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How to survive your office fantasy football league

Bringing donuts to your opponents will win trust within your league. (AP / Stuart Ramson)
The office fantasy football league is a time honored tradition amongst the working elite. Aiming to rid the monotony of a 9-5 schedule with overly macho gridiron zingers and trash talk, fantasy football serves as a refuge for the office worker during the Fall months, a wonderful and necessary escape where touchdowns and TPS reports go hand in hand.

But office fantasy football has many more treacherous boundaries than your standard league. And with many of fantasy league drafts starting this weekend, it's necessary for workplace gridiron enthusiasts to be prepared. Here are 10 tips on how to survive and win your office fantasy football league.


1. Don't trade with your boss!

Say your boss wants to trade you two second tier wide receivers for Adrian Peterson, and you've already got two solid backup runningbacks. The trade could benefit you, and even if the wideouts are busts, then you wouldn't suffer that much.

WRONG!

It is never, ever a good idea to perform a trade with your supervisor. If the trade goes well for them, they'll automatically assume you only performed it to ease on their good side. If they trade goes badly, they'll assume you took advantage of their uninformed football background, and that you were spending too much time on fantasy football than your actual work. All you need to do is ignore any trade your boss proposes, and if they mention it, just say you were too busy working on the ____ project/account/file/etc.

HOWEVER, this rule only applies if you are at the Manager level or below. If you are a Director, VP, or other high ranking official, trade away with your boss with pleasure, you'll probably take their job in 10 years anyway.

2. It's ok to collude, just not around the water cooler.

While the water cooler has been a standard workplace gossip and conversational area for decades now, it's natural that fantasy football discussion would come up at the water cooler. Make sure though that you keep any possible collusions or alliances out of discussion. As soon as you tell Tim from Accounting that Bill from Shipping may be trading you Peyton for Brady straight up, soon Tim will tell Roy from Reception, who will tell Sheila in Marketing, who of course has been BFF's with Bill ever since they were cubicle neighbors years ago, forfeiting the trust and breaking the trade. It's hard, but just keep your mouth shut.

3. Make sure your league's smack talk is contingent with your HR policies.

Smack talk is one of the most fun aspects of a fantasy football league, playfully insulting other team owners all in the name of good sport. But many employees might take your playful jab and insult as offensive and hurtful, landing you in a one-on-one meeting with HR. This can be avoided in two ways.

1. Schedule an appointment with a representative from your HR department to go over what terms and insults are appropriate in a workplace fantasy football league, and dutifully compile a heavy list of notes and procedures that you and all the other team owners can go over before the league starts to ensure you're on the same page.

2. Invite someone from the HR department to join your league, then no matter what you say, you're in the clear!



4.If your coworkers like to get drinks after work, you must go with them every single time if you want to win the league.

You may not be that big of a drinker, or even drink at all. You may have a family or a pet. You may have another commitment after work, or just really want to keep a strong separation between your work life and your personal life. No matter your reason, you'll still have to go out with your coworkers during Fantasy Football season. The post-workday bar gathering is when employees are at their most leisurely, revealing more intimate details about their lives and fantasy football preferences.

Here is where you learn that Greg from IT grew up going to Packers games every Sunday with his grandfather, and would be prone to accepting a bad trade as long as he got some Green Bay players out of it. Here is where you figure out that Chuck from Payroll's wife has a huge crush on Tom Brady which is making Chuck jealous, so you can easily trade him Philip Rivers for Brady to help him out. And here is where you learn about Todd from Administration's childhood fear of the characters from Sesame Street, making him prone to trade any New York based player, or even anyone whose guest starred on the show. Utilizing bar place conversation to your advantage will ensure victory.

5. If you have a great resource for fantasy tips and coworkers want to know, just say you have a cousin who works for the team.

Nobody else saw that running backs breakout game coming except for you, because you were dutifully reading the latest tips, tricks and hints on a lesser known but incredibly useful fantasy football blog. Now suddenly everyone wants to know where you got your information so they can get a big prize from the waiver wire too. TO avoid losing your secret source of information, just tell your coworkers that you have a cousin Reggie who works for whatever team your breakout player plays for, and they slipped you a tip so and so was going to have a big week. Your coworkers may pester you for free tickets down the line through your imaginary cousin, but just say that he gave out all his tickets for that week.

6. How to pick who to be in your league without hurting anyone's feelings.

There's nothing worse than feeling left out at your office, so often times fantasy football leagues will make valiant efforts to feel that everyone who is interested will be included. But if you have too many teams in a league, that can dilute from the fun. If you have a core group in mind that you want in the league, but feel that there might be some coworkers who will be disappointed, just put a flyer notifying people about the league in a non-descript part of your office. This should be in a place where people walk by but don't pay much attention to, and it should be left up for at least 3 days. So if anyone comes up to you complaining they weren't invited, you can say you had a flyer up.

Alternatively, you could send out an email at 2:00 AM on Saturday regarding the league that will get buried by Monday morning's onslaught of messagess. If anyone should approach you though saying they saw the flyer and the email, they should be allowed to join, just out of sheer determination.

7. The guy who got the best waiver pick on Wednesday has to buy donuts for everyone on Thursday.

This is more of a courtesy than a rule, but seasons are won and lost on the waiver wire, and if you get a huge steal, you only owe it to your teammates to buy them donuts to ease their pain. It also provides you with the opportunity to come to work late, as no one in the office cares if you're tardy as long as you brought donuts.

8. If the league commissioner isn't available for any reason to make a decision on a trade, the person with the parking spot closest to the office has next say.

Everyone who has worked in an office environment knows that the person who garners the most respect isn't the one whose been with the company the longest or has the highest salary. It's the guy with the parking spot closest to work, the one whose wise and cherished enough that people want to make sure he doesn't have to walk too far after parking his automobile. He is the one you want making decisions.

9. If you receive complimentary tickets to an NFL game, you must invite someone from your league.

But what about my spouse or kids? Nope! Fantasy football is a trusted institution, and office fantasy football even more so. Nothing will grant you good favor with your league by taking them to a game. This doesn't apply though if the stadium for such game is more than 100 miles away (see Los Angeles fans of the Chargers, 49ers, or Raiders).

10. If this is your first year in the office league, you have to fight!

You need to get tough! You need to establish yourself amongst your peers! With an oversaturated American workplace, so many workers have the same skills and experiences as others. Fantasy Football si the perfect way to distinguish yourself, to gain valuable respect from a supervisor, or much needed comraderie from peers who are skeptical of your abilities.

Related Topics:
sports nfl ESPN office workplace sports distraction
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