How to Be a Fantasy Football Commissioner

How to Be a Fantasy Football Commissioner

So you’re about to become a fantasy football commissioner for the first time, but you have no clue what goes into that ordeal. Welcome to the whirlwind, my friend. Actually, most fantasy football leagues are going to run fairly smoothly, though most leagues have one or two problem players. These fits into a number of different categories, which I’ll discuss later. For now, I want to give a series of tips and suggestions for brand new fantasy football league commissioners.

These tips are designed to help you nail down the basics of being a fantasy football commissioner, so you don’t make any major gaffs in your first year at the helm. Purchase a fantasy football league management website from ESPN, CBS Sportsline, (my suggestion) My Fantasy League, or another other of a host of sites. This makes your job a lot easier, since it helps you set up league rosters, waiver wire transactions, scoring rules, standings, playoff brackets, league announcements, and a league schedule. (You might also want to read How to Start a Fantasy Football League.)

Those are the basics, though. There are a whole lot of other things a league commissioner needs to do to assure the owners in the league have a good time and have a structure in place. Once you’re prepared, you’ll be more “in control” of the situation. I was a baseball umpire for years and, just like being a game official, the first rule to being a league commissioner is projecting the appearance of control and self-assurance.

Have a Rulebook

You want your league members to know what’s expected of them and how the league is going to run, so take the time to write out a short rulebook. This should take into account how the fantasy draft works, what the scoring system is going to be, what the roster limits and starting lineups provisions are, how trades and trade proposals work, who reviews trades, how the playoff teams are determined, how the brackets for the playoffs are determined, and what the payouts are (if it’s a money league).

The fact is, you don’t want there to be any rule that’s overlooked before the season is started. You want people to be able to plan a draft strategy based on the scoring rules, roster limits, and starting lineup positions. You want people to be able to trust that trades and waiver wire transactions are going to be fair and even-handed. You want league owners to feel like you run a fair game.

In my mind, the worst thing a commissioner can do is to make up new rules, once the season has started. Once you know what the rosters look like and who is more or less likely to benefit from those rules changes, every decision is biased. So make decisions before you know who it’s going to favor and who it’s going to hurt. That’s the only fair way to run a league.

Here’s a quick checklist to look at when you’re trying to come up with a league rulebook.

Rulebook Checklist

Set Your Draft Date Early

Next, set your fantasy draft as early as possible, so your league’s owners can set aside time and make arrangements long in advance. The earlier you know this, the less likely you have last-minute cancellations. This can be a problem anyway, so don’t let the problem happen because of something you did or did not do. (See also How to Draft in Fantasy Football.)

Collect Money Before Drafting

Either before draft day or before the first player is selected on draft day, collect entry fees and league website fees from everybody. You don’t want a person to make one pick before they’re paid up. As soon as an owner has started drafting, they assume they’re in the league, whether they paid or not.

For one, once the draft starts, you’re likely to have other things on your mind. Even once the draft is over, you’re likely wanting to assess your team, assess other teams’ drafts, cuss and discuss with all the other owners in the league, go have a meal, clean up the draft site – anything but take up a league fees. You’re going to forget at least one person’s fee. Once they’re out the door, your chances of ever seeing that money goes down precipitously.

Recruit Friends

Find people you know and trust, before you start recruiting strangers. When I say friends, I mean friends you know, not friends-of-friends. Even if your buddy that you’ve played fantasy football with for 10 years and you know is “good people” vouches for a person, it’s still second-hand information. You’ve seen this guy make a few bonehead draft picks over the years, so why do you think he’s any better judge of character? Character is a lot harder to evaluate, anyway, since there are magazines and websites with stats on this guy’s past.

So find people you know and whom you reasonably assume have good sense and good character. You’ll also enjoy the game more, if you’re competing against people you personally know. Sure, you’ll meet some friends through fantasy football, but in my experience, you have to go through at least 4 or 5 bad owners, before you find one worth keeping. Save yourself the trouble and fill out league membership with as many can’t miss owners as possible.

