First of all, what a great NCAA Championship game we saw on Monday night, despite some pretty shady officiating. I went to college just down the river from Louisville and have a lot of friends who are celebrating right now. Congratulations!
Secondly, I’d like to apologize for going MIA last week. Spring break for the kids falls on that week every year, and I took the week off to spend with my family. And it was quite easy to get away from the NBA for a week after LeBron James’ shutdown knocked one of my main teams out of the playoffs, while the other was ruined by Brandon Jennings’ disappearing act. I’m not going to lie. I became a bitter “get out of my yard” type of old man after my hopes were shattered in a couple leagues that are very important to me.
Great players taking games off during the fantasy playoffs ruin teams every season, and I don’t think there were any more shutdowns this season than in most, although LeBron’s missed games, and the crazy numbers Carmelo Anthony put up had huge impacts in leagues all across the land.
Some leagues play to the final game of the regular season. That’s fine in rotisserie leagues, and in the ones that don’t use playoffs, but any way you slice it, the fact the NBA’s “silly season” always falls during the fantasy playoffs (as well as my kid’s spring break) is just a huge buzzkill for owners who put in so much time, effort and research year after year.
There’s not one single answer or format to fix the system, but here are a few things you can do for your league that may help ease the pain going forward.
- Keep your head-to-head format, as well as the playoffs, but pay the regular-season division winners a bulk of the prize money. This is a pretty decent option, keeping as many teams as possible alive for a chance at some cash, while still giving the best teams a majority of the payout. Many of my leagues use this option, and there’s not much downside to it.
- Abandon head-to-head formats and go to rotisserie scoring. I’ll admit I usually get pretty bored playing roto hoops, although one thing that is usually a lock is that the best team wins. But playing against your buddies every week is fun, and roto loses a lot of us due to the elimination of the H2H factor.
- End your league after Week 21 or 22. The downside is you lose NBA games that count, and your season ends too early. But the shutdown factor isn’t as significant in those weeks, and you may not have to scour the wire for the latest flavor of the day to try to field a team with guys who will actually play that week. Mike Miller should not be winning championships for fantasy owners, but he is.
- Keep your head-to-head format, but eliminate the playoffs. Just keep playing H2H through the end of the season and the team with the best record in the end wins. This option is probably my favorite, but the problem is that the teams who would be seeded in the 4th through 8th spots no longer have a shot at getting hot in the playoffs and winning it all.
None of these options are perfect, but appear to be better options than just playing H2H playoffs until the end of the regular season and forcing guys to make a ton of random pickups in hopes that they’ll luck out and grab a player who will come out of nowhere and go off when a superstar or two are sitting out randomly. The problem is also compounded by trying to find a site that can accommodate the system you want to use.
I really wish fantasy hoops were more like the NFL, where you basically only have a couple different scoring options available. If we could all agree on one basic format for hoops, it would make covering those players, ranking them, and giving advice so much easier for all involved. But with each league manager service being slanted in one or two different directions, and no uniformity across the sport, this seems like an impossible pipe dream at this point. Maybe I can work with my new colleagues at Yahoo! to come up with a format option that would help bring consistency to the fantasy hoops world, and I look forward to exploring this going forward.
As for what you can look forward to this week, the league is back in full swing on Tuesday after going dark on Monday for the NCAA Championship.