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By Joseph H. Wycoff
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About

World Football Trifecta Leagues (WFTL)

  • Professional Football Analysis for the Horse Race Enthusiast

The WFTL is an innovative twist on the standard weekly "Pick 'Em" office pools in which 7-8 players - called "Analysts" - pick the winners in the weekly games of a professional football league. At its most basic level, the goal is to pick three winners correctly in order to earn "base trifecta points" and "bonus trifecta points." The points competition divides a professional football league's regular season into four races - The Quaternary Crown - where each Run of the Analysts (or Race) entails different variations of the rules to influence strategies that earn trifectas. In addition to the four races of The Quaternary Crown, the Analysts compete for two year-end titles: "Analyst of the Year," for best predictions over the the course of the regular season, and "World Football Analyst Champion," for best predictions in the professional football postseason games.

Over the entire racing season, Analysts win, place, or show in six different competitions. Families, friends, and coworkers will enjoy a true novelization of the standard "pick 'em" format for professional football games. The "pick three" challenge allows hard core and casual professional football fans to gather prognostication information in their own way and adopt different strategies suited to their interests in the games of the week.

Phase 1 Funding with Kickstarter

We want to introduce our new system of organizing weekly "pick 'em" competitions to professional football fans and provide tools for others to start their own leagues. We have a website with the official rules and a three-year record of how our league works. Below, you will find a more full explanation of the WFTL and the general description of our five phase business plan.

With Phase 1 funding, we are looking to achieve five goals:

  • Introduce WFTL to others
  • Support the organization of 500-1,250 leagues during an upcoming professional football league's postseason
  • Spur the organization of as many leagues as possible for the 2017-18 season
  • Research the variation of outcomes with the current league rules
  • Plan for Phase 2 expansion of the leagues

Most of the expenditures in Phase 1 will entail time to provide tools, training, and technical support for the organization of new leagues. We are estimating $10,000 to execute our marketing research and marketing plan, $20,000 to develop a flexible tool for use by multiple leagues, and $20,000 for training and technical support for ~1,250 leagues by 2017-18.

Example of Super Trifecta Point Workbook
Example of Super Trifecta Point Workbook

 

While we do have the website for league organization communications, we are at the "pen and pencil" stage of league management (actually, an electronic workbook). Our workbook has logical and lookup routines that apply the rules and point systems for the different competitions. We will be adding videos to the main website in the coming weeks that explain WFTL rules to league managers and provide strategic insights for Analysts. Check our updates!

A 12-team playoff system with seeded teams provides structure that makes it possible to deliver a generic league management tool for the upcoming postseason in professional football. In September 2017, we will then be able to deliver a workbook to manage every race in the World Football Trifecta League season (described below) for at least 1,250 leagues. We will also ask leagues to send us their final results so that we are able to measure how often the Analysts with the highest-seeded teams win the postseason competition (see WFTL Outcomes Research). 

Join us and put your football expertise to the test against friends, families, and coworkers!

Current Status of the WFTL Project (before the Kickstarter Campaign)

The first World Football Trifecta League was created three years ago. In the first year, we communicated the rules and managed the races of the WFTL via email. Last year, we published the rules online and collected recommendations from Analysts in order to understand how best to improve the different competitions. We tracked Season II picks and race results over the course of the year and provided a Year in Review to summarize the predictive skills of our WFTL Analysts in comparison to poo-flinging monkeys (random choices), manly experts (game picks by the professional media), and the machines (predictive analytics programmers). Now in our third season of competition, we have an accumulating list of bragging rights for the skillful Analysts in The Winner's Circle.

We found that we have a challenging competition that keeps the Analysts engaged and in constant communications on game day. For a short time, we tested a public forum to provide a public record for how each game in the week's selection of picks invites Analysts to favor a winner or loser -- and opportunities for (un)sportsmanlike smack-talk between the competitors. In Season II, after 16 weeks of picks, the outcome of the Analyst of the Year competition literally was decided by a missed field goal in overtime in week 17. Likewise, Season III's Player Haters Preakness ended with the most unlikely upset to-date when Little Tuna sprinted from behind with only a 6% chance of winning!

Analysts' Picks Accuracy
Analysts' Picks Accuracy

The challenge itself is inherent to any professional football league with a modicum of parity. In our Year in Review for Season II, it became apparent that the experts, the predictive analytics programs, and the average layperson pick games with the same level of accuracy. Approximately 65% of one games picks and 25% of "pick threes" prove to be accurate, whether by experts, machines, or WFTL Analysts.

To further demonstrate the difficulty of picking three games each week, we staged the first-ever "Super Turing Bowl" between eight different predictive analytics models. In the end, the predictive models favored several different teams and proved to be as (in)accurate as run-of-the-mill humans!

Example Predictive Analytic Accuracy
Example Predictive Analytic Accuracy

Two and one half seasons into the WFTL, we believe other families, friends, and coworkers will enjoy a true novelization of the standard "pick 'em" format for professional football games. The "pick three" format allows hard core and casual professional football fans to gather prognostication information in their own way and adopt different strategies suited to their interests in the games of the week.

