SDMB Super League fantasy football 2011

Every year I try something different with fantasy football. I’ve been wanting to try a league with few people but super deep rosters for a few years now but it never came to fruition. So this year I was more aggressive in getting it to happen.

Over the years I’ve learned who the best and most active SDMB players are, so I began talks with them about it. We kept the league discussion in PMs because I didn’t want to offend anyone who might’ve wanted to get in. But we were going to have very limited size - either 4 or 6 players - so I looked at past participation and fantasy success to come up with a list.

The small league means that the participation rate can remain top notch - if you put together the most active players, you’ll have the most active leagues - no one will be half-assing it. It also gives a different flavor to the strategy - you’ll be drafting 20-30 players - not just targeting your favorites but having to draft a large number of players through all tiers, which gives you a greater chance to show your drafting prowess.

The first year of the league will feature myself, VarlosZ, Really Not All That Bright, Omniscient, Jules Andre, and Munch. So we’re not recruiting for this year. But Jules (IIRC) came up with a cool idea: relegation. Every year we kick out either the bottom 1 or 2 worst performers and invite the player(s) who’ve had the best year in the SDMB fantasy football leagues to replace them. It gives real stakes to losing in the league, and it gives other people a way to get in. After a few years we’ll have significant turnover - it will be a continually revolving league of the SDMB’s best players, a prestigious/champion’s league of sorts.

We haven’t settled exactly how we’ll decide who to invite each new year. I want to base it off of some sort of objective measure of average performance across several leagues. Jules wants it to be based off of winning certain leagues - either with a ranking of importance of the various leagues, or simply the person who won one of the SDMB leagues in the most dominant fashion, probably using the percentage of points they have more than the league average. Plenty of time to work that out anyway.

Please don’t be offended that you weren’t invited for the inaugural year. By its nature, the league had to remain small, and I couldn’t invite everyone. The people I did invite are always going the extra fantasy mile - writing up draft reviews, posting recommendations, talking about trades, etc. You’ll get a chance to get in next year if you make a good showing in the other SDMB leagues.

Now… we’ve had some discussion on the rules and settings but haven’t come to a consensus on a lot of it. I’m hoping making this thread will get the discussion kickstarted again. I’ll post my thoughts on some stuff later or tomorrow. But we’ll need to figure out stuff like roster size, relegation details, scoring system, etc.

I fully plan on tanking a game or two to allow you peons to stay clear of relegation. For the right price, of course.

The thing I look forward to the most is not having to draft 11th.

Speaking of the draft, since no one has objected to the date of Wed Sep 7 at 9:30 eastern, we’re pretty much locked in to that now. Not many spots left open. But if there is a problem - speak up now.

As discussed in the league forums, I think the regular non-auction format is ok for this league. With only 6 of us, it’ll never be that long between picks. One issue I mentioned though is that I don’t like the idea of snake drafting in such a small league. I don’t like how the corner double picks would be coming up constantly. I think it would actually be smoother if we just had a set order so everyone would be picking every 6 picks.

But then that’s not balanced at all - the person first in the draft order gets a big advantage. My proposal to offset that: Use a certain order for the first 2 to 4 rounds (keeping in mind a round in our draft is only 6 picks), and then reverse it for the rest of the draft.

So the draft would go ABCDEF/ABCDEF/FEDCBA/FEDCBA/FEDCBA (with FEDCBA repeating until end of draft). As we discussed in previous threads about creating a balanced draft system, it’s more important to be first in the order at the top than it is to be first in the order in round 5 or 10 or 15 - the importance of having first picks of a round decreases as the draft goes on. Hence the better position in the most important rounds being offset by being in a worse position in less important rounds, but many more times.

I think this would be reasonably balanced and more engaging than a snake draft. I can’t objectively justify why it’s better, but it feels a lot better to me.

Opinions? We’ll set up a system before anyone knows what pick they are, of course, so just vote with whatever seems good to you.

I’m okay with switching up the draft order - but we should run the numbers through the draft pick value chart thing just to make sure it’s fair. Getting #1 and #7 is way more valuable than getting #6 and #12.

Right, but we’re going to have like a 25+ round draft, so we’re talking about offsetting the benefit of 1 and 6 with 23+ rounds where you flip. I will check out the fantasy value calculator, keeping in mind it’s just someone else’s idea rather than any sort of objective measurement.

