FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFTS ARE FINALLY HERE, but aren?t you getting a little bored with the same old thing? Every year you draft a bunch of guys you?ll cut by Week 4, every autumn you add five more names to your hate list, and every January you swear off fantasy football for good. Wasn?t this game supposed to be fun?
But here we are again, and it?s time to draft. So why not add in something fresh and different to your fantasy league this year?
I?ve played fantasy football for 25 years. Below are 10 fun twists you can think about adding to spice up your league. Don?t do them all at once, but find a couple you like and give them a shot!
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Repeat after me: Never play fantasy football in Week 17.
It?s just silly. Half the games don?t matter, and your biggest stars will be resting for the playoffs while a bunch of no-names light up the scoreboards. That?s no way to determine your championship.
Your leading Week 17 scorer last season was some Cowboys tight end named Blake Jarwin, who put up 9 catches for 138 yards and 3 TDs, and anyone bold enough to double down on the Buffalo Bills rode Zay Jones and Josh Allen to a fantasy championship. Zach Zenner and Kenneth Dixon were among the best running backs. Do you even know what team those dudes played for? It?s a silly way to determine a champ after four months.
If you just have to play Week 17, crown your champ a week earlier and let everyone pick a new roster and play for draft position.
2. Try an auction draft!
Insert your favorite analogy here about going from a boring, old snake draft to a high-octane auction. An auction draft is a great way to spice up a stale league. There?s nothing worse than having a favorite sleeper but being stuck at the end of a snake draft, so you either have to take him 15 picks early or wait and risk him getting sniped before you have another chance.
An auction solves all that. You want someone? Go get him.
You gotta do it at least once. You may never go back.
3. Ban kickers!
We already spend all year with our hopes and dreams in the hands of 160-pound kickers. Let?s not do the same in fantasy football. This is fantasy football. It doesn?t have to mirror things exactly. NFL kickers have been proven to be almost completely random statistically ? both by accuracy and by fantasy point total. You might as well just have a random number generator assigning points to a position.
Just get rid of the kicker position completely. There are so many more interesting lineup pieces you can use instead, like ?
4. Require a starting rookie in your lineup!
This is actually my favorite rule and one I institute in almost every league.
Add one flex RB/WR/TE that can only be used to start a rookie. This is a great way to get to know the new guys and reward a little extra research. Suddenly Bears rookie RB David Montgomery is a 3rd-round pick, Titans WR A.J. Brown is an interesting 5th rounder, and finding this year?s Nick Chubb or Phillip Lindsay changes your entire season. If you?re in a keeper league, this is an even more interesting twist.
If you prefer, don?t make an extra roster spot ? just require a starting rookie. You might even include QBs or kickers in that case. If your league is dumb enough to require a kicker, then it should be dumb enough to make Austin Seibert a top-20 value too.
5. Fix the QB scoring!
Quarterback is the most important position in sports, right? So why is it such an afterthought in fantasy football? The position is deeper than ever and you can wait forever and still find a couple guys that will throw for 3,500+ yards and plenty of TDs. Unless you get something like Patrick Mahomes last year, your QB is probably scoring about the same as anyone else.
There are a few ways to spruce this up. Pick your favorite!
Increase the scoring
Give a point for every 20 yards instead of 25. Make all TDs worth 6. Subtract more for interceptions, maybe -3. Count a pick-six as -6. If everything is worth more, those top QBs will stand out and be worth an early pick.
Start 2 QBs
My preferred solution. There are easily 16 to 20 QBs that could be started any given week, and if you?re using that many, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will definitely be valuable even without increasing the scoring. Be careful with 12+ teams though; it can be a mess on bye weeks.
Offer a SuperFlex position
Insert a SuperFlex roster spot where you can start a RB, WR, or even a QB. It sounds like a big advantage but if your backup QB is Matt Stafford and he gets 7 some weeks and 18 others, you might genuinely be better off playing another PPR WR instead.
Start a second QB but make it a ?Bad QB?
You?ll still start Russell Wilson and get his usual points, but you?ll also start Eli Manning and hope he racks up ?bad? points for you. The Bad QB actually gets negative points for throwing a TD. He scores points for taking sacks and turning the ball over, and a pick-six is money. Why not make Josh Rosen relevant? Will you start Andy Dalton as your good QB or your bad one? Depends on the week.
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6. Start a head coach!