Recruit Veteran Players

Next, recruit people who know how to play fantasy football and you know enjoy it. Talk to them for a little bit about fantasy football and see whether they know what they’re talking about. See whether they knows football the NFL or know fantasy football, because the two things are not the same. If he tells you something inane during the conversation, like “I think Ladainian Tomlinson is going to have a bounceback year” or “Brett Favre is still the best QB”, you might start recruiting another owner. While you want to win, you want to win against informed owners. And if he turns out to be right about the two, it’s going to drive you crazy that someone like that is beating you.

Have Alternates in Mind

One final tip for filling out the league’s ownership: have alternatives in mind. Almost without fail, if you are starting a new league, you’ll have one cancellation out of the newly-recruited people. Pick any ten people and talk about getting together one weekend two months from now, and the odds are, something’s likely to come up. There might be a family emergency, a vacation they forgot about, conflicting schedules the day off (church, family reunion, trip to the lake), or even another fantasy football draft. That’s especially true with someone who is plays in a lot of leagues, where weekends in late August and early September get busy with fantasy football.

Fantasy Football Draft Planning

This brings to mind one other thing, that you need to plan your draft around any other drafts owners in your league are having. Joining multiple leagues is increasingly frequent, as it’s easier to submit lineups and track results online, here in the Internet Age. So make sure you have a time nailed down that’s all yours.

Administer the Rules Fairly

Once the season starts, there is a whole list of considerations. The most important reminder for a commissioner is to always administer the rules fairly. Don’t make decisions that favor your chances. Don’t play favorites when you have a friend in a controversy with another owner. Never change the rules, once the season has started. Any decision you make at that point becomes self-interested – either to help one team, hinder another, or to avoid the appearances of bias. (See also: How to Cheat in Fantasy Football.)

Appear to Administer the Rules Fairly

Sometimes, perception is reality. Even if you know that you’re making the right decision and the fair decision, if most of the league thinks you are basing your decisions on something besides what’s fair, then it’s almost as bad as actually cheating. I say “almost”, because at least you don’t have a guilty conscience. But you’re not going to be able to convey that to a group of owners who are suspicious of your actions, because it’s virtually impossible to prove a negative.

That’s why I started my list of fantasy football commissioner tips by stating you should have a comprehensive rulebook. When you have a rulebook, all you have to do is refer to the specific rule from the rulebook that you’re applying, and that settles the issue. You avoid a conflict of interests, because everybody knows the rules were set down before the season began, and anyone (including yourself) knew whom the rules would favor.

You want a league that is ruled by laws, not by men. That’s what a rulebook does for you.

Get the Trade Rules Right

Trades are the quickest way for fantasy leagues to fall apart. Everyone is going to have their opinion on what is a good trade and what isn’t a bad trade. Some owners don’t mind “bad trades” in the league, as long as they are fair trades (that is, both owners are making the trade to improve their team). Other owners want to legislate bad trades out of the league, even if both owners think they’re making improvements. It can be infuriating to have an owner who’s so incompetent that they don’t know they’re cutting their own throat, but it can also be infuriating to be told you can’t make a trade, because you don’t know what you’re doing. Different league write their trade rules differently, for this reason.

What you have to realize is that many owners are going to look at every trade through their own lens. Whether they do this consciously or not, they ask themselves “How does this affect my team?” or, better put, “How does this affect my changes of winning the title?” So owners might object to a trade they would think was fine if they were involved, or if two losing teams were involved in. But if a rival contender gets a major talent upgrade, they might fly off the handle. In these cases, you have to be consistent and use well-established rules to review the trade. That means you need to have criteria in place, and use this always.

Trade Rule Options

Below are a number of trade rule options and my thoughts on each. You might find my opinions on this subject invalid, but I’ll give you the fruits of my years in the game. Take one of these, or find a system which works for your league, and go with it. What’s important is to have a system in place and to use that system without fail. Here’s are the options.

