So you’ve been playing in Fantasy Football leagues against people online or in a small league with your coworkers. But what you really want is to be in the kind of league you see on the television series The League or read about in Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life. A league where losers get tattoos, winners get giant 100-pound trophies and league traditions are just as important as the game of football itself. I’m here to help.
I will be your guide in helping turn your league into one that makes outsiders think you and your friends are not mentally stable. But also the kind of league that causes other fantasy players to ask if they can be on your waitlist for the next available spot. We’ll discuss the need for a Draft Order Party, the greatness that is side bets, and the importance of using videos to talk trash.
But first, if you want your league to get ridiculous, you need a personal change in attitude. You need to be willing to look like an idiot. What’s that? You’re not going to talk smack because you’re projected to lose this week by five points? You’re a giant baby and your friends only keep you around because you give sound financial advice. It doesn’t matter if you lose and then have to come to work with a clown nose on, making the cute girl in Accounting laugh at you. It’s all about the long con.
A willingness to look dumb, even when defeat is assured, will push the rest of your league to follow you into the crazy. Slowly, things will escalate from clown noses at work to shaved heads and pelting the worst manager in the league with rotten tomatoes at the end of the season.
We’ll get into escalating the crazy later, but always remember this first step. If you want other people in your league to look like idiots, you have to be willing to as well. If not, I’m sure you can go back to having all that fun standing off to the side of the dance floor at weddings.
The Draft Order Party
It is criminal that those who take Fantasy Football so seriously would allow their draft order to be decided by drawing names out of a hat or ping-pong balls out of a box. That lameness is only surpassed by those who have their draft order decided by a filthy computer program 45 minutes before the draft. What a missed opportunity! The Draft Order party is the 2nd best day of the Fantasy Football season. It’s a time to bring the whole family together to yell and scream, to compete and cheat, and of course, to hate on whoever ends up with the privilege of drafting Adrian Peterson.
Let me lay it out for you real simple: Would you rather have a computer decide where you get to draft or a wiener dog? If you answered a computer, I have news for you: no one likes having you in their league.
The point here, though, is to try and bring your league together on a day they’re not stressed about drafting. When you bring your members together and keep their cups full, that’s when traditions get started, side bets on weekly matchups are made, and guys agree to build five-foot trophies.
This year, the league I commission decided our draft order with a Casino Night. We bought a multi-games table off Craiglist that contained a Blackjack table, a Roulette table, and a Craps table. Each league member was given $50 worth of chips and an hour to gamble. The person with the most chips at the end of the hour won the first pick in the draft and the 2nd got the 2nd pick and so on. Forget money, If you ever want to hear how loud grown men will scream “red!” put draft picks on the line.
My dream draft order decider is a local Amazing Race-esque race. You get a third party to set up multiple destination spots throughout your city. Each destination would contain either a physical challenge, an intellectual challenge, or eating something disgusting. No cars allowed. First person to the end gets first pick, etc etc… And to add magnitude of the race, add an 11th member. Last place is out of the league.
All your league members aren’t in the same city? You all own televisions. Dart tournaments, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Decathlons, Hot Dog eating contests, and Dog shows. All of these televised events can be used to decide your draft order.
Any kind of competition that will crank the intensity up and turn a yawn-inducing drawing of names into an adrenaline pumping competition is an improvement to your league. Step your game up Fantasy commissioners. Your league deserves it.
Side bets for weekly head-to-head games are the oil that keeps the ridiculous Fantasy Football leagues going. Winning your Fantasy Football league is great: trophies, money, bragging rights, it’s the number one goal for all Fantasy players. But side bets keep teams that are out of the playoff hunt engaged, they foster community, they create hilarious memories and most importantly, they make people back up their trash talk.
Below are my favorite Fantasy Football side bets, all of which I’ve personally either won or lost. A good side bet offer needs to be one that actually has a chance of being accepted; it’s not about coming up with the most ridiculous ideas you can. Right now, in one of my leagues, there’s been a standing side bet offer for over a year where the loser would have to put on an adult diaper, go to a bar, and urinate himself while watching a game (God only knows how we’re supposed to confirm this). No, a quality side bet is a challenge that most good-natured, fun players would accept. And if they don’t, the rest of the league can mock them for being a wuss.
The Karaoke Side Bet: The loser of the head-to-head matchup has to sing a song, of the winner’s choosing, at a Karaoke bar.
A Fantasy Football Side Bet classic. Let me give you a pro-tip if you win this one: find a bar where people take karaoke very seriously. Last year, I lost this side bet. No problem, I’ve sung karaoke before. I don’t have a good voice but I can have a couple drinks and belt out a tune without getting embarrassed.
So after a Thursday night game last year, me and some guys from my league go to a karaoke bar and sign me up to sing Shania Twain’s “Man I Feel Like a Woman”. Slowly, the bar starts to fill up, and by the time the karaoke starts the place is packed. The first name is called and it’s a group of guys wearing matching outfits. People are hooting and hollering before they even start. And of course, once they do, it’s some crazy harmonized version of a pop-classic. It’s a full on scene from Glee and the crowd is loving it. As soon as they finish, with the crowd still buzzing, the DJ announces, “Next, singing Shania Twain’s Man I Feel Like a Woman, Dave Burrows!” I walked on stage to the sound of two people clapping and the laughter of my leaguemates.
