Keepin' Up with the Times: Is it Time to Change Your Fantasy Football League's Rules?

Bill Simmons' funny ESPN piece  Throwing Rocks in Fantasy Football Pool points out some of today's trends that didn't exist just 10 years ago and how the game of fantasy football hasn't changed much at all in response.  He also served up a few ways to shake up fantasy football. 

I feel Simmons made some good points.  (By the way, I beat Bill to the punch when I wrote one of FFMBA's first articles, Alternative Fantasy Football League Standings System, a year ago.  You'll definitely want to check out that masterpiece -- mine, not Bill's.)   I do think that the pastime of fantasy football hasn't kept up with changes or evolved as much it probably should have during the last few years.  I have several areas of concern.

  1. First, consider the whole running back by committee thing; while that works out well in the NFL, it sure makes being a fantasy owner a pain.  Nothing's worse than hearing a coach (cough, "Mike" cough, "Shanahan") say, "Oh, most definitely, Joe Gridiron's gonna get almost all the carries this week," only to see Joe carry the ball a 6 times for 13 yards and a fumble.  There may be no bigger bane to fantasy football owners than the RBBC.
  2. Another thing, which I addressed in my alternative standings article, is the luck factor.  Of course, everything has some element of luck.  What I'm talking about is the sort of stupid luck that consistently trumps hard work and preparation type of luck.  It's horribly frustrating and maddening to have spent 33.5 hours of your week studying fantasy football stats, reading forums, pouring over schedules, etc., and think it all paid off when you score 133 points . . .  but then you lose to the only team in the league that outscored yours.  Meanwhile another owner spends 33.5 seconds reading a who to start article somewhere and goes on to win 47 - 41 over the only team they could've beaten.  And it keeps happening.  Over . . . and . . . over. Then you miss the playoffs and the other team gets in. The only things more frustrating is seeing a blogger use so . . . many . . . ellipses.
  3. Conventional serpentine drafts practically preordain the season.  It's lame to see fantasy football fortunes determined when draft order is -- teams drafting in the middle or a round often get clobbered by those drafting at the ends.  (Here's a good article at Fantasy Football Sharks detailing the very real effects of draft position on season outcome for the 2006 - 08 seasons.)
  4. Teams adroitly assembled at the start of a season by a diligent owner eventually fall prey to injury attrition but can't rebuild because they are consistently at the end of the waiver order due to their success.  Yes, the conventional reverse order waiver wire punishes success!  Obviously, you want bad teams to have a shot to improve.  However, how often do you see owners that don't do their homework luck into a top free agent.  Yeah, sour grapes to an extent, but I think that, while luck should definitely play a role, it shouldn't render hard work well-nigh meaningless.

So what can be done to your league's rules to better meets the demands of 2010 and beyond?

  1. There are a few ways to mitigate the RBBC conundrum.  Perhaps tweak the scoring system to deemphasize backs and thus make it easier to weather a RBBC.  Or allow more RBs on a roster to allow an owner more wriggle room.  Maybe instead do the opposite and allow fewer RBs on the roster so that there are more on waivers to pick up.  Gosh, the league could even starting only one RB or starting 3 RBs.  There's a lot of possibilities.
  2. Implement an alternative standings system that does take into account scoring as well as head to head play. (See my Alternative Standings Method article listed above for details on how to do this.)
  3. Dump the conventional round by round draft and instead use an auction format.  Auctions require strategy of all kinds -- you don't want to bid too much or too little, you might want to drive up a bid for a competitor yet not get stuck with a player, you don't want to end the draft with a lot of unused funds, etc.  Far more challenging, far more fun, and far more egalitarian, since everyone has an equal shot at every player, that's what auction drafts are. 
  4. Get rid of reverse order waivers and go to blind bidding. Like with auctions, this encourages hard work, research, and strategy

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.