Three Ideas to Improve Your Fantasy League Next Season

The Big Three-Oh has now passed. No, not Edouard Mendy’s recent birthday – we’re talking about gameweek 30.


At this point in the season, your fantasy fate is nearing its conclusion. Fighting for the title, pushing for a playoff place, or battling to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon, whatever your position, it’s not long until the dust settles on another Premier League season. And then in turn, before the curtain rises on another one.


The March international break is about as entertaining as the final season of Peaky Blinders*, but despite the boredom, it does present a great opportunity to put some plans in place for next season. Struggling to keep everyone engaged for 38 games? Need to put some oomph back into proceedings? Want the fantasy equivalent of going from The World Is Not Enough to Casino Royale (without having to enlist the help of Daniel Craig)?


Here are three ideas to incorporate into your fantasy league next season to increase the thrills and spills of the game.


*As a die-hard Peaky fan, born in Birmingham, I’m allowed to say this.


1. The AFER (Always Fielding Eleven Reward)

The aim of the AFER is simple: to reward players for checking and changing their teams. For readers of The Draft Society such as yourself, likely towards the top of the league, this sounds simple and obvious. But not everybody can be racking up wins like Hamilton in a non-corrupt F1 season. There are always losses to be handed out each week, and inevitably, there are a couple of people accumulating more than their fair share by the time January rolls around.


Hopefully, these people take the Norwich City approach to losing and keep on plugging away, happy to be involved and not doing anything to rock the boat. But you and I both know that this is not always the case. Once Dave has realised his title dreams are as likely as Manchester United’s, or Kevin calculates his playoff chances as equivalent to the Orlando Magic, there is an inevitable plunge in their fantasy commitment.


The absence of waiver pickups and trade offers isn’t the end of the world – we’re not asking for Richard Williams levels of dedication (yes, I’ve just got round to watching it – how good was Will Smith?!). But we do expect some line-up changes. Taking out the defender who was sent off last weekend, the midfielder who recently suffered a long-term injury, or even the forward about to face Manchester City shouldn’t be too much to ask. The AFER provides an added incentive to do just that (just in case fantasy managerial self-respect is not enough). Here’s how it works:


If a team does not field 10 or more players in ANY gameweek, they owe £1 to “the pot”. The last team to have managed to field 11 players every gameweek win the whole pot. If multiple teams achieve this after 38 gameweeks, the pot is awarded to the team that fielded the most players in total (i.e., double gameweeks).


Notes:

  1. £1 works nicely because it is not a sizeable punishment for the individual at the time, but when accumulated across the whole season and whole league, often provides a considerable incentive. Of course, you can set the penalty to whatever value and currency you want.

  2. You can change the threshold for the penalty if you wish. A minimum of 10 players feels fair as it does allow some wiggle room if a surprise team selection causes you to not reach the full 11 in a given gameweek, but you could certainly be stricter (or more lenient) if you prefer.

  3. Splitting the pot so that the last two teams still standing win it could be something to consider, but our league is very much “all or nothing”!

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2. The Elimination Pot

Yes, another pot. At this rate, your league will have more pot than Winnie the Pooh/Snoop Dogg (delete depending on your innocence) but it’ll be worth it – trust me.


The Elimination Pot requires your league to play for money. It does not need to be much at all – the primary point of any money that is played for in our beautiful game of fantasy should not be to reward success, it should be to encourage participation. My league uses the following distribution for monetary incentives:

Like the AFER, the Elimination Pot intends to encourage fantasy involvement both within each gameweek and across the season. No more giving up if Jamie Vardy and Ben Chilwell have put your fantasy team to the sword on Friday Night Football (remember that?), or if your Chelsea defensive stack have all finished in minus numbers after conceding three in the early Saturday game. The Elimination Pot is all about avoiding being the worst. Here’s how it works:


In a 12-team league, every team starts with three lives. In each gameweek, the lowest-scoring team loses a life. The last team still standing wins the Elimination Pot.


Notes:

  1. It is always the lowest-scoring team from those which still have lives, not just the lowest-scoring team in the league…it would likely never end if that was the case!

