In my July column, I
focused on a question from a reader named Dan. Dan wants to schedule
"sporadic doubleheaders" (occasional Sundays when the
owners in his head-to-head league will play two games instead of
just one), but he does not want the scheduling of the doubleheaders
to give some owners an unfair advantage over other owners simply
because of the way the NFL schedules byes during the regular season.
If you just read that first paragraph and have no idea what I
am talking about, you may want to review
my July column for a slower and more detailed explanation
of Dan's problem. I see no need to repeat that explanation here
because the overwhelming amount of feedback to my July column
suggests that "sporadic doubleheaders" are fairly common
in head-to-head leagues and that a lot of people are unhappy with
the perceived problems in fairness they can cause.
The angriest response I received came from a reader who asked
not to be identified. I'll call him Mr. Pink, and here is what
he had to say:
Doubleheaders suck. In H2H leagues, they make
1 week count twice as much as a "normal" week.
In my league our doubleheader is usually early before the bye
weeks start & most injuries occur, which [puts owners who
draft for depth and consistency at a disadvantage]. Also, when
using total points for the year as a tie-breaker, the doubleheader
week can unfairly separate teams [by arbitrarily doubling the
score in certain weeks].
In a 12-team league (as mine is), my suggestion has been to have
4 divisions with 3 teams in each. It may seem a little small for
a division, but it gives the team in 1st a reason not to get complacent
& a team in 4th usually loses interest by mid-season (so this
completely eliminates that).
[If we got rid of doubleheaders and used my model, all owners
would] play each division opponent twice & every other team
once for a 13-week regular season. The top 2 teams get byes in
the 1st round of the playoffs, and the championship is played
in week 16.
Unfortunately, some of the owners in my league aren't smart enough
to grasp a well-thought out concept. Feel free to quote me so
that the morons in my league finally get the picture.
Mr. Pink does not mind if I quote him, but he doesn't want me
to use his name. Come to think of it, Deep Throat might have been
a better alias.
There is nothing unusual about Mr. Pink's frustration with the
sporadic doubleheader system his league uses. A number of readers
responded to my July column not because they had an answer for
Dan, but because they wanted to let me know how unfair they think
sporadic doubleheaders are.
According to Keith, "If you have doubleheaders on some weeks
but not other weeks, you are just making fantasy football into
a stupid contest between the people who get lucky at the right
time and the people who don't. It's bogus."
Let me say to Keith and Mr. Pink and the many FFers for whom
they speak that the purpose of my July column was not to promote
the sporadic doubleheader. Dan had a question about how to schedule
sporadic doubleheaders so that they are as fair as possible, and
I am simply making an effort to collect the best possible responses
for him. I am neither an advocate nor an enemy of the sporadic
doubleheader, though I do participate in one fantasy league that
uses such a model.
JD went to the root of Dan's problem--the question about how
concerns over tiebreakers spurred him to consider scheduling sporadic
doubleheaders in the first place:
My suggestion for Dan would be simple: Use
total points as the playoff tiebreaker instead of the win-loss
records of owners who are tied. If he is set on the idea of doubleheaders,
this obviously won't work...but I find the total points tiebreaker
to be very fair. Also, it almost makes sense to play your division
twice and the other one just once too. Why have 2 divisions if
you play everyone twice and divisional records don't matter for
If he wants more games, I suggest adding a side tournament sometime
during the season for fun. I do this in my league, and it keeps
everyone involved! Even if someone starts 0-5...they have a side
tournament or competition to look forward to and still want to
make their team better.
Any commissioners who first learned about doubleheaders from my
July column and may be interested in exploring the idea should
proceed with caution. A crude simplification of the dialogue between
Dan and the first three readers quoted in my column goes like
Dan: Would sporadic doubleheaders
be fair if I worked them like this?
Mr. Pink: Don't use sporadic
Dan: Hmm, but do you think they
would be more fair if I worked them like this?
Keith: Don't use sporadic doubleheaders.
Dan: Okay, but what if I tried it
JD: Doubleheaders are exacerbating
your problem, not solving it.
