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How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

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How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby brdmaverick » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:03 am

Hi guys,

A hot topic in my league at the end of the season was how to determine a 3 way tie for a wild card spot.

The league is a 12 team, 3 division league with 3 division winners and a wild card qualifying for the playoffs.

We previously had no explicit by-laws on how to settle a three way tie. The only tie breakers we had were.....

To break a tie between two teams in the same DIVISION
1.)head to head
2.)Division Record
3.)Total Points

To break a tie between two teams in different DIVISIONS
1.)head to head
2.)Total Points

Realizing the very real possibility of a three way tie breaker with a few weeks left in the season, I had stated to the league what I felt was the best way to determine a tie breaker between 3+ teams (with no objections). I wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page so that we would not be settling this in hindsight.

The rules I set forth were......
1.) If one team wins ALL two-way tie breakers with all other teams involved in the tie breaker, then the playoff spot is awarded to that team.
2.) Division Record (IF and ONLY IF all tied teams are from the same division)
3.) Total Points

Some controversy played out after the dust settled when a team that finished third in its divisional race was awarded the wild card spot. The second place team in the division was 2-0 against this team with a better division record. The problem, however, was that the this team had a losing record against the other team involved in the tie breaker from the other division. The tie breaker then went down to total points and was awarded to the team that finished third in the division race.

When the controversy came up, I decided to check out the NFL rules. In determining tie breakers in the NFL, the top non-division winners are first determined for each division, and then the tie breakers are applied to these teams. Two make this clearer, if the Pats, Jets, Bills, and Ravens all ended up tied for a wild card spot. The Pats, Jets, and Bills would have to duke it out tie-breaker wise using division tie breakers to determine who will go up against the Ravens in a tie breaker.

How are your leagues dealing with such issues.

I am very curious as we are in serious talks of chaning our format going forward.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby Matthias » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:02 am

People make too big of a deal of head 2 head record IMO. The reason H2H record is so important in real sports (NFL, MLB, etc.) is that each team has a very active hand in the outcome. Last week, the Cowboys weren't scoring points off of a generic defense: they were scoring them off of the Steelers defense. But in fantasy sports, there really is no such thing as "head 2 head". You aren't on the same field; you aren't matching up against each other; you aren't influencing each other's scoring. So the whole head 2 head idea is just a fantasy.

People play weekly matchups instead of a total points league because it's more fun. You get to trash talk against a specific person and follow your guys vs. his guys and everything else, but really you're just trying to score the highest amount of points possible.

For these reasons, my first tiebreak is total points. The purpose in fantasy football is to score points; if you are otherwise tied, whoever scored more points did a better job of filling their purpose.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby joejlitz » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:17 pm

Matthias wrote:People make too big of a deal of head 2 head record IMO. The reason H2H record is so important in real sports (NFL, MLB, etc.) is that each team has a very active hand in the outcome.


Ok, Matt. I disagree here and I'm sure this will be a 3 day-back and forth discussion, but that's cool. It's a good subject.

I feel that as an "owner" I have a very active hand in the outcome. I spent days researching whom to draft, hours throughout the week reading fantasy articles, scouring injury reports, signing free agents, etc. to get the best players and/or the best match-ups. Sure, there is an element of luck involved (drafting Forte over McFadden for example) but there is also an element of luck in real sports as well.

So therefore, for all of the work I put in, I expect to succeed more often than my friends. And that is why HTH is important IMO.

Serious question: Would you argue that overall record should be second to overall points? Why or why not?
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby The Lung » Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:36 pm

Incorporating any sort of H2H just results in headaches.

Keep It Simple. Always use total points and fractional scoring. ;-D
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby Matthias » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:25 pm

joejlitz wrote:
Matthias wrote:People make too big of a deal of head 2 head record IMO. The reason H2H record is so important in real sports (NFL, MLB, etc.) is that each team has a very active hand in the outcome.


Ok, Matt. I disagree here and I'm sure this will be a 3 day-back and forth discussion, but that's cool. It's a good subject.

I feel that as an "owner" I have a very active hand in the outcome. I spent days researching whom to draft, hours throughout the week reading fantasy articles, scouring injury reports, signing free agents, etc. to get the best players and/or the best match-ups. Sure, there is an element of luck involved (drafting Forte over McFadden for example) but there is also an element of luck in real sports as well.

So therefore, for all of the work I put in, I expect to succeed more often than my friends. And that is why HTH is important IMO.

Sure, but everything you're talking about is maximizing points for your team. It doesn't have anything to do with the amount of points that your opponent scores. Think of it this way: in college football, everyone gets all tied into knots because they're trying to figure out if Oklahoma (or whoever, I don't know spit all about college football) is better than Texas. And they don't know because Oklahoma hasn't played Texas. But Oklahoma beat Boise State and Boise State beat Florida and Florida beat Duke and Duke beat Texas. But Texas also beat Indiana which beat Sacramento which beat Notre Dame which beat Michigan which beat Oklahoma. So there's no point at which these teams occupy the same field and if you try to be tangential about it, you don't get a definitive answer. Because the answer you really want is: if Oklahoma and Texas played each other for 60 minutes, which is the better team?

And you don't really get that answer in fantasy, either. Just because you were paired up with a team on a given week does not mean that you really "played him" on that week. It's not like if you were down by 3 with 1 guy to play you could give it some extra gusto to put you over the top. And that's the whole meaning of Head 2 Head.
joejlitz wrote:Serious question: Would you argue that overall record should be second to overall points? Why or why not?

