News & Analysis

There's no 'best' format for a fantasy league

Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) cannot catch a pass in the first quarter against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As a kid, I had a Nintendo and a Sega Master System. When Sega Genesis came out, I got one. When PlayStation debuted, I got one of those too.

I had the PlayStation a month or two before I sold it, and I haven’t owned a video game system since.

Oh, I’ve played games. To this day, I can win Mario Kart on any format and any system. It just comes naturally to me, as naturally as, say, Madden does not. But at some point, games got more complicated than I cared to bother with. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do star-circle-right trigger-A to take a jump shot, I just didn’t care.

My all-time favorite video game is, and I expect always will be, the original Mario/Duck Hunt cartridge. I do enjoy Mario Kart, will play anybody and everybody in GoldenEye (and probably lose), and if we’re hanging out, I’ll give whatever a shot. But I’d rather have a controller with two buttons and a D-pad than 14 buttons, two joysticks, and, I don’t know, a memory stick or something.

None of this is to say the original games are by definition easier. Especially when you’re playing against someone. If you’re playing an opponent, it doesn’t matter if it’s RBI Baseball or whatever the 2018 baseball video game is, it’s not whether you’re better than the game, but whether you’re better than the person holding the other controller.

For me, in fantasy football, it’s the same way. I play PPR, redraft leagues. My keepers leagues are two-, three-keeper leagues. I have dabbled in dynasty, IDP, ridiculously deep leagues, but like water, I’ve found my level. It’s not a matter of being outclassed — the one IDP league I played and committed to, I finished second, losing in the finals by literally less than a full point — but rather a matter of this is the level of intricate I want to bother with.

Now, working where I work, I don’t have a choice but to know, to one extent or another, all the formats. I’m not the guy to come to if you’re deciding your fifth IDP keeper in your dynasty league, but if we’re discussing the 2021 outlook for Michael Gallup vs. Courtland Sutton, well, I can have the conversation and do fine.

But that brings me to the point: There is no fantasy format that is inherently “better” than another. I made a graphic for our Twitter account about the gap between the Nos. 1 and 2 RBs in standard scoring last year, and one of the first comments was denigrating standard scoring. Some who play two-QB or superflex look down on one-QB games. Keeper leaguers dog redraft, dynasty players think keeper is basic.

Play the fantasy game you like. If it’s the structure you like the best, it’s the “right” fantasy game. I will play the latest Madden game if I’m around friends and that’s what’s happening (and I’ll lose), but if I’m the one picking? We’re getting out the NES and playing Dr. Mario. And that’s just as good.

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