Fantasy football is a blast. I look forward to it every year. And while my League of Record* is fantastic and needs no changing, occaisonally a fantasy league needs a metaphorical kick in the pants in the form of a rule change. Fantasy leagues are as different as snowflakes, with each having it's own set of rules, nuances, or what have you to make it unique and fun. Below are several spins you can put on a tired fantasy league to give it a new twst. We also asked you guys on Twitter what strange rules your leagues feature, and those will be included at the bottom as well.
*League of Record is a term coined by Adam Rank that refers to the league that matters the most to you year after year.
Individual Defensive Players (aka IDP)
By making your league an IDP format, you add several roster spots to each team that are filled by, you guessed it, individual defensive players. Linebackers are the top options, but (depending on the rules) you typically have to start at least one defensive lineman and one defensive back as well. It helps test the real knowledge of football fans, as less heralded players like Eric Weddle are IDP goldmines. Personally, I dislike IDP formats because nothing is more frustrating than losing a hotly contested match because your opponent's defensive lineman stumbled into a scoop-and-score fumble recovery or pick six. NOTHING.
Free Agent Acquisition Budget (aka FAAB)
Now this is a rule change I can get behind. If you're frustrated that you're always at the top of your league and are unable to secure the hottest players off of the waiver wire, then look no further than implementing a FAAB. In this rule setting, at the beginning of the season the commissioner sets a budget that owners have to use for the entire season. Each week, owners must make blind bids on players they want to acquire. This adds a fantastic strategic element, as if you want a player, you're going to need to be bold and throw down some cash. Four years ago in my League of Record, my uncle bid like $55 dollars (of his $100 season budget) on Peyton Hillis. We laughed at the time, but Hillis helped carry him to the playoffs.
Point Per Reception (aka PPR)
As the name indicates, this rule awards 1 point for every reception by any player. It makes wide receivers exponentially more valuable, and players like LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles even bigger fantasy studs. If you like offense, add in PPR and watch the weekly totals skyrocket. Moreover, it adds another element of strategy in drafting, as players like Kendall Wright, who caught 94 passes last year with only two touchdowns, are PPR monsters.
Again, tired of not getting a chance at the player you want in drafts? That all changes in an auction draft, where owners nominate players and then start bidding from their previously agreed upon auction budget (usually $100 or $200). I like auction drafts, they're fun, add new strategy and also show how much people really like their sleepers. Nothing says committed like spending double digit dollars on someone like Justin Hunter to ensure your rival doesn't get him.
Two Quarterback Leagues (2QB)
The argument for 2QB leagues is that in our pass-happy era of the NFL, plenty of valuable production is left on the bench or waiver wire each week at the quarterback position. I've honestly never joined a 2QB league, as the thought of sifting through the bottom half of the league for other starters does not sound appealing to me. Of course, to that you could say, "Alex, just draft two early then." To which I'd respond, "This is a metaphorical conversation, let's move on." The downside to 2QB leagues is that the number of participants is limited. Using this thing called math, the most teams you could have in a 2QB league that guarantees everyone could have two actual NFL starters is 13. A 10 team league would seem to push it though so people aren't stuck starting scrubs week in and week out.
Dynasty leagues are truly for football diehards, and not for the casual fantasy football fan. In dynasty leagues, teams have significantly larger rosters (around 25 spots) and managers must be in tune with how their team can succeed in both the present and the future. You do one main draft for the dynasty league to fill up the roster, and in subsequent years teams only draft rookies. That's right. Make sure you draft well because you'll be stuck with these guys for the long-haul. Roster management is critical, and some leagues allow for a few injured reserve spots to help managers out. Otherwise, you have to figure out how to survive if one of your superstars or young prospects get seriously injured and occupies valuable roster space. Once the season ends, you need to keep track of your players during free agency and most importantly keep tabs on the prospects in the NFL draft. Once the draft has concluded, dynasty leagues hold their own draft to pick up new rookies to add to their squads. It is a fun, challenging format that can be very rewarding to diehards.
Keeper league rules are akin to dynasty, but you don't retain all of your players at the end of the year. Specific rules vary from league to league, but in most you have the option to keep a handful of players, but have to sacrifice a draft pick in the upcoming draft to do so. Typically the sacrificed picks are either in the round you drafted the player you are keeping in the previous year, or one round earlier. Keeper leagues can be a blast, because if you hit on a great player late in the draft (think Alshon Jeffery last year) you can keep him for the next season at a fraction of the cost. It's also great if you're a homer and drafted your favorite player on your favorite team, as you can keep having fun watching him year after year.
I'd advise against doing this, but I've played in leagues before were players are awarded bonus points for things like long touchdowns, hitting certain yardage plateaus, or even completing passes. Seriously, the one year I think we even got points every time they were on camera drinking Gatorade (I exaggerate, obviously, but you get the point). In my opinion adding in random bonus points creates too much unncessary, unpredictable disparity, but there are plenty of fans of crazy rules. And if your league is getting stale, this could be the way to spice it up.
Want to drastically up the stakes in your league? Add relegation. Not familiar with relegation? Let's discuss. It's a rule where the bottom X number of teams in a given league are kicked out of said league to make way for a new crop of teams every year. The kicked out teams have a chance to get back in next year, of course. Fans of the English Premier League will recognize this, as it's what happens each and every year to the bottom three teams are ousted every year. Grantland writer Bill Simmons operates a fantasy league similar to this, however, in his the league champion picks who gets kicked out. The best part of leagues with relegation-esque rules this is that no one is safe. Not even Jon Hamm.
Now, this isn't the end all, be all list of fantasy league rules, and that's part of the beauty of fantasy football. It's fake. Made up. Unicorn-esque. And you can make this unicorn into whatever your heart desires. That's why it's so fun and keeps growing year after year. There's a league for diehard fans, casual fans and every one in between. Good luck in your leagues this year. Football is so close I can taste it. And boy, let me tell you, it's delicious.