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The RotoViz Dynasty League on FleaFlicker: 2014 Rules and Rationales
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Last year, the RotoViz Dynasty League (RDL), hosted on FleaFlicker, played its inaugural season, and I was pleased to serve as commissioner. In the two-week championship Ryan Lessard defeated Bryan Fontaine, who entered the playoffs as the league’s leader in overall record and points scored, not losing his first game of the year till his Week 11 matchup against Frank DuPont, who for the contest changed the name of his bottom-of-the-league team from “How Can We Be Lovers if We Can’t Be Ferentz” to “Hickory High”1 in recognition of both the long odds he faced and the divine inevitability of his future victory. It was a great season.

James Todd, the co-commissioner and all-around badass, lapped the entire league in trades, ending up with so many draft picks that weren’t originally his that at one point I was tempted just to reset the entire draft board so that I could map everything out with a clear head. Shawn Siegele, one of the best fantasy players in the world (really), managed to win a Primetime Title and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the National Fantasy Football Championship—but in the RDL he missed the playoffs . . . only to redeem himself by winning the consolation bracket. His prize? Improved draft position in 2014—which, since I had Shawn’s first-round rookie pick, I was thrilled with. Really, a great season.

Since we’ve recently finished drafting for the 2014 season—you can read about the first round and the second round of the rookie draft—I figured that I might as well write about the rules (and the rationales for those rules) that we’ll be using this year. If you want to read the RDL’s 2013 Rules in detail, feel free, but I’ll also give a little bit of background here.

Rosters and Lineups:
The RDL is a fourteen-team league the participants of which are RotoViz contributors. Last year, these were the roster specifications:

  • 30 Rosters Spots plus 3 IR spots.
  • No Kicker or DST.
  • 9 Starters: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 WR/TE.

In 2014, we expanded to an Individual Defensive Players (IDP) format via a sixteen-round third-round reversal draft that preceded our rookie draft and for which only IDP NFL veterans were eligible. Now our roster specifications are as follows:

  • 53 Rosters Spots plus 7 IR spots.
  • Still no Kicker.
  • 18 Starters: Nine starters for each side of the ball.
  • 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 WR/TE
  • 2 DL (1 DT, 1 DE), 2 LB, 1 DL/LB, 3 DB (1 CB, 2 S), 1 DB/LB

With fourteen teams and fifty-three roster spots per team, this is a deep league—and that’s just the way we like it!

No kickers? No kickers! And, as I said last year, the rationale is this:

1) None of us fell in love with fantasy football because of kickers. They are not a vital part of our fake sport, and we are trying to cut away all the excess fat from this league. We want it to be as lean and muscular as possible. 2) Would you rather roster a deep sleeper who could be a stud in a year—or would you rather roster Dan Bailey?

I don’t know if even Dan Bailey would say “Dan Bailey.” Moving on . . .

Offensive and IDP Scoring:
We use decimal scoring, because we believe that every yard a player accumulates should count. Also, we don’t give bonuses for the achievement of certain statistical benchmarks. A TD from 2 yards out is still worth the same in the NFL as a TD scored from 85 yards away. We’re following suit.

This year’s offensive scoring settings are the same as they were last year. Our IDP scoring settings are heavily based on those from the Iron Throne Dynasty League.

Passing:

  • 1 pt per 20 yards
  • 6 pts per TD
  • 2 pts per 2-pt conversion
  • -2 pts per INT

The RDL (like the NFL) places an emphasis on the passing game, and so 1 pt. is awarded for every 20 yards passing (not every 25), and 6 pts. (not 4) are awarded for each TD passing. Why should Geno Smith receive 6 pts. when he rushes for a TD but only 4 pts. when he throws for one? The exact same player is scoring a TD! Here, we want the true value of QBs to be realized.

Receiving:

  • 1 pt per reception
  • 1 pt per 10 yards
  • 6 pts per TD
  • 2 pts per 2-pt conversion

Each reception (regardless of a player’s position) will garner an additional point. (Side note: We’re kind of big on that “regardless of a player’s position” clause. You’ll see.) We like the PPR format because it places a premium on receivers and especially pass-catching RBs, and given the pass-happy nature of the NFL we find the emphasis on receptions to be appropriate.

