Ask The Commish: How Many Teams for Playoff?

By Reginald James
Reginald James

It’s my 5th year as commissioner and I’m thinking about introducing a playoff next season. We have 12 teams. Should I go with four or six teams? I’m trying to weigh the pros and cons.


Whether you go with four or six teams for a playoff depends on how competitive you want things to be, and how involved you want league members to be during that period overall.


Six teams would obviously keep more people involved in the post season quest to win the league. However, that’s half of your league. Think about the last five years. Think about how many teams who didn’t really have good records, or were below .500 who would’ve made the playoff those years. I personally don’t think a team with a record below .500 should be in a playoff. That’s my take, but what really matters however, is what you think. Are you okay with that? How important is this to you? Your answer will determine whether you go with six.


Conversely, going with the top four teams - the top third of your league, means you’re rewarding the teams who have done the best. Does this scenario hold more weight for you than than the other?


What happens if you go with four? How competitive are your league members? I’m sure you know, some leagues will have a consolation playoff for the teams that don’t make the cut. The problem is, I’ve seen (and played in leagues) where some people will bail. They have no interest in a “playoff for losers.” Their league mates end up playing ghost ships. Where’s the fun in that?


If you like the idea of more people staying involved throughout the duration of the season go with six. If you’d rather not dilute the playoff pool with teams that have weak win-loss records, then go with four.


If I have someone who hasn’t paid their dues, what do I do with the money that they win? It’s still early in the season, but I have a guy who is in first place who hasn’t paid. I’m tired of asking for the money.


First, I’d like for you to direct your attention to Commish HQ: No Pay, No Play! Read it, bookmark it, and pass it on to your firstborn. All kidding aside, the first thing you should do is replace them. Is there anyone you know who would be willing to pay the fee and take over his team?


If you can’t replace them, lock them out, and take over the team. This is not the best option (that would be the former), but you might not have any other choice. You will not trade, work waivers, or get free agents with this team unless you have no other alternative.


For the rest of the season, set the weekly roster. Use either the “optimum lineup” setting if your platform has one, or use player rankings from a fantasy source like ESPN, RotoWire, etc. Whatever you choose, use the same source for the rest of the season. If you get matched up against the managed team, your weekly process for managing the roster does not change.


If for some reason you are forced to acquire a free agent, choose the top-ranked player available for the position you need. Your selections will be fully transparent: these rankings can be easily verified by the rest of the league. Take screen shots for your records.


You’re going to need to tell the league exactly what you’re doing. Explain the whole process.


Worst-case scenario: If you don’t want to take over the team, you’re left with letting them play out the season. If they actually win, they don’t get their payout. The pool money gets divided among the remaining players.


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