It’s that time of year! The NFL regular season begins next week and millions of people have drafted, or will be drafting their fantasy teams. Fantasy football is a great game, a great way to expand the NFL experience beyond your favorite team.

Long ago in the stone ages, people had to keep track of scoring and statistics by hand and later with spreadsheets, so things were kept pretty simple. With the emergence of the internet and a variety of web sites that will manage your league for you, things have gotten much easier. But with the ever increasing options a lot of people have tried to get too cute and have created some pretty stupid leagues.

My personal philosophy is that scoring points is the single most important thing in an NFL game. After all, in every single game ever played in the history of the NFL, the team that scored more points won. Yards are nice, but every week you will see several teams who amassed more yards but still lost. Interceptions hurt, but if your team still outscores the other it doesn’t matter. I think fantasy football should run the same way, points scored are king.

Before I begin, I say whatever makes you happy is how you should run your league. If I’m not playing in it I don’t care how stupidly you want to do things. But since this is my web site I’ll tell you the things that I believe have made many fantasy football leagues suck.

In no particular order:

  1. Drafting weeks before the season – Why is your league in such a hurry? Drafting with cuts still to come and preseason games still to be played means that owners will, despite their best efforts, end up with cut or injured players. What is the point of this? It just introduces more luck to the equation. I am not speaking of dynasty style leagues, of course.
  2. Too many points – I guess a lot of people have ADD and if someone isn’t scoring every few minutes they feel cheated. If the scores in your league are like 170-158, your league sucks. The more scoring involved, the more luck enters into the equation. If you get more points from yardage and receptions than you do actual points, your league sucks.
  3. Starting two quarterbacks – Why? NFL teams don’t start two QBs, what could possibly be the reason for starting two in a fantasy football game?
  4. Drafting punters – I heard a friend say he was in a league that did this, and all I could think is WHY? Do they draft holders too?
  5. More points for longer TDs – In the NFL a one yard TD counts for 6 points, as does a 99 yard TD. I have a friend that has a league where TDs from inside the two are only worth 3 points. I did a study of all TDs scored the prior season and there were far more TDs scored from three yards and out then there were from the one or two yard line. So why discount TDs from those spots? In fact a TD from the 2 yard line is not such a sure thing. All 11 defenders are only covering 12 yards of field, so there are more players packed into a smaller area. More players can commit to the line of scrimmage and any pass play of more than 12 yards is out of the equation. Meanwhile that 54 yard TD is often the result of a player beating one guy and then being in open space. And most of the leagues who have dumb rules like this are also handing out points for every ten yards, so a guy scoring from the 50 gets more than six points, plus five more points for the yards ran during the TD.
  6. The magic yard – That same friend’s league counts TDs from three yards at 5 points. So scoring from one yard further out a TD is worth two more points? In his league that is the only yard worth two points more than the yard before it. Why is a three yard TD so much tougher than a two yard TD that it’s worth two additional points?
  7. More points for longer field goals – Same as TDs, a FG is three points from all distances in the NFL, your league should be the same. In fact, if you insist on having different point values for different lengths of kicks, longer kicks should be worth LESS. Why should your kicker be rewarded for his team’s inability to get closer to the goal line? His offense sucks, but your kicker gets more points because of it.
  8. Point per reception – Some genius decided that it wasn’t OK that running backs were worth more than receivers in fantasy football, so he created this ridiculous rule. One point scored per reception by a player. This means that these leagues think that six catches are as valuable as one TD, which is just silly. What if they are six one yard catches in a team’s own end of the field? This is the fantasy football equivalent of every kid getting a certificate at a grade school award ceremony. If one position is more valuable than another, so what? Draft accordingly.
  9. Decimal scoring – WHAT? The only sports with decimal scoring are things like gymnastics, ice skating, and most of the shit in the X Games. If you have decimal scoring, feel shame!
  10. Negative points – Most of the time that I see this it’s for interceptions. But how many picks do you see during a season that are not the QBs fault? The receiver lets it bounce off of his hand to a defender, or someone runs to the wrong place. You want to be in a league where you can lose a game because your QB throws a pick on a Hail Mary at the end of a game and you lose points?
  11. Less than 10 teams – If you have less than 10 teams everyone is just drafting an all star team. Make more friends so you can challenge yourself a bit.
  12. Your league is on Yahoo – There are so many better choices, why would your league be there? Once upon a time it was because it was free, but is free and far better.