Why Fantasy Basketball is Better Than Fantasy Football

About seven years ago I was on a first date with a charming young woman who dropped a bombshell on me:

"Well, I play this game where you pick football players..."

"You mean fantasy football?" I asked.

"Yes. Do you play?"

Naturally, I married her.

Still, if she had said she played fantasy baseball or fantasy basketball, I would've been more impressed. I mean, anybody can play fantasy football. Find five friends, turn on auto-draft, and just play the guys without byes. Twelve weeks later, you're in the playoffs.

I'm in three football leagues and four basketball leagues this year, and historically, I've always liked fantasy basketball much more, and there are plenty of reasons why:

There are basketball games every day. Oh man, is it boring waiting around for Sunday during football season. Even in a competitive league full of trash talking you still don't get to rub it in every day to your opponents. When you're in a basketball league you can look forward to the standings changing nightly.

Players can contribute in all categories. There's no equivalent to a triple-double in football, and if you're lucky enough to have a player who catches a TD and runs for another, it can't beat having a guy who goes 30-10-8 with four blocks and three steals. I mean it just can't.

No bye weeks. As long as your stud is healthy, he's playing every week. Even better, the unbalanced schedule means sometimes your stud is playing four or even five games in one week. Seeing that Dwight Howard has five games on the schedule this week makes me about as happy as finding a twenty dollar bill on the street.

Multiple-position eligibility. Other than Marques Colston qualifying at tight end a few years ago, football players are clearly locked into their positions, and while most football leagues have a flex category, it doesn't compare to basketball where you can have players qualify at two or three positions, giving you the flexibility to make more trades, free agent pickups, or just keep your active roster full. I had to play Jerome Harrison in one of my fantasy football leagues last week. That's just not right.

Matchups don't really matter. Every now and then I'll look at the opponents in my NBA leagues, but really it's the number of games that matter. In football, you'll see people bench their stars all the time just because their #3 running back is going up against the Raiders.

Bad games don't hurt as much. When LeBron James has an off night, it means 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists. He might do the same thing in a half the next night, and you're back in business for that week. When your star football player lays an egg, you're losing your only shot for that week.

Rookies are good right away. Blake Griffin notwithstanding, some rookies get into situations in which they can become instant fantasy stars. In football you might get the occasional running back who wins a starting job, but usually you have to wait a few years.

Less luck. We all hate to admit it, but it takes a tremendous amount of luck to win a fantasy league. Yes, there is skill involved, but fantasy basketball minimizes the luck for many of the above reasons. In football, your first-round draft pick, even ones of the can't-miss variety, might actually miss even if they stay healthy. In basketball, you won't see that happen.

Coming next week: Why Fantasy Football is Better Than Fantasy Basketball


By: NoWayOut
On: 10/30/2009 8:13:00 PM
I agree 100%. Last year was my first try at anything other than fantasy football and after this year I'll be down to only one football league and that one is only because I'm the commish. It's funny since my friends at work got me into fantasy football and now they all give me hell, tell me I'm out of my mind for playing fantasy basketball, hockey, and baseball. I get a laugh out of their reason why they don't play anything other than fantasy football, they say it's impossible to keep up with that many players and games. Interesting way to say I need to get a life. Actually I heard that at least once a week during baseball season.

I enjoy stuff like this that doesn't have that "over as soon as it started feel", like football does. I guess that's a strange way of saying I like marathons better than sprints. The only downside I've found relates back to my friends and family not being into these other fantasy sports. I'm limited to doing public leagues, which are good, at least I still have leagues to compete in, but it's more fun when you have some kind of connection with the people your competing against versus totally anonymous players.
By: lvtdude
On: 10/30/2009 10:14:00 PM
I can't get into basketball, but fantasy baseball is definitely better than football. I've grown so tired of the football routine. Every Sunday you have to be glued to the internet, radio or TV just to find out if your player is going to play. Then you find out yes or no, make your decision, and then find out the exact opposite happened.

Also, trades in football just don't happen as much, if at all. People always want to "wait and see" how their players do this week before making a move, then they suffer an injury or make a free agent move and want to wait again. Roster depth really hinders trades as well. By the time someone finally decides he needs to make a trade the season is nearly over.

Factor in running back-by-committee, bye weeks and teams sitting stars at the end of the season, and fantasy football pales in comparison.
By: jtr5708
On: 10/31/2009 12:03:00 AM
Fantasy football is more luck-based than most other fantasy sports but there is no other sport that can give you that heart-in-your-throat feeling you get every single Sunday/Monday. You MIGHT get that feeling late in the baseball season when one of your pitchers is making a super important start for your fantasy team but there is not another scenario I can think of. It is that rush that makes fantasy football wildly popular.

