Yahoo finally opened up fantasy hockey season today, so I'm sure many of you will be signing up shortly to get in on the action. After all, draft time is the most exciting time of the year for fantasy hockey fanatics. There are a variety of formats out there from Yahoo and others. But which one is best? I've been managing a fantasy hockey league for 18 years now, and we've tinkered with all kinds of systems. Our first few years I painfully totaled stats with a pencil and paper, using the USA Today's weekly stats page, giving me a reason to look forward to Wednesday mornings in high school. (Yes, fantasy hockey existed before the internet. ) We've tried just about every imaginable system out there, and continue to experiment with others. Here are the common options, and what works, what doesn't work and why:
In this system, teams are ranked each week from best to worst for each category, and points are awarded by position. For example, in a league of 10 teams, the team with the most goals gets 10 points, 2nd place gets 9, etc. This is done for each statistical category.
: Forces GMs to field a well-balanced team. You need to focus on penalty minutes, +/-, etc., and not just points.
: It gives equal weight to all stat categories, which is just plain dumb. No way on earth should an arbitrary stat like +/- be weighted the same as goals scored or GAA. It's random and pointless.
: This system stinks and should never be used in its traditional form.
Head to Head
This system matches up 2 teams every week to play against each other in a rotisserie-like set up. Teams get a point for every category in which they outscore their opponent. Again, all categories are weighted equally.
: More interesting to face off against a specific opponent. Encourages smack-talk (which is the point of fantasy hockey, really).
: Again, it makes all categories are equal. It's like socialism, and socialism stinks.
: Better than rotisserie, but still flawed.
A Points system awarded points per category on a weighted basis. For example, goals are worth 5 points, assists are worth 2 points, goalie wins are worth 6 points, etc. Total score is accumulated over the coarse of the season to determine the winner.
: Properly weights more important categories over others.
: Loses the head-to-head aspect. GMs tend to lose interest late in the season, especially if they're at the bottom of the pack.
: Better than rotisserie. Slight edge over head-to-head.
If only Yahoo could combine the Points and Head-to-Head methods, we could have the best of both worlds. A properly weighted system, with the rivalry and interest created by the head to head. Until then, we have to compromise or look elsewhere for our ultimate fantasy league needs (which is why I continue to run my own league on my own.)
Another flaw with Yahoo's system is that they don't allow you to score defensemen apart from forwards. Goals from a defenseman should be worth more than goals from a forward. The way it stands, defensemen are worth much less than forwards. (Perhaps I'm biased, being a defenseman myself).
: I also highly recommend the fantasy game found right here on HockeyBuzz. For a non-draft game, it's the best out there, as it best simulates a real GM's salary cap tradeoffs.
Side note: I used to run a "goon league" in Yahoo that was a lot of fun. It was structured to reward the "worst" team. Skaters got points for Penalty Minutes and games played, but got negative points for goals and assists. Goalies got points for goals against and lost points for wins. Boogard was a first-rounder. Definitely the most unique league I've been a part of.
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