Fantasy Football Fairness

I am a huge college sports fan. I watch a lot of college basketball and football. On the other hand, I am not a pro sports fan, as I find the idea of watching a bunch of greedy rich guys playing for teams owned by other rich guys generally unappealing. I am, however, a member of a fantasy football league. We are about to enter our third year.

When the younger guys in my office approached me about starting a league, I wasn’t interested. I haven’t followed NFL football since the Snake was throwing passes to Fred Biletnikoff. But they persisted and I gave in. I spent a couple of hours learning the players the night before our first draft. I went to the Super Bowl the first year, and lost to the other old guy in the league. Last year I scored more points than any other team, but lost in the first round of the playoffs.

This year the league is expanding to allow two new guys in. The members have been fighting like only a bunch of lawyers can about how to structure the expansion draft. The new guys think that the expansion draft is designed to put them in the cellar for years (it’s a partial keeper league). Some of the old members think the expansion draft will result in two new dynasties. One guy is threatening to Kip-out (a term named after one of the founding team owners who left the league last year to play in another league with his “real friends”).

Until today, I have stayed out of the debate, saying only that I will abide by whatever the majority decides. But after reading a few email bombs and a set of proposed rules that make css seem simple, I decided to come up with a set of rules that would be equally ludicrous and brilliant. I think I hit both; the other league members think I only achieved the first. So since my league won’t enact it, here is the Newsome Fairness in Football Plan (the “NFFP”). It is designed for the expansion or revamping of an existing league, but could be modified for use with a new league. It assumes a 10 member league.

1) Put the 30 highest paid players (assuming a league salary cap) in a hat and draw them out randomly, 3 for each team. If you don’t have a salary cap, you could use some other criteria to identify the best players.

2) Then have a 5 round straight draft for 5 of the other players. The order of the draft should be randomized before each round.

3) Then have a four round auction draft with each team owner to have a randomly generated number of points to spend between 60 and 80. This assumes that the typical league salary cap would be 100. You can adjust the number if necessary.

4) Then give each team owner the right to take one player from every other team, with each team to lose no more than one player. Players that have been taken from a team already could not be taken again.

5) Then every player on each roster is randomly assigned a salary of either 5, 10, 15 or 20 points, for use during next year’s draft. Again, this assumes a typical salary cap of 100.

6) After the following season, the league would be a modified keeper league where any player whose total fantasy points for the prior season is an odd number can be kept at the prior year salary plus a number equal to positive difference, if any, between, the last digit of the then current year minus 3 (for example next year it would be 6-3 for a 3 point bump). Any player whose total points for the prior season is even cannot be kept and must be placed back in the draft pool. This ensures that some good players get returned to the draft pool and adds an element of luck in rebuilding that would give the owners of bad teams more incentive to stay active.

7) Prior to future drafts, one team owner to be determined in the same manner as the NBA lottery (worst team gets 10 balls in the bucket, next worst 9, etc.) would have the right to pick one player off of any other team’s roster and keep that player at the same salary as the prior year, plus or minus 5 points to be determined by a coin flip by the commissioner or, if the commissioner is one of the teams involved, by any other team owner. The coin flip would occur after the player has been selected and immediately prior to the draft.

Ludicrous on its face, yes. But if you think about it, it sounds incredibly fun to me.

Too bad my league won’t enact it. If anyone wants to start a league with these rules, let me know. Maybe I’ll Kip-out too.

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