Fantasy Football Rules & Settings [5 Ways to Improve Your League in 2023]

Fantasy Football Rules & Settings [5 Ways to Improve Your League in 2023]

I think it's time that we had this discussion. Don’t worry, I’m not playing the role of your mother, passive aggressively poking through your social life to remind you that you don’t want another miniature version of yourself running around. I think MTV has done a pretty swell job of showing the youth that being a teen-parent isn’t something to strive for. Plus, how are you going to focus on the waiver wire when you have a 3-year old screaming sucking up all of your precious attention.

By “we having this discussion”, I simply mean the fantasy football community.

Customizing your league rules is cool and it's one of the things that make this game great, but sometimes leagues and commissioners are doing the most, and bad league settings can be more detrimental than enjoyable. Simply put, your fantasy football league rules and setting can make or break your season.

As the commissioner of a minimum 4 leagues each fantasy football season, for as long as I can remember, I can confidently say I’ve tested every league rule and setting out there: Scoring settings, waiver-wire rules, loser punishments, draft types, keepers, dynasty startups; pretty much the Hugh Hefner of fantasy football - you name it, I’ve done it.

Today, I’m going to share with you my absolute favorite rules, settings and customizations I’ve come across during my tenure as a fantasy football commissioner. Implement one, or all of them to your league and you’ll be in for an awesome 2021 fantasy football season.

Top 5 Fantasy Football Rules & Settings you need to implement in 2023:

1. FAAB > Waiver-Wire

There are too many problems with the current state of fantasy football waiver wires. Well, there are basically two types of them. The first is the standard one most of you are familiar with, where each week the waiver-wire order resets based on standings. The last place team is catapulted to the top of the pecking order, getting his or her choice of the crop of free agents, regardless of how many moves you made in the previous week/s. I assume only leagues consisting of members under the age of 14 use this setting, and only because it was the default and they don’t know how to change it. The second waiver-wire option, which isn’t terrible, but has its flaws, automatically moves the owner who has made the most recent free agent pick-up to the bottom of the waiver-wire order, where they sit until every single one of the other league mates make moves, assuming the guy who was just pushed to the bottom doesn't make any moves during that time. Obviously, you can pick up players during that time, but if anyone in your league attempts to pick up the guy that you want, you’re not getting your guy.

Both systems are flawed, the new wave is here my friends.

That wave being FAAB, or Free Agent Acquisition Budget. Each league member is given a fixed budget at the beginning of the szn. It doesn’t matter what the amount is. After testing numerous amounts, I prefer $100, but $500 or $1,000 is fine too, it’s all relative.

Each week, whenever waivers are normally processed, say Wednesday morning, instead of the waiver order determining who gets which players, there is a "blind bid". For example, it's Week 3 and Le'Veon Bell gets hurt, reports pin his timetable for return at 6-8 weeks. The biggest FA pickup this week, undoubtedly, is going to be James Conner, the Steelers second string running back (this might change, but just an example). Everyone knows this, there are no surprises here.

With the normal waiver-wire system, we already know whose team Conner will be on come Week 4 - whoever is sitting at #1. With the FAAB system, each player puts forth a bid using the FAAB budget they received at the beginning of the year. You can put $0, you could use all $100 of it, it’s up to you. No one besides you (assuming you put a bid in) can see how much your bid for Conner was until Wednesday morning after the bid processes. At that time, Conner is awarded to the team that bid the highest amount of their FAAB. If two league members bid the same amount, it looks at who has made the most recent move to tie-break it. It's by far the fairest way to do the waiver wire.

The only argument I usually have to have with people when it comes to FAAB is what happens after the bid processes on Wednesday: do the remaining players go into the free agency pool where any league member can pick them up at any time from Wednesday through Sunday? That could work, what we do in my big ca$h league is set it up (which Yahoo allows you to do by going to Settings -> League Settings) as shown below:

So, instead of having the players go into the open market, we actually have the blind bid set up to process every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That way it keeps the FAAB process rolling at all times. If a player gets hurt on Friday, you still have to go through a blind bid for their backup, which will process on Saturday morning.

I get why the regular WW's are set up the way they are. But, in my opinion, you shouldn't be penalized for 1) Being good at fantasy football & having a good record and 2) For picking up free agents regularly, they're there for the taking. Thus, FAAB is the ultimate waiver-wire system.

