Red Cards win you Prizes?? Reverse Fantasy Football


Guest Post: Suck League Fantasy Football: Celebrating the players on the lowest rung of the season rankings






Fantasy football is a game of strategy, statistical number crunching, and a little bit of luck. You can spend hours trying to optimize your lineup, balancing budget limitations with player performance to find a squad that can and will crush your enemies so you can see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women. What we’re saying is that sometimes it gets a bit medieval and positively visceral around these parts.

More and more armchair managers have flocked to fantasy football in the UK ever since it was introduced here in the early 90s. The ratio of fantasy sports players to non-playing members of the population (about 10%) has even matched that of the United States, the place where the whole fantasy sports industry was forged. It’s currently a multibillion-dollar industry over there according to Forbes, and we’re starting to catch up.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the fantasy sports industry – especially fantasy football over here in the UK – is serious business. The English Premier League has its own official fantasy football league. A number of newspapers and publications also have their own. Even online betting agencies are now more involved in fantasy football and we have even seen betting markets previously specifically for fantasy points.

This seriousness is the exact reason why we were filled with great glee when we spotted this fantasy variant that a couple of fantasy players in the US came up with: reverse fantasy football, also known as the Suck League. The concept is simple: instead of accumulating as many points as you can in a single season.  Fantasy YIRMA already have their Hall of shame – but this takes it to another level! Negative points are now key factors in determining who wins. Here’s a quick explanation from the game’s official website

 “Suck league is first and foremost about satire. There is a ton of satire here and it’s all meant in good fun. … Secondly, Suck league fantasy football is a concept a colleague of mine (* note transition to a colleague-less format in late 2012 *) and I developed some years back and have been refining as the years go on. Simply put, instead of trying to score the highest amount of points each week, you try to pick fantasy players who will do the complete opposite. We found this to be infinitely more challenging and satisfying than traditional, positive fantasy football play.

The original Suck League is centered on American football, but it seems easy enough to adapt to Premier League football. There are already a number of outcomes that result in negative points like penalty misses, own goals, and getting cards, among others. The goal now is to find the players you believe will get the most negative points during a given week. You’ll want a goalkeeper with holes for hands, for example, or any player who seems to have a fetish for getting red cards.

Setting lineups can remain basically the same as normal fantasy football, but trades should be limited to only one per week once the season starts. You don’t want a player to accrue negative points by continuing to trade players beyond the one free trade per week, after all. The £100 million team budget doesn’t have to be reduced but you may want to in order to reflect the unsurprisingly low values that your bad players will have.

Perhaps the biggest difference from normal fantasy football (aside from the end goal, naturally) is that Suck Leagues should be limited to three to four players at most to ensure that every league member has an enjoyable time. The official Suck League site explains:

“Again, time has shown less is more. Ideally, 2 competitors. Yep, I said 2. Perhaps 3, and I would say in no way more than 4. Remember, yet another something that sets off suck league and makes it more fun is the weekly outcome is almost never produced by luck of the draft as in traditional leagues. You will want to go into every week with the sense that no matter who your opponent(s) pick, you can find the guy that will do worse. If your league has 3 or 4 or 5 teams, you risk the best (worst) players being taken each week, and that’s rarely fun. You’ve played enough fantasy football to know, how many times have you lost all interest in a “normal” fantasy football season due to a bad draft? There is none of that in suck league.


With the season already winding up for its grand finale, fantasy football players who want to try their hand at Suck League will have enough time to experiment and optimize their own league-specific rules. Just have fun with it and let us know how your league games go.



Taylor Jennings loves math and statistics. He finds that it comes extremely handy whenever he visits new countries – no need for a currency converter! Fee free to follow him on Twitter.

Posted on 11 Apr 2014, in Player Selection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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