Fantasy Football Tanking

Fantasy football is a beloved pastime for many sports fans, but it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. One topic that often arises in fantasy football circles is the concept of “tanking.” But what exactly is fantasy football tanking and how does it impact your league? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the ins and outs of fantasy football tanking and offer some tips on how to handle it in your league.

First, let’s define tanking. In the context of dynasty fantasy football, tanking refers to a team intentionally losing games in order to improve their draft position or trading away stars for some future asset. This can happen when a team is out of playoff contention or is going through a rebuild.

Tanking can have a significant impact on your fantasy league, as it can skew the competitive balance and potentially ruin the integrity of the game. However, it’s important to note that not all tanking is bad. For example, tanking in the final weeks of the season in order to obtain draft picks can be seen as a strategic move for a team’s long-term success.

The Two Types of Tanking

Fantasy football tanking can take many forms, but most of it can be classified into two main categories. Understanding the different types of tanking and their motivations is crucial to implementing effective solutions in your league.

  1. The first type of tanking is when a team doesn't start their best lineup in order to lose games. This is a clear form of cheating and it undermines the integrity of the league. As a commissioner, it's important to prohibit this kind of behavior and enforce penalties to teams that are found to be intentionally losing games.
  2. The second type of tanking is when a team is trade-dumping in order to secure long term assets. This is more common in dynasty leagues, where teams are looking to build for the future rather than competing for the current season. While this type of tanking may be acceptable, it's crucial to ensure that it's done in a fair and transparent way. A team should not be allowed to dump all their best players for a 3rd round rookie pick, for example.

What can you do to prevent tanking?

The first type of tanking, intentionally losing games, can be addressed with the combination of a few different strategies:

  1. Add a Rookie Draft Lottery to your league

    • Works the same as the NBA draft lottery. This cuts back on the motivation to secure the very last spot in the standings.
    • Using draft lottery also allows you to "fine" teams lotto balls if they aren't submitting full lineups or any other bad faith behavior.
    • League Tycoon has draft lottery ceremonies built into the platform that your league can use to determine rookie draft order.

  2. Use Maximum Possible Points (MP) instead of Standings

    • MP is the amount of points a team would have had if they set the perfect lineup. Even if a team benches their best players, their maximum points remain the same.
    • League Tycoon lists the MP on the league standings.
  3. More embarrassing last place punishment.

    • I know it sounds silly, but your league punishment isn't embarrassing
    • League Tycoon lists the MP on the league standings.

The second type of tanking, trading for the future, is encouraged and generally acceptable, but can become problematic when a team is dumping their whole team for a small future asset. That leads to another question, "What is an asset worth?" The best answer is "What someone is willing to pay for it." Which leads us to the perfect solution we developed for this problem:

  1. Trade Auctions - See how they work here
    • Allows everyone in the league to provide their best offer for an asset. This ensures a "fair market price."
    • Teams that lose out on the trade can't complain about the results because they had an opportunity to pay more, and didn't.

Other settings to consider include increasing the number of playoff teams or making the trade deadline earlier. This allows for more teams to be in the playoff hunt and lessens the incentive to tank.


Ultimately, it's up to each league to decide what is best for their particular group. But it's important for fantasy football players to be aware of the potential for tanking and to have a plan in place to handle it. By understanding the ins and outs of fantasy football tanking and taking steps to prevent it, you can ensure a fair and competitive league for all.

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