How a World Football Trifecta League Works

The complete rules are posted online here. A league requires 7-8 Analysts (optimal) to play, plus a Clearinghouse (point keeper) and Bookie (picks collector and reward distributor) to manage the league.

Analysts select Thoroughbred Names for themselves and sponsor a favored or "Home Team" for the four races of the Quaternary Crown. The Home Teams are important because the Analysts can pick winners only from the Slate of Games featuring a Home Team (about 5-8 games per week). An Analyst must Pick all three correctly to earn trifecta points for the week.

An Analyst may never pick against their own home team, however, an Analyst does NOT have to pick the Home Team to win if the Analyst fears a loss or feels more confident in three winners selected from other games. By virtue of this rule, Analysts rarely have the exact same picks in a single week. If an Analysts grows weary of his or her Home Team, a new Home Team can be selected at the start of a new race.

The Analysts then compete for "trifecta points" in four distinct Races during the regular racing season: The Quaternary Crown. A Race is completed in 4 or 5 legs corresponding to the number of weeks included from the typical football season. Each track has its own rules that effect how Analysts manage Game Picks and approach each leg of the Race. The Races are:

  • The PC-Fecta Derby (4 weeks)
  • The Player Haters Preakness (4 weeks)
  • The Fibonacci Stakes (5 weeks)
  • The Seeders’ Cup (4 weeks)

Each Race features its own trifecta point system for correctly picking three winners. For all Races, an Analyst must Pick Three game winners correctly to earn the *base* Trifecta Points for a week. *Bonus* Trifecta Points may be earned according to the track rules of the Race. Analysts compete for *base* and *bonus* Trifecta Points in each leg of a Race. The Analysts with the most Trifecta Points after the final leg takes the Race. An Analyst of the Year competition is run concurrently to give Analysts a reason to compete if they are eliminated from one of the Quaternary Crown races early.

During the professional football league's postseason championship playoffs, the Analysts then compete in the World Football Analyst Championship, or "Super Trifecta" Bowl. The Super Trifecta Bowl combines the trifecta point systems of the four Crown races into one mad dash for "super trifecta" points. At the conclusion, the winner takes the trophy procured by the league sponsors!

The Original WFTL Trophy
The Original WFTL Trophy

Going into our third year, we have Analysts who stick with their true "home team" - the team they rooted for since childhood - and those who seek to pick the championship favorite early in the season. We have Analysts who try to win every race in the Quaternary Crown and those who focus solely on the Analyst of the Year. There are many different ways to play and strategies to deploy in a week, a race, or a season!

Business Plan for the World Football Trifecta Leagues

Again, the rules for any person to establish a league are freely available on our website. We welcome, and indeed encourage, anyone to start a league of their own with 6-10 friends (although, 7-8 is the ideal league size). We feel others will enjoy a new style of fantasy sports that does not rely on in-depth knowledge of individual players and insiders' predictive models to identify daily "fantasy sleepers." Basic knowledge of football and a few football teams are the only skills required.

We believe, however, there is a wider market for an enhanced system of weekly "pick 'em" pools and competitions where players select winners in the games of the week.

First, fantasy football based on individual players and individual player stats does not appeal to all fans. In fact, player-based fantasy football seems to detract from the spirit of and interest in the actual football games. Daily fantasy football seems to further erode fans interest in the outcomes and standings of the actual teams in professional football rather than the individual performance of players.

Nonetheless, pick 'em leagues have not seen the kind of innovation and technological support that fantasy football has witnessed in the past twenty years. Yahoo, CBS, and the do-it-yourself pick 'em pools often focus on weekly straight up-downs for every game. Players have to gather information on every game and the strategy is nothing more than picking more winners than the other players.

In the World Football Trifecta League, Analysts are awarded more trifecta points for picking the right Home Team or the Correct Pick at the right time to suit the specific rules and point system of the Quaternary Crown races. Family, friends,and co-workers with varying levels of knowledge or interest in football can participate without becoming needlessly immersed in the minutiae of weekly player statistics. Or, complete strangers who fancy themselves elite "trifecta league" Analysts could form leagues to test their expertise.

We see the leagues and league technology developing in five stages. In Phase 1, we demonstrate the market viability and appeal of the World Football Trifecta Leagues. In Phase, 2, we build a website and background applications to facilitate league management for multiple leagues in one location. In Phase 3, we build mobile applications to ease league participation and improve interactivity between Analysts. In Phase 4, we provide enhanced features like scenarios for individual Analysts and graphical representation of the races during games based on predictive analytics. Lastly, in Phase 5, we introduce inter-league competitions in which the collective wisdom of Analysts are pitted against each other.

As we expand league participation and develop league management technology, we anticipate opportunities to form partnerships with media companies and other fantasy sports league providers to broaden the reach and market value of the World Football Trifecta Leagues. Stretch goal funding will allow us to implement the later phases of our business plan sooner.

Start your league today!

The WFTL Outcomes Research

In a professional playoff system with seeds, the top-seeded teams have the highest probability of winning the championship. We expect the same to be true for the WFTL competition for Super Trifectas. And why shouldn't the Analysts who picked the eventual number 1 seed at the start of the racing season win the Analyst Championship? Or, the Analysts who stuck with their lovable losers all season and then had to first choice of horses (Home Teams) to start the postseason competition?

