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Friday 15th Dec 2017

Though I am first and foremost a “baseball guy,” I still play enough football to get me though the long months when there is no baseball.

One of the elements of fantasy football that has always bothered me is the randomness of the head-to-head format and its resultant impact on the standings. While I understand that is the way the real game is played, I am not sure that is justification for blindly following that format.

I won’t go into great detail on the reasons why I am not a fan of H2H, as what I consider disadvantages are to many the elements of fantasy football they enjoy most. Of course, I still compete in head-to-head leagues because that is necessary to participate. It is the format used in the vast majority of all leagues.

Just to prove this isn’t all sour grapes, this season, I played in three head-to-head leagues and made the playoffs in all three. Further, in two of them, I led the league in the regular season, only to lose in the finals both times.

In one of the leagues, something I had never seen occurred. Two teams tied in the final regular season game despite the scoring going to hundredths of a point. There was no tiebreaker procedure as it had not been needed in the previous decade of the league’s existence. Sadly, once it was sorted out, one of the two teams was left out of the post-season.

In my fourth league, a more progressive group of owners participate. I had been frustrated with the reality that in the head-to-head format, a number of teams are out of it early. Many give up. Others are steered off into loser’s brackets and resultant worthless playoff games. Who remembers who came in seventh? Who cares?

In this league, the owners wanted to do something about it.

To try to keep everyone engaged longer, we moved to a format that abandoned head-to-head. We instead adopted an all-play format, in which all 11 teams play the other 11 teams each and every week.

Think about it. No more getting screwed by having the second-most points in a given week when the schedule had you playing the top-scoring squad. In his format, you would still be 10-1. Over the course of the season, the best teams end up on top.

Rather than hold a playoff, everyone competes all 17 weeks, with the highest possible score 187 (11 wins per week times 17 weeks).

This season, an amazing thing occurred. Three teams were locked in a battle for the league championship until the final night. In fact, the winner was not crowned until mid-week as there were several scoring changes that keep the results from going final. The winner tallied 123 wins, followed by two others with 121 and 120 wins respectively. The fourth-place team was also in it, finishing with 116.

I cannot imagine another format in which three teams all had a shot at the title until the last NFL regular season game was played. Even though I was not one of them, I watched this finish with considerable interest.

I realize all-play isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you are looking for relief from the warts inherent in head-to-head, please consider it.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. He finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and weekly in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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