I would argue that a team that has scored the most points over the season has had the best team, regardless of overall record. But people enjoy using matchups and record as it creates weekly interest: "my guys" against "his guys". So you can follow along and think, "I need X points from whoever" and it's fun. So the top team in the league is the team with the best record. And that's fine with me. But I don't see any reason to extend this fiction that teams are playing each other once you get into tiebreakers.

Also, if two teams have the same record and one team has more points, there's a possibility that the team with higher points would have had a better record if their scheduled had been switched. Take the following example:
Team High Scorer (THS)
Team Low Scorer (TLS)
Opponent 1 (O1)
Opponent 2 (O2)
In Week 8, THS scores 120 points but happens to be playing O1 who has the game of his season and scores 140. Meanwhile, TLS plays O2 and TLS scores 95 points and O2 has a decent day and scores 110.

Now, at the end of the day, both THS and TLS are 0-1 with an identical record. But if they had switched opponents which had nothing to do with them THS would be 1-0 and TLS would still be 0-1. So to go with total points evens out a little bit of this luck of the draw.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby joejlitz » Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:01 pm

Aren't you guys practicing as a team?
Aren't you delivering big speeches before the playoffs to motivate them?

C'mon! If you're not, you're missing out on half the fun! ;-7

Well - you guys may be right, but that's why I would argue that that type of thinking means one would favor a non HTH league whereby the teams with the best points would go to the playoffs - but wait...then we start talking about something like NASCAR is doing whereby only the top XX number of teams are in and the points are basically reset.

I don't know how many leagues still do this, but I remember doing it in the late 80s early 90s with my hockey playoff rotisserie league (minus the NASCAR twist). 6 guys or so, team with the most points won it all. It was still a lot of fun and it worked out well.

You're right, though. HTH is a lot more fun, because we all get to talk smack about how we beat so and so. Close wins and comeback wins are fun to talk about, too.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby spodog » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:11 pm

We settle wildcard spots across the entire CONFERNCE, since we use a two conference format in our league. Here's the tiebreaker criteria:

1. Overall Record
2. Record within Conference (teams play some games outside of their conference as well)
3. Head to Head
4. Total Points Scored on the season
5. Coin Flip

Personally, I agree with those that LIKE head to head in the tiebreaker scheme. I don't agree it add's headaches. If you are going to play in a H2H league, then how can you turn around and EXCLUDE the results of one or more of those H2H matchups when determining who goes to the playoffs at the end of the year? That seems contradictory to me.

Also, I'll cast a dissenting vote for NOT using fractional scoring. We use it in our league for the reasons listed, but I don't like it. Just as it is OK for a game between the Eagles and Bengals to end in a tie in the NFL, it is OK for an FFL game to end tied at 75 to 75 or whatever. That is a better outcome, than a team winning 75.3 to 75.2 in my opinion. The fractional scoring basically takes a game down to things like the spot of the ball by a referee, which determines whether Cedric Benson gained 4 yards on a play or 3. Ugh. :-t
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby The Lung » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:09 pm

spodog wrote:Also, I'll cast a dissenting vote for NOT using fractional scoring. We use it in our league for the reasons listed, but I don't like it. Just as it is OK for a game between the Eagles and Bengals to end in a tie in the NFL, it is OK for an FFL game to end tied at 75 to 75 or whatever. That is a better outcome, than a team winning 75.3 to 75.2 in my opinion. The fractional scoring basically takes a game down to things like the spot of the ball by a referee, which determines whether Cedric Benson gained 4 yards on a play or 3. Ugh. :-t


Fractional scoring has the added benefit of avoiding ties.

The primary benefit of fractional scoring however is avoiding the situation where if your league awards 1 point 15 yards rushing, and your running back rushes for 14 yards, you get zero points. But if your RB runs for one more yard and 15 total, he gets a full point. Intuitively this seems strange, and by using fractional scoring and awarding 14/15 of a point you take these vagaries out of the equation.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby spodog » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:04 pm

The Lung wrote:
spodog wrote:Also, I'll cast a dissenting vote for NOT using fractional scoring. We use it in our league for the reasons listed, but I don't like it. Just as it is OK for a game between the Eagles and Bengals to end in a tie in the NFL, it is OK for an FFL game to end tied at 75 to 75 or whatever. That is a better outcome, than a team winning 75.3 to 75.2 in my opinion. The fractional scoring basically takes a game down to things like the spot of the ball by a referee, which determines whether Cedric Benson gained 4 yards on a play or 3. Ugh. :-t


Fractional scoring has the added benefit of avoiding ties.

The primary benefit of fractional scoring however is avoiding the situation where if your league awards 1 point 15 yards rushing, and your running back rushes for 14 yards, you get zero points. But if your RB runs for one more yard and 15 total, he gets a full point. Intuitively this seems strange, and by using fractional scoring and awarding 14/15 of a point you take these vagaries out of the equation.


meh. I've heard all the arguments and I've been in a league using fractional scoring for years, so I understand how it works. I just don't like it.
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Re: How Does Your League Settle 3-Way Ties for a Wild Card?

Postby The Lung » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:26 pm

Think of it this way. Let's say you're a dad with a teenage daughter and she goes out on prom night with her boyfriend and things, uh, "happen." If he only puts it 14/15 of the way in, she's still a virgin in your mind, right? :-b
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