In Part 8 of this article series on starting a fantasy football league, we discussed the most important part of the NFL fantasy season: the draft. In this article, we'll cover the benefits of ideas for 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. The best leagues always award prizes Every fantasy sports league should award some type of prizes to the most successful teams. Fantasy football league awards are great because they give each team something tangible to play for. This, in turn, encourages participation throughout the NFL season. League awards could be monetary, one or more trophies, a championship ring, or even a fantasy football championship belt. Award categories also vary from league to league. Some leagues choose to simply award to the league champion, others give a fantasy prize to both the league champion and playoff teams, and some even present weekly awards to the team with the highest fantasy point output. Even if the awards are minimal, the idea is the same: recognize the top teams and promote participation among all league owners. Fantasy awards are reasonably priced for most leagues Unfortunately, free fantasy football leagues with prizes are rare. Most leagues have to raise at least a little cash in order to be able to award cool fantasy football prizes. If you want all of the benefits that a league prize offers, then a minimum league entry fee is a must. What some commissioners don't realize is that best fantasy football league trophies (or any other type of prize for that matter) can be purchased with only a small, one-time entry fee. For example, the quality, perpetual league trophies can easily be purchased for less than $10 per owner. They can then be reused year after year. With those kinds of prices, there is no reason why your league shouldn't finance a league championship prize (at a minimum). Unique ideas for fantasy football prizes For years, the most cost-effective fantasy prize was the trophy. But due to the popularity of fantasy football, and the introduction of new prize vendors to the market, trophies are by no means the only option. Unique and unconventional prizes have made huge strides in recent years. Some of the most popular awards in 2017 were not even on the market a decade ago. If you want to make your league stand-out, consider one of these unique football award ideas and your league will love you for it. Fantasy football championship belts enter the ring For the last five years or so fantasy rings were the most unique idea for a fantasy football prize. But over the last few years, fantasy championship belts have risen in popularity. I actually dedicated an entire review to the best fantasy football championship belts on the market. For those leagues in which your owners really want to put their championship bravado on display, nothing will get attention like a fantasy football championship belt. If anyone in your league tries to talk smack about your fantasy gold, a DDT be may be in order? Belts are a very cool alternative to the same boring trophies that are standard in most leagues. You can even have your belt customized later by getting your league logo or champions' names engraved on the blank end-plates. Pretty cool! One of the best fantasy belt vendors is Fantasy Jocks. If you like their merchandise, check out my comprehensive Fantasy Jocks review for even more prize options for your league. Fantasy football rings become affordable Championship rings for fantasy sports have been around for several years. But until recently most of the offerings were very expensive and only offered by companies that specialized in the ring market, like Jostens. Most people should be familiar with Jostens as they are the brand made popular through senior class rings. In some leagues, a championship ring will be a hard sell to your owners. Because ring sizes vary, it would only make sense to go this route if you are awarding a new ring to the champion every year. Depending on your league entry fees and prize pot, a yearly championship ring may or may not be a sensible choice. If you're considering going the championship ring route, check out my article on the best fantasy football championship rings for the 2017 season. All of the rings in that review are very reasonably priced (most comparable to a nice, single-year fantasy trophy). Some people love fantasy rings, some hate them. But they're a great option if you're looking to add some bling to your yearly awards ceremony. Prize ideas for the best fantasy owners Fantasy standouts, whether they be the overall champion or weekly high scorers, should always be awarded. Sometimes leagues even recognize the worst teams with some type of gag prize (more on funny fantasy awards later). Obviously, the biggest prizes should be reserved for the best teams. In the next few sections, I'll cover fantasy football league awards for the top teams in your league. Fantasy football award ideas for the league champion At the very least, all fantasy sports leagues should award the league champion for his dominance. Winning a fantasy football championship isn't easy, especially when you consider how much luck plays a factor when picking NFL players. If you don't recognize the best owner in your league with something tangible for his achievement, then what's the point? But what kind of fantasy award makes the most sense for a