Last Week's Question
You guys really have some great ideas. Thanks for sharing them with
In last week’s
column, I asked readers to write in about how fantasy leagues
can be set up for the NFL post-season. I have participated in
such leagues in the past, but I’ve invariably encountered
problems that stem from the fact that only two teams are left
in contention by the time we reach the Super Bowl. There just
doesn’t seem to be enough player talent to go around, so
the primary limitation of such leagues (in my experience) is that
they can’t be very large. I also pointed out that success
in such post-season fantasy leagues seems to have less to do with
assessing player talent and offensive schemes than with guessing
correctly about which teams will last the longest in the playoffs.
You don’t end up asking yourself whether Thomas Jones will
be more productive than Cadillac Williams. You just try to figure
out whether the Bears will advance further than the Buccaneers.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Judging from the responses I received, the fact that post-season
fantasy leagues hinge so mightily on guesses about which teams
will last to which rounds of the playoffs is part of the fun.
For example, Dave’s post-season model requires all participants
to balance player talent with the likelihood of playoff longevity:
We've used this the last several years and it works
1) One player—and only one player—from each
of the 12 playoff teams must be selected by each fantasy team.
2) Players can be selected by multiple owners, so it’s
more a selection process than a traditional draft.
3) The rosters must consist of the following:
2 defenses/special teams
4) Regular-season scoring rules apply.
5) There is no head-to-head competition, but rather a total
points per week calculation. The owner with the most points
after the Super Bowl wins.
Players fall off as their teams lose, but everyone still has
one player for each team for each game played all the way through
the Super Bowl.
The tricky part is selecting one player per team. Do you
select Peyton Manning or Edgerrin James from the Colts? This
is tougher than it looks. In four years, we've never had two
teams that were the same. Try it!
Nice idea, Dave; you’ve already got me scheming. Barring
injury, all participants will have two players (and only two players)
active in the Super Bowl. If you project a Colts-Seahawks championship,
then I guess it would be nice to have Manning and Shaun Alexander.
But what if the Bengals steal the AFC? You would lose Manning—but
probably have Chad Johnson as a wide-out. Then again, it’s
pretty tempting to go with Carson Palmer from the Bengals and
Edgerrin James from the Colts. I like the possibilities of this
I’m sure some readers will see some limitations, however.
The first is that even if no two identical teams have ever been
submitted in Dave’s experience, that’s no guarantee
that other leagues won’t run into such problems. Additionally,
it’s possible that two different teams could finish with
the same score in some leagues, so I wouldn’t adopt Dave’s
model without having a tie-breaker policy in place.
I’ll be proposing Dave’s model to some of my buddies
with the following provisos:
1) Whatever entry fee we agree on, the person who finishes third
gets his money back.
2) The person who finishes second gets twice that much.
3) The person who finishes first gets the rest.
4) In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the tying
parties will split their share of the pot. (If we have a $20 entry
fee and two people tie for third, they will get $10 each.)
5) Entry fees and rosters must be received by the commissioner
by the Wednesday following the Week 17 games.
Obviously, other leagues might choose to handle ties a different
way (by resorting to decimal scoring, having a bench player, or
requiring participants to predict the score of the Super Bowl).
Some leagues might want to require that all teams be unique (even
if the difference comes down to a single player). Presumably,
such leagues would generate an email list and institute a first-come,
Dave’s model appeals to me, but there are plenty of other
ideas out there that are likely to strike a chord with readers
who are looking for something else. I’ll move on to Mike’s
model because he was kind enough to supply me with an entry form
that some readers may find useful.
Our post-season league is simple. It's scoring only
with NO Yardage stats to track; has nothing to do with the Regular
Season; is a one-time draft; is open to others outside of our
Regular Season members; allows participants to pick who they want
without the luck of a draft; and is fun! There will be many similar
teams, but it's picking the "sleepers" that will win
it for somebody. We'll have about 50 or 60 entries, and half of
them will probably have Manning as their QB, although last year
was the first that a Manning-based team won. Many times the trick
is to figure out which Wild Card teams will win a few games, pick
the right players from those teams, and possibly steal an extra
game of scoring. Like I said, ours is unlike any other that I
am aware of.
The form that Mike uses looks like this:
FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAY-OFF POOL
- $20 per entry; enter as many franchises as you like.
