Commissioner Guide, Part 2: Acquiring Players

The Footballguys guide to starting a new fantasy football league and being the league's commissioner

As commissioner of your fantasy football league, one of your primary responsibilities is overseeing how teams acquire players. Owners acquire players through three primary methods: The draft, weekly free agency, and trades with other owners. Each of these three methods involves very different situations and different levels of oversight. This guide will provide you with different ideas on how to handle each of these situations, and pick the ones which make the most sense for your league.


The single most important event for a fantasy league is the draft. Each year it begins the league's calendar in earnest and has the most impact on each team's roster via transacted players. The draft is where each team hopes to build the roster which will rise to the championship. The draft can be run in a variety of ways. Here are a few options to consider:

Directing league mates to the league constitution well in advance of the draft is a strongly recommended task item. Each participant must be on the same page for the draft and all of the upcoming league activities from the start. Reviewing the rules and settings with adequate time to clarify rules with questions eliminates any draft day confusion among league mates. League rules may also have been adjusted since the previous season (through a league vote or not) and reminding all participants of these changes is paramount. 'Know your league' is an oft-mentioned staple phrase for fantasy football leagues and it begins with the rules of play for each league.


If your league collects an entry fee from each team, secure them before the draft starts. It is nothing personal, but it just works better for everyone if all participants pay before the draft. Each is held to the same standard. If at all possible, you should hold the money in a separate bank account, or use a site like, so the funds are readily available when the season is over.

The most popular version of the draft is the live, in-person draft where all of the participants of the league gather in one location and compete against each other to draft the best team possible before the season starts. This can be hosted at someone's house, or local bars and restaurants frequently offer specials for commissioners who make reservations. Make sure everyone knows the start time and has cleared their schedule for the evening (or afternoon). Once everyone has arrived and has asked all questions about the rules, the draft can begin. Everyone can draw numbers out of a hat to determine the draft order (or order in which they select which draft position they want), and the team with pick 1.01 is officially on the clock.

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