Ultimate Fantasy Football Commissioner Guide: Part 1 – The League

Fantasy football has exploded in popularity over the last 10 years.  The earliest version of the game can be traced back to 1962 and currently there at or around 33 million people that play fantasy football.  Yahoo, ESPN, CBS Sports, and NFL.com all have leagues that you can join for free and that adds to the ease of access to the game. So what does it take to be a great league commissioner?  What is a league commissioner? That is where I come in. Having played fantasy football since 2003, I have established a decade-plus of fantasy knowledge. I’m not Matthew Berry, but maybe one day.

The League


The first step to playing fantasy football is to find your league.  Since this article is going to be aimed at commissioners, your first step will be to find other people to join your league.  I recommend that leagues consist of a minimum of 8 people and a max of 16. For me personally, I think that 12 is the sweet spot for competitive leagues.  The reason for this is the player pool. 8-man leagues have a much smaller distribution of talent. Teams are often stacked with 4 or 5 superstar players.  12-man leagues will have less because of the 4 extra teams. This makes drafting well and the waiver wire more important. We will talk about the waiver wire and the draft a little later.  

Next, you should aim to pick a platform.  As mentioned above there are many. The two most popular are Yahoo and ESPN.  I prefer Yahoo based on its interface. The desktop site is very organized and the app is intuitive and has everything you need.  ESPN I have found to be a little more clunky but it does have a really nice game tracker built into the app. You must download Yahoo’s separately from the fantasy app.  Now that you have your teams and your platform, what kind of league do you want?  There are three main types: dynasty, keeper, and redraft.


Dynasty leagues are most like running an NFL team.  You keep everyone on your team that you want from year to year and you have a rookie draft to fill the spots you have open from retirements and people you release.  There are many, many settings and rules you can implement here and that is another article for another time.


The baby brother of dynasty leagues, keeper leagues give owners the ability to keep a certain number of players but not all (usually).  All leagues are customizable but in the leagues, I have been involved with there was a limit of 3 keepers. They usually come at the cost of a draft pick.  Once again it is very customizable.


The most common league.  Every year you redraft your entire roster.  Plain and simple it is a fresh start every single season.  The league I currently manage is in this format. It is the easiest type to manage and keeps more casual players invested because they don’t have to worry about draft pick compensation, player contracts, injuries, and it lowers the amount of research you have to do on the rookie class each season.

Now that we have covered the very beginning of the journey, be sure to check back to find out more about league settings, making a custom schedule, playoff formats and much more.  Part 2 will cover league settings.  Everything from points to offline/online drafts.  Stay tuned to TomDunaway.com for more!

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