• All the tools you need to set your lineup and win your league's championship in our Week 16 Cheat Sheet.
By Michael Beller
December 22, 2017

The hard part is over. You’ve already made it through the 13-week gauntlet of the regular season. That put you in the championship-clinching red zone. You’ve won a game or two in the playoffs. You’re in your league’s championship game. You’re on the figurative 1-yard line. You’ve made all your decisions and set your lineup. All that’s left to do is sit back and wait for the games to start. The waiting is the hardest part, but Sunday or Monday just might be the day you get one more yard, the final yard in a championship season. Good luck.

Until that moment arrives, we’ll distract you with thoughts of 2018 fantasy football. As fun as this game is, it can always be better. Our writers give you ways to improve your league next season to kick off the Week 16 Cheat Sheet.

What's an unconventional rule one of your fantasy leagues uses that you think should be a standard in the fantasy community?

Michael Beller: The fantasy season and playoffs are enough of a crapshoot as it is. The top seeds deserve all the advantages that should come with navigating the 13-week odyssey of a fantasy regular season better than the rest of their leaguemates. And yet, all too often, a 1-seed will draw a hot 4-seed in the semifinals, or a 3-seed will match up with a 6-seed that had bad schedule luck, but was truly one of the best teams in the league. As much as we try to make real-life values translate perfectly into our little corner of the football universe, this is still a fantasy game. We don’t need, nor do we want, to follow everything real leagues do exactly to the letter. So why do the fantasy playoffs look exactly like a traditional real-life playoff structure?

We changed things up in my home league a few years ago, and we’ll never look back. Six teams make the playoffs, with the top-two teams getting a bye. In the first round, rather than being stuck in traditional 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 matchups, we let the 3-seed pick whoever he wants to play. We do the same in the semifinals, this time with the 1-seed getting the honor of choosing his opponent, with the caveat that he cannot pick the 2-seed. The approach gives the top seeds the last little advantage they earned in the regular season without damaging the integrity of the playoffs.

This rule change is especially fun in leagues made up of close friends. Everyone in my home league has been friends with everyone else for anywhere between 12 and 25 years, so the trash talking flies pretty freely. This only adds to that, especially when someone makes the wrong choice, as happened last week and benefitted yours truly. Trust me, you’ll want to bring this idea to your league’s attention next season.

John Paulsen: From a playoffs/seeding standpoint, I think the typical fantasy league puts too much emphasis on win/loss record and should instead factor in points scored when awarding spots in the postseason. Victory Points (VP) are a good way to reward those teams who score a lot of points but have bad luck when it comes to their schedule. 

This is how it works: Every week, teams that win their head-to-head matchup get two victory points, while the loser doesn’t get any. In addition, if a team is in the top third in fantasy points scored for that week, the team would get two VP. If they’re in the middle third, they get one VP. So each week, a team has the opportunity to win four VP, but a team that has a good week in scoring but faces one of the other top scoring teams would still have an opportunity to win two VP.

As the season wears on, the victory points are accumulated and the top four teams in VP (or six, depending on league size and preference) will make the playoffs. This way, a high-scoring team with terrible schedule luck still has the opportunity to play in the postseason.

In addition, one scoring rule I’d love to see implemented in more fantasy leagues is points per first down (PP1D or PPFD). This is a viable replacement to point per reception scoring, which rewards a receiver who makes a catch for no gain—in essence, a meaningless play—the same amount of fantasy points as a runner who gains 10 yards. Long live PP1D!

Jennifer Eakins: Mine comes before the season even gets underway. Rather than deciding the draft order randomly, I’m in a league where each team gets to decide which draft spot they want based on the final results of the prior season. To avoid tanking, the player who finishes just outside of the playoffs gets the first pick of where they want to draft, followed by the next team, and so on, until you get to the league champ, who's left with whatever spot is not taken. I'm a fan of this system because draft spots tend to be a personal thing, with different preferences for every participant. I prefer the later end of a draft close to the turn, while some favor the middle, and still others want that first pick. Fantasy owners who are active and engaged throughout the season are rewarded with a say in their draft pick, and it takes away the randomness of a blind draw.

T.J. Hernandez: I'm in a league where each team has two games each week: one traditional head-to-head contest and one against the league average score for that week. This is a fantastic amendment to the traditional fantasy format that eliminates a lot of luck and gives a more accurate representation of how good each team really is—no more having the second-highest score of the week and losing! Anytime there is a way to highlight skill and reward the best players, I'm all for it and I think this is one of the best ways to do that.


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