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Compete with Bobby Sylvester in his Free Market Powers League

by Bobby Sylvester | @bobbyfantasypro | Featured Writer
Aug 21, 2019

Josh Allen carried vampire teams to victories late last year

Believe it or not, Tags and I are already nearing 400 episodes of the FantasyPros Football Podcast after just 30 months of working together. We are both so appreciative of you all supporting the show which allows us to live out our dreams. One of the ways I wanted to say thank you is by allowing some of you listeners to compete against me in my favorite type of fantasy league. I developed this league idea three years ago and everyone is free to submit a quick entry below. If you are selected, you will be notified by e-mail on Tuesday, August 27th. The draft date will be determined based on the forms everyone fills out.

Now, before you jump up to submit an entry, I’ve got to warn you that this league is unlike anything you’ve ever heard of. Some will think it is too much and that fantasy football is fine how it is. I’ll understand that, but I can tell you from the feedback of past listener leagues that these settings will blow any other league you’ve ever played in out of the water if you have an open mind. In fact, this league was the highlight of my own fantasy football experience last year and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get it going again. Allow me to introduce the Free Market Powers League.

Submit an entry for the league here>>>

Free Market Concept

The league begins with an auction draft where you have total autonomy over your strategy and results. Most (more on that later) have $200 to spend in the draft, but every dollar left on the table is translated into an extra $5 FAAB. You’d better believe the dollars will come in handy, because every week each team must release three players. This wouldn’t be so challenging if it weren’t for the fact that rosters do not allow much room on the bench. In the free market league, you’ve got just two bench spots and must decide if you want to use them for injuries, byes, upside, depth or perhaps something more profitable. Essentially, we are mixing season-long and DFS strategy.

Owners have gotten creative over the years and developed strategies called warehousing and rentals. If you’ve got the bench space, or are punting a week because you have too many byes/injuries, it may be in your best interest to accept FAAB from another team in exchange for using one of your roster spots to hold one of their injured players for a week. Bidding for this service typically ranges from $5 to $20 FAAB depending on supply and demand. The possibilities for creativity are endless in a free market league.

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Unique League Settings

  • 14 Teams (everyone plays each other exactly once before the playoffs)
  • Starting spots: QB, SuperFlex, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, Flex, Bench, Bench
  • 12 total players on each roster. No kickers, no D/ST
  • You must release three players every Tuesday by 5 PM ET
  • The worst score of the week must release four players
  • The best score of the week only needs to cut two players
  • If anyone fails to release players, the commish will choose for them and the team will be penalized $25 FAAB
  • FAAB bidding to replace those players ends on Wednesday at 3 PM ET
  • The Assistant Commish will track FAAB budgets then the Head Commish will manually release and place cuts/pickups on rosters
  • Thursday at 1 PM ET, there is a free-for-all on remaining free agents
  • QB touchdowns are worth 6 points while interceptions and lost fumbles are -4
  • Receptions count for half a point
  • Six teams will make the playoffs including the top 4 records (points scored tie-breaker), the team outside the top 4 with the most points, and whichever team outside of those 5 has the most points in Week 13 (yes, even a two-win team can sneak into the playoffs. It keeps everyone active)
  • If you have leftover money in the auction, it is translated to 5 FAAB for every dollar left over
  • You may trade or acquire FAAB
  • You may rent out players, or warehouse them on your bench
  • The commish will manually adjust FAABs for each team with all the moves

Team Powers

Each team has a special power that will add a massive layer of strategy to the game. Some powers can be rented and others are so strong that you aren’t even given the same amount of money to spend at the auction. A free market concept, let alone one with powers is certainly not all fantasy leagues, but if you are willing to try it, I can assure you the competition level will be outrageous. By the way, I mentioned that the league begins with an auction. It actually begins with two auctions and the first is to determine which person gets to use what power. The most popular powers (determined through the sign-up poll) will be auctioned off first starting at $600 FAAB. Those who want the power will bid that number down, so if you want to be the Voodo Master (who doesn’t!?) and are willing to accept just $120 of FAAB to ensure you get your power, it will put you at a bit of a disadvantage. It also serves the purpose of making sure the less advantageous powers have a handicap. Now, let me introduce all 14 powers.

