We're on the edge of the fantasy finals and there's no guarantee the best teams made it to the last dance. Maybe you're the unfortunate soul, done in by slumping Broncos or a tipped interception at the wrong time. Maybe that Charles fellow did a tap dance on your championship dream. There's no time quite as sad as the day after elimination.
It's not too soon to look ahead to 2014, with the idea of making your league a better one - a league that's more likely to reward the stronger players. Our fake games can always be improved, tweaked, heck . . . fixed. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on a clipboard, themes to consider when you start up your next fantasy pool.
Start More Players: This should be a no-brainer. When you use more players every week, you iron out flukes, reward owners who understand the player pool, and give everyone more to watch and root for. Mediocre owners want short rosters, and mediocre owners generally loathe the bye weeks. The better owners thrive in a more dynamic game.
Auctions Over Drafts: Give everyone a shot at Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Manning. Force every owner to defend the entire room, not just their draft neighborhood. Allow more creative roster-building strategies; you can't go stars-and-scrubs, say, in a straight draft. Construction paths are just about unlimited in an auction.
Head To Head, More Fun; Total Points, More Fair: Everyone knows there's a ton of noise in the win/loss model; there's no way to stop your opponent from scoring. Sometimes you outscore every team but the one you're up against, and lose; flip side, you can have a rotten week but still win if you're up against the lowest-scoring club. I'm in favor of weekly prizes for high-scoring teams, or perhaps slotting a playoff berth or two to the highest-scoring team that didn't already qualify. I've also played in a bunch of leagues that are based on points scored, only - they're fun, too.
FAAB On Free Agents: No more of this silly "worst picks first" stuff with the waiver pool. There's no reason to reward a team for getting off to a poor start. Give everyone a fighting shot free agents, at all times. Again, the idea is to force everyone to defend the entire room.
The Controversial PPR: I know some esteemed colleagues (Andy Behrens and Mike Salfino, to name two) don't like the PPR format. I prefer the wrinkle because it makes touchdowns less important, and by proxy that means one big play is less likely to swing things. Again, I'm looking to iron flukes out the scoring, take away variance. PPR does that nicely.
Embrace Decimals: It's time to stop pretending there's something magical about 10 yards, or 50 yards, or 100 yards, or 300 yards. Yardage scoring is ideal, sure (hard to believe TD-only leagues used to rule the world), but just make every gain worth a fixed amount.
Go Deep In The Finals: Perhaps the time has come to accept the two-week final as the standard. Give the better team a more reasonable time frame to sort things out.
I also like the idea of being creative with playoff seedings. Why not let the No. 1 seed pick his or her opponent when the time comes? You should be rewarded for earning the top spot. It's a tasty way to incite rivalries, too.
There are other themes I didn't discuss; feel free to grab the baton and run in the comments. All-play scheduling? Best-ball rules for starters? It's an open ticket, let's toss ideas around.