Last Week’s Question
In last week’s column, I
shared some questions from readers whose tiebreaking systems for
the regular season turned out not to work so well in the post-season.
(I also asked for readers to supply me with stories of the dumbest
rules and lamest policies their leagues had ever formulated, but
I got so much feeback on ties that I will save the examples of boneheadedness
for the summer of ’07—when they’re more likely
to be helpful to leagues anyway).
Scott wrote in with both an answer to the question and a question
of his own. His league has no trouble settling tie games, but
ran into a little difficulty dealing with ties in team records
at the end of the regular season. I’ll start with Scott’s
response because I think he establishes an important general principle
with his question:
In our league, we use the standings from the regular
season to seed the playoff teams (I assume this is a common practice).
In our playoffs, the higher seed in each matchup is given a "home
field advantage" of 2 1/2 points. The 1/2 point eliminates
Jim’s answer to Scott’s question applies the first paragraph
of Scott’s response to the regular season:
On the subject of ties, we had a big problem in our final standings
this year (first problem like this in the 11 year history of the
league) with multiple ties; teams had 2 and even 3 ties! With
no rule in place, our commissioner wanted to award a playoff spot
to a 7-7 team over a 6-6-2 team AND a 6-5-3 team. Of course, the
commish was the 7-7 team, and his argument was "more wins."
We finally made him defer to the NFL
rules (tie=1/2 win and 1/2 loss) as we do with all rules not covered
by our league rules. This turned out to be a bigger bugaboo
than the usual trading and collusion issues that seem to pop up
every year. Any ideas on breaking ties without scrapping our fairly
standard scoring system?
Regarding your playoff tiebreak question, I would like
to offer up how our league handles it. Plainly put, the playoff
seeding determines the winner of the tie. Think of it as a half
point advantage to the "home" team. That .5 points
only gets factored in when there is a tie and thus gives the
higher seeded team the win and advancement into the next round
of the playoffs. The reasoning is that teams work hard during
the regular season to earn homefield advantage throughout the
playoffs in the league. If Team A was the better team throughout
the course of the regular season and then equal to Team B for
1 game during the playoffs, then Team A was the better team
and should advance. On a related note, we have eliminated ties
during the regular season also, by having home and away games
on our schedules. The home team wins the tie. Every team plays
an equal number of home and away games so it is simple and unbiased
Many leagues award “home-field advantage” to the
higher seeded team in the playoffs. However, not all leagues are
savvy enough to award a half-point to the higher-seeded team as
a built-in tiebreaker. I hope the policy of Scott’s and
Jim’s leagues on this point is helpful to some readers,
but I want to focus on bold section of Scott’s remarks.
The NFL may have some pretty crazy ways of settling nitpicky questions,
but the fact is that whenever one is in doubt, it is far better
to try to follow NFL policies than to try to make policies up
out of thin air. The problem with any tiebreaking policy that
is formulated after the tie has occurred is that it is likely
to appear to the loser of the tie to have been unfair—particularly
if the tiebreaker is something that already happened in the past
(so that the winner of the tie could be known in advance). The
reader named Mike who submitted the initial question wrote back
with this point:
I personally don't like your [suggestion of] looking back
at the previous week because I now believe it should be something
that your players did [in the week of the tie that should] determine
Mike was not alone in his thinking that the “reverse push”
I suggested in last week’s column misses the point of fantasy
football. Juan addressed this point and threw in a suggestion
for Lou, another reader whose question I quoted in last week’s
We break playoff game ties in our league by naming a tie-breaker
captain before any of the games are played. People may argue
that this is dumb because you don’t do that during the
regular season, but this isn’t the regular season and
clearly someone must move on. Naming a tie-breaker captain keeps
to the spirit of FF in that your guy has to perform THAT WEEK
for you to win. Who cares if you lost a head-to-head game in
Week 7 to the guy you are playing? Who cares if the team your
up against had Palmer and CJ the week they combined for 700+
yards and ended up with 10 more points than you in cumulative
scoring? What if you were 10-4 and they were 7-7? These are
rotisserie-style statistics. And if you aren’t in a rotisserie-style
league, why break a tie that way? Now I know you are thinking,
“what if your tie-breaker captains tie?” Well, then
we go to the next highest scoring player on each team’s
bench. Would not be pretty, but in 11 years we have never had
to do that.
As for Lou, who is in a league with no criteria, I imagine
it is too late, but please forward this suggestion: Add your
total yardage (Pass, Rush, Rec) for starting players. Get what
each category is worth as a whole team. Then add them up.
Just as Juan suspects, his response does come too late for Lou,
who followed up by explaining that he resorted to a decimal scoring
approach (another fairly standard way of breaking ties in FF):
Part of the issue was that I am the commish, and my team
was involved in the tie. So initially, I was trying everything
I could to make sure that the other owner did not feel slighted
or cheated in any way. Someone suggested that we both draft
a team from the Monday night game and that would decide the
tie. Each of the other options resulted in a win for my team.
