Fantasy Football 2018: Alternative Formats to Consider For Your League
Fantasy season is back in full swing and if you’re like most owners, your season-long league will involve the same standard scoring you’ve played for a decade. Or perhaps you’ve boldly graduated to PPR (or .5 PPR). There is no wrong way to play fantasy (it’s only wrong not to play fantasy) but there are some formats to change up your league a bit. We asked a few top fantasy experts to vouch for non-traditional formats, especially considering NFL trends. Here they are from most commonplace to boldest:
Keep it Simple with Bestball
[A best ball league allows owners to draft players and stick with them all season. They are typically played in the run up to fantasy season but can be utilized at any time.]
Why is Bestball the best format? It’s simple.
Bestball leagues allow us to draft teams and move on… no waivers to forget, no trades to haggle, and no lineups to second-guess. We can leverage our projections and knowledge for the entire offseason, playing hundreds of leagues, and then step into our DFS or season-long portfolios with better information, more practice, and no fear.
Bestball leagues don’t require a large financial stake to participate… leagues can be as cheap as one dollar. For those with more expensive tastes, leagues with fees upwards of $500 are available. Drafts are incredibly non-invasive, with intuitive mobile experiences that require a moment here or there to pick a player and go about your business.
In my opinion, it offers the richest fantasy football experience with the least amount of overhead.
Two Quarterbacks are Better Than One
[2QBs, also known as Superflex leagues, add an extra QB spot to starting lineups or a flex spot which can be used on any position but is predominantly filled with a second quarterback.]
People who have never played in a 2QB or Superflex league before ask me all the time why they should give the format a shot. If you care at all about the quarterback position then they need to put a hold on your start-one quarterback league and try a format in which signal-callers actually matter. The late-round quarterback draft strategy, while proven to be a winning strategy, is pretty boring. I’ve been in countless 1QB drafts where waiting to draft a quarterback is an optimal strategy, but it doesn’t involve much thought process other than taking one of many viable quarterbacks after everyone else has selected theirs. That’s not the case in multi-QB leagues. It’s not out of the ordinary for a quarterback to go with the first overall pick in 2QB/Superflex leagues, with multiple quarterbacks going in the first round.
I was once in a draft where 11 of the first 12 picks were quarterbacks — when was the last time you saw that happen in a 1QB league? I want to say never. You actually have to put in the time to study 2QB/Superflex ADP (average draft position) to get a sense of quarterback value and to formulate a strategy, while also putting in hours researching quarterbacks you don’t normally plan to draft. The Nathan Petermans, Kevin Hogans, and Geno Smiths of the fantasy world matter in 2QB/Superflex leagues, as a total of 56 different quarterbacks started at least one game in the NFL last season. Plus, you get to play in a format where you won’t be ridiculed for drafting Alex Smith late and then get to watch him become a top-tier fantasy quarterback.
(Be sure to check out Sal’s complete guide to drafting in 2QB/Superflex leagues.)
Be a Complete Fan By Playing IDP (Individual Defensive Players)
[IDP leagues add starting slots for individual defenders in lieu of a starting team defense or special teams. While some leagues add 3 or 4 roster slots for defensive players, some go much deeper.]
You hear plenty of fantasy people in talk about what a hardcore fan they are. But most fantasy leagues these days only track QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs. How much of a true football fan can you be if you only keep track of 6 of the 22 players on the field?
That’s not a hardcore fan – that’s just watching the ball. IDP is great because it forces you to pay attention to and follow the whole game of football.How does pass rush affect QBs? What sort of players match up in the slot? How do elite defensive tackles affect the running game? IDP rewards deep football knowledge and not just the people who touch the ball the most.
Who Needs Defense?
[A no defense league is just that – a league that does not include a slot for Defense/Special teams.]
Fantasy football is an offensive game. Always has been, always will be. Sure, you could play in an IDP league (and I do play in one), but this is a game built on, and dominated by, offense. So why do we force team defense and special teams into the equation? It’s essentially a nothing position, with the average starter putting up 7.4 points per week last season, and it’s rightly an afterthought in drafts and auctions. Even team defense is beholden to offense in fantasy football. Quite often, the best way to attack the position is to go to your waiver wire and pick up whichever available defense is playing the worst offense, rather than trying to figure out which unit is, you know, actually good.
On top of all that, defenses, which few fantasy owners ever think about, are capable of big outlier scores that can swing an individual matchup. There are few worse things in fantasy football than having a great week and losing because your opponent’s defense racked up a couple of pick-sixes against A.J. McCarron. No one should lose a fantasy matchup because of a position that barely matters, except when it does. The best way to guard against that fate is to eliminate team defense and special teams altogether. I’ve done that in as many of my leagues as possible, and I promise you that you won’t miss it. By eliminating a low-value, highly volatile position, you get rid of some of the luck in the game, and focus more on the offensive players at the heart of fantasy football who should determine every league’s outcome.
You want to give the Joey Bosas and Jalen Ramseys of the world the love they deserve? Play in an IDP league. Otherwise, defense has no place in fantasy football.