Unit One: Getting Started
Chapter Four – Resource Acquisition
We’ve covered basic roster and scoring rules so far. These are the basics for any fantasy league, but there is a lot more to consider. We’ll explore a couple of basic rules and provide some guidance for commissioners.
One basic concept we have not yet covered, and need to, is how to handle free agents. That is, how to administer and design rules for player acquisition after the draft. Free agent pick-ups are the grease that keeps fantasy leagues running, and keep owners interested. No, wait…money is the grease that keeps owners interested. Free agent pick-ups are the week in and week out transactions that owners use to finalize their rosters, react to injuries, or take a flier on the latest hot prospect.
I’ve kept my opinions to myself (mostly) the first three chapters, that will go out the window with this chapter. Most likely you’ll disagree with at least one thing I espouse here, but that’s nothing new. Please read and make your own judgment, but do what you feel is best.
There are three basic ways to handle free agent pick-ups, one of which; the first I will describe, is awful. With the last chapter, I forwarded the idea (to paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein) that there ain’t no such thing as a bad scoring system; I believe this. There is, however, such a thing as a bad free agent system…and it’s pretty rampant in the fantasy universe.
This system is the First Come First Served system, and it’s just plain bad. This system is based on the idea that if you want a player, just get your request in the fastest (some leagues do close free agent pick ups from Sunday to Monday), along with the player you want to drop, and you get the player. Now, some leagues will impose limits on how many players you pick up, but no matter, this system stinks. Think about it, how many leagues are there where people work different hours, or have owners who need to travel? Most leagues do feature owners who can’t troll the internet all hours, most people actually do have lives, and this system punishes people who can’t get to the league website at the drop of a hat. As for the leagues that have no deadlines or restrictions whatsoever, the people who are most hurt are people who actually attend football games! Come one, how is this fair?
The second system is much better, not my favorite, but much better. This is the Waiver System. Most leagues use this system. The premise is this, there is an order established each week for which owner gets first pick for free agent pick ups, and the rest of the order is filled out using the same determining factors which designated the first owner. Usually waiver systems use one of three criteria for determining pick order:
Record to Date – This is pretty easy, if a team has a bad record, they get the first pick, then priority for picks follows the inverse of records. This system favors teams with the worse records when compared to teams with better records.
Number of Pick Ups – Again, this is very simple, if an owner has made a lot of pick ups throughout the season, he gets a lower priority then an owner who has made less free agent acquisitions. This is regardless of record, if an owner holds off on picking up players, he will get the higher priority.
Rotating Order – Again, simplicity. An order is set up before the season begins, and as each weeks goes by, the order changes in a preordained manner, usually whoever picks first in the first week, picks last in week two and moves up one spot the next week, etc.
As I wrote above, the waiver system is infinitely better than the dreaded first come first served method of free agent acquisitions, but you can still do better. The best system (in my humble opinion, of course) is the Money Speaks System. To reiterate a constant theme throughout this series – fantasy sports are about resource management, with this system, you introduce another resource to manage, free agent acquisition currency. This currency (or $FA, as I will refer to them going forward) is used to bid on available free agents week to week.
At the beginning of each year, each owner is given an allotment of FA$ for that year. Here are some basic properties of $FA :
$FA are tradeable – not all league management software supports this, but if this is an option, I suggest you allow owners swapping of $FA, for picks or players. So $FA can be traded along with an owner’s other resources.
$FA can be saved – this means that some quantity of $FA can be transferred from one season to another. If the allotment per year is $FA 1000, and an owner ends the year with $FA 200, that amount may be in that owner’s account to begin the next year. So after the $FA allotment, he starts the year with $FA 1200 instead of the $FA 1000 other owners who spent everything have. I do
suggest capping the amount of $FA that can be transferred, a good rule of thumb is to cap the transferable amount to half of the allotment, or in the $FA 1000 example – $FA 500.
Even if your league management software doesn’t fully support $FA, you can handle bidding using e-mails to the commissioner (if blind bids), or through posting on the league message board (if an open auction).
You should also name your $FA currency something that goes along with the character of your league. If you are in a Philadelphia area league, Call the money Birdseed or Eagles Dollars. If you’re in Detroit, call the currency Yzermans, or Sheeds. You get the idea; I am in a league called the MonkeyLeague, we call our currency Banana Bucks. Cute, eh? Monkeys… bananas… Get it?
Open Auction – All owners can see each others bids. The auction starts sometime after the Monday Night game, and closes with enough time before the first game that week so owners can start their new acquisitions. Don’t forget about Thursday Night games, your rules should state that the auction ends at least 6 hours before the first game’s kickoff. Everyone can see all bids, this can lead to some overindulgence with owners trying to outbid each other, which can be fun to watch, if you’re not involved in the bidding. This system can too be unfair to owners without constant internet access, so if this is implemented, try to make sure all owners can get to the league’s website or e-mail at auction’s end.
Blind Bid – Assuming your league’s software supports blind bids, this is very easy. Each owner submits a bid, using the league’s software and also indicates which player to drop. Whoever bids the most (remember, owner’s won’t see who bid what) gets the player. Of all the systems I know of, I think this is the best. This system is very competitive and fair. Again, you need to set times that bids can be submitted so owners can install newly acquired players into their lineups.
If you league management software doesn’t support blind bids, there needs to be some trust in the commissioner. The alternate way to run blind bids, is to have owners e-mail their bids to the commissioner. The commissioner doesn’t open the bids until the deadline and awards players and manages $FA. This is tricky because most commissioners are also owners in leagues, and there needs to be trust that a commissioner will not peek at bids ahead of time, and alter their bids accordingly, to get the player they want. If your commissioner is trustworthy, this shouldn’t be an issue. If you don’t trust your commissioner, you should try to get a new one.
All this talk about trustworthiness is a very nice segue to our next chapter, and last chapter in the first of two units…We will talk about what makes a well governed league.