Tipping Pitches: Sports and Fatherhood: Fantasy Basketball for Families


Monday, September 28, 2009

Sports and Fatherhood: Fantasy Basketball for Families

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My fantasy sports participation has evolved over the years from dangerously fanatical to occupational to casual.  Fantasy was my escape from a job I hated for several years after college.  This led to an eventual entertaining career.

Eventually, the initial level of fanaticism just could not be sustained.  I didn't want to sustain it.  I am no longer driven to play in eight leagues per season as an outlet from my profession.  I love my job.  And I also have three growing boys with whom I want to spend as much time as I can.

This year, I've played in one fantasy baseball league and currently participating in one fantasy football league.  Both are four team leagues.  Yeah, you heard me.  Four.

The catch?  They are family leagues.  This is my way of staying involved in fantasy and the individual sport.  In the meantime, we have a fun little competition within the family, and it gives me a not-so-subtle way to encourage my kids to appreciate sports and statistics.

So how can you possibly have a competitive league of four people when two of the participants are aged five and eight and the other team is managed by my wife and toddler?  It's going to be a run-away, right?  Otherwise I should be ashamed.

Not really.  To be honest, I don't really try that hard (which is exactly what people say when they don't win).  I did win the first Loomer Family Fantasy Football League, though.  Sons Pee Wee and Michael are in this year's Baseball championship.  And I'm 0-3 so far in this season's fantasy football league.

To make it fun, you have to get creative.  The draft has to be easy for anyone.  You have to eliminate all transactions, including setting lineups.  Pure basics.  Then, anyone can win, and it's fun for all.

So, how will I be setting up our fantasy basketball league?  Glad you asked.  Here it goes....

First, choose a site to run on.  I would use NBA.com's Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner, but...  It doesn't exist anymore...  Anyway, we use Yahoo. 

The Draft
We hold a live offline draft and I then enter the results myself.  For fantasy basketball, we'll have 23 rounds -- which really isn't much when you consider we'll be drafting 92 players and there are typically about 150 viable fantasy players.  In other words, plenty of talent to go around.

For each league, we tend to come up with a new system for the original draft order.  I thought we were going by age (youngest to oldest), but after a disagreement that nearly disbanded our fantasy football league, we instead went with worst regular season the previous year record to best.  Same order every round (no snake).

Since we did not have a fantasy basketball league last year, we will probably go with this order (unless I get overruled, which is entirely possible in this Democracy):

1) Pee Wee
2) Michael
3) Lisa & JJ
4) Me

Next, we'll use a predetermined site's cheat sheet as a guide for all.  I tend to use ESPN, but may use Rotowire for hoops.

Each round, we all pick the same position.  So, for example, all of us would pick a point guard in the first round.  I can't decide to pick LeBron James because he's still on the board.  I have to wait until his position is up.

I'll probably also assign a position to each player so that multi-position players don't confuse matters.  The only person confused would be me when I'm entering the players later on, so we need to take it easy on the old man.

Since I know the players far better than anyone else in this family (because I'm a freaking genius), I will read the names of the highest rated players at the point guard position for Pee Wee, and he'll pick a player because the guy's name is Ryan (PW's given name is Ryan) or because it was the only name of the three he could repeat.  Whatever his system, it typically works.

Michael generally thinks a little harder on it.  But since he's smarter than I am, I won't doubt his strategies.

So that's really it for the draft.  For football, I try to create a competitive team, but I also did go out of my way to draft Packers (I drafted Aaron Rodgers as my first quarterback and Greg Jennings as my first wide receiver, for example).  Keep it simple and light.  Pretty fail proof.

Very simple.  Since we haven't had our draft yet, I haven't really thought this through so it's subject to change based on depth of talent at each position.  But it will likely look something like this:

PG (5)
SG (5)
SF (5)
PF (5)
C (3)
Bench (0)

As you can see, no bench.  You drafted him, you play him.  Keeps it nice and simple.  You want players who stay healthy -- not that this is a major consideration when we're drafting.

We always use Head-to-Head scoring in our leagues, but I haven't yet determined whether we'll use fantasy points or categories.  We used categories for baseball, but I feel like it makes more sense for hoops in this case.  Anyway, small detail.  We'll figure it out, but always want to keep it simple.

You just can't use roto in a league with kids.  Roto is boring for most adults.  You think it will keep the kids' attention?

Keep it simple.

None.  No trades.  No waivers or free agent pick-ups.  No lineup changes.  Nice and simple.  You drafted him, you play him.  No advantages for me, no disadvantages for them (although, I'd likely make my team worse, so this is a good rule for me).

Everyone makes it.  I know, I know.  "The regular season is pointless!"  It's a fantasy league with a five year-old and an eight year-old.  Doesn't have to make sense.  At least the top seed faces the bottom seed in the first round.  That's why we play the regular season!

Make it Fun
Feel free to set up a league for your family, too.  We like to gather around every Monday morning and I announce the scores.  Everyone gets all amped up for it.  In the past I've also made scorecards for everyone to look at when the week is over, but I've tended to forget so the weekly announcement works just fine.


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