JD makes an excellent point. If you are resorting to sporadic
doubleheaders in order to address a perceived issue of fairness
in your league, you may only end up making things worse. However,
some FFers look forward to Sundays when they play two games instead
of one. For better or worse, sporadic doubleheaders are an integral
part of the scheduling question that many commissioners face each
year, and the readers of the July column had a number of suggestions
that might be helpful to such commissioners.
Andrew speaks hypothetically (not from experience):
If I were Dan, I would just play doubleheaders
for the first 11 weeks (everyone plays everyone twice which kind
of nulls the importance of divisions), then start playoffs that
6 teams make and are 2 weeks per round. (Rd 1 weeks 12/13, Rd
2 weeks 14/15, Championship Weeks 16/17). I like the 2 week playoffs
so it's not just one bad week that loses it.
The nice thing about Andrew's suggestion is that if everyone plays
doubleheaders all the way through the NFL's regular season bye
schedule, the problem of being double-punished or double-rewarded
because of certain teams being out of action in certain weeks
disappears. Of course, if you are willing to consider playing
two games every single week, then you might want to go whole hog
and consider imitating Stephen's league:
Two years ago I completely revamped my fantasy
league and set it up where every team plays each other every week,
in essence playing 9 games a week in a 10-team league. I have
yet to find anything negative about this approach. This is the
most accurate way to ensure the 4 best, most consistent teams
make the playoffs each year. I honestly can't imagine going back
to the old 1-game-a-week setup. Not only does it prevent people
from lucking their way to the playoffs through an easy schedule,
but it keeps everyone interested that much longer since there
are such big swings from week to week. I recommend it to everyone;
you will not be disappointed.
Commissioners who want their owners to play more than one game
per week but still want to cling to the intense individual competition
that is hard to find outside of traditional H2H leagues may want
to consider Adam's odd but fascinating model:
I play in a H2H league with 14 teams, so we
play every team once prior to playoffs starting in week 14. I
am thinking about making every week a double header, but not against
2 teams.... 1 game will be the normal H2H game; the other will
be to score in the top 7 for total points for the week. So if
you have a great week, but get beat by your H2H opponent, you
can still finish in top 7 and go 1-1 for the week. If you squeak
out a lucky win because your H2H opponent has a poor week also,
you would go 1-1 for the week by finishing in bottom 7 for the
week etc. So it would make our league a H2H and total-points hybrid.
Alan's response may have been the most relevant of all because
his league uses consistently scheduled doubleheaders after Week
One to avoid the tiebreaker problems Dan complained about:
I am a commissioner of a 10-team league. We
have always played a 14-week schedule with 2 divisions. We had
a real problem last year with our playoffs because of the exact
scenario Dan threw out. If you use H2H as a tie-breaking criterion
with an unbalanced schedule, you are destined for trouble. This
year, we are using a new system:
every team plays each team 3 times;
double headers every week except week 1.
I hope this helps you. I sure hope it works for our league. We
voted on this, and there was an overwhelming desire to try it.
We also changed our standings criteria to the following:
1. overall winning percentage
2. total points scored
3. victory points
4. power ranking
5. head to head
We lowered head to head as the last tie breaker. Our league feels
this set up would eliminate any ties that might cause extreme
hard feeling as it did last year with using H2H as our second
Chris does not see a tidy mathematical solution for scheduling
doubleheaders for a 10-team league in a 13-week season, but he
suggests that Dan can achieve fairness if his owners play 27 games
instead of just 18:
In the scenario Dan proposed in your article, his objective is
that each team plays every other team an equal number of times,
and he is open to the idea of double-headers. For each team to
play every other team twice, this would require each team to play
18 games, which has the scheduling difficulties you outline in
One simple alternative would be to have each team play every other
team three times. This would require each team to play 27 games.
With 13 available weeks, you could have a double header in weeks
1-12, and a triple header in week 13.
