What is Guillotine Fantasy Football?

The fantasy football community is incredibly creative and innovative. I can’t imagine the creators of this game ever coming up with the different types and types of leagues that exist today. One of the newer 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 pretty ingenious. There are no head-to-head matches. Only the total score counts.

Each week, Fantasy Managers set their lineups as usual. The team with the lowest score is eliminated. The players on that team will then be distributed into the available player pool to be claimed via free-agent auction waivers.

This process is repeated until only one team is left. The team with the highest total of points throughout the season after 17 weeks wins.

On the surface it may seem like a simple game. You design your team like any other fantasy football league. You decide your line-up and hopefully don’t finish last this week. Then make waivers to improve your roster. Of course it’s never that easy.

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

Waiver Management

Without question, this is the most challenging aspect of a guillotine fantasy football league. We know that the most valuable additions to going cable free are early in the season because they benefit your team the longest. If you add a seasonal RB2 in week 2, it’s much more valuable than an RB2 you add in week 13.

It’s different in a Guillotine league because you know with absolute certainty that there will be multiple worthwhile additions each week. After each week a whole list of players is added to the player pool.

Even the worst teams have at least a few players that make the difference. As the season progresses, the eliminated teams get better and better. Therefore, the caliber of player you can claim will be better. The strategic challenge is figuring out how to spend your FAAB or free agent auction budget.

Don’t overspend too soon… but don’t underspend either

Contradictory? Contradictory? nonsense? All of these feelings are correct. This is what makes Guillotine Fantasy Football Leagues so interesting.

Your overall score over the entire season counts, because that’s what defines a champion. You definitely want to score points early on and build a lead. However, as the season progresses, there will always be better players on the waiver wire. These players invariably score more points. Therein lies the challenge.

You can’t ignore the waiver wire early because you don’t want to fall too far behind (or arrive last and get eliminated). At the same time, you must not burn through your FAAB too early, because then the teams that conserve their FAAB can very easily catch up.

Your goal should be to not stay in last place while saving as much FAAB as possible. As you get into the second half of the season, you want the buying power to take hold of the truly elite players entering the player pool.

In the second half of the season it’s time to spend. This gives you an advantage over your competition. The teams that spent their budget early will have good players, but you can claim great players. There will be enough time to make up the difference.

We’ve come to the end of the article and still haven’t discussed the biggest downside of a guillotine league. Someone will be allowed to play for exactly one week. That’s it. season over. Better luck next year.

Of course that’s no fun. So if you’re playing in a guillotine fantasy football league this year, make sure you’re playing in other leagues. Nobody plans to be eliminated in the first week, but it happens. Even if you make it a month, there are 17 weeks in each season and ideally we can all play for all 17.

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

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