there are ten owners, then everyone would pay $100 + ($100/10) = $110, with the end result being we had an extra $100 in the pot. This went to the lottery winner. The 4th place team has the best chance to win it, the 5th place the second best, and so on… so basically it made it where even if you were out of the money (top 3), you still had something to play for as you have a better chance of winning the lottery in 6th place than you do in 9th.

    • Gonos August 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      To quote the great Prince Charles, “BRILLIANT!”

      Great idea! Doesn’t screw over the league winners by chopping their winnings down, and definitely makes it a little more exciting for the have-nots at the end of the season.

  3. Simo November 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    We have every guy throw in and extra $20. Then the high score from each week gets 1/13th of the pool for that week. We also have the top two teams get a bye the first round. They play the winner of a super set of teams. Two three team games. This way we can get 8 teams in the playoffs and still get the top two teams a bye. It’s madness.

    • Gonos November 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      That’s pretty crazy, but I like that you guys came up with it. I bet it took on a few different versions before you got to the one everyone liked.

  4. Grumpy Guy January 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    There is some really bad ideas here. Waivers on twitter as games are on on Sunday? Reserves vs Reserves for bonus points? Ugh.

    • Gonos January 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      You make some excellent points.

  5. Brad Russell January 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Great article. Happy to stumble upon it. I have been the commissioner of the FFL (Fantasy Footballers League) ran out of Indiana for 8 years. Our last few years we have “stepped it up a notch” if you will. A few things I’d like to add that we incorporate are –
    Make Draft Day the best day of the year. It is a huge social gather of the fraternity of your friends and rivals. We did first round videos in ESPN draft format style, where I just edited pictures to look like they are drafted then put together highlight videos on a video editing software. Burn to a DVD and in all, you are out just a few hours, but at the draft everyone will be unbelievably satisfied. If you want some screenshots, a video sample or anything else let me know.

    • Gonos January 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      That’s pretty impressive! I would absolutely love to see that video! Or at least some samples of it. Did you put it up on YouTube? (Thanks for reading and the comment!)

      • Brad July 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm - Reply

        David –
        Sorry it has taken me awhile to get back on this. We are still working out the kinks of the new system we will be using to show our draft videos, but the Sample (Just the video, not the full package) is here:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie_K4EFiDAw

        We established the videos into a Powerpoint show that is triggered by my iPhone, corresponding to the pair selected. I created 24 different player videos to ensure the first round guys are shown. Once we have complied the finished product, I will post. Additionally, we are filming the first round of our draft this season and I will post when possible!

        Keep up the great work here at davidgonos.com!

  6. John Phillips January 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Great article big fan of the super duper bowl have to try it in the next four years! Thanks.

    • Gonos January 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Glad you liked it! Yeah, the Super Duper Bowl is one of those things to do in a league full of people that have all been in the same league for five or six years. It helps make people come back each year, and helps add another layer of strategy. Thanks for commenting, John!

  7. Scott January 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Would love to see the draft video Brad! Were awarding our winner his check in Vegas, super bowl weekend. Good times!

    • Gonos January 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Nice! That sounds like a perfect way to celebrate the end of another Fantasy Football season!

  8. PurpleNGold84 April 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed your column Gonos! My league actually has a meeting tonight and I am excited to bring some of your ideas up! Another idea I have come across is having prize money go to the teams who accomplish certain things during the year. IE: scores the most points in one week or wins by the largest margin during a match up.

    • Gonos April 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Yeah, all the money going to whoever gets lucky in the playoffs kinda stinks. In one league I’m in ($100 fee), we do $5 to the top scoring team in any given week. Ends up being $80 off the top, but takes a little of the sting out of an injured first-rounder in Week 10. Good luck, dude.

  9. Marty Mcfly May 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Some great ideas, thanks! One idea my league uses is instead of a lottery for draft position, we randomly pick a horse for each fantasy owner in the Kentucky Derby. Wherever your horse finishes is where you select in the draft. I also incorporated something similar in my other league but using individual golfers (3 for each owner) in the Masters instead. Makes that weekend fun rooting for and against random golfers.

    • Gonos June 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      GREAT ideas! Haha, I love the Derby one, that sounds a lot of fun. I wonder if it would be a good strategy to pick the longest shot, hoping to end up with the 12th pick. haha

  10. Craig June 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Great ideas here. This year we are having each owner complete a wonderlic test, 40 yard dash, and however many pushups you can do in 60 seconds. (wonderlic score + number of pushups) ÷ 40 yard dash time = draft score. Highest draft score drafts first. I’ve also heard of punt, pass, kick competitions to determine draft order.

