Fantasy NASCAR: Evaluating league formats
by Richard Garcia
on January 8, 2010 @ 00:00:00
This type of format is relatively self-explanatory: Pick the drivers you think will win from of a group of 10 prearranged matchups. The point scale isn't necessarily universal in every league, but the goal of outscoring your opponent is the same. Pick more winning drivers than your opponent and victory will be yours, if for only one week.
This kind of game caters to the novice because it simplifies each race as much as possible. Choosing three or four drivers based on their matchups is easier than choosing a handful of drivers and having your team's fate determined by their ability to compete against all of the remaining drivers. The straightforward nature is good for a rookie, but a pro is likely to find this style of game unchallenging.
In this version, every fantasy owner has a set salary cap. The job is to put together the best team possible while staying within the parameters of the cap. The team size may vary, but they normally have between four and six drivers making up a team. Multiple teams can own the same drivers, and driver salaries may fluctuate throughout the season depending on the driver's performance.
The scoring system in each league may vary, but the table below illustrates a common scoring system. Most scoring formats use the Sprint Cup Series scoring system like the one below.
Additionally, a bonus could be added for every lap led, and another bonus could be added for leading the most laps during a single event.
Some leagues only allow you to use a driver once throughout the season, making every decision that much more important, while other leagues allow you to hold onto your drivers throughout the year.
This type of game is a little more challenging for fantasy players. The restriction of a cap requires more thought and analysis. Building a roster around the track style and taking into account a driver's past success at a track is important and takes more research on a weekly basis. This style of game keeps a tally of overall points scored among a big group and doesn't match up two opponents each week.
Leagues vary in size, but most have between four and eight teams. The typical draft format breaks drivers into three categories based on last year's Cup points standings. Fantasy owners typically select one driver from Group A, two from Group B and one more from Group C. Some head-to-head and total points leagues opt to use the serpentine style of draft.
Owners will pick three drivers from a roster of four to go head-to-head against another team each week or against the field for total points. The winner for the week is the team that has the most fantasy points. There are different variations on how the champion is decided. Some head-to-head leagues have a playoff, which usually comes down to the final 10 races, coinciding with the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Other formats include no playoff structure. They carry on the same head-to-head style with the team that accumulates the best record at the end of the season being declared the winner. The total points leagues reward the fantasy owner with the most overall points after 36 races.
The scoring system in standard formats is identical to those mentioned in salary cap leagues, including the one shown in the table above. They can also include bonus points for total laps led and if a driver led a lap. In head-to-head formats there are customizable options that allow fantasy owners to score more points. Some of those options include bonus points for finishing amongst the top three in the event, qualifying position, finishing position, total laps led, win from the pole, position gained and total laps completed. Some leagues will penalize teams with laps-behind penalties, did not finish (DNF) penalties or actual points penalties accessed by NASCAR during the season.
Overall, playing this format is the most challenging. Each league is different, but the traditional format doesn't allow for multiple teams to carry the same drivers. This makes the drafting process that much more important, allowing for you to take a driver away from another fantasy owner. Drafts are usually before the first race has begun, leaving fantasy owners to draft their drivers without seeing them on the track for a few months. That ability to field a team without much more than last season's totals and analysis of offseason developments to go on makes the need to do research prior to the draft that much more important.
Through all this writing, remember not to get away from the fact that fantasy NASCAR is one of the simplest games to play. Here are a few tips when picking your drivers come race day:
About Richard Garcia
Garcia served as a managing editor for KFFL. Prior to his time with KFFL, Richard worked in managerial roles with both Frito-Lay Inc. and UPS. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona and fulfilled his internship requirements with the Los Angeles Kings Hockey organization in 2001.
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