I would prefer to stick with a snake draft. You can put me at the end if you like.

And I’d prefer to go with an auction/keeper league - the truest test of skill! (Keeper isn’t such a problem for a relegation league in this case because of the league size - even the last place team is guaranteed to have a few options at least) And auction/keeper is something not seen on the Dope so far, which is a big plus.

But if we’re forced into snake drafting, I think it has to go as SenorBeef described. I really don’t think it’s a terribly significant advantage either way, though. It seems to me like a thing people argue about before the draft and and at the end of the season it matters not at all. So I’m on board for anything there.

I think relegation is best left to the bottom team. I don’t think that person should get the benefit of sharing their misery with anyone. And I’m sticking with my ideas on how to determine who takes the vacated spot.

Did we discuss scoring? PPR? Return yardage? Performance bonuses? (I vote yes/yes/no)

I am perfectly okay with an auction format. I’m not very good at them (minimal experience), but they’re unquestionably fairer than standard formats.

Jules, what was your idea to determine who gets next year’s spot? We vote? League winner selects?

I don’t think keepers are appropriate at all. It kind of sucks when someone needs to be replaced in a regular keeper league, when someone else leaves, and they’re stuck with a roster they didn’t create. To have that be a built in feature, where someone inherits the player list of the team that finished last, isn’t fair at all.

I’d be willing to do an auction draft, I just find it relatively unnecesary. The smaller a league is, the less the fairness issue comes up - think of a conventional draft of a 2 man league where you pick every other pick - technically it’s not as flexible as an auction where you could spend to land the #1 and #2 players on the board, but you’d have a ton of control over how you shaped your team. Compared to the big league first year, where the people at the ends of the snake had to wait for 38 selections between their picks. Just having a fewer amount of teams drafting makes the differences between snake and auction less significant.

And it seems more intuitive just to do a conventional draft (I won’t say snake since I’m advocating not snaking). It would be fairly unintuitive to come up with a draft plan for spending your auction dollars on 25-30 players and drafting against only 6 teams. Which I suppose you could argue is a good thing - we’re testing our ability to formulate and change strategy and not just our fantasy knowledge. Just drafting a player every 6 picks seems far more intuitive though. If we did go with an auction draft, we’d probably want to increase the amount of money the teams have to spend to allow us to appreciate subtle differences in values - there’d be a lot more relevance to who you get for $4 vs $5 vs $6 in this type of draft I would think, and having more money available increases the granularity of it.

Yeah, I don’t see the point of keepers when we’re going to have a new player or two each year. It pretty much puts them at a disadvantage as soon as they get in; after all, if the team had talent, it wouldn’t be last.

And sure, an auction’s not really necessary, but since the overriding goal of this league is to remove luck as far as possible, it does seem appropriate.

I’m wondering about the need for a playoff system. We only have 6 teams. If we go with a 15-week schedule, that means everyone plays each other 3 times. We could have a 4-team playoff at the end as an exhibition. In my experience, the best teams exhibit how great they are during the regular season - there’s far too much luck involved in two individual games at the end of the season - especially with Thursday roster locks for some players, limited managers to what they can do.

Just a suggestion - I’m not adamant about it.

I also was tinkering around with the idea of (absurdly) splitting the league up into 2 divisions. You’d play each team in your division 3 times (6 games), play each team in the other division 2 times (6 games), and have each round of the playoffs take 2 weeks each (scrapping Week 17). That alleviates any huge deviation in performance any given week during the playoffs to some extent.

I agree with the no-playoff thing too.

I generally agree with the sentiment. I think there’s an over-emphasis on actually winning the championship of the league. To me, it’s more impressive to win the points total. And in a purely competitive sense, I’d rather run every league as a points league to remove the randomness of the matchups and simply have it be a points competition. But I realize that the head to head format makes things a lot more fun and exciting from week to week.

We had some of that debate as far as figuring out who to invite to the league. Jules strongly prefers to invite champions in leagues. I wanted to devise some sort of formula where good performance in multiple leagues yielded a better score. My compromised proposal was to invite the person who most dominated one of the established SDMB leagues - the person who had the highest points over average (as a percentage to adjust for different league scoring/roster sizes). So you’d still have the champion, but scoring becomes the tiebreaker. I would still prefer my original proposal.

