Chop Chop: A Guide to Guillotine Leagues

by The “Mad Chatter” Ryan MK · Fantasy Football

In 2018, a new league format was introduced and Paul Charchin became the man behind the movement. By name alone, The Guillotine League, the concept attracted both casual players and fantasy diehards in droves. The new concept has grown immensely in popularity since 2018, leading Charchin to create a site dedicated to the format;

The fantasy community is always looking for ways to innovate and improve. From the addition of points per reception to the introduction of SuperFlex, fantasy football is in a constant state of evolution. The Guillotine League is another example of the creativity surrounding the industry. There’s a reason fantasy gamers are latching on.

What is a Guillotine League?

For those new to the format, The Guillotine is a redraft league that uses total points, rather than head-to-head matchups. The twist; at the end of each week, the team with the fewest points is chopped. Meaning, they are cut from the league. The team’s players then go into the free agent pool. Last team standing wins. Interested yet?

What makes the league even more challenging is there can be up to 17 teams to account for each week of the NFL season. That means more team managers vying for the same free agents. When it comes to the waiver system, The Guillotine uses blind bidding, in which teams start with a set FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) amount. This budget is used to bid on players in the free agent pool.

The Strategy

With a unique league comes a unique set of challenges. To begin, a poor draft could very well mean an early exit. The goal is survival; the key is to get ahead early. The teams that hit the top of the leaderboard in the first few weeks of the season have an advantage. Bottom line, don’t get cute with your starters.

When approaching a Guillotine draft, dependability is king. The players to target are those most likely to produce at a high level early in the season. Accumulating points in the early weeks is essential, therefore the focus needs be on reliable fantasy producers. In addition, the schedule is also noteworthy. Though change occurs every offseason in the NFL, a glance at a player’s schedule does provide insight. For example, a prime player to target in 2020 is Packers running back Aaron Jones. Despite finishing 2019 as the RB2, his FFPC ADP is currently pick No. 17.51. Smash the draft button at this price. Jones excelled last year under new coach Matt LaFleur and will enter his second season in the system. The team did add A.J. Dillon in the NFL Draft, though it will take time for the rookie to make his mark given the abnormal offseason.

Check out Aaron Jones’ 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Green Bay’s first two games come against questionable run defenses. The Vikings, while ranked No. 9 against the run last year, couldn’t maintain Jones during their two matchups in 2019; he went for 25-plus fantasy points in both games. Despite the addition of Yannick Ngakoue, there are question marks around the unit for 2020. The Lions ranked No. 26 in run defense last season and did little to improve the unit. This all leads to the potential for a very hot start.

Jones is an example of the type of player to roster for this type of league; a reliable starter with a friendly projected schedule early on. Building a core of these players will provide the best chance of moving up the points board. With bench spots, players with upside are the ideal targets. The more bench players that hit, the less FAAB used attempting to stay in the race. The most important aspect in Guillotine leagues, however, may be the waiver wire.

The Abnormal Wire

In Guillotine leagues, the waiver wire uses FAAB and a blind bidding system. The twist here is that as teams get cut from the league, their players will go to the free agent pool to be bid on. This creates a pool of players unlike most other leagues. How often is a DeAndre Hopkins or an Ezekiel Elliott available on the waiver wire? The temptation to spend early and build a juggernaut is enticing; it’s also a good way to handcuff a team down the line. The less FAAB spent early on, the better. For the teams at the bottom of the leaderboard, being frugal with FAAB is impossible. It is for this reason that maintaining a position at the top is crucial. Towards the end of the season, with few teams left, those with more FAAB will be better off.

The schedule also plays a factor when attacking the wire in Guillotine leagues. Players with easier schedules during the fantasy playoffs are more appealing. In general, stud players will do stud things, period; accumulating points elsewhere is key in the final weeks. However, the schedule will appear different later in the year, as teams regress or exceed expectations. Tracking defenses throughout the season will help identify the toughest opponents come December. This information helps to cherry pick the best players to use FAAB on. The Cleveland Browns, for example, face the Giants and Jets in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively. Barring significant improvements to the defenses, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are great options at wide receiver, if available.

When it comes to The Guillotine, no stone should be left unturned when looking for an advantage.

Don’t Miss Out

The Guillotine League is one of the hottest things going in fantasy football in 2020. It’s a great option for casual players and even the most diehard of fantasy cats are sure to to question their own beliefs through it all. Don’t miss out on one of the more unique experiences in fantasy this season. Honestly, aside from the head, what is there to lose? Chop chop!!!