Fantasy football changes with the times. To read part 1 of this examination CLICK HERE.
Fantasy football expands to include more options every year. Having more choices is never a bad thing. More options can lead to slowly eradicating the dreadful luck factor. Victory points, expanded lineups, and decimal scoring were just the tip of the iceberg. What will the future bring to fantasy football to help this effort?
As fantasy owners we put so much work into our teams. We commit countless hours to endless research on all aspects of our teams. Why trivialize our efforts by leaving the results of our leagues up to the randomness of a kicker or team defense scoring? Kickers are never the focal point of any fantasy team’s strategy. Most owners take whoever is leftover or pick up a starter off the waiver wire. In 2011, in my leagues David Akers was the top scoring kicker by a two point per game option. The difference between the second ranked kicker and the 15th ranked kicker was less than 1.4 points per game. The variance is negligible so you are leaving the results of your league up to chance. It is rare for a kicker to be top 5 at their position for a long time so the position makes even less sense in dynasty leagues.
The same argument can be given for the concept of using team defense but it goes much deeper. In dynasty leagues we draft players for the long term. These leagues are supposed to go on forever. There is no valid argument that can be made that using a team defense in this format is a good idea. The NFL is constantly changing and is becoming more and more a “what have you done for me lately?” atmosphere. With that comes constant coaching and philosophy changes within the majority of the organizations in the NFL. There are very few teams that have a stable and consistent approach. This is totally different than drafting an actual player. You have control drafting an individual. You have no control when you draft a unit that is controlled by someone else.
There are three approaches you can take to the situations that I have listed above. Option 1: keep everything as it is. There is something comforting about tradition. Option 2: eliminate the team defense and kicker from your leagues. I started a league with a group of friends this off season that only uses the QB, RB, WR, and TE positions. Option 3: do what you want with the kicker position and replace team defense with individual defensive players.
Individual defensive players (IDP) have completely changed the world of fantasy football and the format has been gaining popularity. Instead of starting lineups of 8-10 players (including team defense and kickers), you now see lineups as high as 17-20 players. Instead of being invested in a team that you have no control over, you are invested in specific players. The biggest negative about IDP is there isn’t a universal scoring system. Because of this, finding reliable rankings can be very difficult so you have to be willing to put in the work to find valuable players yourself. This should be the case with offensive players as well but for IDP it just takes slightly more digging.
The other downside is when teams change defensive schemes it can change player positions and impact an individual player’s value. On a personal note, I love playing in IDP leagues and this isn’t a big issue. It doesn’t happen very often to elite players. Just like all of the other innovations in fantasy football, IDP gives owners more options and the ability to strategize on different levels. I wouldn’t want all of my leagues to be IDP leagues though. Variety is the spice of life.
Player acquisitions have become as diverse as all other aspects of fantasy football as well. The typical snake draft is still the norm in most leagues but auction drafting has grown in recent years as well. In theory, auction drafts are the only way to do it. Every owner has a chance at every player. This is the only approach where it is 100% strategy and 0% luck. In reality, it makes me want to hang myself. I have only taken part in one start-up auction draft and it resulted in an incredible amount of stress and blood pressure issues. The entire approach makes so much sense though that I am going to be dumb enough to give it another try at some point.
The thought of every owner having a shot at every player has seeped into in-season player acquisition as well in the form of blind bidding or open bidding waivers. In both formats, teams are given X amount of dollars to spend over the course of the year and it is up to them to use that money wisely. In blind bidding waivers owners can’t see what others have bid and spend what they think a player is worth. It really is a good gauge in player value. Open bidding waivers is exactly like a start-up auction. Every owner sees who you are going after (although they can’t see what your high bid is in most cases). In that sense it takes away some strategy to the waiver process but it is the best way to get the market value of all players.
Every one of these options for your fantasy league is just that: an option. One of the great things about fantasy football is there isn’t a right or wrong way to do anything. If you are starting a league, look at everything and see what is best for you. If you have an existing league, be open to ways to improve it. Regardless of what you decide there is one statement that will always be true: fantasy football is a great thing in all forms.