How to fix Fantasy Football

As the fantasy universe grows, I think league scoring settings will become increasingly standardized for a variety of reasons, primarily for the perception of fairness as well as ability to compare/analyze player and team performance across the broadest range of leagues/teams possible, thus reaching the highest number of end users.

Alternatively, and maybe more likely since some players have had leagues going for many years, is something akin to player/course handicaps in Golf. And I’m pondering what aspects of this crazy game we all play would need to go into a similar system applied to Fantasy Football.

While FF (well, maybe just DFS at the moment, which has is nuances without doubt) has been legally ruled (for now) a game of skill, not chance, I can’t help but scoff at such a declaration at times. There are myriad factors in season-long FF that are essentially acts of god, also known as clearcut luck/fortune (and vice versa…), even the smallest of which can singularly determine the final outcome of an entire league as the resulting impact ripples its way through every team to some, tangible extent.

But, can the aforementioned rippling impact truly be measured in a realistic and statistically sound manner in practice? Well, that would be roughly equivalent to asking whether or not history is a perfectly reliable indicator of the future. The answer to that question is ‘no.’ But, within the confines of a controlled, standardized FF environment, perhaps the answer could one day be ‘yes,’ right?

I bring this up because I think, and hell, I KNOW, FF is, on the whole, incredibly unfair. I mean, this doesn’t stop me from participating actively every single season, but I think we all at least notice it when it happens. And we all know how it feels to be the beneficiary of a lucky break, as well as the seemingly permanent feeling of despair one may experience when made to be the other side, having only received the “tough luck,” to state it absent any four letter words we might prefer at the time.

**To me, the aspect of FF most in need of standardization — or stated bluntly, the cheapest/most absurd reason for losing any given week — is the delta between a player’s expected utilization versus the actual chances he gets to touch the ball and score points when it’s all said and done and the clock hits double zeroes.

PPR tries to account for this somewhat, but obviously falls short in a higher total number of ways than even the total number of times the Patriots are mentioned on ESPN (in short: a lot). But it helps. Until it doesn’t help and teams win by a single point because someone like Theo Riddick gains only 10 yards on the game but on 20 receptions as Matthew Stafford mindlessly shotputs a pass every play to Theo with 1 inch of room to run while he contemplates his purpose on this planet for the final 30 minutes of a game, hypothetically, kind of…Or Zach Ertz gets every pass on an entire drive the length of the field on a game’s final drive until he decides not to sacrifice his body to an onslaught of Cowboys defenders after reaching the one yard line, instead choosing to lateral and instead preserve his career earnings potential just like a Stanford-prepped player is likely taught to prioritize over taking one for the team in hopes of salvaging a chance to win the game. For the record, I’d do the same thing…

One day, however, I envision myself playing in a league with an annual salary’s worth of prize money on the line as the industry expands and evolves. With those stakes, I don’t think I would want to play without a massive overhaul of the current scoring systems widely in use. I’d require some sort of “handicap” in fantasy that levels out these types of plays based on the given circumstances, player incentives, coaching decisions, field conditions, crowd noise, injury severity, team records/motives, and everything that makes a given play lucky or unlucky to a team manager.

It would be impossible to really come up with something that is mathematically proven and precise, wouldn’t it? There are just too many factors in play, right? Too many things are left to chance, agreed?

Well then why isn’t sports betting also considered a matter of skill? Is it because of the point line that Vegas agrees on for every game? Does that mean FF would also be gambling if a handicap/line became a fixture of the game? Would that make it less fun at the end of the day? If done correctly, I don’t think so. But everyone would have to agree to use the same handicapping system, which is probably unrealistic in the aggregate, but at a micro/league level, Im sure a smaller group could decide to institute such a thing.

I post this here because this is the best, most educated/“skilled” pool of players/opinions that I have ever encountered when it comes to FF topics, and certainly an above-average group of FF players when it comes to activity level and participation rate. Believe it or not, we are all still very early adopters on the curve of Fantasy’s existence, and almost everything people say on here is notable to me in some way as someone who expects to at least partially be involved in this industry going forward in a capacity beyond just playing. I actually strongly believe Fantasy sports will be a far larger and more valuable market than sports leagues/broadcasting themselves, in terms of both total market cap as well as by the portion of the world’s population that participates regularly.

I’m tired of typing and realize I haven’t written a coherently structured comment here, but if you happen to read any of it and have any thoughts to add, or any specific aspects of the game you think must be factored in to some sort of handicapping system — which would be developed in an effort to standardize the game across all leagues and make the way matchups/outcomes are scored fairer and more immune to statistical outliers in players’ performances, anomalies in game script, and deviations from normal coaching decisions, among many other items — through the analysis and application of historical statistics/performance in past NFL and fantasy seasons, as well as statistically incorporating the spectrum of decisions FF players/managers must make throughout the season and the domino effect these decisions have on everything else from that point forward for entire league’s season long prospects.

Yes, I’m clearly a crazy person. That is all for now.


That was the best run on sentence I’ve ever written in my life at the end there, I think. My 7th grade English teacher would probably walk me back behind the gymnasium and shank me for ever putting such a grammatical monstrosity in front of another human being’s eyes. Sorry abt that.

The only handicap I’d like to introduce are removing OT stats from our fantasy points.
This year I have been both the beneficiary and victim of OT scoring. This was especially exasperated with my league’s game milestone point multipliers ie; throwing for 400yards in 5quarters of play should not hold the same value as the same feat in 4quarters.


