It tends to happen in a majority of leagues — as the season starts to wind down, so does the participation in the league. There isn’t as much talk on the message boards and there are players in starting lineups that have been hurt for weeks.
The biggest culprit in the fantasy league participation drop off? Losers.
The teams that are so far down in the standings that the word “playoffs” is a now a distant memory. A blur. So the question becomes, “How can we keep up the level of participation in the league?”
The answer: incentives. The better answer: incentives for the losers.
Here are five ways to ensure participation in the league so that the league is both fair and fun for the entirety of the season:
1) Make the league interactive — Weekly contests, polls, etc.
The most important way. There needs to be some level of interaction and participation for a dropoff to even exist. Implement weekly contests and polls into your league. Weekly contests can include NFL Pick Em, League Pick Em, Caption Contests, and more. Keep a running tally and offer some sort of incentive ($) to the overall winner.
2) Toilet bowl for money / draft position
When a dead beat team in your league doesn’t play their best players, it can have an effect on teams that ARE still in the running for a playoff spot. No one likes this, so think about implementing an incentive for the winner of the consolation bracket. The winner could receive a small amount of money, free entry to next year’s league, or even choose his draft spot in next year’s snake draft.
3) Participation Fee
If your league already has an entry fee, consider adding on a fully refundable “participation fee.” If teams don’t participate in weekly contests, polls, etc for the week, their fees go to the overall pot for the winner.
Example: Each team puts in a $20 that is refundable as long as there is some level of participation. Each week of inactivity costs the owner $5. Whatever doesn’t get refunded goes to the overall winner.
4) Side bets
Not just money on your week’s matchup… think outside the box. Some of the best moments in a fantasy league come from a league member having to pay up on an embarrassing bet.
As a last resort, you have to consider giving the ultimate threat of participating or being kicked out. Kick out the bad apples until you a have a competitive league full of participating managers.
A Participating League is a Happy League
I recently saw an idea on Twitter by Jeff Brubach (@OrangeBru) where he was considering lowering the main league fee but charging per loss. That’s pretty extreme, but we like it.
The bottom line is that your league has to come to some sort of agreement. The best fantasy sports leagues are the ones that have a high level of involvement, even toward the end of a season.
What are some ways that your league encourage participation?