Fun and fair ways to break fantasy football playoff ties

Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire

This year in the NFL, we've already seen two games end in a tie -- the first deadlocks since the overtime period was shortened from 15 to 10 minutes at the start of the 2017 season. Regardless of whether or not you're a fan of the league's regular-season rules for attempting to break regulation ties, I think we can all agree that once the playoffs roll around, there's a definite need to have some sort of system in place to ensure that there's a winner and a loser in each contest.

Naturally, the same holds true for the fantasy playoffs. The more complicated your league's scoring system, the more unlikely it is that you're actually going to end up with two teams finishing with identical scores. That said, with so many fantasy football leagues out there, there's bound to be at least a few games every year that end up unresolved once the final whistle on Monday night is blown.

Which brings us to our veteran move for Week 14, traditionally the first week of the fantasy football playoffs. Make sure your league has a tie-breaking procedure for playoff games in place, just in case. I'm never an advocate of making changes to the league constitution during a season, but this is the one place where I'm happy to make an exception. If your league currently has nothing in writing about how potential playoff ties will be settled, correct this oversight immediately.

There's no "right way" to break these ties, either. Like I always say, when it comes to your fantasy football league, play in whatever way is the most enjoyable to you. That said, if you don't have an ironclad tie-breaker in place prior to there actually being a playoff tie, be prepared for your league to implode because anything you decide after the fact is surely going to be received poorly by whichever team ends up getting eliminated by your post-hoc call.

Here are just a few ideas on methods you can use:

  • Make the regular season count by giving the edge to the team with the better seed in the event of a tie. There are fantasy managers out there who may throw a Week 13 matchup to try to get an "easier" opponent to start the postseason. That strategy could end up hurting them if they suddenly end up as the losing team in the championship due to that one extra regular-season loss.

  • Before each game, after setting starting lineups, each fantasy manager emails a list of designated overtime players from their bench, ranked in order of preference to the league manager. If there's a tie, the fantasy points earned by each team's "OT Player 1" will be added to the final score. If still tied, we go to "OT Player 2" and so on, until there's a winner or the list is exhausted.

  • Most leagues have multiple starters at each position so, in the event of a tie, to determine a winner, we'll ignore those "extra players." Team scores will be recalculated using just the highest individual scoring QB, RB, WR and TE from each side. If still tied, then the K is added, then the D/ST.

  • In many fantasy football leagues, every yard counts. While that's somewhat true in the NFL as well, the reality is that it's those trips to the end zone that count more than anything else. As such, in the event of a deadlocked final score, the nod goes to the team whose players scored the most total touchdowns.

  • You can't do this in the event of something similar to the Falcons-Patriots' Super Bowl tie in your league's fantasy championship, but in all playoff games prior to the big finale, why break a tie at all if it happens? In those rare cases when the score has yet to be settled, advance both teams and make the next round a "three-way scramble."

  • As I wrote last week, fantasy managers have no actual control over whether or not their fantasy team wins or loses. Well, in the event of a playoff tie, why not make me a liar in regards to that statement by instituting a "real-life tie-breaker." Be it as simple as a coin toss, or as elaborate as getting the two impacted fantasy managers together on a local football field to attempt blindfolded field goal tries from the 30, giving agency to the competitors in these special situations is sure to be something that your league talks about for decades to come.