Last-Place Punishments for Your Fantasy Football League

Jul 09, 2024
Last-Place Punishments for Your Fantasy League

Year after year, those who play and/or run fantasy football leagues are always looking for different ways to make their league unique and special. As more and more people play in multiple leagues, this becomes especially true. Having a league you run stand out among the rest is always a challenge.

I think one of the more interesting things a league can do is give some attention to the team that finishes in last place. As long as I can remember, the last-place team simply went off into the sunset, forgotten and ignored all while collecting the 1.1 pick, and even eventually becoming the envy of the league a year later in when they get to select the best player in the draft.

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Now that drafts are just days or weeks away, having the first pick in your upcoming draft doesn’t sound bad at all, right? In fact, when it gets to a certain point in the year, and you’re the owner of a failing team, why not just mail it in? Maybe disguise that lineup a little bit with a couple of poor matchups and then act bummed out when you lose again. No harm, no foul, and who is going to remember anyway?

But times are changing, and as a fantasy commissioner myself, the above scenario is what you always want to avoid in your league. So, those who run leagues in this modern fantasy world are finding ways to deal with the tanking owner who is trying to lose. A lottery system or even a playoff among the bottom teams works pretty well, but it isn’t always the perfect solution.

So the trend lately is a last-place punishment.

Now, it really depends on how extreme you want to get with your punishment. I’ve searched the internet far and wide, as well as social media, to find out what leagues are doing to punish an owner who finishes in last place. Not all of them are pretty. In fact, some are downright pretty disgusting, and I won’t go there in this article. Those ideas are out there if you really want to find them. But, let’s take a look at what might be the best options for your league should you decide you want to implement this as a rule or tradition.

Why Have a Punishment?

For me, two of the biggest reasons are keeping everyone engaged in the league and preventing tanking. Starting your season winless in the first eight weeks can be disheartening, and the natural reaction is to quit on your team and wait until next year. Knowing if you do that, and a punishment could be on the way, it may just change your mind. Keeping the owners engaged who got off to slow starts can help to give your league balance, especially down the stretch of the regular season. It keeps struggling owners active on the waiver wire and prevents the top teams from always picking up the better players. Maybe more trades are made so that the bottom teams try to get better. Lots of things can happen when everyone is still involved and active in the league.

So let's take a look at some ideas:

Just Award a Trophy

This isn’t very exciting, and kind of seems like a waste of money in the end. But, some of the best options I found were toilet trophies and even the back end of a horse. I’m sure there are worse.

But making someone display a toilet bowl trophy in their home for all to see is kind of neat.

The best idea is to have one last-place trophy for your league and award it to the bottom finisher who has to keep it for a year. This way you aren’t buying a new one every season. Many leagues do this for the champion. But, there is no guarantee the loser of your league will even display it, which again, seems like a waste of money.

Wear a Jersey of Your Least Favorite Team

Again, this isn’t a terrible last-place punishment. I saw the idea online where a Steelers fan had to wear a Bengals jersey. I’m not sure of the exact details and how often the jersey had to be worn, but it wasn’t just a one-and-done thing, nor was it just wearing it to the following year’s draft. It was a pretty significant amount of time. The downfall of this one is that wearing it in public doesn’t mean anyone will know what the punishment actually is, they may just assume you’re a fan of that team. Also, jerseys aren’t cheap so maybe a hand-made T-shirt is a better idea?

In certain areas of the country, this would be much more dangerous than others. I live north of Philadelphia, so if I had to wear a Cowboys or Giants jersey around every day, I’d be putting my life at risk. Having your league mates take photos of you and posting them on social media seems like a good enough punishment to me if you're going to use this idea.

Host Next Year’s Draft

I think this is a pretty fair one for leagues not looking to get too extreme, it’s more of a pain in the behind. I’ve hosted at least one draft pretty much every year since the late 1990s and I honestly don’t mind doing it and can make them go smoothly. Over the last couple of years, I’ve hosted two drafts - which is more of an issue for my wife since both are over Labor Day weekend. The biggest perk is you can drink as much as you want, so keep that in mind when finishing last.

If you’re going to make the loser do this, you should probably make that person do it the right way. It can’t be a draft with a couple of bags of chips and some water. Maybe make it a full-on cookout? I’d say the host has to pay for the beer, but that can be costly depending on everyone’s tastes, meaning, a 30-pack of Miller Lite might not be an acceptable option to most. So, try to at least be fair while installing this punishment. Keep in mind a hidden punishment in all of this is the owner and host may have to deal with a spouse who isn’t happy 10-12 drunk guys are destroying and stinking up their home.

Maybe the host also has to serve everyone during the draft. More on that below.

The Lee Sanderlin Waffle House Story

If you're not familar with the Waffle House story it's certainly worth looking into. And, it seems like a punishment that wouldn't cause a lot of problems but yet is still a bit on the extreme side.

