If you've played fantasy football for any length of time, you've likely run into situations that weren't covered by your league's rules.
In a free league, this can be unfortunate.
In a money league, this can fracture friendships.
While 2020 has been filled with uncertainty, we can look for previously unforeseen obstacles and try to be in front of these issues.
Let's cover three situations that might arise in your local league, starting with the one that could cause the biggest concern.
Issue 1: The NFL doesn't complete 16 weeks
Solution: Have a way to crown a champion and pay prizes regardless of how many weeks the NFL plays.
Normally, your league champion is obvious. It's likely the person who won in Week 16. Well, what if there isn't a Week 16? While we all hope the NFL will be able to get through their entire regular season, that's not a 100% lock.
Do your league rules have anything in place for crowning a champion and/or paying out league winnings if your championship game isn't played?
They need to. And the rule really doesn't matter.
Any of these would be fine:
- Make the team with the most points scored is the champion.
- Make the team with the best record the champion.
- Make it a combination where half the money goes to the point-scored leader and half goes to the best record.
- Make your season cover only 14 weeks.
If you have a playoff system in your league, you'll likely want something like this in the rules:
- If the league playoffs begin before the NFL's season is canceled, only teams in the league playoffs are eligible to be the champion.
- If the league playoffs do not begin before the NFL's season is canceled, all teams are eligible to be the champion.
But -- and this is important -- the actual rule doesn't matter. You just absolutely must have a rule. You don't want multiple people -- each of whom have a stake in the outcome -- to argue over how to disperse money or crown a champion. It could tear your league apart.
Issue 2: Some of your league's teams have too many players with COVID-19
Solution: Create one or more reserve spots for each team to use
There will be players who get placed on the NFL COVID-IR list. To think otherwise would be very far outside the mainstream. For most of the teams in your league, however, this probably won't be an issue. They might have a player or two who misses a week, but that happens normally with injuries. Fantasy players just make it work.
But there likely will be a team or two in your league who gets very unlucky and has a rash of COVID hit their roster at the same time. These teams will need some relief from this random occurrence.
There isn't a need to increase everyone's roster size -- that would deplete the available free-agent pool. Instead, just allow a couple of COVID-specific reserve spots. Only players who are on the NFL's list would be eligible for this, so one of your teams wouldn't be able to put just anyone there. But this will help conserve the overall competitive balance in your league.
Issue 3: Someone can't or doesn't want to draft in person
Solution: Allow an online drafting option
Most leagues these days already allow their players to draft remotely, but there are still some leagues where the issue has never arisen. Whether it's explicitly in the rules or everyone has always been able to draft live, the need to draft online hasn't been an issue.
It could be this year.
Having that capability set up way before your draft day is the smart option. You don't want someone to quit because they weren't comfortable getting together for a live draft. While we all want to see our friends, we also don't want to lose them from our league because they didn't think a live event was appropriate. There will always be next year. Also, it might be extra difficult to replace someone on short notice.
Making these three changes your rules could save tons of headaches later. Get to work on them right now.