Football season is back, and Dallas is looking pretty good this year. Of course that also means that fantasy football is also back and half the office staff is really excited about that. But this year, why not get in on the fun and start an office league? It can be a great team building exercise and a way to foster closer networking with each other. Plus it’s a ton of fun!
Of course there are a few disclaimers and things that every office needs to be careful of.
- Avoid Money: many fantasy football leagues have a buy in and cash prizes. But to steer clear of gambling laws, it is a good idea to just avoid money altogether. Don’t worry there are other ways to incentivize players and keep it interesting.
- Be Friendly To Everyone: As hard as it is to imagine, but not everyone cares about football or fantasy football. Just like not everyone cares about Game of Thrones, or The Bachelor, or whatever thing is popular in your office. So be respective of the people who don’t want to talk about or listen to fantasy football all day every day at work.
- Be Respectful Of Company Time: The biggest reason that fantasy football has taken off and become more popular than other fantasy sports is because it isn’t an everyday thing. It is just once a week. That means, in theory, you can spend 5 minutes a week on Saturday setting your lineup for the week and be totally fine. Of course it is more fun to strategize, trade, and spend more time on it, but remember to be respectful of company time while at work. Unfortunately you aren’t paid to be a professional fantasy football general manager.
The Draft Party
For many people, the draft is the most fun part of the entire fantasy season. For others it can be a stressful experience. In order to relieve the stress of those who feel like they don’t know very much about fantasy football, here are a few tips to be inclusive.
- Location: Find a great after work spot for the draft. Maybe a favorite restaurant, sports bar, or even someone’s house. Finding a place that everyone in the office likes and that has wifi means that even if you don’t know who to draft, you’ll still know how to have fun.
- The Right App: ESPN and Yahoo are the two most popular fantasy apps for a reason. They both offer easy to use interfaces and tons of tips, advice and help. There are literally hundreds of apps available, though so find one that makes your group feel the most at ease.
- It’s OK To Auto Draft: The draft is a lot of fun, and for many the research, the tension, and suspense of trying to get the players that you really want are a big part of the appeal. But for others who feel they don’t know the players well enough, who get stressed out by the selection timer, or even who just aren’t available at draft time, auto draft is totally fine. In fact, it often selects a better team than those who overthink it. So go ahead and turn on auto draft if you want and watch the computer steal the best players from your coworkers.
The Regular Season
The entire fall is football season, and all the joys, triumphs, and defeats that come with that. Here are some tips to make your office fantasy football league season a successful one.
- Be Respectful Of Company Time: This is a reminder from the point earlier in the article but it is still important to remember. It can be easy over time to wander over to sports sites when you get bored at work and start plotting your next moves. Or to spam the office email with trade offers and trash talk. You are at work to get work done, the fantasy league is to make that work and time spent with coworkers more enjoyable, not the other way around.
- Don’t Get Too Competitive: Speaking of trash talk, it is fun, great part of fantasy football. And for many it is the entire reason to get involved. But it is extremely important to remember that we don’t get too competitive and ruin everyone else’s fun. Fantasy works best when everyone is having fun.
- Trading Is Fun But Not Required: Trading and making deals is one of the best ways to keep the league interesting and fun. Usually there is a league manager who keeps things fair and balanced so people shouldn’t have to worry (too much) about getting ripped off. But not everyone likes trading, and even the ones who do, don’t like dealing with that person who only offers lopsided deals. Don’t be that person, and if someone isn’t interested in trading at all, don’t pester them. It isn’t their job to make your team better, even if you think it is in their best interest.
- Incentivize: The league will be more fun if people have a reason to try. We’ve already ruled out money, but there are a lot of different ways to keep things interesting. Perhaps there is a tedious boring job that nobody likes doing, that the winner can be made exempt from, or a premium parking spot. The flipside is also true, fantasy football becomes a chore when the person you’re playing against stopped caring weeks ago and half of their team is disabled or on bye weeks. Having some sort of incentive or punishment to avoid coming in last place can keep players from tanking. Maybe that task that the winner doesn’t have to do can be given to the loser, or the worst parking spot in the lot. It can even be something not that terrible and maybe even beneficial, such as being required to run a 5k. Even non-last place finishers may want to join the loser.
Going The Extra Mile To Make It Fun
If you really want to make your league one to remember, there are several options to make it super fun.
- Newsletter/email updates: Keep the league informed of what’s going on, who is making moves, what player needs needs to be known, and most of all… inside jokes. They are, after all, what the league is all about!
- Trophies: each week hand out “trophies” or awards. Many fantasy apps have digital trophies that can be awarded for any reason. Including, most points scored this week, best team name, most injured players, best single player contribution, or whatever you can think of. These trophies don’t cost anything and they don’t even really mean anything but they can add that extra bit of fun in your league.
- Video/podcast: If you have the time and inclination to create your own sports talk show, you can make your league one of the best. Just a weekly recap of the scores, gentle mocking about strategies, speculations on trades, and reviewing upcoming games can quickly fill a half an hour and be the talk of the office. No fancy editing required, just your computer!
How you finish will determine how people remember the season. Here are some great tips for finishing strong.
- Awards Are Fun: Give everyone an award. It doesn’t have to be a participation trophy, but find something unique or interesting about that person’s season to reward. Even if it is funny or weird, like “most players to wind up in jail,” “Or most likely to have their bench outscore their starters.” People like awards.
- Stanley Cup Style Trophy: The best trophy in all of sports is the Stanley Cup. This is for 2 reasons. The first is because it is giant. It is huge. It looks like you just won the world and are galactic champions. The second reason is because you have to give it back to the winner of the following year. That makes the trophy especially coveted because you have all year to think about it, and all year to worry about losing it, if you are the current champion. Your trophy doesn’t have to be a literal trophy, but the flashier and more tangible, the better.
- Host An Awards Party: If the draft day is the most fun day of the year, make the awards party the second most fun. Find a way to include everyone and make sure that they aren’t too bummed out about a losing season. Invite the rest of the office, even if they aren’t into fantasy football they can see why everyone else is.
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