Sunday, August 3, 2014

Six Steps To An Ideal Fantasy Football League

Also, This Guy Isn't In
It's that time of year again: when you start the research and rankings and try to come to grips with the massive timesuck that is fantasy football. And with that on the radar, it got me to thinking what the ideal league might look like. Here goes...

1) Match the entry fee to income.

I play for money to make sure that a win feels worthwhile, and to make sure that everyone tries. But the right amount is always tricky. Too little, and it's trivial; too much, and you get way too invested and start to realize your nerdy nit betting game is actually a growing and serious problem.

So what would the best system be? Variable based on personal salary and worth, and the same percentage for all players. That way, the fee matters more or less the same for everyone.

2) Limit trading and trade offers.

I don't know about you, but there is no bigger timesuck in my life than the handful of guys in my league who treat trading as a primary source of talent and team improvement, without regard for the other owner's needs. It's gotten to the point where I just reflexively delete requests regardless of merit from some players, just because there's such an amount of bad faith and gamesmanship.

But if owners had to pay an additional price for a trade request, or knew that their actions were capped for the enjoyment of the other players? I'm down with this. So down.

3) No one tanks, or quits.

I'm dumb, and because I'm dumb I manage every fantasy team the same, in terms of time and attention. Either I spend my time grinding my way out, or I spend my time trying to get my team in the money. This makes me a first-class mark, because I clearly should be trying as hard as possible to get a worse record and better draft pick in the following year.

But since I play with guys that do tank when things aren't going their way, I have to do things like have races decided by how soon a club pulls the chutes, and who they trade their remaining studs to. Then, I draft behind them, or have to switch to some lottery weirdness that just makes things harder for truly bad clubs to recover.

It's the way of the world, I guess. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

4)  Owners are in it for the long term.

Another way in which I'm old and dumb; I stay at the table and try to beat the game, even it things aren't going well for me for a while. As a rule of thumb, every league I'm in has an owner drop out every year, and while I get that people's lives change, it's still a big pain in the ass to replace owners and wonder about the last few months of moves.

5) Stats don't follow trends; they make them.

In my football league, we give defenses a bonus for winning the game, since that's what they are supposed to do. In baseball, rather than go for raw strikeout numbers or Ks per 9 innings, we use a strikeout to walk ratio that gives you more ways to build your roster. In basketball, we disregard turnovers as a negative category, since that penalizes players who handle the ball and actually try to make plays. And so on.

The point isn't to make rankings tricky; it's to make the league better. And it works, because owners have to take these factors into account.

Fantasy leagues shouldn't be an off-the-rack product. You should have to work a little harder than just using someone else's rankings and going by chalk and luck. And that leads me to my final point...

6) Every owner should only be in one league.

If only to keep everyone sane and to avoid future burnout. If you really need to be in a half dozen leagues, you really need to just buck up and get into a gambling recovery program, or start picking against the spread and managing your problem. No one should be this over the top for nerd nit betting.

Feel free to add yours in the comments...

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