Five rules that every fantasy sports league should follow to get the most out of their experience

Dylan Mehl, Co-Opinion Editor

Fantasy sports have become part of the fandom that exists in the sports world, as they pit friends, family and random strangers against each other week after week by competing to prove who is the best. While fantasy sports are, generally speaking, a great joy for all involved, there are five must-add “rules” that one should implement into one’s league if not already. 


Rule 1: Have fun with the draft

For many fantasy players, the draft is the most exciting part of the season, whether the league is a re-draft, keeper, auction or dynasty format. That being said, this rule can apply to any league format. It is time to move on from the boring drafts where everyone is at their own house drafting from their laptop in an order that was randomly selected by the platform a league is on. Just like all major sports leagues, it is time for your fantasy league to make the draft a spectacle. 

This starts with selecting the order. A draft lottery is a solid start to making a draft feel more significant; however, if your league agrees that the most fair way to determine a draft order is completely random, then perhaps having the names be picked out of a hat in front of everyone is the best way to do it. Starting the count from the last pick to the first is much more exciting than when ESPN determines the order 30 minutes before the draft. 

The draft itself needs more emphasis as well. The entire league should be drafting together, whether that is in-person or on a group video call. Everyone in the league should chip in to go all out, whether this be with a draft board, going out to a restaurant or simply drafting at your commissioner’s house with snacks and drinks. It is time to make the draft fun. 


Rule 2: Best league scoring and playoff settings

While there is no definitive “best” scoring or playoff settings for any league, it is important to find the best one for your league. A simple way to do this is by league vote. It is up to the league to decide if games should be higher scoring, what stats matter most, how much positional value there is and much more. The list can go on for what is subject to change, but learning what the players in a league are looking to get out of their matchups and what can make the experience fun for all players is top priority.

As for playoff settings, this again should be determined by the league. Using 12-team leagues as a baseline, how much emphasis does a given league want on making the playoffs? Should it be a best-of-the-best with a four-team playoff? Should eight teams make it, really setting the standard that anyone can win the title, or should you meet in the middle with a six-team playoff where the top two seeds get byes and half of the league makes it to the dance? The only real answer is whatever will make your league most enjoyable for the members.


Rule 3: Trash talk is a must

Like all sports, trash talk is a part of the game. Yet, this suggestion comes with a warning label, as members should be cautious not to cross the line between what is fun and what is hurtful. Maybe avoid calling a league mate’s wife a cow when using trash talk and opt for something more focused on the competition at hand. Trash talk between the parties involved in the league is a great way to make matchups feel more important and create in-league rivalries.

All sports have trash talk, and for good reason — it simply creates more investment for those involved. You always want to win every game you are in, but when you told Aunt Sally you would crush her team in the league chat, victory is that much sweeter when it actually happens. Text updates about how good one’s team is or how bad your opponent’s team is doing during any given game is also encouraged.

However, when discussing trash talk, a caveat must be included that no trash talk should be so bad that it leaves the fantasy sports world. Now, there is no set standard as to what is “too far,” but if someone is personally attacking someone else, blocking them on social media and/or threatening them, odds are they went too far.


Rule 4: No trade vetoes

This is probably the rule that will cause the most uproar and debate, but it has its benefits. How many times has a trade gone through in a league and almost instantly there is an argument between league members over the vague concept of “fairness”? Everyone in a league likely has a different definition, ranging from if it is not collusion then it is fair all the way to if it makes a team “too good” then it is an automatic veto. 

While the league opinion is great, there is always that temptation to veto a trade because you are scared how it will affect your own chances of success. A move of this nature is certainly unethical to start with, but there should not even be the risk of this happening.

A common point that will be presented to “unfair” trades is that player A is taking advantage of player B, and to that Grammy Sandy would say, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” But if both players agree to the trade and think they are benefiting, it is not for anyone to run other players’ teams for them. If you believe that is your responsibility, then I ask, “Should you set their lineup as well?”


Rule 5: Something on the line for winners and losers

Of course, the most important part of the game (aside from having fun), is who wins and who loses. Starting with the winning team, besides having bragging rights over all others in the league and a feeling of pride that will never be taken away, there needs to be something else to gain from winning a fantasy championship. 

Many parties will choose to go the money route, and while taking your friends money by being ultimately better than them at fantasy sports is quite an achievement, there is more to gain. Adding a league trophy, championship belt or ring just makes victory all that more worthwhile. The winner can parade their glorious prize for a whole year, reminding all other league members who is truly the best.

No fantasy league should continue letting the loser, the worst of the worst, the player that comes in last place go without being punished. The punishment they face can be as severe as the league wants, and the range for this is truly expansive. Some potential penalties include buying everyone dinner, getting eggs thrown at them or even having to get a tattoo. There is no definitive answer as to how the loser should be punished, but if there is not a punishment are the stakes really high enough?