A Template for a Fantasy League Charter

I’m going to do something a little different today and step away from fantasy analysis and try to leave you with something that is simple, very practical, and hopefully helpful.  With a shout out to my fellow commissioners out there, I’d like to give you a template for creating a fantasy league charter.

I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for 20 years now and I’ve had the honor of commissioning for most of that time too.  It can be a fun job but for those that have done it you know that it can also be a little rough sometimes.  No one enjoys stepping into the middle of heated league debates, trade meltdowns, or finding replacement owners, but if you’ve commissioned a league in the past odds are you’ve dealt with a few issues here and there.  While there’s no way to foresee or avoid every issue that can derail a fantasy league (and since there’s no substitute for having great owners as your foundation), a rock solid league charter can go a long way in setting both the tone and direction of your league long term.  In my opinion, it’s a must-have.

A thorough league charter takes some preparation, but since I’ve been doing it for years I’ll provide you with a format I’ve been using recently in my own leagues that I think works well enough for you to run with in your own.  I’m actually in the midst of starting a new Ottoneu league for 2017, thinking through all the specific features and guidelines I want to have in place, so I would welcome your comments about any rules, stipulations, or general advice you have about running your own leagues (or solving issues) successfully.

A great league charter needs to (at least) include a clear breakdown of the following common setup items:

  • Fantasy Platform
  • League Inception Date
  • League Contacts (commissioner(s)/treasurer)
  • League Fees/Dues per Team
  • League Prizes, Payout Process, and Timeline
  • Draft Format (auction/snake)
  • Scoring Format (roto/points/H2H, etc.)
  • Number of teams/owners
  • Lineup Settings (daily/weekly)
  • Annual Draft Date (if possible)
  • League Transaction Rules (costs, wait periods, waiver priority schedule, etc.)

In addition to clearly explaining basic rules, you should also use your league charter to get ahead of the curve in answering some of the following questions that could pop up during a season:

  • Will the league use a trade veto process, and if so, how does it work?

  • How will league dues be handled for owners who voluntarily leave the league after payment?

  • If necessary, how will replacement owners be selected in-season?

  • It’s rare, but how will collusion be identified, and how will it be handled?

  • Are there any custom rules? Are they clear? Practical?

  • How will new rules be adopted, and when? Where can the league view a historical record of rule changes?

  • What “powers” does the commissioner have or need in addition to general administration?

  • What keeper rules are in place, if any, and are they clear?

  • Where is league history (standings, transactions, keepers, etc.) stored? Accessible to all owners?

  • Where do you track league fees and prizes?

Obviously the goal of the league charter is to remove any doubt about how the league will play, and to anticipate any issues that could arise that would prevent the league from playing smoothly together, for years.  In one of my oldest (but best) leagues we had such disagreement about how to interpret a few rules that we ultimately decided to enact a new regulation that would require each owner to cast a blind at the conclusion of each season to “keep” or “remove” every other owner in the league, essentially creating a sort of umbrella option that allows them to interpret the actions of their leaguemates while maintaining at least some sort of recourse (vote) if they saw something they didn’t like but couldn’t specifically be called out in the charter.  I like it, but you can see how complicated things can get sometimes.

I’ve found Google Docs to be one of the best resources for building a healthy league charter because of how easy it is to edit and share the information with others, and I’m a firm believer that all league owners should have access to full league details whenever possible.  Here’s a link to the charter for the Ottoneu Champions League, for example.

So while we didn’t spend a lot of time today digging into how Mookie Betts has a .441 wOBA and 1.092 OPS with runners in scoring position this year, but I thought it would be helpful to step aside temporarily to leave fantasy readers with a practical template for what I hope is long term league sustainability.  There are many different ways to build a league charter, and thousands of variation of rules to account for, but hopefully this is a start.  What has worked best for your league?

We hoped you liked reading A Template for a Fantasy League Charter by Trey Baughn!

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Trey is a 20 year fantasy veteran and a five time Ottoneu champion, including the 2015 winner of the Ottoneu Champions League. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,200 fantasy baseball and football fans talking trash daily. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com

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