Anatomy of a League: From Campus to Canton

Ryan McDowell


As we near the beginning of both the college football season as well as the NFL season, I found a unique set of leagues that will strongly appeal to the die-hard fan of both Saturday and Sunday gridiron action. Keep reading as we journey from Campus to Canton!

League Name: Campus to Canton
Commissioner: Geoff Schulz

DLF: How many years has your league been in existence?

Geoff Schulz: This particular league is going into its second season, but the devy and NCAA leagues that were the inspiration for this league have been around for three and four years each.

DLF: What made you want to create your dynasty league?

[inlinead]GS: I’ve played redraft fantasy football for almost twenty years, and became involved with dynasty NFL and NCAA leagues in 2011 on  This has been a gradual progression towards creating a league that rewards discovering talent as early as possible.  After running a devy league on the site, and running many NCAA leagues I always felt that a couple of opportunities were being missed.  First, most devy leagues use very small rosters of collegiate players (one to three per team, per year) so the amount of research and foresight is fairly limited for those that truly think of themselves as an amateur NFL scout.  Second, most NCAA leagues are won and lost by players with little to no NFL future (read: Jordan Lynch, Antonio Andrews, etc…) and there are so many players that in a 12 team league, many of the best NFL prospects go undrafted or are relegated to the bench.  My idea was to combine an ultra-deep NFL dynasty league with an ultra-deep NCAA dynasty league where the players from your NCAA team ultimately feed to your NFL squad.

DLF: How did you go about finding owners for your league?

GS: As this league is hosted on, we have a built-in member base of owners who play various NFL and NCAA leagues in addition to MLB, NHL, etc…  Many of the owners came from other NCAA leagues that I run, some from NFL leagues, and some were recruited from outside sources.

DLF: How many teams do you feel is ideal for a dynasty league?

GS: In this format, I went with 16 teams as I wanted a very deep league.  My home dynasty league is 12 teams, which is a little more manageable when drafts need to be live, face to face, and when dealing with less experienced dynasty players.  When dealing with avid, knowledgeable owners, I always feel that deeper is always a better opportunity to challenge those owners.

DLF: What are the starting lineups your league uses?

GS: Again, this is a 16 team league and in NFL we use 1 QB, 3 RB, 4 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Kicker.  We do not use Team Defense or IDPs.  If I were to start again, I would not have used kickers, either.  In NCAA, we use 2 QB, 4 RB, 6 WR, 2 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Kicker.  Total roster size is 35 in NFL and 50 in NCAA.

DLF: Does your league have any unique rules?

GS: Obviously, the most unique rule is how our devy players are obtained and that we actually USE them in an NCAA league prior to joining our NFL team.  Beyond that, we allow trading of ALL assets between both leagues.  For example, we had three trades happen this week that included NFL players, NCAA players, NFL draft picks, and NCAA draft picks.  It is becoming fairly common this off-season to see fringe NFL players being traded for late round NCAA picks, so with the roster depth we have, we have an avenue to improve your team seven to eight years from now by moving excess players today.  I think it compares favorably to the deepest of MLB leagues that use deep minor-league rosters.

DLF: How are divisions setup in your league?

GS: In NFL, we have four divisions of four teams each.  Each division winner makes the playoffs.  Four wild cards are then chosen by a combination of best record and most overall points.  Each year, the divisions are reseeded, with the four division winners making up one division, four second place teams in a second, etc…  In NCAA, we use two divisions that do not change.  With only 14 available weeks to score in NCAA, we place more of an emphasis on division play.

DLF: How is the rookie draft handled? Any special rules or features?

GS: Every off-season we will have a three round rookie draft for any free agents, rookies that somehow slipped through the cracks in college, and for non-FBS (Div 1-A) rookies.  Since our NCAA league only includes FBS players, players like Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell were not available to be owned.  They become very hot commodities in our abbreviated rookie draft.  The larger draft is our NCAA draft, which varies in length depending upon how many openings each school has.  As commissioner, I make the call year-to-year how many rounds are needed to get most rosters relatively close to filling their 50 man roster.  This year, that was 15 rounds since we expanded the rosters.  Many of the picks in the first few rounds are true freshmen, so players like Leonard Fournette, Malachi Dupre and Kyle Allen were all first round picks.  Both drafts are based on their respective league’s finish, in reverse order non-snaking.  Both drafts are handled on forum boards, and owners are given twelve hours to make their pick when they go on the clock.

DLF: How did you go about creating rules that has resulted in a successful league?

GS: After setting up the basics, I consulted with some league members, including the one who has become my co-commissioner to tweak some of the settings.  After a few years of trial and error in other leagues, I had a good handle on what works and what doesn’t work in these formats and with this group of owners.  Since we have owners from all over the country as well as a couple from the United Kingdom, communication is essential and plenty of time needs to be given for drafts and free agency.

DLF: What are some of the specific rules you have that makes your league unique and successful?

GS: I think some of this was addressed above, but giving owners the flexibility to draft for success in two different formats of leagues as well as balancing that with building for the future and finding roster space for players who will be better fantasy assets at the next level than they are in college is a completely unique concept.

DLF: How do you handle controversy in your league? Can you give me an example?

