Guillotine League Week 12: First You Get the FAAB Money, Then You Get the Power, Then You Get the Gurley

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

I did finally pay up for Todd Gurley this week, just in time for his bye. I also got some other good players. More on this later in the article. But we begin with my team’s performance in Week 11.

After a roaring start between 1:00 and 2:30 pm on Sunday, all my players stopped producing, and but for a big Monday night for Travis Kelce and some bad performances by the chopped team’s big players (Carson Wentz 0.8 points, Todd Gurley 12.8 points) along with byes (Edelman, Michel, Kittle), I might not have made it. I ended up with 144.7 thanks to Saquon (35.2), Kelce (28.7)and Newton (24.5), and no thanks to Jeffery (7.3), Corey Davis (4.9), or Dalvin Cook (2).

Continue reading “Guillotine League Week 12: First You Get the FAAB Money, Then You Get the Power, Then You Get the Gurley”


Guillotine League Strategy: Two Player Endgame

In this article, we start to look at strategic bidding in guillotine leagues when there is a 2-player endgame, by which I mean a situation where only two players have FAAB money left and there is still bidding to be done. This article looks at strategies for the player with more FAAB money. A future article will look at strategies for the FAAB-poorer player.

The main question that this article addresses is how a team can maximize its FAAB based on how much money it has vs. how much money the competitor has. That is why I’m limiting this article to situations with 2 players. We start with a relatively simple situation with a limited number of moves in order to see the basic dynamic. From there, we can build an understanding of more complicated situations with more players, which I expect will be future article topics.

Strategy 1: Getting All the Top Players

This is simple. If your opponent has, say, 60 in FAAB, and you want to be guaranteed to outbid her on your top player, you need to have 61 FAAB. If you want to outbid her on the top two players, you need 122 FAAB. In general, to outbid you opponent, who has x FAAB, on the top n players, you need y = n(x+1) in FAAB.

Continue reading “Guillotine League Strategy: Two Player Endgame”

Guillotine League: Week 10 Recap and Week 11 Preview

Guillotine league story for Week 10/11, including discussion of bidding strategy.

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

I came close to elimination in Week 10. Very, very close. It was Barkley’s big catch in the Giants’ final drive on Monday night that got me to survive. I ended up with a 125.3 points, just ahead of the runner up at 124.4 and this week’s victim at 123.

I got disappointing performances from Cam Newton, Saquon Barkley with a season low, Alshon Jeffery, Jarvis Landry, and Cooper Kupp. I got great performances from Corey Davis at 25.5 points and Mike Davis at 18, but didn’t start either of them. It was David Johnson and Tyler Lockett that saved the team.

Continue reading “Guillotine League: Week 10 Recap and Week 11 Preview”

Guillotine League: Week 9 Recap and Week 10 Preview

This week I finally spent big on free agents, and then went and got Saquon Barkley in a blockbuster trade.

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

(Note: I am stuck on Cape Cod without any wireless access this weekend. This update may be missing some of the usual information.)

Consistent with my weakness at running back since the beginning of the season, I was nervous about the position as Week 9 approached. Mixon was on bye, Thompson was injured, and I lost my confidence that McCoy would be okay against the Bears. So I spent a bunch of time making RB moves: adding them, dropping them, and trying to trade for them.


In the course of throwing out offers for RBs, I threw out offers out for some that would be more than a fill-in for a tough week, but might actually be good for the long term – RBs like Zeke, Saquon and Gurley. Saquon would have been especially useless for surviving Week 9, because he was on bye, but the owner indicated some interest, so we kept talking.

Eventually we worked a trade out on Sunday morning: I gave Mixon and A.J. Green, both of whom were on bye, plus JuJu Smith-Schuster, for Saquon Barkley. This got some negative comments in my league’s Facebook group by people who thought I gave up way too much for Saquon, but I stand by it. I’ll try to write a separate strategy article on why trades like this, which I would never do in a conventional league, made sense for me in a guillotine league. The short version is that Saquon is a very probable Week 16 starter, an every week starter with high production until then, and I didn’t have to spend any FAAB to get him.

Trading for Barkley did not help me in a Week 9 at all due to the bye. In fact, it hurt me because I lost Juju. I consoled myself with the fact that he had a tough matchup against the Ravens, and I put in Adam Humphries to replace him. That turned out to be a helpful move, since he finished second among WRs with 28.9 points.

But I also traded for some RBs to use last week. I didn’t want to risk it with Kapri Bibbs, and Mike Davis didn’t look like an option with Chris Carson active. So I was happy to land Peyton Barber and Austin Ekeler, who I figured had safe floors. I traded LeSean McCoy to get them both.

Well, Barber and Ekeler did badly. I would have been much better off going with Bibbs and Davis. But my team did well overall, scoring 135.5 points, good for 4th out of 9 teams, on the strength of Humphries’ excellent day, a matching score by Kelce, and a good game by Newton.

