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Ideas for Awarding Fantasy Football League Prizes

Posted by Brad Perniciaro
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In Part 8 of this article series on how to start a fantasy league, we discussed the most pivotal part of the fantasy season: the fantasy football draft. In this article, we'll cover the benefits of awarding yearly fantasy football prizes. The privilege of talking smack is rewarding in itself, but awarding one or more prizes each year adds a great touch to any fantasy league.

Awarding League Prizes

Every fantasy football league should award some type of prizes to the most successful teams. League awards are great because they give each team something tangible to play for, which in turn encourages participation throughout the fantasy season.  Fantasy football league awards could be monetary, one or more trophies, or even a Championship ring.

Some leagues choose to only give an award to the league champion, others award both the league champion and any playoff teams, and some even present weekly awards to the team with the highest point output. Even if the awards are minimal, the idea is the same: promote participation among league owners.

Winner Prize Ideas

Fantasy winners, whether they be the overall champion or weekly high scorers, should always be awarded.  Here are a few ideas for awarding the top teams in your league.

  • League Champion
    All fantasy football leagues should, at the very least, award the league champion for his dominance. If you collect league entry fees, then the champion should be awarded the lion’s share of the pot. If you don’t collect entry fees, you should seriously consider taking up a collection for a trophy or some other prize that can be passed around from year to year.  These days you can get a quality, multi-year fantasy trophy for a reasonable price which can record league champions for 32 years or more. The cost of a quality fantasy trophy is negligible when split among 10 or more teams.
  • Playoff Teams
    An alternative to awarding only the league champion is to award all teams that make the playoffs. While the payout to these owners is generally small compared to the champion’s prize, it’s nice to award each playoff team with a prize that will at least cover the cost of their entry-fee. This becomes more costly as the size of your playoff bracket grows, and is more applicable to a 4-team playoff configuration.
  • Weekly Awards
    If your league entry fee is substantial ($100 or more) then you should strongly consider presenting fantasy football weekly awardsto the owner with the highest point total each week. Awarding a weekly prize encourages league participation because owners will always have an incentive to improve their team and start their best players, even if they have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
     
    In leagues without weekly prizes, one of the biggest problems stems from owners who stop actively participating once they are eliminated from the playoffs. This sometimes leads to a situation where a team they’re playing gets an easy win toward the end of the season when everyone is vying for playoff position.
     
    No owners, especially those fighting for a playoff spot, want to see other teams get an easy win because of the lack of participation from another owner. By incorporating a weekly prize, you’re encouraging everyone to stay active and give their best effort throughout the entire fantasy season.
  • Sample Payments
    Here are some sample payouts for what you might award your winners in a 12-team league where there is a $135 league entry fee:
    • Champion - $460
    • 2nd Place - $300
    • 3rd Place - $200
    • 4th Place - $130
    • Weekly Prize - $40 to high-scorer

Loser Prize Ideas

If your league champion gets to sport his fantasy prizes for awhile, shouldn't the losers in your league be equally shamed?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • League Chumpion
    If you want to add a comedic touch to your league, you could choose to crown a yearly league ‘chumpion’ (i.e the 'chump' equivalent to a 'champ'). The chumpion is a concept that I use in my fantasy league to encourage league participation from the worse teams through the entire fantasy season, even the playoffs. While the top teams are competing in one bracket for the league championship, I also configure a loser’s bracket (the chumpionship bracket) for the remaining teams.
    The winner of this losers bracket is anointed the League Chumpion and is awarded the first choice of draft position in the following year’s draft. It’s a great system because it makes every game count and extends the fantasy season for even the worst teams. Our League Chumpion gets to hold onto the ‘Chumpionship’ trophy for a year and gets his team’s name engraved on one of the name plates adorning the trophy.
  • Worst Team
    It’s an inescapable fact that every year some team will finish dead last. If this isn’t demoralizing enough, pour it on a bit by awarding an embarrassing trophy to this team. I wouldn’t go as far as purchasing an expensive trophy with engraving plates for this honor; a simple ballerina or toilet paper trophy will do. And of course, part of the league rules should state that this trophy must be displayed in open-view for all to see until the trophy is passed-on the following year.

Prizes Ideas

The most cost-efficient type of fantasy prize is the fantasy trophy, but it is by no means the only option.  Some leagues award cash prizes, some award privileges such as high draft position, others award a fantasy championship ring.  Here are ideas for trophies that I myself have purchased and can vouch for. 

Fantasy Trophies

Trophies are great because they are available in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.  Here are a few that I myself have purchased and can vouch for.

Championship Trophy for Multiple Years

The most common type of championship trophy is one which provides the option for engraving multiple champions.  These are great because you can continue to engrave new champions and chances are the trophy will last much longer than your league.  The trophies below are from Trophies2Go.com and provide space to engrave 32 champions.

Gold running back fantasy trophy. Silver quarterback fantasy trophy. Silver running back fantasy trophy.

Single-Year Championship Trophy

If you're looking for a more high-end fantasy trophy, the guys at FantasyTrophies.com have you covered.  They hand craft what are probably the most detailed and original fantasy football trophies available.  You can get the two trophies below plus much more through their website. 

Hand made armchair fantasy football trophy. Hand made throwback armchair fantasy football trophy.

Loser Trophies

Trophies2Go.com has a nice assortment of funny trophies to award to your worst teams as well.  I use the toilet trophy below in one of my leagues and we have the Chumpion's name engraved each year and added to the toilet seat.

Toilet seat loser trophy.

Of course, your last-placed team shouldn't get anything as elaborate as the toilet seat trophy, so a ballerina or toilet paper trophy will suffice.

Ballerina fantasy football loser trophy. Toilet paper fantasy football loser trophy.

Championship Rings

A trend that I've seen growing lately is awarding Championship rings.  Most owners would rather earn cold, hard cash, but I'm sure there are some people out there willing to sport some bling-bling to show their fantasy dominance.  Here are a few vendors who create custom Championship rings at a reasonable price:

  • Jostens - Yeah the same company famous for making class rings.
  • FFLChampions - Rings at a very reasonable price.

Championship Belts

Customized fantasy football championship belts.

For those leagues where you really want to display your championship bravado, nothing will get attention like a fantasy football championship belt!  If anyone in your league decides to talk smack about your style, a DDT be may be in order?  Seriously though this is a pretty unique alternative to the same fantasy trophies that are standard in most leagues.  You can even customize your belt by engraving the various champions' names in the small end-plates.  Pretty cool.

 

Conclusion

Every respectable fantasy league should award the best teams with some type of prize.  Prizes promote league participation and if structured correctly they give all teams something to play for throughout the fantasy season.  This article presented ideas for awarding both your league winners and losers.  In the final article of our series on starting a fantasy football league, we'll recap everything we learned and conclude with some closing thoughts.  What type of prizes do you award in your league?

 

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