Highly Custom League Of The Week: WAR Wars

This is the fifth installment of the Highly Custom League series. Previous entries covered 2×2 Roto, Split Auctions, Roto-to-Head, and Rotating Divisions. Today we’ll discuss a format I once tested three or four seasons ago.

Design Aesthetic

Draft Type: Auction

Teams: Any number, 10 or 12 preferred

Positions: Any configuration

Hitter Categories: WAR

Pitcher Categories: WAR

Waivers: None or custom

WAR wars is a simple premise with a complicated execution. Instead of collecting categories, we’re gathering wins above replacement. The difficulty arises from an important component of WAR – defense. Not one site provides native support for UZR, DRS, or another advanced defensive metric. Good luck finding anything more complex than “errors.” Blech. Including defense is what separates this league design from a more typical linear weights-based points format like ottoneu FGpts.

As such, to make this into an active league requires considerable commissioner and user cooperation. When I ran this league years ago, it was a “Fire and Forget” format. In other words, owners drafted a team, waited for the season to end, and submitted their scores. There were no daily lineups, waiver moves, or trades.

To help ensure that injuries didn’t solely decide the winners and losers, I implemented a pseudo-active bench. Here’s what I mean. The league was set up with more active positions than we counted. For example, of the five active outfielders, only the top three were scored. This applied to every position.

It’s possible to add trades and waiver moves to this format if everybody is willing to put in the effort. I recommend severely restricting the number of waiver moves. For instance, allowing a single move at the start of every month could work. A FAAB process would be more fair than randomly assigned waivers. While I usually avoid trading limits, this is a case where I’d consider something like a three trade cap.

In order to facilitate the calculation of team WAR, owners must submit screenshots of the WAR for players they add and subtract from their rosters. The commissioner would be in charge of keeping a running tally in a spreadsheet. It’s not a perfect solution since certain components of WAR – namely UZR – are added at a slight lag to real time.

I suggest running this as an auction league – it ups the difficulty from a planning perspective and allows owners to (over)value certain skill sets with greater ease. It works as a snake draft too.


I enjoyed the one time I tried WAR wars. Using the more restrictive “no moves” variation makes it a fun, unique draft experience without adding to the burden of in-season management. For somebody like me who runs way too many rosters, that’s a big plus.

Would you like to try this format? Take the poll.

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My friends and I have done a league almost identical to this for the past 2 seasons. It’s great bc there’s no in-season management burden. We allow 1 add/drop during the season. We draft 30 players so on top of the 25 man starting lineup, we have 5 bench players. You designate those 5 bench players at the start of the season and get only 50% of their WAR total at season’s end.