  • Anything Goes
  • Automatic Review
  • Request for Review
  • Commissioner Rules
  • Democratic Vote
  • Veto System
  • Oligarchy

Anything Goes – Fantasy Trade Rules

Some leagues allow any trade to automatically go through. I’ve played in a league for 5 or 6 years where this is the case. Strangely, this actually works, despite this being a league full of loudmouths.

Actually, that might be why it works. If someone makes a bad trade, they’re going to hear about it, year after year after year. The fact that a guy gets an earful from a whole room full of trash talkers seems to cut down on collusion. Bad trades still happen, but those become part of league lore.

This system works only if you have a bunch of good guys in the league. It also works only if you have a bunch of veteran fantasy players. It probably helps that everyone is friends. Essentially, peer pressure keep everyone in check.

I’ll mention one other note on this system: a lot of trades happen in this league. Any rules that require trade reviews slows down the process somewhat, and often discourages owners from trading. This might be a minor dampening of the trades in a league, but every bit hurts. Despite this glowing review, I suggest this type of system isn’t going to work in most leagues.

But if not, what are the other options? We’ll get to those in a moment, after we discuss trade reviews.

Fantasy Football Trade Reviews

The second rule you need to decide is whether there is an automatic review process of every trade, or whether someone in the league (or multiple someones) have to ask for a review. In the automatic case, any trade is reviewed immediately. This review might involved the commission alone, a league vote, a veto system, or some form of oligarcy or trade committee. Let’s review each of those.

Commissioner Reviews Trades

The most straightforward system is to have the commissioner review trades, where they have to click on whether to accept or veto a trade. This system sounds like it would work real well, as long as the commissioner is unbiased. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.

First of all, a lot of leagues don’t have a competent commissioner. To be a commissioner who is qualified to review trades, he has to be fair and unbiased when making the review, he has to have the confidence of the vast majority of league owners, he has to be timely in his reviews, and he has to be willing to make the unpopular decision.

I’ve seen a lot of commissioners disqualified on this last count. It doesn’t matter if your commissioner means wells and makes reviews in a timely manner, if he abdicates his authority in order to avoid a controversy. If you decline a trade, it’s bound to make someone unhappy. That invites controversy, and many commissioners have resigned after a season plagued by trade controversies, usually started with one controversial veto or acceptance. Having a commissioner (who is almost certainly a league owner with self-interest involved) as your sole trade reviewer invites controversy.

So if the commissioner rule sounds too dictatorial or controversial, then it’s natural to assume democratic approach should work. This is American, the land of democracy, so surely we can rule ourselves. In a fantasy football league, this method invites disaster.

Democratic Vote on League Trades

This sounds so simple: have every owner vote on it. In my experience, this is about the worst system you can use, though. League votes tend to mean either no trades go through, or all trades go through. In the case that some go through and others don’t, it’s usually because one group of self-interested owners control the vote, and therefore vote through their trades, while blocking all other trades.

Just imagine if you had a fantasy football league where some years the Democrats had 7 owners and the Republicans had 5 owners in the league, and then the next year the Republicans had 7 owners in the league and the Democrats had 5 owners in the league. When the Democrats controlled the majority, it’s highly likely that only trades involving Democrats would be accepted, while Republican trades would get voted down. And in season when the Republicans controlled the majority, then GOP fantasy trades would be accepted, while Democratic fantasy trades would be vetoed.

This hardly seems fair in either case. In fact, it’s not. That’s how a fantasy football democracy works. Assuming all 12 members participate in every vote, it’s far too likely that self-interest trumps fairness. That trade could hurt my chances, so I vote it down. It’s probably more complicated with that, since you might have some owners who vote “yes” on every trade, believing that all trades should pass, while you have some owners who vote “no” on every trade besides their own, just to be a jerk.

Apathy in Fantasy Football Trade Reviews

Of course, this is assuming all members of the league participate. In my experience, you can only depend on about 2/3rds of league members to participate. This can cause for some strange votes to occur. Let me give an example.

I was in a 12-team league a couple of years ago. Two teams made a horribly one-sided trade and this trade went to league vote. The vote would last 48 hours. Eventually, 8 league owners voted: 2 “For” and 6 “Against”.

