Public or Private? Fantasy Sports Leagues Explained

As a new fantasy sports (FS) player, you have a lot of exciting game time ahead. To get started on the right foot, join the best league for you. Understanding the roles of commissioners and how the league is structured is important. You also need to have a public or private avenue. Let’s begin with the basics.

Understanding Leagues – How to Join a Fantasy Sports League

To play FS, you will have to join a league, because you will be, in essence, playing against the people in it. Imagine your league is like the NFC East. Each member of the league has a team, as though they own the Giants, Cowboys, or Eagles. Without a league, your team would have nobody to play against.  

It follows that members of the same league cannot have the same fantasy players. Part of the fun is vying for solid team members and creating magic out of unexpected combinations. The team you compose will compete against your league-mates’ teams. If each had the same all-stars, FS would not require the same level of skill, nor would it be as entertaining.

Your FS league may have only a handful of members or as many as a few dozen. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Small leagues tend to have high densities of all-star players, since there are enough all-stars to go around. Depending on the style of play you are interested in, this may take some of the fun out of it. Conversely, large leagues necessitate knowledge of third- and fourth-string players. This requires a depth of research that is not always ideal. Starting in the 10- to 15-member range is usually perfect for a new player.

Deciding Between Public vs. Private

The choice to go with a public or private league will alter the course of your search dramatically. You can easily join public leagues through online interfaces, using e-mail, websites, or apps. You can sign up alone or with friends. Other members are assigned to the league automatically by whichever platform is being used. These leagues do not play for money.

For many players, public leagues are good places to start. They allow you to get a real sense of the game before putting cash on the line. These groups tend to be more relaxed as well. Commissioners often allow more flexibility, while players take more risks. This can be a great learning experience.

Private leagues work a bit differently. You have to know the commissioner or a member to join, as they are by personal invitation only. Most of these leagues require a buy-in at the start. This dollar amount can range from $10 to several hundred dollars, depending on the group. Since private groups generally play for money, they are more tightly controlled. The players tend to be more competitive, and commissioners tend to be stricter. With actual cash at stake, it makes for more intense play.

Choosing a Commissioner

Each league has a commissioner. This individual oversees a variety of tasks and transactions that keep the league running smoothly. Most commissioners manage the league’s website, update rosters, and collect associated entry fees. In relaxed groups, this may be the extent of their role. In other cases, this individual takes on further responsibilities, which can include daily updates, monitoring interactions, and approving all trades.

It is vital to choose a commissioner you trust. This individual is the treasurer, and therefore holds the league’s money until a winner is announced. At that time, the commissioner is responsible for properly distributing the winnings. Choose someone you can rely on to manage your cash. Of course, this applies only when real money is being used.

It is also within the commissioner’s rights to manage all trades. Some choose to take a back seat in this, presuming that members will conduct themselves fairly. However, buddy trades and one-sided deals do sometimes happen. The commissioner is there to stop this. Once again, trustworthy commissioners are key to ensuring fairness in the calls they make. To avoid this altogether, some leagues opt to conduct a poll instead – allowing a democratic approach to approvals.

Knowing the Scoring System

When choosing a league, consider which point system it will use. Let’s use Fantasy Football as an example. Touchdowns will give your team points. Beyond that, league rules vary. Some award points for the number of yards gained in each play. Others count interceptions made as a point. Understanding which actions earn rewards will help you choose appropriate players. It will also help you decide which league to join, depending on what gaming experience you prefer.

You now know what questions to ask yourself and your prospective league before joining. Remember to decide between public and private to start. Then check out commissioners and scoring systems until you find the right combination for you. You will be in full game mode before you know it.

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