League formats ultimately are a matter of personal taste, and there's no right and wrong answer at the end of the day. But if you want to get me in your league someday, here's a cheat-sheet to keep in mind.
Roto setups I'm in favor of
• Leagues with built-in incentive for all teams: No one tanks in my hometown league because we're all playing for next year's draft position. Here's how we do it: the first four teams cash and then the fifth place team picks first next year, followed by 6-7-8-9-10-11-4-12-3-13-2-14-1. None of this "reward the team in last" crapola. Give everyone a carrot to follow for the entire season. (Industry leagues? They're all about the side action, but I can't talk about Fight Club.)
• Fast-paced drafts (and auctions): I don't mean to be the detention monitor here, but drafting without a clock is sheer torture. A draft should take a few hours, not the entire day. I've been in several mock drafts over the years for various magazines and publications that were barely over an hour. I'm competitive, sure, but I'd rather make a bad pick than a slow pick. Keep those doggies moving, along.
If you're in a live-auction league, make sure the master of ceremonies is committed to keeping a good pace. No stepping out of the box, no Mike Hargroving. We're all adults, let's think on our feet.
• Leagues with modest bench size: Leagues become more interesting when you're constantly faced with tricky decisions, and that's what you get when you accept small benches in your league. So what if you're forced to cut a name player now and then, or someone your rival is likely to snap up? That's the challenge of the game, mack.
• Mid-season leagues: There's a reason I'm always composing those "if the season started today" cheat sheets for football and baseball. In my world, there's always a season starting today, or soon. Midseason leagues are to be celebrated and embraced; take advantage of the All-Star break and have at it, again.
Roto setups that that turn me off
• 4x4 leagues: What where the founding fathers thinking when they left runs scored out of the original game? Would you play in a fantasy football league that didn't count touchdowns? What about a fantasy hockey league that had no use for goals? And strikeouts are a nice addition to the pitching categories; it just about ruins any middle-relief pitching gimmick, and enables leagues to do away with innings-pitched minimums.
• Late-drafting leagues: Gotta take another shot at the founding fathers here – what's with drafting a week after the season starts? Isn't the fun of this game being able to out-predict and out-speculate your opponents? When you wait for the season to start, you're turning it into an open-book test. Bah. Real men draft their full-season leagues in March, not April.
• AL or NL-only leagues that don't count carryover stats: I've never understood the logic here. Say you own Jake Peavy and the Padres are hot to move him at the deadline. Why should you be golden if he goes to the Cubs but screwed if he goes to the Red Sox? Where's the logic in that?
• Keeper leagues: I know everyone seems to loves them and they turn fantasy baseball into a 12-month odyssey, but in my line of work, there's something to be gained for actually taking a few months away from fantasy baseball, if possible (you know, while the NFL is
kicking our ass keeping us busy). Plus in most of the keeper leagues I've found myself involved in, it becomes a race to fleece the weakest owners – and the lopsided deals are far greater in scope than what you see in a redraft league. I've cut three keeper leagues out of my diet entering 2009, just feels right.
• Leagues where the waiver-wire is completely useless: I've been in AL-only or NL-only leagues before where the waiver-wire didn't include a single player who had an at-bat in the past week. I understand how some roto "purists" have distaste for shallow leagues, but I don't see what's so fun about going to the other extreme.
Yap, yap, yap. I think I'll chase some kids off my lawn now. In the meantime, you can have the floor, let's hear about your pet formats and the ones you don't care for.