Obviously, the two teams involved in the trade voted for the trade to go through. All six league members who bothered to vote objected, which is a pretty rare occurance, so you know the trade was bad. 4 owners abstained or, better yet, probably didn’t even pay attention or know the vote was happening. Since 75% of the league’s voters were against the trade, you would probably assume it got voted down.

Not so. The league rules stated that a majority of owners had to vote against a trade to have it rejected. Since 7 league owners didn’t vote against the trade, it automatically went through after 48 hours.

This led to a huge controversy, and eventually the league commissioner (who was the team getting out great in the trade) ruled that all other trades would be decided by a majority vote. He also instituted a policy that you couldn’t submit a lineup, unless you had voted in league polls. The next week, the commissioner’s main rival made a trade that was vetoed, even though he got more votes (4 “for”/6 “against”) than the other trade. Of course, the commissioner didn’t revoke his first trade.

That example explains why democracy doesn’t always work in fantasy football. It also shows why you should consider rules before the season, so those little loopholes don’t exist. It’s also a good indication why you shouldn’t change rules in the middle of the season, since the new rules meant that the commissioner got to make lousy trade, but no one else could, since the same rules applied to them. It also shows that, no matter how much you try to legislate participation, some people are going to be apathetic.

Veto System – Optional Fantasy Football Trade Rules

Another way is to put the onus on the teams trading. Have a system in place where 2 or 3 vetoes is all it takes to vote down a trade. Another is to have a league vote, but not allow the two trading teams vote. In either case, this restricts trades and makes it less likely that trades are going to happen. I tend to discourage such trade rules, since these rules discourage trading in fantasy football. Generally, most leagues should encourage such things.

Fantasy Football Oligarchy

My main league has a “Trade Commission”, made up of three trusted league members, who discuss amongst themselves and decide whether to accept or veto a trade. Each one has the power to veto the trade, so any one of the three can reject trades. This shields any one from being singled out, like a commissioner would, since they render the verdict as one group, not three individuals.

This has worked for many years, despite some grousing from other long-time members who resent the fact that they never get to serve on the trade committee, because they didn’t join the league early enough. (I’m not a member of the Commission, though I’m friends with all the three committee members and trust them.) Two of them are the rotating commissioners, and the third is a former youth minister who displayed common sense in a fantasy football crisis during his first week in the league, many years ago, so they go the positions.

The one stipulation that makes the Trade Commission work is how we handle trades involving these league members. When one or two of the commissioners are involved in the trade, they recuse themselves from the review process. Instead, a member from that commissioner’s division is chosen to review the trade. So everyone has oversight in the league.

For the most part, the commission idea has worked. I’ve not always agreed with their decisions, but I always trusted they were trying to do what they thought was best. Most of the time, they allow trades to happen. When the trade is truly egregious, they get voted down. In the end, that’s pretty much how I think trades should be in fantasy football.

More Fantasy Football Oligarchies

A variation on this concept is another league I played in for a number of years. That league also had a trade committee which reviewed all trades. At the draft, three names would be drawn randomly and these would be the committee members all year. In this case, decisions were rendered after a vote: 2 out of 3 votes won.

League Commissioner Recuses Self

Another option for a commissioner who thinks it would be easiest to review trades himself, but who wants to be seen as submitting himself to the same rigors as the other league members, is to recuse himself from reviewing trades involving his own team. Either have an assistant commissioner, or choose a rival league owner, to review your trades. This only works if you choose someone who isn’t seen as your puppet or partner in crime.

Trades are the most important part of your role as commissioner. If you get this right, the league owners are prone to forgive a whole lot of other faults you have. But if you make a one-sided trade that helps you team, you lose all respect and your league looks second-rate.

Pay on Time – League Commissioner Tip

Finally, once the playoffs are over, pay the prize money immediately and on time. Remember that most leagues come to an end in December, usually right before Christmas. Some people may be depending on that fantasy football prize money to be getting that extra nice gift for their wife or kids. So set the money aside, don’t spend it under any circumstances, and pay out the day the championship ends.