***Pro tip, if you're using FAAB in your league for the first time, your league mates will likely be super cautious when doing their bidding, so if there's a guy that you really want, don't hesitate to spend 15, 30 or even 50% of your FAAB on him. If you run out of FAAB budget, you're still able to pick up players with your $0 budget, but anyone can outbid you with $1.

2. 2QB League or 6 Point-Per-Pass TD combined w/ -3 or -4 Points-Per-Interception

The QB scoring in fantasy football is something that needs to be adjusted too, and this is coming from someone who preaches the late-round QB tactic because it's just so easy to not care about the position and get by without having to invest any draft capital or easily stream the position week-to-week.

The problem I have with the normal fantasy setting what it comes to the QB position is that quarterbacks play an enormous role in real football, but quite the opposite in fantasy football. It shouldn’t be that way. So, I suggest changing your settings to a 2QB league, where you have to start 2QBs OR the scoring rules so that each passing touchdown is worth 6 points instead of 4 AND an interception penalty is either -3 or -4 points.

Drafting a QB in round 10, 11 or even 15 has become so easy because even if you miss, there are going to be 8 usable QBs sitting on the waiver wire that you can stream any give Sunday, shoutout Willie Beamen. A 2QB league forces you to take a different approach, because having two of them will ensure a large percentage of your weekly points come from the position. It also means that at a minimum, 20 QBs will be rostered in your league (assuming your league size is at least 10 teams). And you can almost guarantee that the majority of people will take a third quarterback now. There are only 32 starting QBs in the world, so if 24 are starting and the rest are rostered, your streaming/FA options are minimal, if available at all. It makes the position extremely valuable. It makes trading way more likely in your league too.

If your league is insistent on starting a single QB, that's fine, but you should change the scoring. Boost up not only the good that comes along with exceptional quarterback play (TDs), but raise the stakes with stricter interception penalties. When QBs are getting 6 points rather than 4 points for a score, and losing much more per interception, those late-round quarterbacks who used to suffice in fantasy, and are barely average real-world QBs, start to look a lot less like roses and a lot more like Rosie O'Donnell. An interception in a real game kills the team. It should at least give your fantasy team a smack. For instance, Philip Rivers’ 2016 szn, he finished as QB6 in fantasy despite leading the NFL with 21 interceptions and his team to a 5-11 record... I’m sorry but I just don’t think he should be awarded for being terrible. It mitigates garbage time points as well, for the most part. Because, if your team is truly in garbage time, it's most likely because your QB was shitty all game, and turned the ball over on his route to garbage time.

For the most part, draft day has come down to taking a plethora of running backs and wide receivers. Quarterbacks and tight ends have become an afterthought, something you don’t have to worry about until double-digit rounds are the only open slots on your draft board. But with either of these QB scoring formats, it adds an extra dynamic to your league and makes draft day that much more fun. Drafting quality quarterbacks becomes a priority.

3. 0.5 PPR

This really should go without saying. If you're still playing in a standard scoring league you probably own a flip phone, or start every sentence with “back in my day”, or have loose mints in your pocket.

0.5 PPR is the perfect blend of standard scoring and full PPR. Full PPR also pisses me off.. a player shouldn't get a full point for simply catching the ball and falling to the ground. #AllCatchesAreNotCreatedEqual2018

Half-point per reception opens up a new pool of players to have an impact in fantasy football, that normally wouldn’t in standard leagues. Mainly the running backs who play a big role on their teams as pass-catchers (I.E. Theo Riddick, Duke Johnson, etc.). Without some sort of PPR format, you wouldn't think twice about starting a Theo Riddick, who will probably get somewhere between 40-60 total yards, with a 25-30% chance of finding paydirt on a given week. Throw in 5 receptions, and his weekly fantasy floor is around 7 points. It's not a huge boost, but useful nonetheless and again, makes draft day that much better because the player pool is more expansive.

4. KEEPERS - Late Round & No Free Agents

EVERY league should have some sort of keeper rule implemented. It not only keeps the league engaged throughout the offseason, but it (you keep hearing this) changes the dynamic of draft day!!!!!!

Keepers can absolutely be a double-edged sword, however. Too many can ruin a league. I’ve been in leagues with anywhere from 1 to 5 players can be kept for the following season. I, along with my big-money-league members, have agreed that having one, just a solo keeper is optimal.