Hey bud,

Not sure if i agree with it, as i can’t possibly think of a way to come up with a way of standardizing a scoring system for “luck”, but it was quite the read regardless.

Keep grinding my dude

Man. Great write up. It sounds like You must also be just as upset as I am about the falcons losing to the browns… why did we have to face the rejuvenated no hugh Jackson browns…

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I find it very fair. Don’t like the rules then start your own league.

I didn’t read the whole thing cause it’s too long. But I’ve always thought that we overvalued TDs. I think it should be more like 1 pt every 5 yards. My argument here is that you rarely see a pure red zone threat w/ a big contract while you definitely see players who pick up a lot of yardage w/ large contracts (aka Julio jones). I think that helps adjust for random crazy TD variability.


I am not sure that we can truly take luck out fantasy football, nor am I sure we really want to. The chance that you could win or dig yourself out of hole against all odds is part of what people love even if it drives them crazy at other times. We can’t really tell how players are going to be utilized as coaches will never tell us that and even if they did, it could change once they realize how the other team is choosing to play them in game. We also can’t predict injuries. The closest we can get to fair play is DFS, where everybody is working with the same prices (handicaps) which are formed by complex algorithms. Not sure I see a more unbiased analytical way to play unless fantasy football just becomes people using their own algorithms and not basing it on football or entertainment at all, which I am not a fan of.

Roll my eyes every year at the one guy always complaining about rules. We had one this year but I look at his roster and it’s stupid and lazy. He doesn’t do the work. All he does is look at the top waiver wire pickup and picks them up. It almost never works out. It takes a lot more than that to win.

Matchups, weather, opponent weakness. It might be better to use a waiver for example to block an opponent. Or, to throw a dart on someone way off the radar screen like a Chubb or Lamar before anybody gets wind of it. He’s too lazy to do those things so he loses and cries every draft about rules.

I think we are simply trying to have an open dialogue of how to improve each of our ffb experience. I am in agreement with you that how well we do in our league’s is more dependent on our skill/knowledge/research/effort than it can be attributed to luck.
Idk how all of the others in this thread are doing in there respective league’s, but even with my fair share of “bad luck” I am currently pushing for a playoff bye in my league. I’ll be bringing up the issue of OT points to my league after this season comes to a close. Until then I’ll continue to diligently play out this season in what I hope is a championship run & maybe even a new league scoring record.

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Nice thread, good read @falcones404.

I think all the random and weird scenarios combined with all the good luck/bad luck that inevitably happens in a given season are part of what makes fantasy football fun. The fact that it can be tough to predict, for me, makes it very challenging and I love that.

I would also say that the longer you play, the more you realize that luck will benefit you just as often as it hurts you. We usually remember the weeks when it hurts us, while forgetting all the weeks when luck worked in our favor.

Life isn’t always fair, neither is fantasy football. LOL but sometimes it is!!

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I played for one of those guys once. He’s sitting at 4-5 and others are trading to try and get better and he’s complaining that the trades ‘aren’t fair’ instead of doing the same himself. Then he threatens to quit if a trade goes through (blackmail). I’m like that don’t fly here sorry bud.

There is a skill to it but even when you factor stuff in you can still lose to some random lineup even when you make the best choices. You also never know when someone will get hurt. There is always going to be ‘luck’.

My two losses in my main league happened basically because I played too well at managing my team. I overthought myself when a lazy owner would have just rolled with what he had. (Played Ben at home vs Ravens, benched Golden Tate that week because he was a late add to injury report and game time decision against Dallas) and (Instead of just picking up Denver defense which I had already started several times during the year after the bye I picked up Arizona defense for Thursday night against Broncos).

It just happens. If I was a lazy owner I might have those wins but I probably would have dropped a few others.

Nice rant! I am all aboard the idea of bonus points for first downs and long plays. And for giving QB’s points for completions (like .1 points or something). Make every game of every week a bonanza!

My league does .5 pts per completion. Top QBs score in the 50+ range

Really takes away leg advantage of mobile QBs who tuck and run instead of going for the dump off pass

Personally I think all of this makes it way more rewarding to win. I think all of this comes with the game and really should just be accepted. The only thing I would consider changing is matchups between teams. I have a team in my league with the second most points scored and bottom three based on record. That is just really unfortunate and could be fixed a few ways but even that I just try to accept as part of the game.

Yeah that’s one of the more frustrating parts, I feel your pain, I started 1-3 but luckily was able to have a few opponents have normal games against me as my team’s scoring floor has been the league’s average lol

Obviously hard work and skill helps you win, and congrats on your season, but luck still plays a huge role. Same as gambling. There are people that are just better at it than others. But luck still plays a huge role. I don’t care how good you are, if you are in a league with other good hard working owners, injuries or other misfortunes can make it extremely difficult to win. If you are getting bad luck all year and still winning than the rest of your league needs to step up.

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Thank you, I agree that luck plays a part but it’s no different than playing the stock market or anything in life really, we do what we can and try to capitalize on “good luck” and adjust to “bad luck.”
As rough as I’ve had it with teams going off when I’m matched up against them, I am keenly aware(knock on wood) that my fantasy team has so far avoided major injuries that allowed me to navigate and capitalize on the major bye weeks via trade. I bought a number of studs on bye from decimated or bad beats teams in must win scenarios. So far this season I turned good luck into hopefully a deep playoff push. But last year I was not so lucky on the injury front :man_shrugging:

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Some leagues have standings where you get a point for a win and an extra point for being in top half of the league in scoring.

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