Hardcore Salary Cap Fantasy Football: A League Proposal that Will Punish You, the GM

James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

How intense do you want your fantasy football experience to be next year? Here's a proposal for an insane, salary-cap style league that involves three drafts and a few excel spreadsheets.

Your standard fantasy football league is bland.

Sure, it's fun and easy to do, especially if you're a casual fan. All it takes is two hours or so organizing a draft at a friend's house and then a few minutes on Wednesday and Saturday night to organize your roster.

But if the real appeal of fantasy football is to manage your own roster and pretend that you can GM a team, then your standard leagues aren't enough. You can't simulate free agency, and there's no real capology that you have to do. Your roster only consists of seven or eight players and an additional player you refer to as your "defense."

Instead, you can build a roster of 48 players with a salary cap, and receive points for players outside of skill positions, like offensive linemen and nose tackles.

Because you'll be playing with a group of 7-11 other friends (and not a league of 32 people), your salary cap will be higher than the NFL cap. A rule of thumb that I've found works out well is to take the current NFL salary cap and add 25 times the 5-year veteran's minimum. For this year, that would be 120.6 million plus 17.5 million, for 138.1 million dollars. The cap hits you'll be using are derived from the website of your choice—Rotoworld and Spotrac are both great, although if you want to really measure the cap hit of a player, Spotrac does the work for you. At Rotoworld, you'll have to do the math yourself after prorating the signing bonus.

To put your roster together, you'll likely need three drafts, but I'll detail that a bit later.

If you don't want to drive yourself mad, I would recommend starting a fantasy league with our partners, the excellent professionals at Yahoo!Sports.

Roster

You'll have 23 offensive players and 23 defensive players, along with two specialists—the punter and the kicker. Before your first draft starts, you'll want to pick a defensive scheme. You can choose between a 3-4 and a 4-3. When drafting defensive players, you'll only be able to pick your front seven from players who operate in those schemes, although players who operate in hybrid schemes, like those from the Patriots and the Falcons, are available to either scheme.

Just so that there is not an overabundance of teams operating in one defensive scheme or another, you might want to treat schemes like the first round of your first draft (in which case, you'd probably want to go last because of the snake—the last owner to pick a scheme is the first one to pick a player).

On offense, your only roster requirements are to have one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, and seven offensive linemen. Your starting lineup, however, has different requirements that will allow a lot of creativity. You will have to start one quarterback, two tackles, two guards, one center and five flex players (running back, wide receiver, tight end). That way, you can draft a cheap tight end (say Konrad Reuland, who has a cap hit of 400k) and just start four receivers and one running back.

An example offensive roster from 2012:

Offensive Starters

QB: Philip Rivers (15.3 million)
WR: Roddy White (8.2 million)
WR: Reggie Wayne (3.5 million)
RB: Reggie Bush (6.0 million)
RB: Adrian Peterson (11.1 million)
TE: Lance Kendricks (1.0 million)
T: Joe Thomas (13.0 million)
T: Winston Justice (1.5 million)
G: Paul McQuistan (1.6 million)
G: Zane Beadles (0.9 million)
C: Will Montgomery (1.4 million)

Offensive Bench

QB: Andrew Luck (4.0 million)
WR: Justin Blackmon (2.2 million)
WR: Jerome Simpson (2.0 million)
WR: Ramses Barden (1.5 million)
WR: Dezmon Briscoe (0.5 million)
RB: Daryl Richardson (0.4 million)
RB: Bernard Pierce (0.5 million)
RB: Toby Gerhart (0.9 million)
TE: Tony Moeaki (0.7 million)
TE: Konrad Reuland (0.4 million)
OL: Garrett Reynolds (0.6 million)
OL: Sean Locklear (0.9 million)

The fact that you'll be using actual player salaries will really depress the value of players like Adrian Peterson and may have the unintended side effect of making Robert Griffin III and Aaron Rodgers the most valuable players in the league.

Your defensive draft strategy will change quite a bit based on scheme, and a defensive tackle who would be valuable in a 4-3 would have to be made up for by a defensive end from a 3-4. Again, you'll see that players on their rookie salaries will have immense value, and I would expect J.J. Watt to be drafted in the second or third round.