This solution solves the bye-week problem because it has a double-header
every bye week. It also avoids the front-loading problem that
you discussed in your article so that an owner can recover from
an 0-4 start in the first two weeks. And it has the added "benefit"
of making week 13 count 50% more than previous weeks for the "playoff
SteelerJim's league LOVES doubleheaders. You might say they build
their fun entirely out of doubleheaders. He acknowledges that
Dan's 10-team league with a traditional 13-week regular season
is nothing like his own 18-team league with a 17-week season and
no playoffs, but commissioners who like SteelerJim's model should
be able to come up with something analagous in their own leagues:
We have an 18-team league (head to head) split into two nine-team
divisions that hold completely separate drafts (same location,
18 guys at the draft is a no holds barred train wreck and the
best day of the year for me). We then play the entire 17-week
schedule with doubleheaders every week for a total of 34 games.
No play offs--the best record wins. Since we hold separate drafts
we play against teams that have some of the same players.
I play and have played in leagues with play offs, and for me,
the 17-week doubleheader league is the best. You get to play the
entire 17-week season, two games a week with a lot of strategy
involved when it comes to playing teams with some of the same
players and weeks 16 and 17 when teams rest their players. The
18 guys in our league all work together and are friends so it
is easier to ensure no one tanks the season, plus we’re
all cops so tasering would not be out of the question.
Any one of these models could be just the thing Dan needs to solve
his problem. I am especially fond of the suggestions from Adam
and SteelerJim. The only flaw in most of the suggestions is that
Dan's league may not want to have doubleheaders every week. Dan
wants to schedule eighteen games in thirteen weeks, which presumably
entails scheduling five double-headers at some point between Week
One and Week Thirteen. He wants those extra games to be scheduled
as fairly as possible--with every owner suffering to the same
degree from scheduled byes in the NFL.
Andy's answer came closer than anyone else's to addressing Dan's
My league actually mirrors the NFL. We have 32 teams that play
16 games; we even use NFL team names. And because we also use
the NFL playoff model, we only have 12 weeks to get those games
I started out trying to schedule the the DHs so that they wouldn't
conflict too much with bye weeks, but as you said, it creates
a weirdly unbalanced schedule.
What I've decided to do now (and presumably forever) is to give
each team one DH in each three week period. Thus, each team plays
4 games every 3 weeks.
The biggest part of this, which most goes to the point, is that
where these DHs occur for each team is done randomly, like this:
Each team has a generic 12-game schedule for 12 weeks. The other
4 games are then added to that schedule. I set it up saying, for
instance, in week 5 AFC Team #1 plays NFC Team #1. Then, I publish
our schedule for the league with AFC Team #1 in it, and then I
use MFL's random generator which will tell the league who is actually
AFC Team #1. This way if any team happens to have a DH when their
best guys are off, at least it's all random for everyone. Fortunately
for me, the first year I did this my team had both MJD and CalJo
on byes when I had a DH, so everyone could see it was random.
If I were Dan, I would just schedule the normal 13-week schedule
as he usually does. Then, he's got to get 5 more weeks of games
in over the course of the season. Since each of his 'weeks' is
just 5 games, here's how I would randomly spread them out:
Weeks 1-3 (five extra games are placed in these weeks - same for
The benefits of putting his normal 13 game schedule in first is
that his normal schedule includes all the divisional matchups,
so he ensures that no team will ever have a DH against two teams
from his division. And if he finds a way to randomly place these
games, everyone in his league should be fine with it. And, if
it's not a keeper league and he does it before the draft, teams
will know which players to avoid.
In the middle of July, when barely anybody was paying any attention
at all to football, a random generous guy named Andy took a chunk
of time out of his life to write this extremely detailed and presumably
helpful answer for a stranger named Dan. This is why I like writing
articles for FFToday; the community rocks.
My thanks to everyone who wrote in concerning Dan's question.
Some of the answers went off on tangents about scheduling or about
doubleheaders or about tiebreakers, so if you did not see your
response included in this month's column, keep an eye out for
my weekly Q & A column that starts at the beginning of the
I will be addressing other gripes, quibbles, questions, and concerns--especially
those related to scheduling as space in this column permits. If
you have something important to say about doubleheaders, tripleheaders,
or the scheduling of fantasy contests in H2H leagues, please email
me before the season kicks off.
For responses to this month's fantasy question please email