My Week 9 Lineup

QB: Cam Newton 21.2
RB: Austin Ekeler 4.4
RB: Peyton Barber 6
WR: Jarvis Landry 11
WR: Doug Baldwin 11.7
TE: Travis Kelce 28.9
Flex: Adam Humphries 28.9
Flex: Sammy Watkins 11.4
Flex: Corey Davis 12

Total: 135.5

Bench: Jeffery, Barkley, M. Davis, Smallwood, C. Thompson, Bibbs, D. Freeman, Goedert, Fitzgerald, Hyde, Booker.

The Chop

Players chopped after Week 9 included David Johnson, Emmanuel Sanders, Cooper Kupp, Dalvin Cook, TY Hilton, Rob Gronkowski, and Kirk Cousins.

I overbid. I didn’t realize this was the week when everyone else who had FAAB left (4 out of 7 teams) reduces their bids considerably. Last week a team spent $150 on Tyreek and another spent $111 on Kerryon. This week only David Johnson earned bids of over $30 by anyone other than me.

I got Johnson for $68, Kupp for $47, Cook for $46, Gronk for $24 and Cousins for $16. Hilton went for $20. Sanders went for $10.

I made a couple of bidding mistakes besides overbidding in general.

First, I spent FAAB on players who are not that valuable and who I should have known would be available much cheaper. Namely, Gronk and Cousins. I bid on Gronk only because deep in my heart so believe that Gronk-Kelce are the 1-2 tight ends, way ahead of everyone else, and having both on my team is a useful keepaway. That’s probably dumb, and a waste of a roster spot as well as FAAB. I should have gone with my head and not my heart. That being said, I will need a TE fill-in when Kelce is on bye, and Gronk will do fine if he’s playing. It’s just that he is an expensive fill-in.

I paid for Cousins just for the sake of having a good backup QB. But in an 8-team league who needs a backup QB? Dumb move on my part.

The other mistake I made was not making a backup bid on Sanders. I had a $45 bid on him, but placed him in the same slot as Kupp because I didn’t want to spend on both. But I should have bid $15-$20 on him in a different slot to avoid someone else getting him super-cheap, which is what happened.

Live and learn.

Later in the week I picked up Lockett for $6 out of concern that Baldwin could be inactive.

I now have 458 FAAB left. After me (from memory) the numbers are 135, 90, 60, 23, 0, 0 and 0.


Though I overpaid for Gronk at $24, this price is deflated compared to the past. After Week 4, he went for $312; after Week 6 he went for $151. That works out to about 33% weekly deflation.

T.Y. Hilton went for $301 after Week 5, $20 after Week 9. That’s about 50% deflation, or a halving in price every week.


My team’s outlook in Week 10 very much depends on what happens to the Giants-49ers Monday night game, which may be postponed due to the California wildfires.

The decision in that should be announced in time for Sunday night football, which means I would need to be able to substitute someone from the Philly-Dallas game, which in my case means Wendell Smallwood.

I am feeling okay about my chances this week. There are at this point teams that haven’t had any FAAB in several weeks, and are starting players like Elijah McGuire and Maurice Harris.

There is also the effect of probability. It is still early enough in the season that bad teams get by on luck. I entered each team’s projected output according to ESPN into my survival calculator, and calculated my probability of surviving based on assumed standards deviations of 10 and 15 points. The results were 95% of survival for standard deviation 10, and 91% for standard deviation 15. Unlike last week, this week I think ESPN underestimated my team rather than overestimating it.

Starting Lineup

This looks like my starting lineup right now.

QB: Cam Newton
RB: Saquon Barkley
RB: David Johnson
WR: Alshon Jeffery
WR: Jarvis Landry
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Doug Baldwin
FLEX: Adam Humphries
FLEX: Cooper Kupp

Well, off I go to Great Island.

Guillotine League Strategy: Rely on Probability, Not Spending, to Survive Early

In my first article on guillotine leagues, which set out the Bid Late, Bid Low strategy, I justified the “bid late” part of the strategy, in part, based on the fact that competition is laxer early in the season and intensifies as the season goes on. In this post I go into more detail.

Early on in the season, a bad team is more likely to survive by sheer luck than late in the season, because when there are more teams, there are more chances that at least one of them will have a low outlying score that is lower than the bad team in question. This reduces the disadvantage of having a bad team but also reduces the advantage of having a good team. In a guillotine league, it makes no difference if you are the highest scoring team or the second-lowest scoring team, until Week 16.

This suggests that all else being equal, player acquisition should wait until later in the season. This fits nicely with other dynamics favoring late season acquisition, including that the later it is in the season, the better you understand which players will be healthy and perform well in the important matches at the end of the season; that more top players become available; and that FAAB deflation increases the value of your FAAB dollars as the season proceeds.

Continue reading “Guillotine League Strategy: Rely on Probability, Not Spending, to Survive Early”