There are two sets of requirements, naturally, for the defense. On your 3-4 roster, you'll be required to have three defensive ends, two nose tackles, three outside linebackers, three inside linebackers, three cornerbacks, and three safeties. A 4-3 defense will roster at least three defensive ends, three defensive tackles, three outside linebackers, two middle linebackers, three cornerbacks and three safeties.

Your starters on defense are pretty easy to predict, although you have the option of starting a "nickel" defense and replacing a linebacker with a defensive back of your choice. On a 3-4 system that would be two defensive ends, one nose tackle, three linebackers, two cornerbacks, two safeties and one flex slot (linebacker or defensive back). In a 4-3 system, that would be two defensive ends, two defensive tackles, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, two safeties and one flex slot (linebacker or defensive back).

Here's an example defensive roster, using a 3-4 system:

Defensive Starters

DE: Calais Campbell (5.0 million)
DE: Quinton Coples (1.6 million)
NT: BJ Raji (5.5 million)
OLB: Tamba Hali (13.0 million)
OLB: Melvin Ingram (1.5 million)
ILB: Kavell Conner (0.6 million)
ILB: Daryl Washington (3.4 million)
CB: Charles Tillman (8.0 million)
CB: Cary Williams (1.9 million)
S: Patrick Chung (1.1 million)
S: Ronde Barber (3.0 million)

Defensive Bench

DE: DeAngelo Tyson (0.4 million)
DE: Allen Bailey (0.6 million)
NT: Kyle Love (0.8 million)
NT: Earl Mitchell (0.7 million)
LB: Dannell Ellerbe (1.9 million)
LB: Bradie James (0.9 million)
LB: Demorrio Williams (0.9 million)
LB: Victor Butler (0.7 million)
DB: Marcus Gilchrist (0.9 million)
DB: Aaron Ross (1.5 million)
DB: Atari Bigby (0.9 million)
DB: Reed Doughty (1.4 million)

The offensive roster comes down to 78.1 million, while the defensive roster comes to 54.8 million. This owner planned a bit poorly and ended up with a cap space of 132.9 million before rostering a kicker and punter, who we'll just say are Chris Kluwe (1.6 million) and Blair Walsh (0.4 million). With a total cap hit of 134.9 million, he could have invested slightly more in his defense.

You will end up with owners who have offense-first and defense-first strategies. You will have some owners who put more faith in their secondary to make plays, and other who will invest in making sure their run game is dominant (can you imagine a team of five starting running backs?). The hope here is that most of these strategies are relatively balanced.

Scoring

You will need a very involved commissioner, and one who has access to Pro Football Focus' premium stats. Ideally, league fees should pay for this. League fees might want to pay the commissioner a little bit, too.

The scenario that makes the most sense for me is for the commissioner to keep an open Google Doc for each position, with sheets for each week. I paste the PFF data into an excel sheet, calculate the points using the formula above, then paste the points into a Google Doc.

I would imagine that making the Google Doc public would violate the PFF's terms of service, so be sure to keep it private and only share it with people in your league.

A responsible commissioner should have these scores done by Tuesday night.

On offense, scoring for skill players should be familiar, but the offensive line or blocking tight ends will benefit from other ways to make points.

Offensive Scoring

Passing Touchdowns: 4
Passing 2 Point Conversion: 1
Passing Yards: 0.04 per yard
Rushing Yards: 0.1 per yard
Receiving Yards: 0.1 per yard
Receptions: 0.5 per reception
Receiving/Rushing Touchdown: 6
Receiving/Rushing 2 Point Conversion: 2
Plays in pass protection: 0.4 per play
Run blocking: 3 times PFF's run block grade for the week
Interception: -2
Fumble: -1
Drop: -1
Sack allowed: -2.5
Hit allowed: -1
Hurry allowed: -.75

Any player is eligible to score any type of play, so if a quarterback is run blocking (like Russell Wilson did in the divisional game against Atlanta) or holds on to the ball too long (Aaron Rodgers was responsible for 10 of his 51 sacks), he can get or lose points from unexpected places.

Blocking tight ends like Indianapolis' Dwayne Allen are very useful. This also enables you to play fullbacks who do not run or receive, and still get points. Vonta Leach and Jerome Felton would do you well.

