Fantasy football: An alternative to head-to-head matchups


Stop me if you’ve been in this position before: Your fantasy football team is having an awesome week, perhaps buoyed by a monster performance from quarterback Cam Newton. You’re sure your team had one of the best weekends in your league, and it turns out you were right, and you had the second-best performance of the week.

And you lost because the scheduling gods pitted you against the week’s top scorer.

When a fantasy football season is just 13 or 14 weeks long, one loss can be critical. It can be the difference between the top seed and a lower-seeded playoff berth, or it can be the straw that keeps even a good team out of the postseason.

This happens in head-to-head leagues, the most common type of fantasy football format. It’s never fun to be on the wrong end of that, but there usually aren’t a ton of ways to prevent it. Sure, your league could simply award its championship to the team that scored the most fantasy points all season, but taking out the friendly competition between friends and family takes much of the fun out it all.

I’ve been looing for a better way to determine fantasy football league champions, one that rewards the best, most consistent team for its body of work while retaining the weekly competition aspect.

And I have a solution to offer.

Instead of playing one team each week, you’ll face everyone all at once. The team with the most points scored that week will be awarded 10 points. Second and third would earn nine and eight, respectively, all the way down to last place receiving just one point. If, say, two teams tied for first, each would earn 9.5 by splitting the points earned for first and second place.

Those familiar with Rotisserie fantasy scoring should recognize the concept.

This standings method, which I call Ranking Points, rewards the teams which perform well on a weekly basis, and keeps fantasy owners competing against one another for that week’s 10 ranking points instead of looking solely at cumulative fantasy point totals.

In my main league, we use the head-to-head format. But, if we used Ranking Points, our league champion would have finished tied for third. A team that missed the playoffs altogether would have won if we used Ranking Points, thanks to a strong December.

Teams that miss the playoffs in head-to-head leagues have very little reason to keep playing during the final weeks. Ranking Points can allow more teams to stay in the mix for longer, and decreases the luck factor inherent to playing just one team per week.

I also have a variant of Ranking Points that makes non-bye weeks worth twice as much because that’s when everyone is on a level playing field, in terms of having players available. Week 17 would be treated as a bye week because playoff teams often rest their starters. This year, bye weeks run from weeks 4-11 and 13 — yes, the final week of the fantasy regular season.

Major fantasy football outlets don’t offer Ranking Points, so it requires a small bit of work on the commissioner’s part to track the standings. It’s simple enough to set up a spreadsheet to do most of the math for you, though.

If you’re interested in how it works, take it upon yourself to track this on the side of your league and see how it works out. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to adopt it next year?

How it works

Here’s an example of how one week might look using Ranking Points to determine the weekly winners in fantasy football. The league champion would have the most ranking points at the end.

Team A: 97, fantasy points, 6th, 5 ranking points

Team B: 118 fantasy points, 2nd, 9 ranking points

Team C: 67 fantasy points, T-9th, 1.5 ranking points

Team D: 112 fantasy points, 4th, 7 ranking points

Team E: 128 fantasy points, 1st, 10 ranking points

Team F: 117 fantasy points, 3rd, 8 ranking points

Team G: 82 fantasy points, 7th, 4 ranking points

Team H: 77 fantasy points, 8th, 3 ranking points

Team I: 67 fantasy points, T-9th, 1.5 ranking points

Team J: 109 fantasy points,5th, 6 ranking points

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