Plan the draft
The draft is the beginning of your fantasy football season. As the commissioner you need to make sure this goes off without a hitch. Whether your league drafts remotely or in person (Check out my article for the perfect fantasy draft) you need to find a time and date that can have the most members of the league involved. The draft is the foundation on which your league’s season is built.
Don’t tell people who to pick
During your draft your job is to draft for your team. Not to make other people’s picks. Not to tell them that they are shallow at running back. Not to give them a hot tip on a sleeper coming up. Just to draft. Let every owner pick their own team.
Ensure all owners know their stuff
A league is only as strong as it’s owners. If you want your league to be the best, then all of the owners need to have a good sense of the league. They all need to be aware of the scoring system, know the NFL players, and understand how to put out a strong roster. Keep everyone in the know by sending them articles to help them fill the holes in their gaps of knowledge (strategy, roster construction, rankings for the draft). Nothing is sweeter then beating people when you know that they were prepared.
Don’t give out “advice” that is your own personal strategy
Yes, help new owners. Do not turn them into a carbon copy of you. Each owner has their own strategy for playing fantasy football and as the commissioner you have to lead people to articles and advice, not preach what you do as the only way to play.
Make sure everyone is active
There is nothing worse than a league that just dies off part way through the season due to lack of interest. The commissioner should ensure that everyone stays engaged until the end. If your league mates always set lineups, monitor the waiver wire, and bench players on their bye weeks then you are all set. But if they don’t then you should get creative in keeping everyone involved. Compile power ranking. Shame absentee owners. Send out a weekly email to everyone highlighting weekly triumphs in the NFL. Do whatever you need to so the owners who want a good competitive league can have one.
Don’t pick and choose who to remind
If you are going to remind people to set their lineups Sunday morning, do it for everybody. If you aren’t, then do it for nobody. The commissioner should not pick and choose which teams they want to give a gentle nudge to. You have to set an expectation of what your involvement will be with other owners and stick to that for everyone.
Fix any problems with scoring systems
I had a friend whose league was inadvertently awarding 1 point per completion for the QB instead of 1 point per reception for the WR. That’s something that the commissioner has to fix. Or if the league is awarding full PPR instead of half or full point scoring instead of decimal. The commish must have a strong understanding of their fantasy platform and be able to go in and quickly fix any problems.
Don’t give out points
Just because you think a catch should have been a catch you cannot go in to the scoring and give out those points. Everyone in your league has agreed to honor the scoring system under which you are playing and are at the mercy of the NFL and ESPN, Yahoo, or whatever platform you have deiced to play.
Sometimes people suck and attempt to game the system in order to gain an unfair advantage. Not on the commissioner’s watch! Be aware of all trades going on in your league, especially between closer acquaintances making a playoff push or with owners newer to fantasy football. When you allow collusion to happen in your league you are opening the door for the league to fall apart and give an unjust edge to one or more owners.
With great power comes great responsibility. Commissioners can change lineup, add points, pickup players, and control just about anything happening in the league. Don’t do that. You are still bound by the rules of the league and just because you dropped a player and your new player immediately got injured you still can’t just undo the Add/Drop. Fight for him on waivers like everyone else.
Listen to your league mates
A good commissioner need not be a tyrant. If you want the most engagement in your league, then it has to be a league that people want to play in. Listen to what the other people in your league want. Overwhelming support for PPR instead of Standard? Make the switch. People hate kickers? Get rid of them. I do always recommend taking things to a vote. This way everyone has an equal say and allows for more engagement through owners lobbying for what they want.
Don’t be too passive
You do want to keep the league happy, but you are the commissioner so sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Stand firm when you are vetoing collusion or making a ruling on anything the league brings up. Do not let any one owner rise up and overthrow your decision making.
Initiate rule changes
If you realize that something is not working in you league, then bring it to the attention of everyone else. I think it is a bad idea to change rules midseason. But bringing it up will show the league that you understand what is wrong and have a plan to fix it in the future. And again, bring it to a vote.
Don’t change rules to exclusively suit your interests
While you can change the rules, you shouldn’t do it just because it benefits you. You must act in the greater interest of the league and do everything as if you were in outsider, not just because you want something changed.
If your league plays for money then it is your job as the commissioner to make sure everyone is paid up. You do not have to be the one handling the money (this can be delegated as you see fit) but you do need to make sure there are no owners holding out paying. Some leagues I know will not draft until everyone is all squared up.
Don’t be late in paying
You expect everyone to pay on time so you must do the same. If you are paying weekly incentives then pay them weekly. When someone wins the league, pay them out right away. You don’t want people not trusting you with their money.
Replace absentee or departing owners
Unfortunately, people do have things come up that take them away from a fantasy league. A big duty of the commissioner is to fill these vacancies so the league can continue to flourish. This is another chance to talk to you league mates about who can be added to the league to ensure it continues to be fun and engaging.
Don’t be too reckless with adds
Be careful when adding people to your league. Don’t just add a co-worker because they want to play. Make sure you include people that will mesh well with you league. Having a new owner who does not fit well with everyone else is a recipe for disaster and cold cause more owners to want to disassociate with your league.
Keep the league FUN
I always say that fantasy football should be fun. Keep it that way. Have message boards. Create memes. Encourage a community of friends based in fantasy football. Keeping the league fun will keep your league coming back for more and the other owners will be challenging the commissioners in their other leagues to step up their game!