To give a concrete example, I absolutely dominated the auction league last year. The top 3 scores were 1745 (me), 1385, 1350. The average score by other players in the league was 1269. Yet I had an off week in the semifinals of the playoffs and lost by 6 points, only to finish third. Practically speaking I had clearly marshalled together the best fantasy team in that league - it’s just that my loss in week 15 more than offset my 12 (often crushing) wins during the rest of the season just due to the random, arbitrary nature of having two head to head matchups determine the league winner.

To me, it would be silly to invite It’s Not Rocket Surgery (the actual league winner), with his 1246 points, instead of me to join this league if our goal is to have the best SDMB FFers. But that’s what a win based requirement would do.

I mean - I was the top scorer in all 3 leagues I drafted in last year, all pro, auction, and big league. I had the best fantasy year that any SDMBer has ever had, in total, and probably will ever have again. And yet with a champion-centric criteria, I probably wouldn’t have even been invited to join this league, since I only won one of those leagues and it was the one I was least dominant in. Obviously I feel like that’s a pretty huge flaw in that sort of criteria.

There are six teams in this league. Six. Just because a team is last doesn’t mean their team was bad. It means the other teams were better. With only six teams it would take a series of extremely unlikely misfortunes to have a roster devoid of one or two good keeper prospects. In a small league full of knowledgable owners it’s inconceivable that such an apocalyptic team could exist.

You could cherry pick the worst possible (reasonable) roster based on 2010 and hindsight - all the busts, the injured players, the under performers, every. single. one. - and still have at least a few good prospects going into 2011. Keep in mind the last place team only has to move up one spot.

And what if the world ends and somebody manages to draft a team full of trash and waiver pickups. Dropping literally every player they drafted. So a new team comes in and they don’t have a single keeper and everyone else has one or two. Is that such a massive disadvantage? In an auction league where 99% of the player pool is untouched and you can go after pretty much everyone you want?

The relegation/keeper inequality is being vastly overblown.

If you want the highest possible difficulty level auction is the way to go. An auction/keeper league makes it that much more interesting. BTW, as a relegation league, the concept becomes about continuity as much as anything else. “How long can you stay in the league?” Keepers develop that continuity theme and make it more interesting.

Playoffs: I think it has to be 2 week playoff rounds. Anything else leaves the potential for a playoff round screw job. But no playoffs? Might as well be a points league.

There’s a fundamental difference in philosophy between SenorBeef and I when it comes to determining who gets in. (BTW, I think the points over league average tie breaker was in my original proposal on the league page)

SenorBeef wants to have the “best players” in. But this is fantasy football. That seems like a fool’s errand. Are we really going to try to reward “skill,” in a game where the experts are no better than regular players, because someone finished third in every league they played in? That’s an achievement?

At least winning a league has some measure of achievement. Just like in real sports, the best team doesn’t always win. The most dominant doesn’t always win. But we reward the eventual champions. I don’t see why we need a paradigm shift in this particular arena. Reward the champions, challenge them to prove it twice. You’ll get no praise from me because you averaged the best result over a bunch of leagues you didn’t win. Participation awards and “hustle” trophies suck.

Sorry for the spam, one more point. If we do go without playoffs, I think we should consider having a league (if possible) that extends into the NFL playoffs.

Too often the outcome of a league without playoffs is determined well in advance of the end of the season and interest wanes. Playoffs are the great equalizer, they keep interest intact. Using the real NFL playoffs would work as an equalizer too - if a team dominates early but doesn’t have a core of players that are likely to go into the playoffs - they could end up being the hare to another team’s tortoise. Sounds interesting to me.

How many keepers would we have? Keeping 2 or 3 seems shallow in a league where we’ll have rosters of 25+ people. So… 5? If the best 25 players are off the board and the incoming player has none of them, yeah, that’s a pretty huge disadvantage.

Even besides the disadvantage, people want to have control over their rosters. Even if a guy gets to keep good players, they’re not players he drafted. It just strikes me as pointless to strive for continuity of rosters in a league where changing owners every year is in the design.

I think you’re the only person at risk for not showing up next year. Do you require keepers to hold your interest?

I don’t see how two weeks alleviates the playoff screwjob. You still can get screwed and on that first week and then even if you win the second game you’re only going to get third place.