- Draft: 1-QB, 1-K, 3-RB’s, 3-WR’s, 1-TE, 1-Team Defense/Special
- Scoring is the same as all past play-off seasons: 6 points for
passing, rushing, receiving, Def/S.T. TD’s, or a position
player who scores on Spec. Teams, 3 points for FG’s, 2 points
for safety or scrimmage PAT’s, 1 point for kicked PAT’s.
There are NO Yardage Bonuses in the Play-offs.
- You must have 4 play-off teams represented, but no more than 4
players from any one team (not including Def/ST).
- Your franchise must be in some way different from all other entries.
If there are duplications, it’s first-paid, first-served.
- If you lose a player due to injury or team loss, that slot will
remain vacant for the remainder of the play-offs.
- Pay-out is 100 %. If there are 30 entries or less, pay-out will
be: 40-30-20-10 %, respectively. For 31-50 entries, pay-out will
be 30-25-20-15-10 %. For 51 or more entries, pay-out will be 25-21-18-15-12-9
FRANCHISE NAME _______________________________ $20 Paid? ____
E-MAIL: __________________________ PHONE # __________________
QB ________________________________ K _________________________
RB1 _______________________________ WR1 ______________________
RB2 _______________________________ WR2 ______________________
RB3 _______________________________ WR3 ______________________
TE ________________________________ DEF/ST ____________________
Another reader named A. J. did not provide a form, but his formula
for post-season play is intriguing.
Every owner in our league (10 guys) and roughly
another 25 friends/co-workers from other leagues all throw $15
in to start. That is the only money outlay, so we generate a total
pot of about $500—with payouts of $10 each week to high
scorer. The top 3 cumulative point scorers after the Superbowl
get the remaining $450 split 60/30/10.
Another interesting model for a post-season league comes from Erik,
Each week, starting in the last week of the regular season, every
person involved submits a regular fantasy lineup (QB, RB, RB,
WR, WR, WR, TE, K, D) from anyone in the NFL that is still playing.
Obviously in Week 17, everyone is available and there is a great
deal of differentiation between teams. Surprisingly, the differentiation
lasts throughout the post-season as well.
For Super Bowl weekend, we shrink the rosters by 1 RB and 1 WR,
so everyone doesn't have the same two RBs—i.e. you have
to pick one or the other . . . same concept to a lesser degree
for the WRs
I used to be only able to get 10 or fewer players involved in
any of the variations of Survivor type set ups, but this set up
is attracting more and more participants each year
It's just enough involvement (and a big enough pot!) to keep everyone
interested throughout. AND virtually every single game contains
your players or your nearest competitors, so every NFL game has
meaning—even a little more so than the regular season set
There are many reasons that this set-up has such appeal
1) Players don’t have to "manage a roster" seven
days a week;
2) There's not a ton of involvement needed early in the week,
but you still have to "set your lineup come Sunday";
3) This arrangement eliminates the randomness of the whole "survivor
4) It makes for tons of fireworks when we get down to Super
Bowl Sunday's picks. It has been very close every single year,
but we have yet to have any ties in total scores, and this will
be our 4th year.
5) We get to put Week 17 to use (since we have our regular season
fantasy championship in Week 16).
6) Even though there is no head-to-head aspect, this is comes
pretty close. If you get to the last weekend and you're in first
place, and you're neck-and-neck with the guy behind you, then
you are essentially playing head-to-head with your lineups.
Each week during the playoffs, each owner picks one QB, RB, WR,
and DST. Once you pick a player, he is eliminated from your pool.
Total points scored through the Super Bowl wins. All picks are
blind until SB Sunday, when they are announced from the top down
so the players behind can pick opposite the leaders if they have
players available to do so.
Mark’s league essentially doubles the number of players
available and uses a lot of flexibility between the RB and WR
positions to keep rosters as full as possible for as long as possible:
In our post-season league (designed for roughly
8 participants), every player is available TWICE. This is what
makes it work. Scoring is just like any other league. You play
a starting lineup as long as you have players or as close as you
can get to a full lineup (ours is QB, TE, Team D, K, and four
position players with at least 1 rb and 1wr). For the Super Bowl,
you get to play everyone you have left, regardless of position.
Some go for the early winners who score big; some go for
the ones they think will make the Super Bowl. I go for a blend,
but focus on probable title game players early and pick up "scrubs"
for the first week.
