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Guillotine League Guide (Fantasy Football 2022)

Jun 12, 2022
Jalen Hurts

A new format created in the last few years is a guillotine league. There is even a website where you can play this league style, and players can find it at guillotineleagues.com. However, you can also play guillotine leagues on any platform, and My Fantasy League has it as a standard feature. If you have already played in the Fantasy Cares eliminators run by John Bosch, you will already be familiar with what a guillotine league is. However, you can also play this format on the Sleeper app, NFL.com, and ESPN with some light commissioner work.

The idea of a guillotine league is that you play with the number of teams that there are weeks you are choosing to play. Most play 17-week seasons, and therefore 18 teams. However, you could play 18 weeks and therefore have 19 teams. Every week, one team is eliminated until you are left with just one winner.

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What is a guillotine league?

The idea is that one team is eliminated from the league every week, from Week 1 to Week 17 or 18. However, this is not a traditional head-to-head league, and the scoring is done on points scored on the week. Therefore, if you score the fewest points that week, you are eliminated from the league, and your season is over.

However, when a team is eliminated, the players from the eliminated roster are dropped into the free agency pool. Every Wednesday, when waivers run, the league-mate who bid the most Free Agency Acquisition Budget (FAAB) will add that player to their roster. This process is blind bidding, and you have most of the day Tuesday to weigh up your bids. You have a limited amount of FAAB for the season, so deciding on going hard early or being prudent with your budget makes this a strategic and fun format to play.

Typically, most guillotine leagues are redraft, with lineups being set each week. However, the experience is not diminished if you choose to make this a best ball league, as most have come to experience with the Fantasy Cares eliminators.

The playoffs are where guillotine leagues can differ quite drastically. Already mentioned is the one team eliminated every week until a winner is crowned. However, on guillotineleagues.com, the format can be slightly different. You could choose to host the final four in the playoffs in Week 15, and whoever has the highest cumulative score between weeks 15-17 will be crowned the winner. It is up to you which format you prefer when you set this up.

Typically in guillotine leagues, trading is not allowed. However, this is up to you to decide with your league if you host your own private league.

Most guillotine leagues are 14-16 roster spots and only differ by the bench and/or kicker/DST spots. The traditional guillotine leagues are 14 roster spots with eight starters and six bench spots. Those starting spots are 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, and 2 Flex (WR/RB/TE). However, you could turn a flex into a Superflex spot or even add a Superflex spot and make it a 15-player roster.

How to set up and manage a guillotine league

As mentioned, there is already a website where you can have all the administration and settings done for you. However, some choose to use one of the websites mentioned to host their leagues. This can be run with little management. It means dropping the entire roster into the free agency/waiver pool on a Tuesday after confirmed results and then locking that team eliminated from making transactions. It does mean studying all the results. You cannot turn off the head-to-head functionality on a platform like the Sleeper app. Therefore it will track wins and losses. You will need to ignore this and override it when it comes to the playoffs.

Typically guillotine leagues are PPR scoring. However, you can customize and amend the scoring. John Bosch for the Fantasy Cares eliminators goes wild with the scoring. It is the same for every player, so feel free to customize and go crazy if that is what you are looking for.

There is a lot of freedom to get creative with the format. You can make it a best ball league or a set lineup every week guillotine. You can also change the starting lineups and the bench spots if you wish. Just remember, there are 18 players in the league, so things such as starting 2TEs, 3RBs, or 4WRs are not advised.

Guillotine draft strategy

There are several different strategy points to consider when playing in guillotine leagues, and not all of them will be listed here. However, some pointers can help you get started if you are new to guillotine leagues.

Avoid rushing dependent quarterbacks

Players like Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, and Trey Lance will hurt you in this format. It only takes one week for the production to stop due to a good defensive performance, and you are staring at elimination. Therefore, pocket passes such as Josh Allen, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers are much safer bets in this format.

Avoid rookies

Rookies are volatile, especially in the early part of the season. Therefore, ignore them unless you are genuinely convinced they will be a gamechanger every week. There are very few rookies that remain consistent throughout the season, and consequently, it’s probably best to avoid them as much as possible in this format.

