As the playoffs approach, I thought it might be a good idea to kick off a discussion on fantasy football ethics and strategies. Should you lose a matchup intentionally if it will better position you in the playoffs? What if it will allow a friend of yours to sneak into the playoffs?
For example, in the nfl.com leagues, there are 3 division winners and the next best record who make the playoffs. The first round of the playoffs matches the #1 seed against the wildcard and the #2 seed against the #3 seed.
In one of my leagues, for example, two of us are out in front with 9-2 records, the #3 seed is only 5-6, and the three current wild card candidates are 6-5. If things continue as they are, I will be the #2 seed and face the weakest of the playoff teams (#3 seed, 5th in points), a team that I've all ready defeated twice. However, if I pull ahead in the last few weeks, I will be the #1 seed and face the wildcard (2nd in points, who amazingly, I've also defeated twice).
If the final game of the "regular" season was the difference between facing the 5th best team or the 2nd best team, would you try and throw that game to get the easier Round 1 matchup?
Likewise, if your own seeding wouldn't change, would you throw a game to allow a friend of yours into the playoffs?
How do we, as players, play this game? Is there any sportsmanship in fantasy football? Should you always do what's best for your team's chances, regardless of how it affects the league? Would you accept a really stupid one-sided trade from someone who was more interested in owning their favorite player than winning? Would you grab someone's free agent backup after seeing their starter going down, knowing that other people aren't active on waivers until the weekend approaches? Would you trade really good players to poor teams so that they might be able to beat one of the powerhouse teams? Think about it.
Win at all costs,always field your best team.There's no friends in football.It's far too common for friends,wives/husbands,brothers,or fathers/sons to try to help each other toward the play-offs,especially in money leagues.I'm in it for the competition,to throw any game,anywhere, just isn't right.It's bound to happen & if it results in someone unfairly getting a championship,they will know they didn't win it fairly & will have to live with that feeling not to mention losing integrity for the league.
I myself would play your best lineup and let the chips fall where they may. Fact of the matter is you'll kick yourself in the arse if it just so happens you slide your lineup to faciliate a greater possibility of losing for a better play off matchup, only to lose enevitably anyway. Then it's a whole off season of "woulda coulda shoulda".
overall, i think owners have to maintain the integrity of the league. There has to be the assurance that your opponent is going to put forth his best effort to beat you. There should be no difference in the way a starting lineup is managed, no matter if its week 1 or 11.
Only 3 leagues this year. No sense in rooting for everyone in the NFL.
I'm in a money league with 11 other friends, and it is so competitive nothing like this would ever happen. It's not only about winning the big jackpot at the end, but we get to rub in wins in each others face for a week. That alone is worth the price to play. Also our league votes on every trade so if it is a one sided deal (Holmes for fill in chumps name here) it wouldn't go through. I guess however you play FF is fine. Most people will play to win. I do regardless of whether I'm playing my friend, mom, dad, brother, or some crime lord don.
Good points, but what about the end game? Some thoughts:
A great poker player will lose some hands purposely to sucker the opponent into raising the stakes.
Real NFL teams will lose games to end up better situated in the playoffs. How often have we seen, with a playoff spot secured, a team rest its star player for the more important games ahead?
In Chess, you will sacrifice any piece if it will allow you to take the opponent's King.
In the television game reality show Survivor, the contestants have thrown challenges to get rid of unwanted players and once (in Australia) to protect another player.
In Business Management 101, you are taught that the first goal of a corporation is survival. Why shouldn't that apply to fantasy football?
I bring this up as a first look at some possible end-game strategies. First and foremost, fantasy football is a game, and winning is one of the primary objectives of playing any game. As long as you don't break rules or use collusion, shouldn't any action be fair game?
This is just a devil's advocate post. In my own example, I have no intention of trying to "throw" the game against my friend. From a fantasy standpoint, I'd like to knock him down a game and face a weaker opponent in the playoffs.
I still won't rule out throwing a game in Week 14 if it will just about guarantee me a better first week playoff matchup, but as competitive as I am I'd say it's pretty doubtful.
Winning isn't everything....Its the ONLY thing. My very good friend and I brought this up in a off way the other week. Neither one us said we would throw a game when we play. ( we play this week too!)We play for the fun of playing and of course bragging rights! I have very good friends in my league and my own brother, none of us would throw a game just because we know each other. We all came in knowing that at est only 4 of us could make the playoffs and we were fine with that. i think that even the last game of the year should be played with full inentions to win. Every game counts and it may just come down to winning the last game of the year just to get a wild card spot.
During my first year of FF, I was approached to do just this...I did an auto-draft and ended up beating the tar out of 9 other teams, ending the season at 12-5. My friend, who brought me into this lg, approached me about the 14th week and said he wanted my help. My friend was in 4th place and wanted to increase and realized he wouldn't make it to the end of the season/playoffs with his current roster. I had a 4 game lead on everyone else, so he asked me to throw my game against him to help him bring his record up...I couldn't bring myself to do it, but he kept asking me all week long...I couldn't imagine doing something like that! I'm pretty competitive and went for bragging rights instead of helping him...I came in 2nd place overall in the lg and he ended up not making the playoffs and coming in 5th place...
I see the game as a matter of pride. You do your best to draft the "perfect" team with your ultimate goal being to beat the snot out of everyone else! How could you knowingly throw a game or even swap players back and forth to help others? That's not fair to others in the lg who came to play, not watch musical RBs/QBs. At that point, all the integrity of the lg is in your hands, not to mention your conscience. I heard it said best, "What you do today, you'll have to sleep with tonite."
Throwing a game doesn't sound right... if a real team doesn't play its stars in the final weeks it's because of injury risks but that's not the case in fantasy football.
Winning is everything... so if you can get a better playoff matchup, do whatever it takes, but remember you have to be able to beat the better guy anyway if you want to win the league and your chances might be better in the first week of the playoffs than in the last...