champion? Should it just be straight cash? Should it be something the champ will keep and cherish forever? Is it a prize that he can keep for a year, but then has to pass it to the next league champ? These are valid questions and the answer will depend largely on your league's budget and personality. In the following sections, I'll present specific ideas for awarding your league champion along with some quality, affordable options. Use a perpetual trophy for league champs If your league is budget conscious, but also like the idea of awarding the league champion every year, then a perpetual fantasy trophy would likely be your best option. A perpetual trophy front-loads the price of the championship prize, but it's an award that can be passed along each year to the new champion. If you've never seen a perpetual fantasy league trophy, they are usually larger than standard trophies because they have one large or many small engravable plates for recording the team name and owner (and sometimes the fantasy team logo) of many league champions. The trophies featured below support the engraving of 10 to 18 champions. Choosing a perpetual league trophy provides the best bang for your buck when it comes to picking a championship prize for your league. It's what we do in my leagues and it never fails to disappoint. Pay the champ with cold, hard cash! Whether it comes to presenting gifts or awards of any kind, you can never go wrong with cash. Money makes the world go round and no one has ever been disappointed when someone places a stack of bills in their hand. Yes, it's true. A beautiful, shiny perpetual trophy can add character and a touch of class to your otherwise embarrassing and dysfunctional fantasy league. But a trophy doesn't make it rain at the local strip club, does it? Cash is also the simplest fantasy football prize when it comes to awarding a league champion. No debating what to buy, which trophy is nicer, or how many owners should win an award. You simply pool the league money together and pay champ. Choosing the best payout structure How much you choose to pay the champ will depend on your owners' personal preferences, how much money you have to work with, and how many teams you plan to award with a cash prize. I think the best fantasy football payout structure is when the entry fee is roughly $100 per owner. That's enough to ensure your top four teams win an acceptable cash prize. Here are three fantasy football payout ideas that you can use as a starting point based on your league configuration. Each scenario is based on a payout structure for 12 teams with varying entry fees and playoff scenarios. League Payout Scenario 1 12 team / 4 team playoff / $100 entry Champion - $600 2nd Place - $300 3rd Place - $200 4th Place - $100 League Payout Scenario 2 12 team / 6 team playoff / $100 entry Champion - $425 2nd Place - $225 3rd Place - $175 4th Place - $150 5th Place - $125 6th Place - $100 League Payout Scenario 3 12 team / 4 team playoff / $10 entry Champion - $120 Award the champ a personal trophy each year Some owners don't like the idea of sharing their championship with others. If most of your league feels this way, you can opt to award a different fantasy trophy each and every year. The prices for trophies have come down substantially in recent years so it isn't out of the ordinary to find a great championship trophy for under $40. Even if your league is comprised entirely of penny-pinchers, a nominal entry fee of $5 should be more than enough to purchase a trophy each and every year. Below are some of the best single-year trophies available from Amazon. Prize ideas for your playoff teams An alternative to awarding only the league champion is to award all teams that make the playoffs. Prizes for playoff teams are almost always a cash prize of some sort. While playoff cash prizes are generally quite 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 payout scenario obviously becomes more costly as the size of your playoff bracket grows. It is much more applicable to a 4-team playoff than a 6-team playoff configuration. Award draft seeding in free or low-budget leagues If you run a league that doesn't have much cash flow, consider awarding playoff teams with higher draft positions the following year. Short of cash, coveted draft slots are the next best prize to encourage owners to put their best foot forward all season. If you want to get really crafty, award choice of draft position instead of a specific draft slot. This adds another layer of strategy as some owners prefer to pick in the middle or toward the end of the first round. Encourage participation with weekly fantasy football prizes If your league entry fee is substantial ($100 or more), then you should strongly consider presenting fantasy football weekly awards to owners with the highest point total each week. The idea behind weekly prizes is to encourage 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 can lead to a situation where other teams get an easy win toward the end of the NFL season when everyone is vying for playoff position. Obviously, 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. It's a win-win. Payout scenario ideas for weekly prizes In this section, I expand on the previous payout scenarios to include a weekly prize. You can use these as a basis for your own league's payout scenarios. Weekly Prize Scenario 1 