Rules - Playoffs

Updated: November 30, 2007, 1:30 PM ET

Your league has battled it out throughout the regular season and you're now ready to see who can win when it really matters – in the Playoffs! This page details how how the playoff system works in ESPN Fantasy Football Leagues.

Custom Leagues | Standard Leagues


Custom League Playoffs

Playoff Bracket Background
To view your league's playoff settings go to the "League Settings" page available in the left column of your League Office and view the SCHEDULE & PLAYOFFS area. These settings were established by your League Creator during the pre-season and describe the basis for how your playoffs will work.

Weeks in Regular Season (9-17): Your playoffs begin the week following the number listed.

Playoff Weeks (0-8): This is the total number of weeks your league's playoffs will last. If you add Regular Season Weeks and Playoff Weeks together it will equal either 16 or 17. If 16, then your league does not play the final week of the NFL season (Week 17).

Playoff Teams (2-16): This number represents the number of teams the system places in the Winner's Bracket. All remaining teams are placed in the Consolation Ladder. The number also sets the size of the Winner's Bracket, according to the following:

NUMBER OF PLAYOFF TEAMS
PLAYOFF TEAMS BRACKET SIZE DETAILS
2 2 team Playoffs start in Finals (Championship). View example
3 or 4 4 team Playoffs start in Semi-Finals (Final Four). View example
5 thru 8 8 team Playoffs start in Quarterfinal (Elite 8). View example
9 thru 16 16 team Playoffs start in Round of 16 (Sweet 16). View example

Playoff Rounds (1-4): This number represents the number of games which will need to be won in the Playoff Bracket in order to win the League Championship. Note: Taking this number and dividing it by the "Playoff Weeks" will give you the length – in weeks – of each playoff matchup. The number will either be 1 or 2 weeks.

First Round Byes (0-4): The number of teams which have BYEs in the first-round in the Playoff Bracket.

Note: The settings listed on SCHEDULE & PLAYOFFS area on League Settings can not be edited.

Custom League Playoffs: Conversion to Playoff Mode
Playoffs begin the Tuesday following the final week of the Regular Season. At this time the system looks at the Regular Season results, determines the league's playoff seeds (breaking ties if necessary – see below) and generates all the first-round playoffs matchups. When a league converts into playoff mode these two pages become available:

    1 – View Playoffs: Available from League Office this is the main Playoff page. It displays each round's matchup (and results) in both the Winner's Bracket and Consolation Ladder.

    2 – Edit Playoffs (league managers Only) Available from LM Tools this page allows your league manager to manually edit any matchup (and results) during the playoffs. Important note: This page is the master page for ALL edits to playoff matchups/results.

The system will automatically process the entire playoffs – based on the League Settings described above and specifics listed below – without your league manager having to edit anything. However the league manager has the ultimate power to edit each playoff matchup. This said, each league manager should carefully examine the View Playoffs page and use the Edit Playoffs page to make any necessary adjustments before the first-round of the playoffs begin.

The playoffs work with the same general League Rules and Scoring Settings used during the Regular Season. Note: If your league manager edits any league settings after the league converts into playoff mode (ie, he removes +3 points for Home Field Advantage), the changes will work retroactively for all previous weeks, including the Regular Season. As during the Regular Season each week is complete after the MNF game and players unlock for the next week at 3am ET on Tuesday's.

Custom League Playoffs: Winner's Bracket and Consolation Ladder
All teams continue to compete throughout the duration of the playoffs. The playoffs are split into two parts: The Winner's Bracket and The Consolation Ladder. Note: These parts are exclusive from each other. After each playoff round the system will not move a team from the Winner's Bracket into the Consolation Ladder (and vice-versa). However, as mentioned above, your league manager has the option to manually place teams where ever they wish, so you could see a #5 seed in a four team winner's bracket (and the #4 seed in the Consolation Ladder).