Rushing:

  • 1 pt per 10 yards
  • 6 pts per TD
  • 2 pts per 2-pt conversion

Offense Misc:

  • -1 pt per fumble
  • -2 pts per fumble lost
  • 1 pt per own fumble recovery
  • 6 pts offensive fumble recovery TD

You’ll notice a distinction between “fumble” and “fumble lost.” If a player fumbles the ball, his action impacts his team negatively and thus should lose points, regardless of whether his team recovers the ball2—and if he actually loses the fumble then he should lose more points, because the consequences of his action were also negative. Similarly, if a player recovers his team’s fumble, he should receive credit for his positive act, even if he’s the player who fumbled the ball in the first place, and if a guy recovers his team’s fumble for a TD—even if you think it’s fluky—then he should get credit for that positive action and outcome.

And I’m not even sure that a fumble recovery for a TD is always solely a matter of chance. Just look at this recovery for a TD by Jarrett Boykin in Week 17 of last season:

Boykin sees the fumble, runs toward the ball—he’s the only guy on his team who actually runs toward the ball—and even when he believes that the ball is dead, he still makes the effort to pick the ball up, hang on to it, look around to see if any of the officials are signaling anything, and run to the end zone when Aaron Rodgers jogs up to him and tells him to run. If a player recovers a fumble for a TD, that means that 1) a player’s team trusted him enough to put him on the field, 2) he was possibly meant to be in the vicinity of the ball through the design of the play, which isn’t insignificant, 3) and he potentially had to expend the energy to fight with other players to recover the ball. There’s always some luck involved whenever a guy recovers a ball for a TD—but it’s probably not all luck.

Look at it this way: Boykin entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent (UDFA) out of Virginia Tech with unimpressive college stats and an official combine 40 time of 4.74 seconds. As a rookie he was the #6 WR for the Packers, behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Greg Jennings, and even Donald Driver’s corpse. In fact, playing almost exclusively on special teams, Boykin was on the active roster only because the WRs in front of him, especially Driver, didn’t play special teams. Boykin was lucky just to be in the NFL for one season. And then in 2013, as the #4 WR, he was still primarily a special teams and spot player until injuries to the WR corps forced him into regular action in Week 5. As an injury fill-in Boykin did well, but not well enough to guarantee that he would be an unquestioned starter in the future—and, with Ted Thompson’s second-round selection of Davante Adams, that’s still the case. And let’s not forget that in Week 17 the Packers were in a must-win situation against the Bears. In other words, Boykin is the type of guy who seems inclined to expend maximum effort on every play, especially given the circumstances under which the fumble occurred.

If you had been told before Week 17 that a Packer would recover an Aaron Rodgers fumble and run it into the end zone for a TD, wouldn’t you have predicted the guy to be either one of the offensive linemen or a late-round/UDFA player, like James Starks or Boykin?—basically a guy who must have a “high motor” because he wouldn’t otherwise be in the league? Being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing with the resulting opportunity is a skill. Just ask Derek Jeter:

Yes, a skill—and it’s one that Boykin has displayed as a pro, perhaps unsurprisingly, as he also displayed this skill in college, when as a sophomore, in a 2009 rivalry game against Virginia in which he didn’t even have a reception, he dove on a Ryan Williams fumble in the end zone and recovered it for a TD. Being lucky takes more than just luck. If a guy scores a TD, regardless of how, he should get points for it.

Returning:

  • 6 pts per Kick Return TD
  • 6 pts per Punt Return TD

In the NFL, some of the value that hybrid WR/RB guys possess, like T.Y. Hilton, Percy Harvin, Tavon Austin, and even Cordarrelle Patterson, is the ability to score a couple of extra TDs per season as kick or punt returners. They’re not traditional WRs by any means, but they still provide value.