Defensive Scoring

Tackle: 1
Assist: 0.5
Sack: 2
QB Hit: 1
QB Hurry: 0.5
Interception: 3
Forced Fumble: 1
Recovered Fumble: 2
Stop: 0.5
Pass Deflected: 1
Play in coverage: 0.3
Touchdown scored: 6
Missed Tackle: -0.5
Reception Allowed: -0.5
Coverage Yards Allowed: -0.1 per yard
Touchdown Allowed: -4
Missed Tackle: -0.5

Unless your commissioner wants to use a different source, all of these stats should come from Pro Football Focus. Stops are tackles by players that constitute offensive failures (when an offense does less than getting 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% on second down or 100% on third and fourth down). All sacks are stops, so forcing the quarterback to fumble behind the line of scrimmage would be worth 3.5 points.

Most IDP owners are well aware of how overvalued bad safeties are because of their high tackle totals (Morgan Burnett was the best safety in IDP, and Madieu Williams ranked 15th in ESPN IDP scoring). Adding coverage and missed tackles should resolve some of this concern—Burnett missed 11 tackles and Williams missed 16. Along with that, Burnett allowed the 11th most yards with 421 and the 8th most receptions with 35. Williams allowed 23 receptions and 254 yards.

Similarly, teams keep track of their own defensive stats, so some teams are stingy with their tackle stats (Jacksonville) while other teams are willing to hand out extra assisted tackles on a whim (Colts), so an independent scorer like PFF can be useful.

Again, every player is eligible for every category, so a defensive lineman who drops into coverage will get 0.3 points while a quarterback might grab a tackle and a point on an interception return (after presumably losing two when throwing the interception).

Scores are different for offense and defense in categories like hits allowed and hits created simply because I've attempted to create some balance so that one can field a mostly defensive team and be just as competitive as someone fielding a mostly offensive team.

Nevertheless, having Tom Brady, A.J. Green and Adrian Peterson (878.58) turns out better than having J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Richard Sherman (611.2) . There is an offensive bias, but teams that invest more money into defense and make a wise investment or two on offense (Alfred Morris and Russell Wilson, perhaps) could still win.

Special Teams Scoring

Punt: 1 per punt
Punt: 0.05 per yard
Punt Touchbacks: -1.5
Punt Downed Inside 20: 2
Punt Blocked: -2
Kickoffs: 0.5 per kick
Kickoff Touchbacks: 1.5
Field Goal Under 40 Yards: 3
Field Goal 40+: 4
Field Goal 50+: 5
Field Goal/Extra Point Blocked: -2
Field Goal/Extra Point Missed (no block): -1
Extra Point: 1
Tackle: 1
Assist: 0.5
Missed Tackle: -0.5
Touchdown: 6
Return Yards: 0.1 per yard

A lot of these points are unit-based, because of coverages and blocking strategies, but it's still better than "Special Teams" as a unit. I've decided not to include Punt/Kickoff touchdown allowed because that is far too much the unit's fault and not the individual specialist's fault.

I would make it the responsibility of the individual owner to point out that their player is responsible for special team return yards and tackles. Those can be updated by Wednesday night.

Example Score

From Week 9, if we used the roster above, the points would shake out thusly:

QB: Philip Rivers: 14.8
WR: Roddy White: 16.3
WR: Reggie Wayne: 17.05
RB: Reggie Bush: 8.35
RB: Adrian Peterson: 21.8
TE: Tony Moeaki: -2.4
T: Joe Thomas: 16.3
T: Winston Justice: 11.3
G: Paul McQuistan: 8.95
G: Zane Beadles: 2.05
C: Will Montgomery: 24.1

DE: Calais Campbell: 10.5
DE: DeAngelo Tyson: 3.5
NT: Earl Mitchell: 0
OLB: Tamba Hali: 12.4
OLB: Melvin Ingram: 4
ILB: Kavell Conner: 12.1
ILB: Daryl Washington: 11
CB: Charles Tillman: 11.9
CB: Cary Williams: 11.7
S: Atari Bigby: 10.6
S: Ronde Barber: 22.7

K: Blair Walsh: 16.5
P: Chris Kluwe: 10.25

If Peterson's score seems low, he allowed 3 sacks and 6 hurries. The Rams were on a bye, so Tony Moeaki subbed in. Same with Quinton Coples and DeAngelo Tyson. B.J. Raji was out, so I played Earl Mitchell, and the same thing was true of Patrick Chung/Atari Bigby.