Nonetheless, we do not have extensive knowledge of probabilities for Analysts to win the Super Trifecta Bowl based on the seeding of their Home Team. We will ask new leagues to send us their final results so that we can measure the probabilities of  winning the World Football Trifecta Championship based on Home Team seeds. With 400 or more leagues (our target), we will have a statistically sound measure of outcomes for the current season. The leagues that participate in the outcomes research will receive a top-line report for their review and outreach about future rule changes.

Risks and challenges

The World Football Trifecta League Rules are written with generic language in order to avoid trademark entanglements with existing professional football leagues. Our product is no different than other fantasy football or pick 'em website services, but we purposely adopted neutral language so that there were no trademark or copyright infringements on a specific professional football league.

As a benefit to our choice, the Trifecta Leagues concept may be modified and applied to a variety of professional football leagues around the world, whether Canadian, rugby, or football leagues as the term is used internationally (i.e., soccer). When the time comes, we will be able to expand internationally to encompass other professional football leagues and formats (e.g., a premier soccer league with 38 matches divided into 3 "grand tour" cycling races).

In the early stages, the leagues can self-manage like other small fantasy sports leagues without infringing on trademarks and copyrights. In Phase 1, the adoption of WFTL will depend on evangelists who put in the time to manage the leagues and provide color commentary at each leg of the race that engages Analysts (such as the examples on our current website). In the earliest phases, the leagues will operate something like “pen and pencil” fantasy leagues (although our system will rely on electronic workbooks). Dependency on worksheet technology with limited functionality, however, will impeded adoption by league managers and lead to disappointing experiences for Analysts. In Phase 1, we have to weather the potential storms of poor league management.

The general goal of picking three winners from 5-8 games each week has also proven to be a challenge (~25% accuracy). We have investigated a variation on the point systems where 2 correct picks earns 1 base trifecta point and 3 correct picks earns 3 base trifecta points. That system makes the tiebreakers less meaningful, so we have chosen to stick with our original "pick three" system. Some Analysts, however, may find the difficulty level a turnoff and Clearinghouses may want to see options when setting up a league.

In later phases, the WFTL will benefit with a license for sports data that automates certain features and brings greater rigor to the application of rules, but such a license will require a reliable revenue stream from league managers ("Clearinghouses") willing to pay for advanced services. The incorporation of licensed sports data will facilitate the automation of league management and eliminate human error in the application of league rules, but the transition will likely alienate early adopters who will prefer the control of “pen and pencil” league management.

The WFTL product will have to avoid conflicts arising from potential gambling within individual leagues. Our example on the WFTL website makes mention of a "Purse," in the spirit of horse racing, but the WFTL business model does not intend to provide services to support gambling in the United States. If the WFTL expands internationally to other types of professional football leagues and where gambling laws are more permissible, the WFTL technology will have to evolve to account for league purses.

Lastly, in later phases, we have to develop unique technology and algorithms to support the application of the rules and to provide Analysts with the information necessary to compete effectively. As the races entail different sets of rules to encourage different strategies for picks, Analysts will need advanced services to determine if their picks keep them in contention for any given race.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Analyst Membership

    Receive a World Football Trifecta League Clearinghouse Workbook to manage your own league of 6-8 Analysts in a Super Trifecta Bowl competition between 12 postseason football teams (electronic copy via email or download).

    Includes:
    • WFTL Clearinghouse Workbook for Super Trifecta Bowl
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    Enforcer Membership

    Receive a World Football Trifecta League Clearinghouse Workbook and support to setup your own league of 6-8 Analysts in a Super Trifecta Bowl competition between 12 postseason football teams (electronic copy and support via email or download).

    Includes:
    • WFTL Clearinghouse Workbook for Super Trifecta Bowl
    • Support to set up one Super Trifecta Bowl (1 league per donor)
    • WFTL Outcomes Research Report
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    Bookie Membership

    Receive a World Football Trifecta League Clearinghouse Workbook and support to manage your own league of 6-8 Analysts in a Super Trifecta Bowl competition between 12 postseason football teams (electronic copy and support via email or download).

    Includes:
    • WFTL Clearinghouse Workbook for Super Trifecta Bowl
    • Support to set up one Super Trifecta Bowl (1 league per donor)
    • League management support for one Super Trifecta Bowl
    • WFTL Outcomes Research Report
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    Clearinghouse Membership

    Bookie Membership as above (first 500 only).

    Plus receive a World Football Trifecta League Clearinghouse Workbook to manage your own league of 7-8 Analysts in the 2017-18 race for the Quarternary Crown! (Electronic copy via email or download.)

    Includes:
    • WFTL Clearinghouse Workbook for Super Trifecta Bowl
    • Support to set up one Super Trifecta Bowl (1 league per donor)
    • League management support for one Super Trifecta Bowl
    • 2017-18 WFTL Clearinghouse Workbook
    • WFTL Outcomes Research Report
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Funding period

- (38 days)