You might look at Harvin’s Super Bowl performance and think that he’s overrated because he caught only one pass for five yards. I look at the 30-yard end-around on Seattle’s second offensive play of the game, on a drive that ended with a field goal (FG) to put the Seahawks up 5-0; his 5-yard first-and-10 reception on Seattle’s second drive, which ended with a FG to put them up 8-0; his 15-yard end-around at the end of the first quarter on the first play of Seattle’s third drive, which ended with a TD to put them up 15-0; and, with Seattle’s offense not even getting the ball back till the last minute of the first half, Harvin’s backbreaking 87-yard kick return to open the second half with a TD, giving Seattle an insurmountable 29-0 lead—I look at all of that and see a guy who, coming off a season-sabotaging injury, 1) contributed substantially to a blowout victory and then 2) no longer needed to contribute statistically once the game was in hand. With Harvin’s kick return TD, he scored 12 PPR points in the Super Bowl in just over a half of real action: That point total is much more representative of Harvin’s impact on the game than the point total would be without the return TD. Again, if a guy scores a TD, regardless of how, he should get points for it.

Basically, all of this is a long-winded way of saying that you should watch out for John Brown. The dude can score as a return man.

Kicking:

  • 1 pt per XP
  • 3 pts per FG, 1-39 yds
  • 4 pts per FG, 40-49 yds
  • 5 pts per FG, 50+ yds

We don’t roster kickers in the RDL, but “regardless of a player’s position” if a guy happens to kick an extra point or FG—maybe in some weird circumstance where the main kicker is injured—then that guy is going to get points. So if Matt Prater pulls his hamstring in a game and Wes Welker has to kick a game-winning 52-yard FG, Welker will be rewarded accordingly. That might seem weird, but why wouldn’t we give him fantasy points for scoring actual points?3

Defense:

  • 2 pts per solo tackle
  • 1 pt per assisted tackle
  • 4 pts per INT
  • 3 pt per sack
  • 4 pts per fumble forced
  • 2 pts per fumble recovery
  • 5 pts per safety
  • 8 pts per defensive TD
  • 8 pts per blocked FG return TD
  • 8 pts per missed FG return TD
  • 8 pts per fumble return TD
  • 8 pts per INT return TD
  • 8 pts per blocked punt return TD
  • 3 pts per XP blocked
  • 5 pts per FG blocked
  • 5 pts per punt blocked
  • 2 pts per pass defended

Some of these IDP settings will likely provide for a few weeks in which IDP guys explode with huge point totals. That’s the way we want it. If you’re going to do IDP, you might as well make the defensive players count for something.

Regular Season:
We use a 13-week regular season in which each team plays every other team once. In other words, we effectively have no divisions. To the extent possible we all have exactly the same strength of schedule. While variability in schedule always exists, at least this measure will keep subpar teams with inflated records from making the playoffs merely because they play against inferior opponents multiple times in weak divisions.

Matchup and Playoff Tiebreakers:
For a tie in a matchup, the tie will be broken according to the following order:

  • Most bench points
  • Most points by the starting QB
  • Most points by a starting RB
  • Most points by a starting WR
  • Most points by the starting RB/WR flex
  • Most points by the starting WR/TE flex
  • Most points by the starting TE
  • Most points by a starting LB
  • Most points by the starting LB/DB flex
  • Most points by the starting LB/DL flex
  • Most points by a starting S
  • Most points by the starting DE.
  • Most points by the starting CB.
  • Most points by the starting DT.

This should be sufficient, don’t you think?

For a tie in playoff seeding, the tie will be broken according to the following order:

  • Head-to-head record.
  • Most points scored.
  • Most points scored against.

Playoff Seeding:
The playoff teams and seeds will be determined as follows:

  • Seeds 1 and 2 will be the top two teams according to record. They will receive first-round byes.
  • Seeds 3 and 4 will be traditional “record wildcards”: The two teams with the third- and fourth-best records.
  • Seeds 5 and 6 will be “points wildcards”: The two remaining teams with the most points scored on the season.

