Commish HQ: How to Prepare for Next Season Right Now

By Reginald James
Reginald James

Fantasy football season has finally arrived. We should all be excited, right?. Now it’s time to see how all the research, analysis, and picking the brains of your Uncle Joe for football advice plays out. But, some of you aren’t excited. For example, right now, all over “Fantasy Twitter" it’s real easy to find tweets from fantasy football commissioners complaining that they hate chasing people for league dues, which by the way, shouldn’t be happening this close to the season. In some other leagues, commissioners have already had to deal with members of their league intentionally trading a player who suffered a season-ending injury, before the other person involved in the trade found out. Fun times.


We’re going to try to offer a solution, so that some of you don’t have to live through these types of experiences again. I’m going to help you launch your "League Maintenance Program," by encouraging you to create next year’s to-do list, this year. If you’re willing to put in just a wee bit of time during the season, you should be able to create a better league environment for yourself and for your league.


The Beginning


The process is simple. Pick your record-keeping device of choice. Is it your phone? Your computer? Do you still take notes in a notebook with a pencil? Whatever option you choose, you’re going to use it to list four categories similar to: “Good,” “Bad,” “Rule Change?” and “Reserves.” These headings are just suggestions. I like to keep things simple. If you want to create a heading like, “These are the things that went on during the season, that really pissed me off!” Okay, cool. Whatever works for you. Now, you’re going to play the role of league secretary.


The Good, The Bad …


The goal is to keep notes during the season, tracking incidents, both good and bad. You’ll also log any new ideas i.e., rules or scoring variations that hits your radar. You’re not writing your memoirs: try to keep your notes short with just enough details to help you remember later what was going on in your head at the time.


My current rules document is labeled, “Rule Change 2022.” I've written down a couple of sentences reminding myself to “remember” or “think about” some rules that I've come across that I might consider for next year. There’s no way I’ll forget now. When the time comes for me to consider the ideas further, I’ll know what I was thinking at that moment e.g., why I thought it was a good idea, or how I might modify the rule to fit my league.


A lot of leagues make it through each year without any drama whatsoever. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for every league. If for example, a conflict crops up during the season, make note of what happens, who it involves, your role in the situation, and if/how you had a part in the solution. You could even write down your emotional take at the moment (“Hated that. Never again!”).


Some of you who love to get into the details, might want to rank your items. For instance, in the bad category, you can use a scale from 1 – 5, where 1 = a minor or mildly annoying incident, and 5 = the worst league uproar in the history of mankind. Hopefully, this will prove helpful when you take a peek at your league journal in March.


While it’s likely the dramatic moments that may arise in your league will obviously get the most of your attention, you don’t want to ignore writing down the good stuff that happens too. The same rules apply.


… The Reserves


Your reserves, are a list of people you will contact if you ever need to replace someone in your league. This includes anyone you would entrust not to be a knucklehead if brought into the league. It could be someone you work with, for example, who knows you have a league, and every year, they say, “Hey, let me know if you ever have an opening”!


The benefit to already having a list of candidates, is that you’ve already thought about them ahead of time. Now you have the luxury of time to vet them. You can sit back and intently observe how they are with other people, how competitive they are playing games, or more importantly, how they play in other fantasy leagues they might already be in. Instead of having to come up with someone at the last minute in a time of crisis, crossing your fingers and hoping that they work out, you have time to determine if they’d be a good fit for your league.


Always be on the lookout for candidates for your reserve list.




Remember, we started this discussion talking about fantasy commissioners trying to get people to pay their dues. That was just one example. Having viable options at the ready to replace the delinquents, makes life much easier for a commissioner.


Why should you do this during the season? Because, in short, some commissioners might forget about an incident that really bugged them in October. By the time July comes around, they may no longer feel so strongly about what happened and shrug it off. Time tends to soften the edges and dull our memory banks. That’s all well and good until a similar scenario plays out the following season, and we're admonishing ourselves and complaining, “I should’ve/could’ve/would’ve done …”


A little bit of prep work along the way during the current season, can help keep you better prepared as a fantasy commissioner for what may come. 


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