12 team / 14 weeks 4 team playoff / $100 entry Champion - $400 2nd Place - $225 3rd Place - $150 4th Place - $75 Weekly Prize - $25 Weekly Prize Scenario 2 12 team / 14 weeks 6 team playoff / $100 entry Champion - $325 2nd Place - $200 3rd Place - $175 4th Place - $140 5th Place - $120 6th Place - $100 Weekly Prize - $10 Weekly Prize Scenario 3 12 team / 14 weeks 4 team playoff / $10 entry A weekly prize is not practical in this scenario. A better option would be to use final standings as a basis for the following year's draft order. Champion - $120 One final note regarding giving cash prizes to weekly high scorers: some owners will protest taking any money away from the playoff teams' or champion's prize pool. Just remind them that the best teams will naturally win the most weekly prizes. So, in the end, it will likely even itself out. But, it also promotes competition late in the season. Funny prize ideas for the worst fantasy teams Championship trophies are a must for fantasy football leagues. But let's be honest, only one owner in your entire fantasy league actually gets to enjoy that trophy each year. That's not a very good return on investment. The great thing about loser trophies is that they can be enjoyed by the entire league (ok, maybe except for the owner who actually receives it). There is nothing funnier than watching the last-placed team accept a loser fantasy football trophy in front of the entire league. The funnier the trophy, the better. And in much the same way that a championship trophy promotes healthy competition, a loser trophy helps to motivate the bottom-tier teams in your league to avoid the shame that comes with earning that dishonor. And let's face it, that shame is usually well-deserved. Here is a quick summary of the funniest fantasy football trophies that I'll be reviewing in detail below. If you want to save some time you can click on these links to check the current prices on Amazon. The Funniest Fantasy Trophies Decade Awards Toilet Bowl Loser Trophy Partner Pile of Crap Trophy Decade Awards Horse's Rear Bobblehead Trophy Awards R Us Ballerina Trophy Funny Fantasy Trophy Buying Guide When researching the funniest fantasy football trophies for league bottom-dwellers, I narrowed my focus to the most humiliating trophies possible. In this review, I tried to choose a variety of embarrassing trophies to give you a wide range of prizes to choose from, based on your level of depravity. If these trophy ideas aren't humiliating enough, read the section on funny fantasy prize ideas that aren't trophies. Here are some factors to consider when picking a funny trophy for your league. Funny fantasy trophies are not very expensive One of the reasons that every league should invest in a funny loser prize is that they are inexpensive. Also, these are not the type of fantasy prizes that are purchased every year. Loser trophies are generally purchased once and passed around from loser to loser, year after year. In that sense, the comedic value they provide is well worth the one-time investment. Loser trophies also provide some incentive for the worst owners to actively manage their teams and start optimal lineups each week, which is never a bad thing. Which owners to recognize with a loser trophy In most of the leagues that I've played, the loser fantasy football trophy usually goes to the team that loses the final game of the loser playoff bracket. This game is aptly named the Toilet Bowl. As you'll see in the reviews below, some funny trophies specifically target this pivotal game. I've also been in leagues where the team with the worst record, or the team with the lowest point output, are recognized in some funny way. I generally prefer the Toilet Bowl approach because it also gives the worst teams something to play for late in the season. Funny fantasy football trophy names Most leagues crown the recipient of the loser trophy the Toilet Bowl Champion. In my leagues, we call this owner the League "Chumpion" (and the Toilet Bowl is re-branded as the Chumpionship). However, simply accepting the Chumpionship trophy isn't the end of the suffering for our last-place team each year. They have to endure other forms of humiliation that I'll describe next. Other funny ideas for embarrassing the worst teams For my leagues, one of our rules that the loser trophy recipient has to display their trophy out in the open for all to see until the next fantasy season begins. This is to make sure they don't just go home and stick the trophy in a drawer and forget about it. In addition, the Chumpion does not get to name his fantasy team the following year. The league champion gets to name his team and also pick the team logo for the Chumpion. Finally, the Chumpion has to serve as the "Sticker Wench" for the next year's live fantasy football draft. This means they are responsible for placing all of the player stickers onto the board during the draft proceedings. All of these funny antics add to the hardship that is being the worst team in our leagues. It's a great motivating factor that our owners want to avoid at all costs. The Funniest Fantasy Trophies Reviewed In the next few sections, I'll review the best fantasy football loser trophies for your fantasy league. In choosing these trophies, I paid particular attention to cost, the reputation of the trophy merchant, and the satisfaction of the customers who