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Editor’s Note: This is one of our many strategy-related articles from our team of writers to get you prepared for this season.

When it comes to fantasy football, there is nothing more frowned upon than the concept of cheating. Such an act is often accomplished through collusion or tanking, which most commissioners attempt to eliminate at all costs. The problem is, league owners tend to bend the rules or search for loopholes in order to succeed. Therein lies the root of this article, as I provide five tactics below to combat foul practices in fantasy football circles. This ideology primarily concerns dynasty formats due to the annual importance of ethical behavior between a league and its owners, but the same logic can be applied to redraft leagues as well.

1. Set League Fee Due Dates

In order to eliminate the possibility of collusion between various owners, it is recommended to set a specific due date for league fees on an annual basis. In theory, this will promote competitive balance in a league and eliminate the likelihood for cheating since all owners will be active and attentive with monetary gains on the line.

This rule is far from foolproof, but it at least intends to establish credibility. If a league consists of members that all know one another, then perhaps due dates for league fees are less of a concern. Given the rapid growth of the fantasy football industry and its overall community, it’s rather common to participate in a league with at least a few unfamiliar faces. Under these circumstances, it is imperative to collect funds on a set date in order to avoid the chance of teams losing interest and deciding not to fulfill monetary guidelines.

2. Provide Accessible League Bylaws

The role of being a league commissioner is often a thankless task, but it is essential to carry out the responsibility by providing accessible and clearly defined league bylaws to all league members each and every season. In order to cover all bases, it is best to distribute physical copies over email to owners in addition to listing them on a league’s hosted website. In the event that a team attempts to collude or purposely violate the rules, a commissioner can then direct attention to the league bylaws to dismiss any potential misconduct from occurring.

3. Forfeit Future Draft Picks

In the event that a team violates defined rules in a league, a draft pick forfeit policy may need to be enforced. This is especially true if an owner intentionally partakes in tanking by failing to submit a weekly starting lineup against opponents in order to improve the value of their future rookie draft picks.

In competitive leagues, this situation is an uncommon occurrence. It is also human nature to become frustrated with losing during a fantasy season, which could lead to an intentional display of poor sportsmanship. The only way to prevent such actions is in the form of penalizing future draft picks from an owner, as it will likely prohibit them from purposely losing again.

4. Offer Consolation Prizes

Sure, fantasy football is all about winning. This is even more prominent when monetary rewards are at stake, let alone bragging rights. Even so, it is important to retain the interest of all people in a league in order to promote a competitive and active landscape. In order to accomplish this, a toilet bowl can be scheduled for all teams that fail to make the playoffs in a season.

For those unaware of the concept, a toilet bowl is essentially a championship bracket for teams that are eliminated from playoff contention. In addition to extending the fantasy season for numerous people, the toilet bowl also decreases the likelihood of a team dropping its best players out of frustration for playoff teams to reap the benefits from.

5. Remove Trade Vetoes

Trade vetoes are one of the more sensitive rules to implement in all fantasy football formats. In a sense, it places handcuffs on all owners and restricts their freedom from operating as a GM. Therefore, it makes sense to allow unlimited trading between teams for players and future draft picks. Even though some questionable deals could take place under this structure, it promotes activity and allows league members to build a team with no limitations. The lone exception to this rule is obvious collusion where multiple teams agree on less than admirable intentions in an offer. In this scenario, a commissioner needs to articulate that such behavior will not be tolerated or it could lead to expulsion.


Interested in finding a new competitive league for 2017? Check out FootClanLeagues.com to find leagues forming and join in on a community of dedicated fantasy football enthusiasts.

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Comments from the community:

  1. Love these suggestions. My league does a toilet bowl, but with real stakes. The winner of the toilet bowl gets 1st pick in the next year's rookie draft.

    So we have 12 teams and 8 make the playoffs.

    The bottom 4 teams play a mini tournament. Whoever is eliminated in the 1st round and with the least points gets the next year's 4th pick. Whoever wins the toilet bowl gets the 1st pick.

    This simple rule absolutely prevents tanking in my league -- and keeps everybody involved and having fun for longer.

