Alternative Fantasy Football League Standings System

It's likely that your fantasy football league uses a conventional head-to-head league standings system. It makes sense since fantasy football is based on real life football, which determines standings based on head-to-head outcomes. Unfortunately, there are several weaknesses inherent in such a system when it comes to fantasy football. Perhaps the biggest drawback to the head-to-head (H2H) standings system: being an owner that consistently scores more points than most of the other teams in the league only to lose -- a lot. Yes, such bad luck can be exasperating. In fact, I've gone through it almost every season I've played fantasy football.

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. Say you've scored 1,018 points through 9 games and lead the second-highest scoring team by 60 points and the third-highest by over 100. Your team is consistently in the top 5 weekly scorers. Yet, you find yourself with a 3-6 record and in danger of not making the playoffs. Worse, another team, ranked only 9th out of 12 teams in scoring, is 7-2 and almost a cinch to make the playoffs. Why? Because you keep playing one of the highest scoring teams each week and losing by scores like 112-104, while that 7-2 team is coasting along, playing low-scoring teams and winning by scores like 63-46. Upon further analysis, you find out that the 7-2 team has the least points scored against it in the league, while your team has the most points scored against.

So what can you do to mitigate this sort of frustrating bad luck? Eliminate head-to-head competition and instead implement a total points scored league standings system? Nah, that's swinging the pendulum too far the other way. You’d lose the fun match ups pitting one owner against another. No, instead what you should consider is adopting a hybrid system that still tracks wins and losses but also uses points scored to determine standings, akin to what the National Hockey League (NHL) does.

The NHL tracks wins and losses but it also has a point system that determines the final standings. It awards two standing points for a win and zero for a loss, unless it’s an overtime loss, which nets one point. The NHL determines standings by points, with victories being the first tie-breaker for ties in the standings. Since OT losses do garner a point, a team can be several victories behind the next in the standings but be within striking distance points-wise because they have earned standing points with the OT losses. This keeps teams in the running for playoff spots longer and makes the regular season more interesting.

Realizing the value of using standing points to determine standings, AntSports.com, a fantasy football league hosting and mock draft site, runs leagues that use a system somewhat like this, calling it the “Head-to-Head Victory Point Scoring System” but it does not track wins and losses at all (well, at least not directly in the standings, as in a win column, a loss column, and a ties column). Instead it determines league standings based solely on league standing points. Furthermore, it awards standing points based on two criteria: 1) wins, ties, losses and 2) points scored. So in an AntSports Victory League you’d see standings that listed only standing points earned.

I don’t like eliminating wins and losses from the standings. So I am proposing a hybrid of the conventional H2H and the Victory Point Scoring systems. I would toss out the points awarded for victories, ties, and losses, though, and award standing points based only on weekly scoring. Why? Because I think in H2H leagues, teams that consistently score high do so usually because they are well-managed, not because of luck. I am trying to reward consistently high-scoring teams that lose only because of a very tough schedule, while punishing the teams that coast only because of a very weak schedule.

Unlike the Victory Point leagues, users of this hybrid system would track wins, losses, and ties in the standings, like the NHL. The league would award points based on points scored per week, which would apply to a team’s placement in the standings. Here's an example of a 12-team league standing points award system:

Weekly Score Rank Standing Points Awarded
Highest Score 3 points
2nd 2 points
3rd 2 points
4th 1 point
5th 1 point
6th 1 point
7th .5 point
8th .5 point
9th .5 point
10th 0 points
11th 0 points
12th 0 points

(Curious about AntSports’ system? You can read about more at AntSports.)

Let’s look an example of this method. Say two games during Week 1 went this way:

Team A 106 Team B 108

Team C 54 Team D 49

Team A was the second highest scoring team of the week; Teams C and D were the two lowest scoring. All play in the same division.

So after week 1, Team B would be awarded 3 standing points, Team A would get 2 standing points and C and D zero points, leading to the following order in the division standings:

Team Points       Record W-L  Points Scored  Points Against
Team B 3 1-0  108  106
Team A 2 0-1       106  108
Team C 0 1-0  54  49
Team D 0 0-1  49   54


Like in the NHL, standing points determine standings and victories are the first tie-breaker. Team A is higher in the standings although it lost, because its loss was against the highest scoring team in the league. For being the second highest scoring team, Team A was given two standings points, which mitigates the loss to an extent and acknowledges that Team A would’ve beaten every other team in the league. As with the NHL’s awarding of 1 point for an OT loss, the awarding of the points for scoring acknowledges that its loss was hard fought. Meanwhile, he standing points reflect that Team C won only because it played the only team it could’ve defeated that week, Team D.

No matter the nuances, under this hybrid points scored/head-to-head matchup system, if you had the misfortune of having the second highest score and still losing, at least you still get 2 points toward the standings determination.

The great thing about this standings system tweak is that it lets you maintain the head-to-head format and its fun NFL-like weekly match ups and luck factors. Yet it remedies the possibility of constantly losing ground in the standings although your team is scoring in bundles. It rewards good roster management since consistently high scoring teams generally perform that way not because of uncanny good luck, but because of masterful roster management and starting team selection. In addition, those high scores are no longer completely wasted. Lastly, strength of schedule is accounted for, instead of being almost totally irrelevant, as it in conventional H2H leagues.

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