Change is hard but it's imminent. A lot has changed since we started this league in 2010. Most of us were stumbling through our 20s un-wed and child-less while working as fringe employees for faltering institutions when this league first started. But we eventually adapted into the stable family-oriented professionals that we are now.
One thing that didn't change as we transitioned from our youth to middle age is the format of our fantasy basketball league. Apart from a few minor adjustments, the rules and format has been consistent.
Now, I’d like announce that the one thing you love the most and hold dearest to your heart -- our fantasy basketball league -- is changing next year.
Why is the league changing?
The current format works but is stale. The league is currently accessible and easy-to-manage and has required a relatively low-level of commitment. This format encourages participation but not necessarily engagement or long-term planning.
After nine years, we finally have a stable group of managers that are willing and excited to invest more in their fantasy lives. I wouldn't propose changes if I didn't have confidence in each of your commitments to this league. Look at me. I believe in you.
Structural changes to our league next season are stemming from the following issues with the current format.
Emphasis on the volume of transactions
The arbitrary allotment of four moves per week favors teams willing to exercise week-to-week diligence. Generally, the team that plays more games has a greater probability of winning the head-to-head match-up. Therefore, a team is rewarded for activity and not necessarily for strategic planning that aligns their actions with the short- and long-term goals of the franchise. Teams should not be rewarded simply because they are available and willing to follow the league more closely.
Engaging teams throughout the season
The teams that fall out of playoff contention have no incentive to remain engaged throughout the season. The introduction of the draft lottery did not help with this issue because picking first or ninth has minimal impact on the quality of your team overall in a snake draft.
For example, this year, Ricky’s Ole' Oops, a traditional playoff participant, endured a series of unfortunate events (Chris Paul/Rondo fight, Paul injury, Jimmy Butler harassing KAT, season-ending John Wall injury etc.) that essentially knocked them out of contention very early in the season. So they checked out for the most part. They had no incentive to continue tracking the league. This is a problem every year for a handful of teams.
There hasn't been a trade in our league in years because there's no incentive to assist opponents in the same conference. But there are parameters we can establish to create a culture that is conducive to more activity.
For example, Fli City had LeBron all year. After falling out of playoff contention, would they have traded LeBron to Flint Boozers for two young assets (Bagley and Pascal) and salary filler? In this scenario, one team could start rebuilding and the other could strengthen its championship run. Would Flint Boozers be willing to sacrifice future seasons in order to win it all this year? Or could Ricky’s Ole’ Oops have done a similar trade for KAT after falling out of playoff contention?
Would these types of scenarios encourage transactions and multi-year planning? Would it keep teams engaged longer throughout the season? I hope so.
Building individual teams versus multi-year franchises
Currently, there's no relationship between one season and the next. Superb decision-making and good fortune from one year has no bearing on the outcome of future seasons. A fresh start can be refreshing each season but it may also encourage disenfranchisement when things are not going well.
For example, Back-Up All-Stars took the 2017 season off and there were no ramifications for essentially giving up. Good management should be rewarded from one year to the next and bad management needs to figure out a process to climb back into contention.
What is changing next year?
I'm still evaluating the capacity of Yahoo's platform to determine what's possible so I can’t share the exact rules and parameters of the new league right now.
I can assure you of the following:
We will be having an auction draft next year with a $200 salary cap.
The 12 teams will be split into two divisions of six teams each (logic determining division structure TBD).
Also being considered:
A monetary buy-in from each general manager.
Establishing one IR spot for each team.
I will be forming a competition committee this summer to work out the details of our new structure. Please email me if you're interested in being on the committee.
Change is hard. I get it. I have hairy ears now. Getting old sucks. Some of you are going to hate the changes to our league. Heck, maybe all of you will hate them and we'll go back to our current format the following year. That's fine, if that's what we decide. But we have to take risks to improve our league rather than relying on what's always worked. The league has brought us immense joy into our 30s but now let's try to build something fun and sustainable that will carry us into old age and beyond.
This is the last you'll be hearing from me until September 2019. I wish all of you the absolute best this summer and look forward to reconvening with everyone in the fall.
Can’t wait to run it back again!