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How Many People Do You Need for ESPN Fantasy Football?

The answer to the above question depends on which of the two types of ESPN fantasy football leagues you are attempting to fill.

Do you want to compete in a primary, standardized league with a group of strangers, or would you prefer an extremely customizable league where you compete against your closest friends and coworkers? 

I’m Tracy, and I’ve been an NFL and fantasy football student for years. So I know the rules and available options regarding ESPN fantasy football.

In this post, I’ll compare and contrast the two very different fantasy football leagues that ESPN offers: public (standard) leagues and league manager leagues. I’ll also explore the benefits and drawbacks of each league format so you can make an informed decision.

Without further ado, let’s get smarter!

Key Takeaways

  • If you want to join a public 10-team standard scoring league, you need ten people. 
  • If you’re going to join an LM league, you need between four and twenty people (As many people as there are teams).
  • Regardless of the league format, go play and enjoy yourself!

Public (Standard) Leagues

  • 10-team standard scoring leagues that use fixed rule settings and are managed by ESPN. 
  • Free Standard League rosters have slots for 16 players per team. There are 9 starting slots and 7 bench slots. 
  • If you want to join a public 10-team standard scoring league, you need ten people. [1]
  • One person manages one team. [2]

Benefits of Public Leagues

One significant benefit to joining a standard public league is simplicity.

These leagues employ the same scoring systems, tie-breakers, and 10-team fields you are accustomed to.

Another significant benefit is convenience.

These leagues fill with regularity, so there is never any need to recruit players to join the league. [3]

Limitations of Public Leagues

One significant drawback is that you are placed in a league of ten teams with no customizations, e.g., scoring, tie-breakers, number of teams, etc.

Another negative is that you are entirely unfamiliar with the other league members.

You will compete, at least initially, with complete strangers. [4]

League Manager (LM) Leagues

  • Employ customized rule settings and are managed by one of the players in the league, known as the League Manager (LM). 
  • LM can choose from various scoring formats and rule options to create a unique fantasy game suited to specific settings. 
  • The League Manager version provides additional scoring and rules options such as Keepers and Offline Draft. [5]
  • The League Manager option allows for leagues containing between four and twenty teams. [6]
  • If you want to join an LM league, you need between four and twenty people (As many people as there are teams).

Benefits of LM Leagues

In an LM League, everything is customizable: the number of teams, schedule, and tie-breakers, to name just a few.

In addition, the LM who creates the league determines the league members.

This type of setup is perfect for a cozy private league composed of friends or coworkers. [7]

Limitations of LM Leagues

The only significant disadvantage to an LM League concerns the number of people and dropouts.

Suppose a person drops out either prior to or during the season. In that case, finding a replacement may be difficult and time-consuming.

The last thing fantasy football players need is a league with an odd number of teams, as that will induce ‘BYES’ into the schedule and limit the participation and enjoyment of all players. [8]

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Closing Thoughts

Are you thinking about trying fantasy football?

Your friends and coworkers play it every fall — and they seem to have a lot of fun doing it. 

I can assure you that you will have a blast.

Even if you don’t know much about football, you can play and have a ton of fun. 

For those hard-core players, winning a championship might be the ultimate goal.

However, enjoying the camaraderie of your friends, family, and coworkers and forging meaningful, long-lasting relationships will bring you back each season! [9]




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