Your coach gets one point for every two points his team scores and gets -5 if his team loses. It?s easy, and it makes sense. You can get creative too; maybe winning a game by one score should be worth bonus points.
Or play a bad coach instead ? similar to the bad QB idea. I?ve actually done this before and it?s silly and fun. The more your coach loses by, the more points he gets. And if he accidentally wins? Negative points!
7. Fix your playoff set-up!
It happens every year. Your team dominates all season, grabs a first-round bye, then crashes out with one bad week where your stud RB doesn?t find the end zone and your QB has a dud. It?s just not fair.
Fantasy football is like most sports. The regular season determines the best team; the playoffs determine the one that got hot or lucky at the right time.
The problem is sample size. Over 13 weeks, luck evens out and the cream rises to the top. Thirteen weeks is long enough to find the right guys via waivers or trades to fix a broken draft or replace an injury. But in the playoffs? It?s just one week, and if your opponent happens to start Keelan Cole and his 186 yards that week? You?re out of luck. So let?s fix it:
Make playoff matchups last two weeks
Use Weeks 13?16 and limit the playoffs to just the best four teams.
Make your playoffs Survivor-style
All six playoff teams compete in Week 14. The top four advance to week 15. The top two play for the title.
Grant ?home field advantage? based on regular season PPG
Points scored is a far better indicator of fantasy prowess than win-loss record. If you averaged 140 in the regular season and your opponent averaged 130, you start with a 10 point ?home field advantage? in the playoffs. It?s fair, it?s earned, and it makes every point all season valuable.
8. Up the ante with your defensive scoring!
Shouldn?t defense matter more? It?s half the game, after all. Yet so many leagues insist on starting a 5- to 8-point defense every week that matters so little, we all take them in the last round of the draft. What?s the point?
If you?re going to play with the traditional D/ST, make the scoring count. Points-against should be worth more. A shutout is rare and valuable ? make it worth 15 or 20 points. On the flip side, giving up 35+ should be punishable with negative points, just like we subtract for turnovers from QBs and RBs.
Some websites allow you to award points for limiting yardage allowed or kick return yards. Others allow a 4th down stop to be worth points. That?s a turnover! Why shouldn?t it score points for your team?
If your top defenses can score 20?25 points a week like a RB or WR, I promise the position will be a lot more interesting. The Bears D was one of the stories of the season last fall. Shouldn?t they be a valuable fantasy commodity too?
9. Or try individual defensive players instead!
More and more leagues are adding IDPs. Just make sure you get the scoring right. Reward big plays like sacks and turnovers much more than just a tackle.
You?re going to need to play a bunch of IDPs. If you just start 1 or 2, you?ve unfortunately just added another ?kicker? to your roster. There?s enough stars for everyone and it?s just random from week to week. If you want to play with IDPs, start at least five or it?s a waste of everyone?s time.
10. If nothing else, try something totally different!
How about a Survivor league with Best Ball lineups? This is great for folks that don?t want to bother with upkeep all season. No trades, no waivers, and no lineups. Everyone drafts a team, and the best possible lineup gets fielded each week. When Week 1 ends, check out the Best Ball lineups for the week, and the lowest scoring team is eliminated. Repeat Week 2 and each week after until one team remains. Some places call this a Guillotine league now, because one team gets chopped off every week. Gruesome, but delicious.
Or for something completely different, build your fantasy roster using players from only two NFL teams. The draft is literally two rounds long. When you draft, you pick an NFL team and get sole access to every player from that roster. If you want someone from another team, you need to pick up an entire new team off waivers. Imagine a starting lineup of Brees, Kamara, and Thomas buoyed by Tevin Coleman and George Kittle, or maybe Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller with Derrick Henry and Corey Davis? It?s silly but fun and bye weeks are even more hellish than you think.
BONUS ~ Make up your own rule!
Make your fantasy league unique!
The Ringer?s Bill Simmons has a league with 11 members and only 10 teams. Every year, the previous season?s winner gets to vote one league member out? and they do it at the draft! After you?ve done all your prep work and showed up with beer and wings and everything. It?s brutal and it?s brilliant.
Once I did a league where you had to start two DSTs. It sucked. So did the one where we started a punter, though having Houston?s punter in their inaugural season was pure gold.
Anything is worth trying once and this is fantasy football. So find an interesting new rule and make fantasy football fun again! ?
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