Every fantasy football league has its traditions, but none are as bittersweet as the punishments handed down for finishing in last place. Once a niche custom, this practice has become common in 2023. In many cases, the incentive not to finish last has become much greater than the incentive to win the league! If you want some ideas for the best (or worst) sanctions, from getting a tattoo to taking the SATs to gorging at the Waffle House, you’ve come to the right place.
Sporting News Fantasy has heard and read about them all, from harmless and only slightly embarrassing (doing everyone’s laundry) to utterly excruciating and/or humiliating (open mic standup comedy). How far does your league go to punish the last-place team? Are you just now implementing this concept as a yearly ritual?
Let’s go over some of the best — and worst — fantasy football punishments for 2023.
Best (or worst) last-place fantasy football punishments for losing your league in 2023
This one is probably the most common viral punishment, as well as the most controversial. After all, as much as we like to believe we control the fates of our fantasy teams with skill and deft roster decisions, fantasy football is often a game of luck and misfortune. Is a painful piercing or an embarrassing tattoo really deserved if you stumble into last place in a given season? If your answer is “yes,” then ink away. If you’re a normal human and the answer is “no,” then read on.
@thesportingnews laundry service might be a little too harsh. #fantasy #ffl #nfl #greenscreen #PepsiApplePieChallenge @The Sporting News ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
Playing a U.S. Open Qualifier
One of our personal favorites comes from the Midwest after the 2021 season, where one man’s fantasy squad suffered a tragic fate thanks to a rare below-average Patrick Mahomes year and a Week 8 injury to Derrick Henry. The punishment for worst record in his league: Play in a U.S. Open qualifier in Kansas City. This is a long play of a punishment — John Eckert went 35 over par in his first 13 holes and finished with a 112. Legend has it he’s still haunted by his 10-foot tee shot on hole 10.
A guy lost his fantasy football league and had to play US Open locals…and it didn’t go well. pic.twitter.com/A4VjaqPfr0
— Monday Q Info (@acaseofthegolf1) May 10, 2022
Taking the SAT/ACTs
Picture a 40-year-old man walking into a high school classroom to take a four-hour standardized test alongside nervous teenagers, all because he forgot to set his fantasy football lineup a couple of times. This punishment is more lighthearted and doesn’t harm anyone, but damn if it isn’t a waste of time and a complete embarrassment (especially if there’s a stipulation that you actually have to “try” and not just sit there for the afternoon). Talk about feeling dumb on multiple levels.
Open Mic Comedy/Motivational Speaker
So, you think you’re funny or inspiring? Prove it in front of a crowd of complete strangers who are expecting a real stand-up comedy show or motivational TED talk. And you can’t just run off stage when the heckling starts — you have to finish your “set” and never let on why you’re really there. You can cry afterward, though.
Waffle House Marathon
My good friend Colin finished in last place in fantasy football last year and is serving his punishment in a Waffle House for the entire day. He could really use your support! Follow along at this link: https://t.co/SB61wz5RTV pic.twitter.com/J38yqGP29x
— alec kruessel (@aleckruessel) July 23, 2022
If you don’t know what Waffle House is, then you’re missing out. This punishment requires spending 24 straight hours at a Waffle House restaurant, but each waffle you eat takes an hour off your time. Could I probably scarf down 10 waffles within the 24-hour span? Of course. That still leaves 14 more hours to spend in an uncomfortable booth while feeling like a jackass.
Various Forms of Publicly Announcing Your Failure
— Nick (@Nick_Roth23) July 18, 2022
This one is pretty simple but rather embarrassing. The last-place finisher has to stand near a busy intersection during rush hour holding some form of sign reading “I came in last in fantasy football. Honk to see me dance.” Another option: walking around outside a busy public area on a Friday night wearing a sandwich board detailing how bad you are at fantasy football (bonus points if you’re only wearing the sandwich board). Maybe there are people out there who would enjoy the attention, but the average person would wear a red face for the duration of their punishment.
How many #WaffleHouse waffles can you eat in 24 hours? Like for Part 3 of fantasy football punishments. #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo #nfl #fantasy
♬ Epic Sax Guy – Deorro
Participate in NFL Combine Drills
If you’re already embarrassed about being bad at fantasy football, why not take it a step further and show just how bad you are at real football? The average Joe is going to look absolutely ridiculous trying his best in the 40-yard dash, cone drills, vertical jump, and bench press. Meanwhile, all the eyes (and cameras) of the other league members are there to soak in the hilarious occasion. This is pretty harmless, too (aside from the damage to your ego…and likely hamstring pull), but at least you’d get some exercise.
Tomato/Paint Ball Barrage
The name is self-explanatory. The rest of the league pelts the loser with tomatoes. It isn’t very creative, but not everything needs to be an art project. You could take it a step further and swap tomatoes for paint balls. Those bruises take a while to heal, which extends the length of time you have to remember how bad your season was.