We love the points wildcard. It minimized randomness and keeps people invested. Last season, it ensured that, even if a high-scoring team (like mine) had bad luck in its individual matchups, it would have a shot of making the playoffs. In fact the points wildcard kept several teams with poor starts (by record) in the playoff hunt till the final week of the regular season. Whereas in some leagues the typical owner with a strong but snake-bitten team might just start tanking his season after opening the season 0-4, last season we had about 10 teams in Week 13 still fighting for 6 playoff spots, particularly the points wildcards. That was awesome.

Playoffs and Consolation Tournament:
After the regular season, the RDL will have two 3-week tournaments: One for the playoff teams and one for the non-playoff teams.

Playoff Tournament:
The RDL playoff tournament structure is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Building upon last year’s structure, we’ve added . . . a three-week cumulative championship matchup. That’s right!

A Three-Week Cumulative Championship Matchup:

  • Week 14: Bye week for top-2 teams by record. For the teams on bye, the scores from their non-competitive Week 14 will be applied to their Week 15 matchups. The four active teams this week will compete in a free-for-all first round, with the two highest scoring teams advancing to Week 15.
  • Week 15: The four remaining playoff teams will play another free-for-all round. For all teams, the Week 14 and Week 15 scores will be added to produce Round 2 Point Totals. The two highest scoring teams in Round 2 will advance to the Super Bowl.
  • Week 16: Championship Game, “Week 3.” The two championship contestants will compete head-to-head in Week 16. Their summed scores from Weeks 14-16 will determine the league champion. Thus, the champion will be the remaining player with the most points scored throughout the entirety of the playoffs.

Last year, the free-for-all system worked great: Just another way to minimize randomness. We’ve all seen enough Round One splits of 127-119 and 85-79 to know that the two most deserving teams don’t always both advance to the semifinals. Here, the teams with the two highest Round One scores advance to Round Two. Seems reasonable, right?

And I love the Round Two format. It gives the two top-seeded teams something to do in the first-round bye week. Even though they’re not actively competing in Round 1, their Week 14 scores still count toward to their cumulative point totals in Round 2 and Round 34—so those scores are important. Additionally, bundling Weeks 14 and 15 into a two-week Round 2 enables us to avoid some of the randomness that can accompany one-week semifinals. Of the remaining four playoff teams, those two teams advance with the highest cumulative point totals throughout the first two weeks of the playoffs. Again, we felt that was reasonable.

And the three-week championship game (Round 3) is really just an extension of Round 2. Using a point total based on multiple weeks’ worth of scoring, we have a champion whose team consistently put up points throughout the playoffs—at least more points than the team of the other opponent in the championship game. Again, this format allows us to avoid some of the randomness associated with one- and even two-week championship contests. And, best of all, we’re still able to get in a three-week matchup without exposing the championship game to the vicissitudes of Week 17.

Basically, this playoff format creates six weeks of overlapping action out of only three weeks of gameplay. It’s like magic for muggles.

Consolation Tournament:
The eight teams that don’t make the playoffs have their own tournament, with seeding determined by record. In many respects, the consolation tournament mirrors the playoffs.

A Three-Week Cumulative Toilet Bowl Matchup:

  • Week 14:Two-bracket free-for-all:
  • Bracket A: #1, #4, #5, #8
  • Bracket B: #2, #3, #6, #7
  • Free-for-all. The two highest scoring teams from each bracket advance.
  • Week 15: The four remaining teams will play another free-for-all round. For all teams, the Week 14 and Week 15 scores will be added to produce Round 2 Point Totals. The two highest scoring teams in Round 2 will advance to the league Toilet Bowl.
  • Week 16: The Toilet Bowl, “Week 3.” The two contestants will compete head-to-head. Their summed scores from Weeks 14-16 will determine the champion of the consolation tournament. Thus, the Toilet Bowl Champion will be the remaining player with the most points scored throughout the entirety of the consolation tournament.

The winner of the consolation tournament gets the pride of knowing that (s)he sucks less than seven other teams. The runner-up gets the same, except with only six teams.

2015 Draft Lottery:
I’m joking. Just like the 2014 draft, the 2015 RDL rookie draft will feature a lottery for the non-playoff teams. The winner of the consolation tournament will receive 55 extra balls for the draft lottery; the runner-up will receive 34 extra balls.

