Poondogs, et al. vs. League Commissioner – 6 F.J. 654 (December 3, 2014) – Fantasy Football Dispute (Tie-Breakers)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Poondogs, et al. vs. League Commissioner

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE CANADIAN KEEPER 2014 LEAGUE

Decided December 3, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 654 (December 2014)

Factual Background

A fantasy football league called the Canadian Keeper 2014 League (hereinafter referred to as “the CKL”) is hosted on MyFantasyLeague.com.  The CKL playoffs begin during Week 14 of the NFL season with six teams earning playoff berths.  There are three divisions in the league and all three division winners earn the top three playoff seeds.  The next three teams with the best record earn the next three playoff berths.  The CKL standings are calculated by winning percentage followed by head-to-head record and then total points.

The three division winners were The Poondogs, Wizzinator and Team Trade Bait who all finished with a record of 10-3.  The three wild card teams were The Aggies, Purple Helmets and Chatham Lions who all finished with a record of 7-6.

Procedural History

The CKL requires assistance setting the playoff seeds because he alleges that MyFantasyLeague.com is calculating head-to-head records solely between opponents within the same division and not amongst playoff teams that are tied.

Issues Presented

(1) How should the tie-breakers be applied to set the seeding for the CKL playoffs?

Decision

This is an issue of first impression as the Court has yet to preside over a case involving the interpretation of tie-breakers for determining all six seeds in a league’s playoff format.  The novelty of the issue is that MyFantasyLeague.com did not seem to apply the proper tie-breakers when it came to deciding the standings in terms of appropriate head-to-head records and total points with respect to intra-divisional teams.  That is not to say there were mistakes or discrepancies.  Rather, there is a dilemma facing the league in how to determine the proper seeding when the three division winners all have the same record, and the three wild card teams also have the same record.

There is a distinction between the relevance of head-to-head records in a fantasy football league from a fantasy baseball league.  That is because teams are likely to have played fewer matchups against each other in fantasy football league simply because there is a shorter schedule with fewer total games.  Generally, just because one team has beaten another team during the course of the season does not make them, in effect, better or more successful.

The three division winners in the CKL all earn the top three seeds in the playoffs.  Here, they were all 10-3 which meant they have identical winning percentages.  The standings in this MyFantasyLeague.com league were calculated first by winning percentage followed by head-to-head record and then by total points.  The Poondogs were 1-0 against Wizzinator, Wizzinator was 1-0 against Team Trade Bait, and the Poondogs did not play Team Trade Bait at all during the season.  Because not all of these three teams even faced each other, the fairest wait to set the seeding amongst the division winners is to base it on total points.  This way, no team is prejudiced for not having played one another and the seeding can be set objectively by the overall performance of the teams throughout the course of the season.

The bigger issue is determining the seeding of the three wild card teams who all finished the season with an identical 7-6 record.  The Aggies were 1-0 against the Purple Helmets, the Chatham Lions were 1-0 against the Aggies, and the Purple Helmets were 2-0 against the Chatham Lions.  The Chatham Lions finished the season with the highest point total amongst these three teams.  In addition, all three teams played against each other at least once.

It is paramount that the CKL maintain consistency with how tie-breakers are applied throughout the league.  The record is devoid of specific details about the league settings and whether MyFantasyLeague.com took into account the divisional tie-breakers or the global tie-breakers amongst teams competing for the wild card berths.  Since it is abundantly clear that the tie-breaker amongst the division winners should be calculated by total points, we hold that the same should be applied for the wild card teams.  This is further bolstered by the fact that the three wild card teams did not play the same number of games against each other to even be able to balance it out.  We recognize that the Purple Helmets did own a 2-0 record against the Chatham Lions, but they also did lose to the Aggies and had less total points than the Chatham Lions.

The Court recognizes that many leagues simply rely upon the internal settings of the host site such as MyFantasyLeague.com.  But if there is a specific idiosyncrasy that the league wants to apply, it may not be practical or feasible for the host website to accommodate it.  Clearly the CKL commissioner wants the tie-breakers to be applied in a certain way.  We recommend that the CKL commissioner create some additional rules and guidelines in conjunction with the league settings that will govern how the league applies tie-breakers.  This specific issue epitomizes why it is necessary for the   We Going’ to the Ship! vs. You Gon’ Learn Today!, 5 F.J. 286, 288 (November 2013).  Based on the foregoing, the Court holds that total points should be the primary tie-breaker for the three division winners, as well as the three wild card teams.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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