This owner has 0 FAAB money to spend. In addition, they can only draft $1 players. For every game they win, however, if they can ever manage to do so, they get to steal any player who started for the team they beat that week. They cannot steal rented players, however, nor can they rent this power out for other teams to use. Eventually, this team could grow unstoppable, but the owner will first have to figure out a way to win with replacement-level players. This power adds strategy for the opponent as well. You see, if they are afraid of losing Keenan Allen or Kareem Hunt, it may be in their best interest to bench the player and try winning with just nine or even eight starters. If they are confident enough, however, they might be willing to put their season on the line to secure the win.

Captain Double-Up
Immediately following the draft, this team must name a captain. Whichever player they choose will get double the points each week (adjusted manually by the commish). As this is a significant advantage, they will only be given $150 auction dollars while most teams receive $200 to spend. You may only change your captain once during the season, so draft wisely with bye weeks and injury risk in mind. It may be to their advantage to spend big on a star quarterback, that way they can potentially add 300+ fantasy points to the roster. That might not make sense, however, as that would eat up a large portion of their limited auction budget.

Lottery Ticket
Without question, this is the most hated power in the league (by those who don’t possess it). In last year’s league, an alliance formed against the Lottery Ticket team to stand against his ridiculous and impressive approach. If this team ever reaches the unprecedented 200 point mark in a week, they have the option to trade half of their remaining FAAB budget for ANY one player in the league. Saquon and Kamara owners would be shaking in their boots every week hoping the Lottery Ticket powered team didn’t catch a bunch of breaks. If they somehow reach 200 points a second time, they can trade all of their FAAB for any other star. They cannot use the power a third time, however. It may be wise for them to forgo value in order to stack up easy matchups in one early week as that may be their only hope of reaching those 200 points. If this owner reaches 200, they cannot trade any FAAB or make any agreements with teams before deciding which player to steal. They must make their selection before drops are due that week. With that said, they may bargain their way to deals with the Saquon and Kamara owners before games begin. That way those owners have a guarantee that Lottery Ticket won’t steal their superstar.

Voodo Master
While the Lottery Ticket power will be despised by everyone, the Voodo Master may be the most dreaded to go up against head to head. They can choose one person from an opposing team to be benched that week. They must choose before the drops deadline and that player may not be traded by the owner and must be benched. Now, that player may be replaced by someone on their bench, but this would be a big blow if you had to replace someone like Mahomes with Case Keenum or if you’ve got two injured players. Seeing that this is such a distinct advantage, the Voodo Master only gets $150 to spend at the auction. An additional use of this power is that many owners will be willing to pay enough FAAB, or even trade a player if you let them tell you who to use the power against. Remember, however, that this agreement must be made before the drops deadline (Tuesday at 5 PM ET) so you can announce the player you are using it on.

Waiver Wire King
I mentioned in the rules that every dollar not spent in the auction is translated into $5 extra FAAB. That is an incentive for some wild strategies, but the Waiver Wire King has even more reason to punt the auction, or at least play it more conservatively. You see, instead of getting $5 extra FAAB for each leftover dollar, the Waiver Wire King gets $15 extra. The holdback here is that they only get $150 to spend, but imagine if they spent just $70 in the auction. That would give them $1000 in additional FAAB to play with on top of their initial FAAB. Essentially, they could get whichever player they want every single week if they are willing to have a rough auction. In a normal league, this wouldn’t have much value, but in a league where 42 quality players are released each week, this power comes in handy.

Funambulist Werewolf
A funambulist walks the tightrope and must have extraordinary balance. Likewise, this power requires an owner to have a balanced roster with no players getting over $20 of their auction money. Fortunately, there is a substantial bonus that comes along with that handicap, though. Every fourth week (including Week 16’s championship game), there is a full moon and the werewolf supplies a bonus 25 fantasy points. The commissioner will manually add the points after the week is complete.

Cherry Picker
During the auction, the cherry picker is at a disadvantage because they must fit their roster within a certain box. While they have $200 to spend like most everyone else, they must spend at least $175 on three players combined. There is a flip side, however, as they also get to cherry-pick off the waivers once. They can choose one week during the season and claim whatever three players they want without paying a dime in FAAB. They’ll have to decide if they want to bet on themselves to make the playoffs and save their power for one week of dominant streamers in Week 15 or if they think they can nab this year’s version of Phillip Lindsay and Tyler Boyd in the same week during the regular season. When they choose to exercise the power they must mention it in their waiver bids.