The song starts and my voice is shaking. I can hear the karaoke-geeks heckling me from the crowd; “hit a note, any note!”. When I look around I see people openly cringing at the sound of my voice. The heckling got so bad the DJ grabbed a mic and started to sing the song to drown me out. It was the longest three minutes of my life.
The Superhero Side Bet: Loser has to dress up as a superhero and go to a pub to watch the Monday Nighter.
Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to convince one of your competitors to accept a bet that is outside of their comfort zone. In order to get my dear friend Tony to take this challenge I made a video dressed up as Batman calling out him, his team, and his wife. He couldn’t back down from that.
I have two recommendations to go along with this bet if you win. First, take public transit or park as far away from the pub as possible. There’s nothing more fun than walking down the street with your friend while he’s dressed up as Batman and people are staring trying to figure out why. Second, call people outside the league to come to the pub and enjoy the festivities.
I beat Tony that week. He actually made a pretty good Batman, except the costume went to his head a little and he started challenging league members to fights.
The “Ball Don’t Lie” Side Bet: When an argument between two owners that can’t be settled is ongoing, they agree the winner of their head-to-head matchup is right and the loser must make a video saying whatever the winner chooses to confirm this.
A commissioner of one of my leagues backed out of a three-team deal I was involved in after one of the trades had already been completed. When complaints were made, he simply cancelled the first trade. I was not satisfied. I posted texts of our agreement of the trade, made a big scene, and was an all-around whiner. He proposed the Ball Don’t Lie Side Bet, which I thankfully won. This year, he will be reenacting his heinous crime using sock puppets and begging for forgiveness from all those affected.
The Butler Side Bet: Loser serves the winner food and drinks at a non-league party.
Getting up to get your own food is annoying. That’s why The Butler side bet is probably my favorite. Hopefully, if you win this one, you win it over someone who you can bring to a large family party. That was the case for me when I beat my sister’s boyfriend in our head-to-head matchup last year. It was the best Christmas Eve of my life.
Just imagine lounging on a couch, laughing with family, with a giant spread of great food a room away. And all you have to do to get a second plate of delicious with a cup of eggnog is give your Butler a head nod. It’s a special kind of pampered. And the best part was we agreed whenever the Butler was asked why he was serving the winner, he had to respond with Christmas clichés. So there I am, acting all surprised when my Butler hands me another piece of cake, and when he’s asked why he’s doing all this running around for me, he had to respond with: “’Tis the season” and “it is better to give than to receive.”
The Heisenberg Side Bet: Loser has to shave their head.
I’m a big believer that all Fantasy players should put their hair on the line at least once a season. At least if they have hair. If this is too extreme for some of our female competitors feel free to switch it to …
The Rachel Side Bet: Loser has to get their haircut like Jennifer Aniston’s in the first couple season of Friends (see: Rachel Haircut dot jpg).
This one didn’t work out the way I wanted it to last year, even though I did win. I beat my friend Chris, which was great, except that he has a normal-shaped head. So when we shaved it, he looked totally fine. Whereas if I had to shave my hair off, with my misshapen skull, I would have looked like some kind of alien. So, if you’re going to do this side bet, go against someone who looks just as ridiculous as you would without hair.
Hopefully these side bets have inspired you to take your league to the next level of absurdity. If you do, I think you’ll have a more engaged league, with more laughs, and a lot more matchups that suddenly matter. And with side bets, even if you lose in the semifinals, at least you’ll have that win that made your leaguemate run around major streets dressed as Batman.
Go forth and challenge.
Smack Talk Videos
You want your leaguemates to see your trash talk and comment with “I legit lol’d” or an “oh snap!”? Then it’s time to step up your smack talk game and change mediums. Your friends will watch a quick YouTube video. In fact, that’s all they do with their time. Know your audience.
Getting people to listen to your trash talk is a key ingredient in getting league members to take on the kind of side bets we discussed earlier. First, if the trash talk is good enough, you can get someone to agree solely based on pride. Second, if it’s entertaining enough, you can get other league members to jump in and call your opponent out for not taking a bet, or not responding with something of quality.
To make a good Smack Talk Video, you need to keep it short. No one wants to watch you sit in front of a camera for 8 minutes blabbing on about God knows what. Eight minutes is a third of an episode of Bob’s Burgers they could be watching on Netflix. Nobody is wasting that on you. Keep it under three minutes. And if the video is near three minutes, it better be creative.
But it doesn’t need to be all that creative. All you have to do is press record, mock your opponent and issue a bet. An example:
Alright ladies and gentleman of Fantasy, it’s up to you now. If you take on at least some of the suggestions I’ve laid out, you’ll be swimming in crazy Fantasy Football stories at this time next year. Now there’s nothing left to do…except study for your draft so you can actually win one of those side bets.