By Nick Falana
A fantasy football fanatic like me, you’ve likely watched the scene: several grown men drinking beer and too enthusiastically cheering on kindergartners racing in potato sacks. It’s the pilot episode of The League, the show whose seven year cable run has overseen the explosion of a new social obsession.
As fun as it sounds to race off 5 year olds for the right to draft AP, you’re likely looking for something more realistic — or at least more fair for you and your league — especially if you don’t have your own John LaJoie to sing lewd birthday songs (if you haven’t, just watch the episode).
Picking out of a hat or drawing straws is the easiest and everyone assumes it’s fairest but is it really? We’ve all done it for years in our redraft leagues and there’s always the hope, “maybe I’ll draw the ace next year and get that #1 pick.” But when you play dynasty, that’s like, forever, man. Is random really fair?
Several years ago I was in a league that held a poker game before the season. Everyone knew that going in so you had to at least like poker to even want to sign up. Using skill based games like poker, basketball, or madden add an extra element to any league.
The key, of course, is coming up with something everyone in the league will find fair. And if it gets too complicated, it becomes its own thing and distracts from the league. I worked a lot on my poker game that off season! Done right, though, it can be tons of fun.
Another difference in that poker league was that the winner got to decide which pick in the draft they wanted. As opposed to simply getting the first pick by drawing an ace from a deck of cards or picking the longest straw, one key to fairness is allowing each owner to pick their draft spot to the extent possible.
I was recently in a dynasty start up that did a great version of allowing owners to pick their draft position and the results were surprising. Every owner ranked the 12 available draft positions from most to least favorite. Assigning your fantasy football draft order in this way takes each owner’s individual preferences into account when assigning who gets which slot. So no more random!
To do this, we used BetterFantasyDraft.com — which explains the process in more detail — but you can use an excel spreadsheet or even do it by hand. Predictably, more owners wanted the first draft position than any other single draft position. Those owners had to compete with one another by a roll of the virtual dice. But half the league’s owners selected a draft position that no one else wanted — so they got their first choice!
But why wouldn’t you want the first position? And why would you ever want the last? When it comes to IDP Dynasty Fantasy Football who doesn’t love more strategy? I wanted the slot that allowed me to pick 8th in the draft and got it right away because no one else wanted it.
Others wanted the 7th and 12th. The strategy of which draft position to select when your position is not assigned randomly depends on which type of draft you choose to hold. And I’ll cover every type of fantasy draft in my next article.
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