Offensive points: 138.6
Defensive points: 106.4

It looks like the goal of balance was generally achieved, as there were more defensive substitutions than offensive substitutions and the offense had an unusually good day from Peterson and Montgomery (the MVP, as he only cost 1.4 million in cap space). The fact that the offense outspent the defense by a good margin also accounts well for the difference.

I don't want to do much more balancing, as I think Peterson's presence makes balancing difficult. My only hope was to have one or two defensive players every week in every position potentially score around 25 points, and that looks like the case—but not as much as I'd like. Matchups will matter, as defenses playing against teams that pass a lot will score more points because of the points per snap in coverage.

Incidentally, the points per snap in protection and in coverage is a mechanic designed to create an incentive to play starters instead of marginal players who only get 4 or so snaps a game and wouldn't incur any negative points.

The Draft(s)

There are any number of methods you could use to draft, feel free to use your own. The first draft strategy is my favorite, because it's a way to keep engaged in the offseason.

Three Stage

This draft involves several stages that can either be played out by an auction, or preferably a snake-style draft. One can change the individual number of rounds if one wishes to, but the idea is the same.

Stage One

This is the draft following free agency, and would ideally be conducted some time around early April and would consist of fifteen rounds (sixteen, if the first round is used to pick defensive schemes). Generally, the strategy would be to draft your high-value superstars here. The order can be how you and your commissioner determine it, but random order works as well as anything.

There's an added element here, which is that when an owner's turn to draft arrives, they can forfeit their selection instead of picking a player. The benefit here would be to give them extra picks in subsequent stages. If that owner likes what he sees in the upcoming draft class (and we know that rookie contracts are the cheapest), he can grab an extra pick in the same round of the next draft and a pick in the subsequent round of the Stage Three draft.

There are a few ways to figure that pick out, but the easiest way to encourage that strategy is to give them the same pick plus one in those extra drafts. As an example, someone with the third pick of the Stage One draft can forfeit their fifth round pick and receive 1) the pick following the owner who is fifth in the third round of the Stage Two draft and 2) the pick following the owner who is fourth in the order of the sixth round of the Stage Three draft.

That's complicated, so there will be an example following the descriptions of the Stages that describes this process.

The reason I don't say "receive the fourth pick of round two" is that if multiple players plied the same strategy in the same round, saying "fourth pick" and "eighth pick" gets complicated. It is easier to just guarantee that their new pick follows the pick of the person who formally has the same spot in the draft order.

You cannot forfeit picks received as a result of a forfeit. If you received a pick in the second round of Stage Two, you could not forfeit that new pick to receive more picks in Stage Three. When newly acquired picks from a forfeit conflict with each other (if, for example, an owner in the third spot of Stage One forfeited a third round spot and an owner in the third spot of Stage Two forfeited a fourth round spot), the forfeit from the earlier stage comes first.

Forfeiting in Stage Two adds a pick at the end of round eight of Stage Three, as there is no Stage Four to acquire a second pick. You cannot pick more players than you have roster spots. This may all be confusing, so again, there's an example at the end of the Stage descriptions.

Alternately, you could give the forfeited picks to players at the end of the round, so a forfeited pick in Round One of Stage One could give an extra pick in Round One, regardless of where it is forfeited, with conflicted forfeit picks resolved through draft order of the previous stage.

Or, you could choose not to allow your league to forfeit picks.

Stage Two

Stage Two occurs after the draft, but before the preseason. This would ideally occur mid-May, so that each owner can have some idea of the roles that each player will take on their team and half two weeks to absorb the draft. They won't know the salary, but can guess from the cap hits of rookies from previous years. In Stage Two, there are fifteen rounds, but only rookies can be taken in the first three rounds. With eight players, that only means 24 rookies will be taken before the point where everyone is eligible to be drafted.