have already purchased these items. Decade Awards Toilet Bowl Loser If your league's bottom-dweller is determined by a final game pitting together the two worst teams, then this Toilet Bowl championship trophy from Decade Awards will definitely fit the bill. The picture of this trophy doesn't give it justice as it is actually six inches tall. That's enough to garner some attention as it sits on the mantle of your league's worst team. This is a customizable trophy on which you can add an engraving plate. Because this trophy is stocked by Amazon, it ships without a plate. But Decade awards will send you a free engraved plate to you with each order. You just send them the info after you've made your purchase. Each plate can accommodate up to three lines of text. That's enough space to add the name of your league, the name you've given to your loser fantasy football trophy, and maybe another humiliating one-liner. Products sent directly from Decade Awards don't require the extra step to get an engraving plate, but customers who have purchased this item seem satisfied with the process. Some even report receiving the plate on the same day as the trophy. PROS Customizable with one engravable plate Perfect prize for leagues with a Toilet Bowl game Solid, sturdy build at 6 inches tall Excellent customer service CONS Plates shipped separately LEARN MORE Trophy Partner Pile of Crap Trophy Well, let's just say this funny trophy from Trophy Partner speaks for itself. If your league loser is wondering how he should feel after a pitiful excuse for a fantasy season, this should make it quite clear. Much like the Toilet Bowl loser trophy from Decade awards, this trophy is customizable with four lines of custom text on the front of the trophy. However, the text on this trophy is much more prominent. This trophy stands five inches tall, which is slightly smaller than the Toilet Bowl trophy, but still plenty big enough to make a statement. Also, this is the only trophy in this review that can fit multiple plates around the sides for recording the owner and team names of all your worst teams over the years. The seller advises choosing these plates if you decide to go that route. The is one of the more expensive trophies in this review, but also by far one of the funniest trophies on the market. PROS Big, customizable text Fast shipping Suitable for any sport CONS Shipping costs are separate LEARN MORE Decade Awards Horse's Rear Bobblehead Trophy This Horse's Rear trophy from Decade Awards is their second entry into my best fantasy football trophies review. And yes, the rear-end of the horse actually bobbles if you shake it around. This fantasy football loser trophy is customizable with three lines of text. At last check, you can actually specify the engraving instructions for this trophy at the time of purchase, so no having to go back and email Decade Awards to have a separate plate shipped. The butt-bobble feature of this trophy makes it a very cute and unique prize idea. If you want to see the bobble-butt in action, click this link and scroll down to see a video. The only complaint I've seen about this trophy is that it was once chipped during shipping. If we're being honest, that's probably fitting for what this trophy is meant to represent. Your league will no doubt get a kick out of this funny loser trophy, no pun intended. PROS Unique butt-bobble feature Customizable at time of purchase Free shipping CONS Some report damage during shipping LEARN MORE Awards R Us Ballerina Trophy Although this trophy doesn't exactly have a sports connotation to it, I still think it's a hilarious choice for a fantasy football loser trophy. I bought a ballerina loser trophy for one of my leagues that we have passed around for more than 10 years, and I always get a chuckle every time I see it brought out. This stunning trophy from Awards R Us is antique bronze electroplated which means it will never fade, just like the memory of your owners' worst fantasy seasons. It's also a huge trophy, standing at just over a foot tall. That's almost as big as an Oscar! But way sexier. Like the other trophies in this review, this award can be personalized with custom engraving. This is done by sending a message to the merchant after your purchase. There are cheaper ballerina trophies available at Amazon, but this one is a beauty. For a one-time fantasy purchase that will bring your league years and years of joy I think it's well worth it. PROS Huge trophy over a foot tall Free personalization available Truly a stunning trophy CONS Higher-end loser prize Probably only suitable for all-male leagues LEARN MORE Other Funny Prize Ideas for Losers Trophies aren't the only way to embarrass your last-placed fantasy teams. Some of the funniest (non-trophy) prizes are actually worn. The best way to incorporate these loser prizes is by forcing the last placed team to wear this attire during the next year's fantasy football draft. A fantasy loser license plate is also a funny option you can incorporate into your leagues. Making them put this on their car for an entire year is probably much worse than having to wear an embarrassing shirt or sash at the fantasy draft. Here are the funniest non-trophy awards that I found on Amazon. Do you have any suggestions for funny fantasy football loser trophies that aren't on this list? Tell me about it in the comments below.