It’s not super-common, but from time to time I hear about fantasy leagues that include both the NHL regular season and NHL playoffs in their scoring. I’m not talking about leagues that have a separate playoff component, in which there is a regular season champ and a playoff champ; where the teams and rosters carry over but regular season and playoffs are treated as separate competitions (we do this in my own league, in fact). I’m talking about leagues in which regular season and playoffs are combined as part of a single competition.


Today, I’m opening the floor for discussion, and inviting you to convince me that this is a good idea. I’ve seen a number of approaches to this, from straight combined totals over the course of the regular season and playoffs, to different weightings given to playoff stats. Even Dobber himself used to include playoffs as a factor in his player rankings. But I’ve yet to see a system for combining the two that makes any sense to me.


The way I see it, much like church and state, regular season and playoffs should be forever kept separate. When it comes to fantasy, the “first and second seasons” are two totally different animals requiring significantly different strategies. From October to April, it’s often best to diversify, and avoid putting too many eggs in one basket. If you built your team around this year’s Capitals or Kings, you know why. In the playoffs, conversely, victory comes to the owner who picks the right basket and goes all in.


It’s nearly impossible to forecast the playoff seeding during the regular season, and the unpredictability of the final standings means success will be determined as much by luck as skill. As I write this article, there are just three nights left in the regular season, and yet there are still major question marks over who will grab the bottom seed or two in each conference. In an era in which 85% of teams are in the hunt for a playoff spot heading into the final week of the season, a fantasy owner in a league that includes playoffs can only hold their breath and hope that they’ve put their money on the right teams.


I’m also not a fan of how the playoff factor skews a player’s value, and limits the pool of valuable fantasy players. Should Steven Stamkos’ value take a hit because he has the misfortune of playing for a squad that has no viable goaltender? And is it really in the best interests of my fantasy league to have players from the NHL’s 6-8 worst clubs see their fantasy viability decreased even more than it already is, because they have no chance of skating in the playoffs?


Finally, from a commissioner standpoint, this type of league can be very difficult to maintain and track. Many of the top fantasy management websites don’t have a playoff option at all, let alone one which carries over from the regular season. If you’re going with this approach, you are severely limiting the sites you have to choose from, or you are committing yourself to doing some manual tracking of stats.


So have I made my feelings clear? I’m not a fan of combining regular season and playoffs. Having said that, there are enough people out there doing it that I wonder if I’m missing something. Perhaps other commissioners have dreamt up creative league configurations that circumvent the issues I’ve laid out here. So, I open the floor for comments. If you’re in this type of league, how does yours work, and how do you avoid these pitfalls? Let’s see if you can convince me that this is the way to go!


If you’re not in a league that combines regular season and playoffs, what’s your preferred format for a playoff pool?

Write comment
Comments (5)add comment

David Stuffles said:

The End Results I play in a Keeper League that goes right through to the end of the playoffs. We currently have 14 GMs with a 25 man roster, of which we protect 12 at the end of the year. You need the right combination of superstars as well as depth players throughout the entire season to be the champion. Points favour goals all season long, as well as a slight increase in points for the playoffs. We feature only 20 players in our active line-up. I don't know if it is luck or skill (I'm hoping that it is my own intuitiveness), but I usually have more than 20 players to start the playoffs. This year, of our top 6 challenging for the win, 3 GMs have 20 or more, and the other 3 have 13,14 and 15. If you build a strong enough lead during the regular season, it might sustain you for the playoffs. Last season, only 8 points seperated 1st from 3rd.
Remember when Washington dominated the regular season, and died in the playoffs. I think that is part of Ovechkins downfall. He realized that what he and his team did in the regulars season meant nothing, without being able to follow it up with a good playoff run to achieve the ultimate goal...the Stanley Cup.
April 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Linden said:

Point well made I can see dobbers point with the whole stamkos thing. I(We) only use the playoffs to see which conference buys the beer at the draft. (6F, 3d, 1G team made from each conference-minimum one player per team)
April 08, 2012
Votes: +0

angelofharlem (Glen) said:

... In my league, we have a separate playoff component in which we each select 6F, 3D and 1G from our regular season roster and/or farm teams, and this is our roster for the playoff pool. If guys don't have enough players qualify for the playoffs to fill their lineup, they can choose players from the free agent pool to fill out their playoff roster. Seems to work pretty well. But overall, I find playoff pools very anticlimatic compared to the regular season. After one round, at least half the teams are out of the running already, so interest drops dramatically.
April 08, 2012
Votes: +0

dominator said:

Help I am trying to convince the other GM's in our our keeper league draft to incorporate a seperate playoff component using our regular season players. We normally just meet again at playoff time and redraft players for that season's playoffs.

I find this to be counter intuitive. The NHL ramps up the intesity at playoff time and we ramp it down. I want to try and suggest a way in which a team in the regular season draft qualifies a team for playoffs. Then qualifying team must submit a reduced roster for playoff time.

What do you Dobber in your keep leagues to incorporate the playoffs?
April 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Steffen said:

I wish. I'm ALWAYS disappointed when the regular season ends, and I'm forced to "start over" in various friends' "office pool" format playoff pools.

We've tried various formats in the past to continue our roto-keeper's vibe into the playoffs. Until recently, we went from roto to H2H-roto, with lineup resets allowed each playoff round. This knocked out teams each round, but by the last round it was often 2-5 players against 2-5 players - not so much fun when you had 20 active players in the regular season.

This year, we're treating ALL the playoffs like one extra regular season roto-week. Of course, our web site doesn't support this, so I (as Kommissar) will have to do (just a little) data entry. I tried to institute add/drop/trade transaction fees to fund prize money for these playoffs, but got voted down. So it's just down to pride.

I'm curious to see how others deal with this.
April 08, 2012
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.