We had a league commissioner who spent the money (probably on gambling) and had to pay it out in installments for the next year. Obviously, he was never allowed to be commissioner again (and rightly so), though he’s still in the league all these years hence. In his defense, he did pay back the money.

Fantasy Football – A Game of Characters

Fantasy football is full of “characters”. Part of the fun is winning. Part of the fun is beating your friends. But a big part of the fun is all the crazy stories and anecdotes you build up over the years of playing fantasy football with the same people. Our oldest leagues, we have the same running jokes and in-jokes year after year.

Of course, you’re not going to remember all of the characters fondly. Some owners need to be drummed out of the league, so the rest of you can have a good time. There are always troublemakers in this world, and troublemakers are a fantasy football league commissioner’s bane.

To help spot who some of these people are, I’ve compiled a list of “character types” you are likely to encounter as a league commissioner. Some of these are good and some are bad, though most are in the negative category. I’ve named them, listed some of their traits to help in spotting them, and given suggestions in what to do with each types.

Fantasy Football Owner Archetypes

These are the fantasy football archetypes I’ve seen in my years as a fantasy owner and fantasy football commissioner. There are probably other archetypes I’ve forgotten, but this should cover most of the people you have in your league. After each description, I’ll give my suggestions for how to handle this archetype.

Keep in mind that, if asked, most fantasy owners would describe themselves as a “model citizen”. Just because they seem themselves that way, doesn’t mean it’s true. Discern by their actions, not their words.

  • Model Citizen
  • Problem Owner
  • Owner Lite
  • The Heavy
  • Deadbeat Owner
  • Football-Challenged Owner
  • The Whiner
  • Rules Lawyer
  • Henchman
  • Fantasy Mastermind

Fantasy Football Model Citizen

This is the fantasy football owner who participates and doesn’t give a lot of trouble. This owner sets their lineup on time and never starts a bye week player. He participates on the message board. Occasionally, he sends a trade proposal, and answers trade proposals made from other league owners when they’re made to him. When he does make a trade, you’re pretty certain it’s on the up-and-up.

When there are issues in the league, he tends to come down on the side of common sense. He wishes for the rules to be applied as written, so the game is ruled by laws and not by men. While he may talk trash and even get a little edgy on the message board, he’s got “fantasy football manners”. He’s fun to play with, because while he wants to win, he also has a good sense of humor about our hobby.

Model Citizen FF Advice: Ask if he or she has a twin. Recruit as many of these into your league as possible. You obviously want to have as many of these owners in your league as possible.

Fantasy Football Problem Child

This is pretty much a twisted reflection of the model citizen, though their description is harder to nail down. The fact is, fantasy football deviant behavior is hard to categorize, because (by their very nature) their actions are too illogical and erratic to predict. That being said, I’ll describe common behaviors of the problem child.

The ff problem child participates, much like the model citizen. But his version of participation tends to have a negative affect on the league. This means he tends to bring dissent and controversy, while the model citizen plays by the rules and tries to enjoy fantasy football alongside the other owners. The fantasy football problem child might be fun to have around in a league with a corrupt commissioner, but then, those leagues are doomed to failure and controversy, anyway. In a league with a good commissioner, these guys are poison.

The problem child is the pinnacle of what it means to be a bad fantasy owner: whiner, rulers lawyer, heavy, even two-bit mastermind. He’s sort of a Sith Lord of fantasy football, likely to corrupt the league from the inside with negativity and controversy. Even if you’re a good commissioner, you’re going to look somewhat bad, even having to deal with this person. And like a Sith Lord, the fantasy football problem child is likely to have henchmen to give his voice added weight.

FF Problem Child Tactics

As mentioned before, the problem child participates. You could say he participates too much. He’s going to complain when he loses, usually about some rule he thinks should be changed (mid-season). This won’t always happen, but it will 2-3 times in the season. He’s going to try to make one-sided trades that would thoroughly unbalance the league. If he doesn’t have a trade partner (henchman), he’ll complain about the lack of trading and probably cyberstalk one or two owners. If he does have a trade partner, he can ruin the entire season.

