Fantasy Football: A Commissioner's Checklist – Part I

Dennis Towle Jr.Contributor IAugust 12, 2009

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 9: Keith Ellison #56 of the Buffalo Bills tackles Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium on August 9, 2009 in Canton, Ohio. The Titans defeated the Bills 21-18. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

You’ve been playing fantasy football for about 5 years now. You seem to be getting the hang of what’s needed to be a good manager, and your record indicates that you’re a fairly good judge of who to play and who not to play. Each year you join more leagues here and there, and each year you seem to be able to juggle the football research with getting in a lineup each week. All in all, you think that you’re pretty good at this fantasy football thing.

But… there are those leagues! You know the ones, every fantasy football year you run into at least one of them:

1) The commissioner thinks he is the second coming of The Great and Powerful Oz – so he rules unilaterally in order that his team gets the most benefit.
2) There is one or more managers who believe that belittling everyone else is just plain hilarious – and heaven forbid you should try and tell them to shut up because you will now incur their wrath each and every week.
3) There is one manager with two teams, and somewhere down the road he thinks he’s going to stack one team with parts of the other team, so he concocts some idiotic trade hoping no one will veto it in time (and he keeps trying to push those trades through).
4) There is one or more managers who never check their teams or change their lineups.
5) There is one or more managers who will veto every trade just because one of their trades was vetoed.
6) The commissioner and a few of his buddies formed this league for their enjoyment – unfortunately, you joined that league and every player move you make is canceled, reversed, or better yet, the commissioner locks you out from your own team so you can’t make any moves.

Those six scenarios all happened to me over the years, and, in talking to other fantasy football players, those scenarios have also happened to most of them. I am sure that there are numerous other examples that can be told. It’s the chance that you take when you join someone else’s league. And frankly, you’re darn tired of dealing with it!

So, what do you do? For a majority of those fantasy football players out there, they just keep looking for a good league to join. But, for some of us out here, it’s time that we started our own league – be our own commissioner – set our own rules! Dag nabbit, that’s what we’re gonna do!

So where do you start? What rules do you have to know? How should you set the league up? How many teams? There’s a lot of questions that come to mind, and though I profess that I don’t know all of the answers, I believe that I know enough to get you started down Commissioner’s Lane to the Big Stadium of Trophies… (well, so-to-speak).

In Part II of this article, I will show you how to set up your own league and configure it as you see fit. But, right now, I would like to inform you of some pitfalls, missteps, and booby traps that await a new league setup and a new league commissioner. Once the league draft has been done, it’s a little hard to fix some problems – although not impossible.

After you’ve picked your league name, your point system, and your league configuration, and then accepted the settings, your handed the keys to the new league. First things first – you have to make yourself visible to the outside world unless you already have 11 other guys to fill in the open spots. So you need to “publish” the league. There are 2 ways to do this: By invitation or by open enrollment. By invitation, you have the potential joiners email you and you then send them the password to get in. With open enrollment you just sit back and wait for them to come to you. With either method the league enrollment process needs to be monitored closely, because a lot of the potential pitfalls occur here.

Personally, I require that ALL the incoming managers reveal their email addresses. Why? So that I don’t end up with one person that has 2 or more teams. It happens every year. It’s not illegal, but it is unethical. The one owner will try to sneak a “stack” trade in – this is a trade where he takes players from one of his teams and tries to send them over to his other team… kind of like having a second draft of sorts. As commissioner, your job early on is to look at each and every trade that comes across your desk and see if this might be the case. I have had to do some real detective work to find these dual managers and stop them.

So look at each new manager’s listed email address. Click on each new manager’s profile and see what they have done in the past, what were their previous team names and their previous leagues. If you find a duplicate, zap them form your league and send them a stern warning. If these new managers don’t want to list their email address, then zap them too.

Once you have a full league, use your Commissioner’s Note to talk to the league. If you have the luxury of time, feel out the managers to see when they would like to draft. Ask them to drop a not on the message board that says that they are ready to draft. Here again, you can still weed out bad managers if you find them. I look for over-the-top smack, rudeness, and profane comments. Then I zap them. There are thousands, if not millions of managers to choose from… but there is nothing more annoying than some big mouth with an attitude and a poison pen that ruins an otherwise fun season stuck in your league.

Once you draft your league, you’re locked in for the long haul. If you have crabby managers, profane smack talkers, and generally awful owners, you’re going to have to learn to live with it. So, weed them out beforehand – it will make the season go much smoother!

There are probably hundreds of other problems that can come up with fantasy leagues. Each problem has a solution, you just have to find it. My suggestion is always to document everything! Start a paper trail, mark the solutions, write down the contacts, and copy all of the correspondence. Your initial year might be fraught with tension and anxiety, but it does get better… and good luck!