Fantasy Football League Strategy: Pay Per Loss
February 28, 2013 | Jeff
Prior to the 2012 fantasy football season, I posted a brief overview of a new fantasy football league strategy to help keep leagues competitive throughout the season (you can find the original recipe somewhere around HERE). The basic premise is that a predetermined fee is paid for each loss a team suffers during the fantasy season (instead of an entry fee), in hopes that a monetary penalty will keep fantasy owners actively engaged until the final kneel down of week 13. As a refresher, or in case you haven’t had your daily elementary arithmetic lesson, the breakdown works like this for a 12 team league with a $50 entry fee:
12 teams x $50 each = $600 pot
6 games per week (6 losses) x 13 reg. season weeks = 78 losses
$600 / 78 = $7.70 per loss
After tweaking the “pay per loss” system to my liking, I decided to institute this new system in the keeper league in which I serve as the semi-esteemed, but mostly belittled commissioner. In addition to the boost in season long competitiveness, I was also interested to see the impact that this system had on non-contending teams dumping “unkeepable” star players for potential 2013 keepers. After a full season of this new payment style, I thought I would share my thoughts on the setup, execution, and follow-up of this new strategy…
As commissioner, I decided to install this new system in my main league that has been going strong for seven seasons. Channeling my inner Roger Goodell, I bypassed a vote and simply bestowed the change upon my leaguemates like they were Jonathan Vilma and Sean Payton waiting for suspension hearings. After the immediate, and predictable, exasperated reaction to change, the league responded positively after a quick explanation. As in all major changes in life (yes, fantasy football changes count as major to me), adjustments are made easier with some understanding.
The key here is to breakdown the total amount teams will pay for each possible record. For example, in the 12 team / $50 league illustrated above:
8-5 record = $38.50
7-6 record = $46.20
6-7 record = $53.90
5-8 record = $61.60
With the entire record and payment grid laid out, it was easier for folks in the league to understand where the break-even point occurred, which is right at a .500 record. A 7-6 record will pay slightly less than the original $50 entry fee, and a 6-7 record pays slightly more, with the teams on the extreme ends of the spectrum being impacted more heavily. After the fees were broken down in this manner, each member of the league was in agreement and ready to compete for wins from beginning to end.
Every few weeks during the season, I took the time to email out a league wide invoice that outlined how many losses each team had and their current commitment to the league pot. Once November rolled around, various league owners found that their tab was escalating faster than a Friday night at the local tavern and this tab didn’t come with 11 shots of tequila. This sentiment, once again, sparked up a rollicking round of “why are we doing this?” and “this is gonna be too expensive, my wife is gonna be pissed!” Just like the preseason inquiries, this was all quelled with a reminder of the payment grid, and the fact that a below .500 season is just slightly more than the original entry fee. The 2-6 owner in the league was less than thrilled, but the fact that he was still engaged and was focused on winning games is what the system is designed for.
The only issue I had with the system was the postseason payments. With a flat entry fee, all league payments can be collected by the time the draft starts, or by a predetermined week during the first month of the season. This ensures prompt payout to the winners after the conclusion of week 16. With the pay per loss system, all owners have outstanding debt after the season that needs to be collected. Collecting the money is not a huge problem, provided you don’t play with a bunch of dirt bags, but it is an inconvenience to note.
As far as the keeper issue is concerned, we did have one owner who consciously decided to only trade one of his premier running backs during a mid-season fire sale in hopes of limiting his already ballooning league debt (due to our ‘per loss’ total being slightly higher than the $7.7.0 illustrated above). This development was encouraging, as it added a new dimension to our league trading deadline and made for a more well rounded, competitive season long schedule for each team.
I will be continuing the pay per loss league fee system in 2013 and look forward to the input of other fanatical fake footballers for ways that it can be improved or adjusted. If your league has ever encountered an owner that paid his or her entry fee and disappeared after a 2-7 start, give this system a shot in 2013.