Yes, of course it is. I have no idea how you can mock that idea. I played in 4 leagues last year, with 10, 12, 12, and 20 people, and finished top 3 in all of them. That’s a big achievement. How is it not?

If someone comes in 2nd place in 4 different leagues, and someone else comes in last place in 3 but wins the last one - you think the latter person is the better fantasy player?

You point out the randomness that can result in fantasy football - head to head matchups, injuries, etc. to indicate that it’s not a purely skill based enterprise. But then you discount the idea of averaging a person’s performance over multiple samples to try to examine their success outside of those random factors.

Or - actually - taking your post in the league forums - you seem to think fantasy football is a no skill enterprise, which is just odd to me, especially considering that you’re pretty good and have some idea of what goes into it. What are we here for, if it’s just a lottery ticket and not a way for us to show off our football knowledge and judgement?

Really? Last year leading 3 leagues in scoring, finishing top 3 in all 4 - that’s only worthy of a participation award to you? Nothing at all remarkable about it? Nothing that indicates that I might be good at fantasy football? (And this after a history of finishing top 3 across several leagues across several years). The only thing I accomplished last year was winning the big league, all that other stuff is irrelevant?

The only thing you actually have control over in fantasy football is how many points your team scores. You can have ridiculously unlucky streaks (like where I finished as the top scorer in the big league, but finished 15th place in win/loss, because I had the most points scored against me in the league by far - everyone had their lucky huge day against me). Everything but the scores is random noise. And in terms of competitiveness, I’d rather have every league be points based.

I get what H2H brings. Those monday night games where you’re leading by 8 points but the opposing tight end is playing tonight. The trash talking that comes with defeating a specific opponent. The way I’ve beaten you in like our last 9 head to head matchups.

But in terms of actually determining who was best - points are clearly the way to go. As is a larger sample size if available. Looking at someone’s fantasy performance across several leagues, and/or across several years is a better true indicator of their fantasy abilities than one flukey win where they barely squeaked into the playoffs and then had a decent run.

You’re making too many assumptions. You assume 2-3 is too shallow, I think it’s fine. 5 is too many (that’s potentially an entire standard starting roster). You assume that 5 owners keeping 5 players each automatically makes them the top 25 players in the league (completely ridiculous, contrary to every keeper league ever).

I understand there’s a seeming contradiction between relegation and keepers. I don’t think it’s a significant disadvantage to even merit mentioning. But it sounds like I’m the only one interested, so we can move on.

Uh, what? Two week playoff rounds completely eliminate a flukey screw job. 100%. Have you ever played a standard ESPN fantasy football league? Do you know how this works?

Each playoff round lasts two weeks. Best score over the two weeks advances. So if you lose the first and win the second, as long as you won overall, you advance. If you didn’t beat an “inferior team” two weeks in a row, bitching about a screw job makes you look like a complete asshole.

This is so contrary to everything that sports is supposed to be about that it’s almost mind boggling. (I know this is fantasy, but it’s loosely related to actual sports) We don’t care at all who the top money earner in golf is, we care who wins the majors. We don’t care that the Patriots went 18-0, we care who won the final game. Nobody gives a shit that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the worst quarterbacks in the history of the Super Bowl, we care that he (somehow) won two. The examples go on and on. 2001 Mariners. Up until this year, the Dallas Mavericks. What changed? They won.

The problem here is you’ve pumped your performance up so much you can’t recognize how little of it you control. You’re absolutely determined to have this mean something. And because that metric means something to you, you need for it to mean something to everyone else.

And fundamentally, it’s a silly thing to reward.

And as someone who happens to generally have good finishes in fantasy leagues, I can step back and recognize it’s generally a skill-less enterprise. There is nothing you, or I, or anyone else, can do to make your team “better.” You’re playing a game that relies on the performances of others, which are generally unknowable. Skill is deviated only slightly, and only in two ways. One is that better players are always more informed, which isn’t a skill but a function of available time and interest. And better players understand the simple ideas of value in making reasonable assumptions based on data. Also does not require a skill, really. Just a very simple education.

Do you realize what this game even is? You’re making predictions about something you have zero control over. It’s a game of Nostradamuses except we have a scoring system. Your football knowledge means jack shit, nobody’s matters. Nobody knew anything about Peyton Hillis or Michael Vick or Brandon Lloyd last year.

