Hey there! We’ve had a bit of a layoff in our Highly Custom League series. We return today with the sixth installment – Category Wars. Previous entries covered 2×2 Roto, Split Auctions, Roto-to-Head, Rotating Divisions, and WAR wars.
Draft Type: Snake or Auction
Teams: Any number, 10 or 12 preferred
Positions: Any configuration
Hitter Categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG
Pitcher Categories: W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP
Like many of the previous formats, Category Wars is a modular addition and can be combined with several other formats. It can even be used in head-to-head, although you’ll need to use a platform that still tracks roto standings (most do). The key is that you use a fairly generic set of categories.
This setting is designed for leagues with a serious buy-in. I recommend at least $100 as a baseline. Every single category along with the overall standings is it’s own micro-game. Win a category, receive a cash reward. The following table is flexible and can be adjusted to suit your preferences. We’ll use a 10-team league with $150 entries to keep the numbers nice and round.
In this example, I’ve split the $1500 prize pool into 15 shares. Participants are encouraged to prefer winning the league since they’d receive five shares. If you win the league, you’ve probably also won at least a couple categories. Category battles are a plan B. I consider this to be the preferred model. Obviously, you’re free to disagree and change the settings accordingly.
If doing a head-to-head league, there are a range of additional reward scenarios to consider. These include the playoff winner, regular season head-to-head winner, and regular season roto winner. Use them in any combination. Since fighting for head-to-head wins can be contrary to roto success, this variant could produce some odd results.
The categories are also adjustable, although certain ones should probably be left alone. I strongly recommend sticking with the standard five hitting categories because they minimize for correlation. If you were to use OBP or OPS, it becomes easier for one owner to take down a majority of the hitting categories.
On the pitching side, wins can be replaced with QS or GS – whichever strikes your fancy. Any variant of HD+SV also works. Be wary about using K/9 instead of raw strikeouts. By doing a count, strikeouts become an interesting volume battle – probably at the expense of ERA and WHIP.
I recommend sticking with shallow 10- or 12-team leagues to disincentivize owners from going overly heavy on only offense or pitching. Since quality talent is so easy to find on the waiver wire in this setting, a one-sided approach is more susceptible to failure. Remember, in the above example, you have to win at least two categories to make a profit. Putting all your eggs in one basket is therefore quite risky.
If you’re still concerned, you could explore an almost endless range of methods to ensure owners attempt to balance their rosters. The first thing I would try is innings and games played minimums in order to qualify for ANY prize. An innings minimum is a requirement to block those who’d seek to only use relievers.
Category Wars is an interesting adjustment to the classic fantasy game without introducing any confusing rules or restrictions. Would you like to try this format? Take the poll!
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