  2. It’s probably best to have an idea of what to do on the rare occasion that two teams have the equal lowest score…you don’t want another Michael Masi episode.

  3. Three lives works nicely if you’re in a 12-team league with playoffs because the Elimination Pot should conclude in either gameweek 33, 34, or 35, but you may want to alter this depending on your setup. One potential idea if you are in a bigger league (or smaller league starting with more than three lives) is to have certain gameweeks set aside for “double jeopardy” (where the lowest two scores lose a life).

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3. Trade Incentives

Ah, trading. The enigma that distinguishes the glorious draft game from its boring, older brother. A good trade can be as fun as a win – the initial offer sent with hope (and maybe desperation?!), the back-and-forth negotiations where you’re constantly trying to get the upper hand, the moment the deal is struck when you realise there’s no going back now – it has all the emotions of a fantasy season let alone a single gameweek. But all too often trading becomes scarcer than an away fan at Stamford Bridge.


Managers are paralyzed with the fear of being “mugged off”. The self-preservation of ego is so rife that psychologists could have a field day analysing the whole phenomenon. There are, of course, some managers that act as exceptions to prove the rule. Our very own Genie can make Mina Raiola look like a laid-back observer of trade action, and the legend that is Totti often has his hand in more trade pies than Harry Redknapp in his glory days.


But when your league doesn’t contain managers capable of writing volume 2 of Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, what can you do to encourage some transfer action? Here’s one suggestion for you:


Incentivise trades with additional waiver budget. The first step, of course, is to ensure your league uses the “bidding” Waiver Wire claim system. If you haven’t been doing this, then please, welcome your league to the 21st century as soon as possible. Bidding waivers adds an extra, delicious layer of nuance to the draft fantasy cake and is reason 6,483 of why this game is better than OFPL. For more information on bidding waivers (also termed ‘FAB’) check out our draft fantasy A-to-Z here.

To check and/or change your waiver wire settings, have the Commissioner go to 'League Setup' > 'Transactions & Periods' > 'Claims/Drops'. From here they can edit numerous functions - the above image is an example of the waiver settings in my league.


So how does this work? You could simply reward teams who make trades with additional waiver budget, but I don’t like that. It is too easily manipulated. You inevitably end up with teams trading Jordan Pickford for Vicente Guaita, just to rack up the cash monies. Instead, waiver budget should be awarded to a team when a trade wins them their gameweek. Admittedly, this is a little more complicated than our other ideas, but I’ll walk you through it with an example.


Team A trades Maxwel Cornet to team B for Emile Smith Rowe in gameweek 10. In gameweek 13, Team A wins a match by 10 points, with Cornet scoring 25 and Smith Rowe scoring 5. Without the trade, Team A would not have won their gameweek, therefore they are rewarded with an extra $10 to their waiver budget. Importantly, there is NO LOSS incurred to Team B in the process – remember, we’re trying to incentivise trading!


Notes:

  1. This idea needs to be self-governed – if a team thinks a prior trade has won them a gameweek, they should message the league Commissioner to check, confirm, and if correct, apply the reward (it is too much to ask a Commissioner to keep track of it all themselves).

  2. This reward is not a one-time deal either – it occurs every time the trade wins that team a match and only ceases if the player is traded on or dropped from the roster.

  3. This idea probably works best in leagues that are in dire need of a kick up the trading backside - if the majority of teams are already receptive to wheeling and dealing, then the added workload for the commissioner may become a little too much!

  4. As with the previous ideas, the actual reward amount can be amended as you see fit – we have a reward of $10 and a starting budget of $400 (thus, the incentive is an additional 2.5%).

To check and/or change your waiver wire budget, have the Commissioner go to 'Team Administration'. From here, they can select the appropriate team in the top left and then amend numerous items - the final one ('Remaining WW Claim Budget') being the necessary row for this idea.


So there you have it. Three superb suggestions to take your league from a 1991-92 old-style First Division to the glitz and glamour of the 1992-93 Premier League era. Gianni Infantino, if you’re reading this you can contact me through Twitter at https://twitter.com/the_innergeek where I have more great ideas to fix football.



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