Prodigal Son
Many others in the league have the challenge of drafting with less than the standard $200 during the auction. Old Money laughs at them as they get $250 to go on a shopping spree. The downfall, and boy is it a big one, is that the powers auction will likely end with them having near $0 FAAB. They can coast by each week, picking up the scraps, or they can get creative and find a way to invest their old money into trades that acquire FAAB. Like many other powers in this league, there is a balance to be discovered and struck if you want to win a title with this power.

Teddy KGB
Prior to each game, this gambler can translate FAAB into actual fantasy points. For every $1 FAAB they designate for use, they will receive 0.1 fantasy points. So if they are in a must-win game toward the end of the season, $200 FAAB saved up could be of use as a whopping 20 fantasy points. Teddy KGB will have to decide if they want to use their precious FAAB on free agents, spread out across the weeks or for one splash in Week 13 or the playoffs. Their transfer must be announced by Thursday at 1 PM ET and the commish will manually adjust their score after each week.

Fountain of Youth
While this doesn’t come with the week to week strategy of many others, it puts some extra spice into draft day. Every time a rookie is started, you are rewarded with $8 of additional FAAB. This may not seem like much, but if you draft five of them and play them each of the first 13 weeks before the playoffs, that adds up to $520 which is a major advantage. With that said, there is a balance to be found between drafting for performance and drafting with future free agent acquisitions in mind. If this power is played correctly, this team can get a huge leg up in free agency while starting the likes of a fearsome trio like last year’s Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

Mr. Mulligan
You’d better hope you don’t play a close game against Mr. Mulligan because he will find a way to win. In fact, this owner can essentially steal two wins it if they play their cards the right way. Twice per season, they get a mulligan on a start/sit decision. For instance, if one of their bench players is a wide receiver who outperforms any of their starting wide receivers, Mr. Mulligan may replace the less-effective fantasy player in their lineup after the fact with the bench player. Fortunately for their league-mates, this owner is only allowed to spend $170 in the auction. It may be in their best interest to warehouse an injured player on another roster so that their special power is readily available. The commish will manually adjust the score when Mr. Mulligan uses his power.

Off the Grid
With 12 player rosters, that means players who would essentially be drafted in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds will be cut each week. In many cases, that will be a sizeable blow to a roster. The owner who has the Off the Grid power won’t have to deal with that, however. Rather, they never have to release anyone unless they see something that appeals to them on the waiver wire. You can say that this manager is playing normal fantasy football while everyone else is running around on fire. That may be true in a sense, but this league isn’t normal fantasy football so there are definitely hidden advantages in the rental and warehousing game to be found with this strategy.

If an owner hits the ground running and can pick up the league settings quickly, this may be the strongest power. It requires patience and diplomacy, however. In Free Market Leagues, there are trades galore, especially of the rental and warehouse variety. If you can find someone who wants to rent your players for a week, you get double the FAAB return for that rental (the other owner only has to pay the portion they agreed to–the rest comes out of thin air). Likewise, if someone pays you to warehouse a player, you double your earnings there as well. An additional benefit here, is that the stockbroker has an extra bench spot to use for warehousing. A 13th roster spot will be added after the draft that only the stockbroker can use for that warehousing spot.

Defense Against the Dark Arts
The owner with the Defense Against the Dark Arts power will be among the most popular in the league. You will want to suck up to them and perhaps even bribe them to ensure they don’t use their power on you. Or even better, to tempt them to use the power against your opponent. This owner may block the special power of one leaguemate every week. If you are going up against the Vampire, you’ll never have to worry about losing your star, or if you’ve got the Voodo Master on your schedule, there is no need to sweat. That is unless you are willing to risk it to accept a sizeable bribe. The use of this power must be announced by Thursday at 1 PM ET.


If you have additional suggestions, please let me know on Twitter and perhaps you’ll see them appear next season. Sign up in the form below with your three favorite powers and JUST six words on why I should select you for the league. If you are willing to commish the league, you’ll get your first choice of special powers while the assistant commish gets second choice. Do know, however, that this duty typically requires 60-90 minutes of attention each week with all of the transactions a commish will manually have to execute.

Submit an entry for the league here>>>

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Bobby Sylvester is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Bobby, check out his archive and follow him @BobbyFantasyPro

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