Posted: Wednesday August 1, 2012 11:10AM ; Updated: Wednesday August 1, 2012 11:10AM

Shake-up your fantasy league

Story Highlights

Tweaking fantasy football fees can make for interesting strategic roster decisions

Leagues can extend excitement of draft by altering how draft order is made

Free-agent waiver process should b changed to not reward Week 1 losers

By David Gonos, DavidGonos.com, Special to SI.com

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DeMarco Murray helped many a fantasy team off the waiver wire  last year when he emerged for Dallas as a starting running back.
DeMarco Murray helped many a fantasy team off the waiver wire last year when he emerged for Dallas as a starting running back.
Tim Heitman -- US PRESSWIRE

Back in my day, we had to wait until Saturday to watch cartoons. And we'd get detention for passing notes because texting didn't exist. And our fantasy football leagues were TD-only scoring.

That's right. Barry Sanders averaged seven TDs over a three-year stretch, making him a fleet-footed RB2 in fantasy, scoring 42 points a season.

We were barbarians, I know.

But everything evolves, including fantasy football over the past 20 years. From adding points for yardage, to adding a third wide receiver, to adding a flex position, to drafting IDPs, to auctions, to survivor leagues -- the sport of fantasy football is always being modified every five years or so.

It's time to start modifying again!

Let's Fix Something That Ain't Broke!

Before you click on the Twitter link to e-yell at me that I'm ruining the purity of the game that your great-grandfather taught you, just hear me out.

I'm not trying to make you throw your league out, start anew with European scoring rules or anything. All I'm saying is you're probably in more than one league already. So think about making some alterations to one of your "other" leagues. You can even get the same guys from your one league and get them to try one of these alternative ideas.

You're So Money, You Don't Even Know It

Collecting league fees is always a pain every season. Maybe the first six teams that pay their fees get a 10-percent discount and the last three teams have to pay a 20-percent penalty?

In one dynasty league I was in, we instituted a rule where each year, all of the teams would pay 125 percent of the league fees. So we would pay $125 for a $100 league fee. That extra $25 would go into a kitty, and then, after four seasons, we had a Super Duper Bowl. This meant the champion that season would take home a prize that had been building for four seasons, adding up to an extra $1,200. The reason this was so great was because it added an extra layer of strategy, as some teams would adjust their strategies in Year 2 or 3 in order to gear up for a big Year 4.

I did not win. So this rule is dumb!

Feeling a Draft

My buddy George is Australian and he loves fantasy football. Did you know their fantasy football drafts go in a counter-clockwise order, and the 12th pick selects first and the first pick drafts last? OK, well, sometimes I lie.

But I do think people don't take advantage of how exciting the draft and the draft lottery can be. Too often, we're all so excited to get the draft going, that we zoom through the lottery and rush our way through the draft. Take a step back and enjoy it!

Rather than just have the same old hat with the same old names being pulled out of it, mix it up. I read on Reddit where someone set up a beer pong table, and people tossed ping pong balls into mixed-up red solo cups that had a draft number on the bottom of it. That's what determined their draft order! Be creative!

Also, consider allowing the lottery winner to choose where in the draft they'd like to pick. Personally, I'd rather have the third overall pick over the first two picks. You'd get one of the top three running backs (Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice), and you'd end up with a higher draft pick in the second round than the other two owners.

If you're in a keeper league, think about putting three names into the hat for the worst team, and two names in for the second-worst team. This gives them a better chance at a high draft pick, hopefully, counteracting the fact they likely don't have great keepers. If you are in a dynasty league, they should automatically get the top pick.

Riding the Waivers

It's not uncommon to see the teams that lose in Week 1 finding themselves in the championship at the end of the season. A couple years ago, Week 1 losers had a chance to snatch up players like Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis.

So rather than over-rewarding a loser, how about changing to a free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB) system? This allows everyone the same chance at all the players every week. They can bid on players each Wednesday, choosing to spend what they want, with a $100 budget for the year (free agents are free after Thursday).

Another fun option is to have your waivers play out on Twitter! Players can be picked up and dropped at any time -- even during a game! Talk about making Sunday dinner at the in-laws stressful!

The first one to pick up a player gets him -- and whomever he drops is instantly available to other owners. This reminds me of a boiler room at some finance firm on Wall Street with people yelling "Buy! Buy!" and "Sell! Sell!" and "Who ate my sandwich!?!" (I honestly don't know what goes on in those boiler rooms, but I like to think there are a lot of sandwiches being pilfered out of the breakroom fridge.)

"The Twitter" is underutilized by many fantasy owners. There's a lot to be learned on there, and I've set up a huge list of 66 Fantasy Twitter people to follow that will help you for free.

Fantasy League Alternatives

RESERVES: In real football, depth is pretty important, as it should be in fantasy football. So your fantasy reserves should go up against your opponent's fantasy reserves, and if you outscore their team, you get six bonus points added to your team's score (but you don't also get the points from your reserves).

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Give the best teams in the regular season a three-point advantage heading into their matchups against the lower seeds. But remember, there's no home-field advantage in the Super Bowl.

RIVALRY WEEK: Set up the schedule so that the second week of the season is a rivalry week -- pitting natural rivals against each other in all of the matchups. Brother against brother-in-law. Father against son-in-law. Best friend against best friend. Inmate against warden. And then, give the winner the ability to change the losing owner's team name to whatever he wants for ONE WEEK!

DOUBLE-HEADERS: Most commissioner services allow you to schedule double-headers, so why not make the first week coming off of byes into a double-header Fantasy extravaganza!?! That means Week 12, when many teams' fantasy fates are still in the balance, there could be a two-game swing! You can even leave the matchups open until after Week 11, and face the two top teams off against each other, and the third/fourth teams, fifth/sixth teams, etc. Brilliant!

PLAYOFFS: Rather than go off of records for the sixth and final playoff spot, reward that last seed to the remaining team with the highest points scored total. For those teams that randomly lost games in which they scored the second-highest points that week, now they have a saving grace.

COLLEGE PLAYERS: This last one is kinda kooky (unlike all of the sane ideas above). In Week 12, just a couple weeks before the Heisman Trophy is awarded, allow the two worst teams in your keeper league to draft one college football player apiece. This makes for a great topic for debate in-season, and it injects some excitement into a normally detached group of owners. Peyton Manning, Randy Moss and Ricky Williams were all great college player picks in my old keeper league. Lawrence Phillips, however, was not.

Hopefully, you can install some of these rules into your league -- or better yet, it inspired you to come up with some interesting rules of your own! Tweet them to me! (Grown men should not say, "Tweet.")

David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy football leagues. He has drafted both Curt and Kurt Warner in his lifetime, and he owns a Trent Dilfer Bucs jersey (jealous, much?) He also dispenses fantasy advice on his own site, DavidGonos.com, along with various stories about life's lessons learned through fantasy sports. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.

 
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