As the Commissioner of your fantasy football league, its your job to make sure people are playing the game fair and competitively, while having fun doing so. There are a couple scenarios that really get to me when doing fantasy and can leave me feeling sour at the end of the season. Firstly, I can not stand when people forget, or just flat out refuse, to login each week and set their starters. Easy wins are easy and to me there is no gratification in that. Another thing that bothers me as a commissioner, mostly because of heart, is seeing people who really focus, do their research, make excellent moves on the waiver wire and just come up short at the end-of-season payout.
Over the years, I've tried to make my leagues as fun as possible for a couple reasons; to attract new and interest players, and to sustain the focus from week to week. I've compiled a small list of things that I do to help keep people interested, which ultimately will keep them logging in from week to week.
1. King of The Hill (KoTH) – Side games are a great way to keep focus for your league players. KoTH is a fun game where league players choose a single game and then predict the winner of that game. So long as the player has chosen correctly, they will move on. The catch is that each player can only pick a team to win one game throughout the season. If the Patriots are playing the Broncos, and I choose the Patriots to win that game, I can not pick the Patriots again all season.
2. Weekly Challenge – This can be a wide range of topics or scenarios, its really up to your creativity as a commissioner. I like to setup challenges that are simple, but have payouts each week. A challenge idea can be as basic as "Which Kicker will score the highest fantasy points this week?" or narrow it down a tad bit and have it be "Which Kicker will kick the most field goals?".
3. Pick 'Em – Another idea for a side game is a Pick' em forum, where players submit their prediction for each games result throughout the season. Each win can be worth 1 point, and have a running total go until the end of the season. You could even choose to do a separate for play-offs as well.
4. Bounties – A great way to keep people focused and having fun is to encourage people to track bounties. A bounty is a select set of instances that can payout money or be just for fun. A bounty can be "QB with the longest touchdown pass" or "TE with the most touchdown's scored". This is different from Weekly Challenges because they are running throughout the season, not just for one week.
5. Credits / Debits – This is for the more aggressive fantasy leagues. It's a method that I like to use in higher paying leagues, to really keep the attention of my members. A credit can be if someone has a big streak of logging in, maybe adding a point or two to their end of the week score, or in my case, adding money to payouts. A debit is going to be when someone fails to login one week and loses points, or money for not doing so. In case you're wondering, most websites have a way of logging when people sign in to their fantasy team. I like to give everyone a starting pot of $ 5, and add or subtract when necessary. This really encourages everyone to pay attention and stay focused!
These are just a few ideas that I like to use, and each one can really be expanded to fit your leagues style of play. "But Nate, I do not like football and I only play Fantasy Baseball!". That's fine, I say. You can mold these ideas to fit every other fantasy style of game. For baseball you can do King of the Mound and maybe pick a series winner each week. For basketball you can do a Hoops Pick 'Em. The concepts could go on and on.
If you think it might be difficult to get your league members to pay these extra fees, coordinate your league sign up fee to include money that can go into separate pots for these ideas ($ Ie 50 sign up will include $ 5 Pick 'Em fee, $ 5 weekly challenge fee, and $ 40 for the league winners). Something to keep in mind is that while I was using money as an example, you do not need to make it about money. Everything I mentioned can have a "for fun" aspect and there's no reason to feel obligated to pay to play this amazingly-awesome game.