Only the wins matter. You’re the only person who cares about the rest. I’m not impressed by averages that factor out achievement.

You have zero control over this. There are many ways to eliminate variables in in the prediction. That’s it.

Is this another Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino argument?

I guess it would depend on the keeper rules, true, and that’s an extreme case, but yeah, having desirable players gone from the available pool certainly does put someone without those good players as a disadvantage.

Alright. Well, just my opinion - I have a strong anti-keeper position, but as with everything I’d be persuaded by a consensus the other way.

I misunderstood what you were saying, I’ve never done a two week playoff system as you describe. Is it like a mini points race at the end of the year? How do the head to head matches come into play?

I find this entirely unpersuasive. We’re not playing sports, we’re playing a strategy game that happens to use sports knowledge and that uses sporting events to resolve matches. Even within the context of head to head matchups, my guys aren’t trying to stop your guys from scoring, and then scoring on your guys. Our team isn’t really battling it out - we’re not facing each other. We’re having our own seperate little points race.

In real football, a scrappy team in the playoffs that makes a good run and wins the championship got there because they summoned up something inside them to face head to head with the other team and beat them. They stopped the other team, and the other team failed to stop them. Fantasy isn’t comparable to that. Fantasy matchups are arbitrary, but evaluating the performance of the teams doesn’t have to be. There’s nothing arbitrary about a points league outside of the actual randomness that comes with predictions/injuries/etc.

Throw out last year’s performance. Here are the average finishes over 5 years of the all pro league (min 4 years)

2.8 SenorBeef 1/3/3/5/2
4.8 Petey 5/8/8/2/1
6 Kid_A 8/4/2/10/-
6.2 brianjedi 6/2/12/4/7
6.25 Frosted Lightning -/5/11/3/6
6.6 Tazmanian Devils 2/6/1/12/12
6.75 Kiros 4/7/5/11/-
7.5 Ellis Dee -/10/7/8/5
8 Chitwood 3/11/9/-/9
8.4 d_odds 7/9/6/9/11
9.8 Retrovertigo 11/12/10/6/10

I’m way ahead of the pack, having finished top 3 in 4/5 years, and that off year was still in the top half of the league.

I’ve never finished in the bottom half of the auction league.

I’ve played the big league two years, against 19 other players - and both years I was the leading scorer for the league.

Is this just random noise? I’m just trying to read something into the random noise to convince myself that I’m pretty good at fantasy football? For my two years in the big league - where I outscored every other person - in one year I was great because I won, and in the other year I was trash because a bizarre set of random circumstances knocked me into 15th, even though I accomplished the same feat in both years in terms of what I could actually control?

Any particular league-season can have flukes. Performance over a fairly large sample of league-seasons can be more indicative of fantasy skill over the competition.

Being good at fantasy football is a silly thing to reward in terms of deciding who gets to get into our exclusive league that was designed in the first place to be a concentration of skillful fantasy players?

I guess. It depends on how you define skill. Is a doctor more “skilled” than me in medicine just because he’s taken the time to learn a whole lot more about it? Think of the epic battles people have over sports trivia, for example - just proving your knowledge of football is greater than others is a competition within itself. And there’s also a strategic factor. Do you think everyone is equally adept at adjusting their strategy for auction or conventional drafts? For deep rosters or shallow rosters? For redrafts or dynasty leagues? For different scoring systems?

Does it matter that I end up watching preseason football games for teams I care nothing about just because I want to evaluate what might be potential hot prospects in fantasy for that year? And not just in a “huh, he got 57 yards” sort of way - I know football in at least some depth, so I think I can critically analyze it fairly well. Do you just dismiss that as being time spent gathering knowledge, rathern than any sort of skill? How many competitive endeavours come down to who learns more about their craft and spends more time doing it? Are they all invalid as displays of skill?

So if hypothetically one year we ran a score only league, and I won, I’d be good, since I won. But if we went back in time and I ran the exact same year - I drafted the same players, started the same players, made the same roster moves, etc. - but because of some head to head fluke I finished 4th, despite again scoring the most points, I’m now not any good?

Do you not think that people can be better at fantasy football than others? Do you not think that anyone in this league would wreck the average public league for example?