Last Week’s Question: What do you think of the flexiest league ever?
My column for Week 12 featured
Hugh’s question about the appeal of allowing all skill players
to be flex players. He reported success in using just such an approach
in his league for almost 20 years, and the idea is certainly intriguing.
I wonder what it would be like to manage a team with 5 RBs vs. an
opponent with 5 WRs—or even a team with 3 TEs, 1RB, &
The holidays are a busy time, so it’s not unusual for my Thanksgiving
column to fail to generate responses, which is unfortunately what
happened in Week 12. I’ve repeated Hugh’s question here
in the hope of prompting belated responses, but my initial impression
was that there aren’t very many leagues that would be willing
to toy with such a model (rightly or wrongly). Perhaps I was right.
If you have thoughts on Hugh’s model (or experience in a league
with an unusually high number of flex players), please post a comment
below or email your remarks
This week’s question: Do we undervalue
points as a tiebreaker in head-to-head leagues?
I want to start this section of the column by reprising a point
I made 4 years ago about a policy adopted in my longest-running
H2H league. We awarded playoff spots based on win-loss records,
and we had an owner with one of those heartbreaking seasons of scoring
more points than any other team in the league, but always running
into his opponents on their best day. He didn’t make the playoffs
(despite having outscored everyone who did). We responded with a
policy that awards a playoff spot to whichever team scores the most
points in the course of the season without winning a divisional
title according to the win-loss formula.
That rule worked out very well for my brother this year. He scored
more points than anyone in his conference, but finished third-to-last
in the standings. He was therefore awarded a playoff spot that would
have gone to a more traditional wildcard in our league 4 years ago.
I think that’s a good outcome—and not just because he’s
my brother. In fantasy, you can only control how many points you
score—not how well your opponents do against you in a given
week. So I don’t think it makes sense to exclude teams like
that from the playoffs simply because of unlucky scheduling.
But I do understand the thrill of playing for wins & losses
each week. I know what it’s like to steal a win you don’t
deserve (just because your opponent tanked), and I know the heartbreak
of doing exceptionally well … only to lose to an opponent
who managed to do a tiny bit better. That roller coaster is fun
to ride, and that’s why my brother is seeded behind the division
winners in the playoff picture. Yes, points matter. But the win-loss
record remains the primary focus.
So please don’t take my question about undervaluing points
the wrong way. I’m not proposing that wins and losses be done
away with and that all leagues adopt a model of simply tallying
points without H2H matchups ever taking place.
But I am starting to lose faith in the traditional methods used
for breaking ties in H2H leagues.
This year, we had a 3-way tie in a 4-team division. I’ll call
the owners Andy, Bob, & Carl to keep things tidily alphabetical.
Andy swept Bob; Bob swept Carl; and Carl swept Andy. Since all 3
teams had the same record, there was no obvious head-to-head tiebreaker.
According to our rules, the next tiebreaker is divisional record.
Andy & Bob were both 3-3 in the division; Chuck was 2-4. This
led us to throw Chuck out of the running and resort to yet another
tiebreaker (conference record) between Andy and Bob. Bob’s
record in the conference was 1 game better than Andy’s, so
Bob advanced to the playoffs as a division champ—even though
he had the same record as Andy and had been swept by Andy in the
That’s kinda screwy, right? Obviously, if we had started with
just a 2-way tie between Andy and Bob, then Andy would have won
the division by virtue of head-to-head matchups. But once you throw
in a 3-way tie & the fact that Carl swept Andy, things become
What bugged me about the outcome was that Carl, the first one to
be eliminated by our current tiebreaker system, had more points
than either Andy or Bob. That’s because we don’t look
at points until we’ve already considered H2H, divisional record,
and conference record.
I think the progression outlined in our rules makes perfect sense
for breaking a 2-way tie, but I also think it failed miserably in
this 3-way scenario. In my opinion, looking only at points (instead
of H2H, divisional record, and conference record) would have rewarded
the most competitive team instead of taking us down some deeply
unsatisfying rabbit holes.
What do you think? The win-loss record is obviously more important
than total points in H2H leagues, but should we have resorted to
points earlier in this tie-breaking process? Once again, responses
can be posted directly below or emailed
Survivor Pool Picks
Bonus Pick: Packers over Cardinals
The Packers aren’t available to me this week because I’ve
used them in each of my slots, but they are 14-point favorites at
home vs. the Cardinals for good reason. Sure, there’s a morale-based
case that the Packers are in for a letdown game in light of their
ever-diminishing chance at a playoff spot. They are 4 games behind
the Bears, 1.5 games behind the Vikings, and only half a game ahead
of the lowly Lions in the NFC North. The best possible finish for
the Pack is 9-6-1, so I don’t foresee even a wildcard spot
for them. But my read on Aaron Rodgers is that he’s more likely
to win out of spite than to lose out of apathy. Can a discombobulated
team from Arizona win in Green Bay in December against Rodgers?
I don’t think so. I would use Green Bay this week if I could.
Pick #3: Chiefs over Raiders (7-5; GB, NO, CHI, LAC, CIN, car, TB, IND, oak, phi, ari, jax)
Although I try to avoid divisional matchups, this game strikes me
as irresistible for 2 highly technical reasons: 1) The Chiefs are
very good at winning; & 2) The Raiders are even better at losing.
This could be a trap game, of course. The Chiefs probably are looking
past the Raiders. And who could blame them? If your bye had been
timed so that you had an extra week to prepare against one of the
least talented teams in the league, you might get a little sloppy.
But this game won’t just be about the Chiefs being rested
with superior talent. It will also be about the fact that the Raider
offense simply doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with
KC even on an off day.
Pick #2: Titans over Jets (8-4; no, LAC, hou, GB, CAR, MIN, IND, PIT, KC, atl, tb, BAL)
The Jets are struggling. They haven’t scored more than 17
points for 5 consecutive games. It’s not clear whether the
starting QB will be rookie Sam Darnold (currently recovering from
a foot injury) or veteran backup Josh McCown (who has been ineffective
in relief of Darnold). Whoever starts at QB for the Jets can look
forward to very little help from the run game (the Titans are 4th
in run stuffing) and to being sacked frequently (Tennessee ranks
5th there) and probably shouldn’t expect a lot of help from
tight ends (since the Titans are 1st vs. TEs). The only real weakness
of the Titan defense is the deep passing game, but the Jets don’t
appear to have one of those. I’ll take Mariota & company
Pick #1: Texans over Browns (9-3; BAL, LAR, min, JAX, NO, GB, LAC, CHI, dal, KC, car, IND)
After getting off to an enigmatic 0-3 start, the Texans have racked
up 8 straight wins. Can they keep that winning streak alive against
the visiting Browns on Sunday? Well, they just might have to if
they want to maintain control of the AFC South. They’re only
2 games ahead of the Colts, who face a reeling Jaguars team on Sunday.
If the Colts win and the Texans lose to the Browns, they’ll
be down to a 1-game lead with 4 games left in the season—plenty
of time for the Colts to overtake them. I think the Texans are too
serious & too talented to let that happen. Sure, Baker Mayfield
has breathed new life into the Browns’ offense vs. the porous
defenses of Atlanta and Cincinnati, but I expect him (and the rest
of the Cleveland offense) to struggle against a Houston defense
that features J.J. Watt returning to his dominant form. And the
Texan offense has 3 very impressive De’s (Deshaun, DeAndre,
and Demaryius) who will probably put on a show for the home crowd.
Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and
playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning
a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms)
can be found here.