We are getting serious! Rotisserie (often referred to as “Roto”) is a scoring system in which you play against every team in your league in multiple statistical categories and at the same time.
Your fantasy basketball team is ranked from first to last place in each statistical category. Based on your ranking in each category – you receive roto points. The higher you are – the more roto points you get.
Your overall score is a sum of all roto points.
Lets’ assume you are playing in a 10-team league with a standard 8-categories (FG%, FT%, Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, Threes made). The maximum score in each category is 10 points (if you get the highest FG%). If you were second – you get 9 points and so forth. The minimum score in each category is 1 point (if you had the lowest FG% among all teams in your league).
So the minimum score across all categories is 8 points (8 stats x 1 point) and the highest is 80 points (8 stats x 10 points).
The catch (and the main difference compared to head-to-head scoring) is that rotisserie standings reflect cumulative stats in a season. So it is not a week-long race against one team – it’s a season long marathon against everybody!
If you would like to play Roto – you should be ready to spend quite some time analyzing the data. This scoring system encourages you to have a balanced roster which will be able to eke out a win even by a minimal margin, but in as many as possible categories. Whether you win steals by 1 or by 250 – you get the same number of roto points, so overkills are not your friend here.
Paying close attention to your roster may sound like a drag, but I promise you – it is fun if you have proper tools. And hopefully this is where we come in.
As you can see above – roto scoring is fairly complicated (even more if you play in a 9-cat setup where turnovers are added to scoring categories) and that means there is no easy and straightforward strategy to be used. Below is a transcript of a discussion in one of the leagues we had played in. It’s about a team that made it to the podium on the last day of the season. In quite unusual circumstances.
“I’m looking at the stats and I cannot believe my eyes how much luck you must have had.
Here’s a list:
- – If Team A had just one turnover less – you would have lost a point in turnovers
- If my team gave three more blocks in the whole season– you would have lost a point in blocks.
- – If Team B made one more shot – this team would have beaten Team C in FG% and that means Team C would have one more roto point more than you.
- – If Team D had 4 rebounds more – they would taken you over in Rebounds.
If ANY of the conditions mentioned above was met – you would not be on the podium. If all were met – you’d end up on 7th place!”
This is of course quite extreme example and normally it should not occur too often, but it shows how your fate may be linked to singular decisions.
Which statistical categories to use?
This is extremely important choice as statistical categories will define value of your players and decide how your rankings will look like. And that of course drives you decisions during the draft and as you play in the season.
There are two main options or “schools” if you will. An 8-category and 9-category set-up.
In 8-cat scoring you will use Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, 3-pointers made, FG% and FT%.
In 9-cat you also add Turnovers.
There are pros and cons of using both systems. Many managers are not fans of using turnovers this is a negative category and the more of TOs you get – the less roto points you earn.
Also – this stat penalizes all players who are ball-heavy – so typically your Point Guards or players like LeBron James, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins or Kevin Durant – who carry the offensive load and spend a lot of time handling the ball – often turning it over. In other word – stars.
If you are not a huge fan of using Turnovers nor you want to neglect them entirely – there is one option for you to use. Instead of counting Assists and Turnovers separately – you can use A/TO. It is a ratio which takes number of assists and divides it by the number of turnovers. Much like FG% does with field goals made and attempted. So you look at quality rather than quantity.
Hardcore rotisserie fans sometimes use rather strange categories like double-doubles, dunks or technical fouls. I’d say this is for those managers who have the black-belt type of experience and typical scoring is too boring for them. If you are new to the Roto world – better stick to the basics.
But let’s examine how scoring categories may affect player rankings. Dwight Howard is a very popular example as his production is fairly polarized. On one hand he scores a lot and with a very good FG%, rebounds and blocks shots (or at least used to block shots). On the other hand he just cannot learn how to shoot free throws (career 57% and in last 4 seasons even below 55%) a commits a ton of turnovers.
His stat-line for 2014-15 (around the All Star Weekend) is the following: 16.3 pts, 11 reb, 1.4 ast, 0.7st, 1.4 blk, FG=57.5%, FT=52.7%, 3.1TO. These numbers, depending on the scoring format rank him the following:
- in a standard 9-category league his value is currently about 150th.
- in a standard 8-category (so no turnovers) – he’s ranked 88th
- in a modified 8-category (counting turnovers, but not counting FT%) – he’s ranked 35th. In 2012-13 (his last “healthy” season) he was a Top3 choice behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
So you can see above how the scoring format affects players’ value and how he’s ranked.
In case you wonder why this scoring system is called “Rotisserie”. The name is derived from a restaurant “La Rotisserie Francaise” in New York where in 1980 Daniel Okrent with a group of his friends came up with an idea of a fantasy league in baseball. They formed “The Rotisserie League” and as Okrent was a writer – he had many connections to media. The game became popular after an article in New York Times and the rest is history. A history nicely depicted in 2010 documentary “Silly Little Game” (part of the ESPN “30 for 30” series).