A couple weeks ago, I experienced a poolie’s worst nightmare. After setting my weekly line-up Sunday night, I awoke on Monday to the news that my starting goalie (Roberto Luongo) was out with an undisclosed injury – an upper body injury, no less (the worst kind!).


So, while my head-to-head nemesis coasted through the week with two healthy starters, I was behind the 8-ball from the get-go, hoping against hope that somehow my one goalie could keep pace with his tandem. As it turned out, Pekka Rinne came up huge for me and outgunned Henrik Lundqvist and Kari Lehtonen. But it could’ve turned out so much worse.

Which brings us to the question of daily vs. weekly line-up changes. If only my league had daily changes, I could’ve subbed in Nikolai Khabibulin for Lou and skated through the week much more comfortably. So, daily changes are obviously better, right? Not so fast.

Daily Changes: Pros and Cons

Allowing daily line-up changes brings a number of advantages. It gives the teams in your league greater flexibility to deal with situations that crop up on a day-to-day basis. Clearly, it would have helped me out in the circumstances cited above, as it would’ve minimized the impact of Luongo’s injury on my team. (Though come to think of it, considering the shellacking his old buddies from Chicago laid on the Canucks that week, perhaps his injury was a blessing in disguise!)

Daily changes minimize regrets. With 13 healthy forwards in a league where we dress 9 each week, mistakes are inevitable. In a recent week, I chose to sit Joe Pavelski in favour of other skaters... only to watch in frustration as I missed out on his all-important shorthanded point. With daily changes, he’d have no doubt been in my line-up that night.

Daily changes also keep managers more engaged and interested. The ability to tinker with your line-up on a daily basis forces owners to pay more attention to what’s going on with their team. Your roster will play more man games over the course of the week, making every night more entertaining and giving every team higher totals at week’s end.

If the story ended here, it would be a no brainer – sign me up for daily changes. Unfortunately, there are also some significant drawbacks to consider.

Daily changes favour teams with depth and good health. I’m all for rewarding managers that are skilled enough to build up some depth on their bench and farm team, but the unpredictability of injuries can really skew things unfairly when daily shuffles are permitted.

Case in point: in a league where we start 9 forwards and 4 defencemen each week, my current opponent has exactly 9 healthy forwards and 4 healthy defencemen on his active roster. Everyone else is injured or suspended. Meanwhile, I’m sitting pretty with 13 healthy forwards and 5 d-men. As much as I’ll happily take every advantage I can muster, I have to admit that daily changes would give me a huge, unfair advantage this week. I’d likely rack up an extra 10-15 man games and cruise to an easy victory. I want to win, don’t get me wrong; but I don’t want to win on an uneven playing field.

The option of making daily moves also tilts things in favour of active managers who actually care enough to make the daily adjustments. And truthfully, they should be rewarded to some extent. But late in the season when playoff spots are at stake, I’d hate to find myself watching helplessly as my rival puts the boots to some weak sister who’s lost all interest in their team and isn’t icing their best line-up each and every night.

The Case for Weekly Changes

The pros and cons of weekly changes are pretty much the mirror opposite of those for daily line-ups. On the downside, you lose the flexibility to quickly respond to the unexpected injuries, hot streaks and slumps that happen every week. You reap the full consequences of your bad coaching decisions, like when you get to the end of the week and find that your leading scorer for the past seven days was tied to your bench. Managers may lose interest more quickly without the daily incentive to stay on top of their team.

On the other hand, weekly changes force managers to put more thought into their coaching decisions. In my daily-change league, my coaching tactics generally involve dressing whoever’s playing that night and nothing more (except on those rare and glorious days when almost the whole league is playing, and I actually have to pick a few guys to sit it out). Weekly changes require me to put in the effort to look at upcoming game schedules, weigh the strengths and weaknesses of my opponent, and determine the best 15 players to suit up for that week.

All things considered, as a commissioner who wants to encourage a high level of engagement among my GM’s, I wish I could embrace daily changes and all the benefits they bring. And yet, at the end of the day, I just can’t get past the injury factor. I’ve been in too many leagues where daily changes have enabled those teams lucky enough to stay healthy to ascend to the top simply due to more man-games played.* In my opinion, weekly line-up changes are best for creating an even playing field for all teams, despite the drawbacks.

So, where do you stand – weekly or daily changes?

(* Yes, I realize this problem can be mitigated by introducing games played limits. That’s another topic for another day... we’ll come back to it, I promise!)

