By: John F. McGlynn (Twitter: @jfmcglynn)
So you want to be Commissioner of your league…it’s not always fun and games. But it’s great to be in control, and definitely helps you stay on top of the latest player news
Picking your friends:
I was lucky enough to grow up in the West Lawn neighborhood in Chicago where everyone knew everyone, and everyone was friends. Everyone played sports and everyone loved football. So when fantasy football started up, most people were pretty happy to play. It was pretty easy to start a fantasy football league. Fast forward 20 years and you find yourself in 7 different leagues. A TD only league with the same guys you grew up with since kindergarten, a PPR league with your brother’s friends, a 2 QB league with your neighbors, a league of your own, and it never ends. All the leagues are great, but nothing gives you the satisfaction of being commissioner of your own league, with the people you want in it, and totally in control.
Picking your rules:
You have been in a ton of leagues and saw tons of ideas. You have been in some simple rule leagues and you have been in some leagues for 5 years and still can’t pick up the confusing nonsense on waiver wire pickups and punt return rules. And some rules are just so poorly written, that there is a league vote every week to clarify what is the ruling on a new situation that popped up this week, for the 5th week in a row. The list of rules should be long but specific. There should be an article for every aspect of the game.
You should cover everything from the draft to start the League, to the tie breakers in the playoffs, and everything in between. The conference and division setup, the Scoring system, the anti-collusion rules, the salary cap system restrictions, the player’s contracts, the IR designation specifications, rounds of rookie drafts, Taxi Squad eligibility, the schedule rotation, and man, it gets deep. But the more time you spend clarifying every section of your rules, the easier it will be to be Commissioner.
Picking the host site:
This is a comfort zone preference, but don’t be afraid to sniff around all of the available hosts out there. I have been on ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, NFL, Flea Flicker, and I’m currently taking my talents to the grand-daddy of them all, MFL (My Fantasy league). Most sites have evolved with the evolution of the fantasy football game itself. Most of them now come with many options to set your league up the way you want them. How many roster spots, how many Bench spots, how many IR spots, and a pretty nice set of prepared rules to get you started. You will need to make some tweak’s depending on your preferences, but most can be adjusted pretty easily.
The reason I am making the move to MFL now is because after 20 some years of Redraft fantasy football, I have decided to convert my perennial redraft league, to a dynasty league, which requires year round activity because of rookie drafts and draft pick trading and free agent signings and keeping your entire roster all year long. The IDP (Individual Defensive Players) is a big reason for the MFL site also. The options on the MFL site are pretty much endless, but they are also very intimidating for even the veteran fantasy football player.
Picking the dates:
There are some pretty tough decisions to make in fantasy football, but none, and I mean none, is as hard as trying to find a date to get all of your best friends together to put 12 team’s worth of 25 rounds of stickers on a draft board one day a year. I am 43 years old and I have 4 kids that play everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Football, wrestling, gymnastics, lacrosse, volleyball, track and field, cross country, baseball, and the list goes on. Almost everyone in my league also has kids who also play everything. Put in work schedules, communion parties, graduation parties, birthday parties, holiday parties, family vacations, etc… You really have to do tons of work to get everyone together. My league drafts at a bar called Dingers on 106th and Western in Chicago. A draft would not be a draft without an open bar and pizza and 11 of your friends heckling you on every pick. So an online draft is out of the question.
Picking the format:
My league has been a 2QB PPR league for a few years now and I love it that way. 25 rounds of 12 teams really puts you in a position to have to take a QB early and often. If you do the math, 12 Teams, 2 starting QBs and one backup QB for bye weeks and injuries on every team would make 36 starting QBs. There are only 32 starting QBs in the NFL. So everyone is hunting for QBs in rounds 1-3. I got lucky grabbing Tyrod Taylor in round 13 two years ago, and Trevor Simeon in round 20 of last year’s draft, but I really try to grab 4 or 5 Starters every year to really put the screws to other owners.
Some guys try to temp fate grabbing the Julio Jones’ and the Odell’s and the AP’s or now the Elliot’s of the league in the early rounds, but when their sleeper QB gets snatched up in the 4th round, and they only have one starting QB at the end of the draft, that’s when the sharks start circling, and the trade talks begin to get real serious. The NFL has been a merry go round with QBs lately so this format keeps things real interesting. On top of that, we also start 2 RBs, 3WRs, 1TE, 1 Flex, a K and a DST. The waiver wire is almost completely dry at the end of round 25. As I mentioned previously, I am moving to MFL because we are graduating to the dynasty format. Another change that we are absorbing is the Superflex format. Someone could really get screwed in a dynasty 12 team 2qb league if they draft poorly, or they get hit with the injury bug. But don’t worry, I’m adding contract years, a salary cap, and all kind of hurdles to keep it as competitive as possible.
Pick your fights:
Sometimes you get so excited designing the perfect league that you have in your head, you forget that not everyone is as big of a fantasy football nerd as you are. Sometimes you have to scale back the complexity and the rules that you designed. Even though the “Frankenstein” league that you created is as perfect as your wife’s smile in your mind, it is just too much for some people. The weekly waiver wire award process of worst team picks first is to “Liberal” for some owners. They like the stay on top until you make a pickup format. Some people like the winner of the toilet bowl gets the first pick in the following years draft. Some people like the last place team to get the first pick and the reverse order of standings format. Some people like the draft lottery for draft position format. You can’t be bullish on your decisions.
Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, but it has to be a flavor that everyone agrees on with the right color icing. It’s supposed to be competitive and narrow margins of victory by only a few decimal points every game. That is what keeps owners drooling for the next week’s game, and what keeps every owner in your league, in your league, for many years, with little turnover. Sure, life gets in the way, and everyone doesn’t want to play fantasy football forever, but your job as Commissioner is to keep them coming back for more every year like your league is a carnival game that the just know they can win, and they will not leave until they spent their last penny.
Picking your Co-Commissioner:
You may think that you are the Albert Einstein or the Bobby Fisher of fantasy football commissioners, and that everything you do is right. You double and triple check the rules, you run through scenarios in your head, and….you got this. Then your Co-Commissioner calls you and points out the stupidest and most obvious mistakes that there is no reason that you should have missed. Those guys are invaluable. It has to be someone that you trust and someone that is on the same page as you with all of the rules of the league. I would not be able to run my league without my brother in law, who is really like a brother to me, Dan Connell.
Even though he is the first person to ruthlessly undress me in front of every other owner in my league on all of my mistakes, I love him to death and I would not be able to do my job without him. Everyone needs a Dan Connell in their league. If you’re at mass on Sunday morning and a trade has to be approved, or you are working midnights, or coaching sports, or whatever life throws at you, you know you are in good hands with your co-commissioner.