Fantasy football has exploded in popularity and is in large part to thank for the explosion in the popularity of the NFL. But what about fantasy basketball? If fantasy football is Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Twins,” then fantasy hoops is Danny DeVito. There a way to fix it?
I think so. As a fan of both sports, I think fantasy hoops struggles for several reasons:
Problem #1: Roto or category scoring systems are convoluted and difficult to understand/manage.
Most fantasy basketball leagues utilize one of two formats. A roto format awards points based on a team’s rank in each of several categories. The team with the most roto points at the end of the season wins the leagues. Another format is category scoring, where each team plays head to head with another team in several categories, so one team might win in points, rebounds and assists, but lose in FG%, turnovers and blocks. Blah blah blah.
Solution: Go to a head-to-head fantasy points system.
My recommendation is to use the NBA’s Efficiency statistic to calculate fantasy points for each player. Here is how Efficiency is calculated:
EFF = ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers))
That may look complicated, but really it just adds up a player’s points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, while subtracting his turnovers, missed free throws and missed field goals. I like this statistic because it covers all the major stats while rewarding an efficient shooter more than a volume shooter. For example, a player that scores 20 points on 15 shots is probably going to have a higher Efficiency than a player that scores 20 points on 20 shots, because of the negative effect of missed field goals. Most importantly, a fantasy owner can look at a box score and have a pretty good idea about how his player performed that night.
Problem #2: There are too many games.
With NBA games going on throughout the week, owners have to pay more attention to their teams, and this narrows the appeal to only those people with enough time or desire to check/set their rosters on a daily basis.
Solution: Set rosters once-a-week.
Every Monday (or any other day of the week), fantasy owners set their roster for the week and it is frozen when the first game tips-off. This would only require that the most laid-back owners manage their teams once a week. Many leagues have already adopted this schedule.
Problem #3: One player might have four games, while another has two or three games in a given week. Who do you start?
While some fantasy owners may appreciate the strategy involved with maximizing their team’s schedule, this is beyond the scope of casual fans.
Solution: Instead of total fantasy points, use the AVERAGE EFFICIENCY for the week.
If LeBron scores 40 fp in his game on Monday, 35 fp on Thursday and 30 fp on Sunday, his average would be 35 fp per game. His average would be added to the averages to all of the other players in the starting lineup to come up with a total (average) fantasy points for the week. This would allow fantasy owners to start their best players every week and not worry about the number of games they play week-to-week. It would also keep the games interesting heading into the weekend. A team that’s trailing could pull out a win with an epic performance from its star player or even win with a horrible performance by an opposing player.
During the 2009-10 season I acted as commissioner of a league with these settings and everything went pretty well. I’m considering starting the league back up, so drop me a line using the email icon in the right sidebar if you’d be interested in joining.