Creating variety and differentiating the types of fantasy football leagues that you are in leads to having more fun while playing. The classic snake-draft standard league will always be fun, but if you can convince your league-mates to try something new or even to make multiple leagues, it can make football Sundays another level of experience. This article is going to go over some variations in different types of fantasy leagues for you to try out.
The first thing to note, I will be using standard scoring as the basis for these leagues. Therefore, just assume that anytime I do not talk about tweaks to a certain category it is simply the standard you would find on Yahoo or Sleeper App.
The second thing to note is that for every league you are in, and I cannot stress this enough, make sure you are using FAAB waiver wire bidding for your league’s waiver wire structure. It is the best way and the fairest way to pick up waived players. Essentially each team has a set amount of money to use for silent auction bids throughout the year on waiver wire additions. The highest bid wins the player and gets that amount deducted from their FAAB budget. (This is not real money.) Managing this $100 or whatever amount you choose, creates a whole new level to fantasy football for waivers that was simply lacking prior.
Thirdly, commissioner backed trades. Having the league voting to veto trades is a huge mistake that I see players make and it often leads to trades not being as big of a part as they should be. Allowing the commissioner to look at the trade, make sure it is obviously not collusion, and letting that trade go through almost instantly makes a massive difference. No longer do you have league-mates ruining trades because they happen to play a team next week, and no longer do you have trades falling through because they need to be pushed before the waiver wires go through.
Redraft Snake Leagues
How do you make a normal redraft snake league exciting? Well, there are two variations that I personally go with whenever this kind of league comes up. The ultra-competitive league and the Superteams league.
The Ultra-competitive League
The basis of this league is to host all the settings for the hardcore fantasy football fan. The league is all about winning, outsmarting your opponent, and being fair and balanced. This is for people who are a bit more competitive and really love managing their rosters, studying football but do not want to dive into the complexity of a dynasty or keeper league.
League Structure: The standard 12-14 teams, 6 team playoff (weeks 14-16), is perfect for this kind of league.
You want to disincentivize tanking or giving up. This can be extremely hard to do in a redraft league. The best way that I found to do this is to create a punishment for those bottom six teams. For example, if you lose the toilet bowl tournament or come in the last few places, you pay up extra to add to the prize pool money. This is a great way to create a reason to keep playing, even without having any ties to next year’s league or draft.
Another big part of the league structure that makes this league competitive is having a win against the median each week. This means every single week you can get two wins. One for being in the top half of scorers and one for the matchup. This ensures that a randomly harsh schedule does not derail anyone’s fantasy season.
I would have trades go through week 12. As teams try to scrap together late-season playoff pushes you should get quite a bit of activity. Also, since there is an incentive not to tank there should be no worry about teams throwing.
Roster: QB / RB / RB / WR / WR / TE / FLEX / FLEX / 5BN / IR
This roster structure in 12-14 team leagues makes the waiver wire still viable but scarce. You have to be doing your research to get a good product. It also gets rid of DEF and K as they are simply random variables that take away from competitive balance.
Scoring: The changes I would make from a standard league are adding .5 per reception, .5 per first down for receiving and running, adding 1 point per 15 return yards, 6 point passing TD, and -2 for interception.
I have found that the .5 PPR and 1st downs create the most balance between RBs and WRs. It also makes meaningful plays, getting a 1st down, meaningful in fantasy. If it is 4th and 1 and they run it up the middle for a yard, that was a huge yard that should be rewarded as such for your RB. The return yards make a returner just a bit more valuable. The 6pt passing TD and -2 INT allows the single QB league to weigh QBs a little bit heavier in the draft. This diminishes the traditional go for late round QB or stream tactics you often see.
The Superteams league can still be very competitive. However, there are a ton of fun elements in this league that lend itself to a very unique experience. There will not be many rankings that pertain to this league so it really gives the owners a chance to do their own rankings and leads you to have an extremely fun and unpredictable draft.
League Structure: 8 teams, 4 team two-week playoffs (Weeks 13-16). Tanking should not be a huge problem in such a small league where everyone really has a chance. However, you could always employ a slight punishment of paying the third-place team’s prize money for the last place team so if there are two teams out of it early, they keep on playing their hardest.
Roster: QB / RB / RB / WR / WR / TE / TE / FLEX / FLEX / FLEX / FLEX / SuperFLEX (QB/WR/TE/RB) / DEF / DEF / K / K / 6BN / IR
The idea behind this league is to have a small league of 8 players but with crazy rosters and loads of scoring. In my experience, you get anywhere between 200-450 points a week which leads to some great matches and results. Also with this many roster spots even in 8 team leagues, the roster decisions are still very hard and the WW limited.
Scoring: Full point PPR, 6 point passing TDs, 0 points loss for fumble but -2 for fumble lost, point per 15 return yards.