The order can either be random (my preference) or reversed from Stage One. There are no forfeits after the seventh round of this stage.

Stage Three

Stage Three would occur during the preseason, or immediately after if you're good at scheduling. This likely means mid-to-late August. Owners will draft until rosters are filled, which could sometimes mean more than eighteen rounds because of forfeits. This is the first time that owners will be forced to comply with roster standards, naturally, which means they can wait all the way until Stage Three to grab a quarterback.

Afterwards, the commissioner will double-check salaries and inform players that they have one week (or until the first game, whichever is sooner) to cut players and move to the top of the Waiver Wire and grab new players.

There are no forfeits in Stage Three.

Example Draft

Stage one

Owner 1: Pick
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 3: Forfeit
Owner 4: Pick
Owner 5: Pick
Owner 6: Forfeit
Owner 7: Pick
Owner 8: Pick

Owner 8: Forfeit
Owner 7: Pick
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 5: Forfeit
Owner 4: Pick
Owner 3: Pick
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 1: Forfeit

Stage Two

Owner 3: Pick
Owner 8: Pick
Owner 4: Pick
-- Owner 3: Pick
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 1: Forfeit
Owner 7: Pick
-- Owner 6: Pick
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 5: Forfeit
-- Owner 8: Pick

Owner 5: Pick
Owner 2: Forfeit
Owner 7: Pick
-- Owner 5: Pick
Owner 1: Pick
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 4: Forfeit
Owner 8: Pick
Owner 3: Pick
-- Owner 1: Pick

Owner 3: Pick
Owner 8: Pick
Owner 4: Forfeit
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 1: Pick
Owner 7: Forfeit
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 5: Pick

Stage Three

Owner 5: Pick
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 1: Pick
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 8: Pick
-- Owner 1: Pick
Owner 3: Pick
Owner 7: Pick
Owner 4: Pick
-- Owner 5: Pick

Owner 4: Pick
Owner 7: Pick
-- Owner 2: Pick (from Stage Two)
Owner 3: Pick
-- Owner 3: Pick (from Stage One)
Owner 8: Pick
Owner 2: Pick
Owner 1: Pick
-- Owner 6: Pick (from Stage One)
-- Owner 4: Pick (from Stage Two)
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 5: Pick

Owner 5: Pick
-- Owner 8: Pick (from Stage One)
Owner 6: Pick
Owner 1: Pick
-- Owner 4: Pick (from Stage Two)
Owner 2: Pick
-- Owner 5: Pick (from Stage One)
Owner 8: Pick
Owner 3: Pick
-- Owner 7: Pick (from Stage Two)
Owner 7: Pick
Owner 4: Pick
-- Owner 1: Pick (from Stage One)

And so on for rounds four through eight. After round eight, but before round nine, there's a forfeit round.

Owner 1: Pick (from Round 1 of Stage Two)
Owner 5: Pick (from Round 1)
Owner 2: Pick (from Round 2)
Owner 4: Pick (from Round 2)
Owner 4: Pick (from Round 3)
Owner 7: Pick (from Round 3)

You get the idea. This is enormously complicated in an already involved process, and you can see why you should be paying your league commissioner. Manage your Stage Two forfeits carefully, as the pseudo-ninth round of Stage Three will be entirely a depth draft, as it will generally be the 35th or so pick on your roster. There will be some value in forfeiting picks after the third round of Stage Two, as the preseason will tell you what roles some players will have, and you'll be armed with that information in Stage Three.

Classic Snake

You might want to do this in three parts over a weekend or spend an entire day, but you could simply draft all 48 rounds in order. I imagine after round twenty, things become monotonous, though. Grab a beer or fifteen if this is your preferred method.

Closed Auction

This would take perhaps a week of preparation and would still require a draft. Owners would submit 35 bids for players one evening to the commissioner. Before bids are submitted, a draft order is determined. Players go to owners with the highest bid. The highest bids are resolved first. For equivalent bids, the owner with the higher draft order receives the player, then is moved to the bottom of the order.

When all bids are resolved, players draft the remaining players. The number of rounds would be equivalent to the number of players missing from the emptiest roster. Round entry is determined by emptiness. If the emptiest owner (Owner 1) has 20 players missing (only have 38 players on the roster) and the second emptiest owner (Owner 2) has 17 players missing (only having 41 players on the roster), Owner 1 has 3 free rounds to draft in.

