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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Pushing Ties

Last Week's Question: Do some leagues have multi-year pots?

In last week's column, I reviewed the rollover pot structure of the Empire League—a fantasy format that pays only half of each year's pot to the champion and allows the balance of the purse to continue accumulating until someone wins two years in a row, at which point that owner claims a large prize and the league disbands (perhaps to start over).

Since I have never participated in a league with a progressive/rollover pot, I wanted to hear from any readers who have done so.

The first email I received came from Todd, a commissioner who may resort to a rollover pot this year because of circumstances beyond his control:

I am commissioner of a re-draft league. We pay out every year. However, despite multiple attempts, I have been unable to pay out the winner from last year as his contact info has changed and he lives out of state. With $160 just sitting there and the new champion for this year about to be crowned in a few weeks, I have contemplated rolling over last years’ winnings and giving it to the winner this year. I don’t know if that’s fair or not, but it might be the way to go. I know this doesn’t necessarily fully answer your question, but I’d appreciate some objective feedback about my predicament.
Although this isn't the sort of progressive pot situation I had in mind, I can see why Todd may feel that rolling over last year's winnings into this year's pot is the only justifiable course of action. But if any readers of this column happen to know a fantasy player who now lives in Denver and used to manage a team called "The Tolbert Report" on the ESPN website, please put him in touch with me . . . so that I can put him in touch with Todd . . . so that he can collect his $160.

Although I received some other messages from readers with friends who have played for progressive fantasy pots, I already told my own second-hand story about such a pot in last week's column. Hearsay only gets us so far—and usually results in more questions than answers. For instance, multiple readers wanted to know what would motivate owners in a 10-year league with a $1000/year entry fee to keep paying the fee after year 7 or so if they had no real chance of winning.

That's a good question, but I wasn't interested in hearing answers from guys who know guys who are in such leagues. I was interested in hearing from someone who was in such a league.
Fortunately, I did hear from one FFToday reader (Dan) who has added a progressive component to his league:
After being inspired by FFToday to spice up my league, I decided to create a hybrid keeper/dynasty league with a 3-year pot.

The league had 3 separate prize pools, $300 per team. Weekly $5/Team, top scorer wins $50. Kept eliminated teams more incentivized to remain active. The remaining ~$230 was split up among a yearly pot and "dynasty" pot.

Future draft pick trading (MFL) was a huge strategy as eliminated teams made hard sells to load up for the following year but tanking too badly was punished in the end due to the point system. 3rd year ended up being a really juicy pot with the yearly pot being mixed with the 3 year pot.

The key component was a fair and balanced point system which rewarded regular season success/consistency with a bonus for playoff appearances/championship (and committed owners)

A "perfect" season was 100 points. So a "perfect" dynasty was 300 points.

Wins = 4 Points
Top 2 in scoring = 2 Bonus Points
3rd-5th = 1 Bonus Point
Playoff Appearance: 4 Bonus Points
Playoff Win: 4 Bonus Points
Championship: 8 Bonus Points

14-0 w/ 14 Top 2 Scores + Championship was 100 points.

I want to offer a hearty note of thanks to Dan for a better answer than I hoped to receive. This seems like a model that might have broad appeal for implementation in all sorts of leagues. I hope to hear from readers with suggestions for variations on Dan's model in the future. But I suspect readers may have questions as well. The one that I can't help asking is: "So what was the winning owner's score?" If readers have other questions for Dan, please send them to me and I'll try to get answers from him for a future column.

My thanks to everyone who wrote in. It's interesting to know that there really are leagues with progressive/rollover pots out there (however rare they may be).

This Week's Question: Should playoff ties be settled with a push?

On Tuesday, I heard from a commissioner named Chris who had to figure out how to handle a tie between two playoff teams. His league is like most in that it allows ties during the regular season but uses a single elimination tournament to crown a champion at the end.

Chris didn't need me to tell him that his league should use decimal scoring to keep ties to a minimum. It's too late for that now. He didn't need me to tell him that he should have had a tiebreaking system in place before the playoffs started. It's too late for that as well.

He needed a solution, and he had one in mind. He proposed a push.

He wanted the two teams that tied in Week 14 (let's call them the Cravats and the Windsors) to play a rematch in Week 15 to see which one of them should have won in Week 14. The owner of the team that was supposed to play the winner between the Cravats and the Windsors (let's call it the Bolos) simply wouldn't know which team he was playing against in Week 15 until after the games were over, at which point whoever won between the Cravats and the Windsors would have his score compared to the score of the Bolos to see who would advance to the championship in Week 16.

I already told Chris what I thought of his plan.

I look forward to revealing what I said in next week's column—unless a reader says it better than I did (or makes a case to persuade me that I was wrong—which will be difficult to do, as I felt quite strongly about my position).

What would you have told Chris?

Please post comments below or email me with your responses.

Survivor Pool Picks - Week 15 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Although Matthew Schiff was unable to submit his picks to me this week, I had a chance to chat with him about the better-than-expected teams he still has available in his top slot for the remainder of the season, so I'll tackle this part of the column on his behalf with some knowledge of what he would be most likely to recommend.

#3: Bills over Browns

The Bills are a ten-point favorite against the winless Browns in Week 15. This game has almost everything Matthew looks for in a survivor pool pick because it features a favorite playing at home in an inter-divisional matchup. However, it's so rare for NFL teams to finish the season without a single victory that this could be a trap game. The 6-7 Bills are still technically alive for postseason contention, but they're tied with the Colts for the 6th-worst record in the AFC, so they know their playoff hopes are on life support. If Sammy Watkins gets dinged early (always a possibility), the Bills might just become demoralized enough to let Isaiah Crowell and the Browns steal their first win of the season. To be clear, I expect the Bills to win, but I would feel more confident about a team with a more realistic shot at playoff relevance.

#2 Falcons over 49ers

This game also fits Matthew's recipe in that the Falcons are favored by 13.5 points and playing at home against a team outside their division. But it's not the point differential in the line that makes the Falcons more attractive than the Bills this week; it's the fact that the 8-5 Falcons can achieve separation from their divisional rivals (the 8-5 Buccaneers) if Atlanta can defeat San Francisco (likely) and Tampa loses to the Cowboys (also likely). It doesn't hurt that offensive playmakers keep stepping up for the Falcons (Tevin Coleman, Taylor Gabriel), whereas key injuries are hampering the 49ers (Vance MacDonald).

#1 Vikings over Colts

Matthew boasted to me over the weekend that he made it to Week 15 without having used either the Vikings or the Raiders as his top pick this season, which suggested that he was debating between the two as his top pick for Week 15. The Raiders are favored by just 3 against San Diego. The Vikings have a slightly larger margin (4.5) vs. Indianapolis. My guess is that Matthew would end up taking Minnesota—not because of the extra 1.5 points on the line, but because the Vikings are playing at home in an inter-conference matchup, whereas the Raiders are playing a divisional opponent on the road. Andrew Luck's offensive line has struggled under optimal conditions—but facing both Minnesota's strong defense and the crowd noise of Vikings fans who want their team to pull ahead of the Packers is far from an optimal situation.

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.