Monday, July 24, 2006

Fantasy Football: if you play head to head, you are a sucker.

The biggest flaw of fantasy football is that most league's play head-to-head competition. Don't you hate when your fantasy team had a great week and had the second-most points of the week, but you had to play against the team that had the most points of the week, so you get a loss, while a bunch of people who did way worse than you get a win? Too much is left to chance. At the end of the season, you could have the most total points, but be in 5th place. It's preposterous.

Of course head-to-head competition is great in sports. But in sports, when Team A competes against Team B, Team A has something to do with the success of Team B. Not so in fantasy football.

What if the PGA Tour did things like fantasy football? Let's say they pair up the golfers randomly. Each golfer only golfs against that one opponent. What you do against the rest of the field doesn't matter at all to your success. If you happen to get paired up against Tiger Woods, then you will not get to win. Even if you have a better score than 90% of the rest of the golfers in the tournament, you will finish below them.

That's ridiculous, right? Why would anybody want to follow such a system, in which it barely matters if you do better than most people?

So what's the solution? One solution is to assign the champion by total points. This is a bad solution: consistency doesn't matter, and following your team throughout each week barely matters.

But there's a better solution. We call it CROSS COUNTRY SCORING.

When I ran in a cross country team, we would have meets against several opposing teams. This was much more competitive and efficient than scheduling all sorts of head-to-head meets between only two teams. And yet, it was very easy to determine who you beat because if you do better than one team, you get a W, and if you do worse than another team, you get an L. If you run in a meet with 10 teams, you have a chance for 9 wins and losses.

Let's explain for Fantasy Football. Let's say the league has 10 teams. During each week, every team competes against every other team. If you have the most points, that means you beat 9 people, and you go 9-0. If you have the second-most points, it's still OK, because you beat 8 people to go 8-1. If you have the lowest score, you got beat by 9 people to go 0-9. Etc., Etc., Etc. So getting a high score helps you even if you don't have the high score.
#1 score= 9-0
#2 score= 8-1
#3 score= 7-2
#4 score= 6-3
#5 score= 5-4
#6 score= 4-5
#7 score= 3-6
#8 score= 2-7
#9 score= 1-8
#10 score= 0-9
There are often ties in this system; ties just go as part of your record. You then don't have a playoff--you play 17 weeks, and whoever has the most wins is the champion.

The added benefit is that as a fantasy football competitor, EVERY GAME MATTERS TO YOU. If you go head-to-head, your only fantasy interest is games in which your players play and your opponents players play. With a Cross Country Scoring System, there is almost never a game without some effect. Every single Monday Night game could affect your finish.

Another benefit is that you're never out of it. In my league, last season's champion was in last place at the half-way point. Each week has so much potential to force you up or down in the standings.

Head-to-Head Competition in Fantasy Football is no way to determine the best team.


  1. i like the head to head, because it gives my friends and me something to talk shit about every week during the season. if i won with cross country scoring, i would have to talk shit with the rest of the league or the people i beat--that would seem like overkill. for me, its all about competing with a bunch of guys. i think head to head maximizes that aspect. plus, i think every team shouldn't be in the playoff hunt during the last week of the season. the entire season should count.

    p.s. welcome back to the blogosphere. i've been vacationing, too.

  2. Grumbler in fact most people are not in the hunt for the championship in the last week. Last year there were 3 teams who had a shot of winning going into the last week. The year before it came down to 2-3 teams and the year before it was over like week 15. The league we are in is just 8 friends so it maximizes our smack talk doing the cross-country scoring system because we can definetely claim we kicked ass that week or continue to kick ass week to week

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