Fantasy Football Etiquette: Don’t be THAT person!

The 2016 NFL Season kicks off this week, a day most football fans treat as a national holiday. The start to the season also means the start of fantasy football season. Fantasy football is a lot of fun, and that’s the primary purpose behind it. It brings new friends togethers, keeps old friends in touch, gives fans the ability to take advantage of their football knowledge, provides something to root for if your team is having a down year, and sometimes there is an opportunity to win some extra cash.

I’ve been playing fantasy football for about 15 years, have competed with co-workers, high school friends, family friends, fraternity brothers, fellow college alumni and random groups of people who just wanted to play in another league. I’ve played in leagues as small as six and as large as 72. Regardless of the league size, there seem to always be that league member that does things to annoy other members of the league. Most of the time, these people are completely unaware of their actions. As we approach the last weekend of fantasy drafts and before the season begins, this time would be as good as ever to consider some general guidelines for fantasy football etiquette.

Make the Draft a Priority

If you ask most fantasy players, they would tell you the best part of the season is the draft. I always feel bad for the person who misses the draft, if it’s due to not being able to make it or even if they don’t care enough to make it a priority. Hopefully everyone reading this plays in a league with a commissioner who tries to find a time that accommodates everyone. Unfortunately, life happens and some obligations are unavoidable. But, there are frequently a couple league members who miss the draft because they forgot all about it or fail to make it a priority.

Occasionally, someone says they are unavailable, which is translated as “I would rather do ________ (activity that wait) at that time.” The draft is a fun event, and it shouldn’t be seen as that dentist appointment that you have already rescheduled twice. It should be the event that every league member looks forward to each season. It marks the beginning of the season. But if you are at the point where you are dreading the draft or trying to avoid it altogether, you probably need to ask yourself if that league is for you, or even fantasy football altogether.

No one cares about your team

I hate to break it to you, but nobody cares about your team. No one cares about how you nailed your draft. No one cares about your savvy waiver wire pickup of the player who explodes the following week. No one cares about your decision to sit a star in order to start the perennial bench warmer that works out in your favor. No one cares about how stacked your team is. No one cares about how unlucky you were with injuries. No one cares that you scored the most points in the league but missed the playoffs. No one cares that you spent your first round pick on a player who eventually gets arrested and/or suspended.

Ultimately, nobody cares how good or bad your team is, regardless of the circumstance. Unless someone asks, keep it to yourself. I can’t ever remember being out at a bar, amongst friends or at a game and someone turns to me and says “Hey, tell me about your fantasy team.” If that ever happens, go ahead and tell them. But otherwise, enjoy the game, drink some beer and consider starting a conversation that interests those around you.

Making Trades: Don’t be a Pain in the Ass 

Making trades is one of the best parts about fantasy football. However, sometimes the road to getting a deal done can be a bumpy one, and that doesn’t account for dealing with a tough negotiator on the other end of the trade. There are a few basic guidelines to follow in order to avoid irritating your fellow league members and preventing them from wanting to deal with you in the future.

  1. Don’t be lazy. There is not another four-word fantasy sports phrase I detest more than “Send me an offer”. This is the worst. It’s lazy and it very rarely gets you closer to agreeing on a deal. Information needs to be exchanged to assure productive trade talks. Both owners need to know what the other person is looking to accomplish in the deal, or what type of player or specific player they are trying to acquire. This needs to be the starting point of trade talks. If this information is shared, the chances of agreeing to a trade go up exponentially.
  2. Don’t patronize the other person. Fantasy football is a game of pride, and trying to prove to your friends that you know more about football than they do. Even if you feel that way, show some class and discretion. Don’t waste the other person’s time with ridiculous, lopsided propositions that ultimately insults the other person’s intelligence. Does each person want to feel like they won the deal? Absolutely. The goal in any type of negotiation is simple: Try to get as much as you can with giving up as little as possible. While that may be the case, it’s easy to accomplish this without opening disrespecting the person on the other end of the deal.
  3. Don’t use obviously flawed logic during negotiation. My favorite example is trying to devalue the other person’s player by saying,  “That guy is on your bench”. This is irrelevant. Just because one owner has more elite players at the same position than available starting spots does not mean they should trade one of those players for lesser value. If you want an elite player, accept that you will need to give up what you would ordinarily give up for one, regardless of either’s team’s roster construction or situation.     

Dealing with multiple leagues 

It is becoming more and more common for fantasy players to participate in multiple leagues. In fact, It seems like the norm while those who play in a single league are an endangered species. While the majority play in multiple leagues, most of those people are not free from dilemma. Keeping track of the different rules, players and scenarios can be taxing enough, especially with mediocre organizational skills. If you can manage that component, its the following scenario is something we all have or will encounter at some point.

With multiple teams, its inevitable that you will have a player in one league that is going against you in another. You might be thinking, “What do I do? Who do I root for? How good of a game do I want this player to have to help me in one league before they hurt me in the other?” Just trying to figure out the numbers can be stressful enough as it is. Sometimes this can also impact your decision-making when it comes time to setting your lineup. My advice for how to deal with this is so simplistic it will probably frustrate some of you.

Approach each team independently as its own entity, completely ignoring any and all other leagues. Prepare for that league by making roster decisions based on what gives you the best chance to win each week.

Set it and forget it. A lot of people struggle with this concept. I certainly did up until last football season. It sounds crazy to set a fantasy lineup and not think about your team during an entire NFL Sunday. I am not at all suggesting you forget about your team altogether. But while you’re watching your team, enjoying an intense defensive struggle between division rivals or a shootout between offensive juggernauts, put the phone down for a few hours.It can do you some good.

We are too addicted to our phones these days as it is. Its that much worse during football season, when everyone has to constantly monitor their fantasy teams by the minute. It’s even worse when it’s the people who are at the actual games in the stands. Give it a break. Enjoy the game, some drinks,  the atmosphere and check in after the game. If you absolutely cannot wait, check during halftime or in between quarters.

NFL Sunday’s are great days, like 17 mini holidays. If you’re a passionate football fan, these days can cause enough angst before fantasy football enters the equation. Watching your team along with trying to keep up with the status of all your fantasy teams can easily turn a day of enjoyment into an afternoon of unnecessary stress. Last season, I employed this strategy and enjoyed football season much more than expected, even with my Eagles being a disaster.

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