We are just over three months out from the start of the next fantasy football season, and it’s time to get things in order for your league. First things first, check out our guide on fantasy rule changes you should consider for the upcoming season to keep things fresh (insert link). Once the league is ready to go, the real fun can begin.
Without a doubt, every fantasy manager’s favorite part of the year is draft season. It’s what we put the most time and research into, and nothing quite compares to the rush of getting that first round stud or having a player you are high on fall to you in a later round
We can guarantee you that most fantasy managers are getting tired of just staring at a draft board and chatting with league mates in a tiny box in the corner of the screen.
In this age of technology, why are you still subjecting your league managers to such a low-tech and impersonal way of drafting? This upcoming season, after a year in which we are all looking forward to seeing our friends again, it’s finally time to introduce the draft party to your fantasy league.
What does this entail? We’re glad you asked! Here are a few tips to make sure your league never goes back to a draft lobby again!
1. Find your Fantasy Headquarters
You are going to need to find a location where everyone can sit and have their own space. People love to bring their own laptops or tablets or even good old fashioned spreadsheets, so make sure there is enough room for people to set up their stations.
Having it at someone’s house cuts down on costs, but did you know there are restaurants and bars that you can rent out to host a fantasy party? Some leagues even make an annual trip to Las Vegas to host their draft parties, so it's all in how much you want to invest in the experience!
For most leagues, a large basement with strong WiFi is good enough, but just make sure you bring your A-game when it comes to serving refreshments!
2. Create a Draft Board
Get creative! This can be the old fashioned whiteboard where everyone writes the player they drafted, or it can be a digital one with your computer hooked up to a flat screen TV.
Either way, having that single draft board that everyone drafts from is a great way to get everyone engaged and gives your draft party a centralized focal point. If you choose a digital board, you can make things fun with some snazzy effects or even use video clips or headshots of each player that is drafted.
Obviously, that takes a bit more work as the commissioner, but hey, what’s more important to a fantasy football league than getting the draft right!
3. Pick a Theme
Maybe as commissioner you can announce each pick or trade at a podium, or have it set up like the real NFL Draft where each team manager does. Maybe every manager wears the jersey for their favorite team or even better, you get t-shirts created for each manager.
The possibilities are endless, but adding a theme to your draft party will really add an extra level of excitement to the actual draft itself.
4. Determine the Draft Order
Finally, the most important part of the day aside from the actual draft itself! The draft order can be done beforehand, but why not wait until you are all together to heighten the drama!
The draft order obviously matters less if it is an auction draft or dynasty league draft, but for the regular redraft leagues that need an order, this can be the event that kicks things off at your fantasy draft party!
Get creative with it too! Instead of just drawing names from a hat, think of a new and entertaining way to get it done. I remember one year our league of record had an actual football skills competition to determine draft order. Some events included most accurate throw, longest punt, and kicking field goals.
5. Schedule a Post Season Reunion
Once the draft is over, it’s time to go your separate ways until next season’s draft, right? Wrong! There are still seventeen weeks of NFL football to watch, and trust me when I say that nothing is as exciting as watching a full slate of games with the person you are facing in your fantasy matchup!
On top of that, after all of the weeks of grueling matchups and waiver wire claims, don’t forget about the greatest party of all! The fantasy championship and end of season wrap-up party!
That’s right, week sixteen has traditionally been the championship round for fantasy football, and there is no better way than ending another successful season by hosting a party for the championship match up!
Get the league back together for a proper send off and get ready to hand the illustrious championship trophy off to this season’s league winner.
You don’t have a trophy yet? Well luckily for you, it’s the first tip on our list of suggestions for how to wrap up your fantasy football season in style!
6. Get That Trophy Ready
Nothing says being the winner of a fantasy football league like an obnoxiously large trophy, a championship wrestling belt, or a replica Super Bowl ring. Having an actual award to present to the league winner can be an awesome tradition to have, and truly invokes a fierce spirit of competition amongst league managers.
Some of the most competitive and longest running fantasy leagues are the ones that don’t play for money, but play for a trophy and bragging rights. While you’re at it, get something for the second-place winner too.
I’ve always said that above all, fantasy football success needs luck, and making it all the way to the championship finals and leaving empty handed isn’t a great feeling. If you need some help creating a trophy for your league, check out our VIP Lounge to order your very own custom trophy today!
7. Create a Tradition
One of the best things one of my fantasy leagues does is having a ceremonial handoff of the trophy from last season’s winner to this season’s winner. This year’s winner then gets to keep the trophy until next season when they pass it off to the next winner, or keep it if they win again.
Trust me when I say, the more tradition and history your fantasy league has, the greater chance it has to be a long and successful one! Having a draft party and a championship wrap up party to look forward to will keep your league managers invested for years to come!
8. Add More Prizes
The wrap up party is also a great time to hand out other prizes or awards to managers who didn’t quite make it to the finals this year. Wait, you don’t have any other prizes or awards?
Check out our list of fantasy league rule changes that you can implement, including weekly prizes for highest scores. You can also give out gag gifts for the last place finisher or winner of the consolation round.
Anything you can add to your league to make it unique and improve engagement from your managers is a bonus!
9. Bid Farewell to Another Season
Start a tradition to officially close out the season! Maybe all the league members shotgun a beer or the league winner drinks from the trophy (always drink responsibly!).
Something fun that everyone can look forward to, and once it happens, you all know the season is officially over.
Nothing is more of a downer than when the fantasy football season ends, but hey, if you succeeded as a commissioner and made the league fun, you have seven months or so to make the league better the next year!
We here at Week 17 know all about running successful fantasy football leagues and we speak from firsthand experience. If your league is stuck looking at the same boring online draft lobby year after year, it’s definitely time to change things up.
Nothing beats having a live draft party to really up the adrenaline in the room and seeing the disappointment or excitement of your fellow league mates in person.
After seven months of anticipation for the new fantasy season, getting everyone together for the draft is the ultimate way to kick things off and you’ll see how quickly this can become a tradition that everyone looks forward to.
When things are ready to be wrapped up for the year, gather the troops for a championship viewing party to end another successful season in style!
If you don’t have a trophy yet for your league, there is no time like the present to make one. Check out our VIP Lounge today for the latest in the world of fantasy football trophies!
Also check out our other guides to fully prepare you for the upcoming season. Make sure this fantasy season is the best one yet!