What’s up fantasy freaks?! Welcome back to the 2nd article in the commissioner corner series: How to Deviate/Create Your Own Fantasy Football Scoring System. While plenty of leagues out there have already drafted, there are literally millions of managers (myself included) out there looking to get into a last-minute drafts/leagues. If you’re thinking about running your own this year, now’s your chance!
Starting up a league for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you’re thinking about changing the scoring settings. It doesn’t take too much experience/creativity to commish a league with standard and/or PPR settings. There aren’t a lot of sites putting out rankings for 3-QB, 1-RB, and 3 PPR leagues, which forces a lot of “basic fantasy players” to keep it, well, basic. However, there are plenty of people looking for something different – either ever-so-slighty different or a drastic change. I’m going to detail how I think you should go about both and leave the choice up to you.
Basic strategy – how to tweak scoring settings and roster positions when creating a league:
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In my humble opinion, the best way to start with tweaking league scoring settings and roster positions would be to make a couple minor changes to the defaults. I normally run/play my leagues on Yahoo’s site, so most of my examples will use them as the default. Most “standard” leagues use one of the 3 combinations listed below:
- QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, Flex, K, DEF
- QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, Flex, Flex, K, DEF
- QB, WR, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, Flex, K, DEF
Within these combos, the flex can vary between WR/RB and WR/RB/TE. The first place I would start for a small change is adding/tweaking the flex position. Make it WR/RB if you want to increase the value of those positions, while simultaneously decreasing the value of TE’s. Ensuring that your flex(es) include a tight end option will conversely increase the value of TE’s in your league. If these changes are a little too subtle for you, then try adding a “superflex” (QB/WR/RB/TE) position. This will increase the value of quarterbacks as they typically score the most points out of all players on a yearly total basis.
We’ve discussed the roster positions, but what about changing up the scoring in your league?
Due to the emergence of PPR over the past few years (because it’s WAY better than standard), I’m going to use it as the “default” example. PPR leagues, or point per reception, give all players 1 point every time they catch the ball.
A running back screen goes for 1 yard… 1.1 points. This rewards football players for football plays (most of the time), not only touchdowns and large yardage gains. As a compromise between the two standard leagues, try half-PPR. I do this in my General Management™ league I talked about in my first article, that I will continue to reference throughout this series.
Another small change you can make is to change passing TD’s to either 5 or 6 points each. This is going to increase the value of quarterbacks. I would recommend doing this in a regular league first and not a 2-QB/superflex league right away. If you do both, the value of QB’s will be severely inflated and the draft will/should look much different than a regular league.
The last piece of advice I’ll give for keeping your leagues simple is to perform some simple math. The 3 combinations of roster positions above have 9, 10, and 10 total starters. Your typical league will have 6-7 bench players. Do the math on total number of drafted players after making changes. Assuming 10 starters and 6 bench players in a 12-team league, you’ll be drafting 192 players. Most rankings you will see for fantasy football include a top 200. This is done for a reason! Outside of this, you get into very competitive type leagues where late-round fliers truly matter. If that’s what you want for your league, by all means make it 12 roster positions and 7 bench for a total of 228 players. The free agent pool will be very weak, waiver competition will increase, and time spent per manager will have to increase to succeed.
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Next-level strategies – things you can do to take your league up a notch or five:
The previous section of this article discussed some small tweaks to make your league different from the same old, same old. In this section, I’ll detail the major changes you can make and give some examples of each.
Let’s start by going back to my General Management™ league I talked about in my first article (see Step 1 for a description of the league… then read the entire thing). If you’re lazy, or just don’t want to click out of this ever-so-interesting read, I basically describe the league as if you were managing an entire fantasy football franchise. You sign players to contracts, franchise tag players, there’s a rookie draft every year, etc. The league has 14 teams and has an auction draft each year with a starting budget of $200. Let’s start by analyzing the roster positions:
Looking at the roster positions, you’ll notice three things that are out of the ordinary:
- I didn’t realize the full impact when I did this, but the most important change was having 2 starting TE’s. About 5-6 years ago when I created this league, tight ends were surging in the NFL. I saw this as an opportunity to capitalize on this surge and force managers to start a minimum of 2 tight ends each week. In doing this, I wanted to make sure that the flex would be WR/RB only to stop managers from stacking TE’s due to the inevitable shortages that would occur. To this day, having 28 starting TE’s in one league is the most challenging aspect of a fantasy football league. Case & point: Austin Seferian-Jenkins is currently being kept at $17 for 3 years.
- I added IDP’s to this league and removed the K/DEF positions. In my opinion, the K and DEF position serve almost no purpose in fantasy. There are so many different variables that go into their weekly scoring that it becomes nearly impossible to predict. I do believe there is some strategy around DEF, especially streaming them weekly… but I still like the difference when removed. Individual defensive players (IDP’s), however have their own leagues centered around them! Instead of adding a full defensive roster, I added one at each main position plus a defensive flex. This adds a little complexity and fun to the league, without having these players make or break a week for your team.
- The injured reserve position. For those who play on NFL.com or other sites, this may be more normal. But Yahoo never has IR positions in their standard leagues. With this being a keeper, I felt that it was absolutely crucial to allow managers to stash their long-term keepers in the IR spot if they sustain a major injury.
