Last Week's Question: What scoring/drafting
mechanics set your league apart?
Not all commissioners care about setting their leagues apart from
the crowd, but those who value individuality can achieve it through
ambience (e.g. with unique trophies or special draft day rituals)
and/or through idiosyncratic scoring/drafting methods. My
column for Week 3 focused on matters of ambience. For this week's
installment, we'll look at some unusual scoring/drafting mechanics.
I'll start with Andy's hybrid of a blind auction and a conventional
serpentine draft because it somehow manages to be simple despite
This is for a re-draft league. Each team is
given $100 to spend for the first five rounds of the draft. Each
team writes down how much of the $100 they want to spend on the
1st round. The cards are collected and the first round order is
determined by how much money was spent, most to least. The next
4 rounds continue the same way, with owners only being allowed to
spend what they have left. It's interesting, because you can spend
$90 in the 1st round and get Adrian Peterson, but then you'll likely
pick near the bottom in rounds 2-5. Round 6 is the reverse order
of round 5 and starts the serpentine draft.
I would love to try this out at least once. My only reservation
is that it seems like a lot of work for the commissioner to keep
a running tab of who has how much money left. (Even if everyone
intends to be honest about how much money they have left to bid,
mathematical mistakes seem bound to happen in drafts--especially
when alcohol is involved.) This approach might go a little more
smoothly if each owner is given an envelope with his own name on
it, containing $100 in Monopoly money. Then, for each of the first
five rounds, the owners could return the envelope to the commissioner
with as much money as they're willing to devote to that round. No
FFer would mistake this kind of draft for a true auction draft,
but it might be a fun way for redrafter leagues to start flirting
with the auction model.
Tom wrote to me about a charity league in his neck of the woods.
This league gives owners two live drafts for the price of one unspecified
The interesting twist in this league is that
at the end of the 13-week regular season the division winners get
together for a complete re-draft for a 3-week season. [The winner
gets a free trip] to Vegas baby!
This sounds like the perfect solution to what is most problematic
about drafting. Every August, we have to select our players not
based simply on past performance and projected value, but on their
schedules during our own fantasy post-season (somewhere around Weeks
13-17). We don't just want any great running back; we want a great
running back who will be abusing a soft rush defense in Week 16,
when it counts! But our ideas of a favorable matchup in August have
nothing to do with what constitutes a favorable matchup in December.
(Just think about the Kansas City Chiefs and how exhausted their
defense was last year and how it looked like it might not get any
better with the addition of Andy Reid, who absolutely failed to
solve the defensive problems that plagued Philadelphia after the
death of coordinator Jim Johnson. How many of us expected the Chief
defense to be any good back in August? If they keep this up, you
can bet that the Week 16 matchup against KC that looked favorable
during the draft will look mighty unfavorable come December.)
Tom's charity draft doesn't just give us twice as much drafting
fun; it takes the brain-pain out of the first draft by letting owners
focus on building the strongest team they can in stage one; then
they get to focus on three weeks of matchups in stage two.
I received two lengthy responses (both with heavy emphasis on keeper
modifications) from Jeff and Eric. I especially like the way that
the consolation playoff tournament in one season affects the draft
order of the subsequent season in Jeff's league:
One of the things that we did right from the
start (13 seasons now) is that we are a customized keeper league.
Each owner can keep up to 3 players from the end of the year roster
at the cost of a draft pick 2 rounds higher than the player cost
the previous year. Players may be traded and kept by another owner.
First round drafted players cannot be kept the following year; 2nd
round draftees may be kept for a 1st and 8th round pick. Undrafted
players may be kept for a 14th rounder. (We have a live draft online
with a conference call, as we live scattered across the US.)
We have two sets of playoffs: top six are playing for money (winner
gets about $200) while bottom six are playing for top overall pick.
So the first round order is the winner of the losers bracket followed
by remaining teams in order of finish; rounds 2-4 are simply reverse
order of finish. From round 5 on we serpentine. Thus it is very
hard to repeat (hasn't been done yet) and takes very good management
and talent evaluation of waiver wire players or draft fliers to
even be in the top four consistently.
Draft picks can also be traded (same year only, but we are thinking
about revising that to include one year out). So what you might
see is a trade like I did this year: I traded Luck (6th round keeper
cost) to an owner for his 10th round pick. I then traded Cobb (who
had a keeper cost of 10th round) and my tenth round pick (I had
two 10th round picks, right?) in exchange for a 9th and 5th round
Also common in our league is trading a pick that you need to use
for a keeper to someone else in exchange for a lower pick in that
same round (since you lose it anyway). Let's say I am using an 8th
round pick to keep a player and I have 8.03....I may trade 8.03
and 9.10 for someone's 8.12 and 9.01. Both of us benefit.
We are an IDP league also forcing owners to start 3 players from
at least two different positions.
We have an IR with several rules that force owners to think things
through. If you draft a player that is known to have an injury and
that injury ends up keeping them out of one or more games without
ever returning to play in a game, he cannot be placed on the IR.
You have to use one of your 20 roster spots on him. After the wire
closes in week 12, players may only be picked up by the commish
for an owner to replace a player eligible for IR (have to be OUT
or IR in the NFL) and that player must be of the same position and
is not eligible to be kept.
And we have many other rules that may seem to make things confusing
for someone on the outside, but in reality it is the difference
between playing a game of go fish vs chess. Both can be fun....though
go fish loses its appeal very quickly because you have little control.