It's also pretty simple - the loser of your league has to sit at a Waffle House for 24 hours. But each waffle eaten will knock an hour off the 24-hour penalty.

The story of Lee Sanderlin of Brandon, Mississippi is a pretty funny one and can be found all over the internet. He documented his journey on what was Twitter at the time, starting at 4:07 p.m. with a photo from inside the Waffle House and then each waffle he consumed.

Sanderlin was allowed to go into the parking lot, and throwing up wouldn't count against him either. He ended up eating nine waffles and the punishment was a total of 15 hours. His comments along the way are hilarious and would be a must-include if you're league adopts this. At one point, Sanderlin also shared his fantasy football roster, which was the whole reason he was in the situation. The story is also documented on ESPN.

US Open Qualifier

Another funny story is one of a guy who had to play in a US qualifier as his league's last-place punishment.

It's one thing to just be OK at golf, but to be OK at golf and enter a qualifier against those who are likely very talented golfers is another thing.

I'm going to assume when you play in a qualifier you can't bring along a cooler of beer, so that's a huge disadvantage for someone like me who gets better with alcohol in my system. Despite collecting a couple of pars, the guy shot a 112, and you can view his scorecard here:

Take the SATs

Another more public punishment that is a little less extreme is taking the SATs. I can't help but picture myself walking into a high school to have to take this long test among a group of young kids who are there to possibly determine their future college plans.

Beer Mile

This one hits close to home and seems like a pretty good idea. While I wouldn't consider it extreme, it is embarrassing but wouldn't necessarily affect other people around you. This would likely take me a while to complete, but that would be the fun of it as well.

The loser starts out drinking a beer but then has to run a quarter of a mile. After that, he has to drink another beer before running another quarter of a mile. This goes on until a full mile is completed. Obviously, you can adjust here, maybe do every eighth mile ... you get more breaks but drink more beer.

Beer Be-otch

I think this is a way worse punishment than hosting the draft, especially if a majority of the owners in your league all drink. And really, it doesn’t matter if they drink beer or water or coffee at the draft, the loser has to serve all the drinks whenever anyone is empty. Keep in mind, that this could extend the length of the draft significantly, so you may want to come up with a rule where there are designated times for refills. If you make the person get up every time someone is empty, that’s a lot of trips to the cooler. While that would be fun to watch, and maybe even a little exhausting (even to watch), you just have to keep in mind time restraints.

Perhaps some kind of maid or butler outfit would really make it special.

License Plate

This is something one of my leagues has put into action. And, it was even voted into approval by the league. The loser has to put a pink license plate holder on his car that says “I suck at fantasy football” for a whole year. This league also has a sweet first-place trophy that’s passed around to each winner as well, and the commish is kind enough to pay for the shipping as we have people from all over the country.

This happens to be the first league I’m a part of that has begun this tradition for the loser. Two years ago a good friend of mine who lives near me lost and had the plate on his car for a whole year. I don’t want to say I policed this punishment, but I did take a look if we happened to be hanging out. This seems like a moderate punishment and while it’s easy for me to say I wouldn’t notice it, I wouldn’t want it on my car, either.

Pink Lemonade Stand

I thought this one was pretty funny, and the photos online were even better – seeing an adult at a little table with handmade signs selling pink lemonade cracked me up. Maybe you can even make the loser dress up? I've seen guys dressed as Boy Scouts. Also pictured was a pitcher of lemonade with cups. I’m not sure what kind of business these stands make, but if this person is made to go in a busy section of your neighborhood, maybe the money made in the end can be donated to a charity. If that was advertised, it may create more business. Doing this at a big, neighborhood yard sale would also make sense. This is a punishment that could be for a good cause when all is said and done, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sports Illustrated-like Body Issue

I’m sure we’ve all seen this, or at least accidentally - a favorite athlete from your favorite team posing about as naked as can be without seeing the privates. While I love this idea and it’s like a train wreck to look at it for a fantasy football loser, it’s easy to feel this is an acceptable punishment when it’s not me posing. Now there are some things to consider here:

Who will take the photos? – Maybe this can be a job for the second-to-last-place team? (Although, I’m not sure what’s more of a punishment, to be honest.) The hope is maybe a spouse could do it, but I personally can’t see my wife wanting any part of that. Good thing phones can take pictures with a timer by just saying a couple of code words.

How many photos? – If you’re going to do this, may as well make the person do several different poses. If you’re going through the trouble for one photo, why not feature at least three?

Will they be published? – Again, if it’s not me, this would be great to see on social media assuming you wouldn’t get a strike or violation. Those with computer skills could even dress it up a little, put some logos on there and funny captions, and things like that. It really just depends on how far you want to make the loser take it.

Doing Something in Public

I’ve seen a ton of this kind of punishment all over social media. Last place guys in a public venue showing the world how terrible of a fantasy football season they had the past year. Some things to consider here is where exactly you make the person do this and for how long, even what they have to wear.

