When starting your fantasy baseball league there are a lot of rules to debate, but it is important to get these out early so that you have a smooth season. It is a good idea for a fantasy league of managers that have been with each other for a few season to enter into a written constitution. Here is a comprehensive list of items to discuss during preseason to ensure a lot solid league.
1. Buy-In - Set a mark that everyone is comfortable with, but is high enough for competitive play. Preferably prepiad and there is always the question of who will hold the money. I like to play by the rule if you don't pay by the draft, you can't play.
2. Pay-Out -What the structure is.
example: Top 3 finishers get 60%, 30%, 10% of pot.
option: I like to charge the last place team an extra $50 at the end of the season to be paid to the 4th place team. This keeps everyone fighting to the finish.
3. Draft Slot - Sometimes it's tough to get everyone at the draft on the same day/same time... but no one likes to manage a team he hasn't drafted.
4. Number of Teams - From 8 to as many as 20+ managers, a good middle point is between 10-14 managers.
5. Rosters - How many players at which position is a pretty good debate, generally: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UTL, 2 SP, 3 P, 2 RP
option: however adding an extra IF or more P slots can be interesting depending on number of managers. If for instance you have 10 managers, you will probably want to add a fourth OF and/or IF position as well as another SP and/or P slot.
5. Keeper League - This is a very exciting topic, however you really need a dedicated group of managers to stick together for at least 3+ years to make this happen.
6. Rotisserie vs. Head to Head - I prefer Roto because in Head to Head, in any given week you can get "lucky" and over the course of the week you can make adjustments to win certain categories and tank others. In Roto you can't tank any category and every player counts ever day. However Head-to-Head is slightly easier to manager and less time consuming.
7. Waiver Wire Bidding - This is interesting and something I strongly recommend in fantasy football. In most fantasy baseball leagues WA goes by reverse draft order, which over the course of the season I find pretty fair. It's hard to set a Waiver Wire Bidding process in baseball because managers will want to pick up players daily not once a week. If you are playing in a league you set your line-up once a week, a Waiver Wire Bidding system might be a good addition. It's like internet video poker, you have to be there.
8. Roster Changes - Weekly vs. Daily: for those in a less intensive league weekly works fairly well with head-to-head. However for those die-hard, active managers, daily is much better. If you forget to set your line-up it's only one day... if you miss a week, it could really hurt your rankings. Depends your leagues intensity and time. Although I would strongly recommend Daily.
9. Categories - the normal 5x5 stat categories include: AVE, HR, R, RBI, SB and W, K, ERA, WHIP, SV.
option: I suggest adding OPS (which includes total bases and accounts for 2B, 3B, etc...) as well as Quality Starts for pitchers, which is 7+ innings of 2 or less ER. Other categories to include for hitters: Ks, Hits, 2B and for pitchers: Innings Pitcher, Loses, Holds, BB.
10. Platform - whether Yahoo, ESPN or there are a bunch of other sites out there. Yahoo is the biggets, easiest to use and free if you don't go for the Pro package. At around $10 a person for the Pro package, that is even pretty cheap, especially for the amount of time you will spend pouring over your players and stats.
11. Inning Pitched - this is usually very highly debated. I personally like to make this high so that you can rotate pitchers. There is risk/reward... W and K go up, but WHIP and ERA can take huge hits. If you add quality starts, I think this puts more weight into the top drafter pitchers, which is why I like to add this cat. But you can also just set a normal Inning Pitch count and not have to worry about that one guy who drafts all hitters and plays the waiver wire all year for starting pitching.
12. Draft Position - This can been an interested debate as well... whether done by random or a lottery of sort. A lottery is great because it allows everyone the chance to draft Albert Pujols rather than pure chance... however it is a little more complicated, few people know how to manager the values, and without everyone in the league truly understanding how to do a lottery draft, it's hard to get it done.