FB106 – Countering Apathy

05/20/2007 12:00 AM - 

Countering Apathy
Contributed By: Jon Stulberg

There seems to be an epidemic that affects almost every fantasy league. What do you do about that owner in 9th place who’s basically called it a season, and its only May 5th?

To all of you who play in free public leagues, the only thing I can say to you is condolences. There’s really nothing you can do in leagues that are open to the public. You’re either lucky enough to have a league filled with active participants or you’re in one of those leagues where the guy drops Scott Rolen for David Bell simply because he’s a Phillies fan trying to get his team to be the entire Phillies lineup.

The rest of you, create your private leagues with people you know, or who come with references about their level and seriousness of play. After that, there are steps you can take to at least try to ensure that all owners take the league seriously, until the last pitch of the season.

Establish a Keeper League: If you establish your league allowing for a certain number of keepers at year’s end, you’ll keep the bottom dwellers involved as they try to prepare to make a better showing in the next season. Even if an owner drops out of the league, you’ve essentially franchised a team so someone else can simply take over that team going forward. You’ll want to establish a number low enough for people to actually have to make trades in order to acquire new keepers, but high enough so that they aren’t already sitting there with 1 stud player they know they are keeping so why bother paying attention any more. In a standard 12 team league, something in the 4-6 player per team range usually works well.

Be Creative with the final order and the following years draft: If the following year’s draft order is simply reverse order of finish, you may find yourself watching an owner dump his team in order to claim the #1 pick in the next year’s draft. There are a few things you can do to prevent that:

1. If your league has an entry fee, you can establish additional monetary penalties for lower place finishes. For instance, if your entry fee is $200 per team, establish that the team in last pays an additional $75, the team in second to last an additional $50 and the team in third to last $25. This will curtail some of the dumping trades and will stimulate a bottom dweller to do his best in order to avoid having to pay the additional penalty.

2. Set up the draft NBA lottery style. This will give the team in last place the most chances at the #1 pick, but doesn’t guarantee they get it. If there’s no guarantee you get the #1 pick, then pure pride should force you to compete your hardest to avoid being the chump of the league.

3. Set up the draft NBA lottery style but give non-money winning teams MORE chances then the bottom dwellers. For instance, say you’re in a 12 team league and the top 3 get some payment in return. Then starting with the 4th place finisher, you give 12 chances at the #1 pick all the way down the standings. The end result would look like this:

4th place: 12 chances
5th place: 11 chances
6th place: 10 chances
7th place: 9 chances
8th place: 8 chances
9th place: 7 chances
10th place: 6 chances
11th place: 5 chances
12th place: 4 chances
3rd place: 3 chances
2nd place: 2 chances
Champ: 1 chance

What this could do is encourage teams near the bottom of the standings to at least try their hardest to move up the standings in order to have a heightened chance at a better draft position for the next season.

4. Some combination of any or all of the above.

Any and all of the above suggestions will at least help keep all owners in your league active for most if not all of the season. Of course, as is the case with anything, someone is going to find the loophole in the rules to take advantage of them. Therefore, I suggest that every year, all or a group of owners sit down to discuss the league rules and parameters and see what can be done to improve the league going forward. For the most part, if you establish a league with a trustworthy group of intelligent fantasy owners, you’ll have a successful league that could last for decades.

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