But that's not it. How your keeper rule is set up is arguably more important than how many keepers you allow.

For my friends and I (and any of you that do a live draft for your league), draft night is easily the most enjoyable night of the football season. But if Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins, Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, etc. are already off the board before the draft starts, draft night REALLY isn't that much fun. The smaller the player pool is, the less fun it is, in my humble opinion.

That is why our rule is this: Any player drafted in the 8th round or later can be kept the following season. No free agents whatsoever.

It’s set up in a way to minimize any ridiculous advantage a league owner can have going into the following season. Every year there are players that bust tf out who weren't drafted at all in the previous fantasy season. For instance, if you allow free agents to be keepers.. Whoever picked up Alvin Kamara in 2017 has a monster advantage for 2018. That league member is virtually receiving an additional first round pick along with the one he already has. I understand the argument... he should be rewarded for noticing the player and picking him up last year!!!

He was... by having him on his team last year. He got all of Kamara’s production, all season and didn't have to pay any draft capital. It's the same reason we have the keeper round set at 8. We originally started with Round 6, and the same thing happened, too many really good players were still drafted that early. Every year there are a few 6th rounders that end up being first or second-rounders in the next season, and it didn't take any real research or skill to pick them in the 6th round. We eventually pushed it back to the 10th round which I personally liked the most since it rewards the league members who do their research and are nice with the late-round picks. At the time when our rule was 10th round or later, we also allowed two players to be kept, not one. That led to my friend CHRIS R., who I’ll keep anonymous, being able to keep both David Johnson and Jordy Nelson... that happened to be the szn both guys ranked #1 in fantasy at their position. Sufficient to say, the league wasn't much fun for the other 9 of us.

Thus, we eventually settled on round 8, with one keeper. It's late enough in the draft that people who don't do their research likely won't get lucky hitting on a future first rounder, and if they do, that's all the damage they can do, they can't keep anyone else.

The best part about keepers is its ability to keep you engaged all off-szn. You're thinking about who you can keep, should you trade him? Yes, we allow keeper trades. You can trade your keeper for someone elses, or for a draft pick - just make sure that at the end of the trade every player must still have the same number of draft picks (or draft picks + keepers). If you trade away a keeper player for a draft pick, then you just take away the last round pick of the league member that is keeping someone.

If your keeper rule is set for round 8, you might start drafting differently once that round 8 hits. Rather than taking a high-floor vet, you might take a swing on a rookie running back who is behind a veteran on the depth chart, but that veteran’s contract expires at the end of this year. Stay woke.

Dynasty leagues are great too, but it’s a LOT of commitment to be in one and operate successfully. You need to make sure that every single league member is active and in it for the long haul - I’m talking years on years on years.

5. Winner's Win, and Losers LOSE. (trophies/punishment)

If you ain't playing for something, what's the point?

Thanks to FantasyJocks me and my homies are hooked up with and play for a gorgeous FantasyJocks Championship Belt:

best fantasy football rings

AND a Championship Ring!

and that's just the icing on top of the hefty money-prize. Have each league-mate chip in an additional $5 or $15 on top of their league buy-in to grab a belt, trophy or ring and you'll be gucci. I highly suggest the belt, you pay once and it’ll last years. Bring it to your buddy’s house on Sundays. Bring it to the mall. Bring it to the bar. (just a few places my friends have been with ours) I don’t care. It’s an amazing, high-quality novelty item.

As for your league’s LOSER.... woooo boy - this is arguably my favorite part about my big league. During our annual summer meeting where we discuss rule changes for the upcoming szn, we also decide upon a loser punishment for the upcoming year. We've gotten progressively better, or worse makes more sense, at picking a punishments. We started off with the loser standing shirtless in the middle of our town, in January, with a loser sign. Sorry Joe.

Fantasy Football Loser

Last year, ya man himself had to do a 5-minute stand up comedy gig at a comedy club in New York City... My league mates were the ones who got to write my jokes...

Top 5 League Settings for your Fantasy Football League

This is me ^, and everything I’m writing about in this article is #facts. I’ve done it all.

Our league motto quickly became - "If you ain't last... you're first."

This year, our league loser will transform himself into a bathroom attendant at a club for a night. Handing out paper towels, mints, condoms, whatever, he can keep the tips. Lol, Joe (pictured above shirtless) lost again.

