Playing the game
by: Greg Kellogg
If you are new to the game, you might want to start in an eight or a 10-team league. More talent to go around and it is much easier to overcome beginner's mistakes. That is, if you are willing to look objectively at what you have done and where things went wrong.
Those that are more experienced can branch off in several directions. You could opt for a money league, take a chance on a dynasty league, jump into a large league (14+ teams) or even try a league that has unique player requirements (such as individual defensive players or rosters that include linemen and coaches).
There are live leagues and Internet leagues. There are leagues sponsored by individuals, small businesses and huge corporations. I would like to talk a little about each of these to help you decide what direction you would like to go in choosing a league.
Newcomers should probably try to find 3-7 friends (even numbers of owners work best) to form a small local league. You can do it either for bragging rights, or throw together a small entry fee and use the proceeds to reward the teams that do best. I would recommend that you plan your payoffs so that all teams will get some of the money back. That helps keep them interested and active.
Local leagues will give you some of the best times, though not necessarily the best competition, you will ever have in Fantasy Football. The best local leagues have huge draft bashes, weekly get-togethers at a home or the local sports bars and an end of season Super Bowl party where you plan your next season, give out your awards and do a little trash talking. Nothing better.
Those of you that are more fanatical about the sport will probably graduate from those local leagues into leagues that are more challenging. Some of them may be local, but most you will find on the Internet. Whether it is a pay league sponsored by a small business or a free league filled only with those with Internet access, you should find the competition on the Internet superior to most local leagues due to the availability of free information. For those that live for the competition and feel that wins against inferior talent do not count as highly as wins against the best, this is definitely the way to go.
But where can you go for these types of leagues. Well, for a small price you can enter leagues at the following web sites: Empire Sports, Fantasy Insights, KFFL, US Fantasy Sports.
For a more complete listing visit the Global Fantasy Football Leagues site at http://gffl.bmi.net and select the Professional Leagues option.
For those who just want to play against the best, there are leagues forming on the rec.sport.football.fantasy News Group. Nearly all leagues formed from people who frequent that News Group will be competitive.
I am not a proponent of the larger leagues put on by folks like The Sporting News and ESPN. I think both are quality organizations, but in leagues that large you seem to either be playing against hundreds of competitors or competing in leagues where one person can sign up for multiple teams and then just stack his team with lopsided trades. That makes it real difficult to win honestly so I tend to avoid those situations.
My last suggestion would be to consider playing in multiple leagues with varied rules so you can enjoy different types of play. One warning... be careful not to over-commit. Try three leagues before jumping up to ten plus. I was in eight last season and found that to be too many, though I do know people that have competed in well over ten with excellent success. Whatever you choose though, I wish you the best of luck when you do Play the Game!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed. note: You can also post a free message on the Sandlot Shrink's Fantasy Bulletin Board advertising for a league.