Tips for improving your fantasy league: Tapping into rivalries

Fantasy sports are in our DNA at Yahoo, and we know it’s your passion, too. We’re always looking for ways to make our award-winning experience even better and in this case we’re getting help from one of you, our amazing legion of fantasy players, to make leagues even better.

Commissioner’s Corner is a multi-part series meant to provide tips to keep your league engaged all season long and tap even more into the fun that comes with playing fantasy. The author, Justin C. Cliburn, has been the dedicated commissioner of his Yahoo Fantasy Football league the OIL since 2006. While it’s a unique league, each and every one of your leagues is special and brings friends, families and co-workers closer together.

Part 5: Setting the schedule

Great fantasy leagues come in all shapes and sizes. There are the Yahoo default settings, but you also have the option customize things. With all the choices, I don’t like to give advice on league settings. PPR, Superflex, IDP, Dynasty, Re-draft, Developmental, Relegation . . . whatever type of league you play in is unimportant. What is important is how you set the table for the upcoming season.

That starts with making the schedule, which I know is veering dangerously close to the league settings I promised not to get into. But it’s such a simple solution to schedule-making that I feel it should be shared. As a commissioner, the thing I hated most come playoff time was a manager complaining that he only missed the playoffs because he had to play “X” twice while “Y” didn’t play “X” at all and instead got to play a horrible team like “Z” twice. That is why we switched to a 14-team league with a 13-week schedule. Its balanced schedule means that every team plays every other team exactly once, preventing belly-aching come playoff time.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free]

No matter the number of teams in your league, you should take the schedule seriously. But using a drag-and-drop schedule editor without a cheat sheet is a slow, painful process. Luckily, FootballGuys.com has a free custom schedule maker. Whether you want to go for the scheduling nirvana of a 14-team league or a 12-team league with multiple divisions, their schedule maker will give you a painless way to create your perfect schedule. And the custom schedule maker makes it so much easier to institute a rivalry week.

If your league has been around a while, you can probably identify some natural rivalries. In the OIL, Week 13 is Rivalry Week, where longtime rivals face off in final matchup of the regular season. It gives everyone something to look forward to and encourages those eliminated from the playoffs to continue giving their best effort late into the season.

Think about how the NFL has shifted to division foes playing one another in Week 17, increasing the chance that the slate will impact the playoff field.

The first rivalry we recognized in the OIL was between managers Kevin Pyle (Lucky Enuf) and Mike Schmidt (Dead Again). Their opposition began in 2005 when the two of them were in the same platoon prior to their Iraq deployment. The constant sniping and trash talk carried over to the OIL, and Dead Again always seemed to upset the higher-ranked Lucky Enuf team. Now their annual grudge match is saved for the last week of the season, when the season-long buildup intensifies the rivalry. Rivalry Week has been a hit in the OIL, and it’s easy to implement.

To schedule Rivalry Week in your league:

  1. Start with FootballGuys.com’s custom schedule maker and leave in place the generic team names (Team 1; Team 2; etc.);
  2. Run the schedule maker and skip to the final week of the season;
  3. Assign team names based on the schedule for that final week; and then
  4. Go back and re-run the schedule maker with those names in place of Team 1; Team 2; etc.

Boom. There’s your regular-season schedule.

Helpful hint: Managers wanted custom playoff features and Yahoo Fantasy made it happen. Commissioners now have the ability to edit seeds for the first week of the playoffs, so you can set up a divisional playoff bracket or allow the top 4 seeds to be based on record and 5th and 6th seeds to be based on total points.

This feature appears under the commish tools as “Edit Playoff Seeds” under the “Schedules & Playoffs” area, in both the web version and the app. You can also find it by searching “Edit Playoff Seeds”.

Up Next: In Part 6 of the series, we’ll dive into determining draft order.

More tips for improving your fantasy league:

Starting with the basics
Why bylaws matter
Building franchises
Recognizing the champ

More from Yahoo Fantasy Sports