How COVID-19 Changed Fantasy Football

INTRODUCTION

The 2020 fantasy football season was hands down, one of the most difficult and mentally challenging seasons of all time. As a commissioner of my home leagues, I was not prepared for the start of this season. My intention with this article is to reflect on the season and provide clarity on what to expect heading into 2021.

NAME OF THE GAME – FLEXIBILITY

Now, more than ever, updated and detailed rule books are an absolute must in fantasy football. As a commissioner of multiple leagues, having a well thought out rule book for your leagues that has built-in flexibility is the way to go.

2020 has presented fantasy football commissioners with unique challenges every week. The ability to fall back on an established plan set before the season will make your life easier. Keeping your league on the same page will eliminate possible problems down the road. Since most of the solutions presented below are manually fixed by the commissioner, complete transparency is crucial to the integrity of your league.

Writing a league rule book can be challenging if you have never been down that road. Much like parenting, you learn more as you go. Include a “Commissioners Clause” in your league rule book. An example of one should look like this:

        “The commissioner reserves the right to make decisions that are in the best interest of the league.”

This gives you, the commissioner, the power to be flexible week-to-week as new challenges come up. Requiring a league vote for every decision can be extremely challenging in a normal season, let alone during a worldwide pandemic.

WEEKLY BACKUP PLAN

In 2020, there were a few instances where games were postponed or out-right canceled due to COVID outbreaks. When a game was bumped to Tuesday, fantasy managers were still left with the uncertainty of starting players in those games.

In my leagues, I adopted a COVID-only backup plan. The rule stated:

“If a player’s game is in danger of being canceled, each fantasy manager with players in that game can nominate a ‘backup player’ for that game”

For example, the Week 13 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Baltimore Ravens was postponed to Tuesday night. The manager of Ezekiel Elliot nominated a bench player to replace him if his game was eventually canceled. The nominated player could only be someone who hasn’t played that week. As the commissioner, I would have had to manually switch the players for that manager if the game was canceled.

RELENTLESS ROSTER MANAGEMENT

Any successful fantasy manager knows that maximizing your roster is one of the biggest keys to winning in fantasy football. The 2020 season has brought a new level of importance to roster management.

The first step is knowing the size of your roster and the amount of IR spots available. There should never be an empty spot on your active roster unless you have a waiver claim submitted for that spot. Having empty spots on your IR presents opportunities to stash players for future use. My home league has 16 active players, plus four IR spots. Nine times out of 10, I have 20 total players on my roster at any given time. Giving me more options when players either return from IR or the COVID list.

Paying attention to kickoff times for your starting lineup is the secret sauce for winning in fantasy football. This is your chance to gain a competitive advantage over your opponents in the form of FLEXIBILITY.

Prioritizing kickoff times in your starting lineup should look like this:

  1. Thursday night football players OUT of the FLEX
  2. Saturday games OUT of the FLEX
  3. Sunday Early Window games in starting spot OVER Sunday late window games
  4. Sunday night football players IN FLEX
  5. Monday/Tuesday night players IN FLEX

Monday/Tuesday players present the biggest challenge to fantasy managers. Tuesday comes around and your player going tonight has their game canceled and you did not name a replacement? Don’t let yourself take the 0! Therefore, you want your players in these games to be in your FLEX spots. Why? Because this gives you the most FLEXIBILITY later in the week when a game is canceled unexpectedly, ‘game-time decisions’, or a surprise healthy scratch.

If you have a running back playing on Monday night that lands on the COVID list sitting in your RB slot, you can only replace him with a healthy RB. If that player is in your FLEX, you have more options to replace him with right before kickoff.

ACTIONABLE ADVICE

Take the time to write a detailed rule book for your leagues. Cover your bases, and always include the Commissioners Clause. The name of the game in 2020 was FLEXIBILITY. Set yourself up for a successful season by adding as much FLEXIBILITY as possible.

Whether you are a commissioner or not, convince your league to adopt a “back-up player” rule for the 2021 season. It is a simple, fair, and effective way to mitigate the stress of games being canceled due to COVID outbreaks.

Pay attention to the NFL scheduled kickoff times. Prioritize your starting positions by following the “rules” listed above. Stay connected to NFL news by following beat writers, analysts, and trusted news outlets.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

Tedious? Yes. Excessive? Absolutely not. The advantages you would gain from my actionable advice may not bring you fantasy glory, but why leave a stone unturned? The great Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Assuming everyone reading this plays fantasy football to win championships, I implore you to be tedious and excessive.

One day we will reflect on 2020 and realize the amount of adversity and headaches we all overcame. Whether you ended this year as a champion of your leagues or basked in the empty void of defeat, we all grew as fantasy managers. I sincerely hope the worst is behind us, and we can all return in 2021 with more clarity on our new normal in the fantasy space.

Thank you for reading! You can find the rest of my work at DFF and follow me on Twitter @FF_Derrick. Reach out to me anytime with anything fantasy football related! Seize the moment! Say less, do MORE!

dbordeaux

Copy Editor for Dynasty Football Factory! @DFF_Dynasty #DFFArmy #FantasyFootball Husband. Father of 2. Let’s talk some football! American football.

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