Several technical fields use a concept known as sandboxing to allow them to test how products, ideas or theories react in a real world environment. Sandboxing allows someone to try out fictional scenarios and develop likely outcomes for them. An exact copy of an established product is placed in a “sandbox” environment where tests are performed. The copy subjected to the sandbox tests will never be rolled out to the public and is simply for the consumption or education of those subjecting the product to the tests. Sandboxing is very useful when you have a theory you’d like to test, but you already have an established product in place you don’t want to ruin.
The sandboxing idea is tailor-made for dynasty fantasy football – it allows you to test your “what if’s” and “shoulda, coulda woulda” scenarios or allows you to play out how a trade might change the dynamics of your team or league as a whole. In years past, sandboxing a dynasty fantasy football league would require an enormous amount of work that made such an endeavor dificult by even the most dedicated enthusiasts. However, new advances in technology and the emergence of fresh competitors to large fantasy hosting companies have opened up new possibilities for dynasty fantasy football aficionados. Now, an owner can easily duplicate the league he or she is playing in and take control of the spinoff league. This sandboxed league allows the owner to alter the league as he or she sees fit and, in turn, allows them to obtain answers to any questions they may have.
The idea of sandboxing applied to fantasy football is a new one. but if applied properly. sandboxing has the potential to supercharge any dynasty fantasy football toolkit and can provide an immediate advantage over those members of a league who do not use this tool.
How does one go about creating a sandboxed league? It’s actually much easier than you can imagine. These steps should be pretty similar from league hosting service to services like FleaFlicker or ESPN, but in this example I’m going to use the service I’m the most familiar with – MyFantasyLeague.com, as the subject:
- First, create a new league by visiting the home page of the hosting site of your choice and choosing whichever opinion sounds closest to what would create a new league.
- Input the information which sounds closest to how your league is set up. If your league has two divisions, set up two divisions as well, if the league has 12 teams then create 12 teams. The same goes for format, roster spots, conferences, injured reserve, taxi squad spots, etc.
- Once the league is set up, head into the commissioner’s options. In this section, there will be an option to manually enter or load rosters. Duplicate the team rosters from the original league in the new sandbox league. Give each team a name which makes identification easy between the two leagues. This shouldn’t take that long, but the effort increases as the roster sizes increase. As they say though, nothing worth doing is ever easy!
- With your teams in place, it’s time to set up the scoring. The scoring needs to be identical to the league you wish to mimic, at least initially. MyFantasyLeague.com makes this step particularly easy with the option under “Scoring Setup” labeled “Select A Packaged Scoring System”. Upon clicking this option, select “Copy league scoring rules from year.” Enter the year and enter the league ID next to the year section. This will pull all of the scoring rules from the original league into your sandboxed league. Take note of any warnings after proceeding and fix those issues if they exist.
At this point, you should have your sandbox in place. From here you can adjust the league as you see fit in order to perform the scenarios you have developed or test any theories you may have – it’s your league now!
A word of caution – once you create the sandbox league, you may want to duplicate that league as well in order to perform your experiments. It’s good practice to keep a pristine version of your original, so you can produce copies that match it. If you begin to tweak your original, subsequent copies will reflect those changes and introduce variables that do not exist in the original league. Luckily it’s much easier to create duplicate sandboxes once you create the original one. In MyFantasyLeague.com on the “Commissioner Setup Options” page select “Duplicate This League” under the “Use These Items With Caution!” section. This will create an exact copy of your original sandbox.
So, what can we do with our new sandbox? Many, many things! Take the following examples for instance:
- Perhaps you would like to see what a minor (or major) scoring change would do to the number of points players score. How would players in your league be affected if you moved points per reception up to two points from the previous one point? This is particularly helpful when deciding how to vote in a league poll or when rule changes are opened to the league at year’s end. Minor tweaks in a scoring set up may seem pointless to some but equipped with your sandbox you can try to mold the leagues you participate in to your benefit.
- Determine just how scheduling affects the outcome of a league. Every year, one or more teams flat out get lucky. It’s interesting just to see how much luck goes into making a champion. Shuffle the schedule up and see how your league plays out.
- Adding, modifying or removing starting line-up positions can drastically affect the outcome of a league. Perhaps your league does not have a flex position – try introducing one and see how things change. Maybe try making wide receivers and tight ends part of the same position pool or completely delete the kicker position. The options here are limitless, but really provide you a great insight into what’s important in your league, and sometimes dynasty fantasy football as a whole.
- League realignment at year’s end occurs in many leagues. If it occurs in yours, run the season out with the new alignment and get a feel for how your team might perform or who your major competitors will be.
- A slight variation of possibility #4 is to create projections based upon the schedule for next season given this year’s scoring. Granted, this is very far from perfect with a ton of variables involved but even some insight is better than no insight at all.
- You can determine if a trade has worked for you as the season progresses or, conversely, if you should have made a trade you didn’t make. This can drive you absolutely crazy if you’re not careful, so don’t dwell on this too much. This can, however, prompt you to make a trade given the results you observe.
- Sandboxing provides an absolutely excellent way to get a feel for what it’s like to be a commissioner for a league without all the, well, drama! If you like the experience, you might consider creating an actual league of your own.
There are many other experiments you can run; the only limit is your imagination. I have found that sandboxing a league gives me a much better idea of the ins and outs of that league, helps highlight the subtle nuances that every league has and gives me a much greater feeling of connection to the subject league due to the newly found understanding I obtain from this exercise.
I can’t stress enough how useful of an exercise sandboxing is in rounding out your skills as a complete fantasy football player. Sandboxing provides insight into scoring systems and formats, the dynamics between luck and skill, the importance of various rules and a taste of commissioner duties.
It’s been exciting to share this concept with you and can’t wait to hear how some of you use it.