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angelofharlem (Glen) said:

... Hey Robbie, it's an interesting idea, but I'm not aware of any online pool managers that support that kind of option. Usually you have to choose either weekly or daily.
December 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Hey Robbie said:

Hey Robbie
Weekly, except injuries? I've been advocating for my league (currently weekly starts) to switch to weekly starts with the exception that injured players (IR eligible) can be replaced mid-week. Seems to me this would balance some of the issues presented, keeping the lower level of line-up tweaking of weekly leagues, while ameliorating some of the random unfairness of injuries.

Has anyone tried this type of setup, or are there problems with the idea I'm not appreciating?
December 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Allan Phillips said:

Dynasty Add to that complications in a dynasty league. Mine is a 12-team weekly roto dynasty league with an auction draft and contracts. Since most owners won't trade their entire future away for one year, your bench spots can be filled up with 'tweeners - more than prospects, but not yet full-timers. Weekly is the way to go in this format, with a bench of 5. You could go bigger bench, but then the wire is really sparse.
December 05, 2011
Votes: +0

angelsofharlem (Glen) said:

... It's tough to look at an issue like this in isolation, as it's connected to many other league rules. The ease with which you can fill injury holes depends on how many bench and IR slots you are allowed, whether or not you have a farm team and whether or not you're allowed to shuttle guys up and down, how many waiver wire transactions you're allowed per season, etc. If your whole rule package is conducive to building up depth, then I agree, daily changes are the way to go. But in many leagues this isn't the case, and your hands really get tied when the injury bug strikes, which is why I'd favor weekly changes in those leagues. I do also think it takes more coaching skill for a weekly league, deciding who to dress, as opposed to a daily league where you just dress whichever warm bodies you have at your disposal each day. Anyway, great discussion everybody!
December 04, 2011
Votes: +0

CommittedToTheIndian said:

... I'll switch to weekly when NHL teams set their lineups that way. Fantasy sports are better the more they mirror the real thing. Depth and injuries matter in hockey and so they should in fantasy hockey.
December 04, 2011
Votes: +1

sentium said:

... After playing daily changes for two years I then tried weekly changes and absolutely hated it to no end. Why should I not be rewarded for building great depth for my team? Injuries happen, THAT'S WHY YOU BUILD DEPTH! What if NHL teams had to make weekly changes? Completely laughable. I will never play a weekly league again, that's for sure. It has no redeeming qualities.
December 04, 2011
Votes: -1

Ken Shultz said:

Weekly Changes - Points Average My favorite league is a H2H weekly change league, where the points average over the course of the week.

I like it a lot better when the right decisions are based more on the quality of the matchups rather than the number of starts.

There are some risks with setting your line up once a week--where an injury can happen. But that can work to your advantage too. Using backup goalies off of waivers at against an easy opponent at the end of a four game week can come in handy if your regular starting goalie is hurt or in a slump.

So, anyway, H2H with points averaging over the course of the week and the lineup set once a week is my first choice.
December 04, 2011
Votes: +0

Kevin said:

... My weekly total points league has been great with weekly roster locks. Most of my league are casual hockey fans, and last year, we had daily changes and clearly, the people who put the effort in came out on top. We are all friends, so weekly locks makes sense for us. We set our rosters and then enjoy the week as we face off against each other, all while planning for the next week. It takes a lot of the panic and monotony of keeping rosters set. Certainly a better option unless your entire league is seriously involved.

Unfortunately, this week, Pacioretty (my player) was suspended and the NHL didn't announce the suspension until about 5 minutes AFTER my roster locked for the week with him active. Needless to say, I was a bit steamed, but weekly updates kind of eliminates some whining about things not being fair for less active owners. It's really hard to complain when all that is required of you is simply one update each Monday compared to every damn day.

Also, I've set a small bench of 4 players to 14 skaters and 2 goalies, so teams can't really stack up on players with a lot of games for each week, only with deft free agent movements. But I've also set a high number of IR spots at 4 as well, so teams won't be penalized on weeks for having lots of injuries.
December 04, 2011
Votes: +0

Edm said:

... You can also find some middle ground if you expand the size of the roster in a daily league to include more bench spots. Larger rosters can more easily absorb the loss of a player and a larger bench means that you still need to manage your team (deciding who plays and who sits). I actually prefer drafting a bit deeper since knowledge and speculation play bigger roles with the mid range and younger players.

It still hurts to lose Richards and Letang in the same week, but at least you can still fill those empty slots every day and target the satellite cats like PIMS or HITS to help limit the damage.
December 03, 2011
Votes: +0
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