August 2021
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Fantasy football in and of itself is fun. Our hobby of augmenting reality for entertainment was around long before all of these mobile apps that claim to do it today. At its root, fantasy football is a social network. Yes, it has been made into a competitive game with high stakes, but- just like poker- when it’s most entertaining, it’s usually with a group of buddies that you’ve known forever, ripping each other apart with trash talk and rubbing their faces in your victories.

My main league has been running for 14 years now, beginning with 10 guys. Two founding members left along the way and we expanded to 12 teams in 2002. For the last decade, though, it’s been the same dozen guys, and we have a ball every year. Here are some things we do, along with things I’ve heard other folks doing, to make their leagues fun.


  • When the champion has been crowned, we have party to celebrate soon after, hand out the prizes and enjoy reminiscing about the season. That usually entails shredding each other on dumb moves, bad trades and reminding each other how much we suck.
  • We have three divisions in our league, each with four teams. At the afterglow party, the bottom two teams in each division draw from a hat to see what division they’ll be in next season.
  • In March, we release the new schedule for the upcoming season. That usually starts a new round of trash talk.
  • Some time shortly after the NFL Draft- usually around Cinco de Mayo (which we now call Cinco de Drafto, which I realize is a ridiculous ‘translation’)- we get together to draw the draft order out of a hat.

Draft & Pre-season

  • We draft online, usually setting up a conference call for those that can’t get together. The conference call allows us to shred each others draft picks and is the next best thing to actually being in a room together.
  • Many leagues actually gather in the same place every year. Some go as far as to actually set up a room like the real NFL draft, complete with podium, commissioner, draft board, etc. Also consider an attractive waitress bringing drinks.
  • Have a preseason gathering to watch an exhibition game
  • Allow preseason draft-pick trading. Suggest everyone keep the same number of draft picks, though.
  • To help keep things fun- require that all teams pay prior to drafting

Regular Season

  • We write up weekly kickoff previews detailing the matchups for the week.
  • Award a weekly prize for getting the high-score for the week. We experimented last year with awarding points to each team for scoring rank each week; top three teams at the end of the year won money. Two non-playoff teams won money, so despite their bad luck in matchups they were still rewarded for good scores.
  • Get together to watch games for just for a happy hour. We always get together the week of Thanksgiving at a minimum for a happy hour.
  • Post news-style articles on your league page or via email about your teams.
  • Trash talk
  • Maintain all-time statistical records (most TDs in a season, in a game, most yards, etc). Some league services do this automatically; I used to track this manually prior to life getting too busy for me.
  • Have prizes for winning your division, most wins in regular season, wild card, etc. We have three division winners and one wild card make the playoffs in a 14 week regular season. Division winners get a big prize, wild card gets a lesser one.
  • Play a league NFL Pick ‘em game. Many league services offer this for free.


  • Have everyone play in the post season some how. We do this by having playoffs/faceoffs in week 15, and bowl games (including championship) in week 16. So everyone gets seeded for the post-season based on regular season results with appropriate tie-breakers. Division winners and wild card are in the playoffs, seeded 1-4. The rest of the teams are seeded 5-12 and we break these up into two other tiers (5-8 and 9-12). So, in week 15, 5 plays 8, 6 plays 7, 9 plays 12, and 10 plays 11. In week 16, the playoff winners play in the championship game, while rest of the teams play in respective bowls with a descending prize amount. Of course, the losers in the 9-12 tier play in the Toilet Bowl!
  • We name our Bowl games, things like the No Cigar Bowl (Close but no cigar), Wannabe Bowl, Toilet Bowl, etc.
  • Get together for the Championship week, maybe watch Monday night football, or spend Sunday together.
  • Make up banners, award trophies, get rings made, championship t-shirts, etc.
  • We allow the Champion to name the toilet bowl loser’s team for the next year. The league nominates potential team names, the championship game loser narrows the selections to three, and the Champ picks one of the three names. So far we’ve had Just Lose Baby and Natural Born Losers.

There are countless ways to add fun to your leagues. The key is to be inclusive, light-hearted and fair in every way possible. Have fun!

Have other ideas? Hit @draftologist with a tweet, or post on I’d love to add your ideas to this article.

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