Why it works

A beautiful system

IF you've seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind," you probably remember the part when Russell Crowe came up with his original idea in a bar while discussing how to approach a group of girls with some college buddies. Here's an overly-simplified explanation for people who don't remember or haven't seen it:

In a competition, the best result will occur if everyone does what's best for themselves and the group. If 10 people compete for a single "best" outcome, nine will fail. If the same 10 people compete for five different outcomes, only five will fail.

How does this apply to fantasy drafts? Simple — some managers might be perfectly happy to end up with a draft position deemed less desirable by the rest of the group. If that's the case, why not simply give them the pick?

Let's illustrate this with a simple example. Pretend you have a friend Scott who wants to build his fantasy basketball team around the unique talents of Anthony Davis or Chris Paul. He safely assumes Kevin Durant and LeBron James will be the first two players drafted, so he ranks the fourth pick as his top choice. Everyone else in the group ranks the first or second pick highest so they have a shot at Durant or LeBron.

How does this benefit Scott? Since he's the only manager who ranked the fourth pick highest, he gets it automatically. He'll wind up getting one of the two players he targeted, or — if by some miracle, Durant or LeBron is still available — he'll get an amazing value out of the fourth pick. Either way, he's ecstatic.

How does this benefit everyone else? Their odds of landing their top choice go up because now there's one less person they have to contend with.

Here's a sampling of some of the age-old draft order issues sets out to fix:

"All I want is a pick in the top seven because there are seven players I love."

If you're the kind of manager who ranks players by tiers, is perfect for you. Can't decide between seven players? Rank the seventh pick as your top choice and you're very likely to get someone you want. Or start your rankings out 1, 7 if you want a crack at the top pick and think pick seven will still be there the following round.

"I love Drew Brees, but I got the third overall pick. I can't possibly take him over the elite running backs still on the board, but he'll be gone before I pick again... dang."

The simulation is designed to pair more managers with draft positions they actually want. Why should a manager get stuck with a pick the rest of the league covets if he doesn't want it? Some managers like the front, some like the middle and some like the back.

"As commissioner, I'd like to give some kind of boost to the managers that missed the playoffs last year, but I don't want to just give them the top picks. What do I do?"

With the handicap setting, you can assign managers a bonus that will make them more likely to get a pick they want. Of course, you could also go the other way with this and reward teams that did well the previous season.

"Some people in my league want to raise the buy in, but others are hurting for cash. What do I do?"

There's another way to use handicaps — sell them! It's a great way to get more money in the pot without stooping to levels that might throw off the competitive balance of your league.