Now, let’s take a look at the offensive scoring system:
Passing – Increased yards needed for a point, increased TD value, and increased interception value. I wanted to put more emphasis on quarterbacks scoring TD’s and not just throwing for a lot of yards to rack up points. This keeps the elite quarterbacks elite, and de-values the late-game garbage time superstars who rack up yards with late-game bombs. When you compare the top 10 quarterbacks from my league to a standard league, there is minimal difference in total points scored so this change doesn’t impact the league that much.
Rushing – No changes here outside of the bonuses for big games.
Receiving – Half-PPR as I mentioned in the basic changes above, plus bonuses.
There’s one key point I want to make here within the next-level strategies. You’ll notice that while the roster positions have 3 rather sizeable changes that affect the league, the offensive scoring system is cookie-cutter. This is done on purpose to not change too much all at once.
Individual defensive player scoring system:
I need to preface these values with a short story. My GM league is filled with hyper-active, competitive managers who seek out challenging leagues. I’m also very vocal about them being vocal about the rules, settings, scoring, etc. that I have created. I know that I’m not perfect, nor could I have forecasted what the league would look like 5 years later (e.g. one manager has David Johnson, Zeke, and DaVante Adams for a total of $28 this year). After 5 years, the league agreed that 1) IDP’s values should be increased slightly to make them more relevant, and 2) QB’s values were severely deflated due to the inflation on the TE position.
The values you see above are a great example of the message I want to convey to you reading this. I didn’t have a magic system to create the values you see above. I looked at the top offensive players from the last few years and noticed they averaged ~280 points per year, while the IDP’s were only averaging ~140. That’s less than 10 points per week, making them quite irrelevant. I then looked at each possible way to score and thought “how impactful to a game is this stat category?”. You’ll notice that interceptions and defended passes are much higher than the default values. Making this change bumped DB’s up into the same echelon as LB’s and DL’s. Then, I simply bumped up tackle scoring by 20% to increase the totals of all IDP’s by a small chunk, then compared the top-25 results to what they looked like before the changes. The top-25 IDP’s went average points scored is now 180. I showed the new scoring system to the league and everyone agreed that it was the change we wanted.
Enough with your GM league Marcotte, what about other changes I could make to my league?
Great question, reader! Here are a couple of other next-level changes you can add to your league to make them stand-out:
Add kick return yards – some people love these types of leagues. Not only do their bolster the value of multi-faceted players like Tarik Cohen, Alvin Kamara, and Tyler Lockett, but they also make irrelevant standard-fantasy players relevant. Pharoh Cooper lead the league with 1,458 return yards last year. He finished the year with 11 receptions for 84 yards. My suggestion for this league would be to test out some different values for return yards and see what it does to a couple of key players (use the ones above as they represent a diverse group of fantasy players). How valuable do you want a Pharoh Cooper? He surely shouldn’t be a top 100 player (in my opinion) but if you have a couple of flex spots, maybe he could be a FLEX2 in your league with only return yards each week. At 10 yards per point, Kamara would have been the RB2 in PPR leagues last year, catapulting over Le’Veon with his return yards. Pharoh Cooper would have scored 140 points… the same as Cooper Kupp and Kenny Stills in .5PPR leagues!
Add points per completion – I dabbled in this 6-7 years ago and found that it was fun, however it didn’t create a large enough difference to matter in my league. I used .25 points per completion which loosely translates to +100 points for the top quarterbacks. Brady completed 474 passes last year which is 100 more than Case Keenum. In your standard league, Brady outscored Keenum by 55 points, but in a PPC league he would have added on another 25 to that total. This is going to increase the value of Brady, Brees, Stafford, and others in pass-heavy offenses while decreasing the value of Newton, Flacco, Goff-type quarterbacks, who are either in run-heavy offenses or take more shots downfield. It’s not my personal favorite but try coupling this with a 2-QB league and see how the league reacts! Hint: you better be drafting a QB in the first round if you try this.
Increase number of teams and decrease starters – I was in a 20-team dynasty league that started QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, and FLEX. It was very challenging to draft a decent looking team, and the waiver wire was damn near impossible each week. I recommend making an 18/20-team league but slimming down the starters to 1 per position. You can either keep the bench size around 6 or increase it to give teams more chances at “late round fliers”, but only focusing on 1 starter at each position could create an interesting dynamic in the league.
Make an all superflex roster – I’ve never done this, nor will I ever (unless you invite me). In my attempt to think of unique leagues I could create, the thought came across my mind and man would this be interesting. How would the different mangers plan their drafts? Both snake and auction drafts would be super interesting to watch. I think the managers would need to adapt very quickly to what others are doing and pivot their strategy accordingly. Obviously, most are going for as many QB’s as possible but maybe others go for stacked WR’s to get PPR points each week? Just throwing ideas out there… if anyone actually tries this, please let me know because I may actually take a stab at it.
That’s it for this week’s commish corner. If you have any questions, comments, feedback, etc. feel free to leave a comment below or hit me up on twitter. On the upcoming schedule we have articles around how to deal with manager conflicts, collusion, simplifying your life as a commissioner, and even more commish-related topics. If there’s something specific you want to read about, leave a comment and I’ll put it on the schedule!