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Q&A - What website does the best job of hosting fantasy leagues during the NFL playoffs?
Week 16


Last Week’s Question:

How Many Leagues that Play for Bragging Rights Only (no purse) Are Still Going Strong?

A Mac belongs to a league that plays for bragging rights only. There is no purse. The winner gets a trophy, and the loser has to serve as commissioner for the following season. No money has changed hands in the 16 years of his league’s existence—and he asked me to try to find out if many other “no purse” leagues are still going strong.

The answer is a definite yes. Jason wrote in to explain how the MFL (Mondo Football League) has been chugging along for a decade and a half:

I’m in a league that’s been around for about 15 years now. We are all friends or family connected to the high school that I went to. There is no purse, just a lot of bragging rights... and a trophy. Whoever wins in any particular year gets their name put on a placard that is attached to our highly coveted trophy. Adding the placard (which costs around $5 - $10 at a local trophy store) is the responsibility of the previous year’s winner. Supposedly there is a Toilet Bowl trophy for last place – but I’ve never seen it.

In the beginning we would generally have to go looking for 1-2 friends to fill in for [former participants] who dropped out, but now we have the same 10 guys who play every year (and it’s been the same 10 for the last 8 years or so). Not only do we all play in the same fantasy football league, but we also play a college fantasy football pickem (just for bragging rights) and college basketball NCAA tournament pickem (another coveted trophy with placards).

We have one official league commissioner and statistician who keeps track of a variety of stats: wins, losses, highest score of all time, largest margin of victory, average pick in the draft (I’m at the bottom with an average pick position of 7 over the last 12 years – no I’m not bitter, why do you ask?), etc. We also have two unofficial league rankers who try to determine who among us is the best owner of all time using their own formulas to boost their positions within the rank.

I no longer live in the same state as most of the other players and am not able to make it to most of our “events” in person. But our events include draft day (I and a few others use IM-based voice conferencing) and a pizza party. As well, there is a league holiday/Christmas dinner where the participants each bring (or make) a meal for everyone with the wives voting on the winner).

It’s really a great league to be in and keeps me in contact with friends that I would have otherwise lost touch with.

It’s refreshing to know that “no purse” leagues are still appreciated by people like Jason, but he was the only reader who provided any vivid details about a league of people who play for bragging rights that has had genuine longevity.

Responses from people like Frank and Tina suggest that “no purse” leagues are becoming less common than they used to be. In Frank’s case:

Our league is heading into its 9th season with entry fees. Before that, most of the people currently in the league played against each other for bragging rights. It was fun, but we all decided it would be more fun to throw $50 each into the kitty at the beginning of the season. I haven’t heard anyone say they want to go back to playing for just bragging rights.

Tina moved from a “bragging rights” league to a league with cash stakes, but she still plays in the league with no purse:

I started playing FF with friends from work for bragging rights. After a couple of years, some of us wanted to play for cash. Our boss didn’t like the idea of gambling at the workplace, so three of us joined a league run by a friend of mine with real stakes. Since then, I think almost everyone else in the office league has ended up playing in various FF money leagues. We still all play in the office league for bragging rights, but nobody brags very much. I honestly don’t even remember who won last year. I think we only pay attention to the office league at all to have a practice draft and get ideas about trades and waiver wire moves in our money leagues.

This Week’s Question:

What website does the best job of hosting fantasy leagues during the NFL playoffs?

This week’s question comes from Jeremy, who writes:

I've got a question that our league has been searching for an answer to for years. For the past ten years or so, about half of our league participates in a redraft for the NFL Playoffs. We draft a starting lineup only with no adds or drops, so obviously part of the draft strategy is to decide who will be playing in the most games. Our draft is conducted in a chat room, and then I score the four weeks of NFL Playoffs manually on a spreadsheet. What we'd love to find is a site that hosts fantasy football for the NFL Playoffs including having drafting capabilities (we'd love to try an auction draft for the playoffs too).

Do you know of any such sites?

Jeremy’s question is specific to the format his league has adopted. I have participated in playoff fantasy leagues such as the one he describes. They can be a lot of fun. There is a little bit of strategy to covering your bases in such leagues. The NFL teams with byes for the first week of the playoffs are the ones most likely to make it all the way to the championship, but picking players strictly from those teams makes it impossible to field a team in the first week of the playoffs.

I would particularly like to hear from readers who have a good answer for Jeremy’s very specific question. However, since there are all sorts of different ways to organize fantasy leagues in the NFL postseason, I will be happy to include recommendations from readers about websites that may utilize other formats for postseason fantasy tourneys.

Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of Mark Den Adel)

1) Tampa Bay over Seattle
It’s hard to overlook the biorhythmic difficulties that Seahawk players seem to have when traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The Seahawks have lost their last 6 games when traveling east with an early start time. Tampa’s passing defense is ranked 11th, which is more than the struggling Matt Hasselbeck will want to contend with after throwing 2 interceptions and finishing with a QB rating of 28.9 (not to mention being benched). Seattle is 29th in passing defense, so expect a nice day from Josh Freeman and the Tampa receivers.

2) Jacksonville over Washington
Washington is playing to see who its quarterback might be next year. Jacksonville is playing for the playoffs in case the Colts stumble against Oakland or Tennessee. Jacksonville’s rushing offense is 3rd against Washington’s 27th ranked rush defense, so the advantage here goes to Mojo by miles and miles. Pass defense is weak for both, so expect a high-scoring game that will be decided by a field goal. I’ll take Jacksonville at home to win.

3) Philadelphia over Minnesota
All I should have to say here is Joe Webb is quarterbacking the Vikings. Minnesota has long been done, and Philly needs to keep winning to win the division. Minnesota couldn’t contain the Bears 26th-rated passing offense, so how are they going to be able to contain the Eagles 6th-rated passing offense? Chris Kluwe kept punting the ball out of bounds, but I heard the Vikings fans booing that stratagem. Then he kicked to Hester on the sideline and Hester ran for a TD. Will the Vikings kick to DeSean Jackson or kick it out of bounds as they will surely be punting many times on Sunday? Also, did I mention that the Vikings plan to start rookie Joe Webb?

Upset of the week – Detroit over Miami
Detroit keeps breaking long losing streaks by beating Green Bay to end the losing streak in the division and then winning at Tampa Bay to end their road-losing streak. Miami has played surprisingly poorly at home this year. The Dolphins lost to the lowly Bills last week and are a miserable 1-6 at home so far this season. Miami does have a great defense, so this will be a low-scoring game, but my crystal ball shows me Calvin Johnson catching a TD pass late for the win.

For responses to this week's fantasy question please email me.