I received the following e-mail from a reader about being a League Commissioner.
Any advice on how to be a great commissioner in FF this season? I’ve played 4 seasons now, but this is the first time I’ve been put in charge of running our office’s league and I want to do a standout job my first time running the show.
Los Angeles, CA”
I am the commissioner for 3 leagues this year with various classmates and friends. I’m also doing a few high stakes league – I recommend NFFC or FFPC (nffc.fanball.com/satellite or www.myffpc.com/) Being a commissioner can be stressful, but pretty fun. Here are some tips:
You need to be on top of communicating with your league. Keep track of who you’ve invited, who is yet to reply, and have standbys. You don’t want to accidentally have 18 people confirm at the last minute, you don’t want only 6, and you don’t want an odd number. Also, communicate to them the buy-in if there is one (which always keeps people interested) and any abnormal rules, especially if they’ve changed since last season (though it sounds like this is a brand new league in your case, Charlton).
No one likes a tyrannical commissioner. So you shouldn’t give yourself too much power. Let the league do a popular vote over any scoring or roster changes. I like to let the league vote on trades too, rather than having the commish veto. And don’t edit any rosters, even if someone is starting players on byes (God forbid).
3) The Draft
Again, you’ll need to actively communicate with your leaguemates about when and where you’ll draft, because you really can’t do it if someone is unavailable. Auto-drafting kills any chance that manager will be interested throughout the season. Online drafts work fine, but live drafts at someone’s place (rather than a crowded sports bar) are usually much more fun.
There are many cool ways to pick draft order: some draw numbers from a hat, some play a preliminary poker tournament where the winner picks his draft spot, some put a number on the bottom of a cookie or a beer, some use the reverse order of last years results (so last year’s last place finisher gets the #1 pick this year), and professional leagues will allow each manager to rank their draft pick preferences and go through each person’s bids like a lottery. You’ll want a big draft board because you can’t rely on each manager to keep track on who they’ve drafted and who’s still available. Also, enforce a time limit – 2 minutes per pick should keep the draft under 3 hours.
In my leagues in which I can rank my preference of draft spots, I’ve ranked them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. This is because you can’t go wrong with the top five (CJ, MJD, AP, Rice, and Gore) but there’s a significant drop-off after that. So I’d rather clean up whoever’s left at the end of round 1 and get another elite guy in the beginning of round 2: a Mendenhall, Charles, Greene, Randy Moss, Andre Johnshon, Brees, or Rodgers.
4) Scoring and Roster
This is really a matter of personal preference, but definitely don’t make a radical change (like making 5 yards equal 1 point for Tight Ends) without notifying your league, and/or voting on it. I like leagues with between 12 and 16 managers. When you play with 8 people, it doesn’t matter if you find the diamonds in the rough because you will never start them anyway. So IF your league is 10 or smaller, I recommend adding roster spots – make it a 2 QB league and add another flex option (W/R where you can start a WR or a RB).
I like to compromise a little between Points Per Reception leagues (PPR) and non-PPR. So I make receptions = .2 points, and completions = .1 points. It really barely makes a difference in the end so no one will have to adjust their draft strategy. But it makes games more fun when there’s a completion for zero yards, and your QB and WR get at least something.
I like to emphasize passing yards and completions for QBs over their TDs. So I always go 25 passing yards equal one point (rather than 30 yards), and I make passing TDs 4 instead of 6 points.
Finally, 1 non-standard scoring change I like is making a fumble equal -1 points, and a lost fumble equal an addition -1 points. This is because a player should be punished when he fumbles, but whether it’s recovered is usually out of his control. So you’ll always lose a point with a fumble, and then if possession is lost, it will amount to the usual -2 points.
I hope this helps, Charlton! Good luck to all commissioners out there. And remember, with great power comes great responsibility.