The strangest model was submitted by John, whose league actually
incorporates the NFL post-season into the regular fantasy season:
I joined my league a few years ago, and they run
the playoffs in a unique way. We have 12 teams with 3 divisions,
and we play 15 games. The 3 division winners and the next best
record get byes. The other 8 play in Week 16. Then we shut down
until the second round of the playoffs and redraft. You can keep
any player you have that's on a playoff team—or give him
back in hopes of getting someone better). We redraft each round
until 2 participants meet in the Super Bowl. This is a very weird
system. You can have a great team and win your division, but you
don't get a chance to play "your team" in a playoff
game. I have argued to move everything back a week and give people
at least one playoff game with your original team, but the commissioner
doesn't want to change. It is very strange.
It is strange, John, but I’m all for keeping fantasy alive
through the NFL post-season, so I won’t use any terms more
pejorative than “strange.”
This Week's Question:
This week’s question comes from a reader named Brian, who
essentially wants to know if fantasy football is eroding the concept
of team loyalty. He suggests that the readers who wrote in concerning
Charles’ contention about the “Madden
Effect” lost sight of the main point.
I agree with both responses that were printed about
the “Madden effect,” but I don't think they describe
the real “Madden effect.” The way I read the original
question was not whether people used the good players in the Madden
video games to draft their fantasy football teams, but whether
people used the good players in fantasy football to decide which
real life players and teams to root for. I had never thought of
that possibility before the question was posed, and I was quite
interested in hearing a response. Many would argue that Priest
Holmes was the best fantasy running back while he was healthy
and helped many fantasy players win many games over the past couple
of years. Now it seems as though Holmes is out and the new man
is Tomlinson. If this Madden effect is happening, then the fans
that liked the Chiefs and Priest Holmes (just because Holmes was
winning fantasy games for them) would now be rooting for Tomlinson
and the division rival Chargers! As a Chief's fan and football
fan in general, I would hope that this sort of blatant disregard
for Football Fan Ethics is not happening.
I’m not sure what sort of answers we’ll get to Brian’s
question, but I’ll hold my own tongue (or keyboard) for
one week at least.
If you have made this far into your Survivor Pool, congratulations.
And if you are lucky enough not to have used the Colts, Seahawks
or Bengals, this might be a good week to go ahead and lock them
in. But for those who are now trying to find that ideal matchup
so as to take the next step towards the purse, pay attention.
Trap Game: Philadelphia @ St. Louis:
This week there are a few games that you should avoid in your
LMS pool, the Rams-Eagles contest being the most prominent one.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a young rookie who is going up against a Jimmy
Johnson defense for the first time in his career. Last week, against
a weaker Vikings defense, he threw 5 interceptions and there is
a good chance that he will just as inept on Sunday. Eli Manning
had all sorts of fits in his rookie season against this team,
and I would not expect Fitzpatrick to fare any better. Ryan Moats
should see a lot of carries against the Rams. and Mike McMahon
should cause some problems with his scrambling. Since the Rams
are favored, I’d take the Eagles and the points. The Eagles
may be playing second stringers, but they are better than the
Rams second stringers.
#3: Dolphins over NY Jets (10-3 Season):
Usually a division game like this scares me because of the emotion
in these games. But the Jets don’t have a solid quarterback,
and now Curtis Martin is done for the season. If this game was
played at the Meadowlands, the Jets might have some chance, but
in South Florida, look for the Fins to win this one running away
with Brown and Williams.
#2: Denver at Buffalo (8-5 Season):
Denver’s defense is built to stop the run, and Willis McGahee
is all that the Bills have had over the last few weeks (and that’s
not saying much). Since it looks like Kelly Holcomb will be back
under center, McGahee should get a little bit of help against
the eight-man fronts he has been seeing. However, fantasy owners
who have Lee Evans will be less than thrilled to see Holcomb under
center since he doesn’t lock on to him like J. P. Losman
does. While this game might get away from the Broncos if the Bills
can get up early, most likely the Broncos will run all over them
during this Prime Time game.
#1: Jacksonville over San Francisco (11-2
Jacksonville is fighting for the playoffs, and Alex Smith is still
learning how to play quarterback in the NFL. Just like Ryan Fitzpatrick,
Alex Smith will struggle against a team that knows how to play
defense. Unfortunately for Mr. Smith though, the 49er defense
is so porous that David Garrard will look like the second coming
of Joe Montana except on the opposite team. If you are looking
for a lock, this is the game.
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.