    • Chad December 3, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      I know I’m late to the party, but I thought I’d add how we chose draft order this year. We were randomly given drivers in the Nascar race for the chase (works great since there are 12 of them). However they finish in that week’s race is how we order the draft. If your driver wrecks, you go to last place. It was fun watching together even though we aren’t Nascar fans

  11. TrophyMonk January 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    How about this idea:

    ESPN and Yahoo should pool up some cash and give out weekly trophies and awards. They can take entry fees, and ad revenue, combine it and give a little bit back to the customers. Everyone wins.

  12. Marcos March 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Great article! As commissioner of my league for 7 years now, I’m always looking for ways to improve the league. A few years ago, we started doing something that makes naming teams more interesting.

    Each season, I choose a theme. One year, it was super heroes, the next year it was wrestling, etc. Each manager then had to name their team according to the theme and relate it to football. For example, during the superhero year, one team’s name was Bat-Manning and another was Optimus Prime Time. Best team name got to pick their draft spot.

    Also, you could choose draft order by how the NFL teams finish the previous post season (I’m given Denver, for example, so I draft 2nd next season since they lost in the Super Bowl).

    Cool ideas from this article! I’ll definitely be doing the adding points to higher seeds in the fantasy playoffs… Possibly beer pong too

  13. Phil June 3, 2014 at 8:19 am - Reply

    I love the draft lottery ideas. The possibilities are endless!

  14. Tony Perugini July 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Great stuff Dave! 🙂

  15. Joseph Buccellato July 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    “11. DOUBLE-HEADERS: Most commissioner services allow you to schedule double-headers in your Fantasy Football league…

    We do this and it’s awesome. 16-team league, 4 divisions. So you play everyone in your division twice, and everyone else once. That’s 18 games for 17 NFL weeks (we do both 17 week regular season schedule and 14 week + fantasy playoff schedule).

    We make it week 14 so teams have a chance to squeak into the playoffs.

    http://www6.myfantasyleague.com/2014/home/44818
    http://www6.myfantasyleague.com/2014/home/34230

  16. Ed Aiello July 28, 2014 at 11:53 am - Reply

    David, awesome read. Great ideas. A commish really needs to sit down and seek ways to improve the league from rules, waivers, draft, scoring, etc.. Year in and year out. A commish that can take the steps to improve the league will have a long lasting league. Don’t get crazy with the changes and don’t do them all at once, face it guys like slow change. haha.

    Also David have the fantasy leagues check out http://www.statchat.com this site ranks entire leagues with a national ranking and provides league wide prizes!

  17. Jefe August 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    One thing we do in our 12-person league is as follows, which keeps the bottom half interested. The top 6 play for $$ and bragging rights. Teams 1,2 get a first round playoff bye. Top 3 teams get paid 1st place- 65% of total, 2nd place- 25%, and 3rd place- 10%- a little more than money back).

    For the bottom half (7-12), #7,8 get a first round bye, and the bracket plays out, with the winner of the loser’s bracket getting 1st pick overall, second place in bracket gets 2nd pick, etc. Keeps people interested in fighting every week, while also avoiding the “fire sales” for draft pick trades at the end of the season.

  18. Ryan August 20, 2014 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Some great ideas here! I run a 12 team keeper league and one thing we do is all the teams that don’t make the playoffs, play each other in the “draft pick bowl”, for draft position next season. 6 teams submit a lineup, top 4 scores move on. Top score plays fourth score and 2nd vs. 3rd. Winners play in the draft pick bowl in Week 16. The winner gets the #1 pick next year and the remaining 5 teams pick after based on their scores. I also like the idea of blind bidding for waivers. Right now it’s the standard worst to first system, but I’ve been considering changing that.

  19. Drinkpbr August 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    For our draft lottery last year I had a 10 man league and everybody showed up at my house for the draft. Once they showed up everybody had to drink 2 PBRs in bottles and keep the bottle caps because they have a playing card on the cap. They thought best hand won first draft pick, all they won was the chance for first throw for beer pong, which each cup was randomly marked with the order.

    My draft is tomorrow night and this year we all get a brand new tennis ball and mark it with our name. Then everybody will put the ball in a bucket, My son is going to dump it out in the corner of my backyard and what ever order my dog brings the balls back is the order we draft.

  20. Patrick December 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    One other caveat I added to my keeper league this year was making draft picks for next season tradeable. This way teams that were out it could purge some of their better players and rebuild for next season. It made deadline day in my league insane!