The number of balls that each non-playoff team receives will be proportionate to its seeding in the consolation tournament. With the two exceptions of the consolation tournament’s winner and runner-up, here are the amounts of balls for each positional finish in standings for the non-playoff teams:

  • 34 balls: #8 consolation seed
  • 21 balls: #7 consolation seed
  • 13 balls: #6 consolation seed
  • 8 balls: #5 consolation seed
  • 5 balls: #4 consolation seed
  • 3 balls: #3 consolation seed
  • 2 balls: #2 consolation seed
  • 1 ball: #1 consolation seed

Because I’m neurotic, I’ve based the number of balls given to each seed on the Fibonacci sequence to provide for reasonable probabilistic and consistent ratios. Anyway . . .

In the lottery a team is eligible to move up or down no more than 3 spots. For instance, the team that would receive the #1 position in a standard league will receive a position no lower than #4, and the team that would normally receive the #8 position can do no better here than #5.

2015 Draft:
In 2015, as we did this year, we will have a seven-round snake rookie draft for offensive and IDP players. Shortly before the beginning of the 2015 NFL season, all teams will be responsible for cutting their roster sizes down to no more than 53 non-IR players.

Waivers:
Waivers are processed through a blind bid auction, with a $1000 budget for the season. We’ve eschewed a waiver priority system, because at worse it rewards each week the teams that perpetually suck and at best, even with a running order, it still enables teams that don’t value available players highly to acquire them. A blind bid auction is the best way of allowing the league’s free market to dictate the value of available players.

Trades:
We have a moratorium on trades during the playoffs, but otherwise trading is permitted throughout the year, with no limits on the number of transaction allowed. And, of course, we have no vetoes on trades, believing that all players should be allowed to manage their teams in whatever manners they wish, provided no collusion occurs. Only in the instance of blatant collusion will I inquire (as commissioner) into the logic behind a trade. (And if we ever reach that point the RDL will be in serious trouble.) As long as all the parties in a trade believe that they receive some benefit from the transaction (even if the benefit is miniscule), the trade will stand.

As commish, I request only that all trades be “business related.” For instance, the RDL willll be best served if players avoid trades like this: “If Calvin Johnson doesn’t score a TD this week, I’ll trade you Larry Fitzgerald for Matt Barkley.” Otherwise, I’m cool with trades being as inventive and conditional as possible—because it wouldn’t be the RDL if I didn’t have a crazy trade to process every other week.

Follow the RDL on FleaFlicker:
As the guy who ostensibly runs the RDL, I should truly thank our host, FleaFlicker, which I entirely recommend on account of its simple, clean, intuitive interface and customizable roster, scoring, and draft settings. Additionally, if you are a commissioner of a FleaFlicker league and have a question, the support staff is very quick at responding to your question and providing solutions to your problems. And, most importantly, all of this service is free. Really, I can’t recommend FleaFlicker enough. Try it out.

Also, I wish to thank the participants of the RDL, and especially Shawn Siegele, for providing the league with many creative ideas for the RDL format. I might be the commish, but the RDL looks like it does because lots of creative people shared their great ideas. As a commish, I’m very lucky.

In total, I wish for the RDL to be a fun, active, and competitive league that can serve as a model for other leagues already existing or just starting. The RDL might sound a little intense, but . . . it’s RotoViz. How could it not be intense?

On behalf of the RDL’s other thirteen participants—Ross Eagles, James Goldstein, Jeremy Hardt, Coleman Kelly, James Todd, Ryan Lessard, Davis Mattek, Renee Miller, Jon Moore, Jacob Myers, Ryan Rouillard, Shawn Siegele, and Scott Smith—I  hope you enjoy following our progress for all the seasons to come.

  1. From the 1986 film Hoosiers, in which Gene Hackman submitted his 5th best performance, Dennis Hopper his 3rd best, and the perpetually underrated Barbara Hershey her 9th best.  (back)
  2. Maybe it’s just my inner Bill Belichick talking here.  (back)
  3. That’s a rhetorical question. I don’t want you to answer.  (back)
  4. Assuming of course that they advance to the championship game  (back)

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