Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brothers Keeper Playoffs Format Discussion

The history of the Brothers Keeper Playoffs while short in its sample size, is large in its scope. The first year of the league's history saw a 3 week playoff format of 8 teams beginning in week 15. This was changed to begin in week 14 in 2008 and 2009. This move was toward the standard in the industry. Very few people like it when an NFL team clinches a playoff spot only to bench fantasy football's top performers in week 17... the week of the fantasy championships. So the easy sacrifice has been to play one less fantasy week and allow for a competitive week 16 championship. This is common sense across the industry.

However, there is an oddity still needing to be addressed in the Brothers Keeper playoff system. Right now 8 out of 10 teams make the playoffs. In fact, it is hard not to make the playoffs. Only one team has missed the playoffs twice in the 3 years of Brothers Keeper. Two of the other four teams who missed the playoffs were also league champions either the year before or the next year. The parity is kind of interesting. Most fantasy football leagues only sporting 10 teams will have either a 6 team or 4 team playoff. Definitely not an 8 team playoff. I'm all for thinking outside the box of conventional wisdom but there needs to be a forum to discuss the playoff format of Brothers Keeper for the future health of the league. So what are the pros and cons to the various playoff formats?

8 Team Playoff Format
80% of the league gets to play in the final 3 weeks either in the playoffs or in. 2 out of three years the number 8 team in the playoffs has defeated the number 1 seeded team in the quarterfinals.

No one's feelings are hurt... except the 2 teams that don't make the playoffs at all.

The 8 team format devalues 13 weeks of fantasy play. Too many teams make the playoffs. Why devalue the whole season for a mere 3 weeks of play. I understand desiring to include more teams in play to keep interest, but a leading team in the league can clinch the playoffs by week 8 or 9 and snooze for 4 or 5 weeks. That is not fun for a dominant team either. A playoff should reward a full season of play. An 8 team playoff does not reward those who succeed most of the season. In fact, it could be down right depressing if a number 8 seed team upsets a number 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs as in 2007 and 2009. That doesn't seem so interesting of a semi-final or championship when the strong teams don't make it. In fact the number 8 seed in 2007 and 2009 were both crushed once they lost later on in the playoffs.

In the worst case scenario an 8th seeded team wins the playoffs. That's just not cool. A sub .500 team makes the playoffs then wins it all? That's just not right. One 3 week hot streak is no reason to win a championship. The playoffs are too heavily valued and the regular season of play is devalued too much. Look at the last 3 years. 2007 saw a third place team with a 5-9 regular season record above two teams with 10 wins during the regular season. In 2008, another sub .500 team makes third place with a 6-7 record. Then in 2009 a 5-8 team made second place. Think about it for a moment. These teams were weak and now because of their performance will have a later draft pick in the following season's draft thus increasing the likelihood that they will remain weak for another season.

At least one team has made the playoffs all three years and has never had a winning regular season record (6-8; 6-7; 5-8). Does that encourage you to play hard in the regular season? It actually sounds depressing. Akin to Socialism's attempt to rob the rich and give to the poor.

Two teams don't get a chance at the playoffs or the consolation bracket.

6 Team Playoff Format
This system rewards the top two teams of season play with a bye week. They have an instant shot at the semifinals to make the championship. They are spared the humiliation of being defeated by the number 8 or number 7 seeded teams in the quarterfinals. Plus, the top two teams have a reason to play hard at the end of the season especially if the number 3 or 4 team has a viable chance of gaining a bye week in the final weeks of the season.

This format still has over half the league (60%) interested in the last 3 weeks of play. This seems to correspond to the history of the league's playoffs where the top 5 teams have the best chance of advancing: In every single playoff in Brothers Keeper's history the number 5 team has advanced to play in the semifinal matchup against the winner of the number 8 v number 1 seeded team game. On the other half of the playoff format as it is currently, the number 4, 7, and number 6 seeded teams have never advanced to the semifinals. It has always been a number 2 v number 3 seeded matchup. That means that the same 50% of the league every season has not made the semifinals. Every year the number 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10 seeded teams has not made the semifinals. The 2, 3, and 5 teams have made it every year and they should being on the top half of league play by the regular season's end.

Who wouldn't like a chance at a bye week?

If it comes down to two teams tied for 5th place in their regular season record they both make it.

If multiple teams have the same record for 6th place the team with the best regular season point total advances, therefore making the quarterfinal more competitive with a good point scorer.

A consolation bracket could include the worst 4 teams thus prolonging their fun.

Cons: At most, one team could be below .500 on the regular season and make the playoffs.

4 Team Playoff Format
The benefits here mimic the 6 team v 8 team playoff format except for one caveat. The playoffs for a 4 team playoff format is a week shorter. Only weeks 15 and 16 of the NFL season are employed to sift out a league champion. Another argument for a 4 team playoff is that it only includes the best teams. The cream of the crop get to duke it out. Worst case scenario the 4th seeded team wins the championship. Nice. Much easier to live with than a number 8 seeded champion with a record below .500.

The Talented Mr Roto, Matthew Berry advocates a 2 week 4 team playoff in his yearly "The Draft Day Manifesto 2010 edition: Your guide to winning your fantasy football league ... while having fun".

Fantasy football is for men. Men can handle it if they do not make the playoffs. Men are devalued if losers make the playoffs.

If one wanted to consider a 4 team playoff instead of a 6 team playoff, you have eliminated the 5th place teams who have always made it to the seminfinals.

I have begun the discussion. Please add comments below in this Pro or Con format for which playoff format you would prefer.

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