Aim for consistent players and avoid Touchdown dependent players

A consistency strategy is so crucial in this format. A boom or bust wide receiver like Mike Evans could hurt you if he has a bust week. Therefore, you are much better off looking at players who might have a lower ceiling but a much safer floor from week to week. Someone like Diontae Johnson will be far more valuable to you than Mike Evans in this format.

The same can be said for touchdown-dependent players. If a player is required to score a touchdown to be relevant, they probably are not a good fit for your team. Therefore, avoid players who will only make a splash in fantasy football if they score a Touchdown. Players like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Chase Claypool spring to mind here. Unfortunately, you might have to go down this route with the tight end position. There isn’t that much choice. If that is the case, that is fine. Just don’t have too many more instances.

Avoid early bye weeks

Some players think getting the bye weeks out of the way is a great strategy. However, that couldn’t possibly be more wrong. For example, fewer teams and, therefore, fewer players have an early bye. You are conceding an advantage to the rest of the league, who don’t have players on early byes and could get yourself knocked out.

The odds of getting eliminated are greater earlier, as there are more teams. If you have Josh Allen on a bye in week seven, you are at a massive disadvantage. You are unlikely to have drafted a great replacement for your bye week, as you expected Allen to play almost every week. The other quarterbacks on bye that week are Kirk Cousins, Jalen Hurts, and Matthew Stafford. Due to the inconsistencies of Cousins and Hurts, if those two players are eliminated, you are conceding a massive advantage to the remaining 11 teams, excluding yourself. Therefore, you will probably have the worst quarterback starting that week, and that is a recipe to get yourself eliminated quickly.

Whereas, if you select Aaron Rodgers with a week 14 bye, you will have a very good backup quarterback as you are down to the final five and will likely have been able to grab a great quarterback as your backup if you survive that long. Therefore, early byes can leave you open, and later byes give you time to fill the roster with like-for-like replacements.

Also, avoid taking too many players from the same team for this season. Stacking is a terrible guillotine strategy. Try and avoid having more than one player from the same team where possible. Also, try and do the same with bye weeks. Avoid having too many players on the same bye week unless it is week 14 and you have time to remedy this problem.

Avoid running backs who do not get receptions

This one seems obvious. However, with PPR scoring or something similar, these backs are one negative game script away from getting you eliminated early in the league. Except for Derrick Henry, heavily carry-dependent players like Elijah Mitchell become a massive risk to your roster and your participation in the latter stages of the league. Therefore, it is best to stay clear of them unless you get them for a considerable discount.

Manage your FAAB

You must manage your FAAB in a very smart way. Some people will be tempted to blow their entire budget on a player when they become available. Or a sizable chunk of it, at least. And while, if the need is strong enough, you should put in a strong bid, pinning your entire league hopes on just one or two players is a dangerous strategy.

In most leagues, FAAB becomes less valuable over time, but in guillotine leagues, FAAB becomes more valuable. If you can save your money for near the playoffs, the quality of players you will be bidding on will likely improve your chances of winning. However, that prudent nature can also be a detriment. If you don’t spend FAAB on a player who can help you survive a bye week or an injury because you are desperately trying to hoard FAAB dollars until the end of the season, you risk being eliminated. And your unspent FAAB will be worthless. Therefore, you have to balance the need to be prudent with making additions when required.

Therefore, a good rule of thumb is this. If you are near the bottom in scoring initially, you will have to spend your FAAB to get yourself away from the danger zone. If you are near or at the top in the scoring in the early weeks, then you can stand pat and be very frugal with your FAAB. Therefore, try and spend your FAAB when you need it, and only spend what you need. However, if you are not moving away from the bottom of the scoreboard, you will have to keep investing in the free agents until things improve. It might hurt your chances in the long run. However, it will keep you alive for a few more weeks and allow you to make the playoffs or even win it all.

Guillotine leagues are a lot of fun. They add a lot more strategy than in your regular redraft leagues. And the drafts get crazy due to the number of players and, therefore, the diminished player pool towards the end of drafts. However, they also improve you in many ways, and by playing in them, you will have the opportunity to improve in your other redraft leagues. You will have a deeper knowledge of the bye weeks, deeper players in the pool, and will learn more about the strategic elements of looking at other rosters and finding a way to navigate other rosters in other leagues. Therefore, embrace the chaos and signup or start running a guillotine league this season. You will not regret it.


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Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.

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