What is guillotined fantasy football?

The fantasy football community is incredibly creative and innovative. I can’t imagine the inventors of this game ever being able to design the different varieties and types of leagues that now exist. One of the more recent iterations is the guillotine format. What is Guillotine Fantasy Football and how does it work?

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The concept of a guillotine fantasy football league is quite ingenious. There are no head-to-head confrontations. The only thing that matters is the total points.

Each week, fantasy managers set their queues as usual. The team with the lowest score is eliminated. Players from that team are then dispersed to the pool of players available to be claimed via free agent auction waivers.

This process repeats until only one team remains. The team with the highest points total over the entire season after 17 weeks wins.

On the surface, this may seem like a simple game. You draft your team like any other fantasy football league. You set your schedule and hopefully don’t arrive last for that week. Then you make waiver requests to improve your list. Of course, it’s never that simple.

In a traditional fantasy football league, when there are clear fantasy starters on the waiver wire, you pursue them aggressively. You can’t do exactly that in a guillotine league.

Disclaimer Thread Management

Without a doubt, this is the most difficult aspect of a guillotine fantasy football league. We know the most valuable waiver thread additions are early in the season because they can benefit your team the longest. If you add an RB2 throughout the season in week 2, it’s far more valuable than an RB2 you add in week 13.

In a guillotine league, it’s different because you know with absolute certainty that there will be several interesting additions every week. After each week, a full roster of players will be added to the player pool.

Even the worst teams will have at least a few players who will make a difference. As the season progresses, the eliminated teams will get better and better. Therefore, the player caliber you can claim will be better. The strategic challenge is to determine how to spend your FAAB or Free Agent Auction budget.

Don’t spend too soon… but also don’t spend too little

Contradictory? Counter intuitive ? Absurd? All of these feelings are true. This is what makes fantasy football guillotine leagues so interesting.

Your point total throughout the season is important because it is what determines a champion. You definitely want to rack up points early and create a lead. However, as the season progresses, there will be better players on the waiver wire. These players will invariably score more points. This is where the challenge lies.

You can’t skip the waiver thread early because you don’t want to fall too far behind (or come in last and be eliminated). At the same time, you can’t burn your FAAB too early because then teams that keep their FAAB can catch up very easily.

Your goal should be to stay out of last place while retaining as much FAAB as possible. By the time you reach the second half of the season, you want buying power to attract the truly elite players entering the player pool.

In the second half of the season, it’s time to move on. This is when you gain an edge over your competitors. Teams that spent their budget early will have good players, but you can claim great players. There will be plenty of time to make up the difference.

We’ve reached the end of the article and still haven’t discussed the biggest downside of a guillotine league. Someone is going to play for exactly one week. That’s it. Season. Better luck next year.

Of course, it’s not fun. So if you’re playing in a fantasy football guillotine league this year, be sure to play in other leagues. Nobody expects to get knocked out in the first week, but it does happen. Even if you do it for a month, there are 17 weeks every season and ideally we are all capable of playing for all 17 weeks.

Jason Katz is a fantasy analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and discover more of his work here.

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