So, after several helpful posts in the FFtoday message
board and a suggestion from another owner in our league, I came
up with the only fair way to deal with the tie. Our scoring
system is 1 point per 10 yards rush/receive and 1 per 25 yards
passing. So to keep the outcome based solely on the players
that both teams fielded, we went to decimal point scoring, .1
points per yard rush/receive and .04 points per yard passing.
When the numbers were recalculated, my team came out on top
by 1.5 points. And since we technically
did not have a rule to deal with this, any money that I win,
I am splitting with the owner that I tied with. I think
we all want to win, but it’s not worth losing owners over.
In my opinion, that was the fairest way to handle it (although
the losing owner would disagree). And the truth of the matter
is, if I personally were not involved in the tie, I would have
made the decimal call right away and been done with it.
We are planning on instituting that scoring system for
the next year. I think we will also have each playoff team designate
a QB, RB and WR from their bench in case we have another tie
in the playoffs.
Again, I’ll draw readers’ attention to the bolded
section of Lou’s remarks. If everyone has the patience for
the sort of approach Lou took here, then I think it’s an
excellent way of dealing with the problem so that there are no
hard feelings going forward.
There are lots of other great ways of settling ties, and Jake
has provided a nice list from his league.
The following criteria shall be used to settle in the case
of a tie game.
a) The team amassing the most total yardage (not including defense
nor returns) will win.
b) Should the result still be tied, the team whose kicker hit
the longest field goal will be declared the winner. If both
kickers' longest field goal is the same, the second longest
and so on shall be compared.
c) Should both kickers hit an equal number of equally distanced
field goals, the defense with the most kick and punt return
yardage will be the determining factor.
d) If both return teams are equal, the three highest scoring
bench players from each team will have their scores added to
the final score.
e) Should the score remain tied, the owners of the deadlocked
teams will predict the winners--against the spread--of all NBA
and NHL games played on the Tuesday following the tied result.
f) If both end up with an equal number of correct guesses, the
owners will continue to pick NBA and NHL results every day until
the deadlock is resolved.
I know that some readers are likely to wonder what the heck the
NBA and NHL have to do with fantasy football, but of course making
predictions about sporting events has a lot more to do with fantasy
football than flipping a coin has to do with advancing in the
playoffs, so I can understand why Jake’s league has adopted
this ruleset. Sam has a less esoteric way of breaking ties:
If you do not want to use the past to break ties, then
use as a tiebreaker who scored the most at the first position
on the top of the roster and work your way down or the bottom
and work your way up ( which ever way you state in the rules).
Ex if Qb is listed first (usually is) then which teams Qb scored
the most? He wins. If still tied continue down the roster until
the tie is broken. If all of the players are exactly the same;
award it to the team with the most TD's.
Thomas thinks along same lines as both Sam and Mike. Like Mike,
his problem is with the idea of letting the tie that happened
today be settled by something that happened last week; and like
Sam, he thinks the solution is to look at individual performances
on the day of the tie:
With respect to the question of playoff tiebreakers and
your proposal of a "reverse push," I think this proposal
(as well as each of the others suggested) are unnecessarily
random. It seems more desirable to me to pick one position (e.g.
QB), and have a pre-defined rule that whosever QB scores higher
that week breaks the tie. At least with this approach, there
is some modicum of strategy (albeit very little - would someone
really draft or trade for a higher-quality QB over another skill
position just to increase strength in the event of a tiebreaker?).
Even if the answer to Thomas’ question is, “Not bloody
likely,” I appreciate his focus on allowing a strategic
decision to settle the tie to the extent that it is possible for
it to do so. I can understand why all those who wrote in reached
the conclusions they reached, and I hope the many responses are
helpful to readers who are struggling with ties in their fantasy
playoffs. However, I trust that no one will lose sight of the
obvious fact that the easiest way to avoid these sorts of problems
is to anticipate the ways in which your regular-season tiebreakers
might not function properly in the post-season—in which
case you should formulate your special playoff tiebreakers in
Next Season’s Question
What’s the dumbest rule or lamest policy your league ever
implemented? How did the rule/policy come into being? What were
Even if Matthew had to knock off a week early, the mighty Mike
(aka NatchyrBoy) has stuck things out to the bitter end. I want
to thank Mike on behalf the many readers who consult this column
each week for their LMS pools, and I’ll wish Mike and the
people he’s helped all season long a happy holiday season.
3 - (7-9) - Rams over Vikings -
The Rams are scoring points again, and I don't think Minnesota
will be able to put enough on the board to keep pace. Their defense
will put up a valiant effort, but it won't be enough.
2 - (11-5) - Texans over Browns -
If Houston can beat the Colts, they can beat anybody, right? Well,
probably not. But this one is against Cleveland. Someone has to
win and it won't be the Browns. Ron Dayne should have another
strong game this week.
1 - (14-2) - Jets over Raiders -
The Jets have a shot at the playoffs - something few would have
predicted before the season. After making the coast to coast trip,
the Raiders just want to punch the time clock and get their horrible
season over with.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question or to share your LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football
Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live,
on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio
on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived
programs are also available.