  21. Steve April 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    In my league we have owners pay a certain amount extra in their entry fee and that goes towards a weekly payout to the team that puts up the most points. It’s keeps people invested week in and week out even if their team is out of playoff contention.

  22. Mike July 10, 2015 at 11:39 am - Reply

    I like the beer pong idea! Each year in our league, a league of old high school buddies, we do something different for draft order. Last year we did the Wonderlic test, this year we filled out NCAA tournament brackets, stuff like that. The only thing we do differently than most is something we have done to make picking first in a snake draft slightly more valuable, so it makes you feel like you win something of value if you win the pre-draft competition without letting a team get stacked. of course we do our draft offline so that is a must, but essentially the snake draft starts after round 2. So rounds 1-2 you draft in the same position, so say you have the #1 pick, you get the first pick in the first and second round but then the last one in the 3rd round, first in 4th and so on like a normal draft after that. Just makes that first spot a hair more desirable!

    • Gonos July 10, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Love the Wonderlic test idea! That’s awesome.

      However, the same pick in Rd 1 and 2 is pretty tough, man. Seems like whoever wins top pick is going to dominate. As a matter of fact, the guys at the NFFC do a “Third-Round Reversal” —
      “…meaning that the draft order will go back down to 12 to start Round 3 and then continue in serpentine fashion after that. The NFFC is using 3RR in 2015 to balance the talent pool throughout these 12-team leagues. Here’s how the draft order will go:
      Round 1: 1-12
      Round 2: 12-1
      Round 3: 12-1
      Round 4: 1-12”

  23. Sumz July 15, 2015 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Hey guys, I run a $100 league and we have incorporated a Survivor game with a $100 prize. Starting in Week 1, low scorer is eliminated, all the way to Week 11 when we have two owners left. You’d think one the top two teams would always win but we’ve done it for seven years now and we’ve had the eventual 5, 4, and two 6 seeds win the Survivor game.

    • Gonos July 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      I like that, man. Cool idea. I used to run a similar setup but for Daily Fantasy Football each week.

      Here’s a suggestion to make things crazier — award the top team of the week “Immunity” for the following week! Then the second-worst team gets the boot. Makes scoreboard watching a lot of fun on Sunday and Monday!

  24. SackoSource (@SackoSource) August 12, 2015 at 11:26 am - Reply

    One of our favorite ideas is to have a revolving Last Place (Sacko) trophy for lowest total points or msot consecutive losses or whatever you choose The idea is that you choose an iconic image of that person’s horrible week, print it out, frame it and make that person hold onto it until someone else earns it. The best image is the Mark Sanchez Butt Fumble, makes for the perfect last place trophy!

    • Gonos August 12, 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

      That’s great! I love me some other-guy humiliation!

  25. will December 9, 2015 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    We’ve had can coolers, hats and paintings (of players) as the draft pick momento. Next season is clocks. we limit it to $10 per item, it’s a great little thing for the gents to remember the draft day. Great keepsakes.

    Also have a rivalry round as the last round of the season.

    Have 10 trophies (5 being added next season) including the winning trophy, minor premier, a seperate knock out comp, highest points per round, highest points that lost a game, highest bench score etc. we have lots of fun and make it about getting together and having beers and fun.

  26. Don June 30, 2016 at 10:54 am - Reply

    i am 3 players short for my 30 team league which consists of 3-10 team drafts thru rtsports.com my concern is that i am having a problem locating 3 more players for my ffl and looking to find people to fill this void. i think there should be a pool of people that are having trouble getting into a league and there should be a pool of people to choose from. the 3 teams i am looking for would be all online drafters and i am located out of cleveland ohio. it is a ppr league and is $125 for the year with no transaction fees. it is a ppr league with multiple chances to at least win ur money back. so, again, i am looking for 3 people who might be interested in joinng this league and yes, it is 100% legit! my name is don and u can reach me at mustangsallie87@cox.net i will answer any questions u may have regarding my league and will be more than happy to fill u in on everything about our league. if u r interested, please contact me anytime. ty don

  27. […] inspire you to try a change or two in your league, in hopes of improving it! Some of these Fantasy Football league ideas I came up with in previous years, but I just keep building on […]

  28. […] 13 Excellent Fantasy Football League Ideas […]

  29. Roto-Wan June 13, 2017 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Here’s something we do called the All 10s Pool. Each player you start has to score at least 10 points to win. I explained it here: http://wp.me/p8PYDV-4.

  30. this-list-sucks June 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    90% of these are god awful

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