The point here is again to amplify the points being scored. The 6pt passing TD makes the QBs starting in the QB and SuperFlex spots vital to the team in the small league environment.
What a keeper league does is create a team identity. There are a set number of players that you get to keep from year to another. Creating a dynamic where each season’s draft and roster moves have multiple years of implication. I will be giving my rules for the best keeper league settings that I think are out there.
League Structure: 12 Teams, 6 team playoff, (Weeks 14-16), with a consolation bracket to decide the order in which players get to choose their draft picks. The following year i.e. the winner of the consolation bracket gets the first choice in the position of where they draft. The selection order then goes backward ending with the first-place.
You get to keep up to three players from your roster each year. They cost you the round in which they were drafted. Then a penalty of plus one round every year after you keep them with the max cost being the 1st round. i.e. Michael Thomas was drafted in the 2nd round in 2020, he will cost a 2nd to keep in 2021, and then a 1st rounder in 2022. Following that season, Michael Thomas could be kept for a 1st rounder for 2023 and beyond.
If the player was undrafted, you simply cannot keep them that year. This creates more incentive to take risks on players in hopes that they explode and become values to keep in future years.
Draft pick trading is a big part of keeper leagues. This is because teams now have vested interest in long term plans, allowing for draft pick trading to become viable. This will cause times in which a team might deplete their resources in hopes of winning next, and another team going for the win to give up resources in the future.
I recommend using FAAB that rolls over every year. Start with $100 year one and whatever is unused stays into year two, and just add another $100 on top of that. This makes FAAB budgeting more valuable.
As an added bonus it is great to couple this with having players use the FAAB budget to silent auction for the rights to choose their draft slot in the first year’s draft. i.e. the highest bid gets to choose first and so on.
Wins against the median are another way to make this league competitive, though I think this is optional and really up to the league to decide.
Lastly, you should aim to have the trade deadline early: as early as week 8 and as late as week 10. This is so teams really have to decide whether to go for it, play for the future, or hold steady.
Roster: QB / RB / RB / WR / WR / TE / FLEX / FLEX / 6BN / IR
Scoring: Similar to the ultra-competitive redraft league I recommend the same scoring settings of .5 per reception, .5 per first down for receiving and running, adding point per 15 return yards, 6 point passing TD, and -2 for interception.
Dynasty is the next step following keeper leagues to having a long term fantasy league, where every roster decision impacts you for years. In dynasty you do not redraft every year. The only draft that takes place after the startup is the rookie draft for incoming players into the league. This is for hardcore fantasy players who want to immerse themselves in football year-long.
League Structure: 10 team, 4 team playoffs (Weeks 15-16) No consolation bracket.
The startup draft should be a random snake draft. Every player you draft and have on your roster is permanently yours until traded, dropped, or retired. It is your team.
The rookie draft should be decided by the reverse order of potential points scored. This means that sitting good players on your bench does nothing to benefit you in the draft order placement. It also means that the teams that really need good rookies, get them. This is where the fantasy league starts to become more and more like a real league.
The rookie draft for a ten-team league should be four rounds, no snake, and the last-place team gets 1st pick in each round of the rookie draft. With a taxi or practice squad of three players.
A taxi squad is a group of rookie players that cannot start on your team but do not take up roster spots. It is for those flier rookie picks that may take a year or two to develop and you want to save for later. However, if they are taken off your taxi squad that slot is locked for the season and no one can be added to that spot until the following year. I recommend playing with the max time of being on the taxi squad at two years and after that, the player must be rostered or dropped.
Rookie draft pick trading is allowed and the trade deadline should be later in the year around week 12-13.
I think that in dynasty the win against the median is a must. There should be very limited randomness in the league and wins against the median diminish those obscurities.
Roster: QB / RB / RB / WR / WR / TE / FLEX / FLEX / FLEX / 16BN / 2IR / 3TAXI
This roster should be huge as it stores most of the talent you have access to. The three flex spots make it so your roster must have depth to compete and win championships.
Scoring: Again going with the ultra-competitive scoring I recommend the same scoring settings of .5 per reception, .5 per first down for receiving and running, adding point per 15 return yards, 6 point passing TD, and -2 for interception.
Auction drafting is a great alternative to snake drafts. It gives players a set amount of money to use on bidding for the players they want on their team. Each owner takes turns nominating players for $1 who are then bid on with the highest bidder earning that player. This draft leads to many more different variations of the roster, and can often satisfy more owners as they were able to target the players they really wanted.
You can apply the redraft league ideas right to the Auction league for a similar fun experience. It also works great in Keeper and Dynasty format. For keepers simply use the cost of the player to keep with a penalty of $5 every year after. For Dynasty it is a good way to do your startup draft. However, you really can only use linear drafts for the following rookie drafts.