The post-auction draft order will be the same as the final order after the bids are resolved, but the order will fully snake. If there were a four-owner league, and the previous scenario were true, then it could potentially proceed as following:

Owner 3 has 15 players missing and Owner 4 has 14, and the draft order is determined to be 2-3-1-4. The rounds would go thusly:

Round 1: Owner 1
Round 2: Owner 1
Round 3: Owner 1
Round 4: Owner 2, Owner 1
Round 5: Owner 1, Owner 2
Round 6: Owner 2, Owner 3, Owner 1
Round 7: Owner 4, Owner 1, Owner 3, Owner 2
Round 8: Owner 2, Owner 3, Owner 1, Owner 4

Auction values could be determined later, but $400 seems OK.

Open Auction

If you and your buddies are gluttons for punishment, you could hold a 48-round auction draft. The benefit to this is that one can do it through Yahoo! for the sake of ease, even if the final product would be resolved through Excel spreadsheets and Google Docs.

A $600 auction makes the most sense here, as there are six times as many players on a team than a eight-player roster of $200 (knowing that values don't fully scale, I multiplied by three instead of six).

Combinations

Any other combination of proposals is perfectly fine, of course, and entirely up to you and your friends. You could auction every round of a Three Stage draft and forgo forfeits. You could draft Stage One and auction Stage Three, with forfeits going towards your bankroll, based on a predetermined (probably logarithmic) value of draft picks.

You could combine the open auction with the closed auction, with your leftover bankroll from the closed auction helping you in the open auction. Sky's the limits, and share your ideas in the comments!

Waiver Wire

Nothing complicated here. Waiver wire bids should be submitted to the league commissioner before sometime Wednesday night (say, 6:00 PM) and processed by Thursday morning (say 10:00 AM) so that players can submit their lineups (via Google Docs in all likelihood) by the time Thursday Night Football starts.

Waiver order can be determined by reversing the order of Stage One, random assignment, salary cap space left (my preferred method), points scored (least points scored would go first), points against (most points against would go first), record or any other method that strikes your fancy.

Naturally, grabbing a player off the waivers will slide you to the bottom of the waiver wire. Owners and commissioners can either determine whether or not the waiver order is recalculated weekly or simply set once.

Like I said above, cutting players before the season (say, due to salary cap considerations) can move one to the top of the waiver wire. One can cut a player at any time during the offseason, and the cut player immediately becomes draft eligible.

If an owner has a player's salary cap increase during the season due to an escalating bonus or signing an extension/new deal, they have a week to respond, and can trade or cut a player before suffering a penalty (during the season, a cap penalty can be disqualification from the league or merely voiding out any weeks the owner competed in with a salary above the cap).

If the deal was signed on a Thursday morning, the owner can still play the player in question on the Thursday night game, on Sunday and on Monday, but not the following Thursday. If the deal was signed on a Saturday, the owner can play above the cap on Sunday, Monday and the Thursday of next week, but should be warned that they can suffer cap penalties if they play above the cap on Sunday or Monday.

Trades can involves draft picks and can occur any time between the conclusion of the Super Bowl and the trade deadline of the subsequent season. You can trade a Stage One, Two or Three draft pick, but cannot trade a pick you plan to get from forfeiting.

If the league agrees, the draft order for a stage can come out immediately after the conclusion of the season or previous draft, so that owners can have concrete picks with which to negotiate trades.

Dynasty/Free Agency

If players plan on creating a dynasty league, the following rules are recommended.

Owners can cut players at any time with no cap penalty. They cannot pick up new players from the waiver wire after the conclusion of Week 17 or before the end of Stage Three of the draft. Any player cut in that period of time immediately becomes draft eligible in the next available Stage, with no compensation in regards to picks.

Players leave the owner's team and become draft eligible if they enter free agency and do not choose to re-sign with their current professional football team. If that player ends up re-signing with their old team, they still will have left the fantasy owner's team by virtue of having tested the waters. In that case, the owner is compensated with a pick in Stage One at the end of the round two rounds after the player was drafted, unless he was drafted after round fourteen of Stage Three.