  2. @RyanBlackFilm That's a bit confusing.

    Winning the Toilet Bowl would be bad, would it not?

    the "Winner" of the Toilet Bowl should be the bottom 4 team who loses twice in the mini-tournament, while the winner of the mini-tournament should be winning the Draft Bowl.

    Our redraft league does the same thing, except with 6 teams. Also, the Draft Bowl winner gets to choose his draft position next year. We call our loser final the Butthurt Bowl.

  3. Hi. I should clarify.

    The toilet bowl "winner" in our league would be the team who actually wins their games in the loser's bracket (bottom 4 teams). So if you lose every game in the regular season - miss the playoffs - and lose every game in the losers bracket, you would get the 4th pick in the next year's rookie draft.

    So a team that is pretty good - barely misses the playoffs - and wins out in the losers bracket gets awarded with the 1st pick in the rookie draft.

    Therefore, even in a rebuild year, the smartest thing to do is to win the losers bracket. I suppose a team could purposefully lose regular season games in order to fight for the 1st pick in the losers bracket - but our $1000 grand prize goes a long way in preventing that.

    We've also had a major uptick in trading since we implemented the rule 2 years ago.

    I hope that clears things up!

  4. “Therefore, it makes sense to allow unlimited trading between teams for players and future draft picks. Even though some questionable deals could take place under this structure, it promotes activity and allows league members to build a team with no limitations.”

    Is this implying that either no or a very late trade deadline should be imposed/enforced? Curious on everyone’s experiences with regards to how this plays out. I just joined a #FootClan keeper league (3 keepers) that has a deadline of the start of championship week (week 16). I am leery about joining because of this because so many “collusion”/“tanking” type of scenarios could play out, but this quote makes it seem like this could be encouraged and/or keep owners involved.

    Anyone have any thoughts/experiences regarding this?

  5. I think the only antitanking approach that successfully distinguishes between genuine losing versus tanking, is to draft in reverse order of games won after elimination date.

  6. That’s a great point. So then teams have incentive to continue playing their best players (i.e. not trading away assets to a contender to drastically disrupt the championship bracket) through the duration of the season/trade period. I think this is a great idea. I am going to inquire of my commissioner that something like this be instituted.

    I guess the super late trading deadline was worrisome to me, but a safeguard like this could override my fears as they are not necessarily related to the trade deadline but specifically drastic balance disruptions happening as late as the playoffs, or even heading into the championship.

    Thanks, @scofennell!

  7. I make the 12th man repay fees. so its a fight to not suck or tank. Also, all 11 others vote to keep or kick the 12th man. If he lost due to tough competition, we keep. If he sucked, we boot.

  8. @Julian_Ryan Well it’s a free league, so it’s strictly for fun and camaraderie. There’s no incentive for someone to not trade away all of their future picks to win now and then bail. That’s why I was worried when there’s such a late trade date, if it’s even worth doing. It seems like it could open a can of worms.

  9. I’m in a 12 team, live draft league. We have a $20 dollar weekly high score payout that goes up until playoffs. For the teams who miss the playoffs, we have a toilet bowl and a consolation bracket.

    The winner of the consolation bracket receives first choice where they draft the next year. The rest of the order is determined by games on draft day.

    For our Toilet Bowl, we reseed the bottom half of the final standings. 12th place team is high seed and 6th place team is low seed. Like normal playoffs, the 2 high seeds get a bye the first round. But the losers of each matchup are the ones who move on. Only need to win one game to avoid bringing home with the toilet seat trophy. Which the recipient is allowed to add something to each year.

    Regarding the prevention of collusion, I think the best way (not always the easiest) is to try play with honest and good people who enjoy the game as much as you do and who play because it’s FUN! I think the trickiest part is figuring out the best way to deal with the collusion once a legit case of “sketchy” dealings is identified. Personally, I can’t recall any colluding that has happened in the leagues I play in so I don’t know how frequently it happens in other leagues.

    I’m sure #FootClanLeagues is a terrific place to avoid any kind of shady behavior like this. I’m not talking slippery fish tho.

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