I agree that fantasy baseball, basketball and hockey (yes, hockey) involve more skill but that's not to say that football doesn't involve skill at all. You need to draft a smart team, make transactions throughout the year that put you in position to win each week. Sure, drafting Tom Brady circa 2007 can singlehandedly win you a championship but skill can overcome luck.
By: andtinez
On: 10/31/2009 6:39:00 AM
I don't even know why I play fantasy football. There's really only 1 way to win in the game... luck. You draft a bunch of guys, pray they don't get hurt, start your studs, then play the rest on hunches, and hope the coaches aren't idiots or screw you at the goal line. In fantasy baseball, I know many different ways/methods to winning and most don't involve luck outside of my guys staying healthy. I played fantasy hockey last year for the first time and had more fun with that than most fantasy football leagues I've been in.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 10/31/2009 8:09:00 AM
The bye weeks add to the strategy, brings more players into the mix and tougher decisions.
By: NoWayOut
On: 10/31/2009 9:56:00 AM
You can make a case for saying that in h2h leagues for basketball etc, the unbalanced schedules that give teams as little two games per week are just as havoc inducing as bye weeks in the NFL. They're not as bad, given that you'll still have at least limited production from say a Dwayne Wade two game week vs no production from Drew Brees during his bye week, but those weeks can still have a serious effect on a matchup depending on your opponents schedule. For me personally bye weeks are near the bottom of the list of reasons why I'm drifting away from fantasy football.

All fantasy sports require skill and luck, but for me where luck plays less of a factor and skill becomes far more important is not in the sport itself, but in the league type. H2H favors lucky more than rotiserrie does. Over the course of a season in roto skill will trump luck more often than not. You still need some luck in the form of avoiding injuries and prolonged slumps from your core players, but aside from that skill is king. I will qualify the previous statement by saying that comes from my limited experience with rotiserrie leagues, those who have played more roto leagues can correct me if I'm wrong, which I probably am.
By: jtr5708
On: 10/31/2009 10:25:00 AM
I've always wondered why Rotisserie Football never caught on. It would certainly take some luck out of the equation. It would probably change draft strategies as well. Has anyone ever participated in a Roto Football League? We should get one together for next season.
By: Jacobdk
On: 10/31/2009 10:51:00 AM
jtr, Rotisserie Football is great. The drafts are longer, like baseball drafts, and can get tedious. But during the season there's a lot more going on in terms of strategy, more trading, less emphasis on the TD, etc.
By: jtr5708
On: 10/31/2009 12:18:00 PM
That's what I thought. I'd really love to try one out next year. Jacob, what categories do you use? I'm curious to see how defenses are scored (IDP or DST).
By: Skinsnutt
On: 10/31/2009 12:58:00 PM
We have taken out a big part of the luck element in our football league. It got to be a joke with the head to head random matchups and how theoretically a team could have the second best record and go winless for the season (and vice versa).

We give the top 6 scoring teams a "win" at the midway point of the season and the bottom 6 a "loss." We then reset and do it again for the second half of the year. It ends up making a huge difference and even gives you a 16 game NFL-feeling final record.
By: jtr5708
On: 10/31/2009 1:25:00 PM
In my office league we have been using this format to help hold the luck-factor "in check.". There are 14 teams, six of which make the playoffs. The top four teams with the best record make it. Then the two teams with the most points-for that have not made it on record get the final spots. The first week of the playoffs include a bye for the top two teams based on power ranking (combo of record and points-for).

The the regular season ends in week 12, playoffs are weeks 13, 14 and 15 (to avoid studs being rested). The winner takes home 60%, second place gets 30% and third gets 10%.

In order to not waste the last two weeks of the season we have a mandatory pool where every team puts in $60 for weeks 16 and 17 ($30 per week). Whoever gets the most points-for in week 16 gets $420, then the slate is cleaned for week 17 and the high scorer again gets $420. This definitely prevents owners from quiting on their teams late in the season. The money for weeks 16 and 17 is collected up front as part of the initial league fee. It's obviously made up of 14 trustworthy owners so that we have confidence no one will "beat" the league out of their fee.

I've found that this format works wonderfully. We've had it in place for five years and there has been no complaints.

**Just for the record I do think that some degree of luck is necessary to make the league interesting. It can't be removed entirely and efforts to do too much can ruin the league.
By: spianow
On: 10/31/2009 1:46:00 PM
Total points, more fair. Head to head, more fun.
By: Jacobdk
On: 11/1/2009 9:31:00 AM
jtr, we use Sacks, Def. points allowed, and INTs as defensive categories. INTs is the only junk category--it's random. But overall it's way better than head-to-head.
By: Jacobdk
On: 11/1/2009 9:32:00 AM
One pain in the ass, though, is finding a decent website that can handle the categories. The site we have to use sucks.
By: nayfel
On: 11/3/2009 7:48:00 AM
Yeah, in football roto, you need to use TQ Stats which stinks.
By: The Professor
On: 11/8/2009 3:15:00 AM
This is true...because it is true. It's self-evident.

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