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Introducing… Guillotine Leagues

by • August 4, 2018

“Let them eat Case (Keenum)” – Paul Charchian, ruefully.

I’ve got a crazy new gameplay format to share with you: The Guillotine League. I haven’t been this enthused about a new way to play since introducing Empire Leagues five years ago. Read on.

Here’s How a Guillotine League Works

At the end of each week of the NFL season, two things happen:

  • The bottom scoring team from that week gets eliminated from the league
  • That team’s roster is dropped into the free agent pool.

At the end of the season, the last team standing wins.

Simple, right? Awesome, right?

Yes, That’s Awesome

The incredibly compelling part of a Guillotine League is the weekly waiver wire. Every week, fantastic players will end up hitting free agency. Will you blow big bucks when an elite player hits free agency? Do you hold back money, knowing that each week, increasingly good rosters are going to get eliminated? Will you bid wildly in your difficult bye weeks?

Here’s an example from the 2017 season: In Week 1, Le’Veon Bell posted his worst game of the year, a scoreless 32 rushing yards and 15 receiving yards. It’s very possible that Bell’s team was eliminated in Week 1. How much of your blind bidding budget do you spend on Bell? Almost all of it, knowing that Bell could be your starting running back for the rest of the year? None of it, knowing that next week another good running back will likely end up hitting the waiver wire?

Recommended Rules

Guillotine effect: At the end of each week, the bottom scoring team is eliminated, and his/her roster is exposed to free agency.

League size: 17 teams, which provides for a 16-week season. You can play with less, with a shorter season.

Scoring system: Whatever you like.

Roster size: Avoid the temptation to allow large rosters—much of the strategy comes into figuring out who to drop.

Schedule: There is no schedule, and nobody plays head to head.

Waiver Wire: Although technically you could play it with any waiver wire format, you really want to use free agent blind bidding so everyone is bidding on all of the dropped superstars.

Division: There is no need for more than one division.

Starting lineup: Use whatever you’d like, but avoid the temptation to allow for large starting lineups—much of the strategy comes from figuring out which of your superstars you’ll start.

Prizing: I recommend a winner-takes-all approach to the prizing, since every other owner has been chopped.

Where can I play?: If you already have 16 other friends who want to play, I recommend MyFantasyLeague.com, which has the customization to support this kind of format. Here are the directions to set up your own Guillotine league on MFL. If you want to play, but don’t know 16 other people willing to risk their neck, use our matchmaking service, SafeLeagues.com.

Let me know what you think of the Guillotine League idea by hitting me up at @paulcharchian on Twitter.