Regardless, a punishment ensures everyone plays fully through the entire szn, and to be perfectly honest, watching the last place race is actually more exhilarating than the race for the belt. As long as you’re not in it.

What'd we miss? Let hear some of the best rules changes you've implemented into your league.

Next Post

  • Nick Ercolano
Comments 12
  • Tony

    How do you keep managers to continue playing after they realize they are not making the playoffs. We have a rule for last place where nobody wants to be, but what about 2nd & 3rd to last place? If they quit playing towards the end of season because they are in no danger of last place it screws up the last few games. How do you get the bottom 3-4 teams to stay active till season end?

  • Andrew Ver Haagh
    Andrew Ver Haagh

    What is the standard rule once you’re in the playoffs for picking up waivers because you’re position as injured.

  • Panazelia

    I’m having trouble to do FAAB process rolling at all time on my League.

    I just managed to set up the FAAB process for the first day in the week, but every player unowned turns a Free Agent after and I wish I could avoid that.

    I’m even planning moving my whole league to Yahoo just because of this feature (or my lacking of knowledge on how to set up properly on

    Can someone help me?

  • DJ Penny
    DJ Penny

    We put each guy in the league in charge of a “recap” for the whatever week corresponds with their draft order. It could be a write up, video, whatever. Its a 12 guy league, so it’s basically the whole regular season. It greatly increases trash talk & keeeps everyone involved & you’d be surprised how funny/ imaginative your friends are. We set it up as a Calcutta $20 a guy & we vote on the best recap at the awards ceremony party (added party drama).

  • Dan

    We added a punishment this year and it definitely added to the integrity of the league. Most of us weren’t worried about winning, just not losing. The last place manager has to take the A.C.T. And share the results at next years draft. It was fun to discuss it all year long and It added a lot to the league.

  • Wes

    We are a 10 team, 1pt ppr, 2 keeper league. But catch on the keepers are had to be someone you drafted, has to be on your roster at end of the season, and ilif the player your keeping was drafted in 1st rd, you lose your 1st rd pick in this draft. Ex, if you drafted Leveon bell #1 in the first rd last season and kept him this season, no matter where are in draft order you dont get a 1st rd pick.

  • Jake

    When counting total yards does punt n kick return yards should be counted too or no

  • Grant

    For keepers I prefer a 2 round penalty for the player. If you picked Todd Gurley in the third round last year you can keep him this year but you lose your 1st round pick. If you picked Dalvin Cook in the 6th you lose your 4th. All players picked in the first and second rounds cannot be kept.

  • Bruce Carpenter
    Bruce Carpenter

    We’ve been doing most of this stuff for years. Season 20 upcoming. Our league we also assign over/under odds and odds to win Superbowl. Entire league can bet on themselves, or others before kickoff of first Sunday games. Our league also unique that it is 48 teams. 4 seperate conferences and the AFC/NFC meet up in the Superbowl, and our XFL/USFL teams (lower buy-in) play in their Superbowl.
    Also keep 2 players, but must be at different positions, and you may keep a rookie from last season at any position. We have designations of Franchise (2yr keeper) and Transitional (4year keeper). If you don’t keep your 2 year guy for both seasons, the 4 year player slides into the 2 year spot. Once you’ve tagged a player in both spots, you can’t designate (keep) him again.
    Definitely one of the most elaborate leagues ever.

  • marques

    I like the way the keeper rule sounds… but, do you lose draft pick if you keep a player?

  • TC

    I’m going to propose some of these changes to my league. I like the way all of this sounds. My group is pretty fun and they’re usually open to change. I hope this works out. The FAAB sounds like a great way to handle the WW.

    And the move to 0.5 PPR is long overdue.

  • JB

    We have a 12 team Keeper Auction league. No PPR, a bit TD heavy for scoring,minimum 2kept players minimum and maximum 5. More kept less = auction $. FAAB waiver wire. Big trophy. League has been going on for over 20 years with many original owners. Pay for a great websites that keeps records and all sorts of good stuff.

    Even with 25-35 players kept auction is not boring. Helps when certain years some drops out or gets kicked out. This year a guy got kicked out for good reasons and his team has Zeke,Hunt,Wentz,Hopkins,Hilton. So extra interesting this auction.

    I’ve given up all other leagues and concentrate solely on this one.

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