GS: We have been fortunate to not have any major controversy heretofore.  The wild card tiebreakers in NCAA allowed a 6-7 team to make the playoffs while an 8-5 team missed (total overall points) so that was a hot button for a couple owners, but we proposed a small rule change to hopefully avoid that situation again.  Owners in this league are pretty understanding and work with the co-commissioner and I, knowing we are working in the best interest of the league.  I believe Scott Fish mentioned that he has a “best-interest-of-the-league” clause in all of his leagues.  I have granted myself the same authority, as sometimes things come up that nobody considered, and sometimes a decision has to be made on the fly.  For example, before the startup NCAA draft last year, the North Carolina State starting quarterback was listed on the scoring site as quarterback/wide receiver.  With elite quarterbacks scoring on average twice that of elite wide receivers, we had to make a rule that any player listed on a school’s depth chart as a quarterback would be made ineligible at any other position.

DLF: Are league decisions made solely by you, or does that league vote on issues?

GS: Again, it is typically a joint decision between my co-commissioner and myself.

DLF: What is something that could ruin an otherwise strong league?

GS: Inactivity and complacency are poison in a league like this.  You have to have a group of owners that will follow through season long.

DLF: What are the main reasons your league has become so successful?

GS: Having a unique concept, having activity from June through January, and having owners that participate heavily in drafts, trading and free agency keeps things interesting year round.  Free agency is handled via auction, so bidding occurs for the majority of the season.  There is always something going on.

DLF: How many leagues do you commish?

GS: Entirely too many….  I commish one Dynasty NFL League at home, one Keeper MLB league at home, and on I commish mostly NCAA leagues, of which there are almost twenty.  I helped start a multi-sport (NFL/NBA/MLB) devy league that I still participate in, but have handed off the day-to-day work.  I am helping another member start a basketball mirror image of Campus to Canton as well.  I have gotten smarter about it, though, and with the exception of home leagues, I have co-commissioners in all of my other leagues that handle much of the administration and day-to-day work.  Part of being an effective commissioner is knowing your own limitations on time and employing help from those who want to.

Now let’s hear from some other members of the Campus to Canton league, beginning with co-commissioner Ace Hopkinson.

DLF: Is there a rule or feature that sets this league apart from others?

Ace Hopkinson: The obvious feature which makes this league unique is filling your NFL roster with players who have graduated from your NCAA team. This introduces an intriguing tactical element, as teams must find the right balance between fielding a potent NCAA lineup and creating a pipeline of NFL ready talent. There are a finite number of players who help to fulfill both of these goals and thus general managers must decide how many NCAA only players (those who produce at elite levels but lack NFL projectability) they can afford to roster.

DLF: What are some things the commissioner does or has done to help create a strong league?

AH: The decision to have an entry draft rather than use an auction format for incoming NCAA freshmen, JUCO’s and free agents encourages research and introduces a sense of anticipation. This accelerates a growth in knowledge among league members and engenders a greater enthusiasm for the process.

Another dynamic, which has been beneficial, is that trading between NFL and NCAA squads is permitted, as is the trading of draft picks. This increases the amount of trade activity, as suitable partners are easier to find as teams have the ability to patch a weakness in their NFL squad by dealing from a position of depth on their NCAA roster or vice-versa.

DLF: Overall, what are the main reasons this league has become successful?

AH: Primarily the fact that the league allows for an eclectic mix of strategies. As well as producing very interesting trade discussions the battle of approaches is fascinating. I am attempting to compete in both disciplines simultaneously, which is especially challenging but potentially very rewarding.  It also shouldn’t be overlooked that if injuries/poor production afflict one of your teams then instead of re-tooling for next season you also have the option of going all-in on your other squad.

Finally, here are some responses from league members Scott and Nick.

DLF: Is there a rule or feature that sets this league apart from others?

Scott: I like the pipeline aspect of the league.  Hopefully a few of my college guys can move on to have an impact in the NFL.

DLF: What are some things the commissioner does or has done to help create a strong league?

SK: He recruited good owners that have been active in our other college football leagues.

DLF: Overall, what are the main reasons this league has become successful?

SK: It is different. That is what I like; the challenges of league that are not your standard type league.

DLF: Is there a rule or feature that sets this league apart from others?

Nick: The feature that makes this league different is that the league plays with an NCAA team as well as NFL so not only are you looking at players when they are first recruited to be good in the NFL you are also looking to build team to compete in a college league because of this you get a variance in the way mangers approach the league and the type of players they recruit especially in the college game.

DLF: What are some things the commissioner does or has done to help create a strong league?

Nick: To help create a strong league the commissioner makes sure that managers are active and this allows you to know all games are against who the other owner thinks is his top teams that week and not just players on a bye that week. Also at the end of the year the commissioner ranks the upcoming rookies from college to NFL and this helps you put in prospective how your team draft was for the next year and if your plan worked or if you need to change it to help improve the NFL team

DLF: Overall, what are the main reasons this league has become successful?

Nick: The main reason for this league becoming successful is that there are two separate competitions in one league so you are always scouting players and means that managers always have to be active as to compete in both leagues. The other main reason is that you get to see the progression of players and how some of those that were seen as top recruits don’t make it and how some players you have drafted or signed as a way just to improve the depth of the NCAA team progresses to a NFL player.

Thanks to Geoff, Ace, Scott and Nick for sharing their unique league idea with the DLF community.


ryan mcdowell