We have striven to create a league that engages owners constantly.
They must pay attention every week. (Also, we once kicked an owner
out because he failed to set his lineup two weeks in a row. Warned
him once, booted him on second offense.)
Eric's response is actually perfect as a lead-in to this week's
question because his league has so many different keeper options:
1) Keep nobody
2) Keep one or two players, where the players are kept one round
higher than they were drafted the previous year, and they are allowed
to be kept on your roster for a three year maximum (draft plus 2
3) Keep a non-drafted player that finished on your roster with an
eighth round pick (these first three actually come from a league
I’m in that I used to manage)
4) Keep one player as a “franchise” pick, which means
you keep him in perpetuity in that round as long as you want him
(also one round higher from original draft), and you can select
a “value” pick, which is a guy you have to keep in round
1 or 2 – if the value pick was from round one or two the previous
year, he’s a first rounder, any later than that, he’s
a second rounder.
5) “Buy down” a round for a keeper – for example,
let’s say you have AP and you want him to be a second round
choice – you can do that, but you have to give up a fifth
round pick, so you only get to draft 14 players instead of 15.
I think there’s something else, but honestly it’s gotten
so crazy, [the commish] has to send out three emails before the
start of the draft to clarify what people are allowed to do.
This Week's Question: Why doesn't your
league use keepers?
This week's question comes from Todd. His response to my question
of how leagues set themselves apart was to bemoan the fact that
his office league does nothing at all to distinguish itself from
ordinary redrafter leagues:
The other owners in my office league won't consider
[changing our pure redrafter league into] a keeper. They won't even
put it to a vote, which makes absolutely no sense. I'm in two other
leagues. One lets me keep two players; the other lets me keep three.
Those leagues are boatloads more fun than my office league. I can
understand not making a redrafter into a keeper league if you have
a lot of new owners coming in every year, but the same ten of us
at work are now going into our fourth year. Why on earth wouldn't
you [add a keeper element] with that kind of owner stability? No
one in my office has an answer. They just shrug off the question
and keep running the league the same as always.
I can't speak for Todd's coworkers, but there are plenty of redrafter
leagues that have been around for years and clearly have no desire
to become keeper leagues (or they would have made the move by now).
I suspect their commissioners might answer Todd's question with
a question of their own: "Why fix what ain't broke?"
However, since I always seem to go out of my way to accommodate
league complexity in this column, I think it's only fair for me
to give readers a chance to speak up for simplicity. What's the
case for keeping things simple and standard in leagues that could
always be made more complex and unique? If you like your straightforward
redrafter league just the way it is, please
let me know what it is about the keeper/dynasty model that keeps
you from exploring such an alternative.
Survivor Picks - Week 4 (Courtesy of
Trap Game: N.Y. Giants at Kansas City
Kansas City's defense has allowed the second fewest points so far
this season (34), and the offense has clearly bought into Andy Reid's
system. Meanwhile, the New York Football Giants have looked putrid
in all facets of the game and by all accounts should lose at Arrowhead
Stadium. However, Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning know Reid's playbook
and schemes better than most teams. The G-Men have mounted their
fair share of come-from-behind victories against Reid (a former
divisional rival). The Giants aren't as good a team right now as
the Chiefs, but Coughlin's boys need this win a lot more than Reid's
do. Don't be surprised to see Eli pull off an upset with a last-second
score. This just might be the turning point for the Giants (you
know, the point where they STOP turning the ball over).
#3: New Orleans over Miami (2-1: KC, NEP,
Both of these teams come into this game undefeated. The key difference
is that the New Orleans defense has really started to shut down
opposing offenses, as evidenced by the 31-7 win over the Cardinals
last week. The Miami defense is vulnerable to the passing attack
(giving up over 260 yards per game), and Drew Brees should be
able to pick apart their secondary for a win against a Miami team
that has definitely improved on both sides of the ball. Lamar
Miller and Daniel Thomas will keep this game close with a strong
rushing game that should take advantage some of the holes in the
Saints' defensive line, but it won't be enough as the Saints go
#2: Indianapolis over Jacksonville (1-2:
DEN, PHI, SF)
Trent Richardson scored on his first carry as a Colt last week
at San Francisco, and Indy stymied last year's NFC Champion in
their home stadium. This week, the Colts return to the more friendly
confines of Lukoil Stadium to face a Jaguar team that is dead
last in offense. The Jags average a measly 230 yards per game
and have scored a total of 28 points. Unfortunately for Chad Henne,
those stats aren't likely to improve against a Colts team that
held Colin Kaepernick to 150 yards and no scores. The best that
Jacksonville can hope for is probably some fantasy production
from Maurice Jones-Drew in a game that should be over by halftime.
#1: Denver over Philadelphia (3-0: IND,
Peyton Manning has accumulated two AFC Player of the Week honors
in just three weeks with his 12 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and
a QB rating of 134.7. Can he make it three out of four weeks against
an Eagles secondary that made Alex Smith and Donnie Avery look
like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice? Very possibly! The Chip Kelly
era started off with a bang in Week One against the Redskins,
but it will take time and a more disciplined approach on defense
before these Eagles can go into Mile High and pull off the upset.
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999. As a landlocked Oklahoman who longs
for the sound of ocean waves, he also writes about ocean colonization
under the pen name Studio Dongo. The latest installment in his science
fiction series can
be found here.