The problem child also sees his faults in others. Perhaps due to a guilty conscience, he’s convinced that everyone else in the league is devoted to the game to the same insane levels he is, and therefore he complains about every single trade that doesn’t involve his team. In fact, he’s likely to be a reactionary fantasy trader, trying to make a one-sided trade just days after one of his rival’s trades (and his subsequent complaints). If he has a henchmen, this might just happen.

The Callout

Also, at least once a season, the fantasy football problem child selects one league owner, seemingly at random, to “call out” or have a controversy with. This usually involves trades or lacks of trades, but even more often is for no more reason than someone contradicted him on the league message board, usually for pointing out his erratic behavior. In these cases, the league tends to split into two factions, at least those members who are still paying attention.

Problem Child FF Advice: Get rid of him at the first possible opportunity, usually in the offseason. I saw a commissioner who, when told by a problem child that he would have quit the league, had he not already paid his fees, asked him to email the address so he could deliver his refund in person. While I might suggest just mailing the refund, the commish had the right idea.

Fantasy Football Lite

The “fantasy football lite” owner is the guy who wants to be in the league, but doesn’t want to participate. He enjoys the draft and might even post a couple of funny message board notes at the beginning of the season, but he quickly loses interest. This is usually because his draft didn’t go well and his team starts losing, but this isn’t always the case.

What characterizes this archetype is that the lite fantasy football owner doesn’t want to keep up with the latest news. He doesn’t feel the need to reply to trade proposals, often leaving the trades up on his trade page for weeks, though you know he is seeing the proposals. He’s prone to mention that he “doesn’t have time” for that level of participation. This owner also tends to shy away from trades, because he tends to think that any proposal is likely to be one-sided in the other owner’s favor. (He’s right about that, of course, but good fantasy owners keep up with the news and injuries, and therefore doesn’t have to retreat into a paranoid shell about trading.)

The interesting thing about the fantasy football lite owner is, when asked about returning to the league next season, he is quick to state that he wants to keep on playing. But he wants to do the littlest possible to remain in the league.

Lite Fantasy Football Advice: Try to purge the league of these players, but keep them in the league if you want an old friend around, or if there’s are not enough model citizens to fill out the league. In my dynasty league, where I wanted an old friend to participate, but he claimed he didn’t have time, I convinced him to bring aboard a model fantasy owner from another league to act as his “General Manager”. Problem solved.

Fantasy Football Heavy

The “fantasy football heavy” is kind of the opposite of the lite owner. To him, nothing in this world is more important than winning the league title. In fact, he’s likely to be in anywhere between 5 and 40 fantasy leagues, to better insure he gets a win somewhere, somehow.

The fantasy football heavy displays an intensity seldom seen in fantasy football: sometimes quiet intensity, sometimes furious intensity. The fantasy football heavy wouldn’t think of taking a day of. He sits down one day every week and makes multiple trade proposals to every other member of the league, usually one-sided offers that he insists make “both teams better”. When he gets a trade offer that’s anywhere close to fair, he goes off on an insane rant, because everything revolves around how a trade affects his team.

What set the fantasy heavy apart from the fantasy football problem child is intent and character. The fantasy football heavy isn’t a bad guy. He plays by the rules, generally speaking. He might even be able to make fun of his own behavior, in his quieter moments. But those are few and far between, and most of the times, he’s full-on intense.

Heavy Fantasy Football Advice: Keep this type of owner around, but keep them in small number. This guy doesn’t hurt the league too much, especially if you only have one or two of these guys. In fact, you prefer these people to the lite owner. The fantasy football heavy generally creates rivalries within the league, because something about this guy’s attitude makes other owners want to beat him – bad. Far from being a bad thing, the fantasy football heavy can play the role of league villain, without actually being a negative force.

