Commissioner Guide: What Type of League are YOU Running? (Fantasy Football)

I’m going to burst your bubble right upfront. This is not an article focused on Redraft, Keeper or Dynasty. This article is going to serve as a guide for you, the person assigned to the often thankless job of being the commissioner of your fantasy league. To be a successful and respected commissioner, it’s your responsibility to identify what type of league you’re running and stay within the confines of those responsibilities. One of the most common reasons that fantasy leagues fold is due to a commissioner not recognizing which type of role they are to be fulfilling. This is your guide on determining what type of league you’re in charge of, and how to handle the responsibilities of being that type of league leader.

Two Types of Leagues

When it comes to being the commissioner of a fantasy football league, there are two types of leagues: My League and Our League. In My League, you, as the commissioner, are the driving force behind the creation of the league and its overall operation. In the Our League setting, you are running the day-to-day operations of the league, but the league has already established the rules or will be determining the rules through a consensus. Let’s dive deeper into each of these settings.

My League 

When it comes to creating a new league, the “My League” designation is often the most common. My League is often the birthplace of those outside-the-box rules and semi-crazy settings. My League is created with a goal, a sole purpose, or an intended outcome.

Commissioners of My League are the driving force behind almost every rule and setting in the league. They are creating the league to fill a desire they have to try something new or expand their experience. For example, a fantasy player may want to play in a Superflex keeper league but has not found one to join, so they are making their own. This applies to any myriad of settings and formats and also all the nuances of them. If you wanted to create that Superflex keeper league, you’re also determining how many keepers and the keeper “cost” system. Beyond determining that it is a Superflex league, you are also determining how many starters and bench positions, the scoring, and the host platform.

Because the commissioner has created a specific rule or setting to fulfill a desire for their fantasy football experience, they will not allow the owners to dictate a change. In the Superflex keeper league sample above, if the invited owner/s wanted to play in a keeper league, but are not interested the Superflex setting, they need to bow out. The league was created to use the Superflex keeper format, not just a keeper league.

Commissioners working in the My League framework will run their league like a dictatorship. The rules and settings are set in stone and, unless wildly unsuccessful, are unlikely to change. In this format, owners will change before rules will change. The commissioner might have some opening for minor adjustments that do not change the overarching format, however, it is mostly a “take it or leave it” league.  

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For the commissioner of My League, they need to set the expectation and understand that this is My League when inviting owners. Let the invited owners know right upfront why this league is being formed, what the goals, outcomes, and expectations and are before they accept the invite. Let the invited owners know that all the settings and rules have been determined and are not open to changes or modifications. Understand that, even if most owners do not approve of a rule or setting, if YOU wanted that setting, YOU need to find new owners, not change YOUR league. In the event that owners request a change to the league which is not a core focus, you can entertain those adjustments at your discretion. 

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Our League 

On the flip side of the My League dictatorship is the Our League democracy. If you are selected as the commissioner of this league type, you are charged with setting up the league through a series of owner inputs and votes. How many teams? Take a vote. Roster configuration? Take a vote. Scoring? You guessed it, take a vote. 

The Our League format is prevalent when a group of people wants to create a league more for “The League” in general, versus specific settings. Owners may not have strong preferences and will agree to play regardless of them, they just want to play. A simple work or family league is most often this format. The league owners will request changes or rules and the commissioner is the central person who facilities the voting and discussions. Leagues like this will often find the league rules and settings closely resembling a “stock” league from the most common hosting platforms, with just a twist or two here and there.

As a commissioner of a newly forming Our League, you need to understand just how much control you have to make decisions before the league gets involved. The commissioner is often the player with the most experience in fantasy football and is expected to keep the league running smoothly, but without any significant power to change the league without the input of the league owners.  

Sometimes, an existing league will need a new commissioner, or part of the league set-up is that the commissioner duty rotates through the owners periodically. This format requires commissioners to accept the existing rules and settings. It’s likely that the league would be open to suggestions on changes that can improve the league, or perhaps insight from experience that can prevent a future problem. You can bring your experience as a guiding starting point, but the owners in the league as a whole will make the decisions. 

When you are the commissioner of an Our League program, you need to check your own ego at the door. Understand that you are simply the facilitator and central point of communications for the league. You must recognize that, no matter how much you want to change something, that is not your role to simply make the change. It is your role to guide the process of change.

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The Hybrid

I know, I started off saying that there were two types of leagues, but things are never black-and-white and the Hybrid Leagues falls in that grey area. Perhaps you, or a group of owners, want a specific overarching setting or format but are still open to the league input on the rest of the settings. This type of league could be as simple as saying that you want a “Themed League”, wherein the League Name and Team Names follow a strict format or theme. A great example is a movie or TV show-themed league. Then the league votes on the settings within the league. No one would ever accept the change of the theme, but they could easily accept changes to the scoring or roster construction. Conversely, there may be one scoring setting, such as PPR, or roster construction format, such as Superflex, that would never change, but owners will regularly request other changes to keep the league fresh.

At the end of the day, your job as a commissioner can and will come with many different responsibilities. Understanding which type of commissioner you and your league wants and needs is essential to being a great commissioner. Knowing when to drop the hammer and when to yield the floor are two of the most important traits a commissioner can possess.

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