Karaoke or Comedy Night

Having someone sing in public or do a stand-up comedy routine could be entertaining for your league mates as well as anyone. Now, some people do love the spotlight and may even be into this. For me, no thanks, and it's enough of a turn-off that I'm going to try my best to not finish last.

Date Night

This is a popular one, but it's pretty awkward. The goal is to make a reservation for two at a restaurant, but instead of an actual date, you use a blow-up doll. Now, how you sneak a blowup doll in a restaurant, I'm not really sure. Can you just walk in with one? So maybe a smaller doll will have to do. The point is to carry on a conversation with the doll, take selfies, and act like you're having a good time. Again, this may be something the business isn't a fan of, nor are the people sitting close by. But it sure is funny to imagine.

Busy Street Corner

This one is pretty simple and also seems easy. Dress up and stand on a busy highway or corner with a sign that says "I suck at fantasy football." There are plenty of photos out there for ideas. But some of my favorites are guys with their signs dressed up in a wedding dress, a fancy gown, or even as a princess. This is pretty harmless, other than maybe distracting drivers and causing accidents.


A recent post on X suggested doing a slow marathon at a Walmart or Sam's Club. The goal would be to track your miles and you could run or walk or jog. Again, not sure the business would appreciate someone running around their store for several hours. Walking may take pretty long, so maybe you have to cut down the miles on this one since a marathon is 26 miles long (I had to look it up, I have obviously never done one). Eventually, it seems like you're going to draw attention to yourself if you keep doing laps around the store.

NFL Combine

This is another one I like, making the last-place owner go through drills done at the NFL Combine. Who knows, this may even get everyone in your league involved, and they may want to try it as well. Some events are the 40-yard dash, the bench press, three-cone drill, vertical jump, broad jump, and the shuttle run. Someone can even video tape it and put it on social media. Definitely keep track of the results for all the events, and then every year the loser can try to beat the record. This one is obviously pretty harmless, too, and the only thing at risk is maybe the health of the losing owner and doing too much exercise.

Paintball Target

This was one of the newer ideas I’ve seen, and if your league is a tight group of friends, this could be a blast. The loser is hunted by the rest of the league. In one case, they made the loser dress up like an animal and then the rest of the league pretty much just hunted this guy down. In the end, this can be like a league-bonding outing while at the same time having a fun time. What's left in the end may be a couple of bumps and bruises.

Piercing or Tattoo or Waxing

I admit, this would be a little extreme for me and something I would never agree to. But, I don’t have anything stuck in me or painted on me so that’s probably why. That also makes me an ideal candidate for why this form of punishment would be quite amusing, and definitely a punishment. Still, this is pretty severe and there would be a lot to consider if you want to begin this as a way to punish the last-place finisher in your league. Now a waxing, no harm, no foul there? The argument is everything will grow back so no permanent damage.

Flavor Flav Clock

This is one of my league's punishments, one that can hopefully spark some creativity for your league. Our last-place manager is awarded a large clock, ala Flavor Flav's, that he had to wear out to a diner with a group of friends. This is an actual clock, with a sparkly neckband and it hangs down to your chest. It has our league symbol on it as well, along with the words "Last Place" and "I suck at fantasy football." Our first award ceremony went well and even the waitress liked it. The last-place manager was a good sport about the whole thing, even though the restaurant was pretty crowded. While I can't take credit for it, I thought it was a unique idea that had a minimal, one-time cost and also has some significant meaning to this particular group of friends who remember music from the 90s.


If you really want to get crazy, you can draft your punishment. This involves everyone putting an idea into a bag and then picking it at the end of the season. The loser would then have to do what is selected.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, esp. if you’re going to make this a complete surprise and have no idea what the different options are. What’s interesting would be if you pick your own punishment, so do you put one in that’s on the lighter side, or go all out? This would scare the crap out of me. So maybe a better idea is to at least know what you may be getting into and have everyone agree on all the items going into the hat before anything is picked.


While these are just a few ideas of punishments, this is something that is sure to evolve into more detail as the years go by. As I said, there is anything you can imagine online that can get pretty extreme. The last place punishment is more designed for a close-knit group of owners versus a league where not everyone knows one another all that well.

For me, I’m not about the extreme punishments, but one thing I noticed about every social media post dumping on a last-place owner and what they had to do, is the words “thank goodness I didn’t finish last” were usually part of the post.

What’s hidden in the whole list of punishments is that should be the goal of the punishment for your league – to keep owners from tanking and finishing last because they lost interest or motivation during the season. A last-place punishment that keeps all the owners engaged and active right up until the very end is the perfect punishment, and what every league and commissioner should strive for in their league.

Just remember, make sure everyone is on board with your punishment and you pick the right kind of punishment for the owners in your league.

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