Fantasy Football Deadbeat

The fantasy football deadbeat is late to pay his prize money. He may or may not show up to the draft. He may or may not start a full lineup any given week. What is most important about the deadbeat is that he didn’t pay to get into the door, so he’s not likely to take the game nearly as seriously. This might mean he doesn’t participate, forgetting to reset his lineup after he goes 0-3. This might mean he decides to auction off his team the week of the trade deadline. Whatever the case, you don’t want this guy around.

Deadbeat Fantasy Football Advice: Clear this guy out of the system as soon as possible. Ask him to pay up once or twice. After six weeks of the season, find someone else to take over the team. Maybe give those guys a 50% discount. The fact is, the deadbeat is adding nothing to the league.

Remember our advice about collecting money at the draft. Otherwise, you’re bound to have this problem. The only other option is to have a free league. Just remember that league entry fees not only means prize money, but it also presumably keeps out the riff-raff who aren’t as serious of a player as you or your friends.

Fantasy Football Challenged

This owner is going to look like the “fantasy football lite” archetype at first glance, but there’s a subtle difference. Where the lite owner doesn’t really try very hard, the fantasy football-Challenged archetype actually participates and researchers players, but he’s just not very good at fantasy football. He can have the same information you have, but he takes that information and comes to the wrong conclusion, at least consistently enough to make him an also-ran.

This is more common than you would think. It happens in the NFL, too. Some NFL GMs and coaches just aren’t as good as others. They put in the hours and use the same methods, but when it comes time to show good judgment, they usually don’t. That’s what happens with the ff-challenged archetype.

Where everyone else thinks Ladainian Tomlinson turning 30 means he’s over-the-hill, the “fantasy football challenged” thinks he has one more year of good ball. His reason for selecting him several rounds higher than he should is “He’s beat me too many time. I want him on MY team.”

Football-Challenged FF Advice: These guys seem hopeless, and maybe they are. But who are we to tell them how to run their franchise, if these guys are still convinced that Terrell Owens is going to have a career year on the Bills, or LeRon McClain is worth an 8th rounder, because he’s somehow going to match his 2008 numbers. If you’re in a highly-competitive league, these guys need to go. If you’re in a high-rollers league you want to get, stock up on these guys. The important thing is, these guys are trying in good faith to win.

Fantasy Football Whiner

The whiner is relatively harmless, and sometimes acts as the outlet for the league members to blow off a little steam. Other times, their behavior is so illogical, that it brings the rest of the league membership together. The big difference in the whiner is that they tend to be less harmful to league chemistry than some of the other negative archetypes on this list.

The whiner is a malcontent, constantly complaining about something or someone. It might be the rules; it might be some player who won’t trade with him; it might be the league management website you’re using. This owner is going to find something to complain about, no matter how inconsequential.

Most of the time, the fantasy football whiner complains to amuse himself. He’s probably just bored. Like a child who misbehaves in order to get attention, the fantasy football whiner is petulant so he gets noticed.

Whiner Fantasy Football Advice: The key is to be able to recognize the difference in this behavior and the behavior of the problem child. The FF whiner tends to be harmless, and often entertains the rest of the league. If he doesn’t entertain them, his rants are usually so ridiculous, that it naturally inspires a unanimous reaction from the league members you’re trying to lead. In a strange way, he’s doing you a favor. Keep the whiner, once you realise he’s not malicious. Give legitimate consideration to 5% of the stuff he brings up, since he might have a point. Ignore the other 95% of his nonsense.

Fantasy Football Rules Lawyer

The fantasy football rules lawyer is the guy who wants to argue the rulebook all year. He wants to point out loopholes or, better yet, exploit them. He wants to point out perceived violations of the rules, especially if it somehow involves his weekly game. The rules lawyer wants to play the role of the wronged hero, while using the rules to gain any advantage possible. In other words, he likes to stir up trouble, but he wants to make it look like he’s crusading for a cause while he does so.

A fantasy football rules lawyer is the one most likely to quote sections of the rulebook on the league message board. The rules lawyer is the one most likely to ask the Commissioner for a “rules clarification”. If someone asks for a clarification, be suspicious and know your stuff, because the rules lawyer wants to play “gotcha politics” among the league members.