Heading to the Poconos to get hunted with paintballs in the middle of the woods.
My punishment for sucking at fantasy football last year in a “rebuilding season. “
The time has finally come to pay the piper.
Should I live cam my demise?
— LOCK BETS (@LOCK_BETS) July 23, 2022
Photoshoot for a Calendar
This involves your buddies picking outfits for each month and you doing a photoshoot for a calendar. Cupid costume for February? Bunny costume for April? Stars-and-stripes speedo for July? Yeah, this one could be bad.
A lot of people love beer, but what about being full of beer while running a mile? This punishment makes the loser drink a full beer, run a quarter mile, drink a beer, run another quarter mile, and so on until they’ve run a full 5,280 feet. At least you can maybe start to get a buzz while you do this one.
Another simple yet effective punishment. The loser of the league has to buy a large poster of the player they selected in the first round and keep it in their bedroom for the whole year. Harmless, but a constant reminder of failure…and a surefire way to annoy your significant other.
Picking Up the Tab
The loser simply has to buy food and drinks for the next league gathering, be it the end-of-season party or next year’s draft. This one is pretty simple — but if you’re cheap, you might consider it the worst one yet.
The last-place loser has to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall (or loudly complain when security tells them that they’re not allowed). If you want to make them wear an elf costume, all the better. Make sure someone films the inevitable arrest, too.
This is for the more tame punishers. In this scenario, the loser has to wear a rival NFL team’s jersey to the next fantasy draft (and, of course, post photos of it on social media). For those who aren’t die-hard NFL fans, this might sound easy, but it’s a tough pill to swallow. Picture a Cowboys fan wearing a Jalen Hurts jersey, a Bengals fan wearing a Najee Harris jersey, or a Vikings fan wearing a Christan Watson jersey. It just feels dirty.
The last place owner has to operate a fully functional lemonade stand in a busy part of town for a full day (with the profits being split among the other members of the league). Most important — the lemonade has to be good, so no cheap Crystal Light crap.
It’s the banana phone case for me. #fantasyfootball #nfl #fail #loser #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo #challange
♬ Epic Sax Guy – Deorro
The loser must do a full load of laundry for every member of the league. It’s embarrassing, time-consuming, and potentially gross. You just know someone is putting soiled underpants in there.
Everyone in the league gets a shiny new car wash courtesy of the last-place loser (bikini optional).
Ride to Nowhere
In this excruciating punishment, the loser must take a day-long, non-stop train, bus, or plane ride to and from the destination of choice of the other people in the league. And don’t think you get to be on your phone or tablet the whole time. You can take your phone for emergencies only — but otherwise, you just get a disposable camera that you have to use like a true tourist.
What’s your favorite #FantasyFootball punishment? Like for Part 2 #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo #sports #nfl #fail #football
♬ Epic Sax Guy – Deorro
The loser must sit in a child-sized plastic chair for the duration of the next fantasy draft. Not only will they be sitting lower than everyone else (fitting), but they will also be uncomfortable and look like a complete idiot (also fitting).
There’s the standard option (just make someone get in a freezing body of water) or the deluxe package (dress as a pirate — and talk like a pirate — while “walking the plank” into a chilly river or lake). A symbolic and cold-hearted custom, to be sure. Set your lineups next time, Iceman!
— Wise (@MikeWiz39) October 30, 2019
Mystery Bag/Roulette Wheel
The loser draws from a bag or spins a wheel full of random punishments submitted by other league members at the beginning of the season. Keep in mind, you could get your own punishment, so you might want to take it easy just in case.
You have to get a vanity license plate announcing your fantasy failure (“FFLOSER?” “12OF12?” “FF AHOLE?”) and keep it on your car for a full year. You could also just go with any embarrassing vanity plate, even if it’s not fantasy football-related. That gives you more options.
My friend lost a fantasy football bet to me for his license plate. I took it easy on him. pic.twitter.com/UhPWGkeRIb
— Cowboy Scott (@ScottyDReports) March 26, 2018
This one requires the honor system, but basically involves you being forced to use a wallet or phone case of your league’s choosing until the start of next season. (Suggestions: a pink Velcro Hello Kitty wallet or a Fabio phone case. You all remember Fabio, right?) Imagine the looks when you pull those out in public. You could also force the loser to have an embarrassing charm of some kind on their keychain. It’s the same principle, but it’s easier to forget it’s there…until you notice a stranger trying to sneak a cellphone pic so they can more widely make fun of you. It’s all part of the process to motivate managers to stay engaged during the season — and ensure the entertainment of the rest of the league long after the league championship.
Jackson Sparks and Matt Lutovsky contributed to this story
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