Winner's Bracket: The number of teams in the Winner's Bracket corresponds to the "Playoff Teams" setting (described above). In most leagues the Division Winners will gain automatic entry into the Winner's Bracket. Any remaining Winner's Bracket slots are filled by Wild Card teams based on their seed (see below). Teams in the Winner's Bracket play head-to-head for either one or two weeks, with each matchup's winner advancing to the next round until a League Champion is determined. The losers of games in the Winner's Bracket play other losers of games in the Winner's Bracket until the end of the season.

The Winner's Bracket first-round matchups are based on the following pairing of seeds:

    Two (2) team bracket: 1v2
    Four (4) team bracket: 1v4, 2v3
    Eight (8) team bracket: 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5
    Sixteen (16) team bracket: 1v16, 2v15, 3v14, 4v13, 5v12, 6v11, 7v10, 8v9

Note: Any BYEs replace the seed starting with the highest number and work in ascending order. Example: Your league has 6 teams in an 8 team bracket. The two BYEs are assigned to seeds #7 and #8, thus the #1 and #2 seeds have first-round BYEs.

Consolation Ladder: All remaining teams not in the Winner's Bracket teams are placed in the Consolation Ladder. Games in the Consolation Ladder are played Head-to-Head but work differently than the Winner's Bracket in that each game's winner moves "up", while the loser moves "down". Note: that the "top" team in the Consolation Ladder can not move "up" after the win. Likewise, the "bottom" team and can not move "down". Head-to-Head play continues for the duration of the playoffs.

The Consolation Ladder's first-round matchups pair the seeds in descending order. Example (10 team league; 4 teams in Winner's Bracket):

    Consolation Ladder's First Round: 5v6, 7v8, 9v10

Note: If there are an odd number of teams in the Consolation Ladder the lowest team will have a BYE.

Custom League Playoffs: Waiver Rules
During the Playoffs your league uses the same Waiver Rules as set during the Regular Season. If your league uses "Resets Every Tuesday To Inverse Order Of Standings" the waiver order will reset each week, but the system determines this order by the final regular season standings. In other words, it won't change week to week because the regular season is finished and the order is fixed. Note: If you're the league manager and want to change this rule go to your League Settings page and click on the (edit) link to the right of "LEAGUE RULES". On that page set the Waiver System pulldown to "Move To Last After Claim" and submit. This will adjust your Waiver Rule for the duration of the season.

Custom League Playoffs: Playoff Seeding and Tie-Breakers
When your league converts into playoff mode the system automatically generates a seed for each team in the league based on the regular season results. The seeds determine where the system places each team in the playoffs. The primary factors which determine seeds are:

    1. Division Winner(s)
    2. Winning Percentage

In the event that two or more teams have the same winning percentage at the conclusion of the Regular Season, and have played the same number of Head-to-Head games between them, the following tie-breaking system determines the seed:

1 - Overall record *
2 - Overall points scored
3 - Head-to-head record
4 - Division record
5 - Overall points-against
6 - Coin Flip

* Note that Overall record is based on winning percentage. Therefore, a team that is 8-5-0 and a team that is 7-4-2 have the same winning percentage, and thus would be considered tied for overall record.

In the event that two or more teams have the same winning percentage at the conclusion of the Regular Season, and have not played the same number of Head-to-Head games between them, the following tie-breaking system determines seed:

1 - Overall record
2 - Overall points scored
3 - Division record
4 - Overall points-against
5 - Coin Flip

For each tiebreaker case the team that does not win the tiebreaker is eliminated from consideration.

Note: If your league's rules do not agree with the system tiebreaker rules described above the playoff seeds can easily be changed by the league manager. To edit the playoff seeds/bracket simply go to the Playoff Matchups page and click on the "Edit" link.

