The purpose of this article is to provide a sample fantasy football constitution which addresses common issues your league may face throughout a typical fantasy season. It's a rule book of sorts that you can go back to again and again as your league need to handle disputes.
For those of you starting a fantasy football league, you can use this constitution as a template for creating your own constitution. If your league already has a rule book, you may find that some of the examples could improve your existing bylaws.
What is a fantasy football constitution?
A fantasy constitution is a document which details the rules and regulations by which your fantasy league operates. It my contain some agreed-upon fantasy league settings, but mostly the constitution defines how your league operates outside of the rules set forth by your league host provider.
Whenever there is a question regarding how the league should operate, or a dispute arises which needs to be settled, the constitution should be treated as law.
In most cases, a fantasy constitution starts out very simple and evolves over time as disputes arise and are resolved. Each time the league votes on a change or enacts a new rule, it should be added to the constitution.
Our sample fantasy football constitution
Our sample constitution presents 9 Articles (i.e. rules) that should be applicable to just about any fantasy football league type. The rules detailed were chosen because they are common issues that every league faces.
You can read the entire constitution or jump to a specific article by clicking on the links below. In future installments we will analyze each sample article to discuss how you might alter it to suit the personality of your league.
Article I - Contacting League Officers
Your league officers are available if you have any questions or are in need of assistance. If your question pertains to a feature provided by our fantasy football hosting provider, please utilize their support resources before contacting a league officer.
For league-specific issues, please contact the league commissioner first. If the league commissioner is unavailable, contact one of the co-commissioners.
If you cannot contact a commissioner or co-commissioner, and your issue is time-sensitive (for instance, if you are requesting a roster modification because you don't have access to the Internet), please use the league message board to make your request. In this way, we can verify the time of your request and make your roster change retroactively if necessary.
If you are unable to reach the league commissioner, please contact one of the two league co-commissioners.
Please remit your league entry fees to the league treasurer. In the event that you are awarded a cash prize, it is your responsibility to provide the league treasurer with your address and details of your preferred method of payment.
1234 5th Street
Somewhere, TX 12345
Article II - League Entry & Other Fees
The following fees will be collected yearly to finance league operations and prizes.
Entry Fee: $150 per team
The league entry fee is comprised of a base $137.50 fee and a $12.50 league hosting fee (for CBSSportsline). The league hosting fee is the $150 hosting charge divided by our 12 teams
Trophy Engraving & Shipping Fee: $25
It will be the responsibility of the last-placed team in the loser playoff bracket to pay the engraving fee for the fantasy league championship trophy. If this owner won a weekly prize award during the same year, the engraving fee will be deducted from that amount and paid to the previous year’s champion to cover the fees.
The previous year champion is then responsible for engraving the trophy and shipping it to the new league champion. The last-placed team is responsible for passing the toilet bowl trophy to the new league Chumpion. He must also put all of the stickers on the fantasy football draft board at the following year's draft.
More information on fantasy league fees
Read further information on handling your league's finances, check out our article on creating and collecting fantasy league fees.
Article III - Prize Payout Structure
Our league awards cash prizes to the top 4 teams which reach the Championship playoff bracket. We also award a weekly cash prize to the team with the highest score during each week of the fantasy football regular season.
Here is how we'll award the playoff teams and the weekly high scorer.
The payouts detailed above shall be considered the actual payout amounts pending verification of payment from all owners. Payout percentages were added and will be used if we are unable to collect some fees from all league owners.
Other great ideas for fantasy prizes
Check out more of my fantasy football payout ideas to create your own league. If you're looking for big payouts. check out my review of the best fantasy football money leagues. One of the cash leagues in that article awards a grand prize of half a million dollars!
Article IV - Late Payment Penalties
Any weekly prize winnings accrued by a team who hasn't paid their league entry fee (by the time the weekly prize is won) will be forfeited and added to the Champion's prize payout. If a team has not paid their entry fee by the final game of the season, they will be expelled immediately.
The commissioner has no discretion for providing a grace period to collect fees. The commissioner will take over managing the delinquent team for the purposes of the championship/loser brackets.
Article V - Playoff Configuration
Our league will implement a 4-team Championship playoff bracket. The top 4 teams will be determined first by win/loss record and total points will be used as a tie-breaker if necessary. The Championship playoffs start on week 15 of the NFL regular season and last 2 weeks.
We will also implement an 8-team Loser playoff bracket. Unlike the Championship bracket, the Loser bracket will conclude the last week of the NFL season, week 17. The final standings of the Loser bracket will determine the top 8 draft positions in the following year’s fantasy draft.
These are in contrast to a fantasy payoff league, which is a league that is based entirely on the NFL postseason.
Article VI - Determining Draft Order
Each year, the draft position for each fantasy team will be determined based on Championship/Loser playoff results from the previous year:
Loser Bracket Results
Championship Bracket Results
Any new teams which join the league will be slotted in the last (12th) draft position and existing owner positions will be adjusted accordingly.
To motivate your league owners to manage their teams for the full season (even the bad ones), consider instituting penalties for finishing dead-last in the loser bracket. If you need ideas, we have an entire article dedicated to the worst fantasy football punishments.
Article VII - Trade Guidelines
For a trade to be granted in a given week, it must be accepted through our league hosting service (not on a handshake) no later than 24 hours before gametime. This gives all owners 24 hours to review the trade before the games begin (whether on Thursday, Saturday on Sunday).
Any trades that are submitted through the website within 24 hours of gametime will be voided. These trades have to be re-submitted and accepted after the MNF game and will be considered in the subsequent fantasy week. Players who have already played on a given week cannot be traded until the following week as well.
Once accepted through the hosting service, a trade cannot be withdrawn by one party due to player injury, suspension, or any other unforeseen circumstance. The only way a trade can be voided is if it is withdrawn by both parties before the trade is granted.
During the 24 hour trade acceptance period, all owners (except those involved in the trade) will be given the opportunity to veto the trade. However, those owners who choose to veto the trade must make a valid case to the commissioner for why the trade should not be granted.
There are only 2 valid reasons which a trade can be vetoed:
- If the players involved in the trade are not of comparable value.
- If both teams aren't improved by the trade.
If a plurality of the valid votes cast are against the trade, then the trade will not be granted. If there is a tie then the commissioner, in all his wisdom and glory, will cast the tie-breaking vote.
Article VIII - Creating New League Rules
When a league dispute arises which has not been addressed in the league constitution, a discussion will ensue on possible resolutions to the dispute. Based on these discussions, the Commissioner will create an online poll so that owners can vote on an appropriate course of action.
The league will follow the course of action based on a plurality of league votes. Also, we will create a new rule in the league constitution based on the result of the league poll so that similar disputes will be resolved in the same manner.
Article IX- Penalties for Roster Oversights
If an owner has a roster slot open (either due to bye week or simple oversight), but has a backup player (not on bye, or OUT) available on their bench, then the Commissioner must insert the available player in the open roster slot. If two eligible bench players exist then the player with the highest average projected point output for that week should be inserted.
The commissioner will not make a substitution for a player who is OUT, regardless of when they were declared out The one exception is when a roster is illegal, in which case substitutions must be made by the league commissioner.
Team owners are allowed to have one open roster slot on their team during any given week, assuming that they make it known to the league that they are purposefully leaving that roster spot open. If one roster slot is open then the team owner will receive 0 points for that single roster spot.
No team owner may have more than one open slot on their roster during a given week. If more than one position is left open on a roster, and there are no viable substitutes to fill in for those players, then the owners team will receive 0 points for the entire week and a loss.