How Do You Roll? Fantasy League Breakdown

Whether you’re a fan of basketball, baseball, football, hockey or soccer, odds are you love fantasy sports. Or, if you don’t yet, maybe you’re interested in breaking in to the hobby! One thing that remains true across all fantasy sports, however, is that if you want to play, you have to join a league!

Today, in order to help the newcomers to the hobby get a better grasp on the concept, we’re doing a fantasy league breakdown.


A league, simply put, is a group of people who play fantasy sports together under the same rule set. Leagues are usually between 8-12 participants, and everyone drafts at the same time and can trade players amongst themselves. Most leagues allow for the drafting of “unsigned” players through the waiver wire system. Similarly, most leagues allow for you to bench certain players and start others based on how they’re performing.

However, that’s about where the universal similarities end. From there, leagues come in all kinds of different variations. We’re going to look at some common league types and compare them to one another. Let’s play ball!

Rotisserie League

Rotisserie leagues, named for the French restaurant where they were created, were originally geared for baseball, specifically. Dan Okrent and some friends created the rule set in the early 80’s in their favorite French restaurant. The idea of a Rotisserie league is that each team in the league is scored based on a few predetermined categories.

Things like highest number of home runs, most RBIs, least players walked, and so on were tallied and scored. As this all had to be done by hand, it was quite time consuming!

Modern Rotisserie Leagues follow a similar rule set, scoring based on a variety of factors. Proponents of this style say it forces you to draft your team holistically. They argue that the categories force you to consider your team’s every strength and weakness and make sure they’re well-balanced.

Head to Head

In a head to head league, your players all help you score fantasy points. Things like scoring, defending and getting assists score your various fantasy points. Then, every week you’re pitted in a head to head against another team in the league. If you have more points, you win that round. The players with the most wins go to the playoffs, and whoever wins the playoffs wins the league.

Head to Head is a fun league type due to its simulation of a real sporting event. Since you’re concerned with winning individual match-ups, you can stack your team to perform well in areas your competition is lacking. This style also lets players stay involved in the season for longer, as in Rotisserie players are often out of contention to win by mid-season.

Points Only

Points only leagues, unlike Rotisserie leagues, simply award points based on scoring or defending. The points are purely cumulative, and whoever has the most at the end of the season wins. These leagues are straightforward and easy to understand, but some describe them as being somewhat bland.

Points only leagues are typically seen in faster-paced fantasy sports, or more unusual fantasy hobbies like fantasy golf or fantasy congress.