Rules Lawyer Fantasy Football Advice: The best remedy for the rules lawyer is to have good, logical rules, then apply them consistently. That is, being a good commissioner and is being a good executive of well-considered fantasy rules. The rules lawyer can play a valuable function in tightening league rules. If he’s just trying to stir the pot, though, don’t fall for his routine. Answer his questions, make clarifications and ignore the worst of his histrionics.

Fantasy Football Henchman

This kind of fantasy football owner is among the worst kind you can have in a league. The fantasy henchman is a player who is recruited into the league by a friend or family member, and then supports another league troublemaker in every debate, arguments and transaction in the league. This is annoying enough, but the fantasy football minion sometimes goes beyond the pale and actually helps another league owner collude.

Here’s how a likely way this scenario plays out. The problem child wants to be the center of attention, whatever that requires. The mastermind wants everyone to admit he’s right, whether that’s by winning the league title or giving him the recognition he’s due. In fact, there are leagues where the fantasy football mastermind and the problem child are mortal enemies – the following example.

Two owners who are buddies come into the league. It’s a money league, so the two have a (spoken or unspoken) understanding that they’ll pool resources together. At midseason, whoever has the worst team will help whoever has the better chance to win the championship with a one-sided trade. The two split the money in some fashion, or just have the satisfaction of crushing all the other losers in the league.

In this case, there’s usually a mastermind and a henchman. While the two are going to combine teams (essentially), the mastermind is a better fantasy football player, while the henchman is generally fantasy football-challenged. So more than likely, the henchman ends up feeding the mastermind’s team sometime during the season. When two owners agree to pool their resources to win the league, it’s called “collusion”. This is one of the worst acts you can perform in a fantasy football league, because you’re cheating.

Henchman Fantasy Football Advice: This guys is a cheater, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. The best thing you can do is to jettison this guy as quickly as possible – even in midseason, if need be. If not, don’t ask him back for next season. Your league doesn’t need a cheater.

Fantasy Football Mastermind

The fantasy football mastermind is based on the evil geniuses of pulp novels, comic books, and James Bond movies. This person believes he’s a fantasy genius beyond compare and wants to prove it to the world. He wants to rule the fantasy world: this certainly means winning the title, but it probably means ousting the commissioner. This is the one most likely to bring one or more henchmen into the league with him.

In fact, the fantasy football mastermind tends to use every dirty trick in the book to get what he wants: dirty trades, rules lawyering about last week’s scores, calls for “league votes”, personal attacks on the league message board. Nothing is beyond this owner.

You might think the mastermind and problem child are the same archetype, because they use many of the same tactics. The difference is in their motivation. The

You should note that many fantasy football masterminds decide that overthrowing an existing power structure is too inefficient, and instead start their own league, so they can stock it with henchmen and rule over the roost from the very beginning. Just about every veteran fantasy football owner has been recruited into a league where he knows one or two people at best. He meets all the rest at the draft and they seem alright. The commissioner runs the draft and seems like he’s a pretty good guy, and he certainly knows something about fantasy football.

But once the season starts, funny things start to happen. Once the competitive juices start to flow, you realize he’s making trades that don’t seem right. He gets into an argument with some league owner that you know goes back to prior years, and you can’t really figure out for a while which of the two is crazy. Eventually, after a few commissioner decisions or “rules clarifications”, you decide you’re never coming back to this league. That’s what happens when the fantasy football mastermind becomes a commissioner.

Mastermind Fantasy Football Advice: Treat this guy like the plague. Learn who he is and who every one of his henchmen are and cast them out of the league with all due haste.

Fantasy Football Commissioner Tips

So as you can see, being a fantasy football commissioner can be a little complicated. Most of the time, if you prepare, you won’t have too much trouble. Just remember to try to make the game fun for your league owners, which is usually as simple as making the league fair. Listen to the good suggestions. Pretend to listen to the bad suggestions. Get rid of the negative influences on your league – and by “negative”, I mean the guys who ruin the fun for everyone else. Otherwise, have a good time and remember to keep trying to win the prize yourself. Good luck.

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