Custom League Playoffs: Tie-Breaker for Playoff Games
The system does not observe your league's Regular Season tiebreaker rule during the playoffs. Rather, in the event that two teams have the same number of points at the conclusion of their playoff game, the system tiebreaker awards the win to the higher seeded team. Note: As with everything in the playoffs, the league manager has the ultimate say on which teams advance using the "Edit Playoffs" page. To this point each league can establish their own tiebreaker system (IE, Most points from QB) with the league manager advancing the team which wins it. If your league uses its own playoff tiebreakers we highly recommend pre-defining them and posting them prominently on the League Office page.


Standard League Playoffs

Standard League Playoffs: Playoff Bracket Background

The fantasy playoffs begin in the 14th week of the NFL regular season. Round One of the playoffs takes place during the 14th and 15th weeks of the NFL regular season, while Round Two spans the two final weeks of the NFL regular season (weeks 16 and 17). In each playoff game, the team with the highest combined point total after two weeks advances. Each team will have the opportunity to change their active roster between each week (essentially "halftime" of the fantasy game) of playoff play.

All teams continue to compete throughout the playoffs. The top four teams -- two division champs and two wild card teams -- compete for the League Championship. The two next-best teams according to the tiebreaker below are the wild card teams. The wild card teams may come from either division. The top-ranked division champ plays the lowest-ranked wild card team.

The remaining teams compete in the consolation bracket.

Standard League Playoffs: Playoff Seeding and Tie-Breakers
In the event that two or more teams have identical won-loss records at the conclusion of the Fantasy Football regular season, and have played the same number of head-to-head games between them, the following tiebreaking system is employed:

1 - Overall record *
2 - Overall points scored
3 - Head-to-head record
4 - Division record
5 - Overall points-against
6 - Coin Flip

* Note that Overall record is based on winning percentage. Therefore, a team that is 8-5-0 and a team that is 7-4-2 have the same winning percentage, and thus would be considered tied for overall record.

In the event that three or more teams have identical won-loss records at the conclusion of the season and have played a different number of head-to-head games between them, head-to-head records are not used as a tiebreaker. Instead, the following tiebreaking system is employed:

1 - Overall record
2 - Overall points scored
3 - Division record
4 - Overall points-against
5 - Coin Flip

Note: If there is a tie between three or more teams, and one team advances out of the tiebreaker, the remaining teams are then compared starting at the beginning of the tiebreaking formula until all ties are settled.

Standard League Playoffs: Tiebreaker for Playoff Games
In the event that two teams have the same number of points at the conclusion of their two-week playoff game, the tiebreaker for playoff games is each team's original seeding in the playoffs. In short, the team with the higher seed wins.

Playoff Schedule
Winner's Bracket: In the first round of the playoffs, the division winner with the best won-loss record plays the wild-card team with the worst won-loss record; the other division winner plays the wild-card team with the better won-loss record. In the second round, the winners of the first-round games (see table below) compete for the league championship. Each round of the playoffs spans a two-week period. The 5th through 10-seeded team in each league compete in the consolation bracket.

WINNER'S BRACKET PAIRINGS
GAME ROUND 1 - WKS 14 & 15
SEED VS. SEED
ROUND 2 - WKS 16 & 17
MATCHUPS
1 1 vs. 4 W1 vs. W2
2 2 vs. 3 L1 vs. L2

CONSOLATION BRACKET PAIRINGS
GAME ROUND 1 - WKS 14 & 15
SEED VS. SEED
ROUND 2 - WKS 16 & 17
MATCHUPS
1 5 vs. 6 W1 vs. W2
2 7 vs. 8 L1 vs. W3
3 9 vs. 10 L2 vs. L3

Final league standings following the second round of the playoffs

From the Winner's bracket:
1st place - Winner of game 1, round 2
2nd place - Loser of game 1, round 2
3rd place - Winner of game 2, round 2
4th place - Loser of game 2, round 2

From the Consolation bracket:
5th place - Winner of game 1, round 2
6th place - Winner of game 2, round 2
7th place - Loser of game 1, round 2
8th place - Winner of game 3, round 2
9th place - Loser of game 2, round 2
10th place - Loser of game 3, round 2