If that player is cut from the team, there is no such compensation. These compensatory picks may not be forfeited or traded. If there are multiple picks at the end of the same round as result of the compensatory process, priority goes to the owner who drafted the player in a previous round. If that does not resolve the tie, then priority then goes to the owner had their player for the least amount of time. After that, it goes to the owner of the player who was compensated less (in cap space, not base salary) during the season. If the tie is still not broken, the next three tiebreakers are last year's record, then total points scored last year (least amount of points first), and then it is finally total points against last year (most amount of points first).

Example 1: an owner drafted a player in round two of Stage Two four years ago, and that player leaves the team they were playing for via free agency to play for another team. The owner will receive a pick immediately after the fourth round of Stage One. For the purposes of any rules that require a round designation for that pick, it is a fourth round pick (for example, if the owner uses that pick to grab a player who leaves in free agency next year, the owner is awarded a pick at the end of the sixth round).

Example 2: an owner drafted a player in round one of Stage Three one year ago. A second owner drafted a player in round one of Stage Two four years ago. The second owner will receive the first pick immediately after the fourth round of Stage One, followed by the first owner, because Stage Two comes before Stage Three.

Example 3: an owner drafted a player one year ago in round one of Stage One. A second owner did the same. The first owner's player took up $4M of cap space. The second owner's player took up $16M of cap space. Owner one would get priority in round three of Stage One.

Example 4: an owner drafted a player four years ago, but traded him to a second owner two years ago. A third owner drafted a different player in the same round of the same stage three years ago. Priority would go to the second owner, who owned the player for a smaller period of time.

Example 5: an owner drafted a player four years ago in round one of Stage Three. That player signs a contract with his old NFL team a week after the Super Bowl, without any news or rumors that the player tested the market or visited other teams. That owner loses the player (who becomes draft eligible in Stage One), and is compensated with a third round pick in Stage One. No one can verify if the player's agent called around or waited for someone to set the market's price.

Example 6: an owner drafted a player three years ago in round two of Stage Two. He signs a contract the week of the Wild Card round, while his professional team has ended their season because they could not qualify to the playoffs. That owner loses that player and is compensated with a fourth round pick in Stage One.

Example 7: an owner drafted a player three years ago in round two of Stage Two. He signs a contract with his professional team the week of the Wild Card round, which his professional team is participating in. That owner does not lose that player and is not awarded a compensatory draft pick.

Any disputes can be settled with the league commissioner or a majority vote, whichever you prefer. If you have any questions about scenarios, ask in the comments. If you'd rather not do that, email me using the address provided in my SBNation profile.

Legal

I have not cleared any of this with the fine folks at Pro Football Focus. The league commissioner will be downloading data from their Premium Stats page into an Excel document (something they've recommended to individuals who wish to manipulate the data—although "Any information supplied by any of our employees or agents, whether by telephone, e-mail, letter, facsimile or other form of communication, is intended solely as general guidance on the use of the Services, and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting or other professional advice.") and then converting them into raw totals before sharing the extrapolated points on a private Google document to 7-12 other people. This data contains unique snap count totals, tackle totals, sack statistics, player grades, etc. but none of the unique data will be shared with the league; simply the extrapolations.

After publishing this article, I will send an email to those employees and will report back on what they have to say. From my general interactions with the people who work there, I doubt this causes a problem, so long as the league commissioner is diligent about not giving others in the league the password to the account, publishing the raw data, or making public the extrapolations.

I'm mostly worried about the league commissioner taking a fee for manipulating copyrighted data and producing derivative work for their fantasy football league. Again, it probably won't be an issue on a smaller scale, but could be an issue on a large scale. So keep it small.

I'm publishing this now because I want your input. If I hear back from them and they nix the idea, I will figure out another way to score pass protection and coverage—perhaps using the publicly available data at Football Outsiders and the new league data, where they provide snap counts. The downside to that is that it is much more difficult to extract weekly data and manipulate it to produce a fantasy score.

If this is an idea that they are on board with, I'll entertain offers to be a non-owner commissioner of a league for a fee. If not, I will find a new, more legally palatable idea and then entertain those offers again.

What do you think?

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