Cheddar Bay 2016 — enroll here.

Hi all.  Short and sweet — here’s the signup and rules for Cheddar Bay Reality Football 2016.  This is the EIGHTH YEAR of the world’s first, only, and most phenomenal football picking competition with a weekly writing requirement.

Clevelandfrowns developed the concept and enshrined its precepts here as an elegant alternate to fantasy football and it succeeds in that.  We have around 40 core players who agree and love the game. At the bottom of this post are past winners who have especially loved the game.

More is merrier so feel free to share and recruit. Entry is just north of $100. Big prize for winning it all and lots of little prizes for weekly wins in back part of the season.

We get started next week with lines up on Wednesday (college only of course) and as usual, week one is worth half points. Hope to see you here!

Update, 2015 statistics.  I thought it’d be useful to provide some data on the contest’s pick record.

  • Overall win percentage:  0.507
  • Essay win percentage: 0.485
  • Pick-of-the-year (POTY) pct:  0.600
  • Record of 10th place (last guy into the playoffs, cwonder):  0.569 overall; 0.639 essays; POTY loss.
  • Record of 11th place (last guy cut, three way tie):
    • Jdoepke:  0.471 overall; 0.722 essays; POTY win.
    • Mike D.:  0.584 overall; 0.471 essays; POTY win.
    • Pateslvrblk:  0.599 overall; 0.559 essays; POTY loss.
  • Regular season winner, FHCF:  0.608 overall; 0.750 essays; POTY win.

This gives a fair idea of range of performance that will get you to playoffs and also points up a cool aspect of the contest — you can make with middling ATS picking if your essays are good and vice versa.  (But they both better be sharp if you miss your POTY.)

Update, to rookies about the community.  Excerpt from a note to my son who is looking at signing up and also relevant to anyone joining:

Now lookit — it’s going to take awhile to ramp up and get your essays crisp/sharp.  You should know there’s probably a dozen or more lawyers in this group and several national reporters and bunch of generally good/gifted writers.  We have a handful of MDs, PhDs, MBAs also.  DONT GET DISCOURAGED AND STAY IN.  I only mention that because I’ve seen rookies bag half way in and i think a lot of it has to do with some of the quality writing you’re gonna see.  The handicapping is the cake; the writing is icing.

And this is true.  There’s better writing here than you’ll see in a usual pickem pool and while it can get intimidating at first, that fades and the whole game becomes a good exercise of your writing/comms skills.


Return players note:  new for 2016 verbiage highlighted.

Registration.  Pay $105 via the Paypal button here.

Enter your Cheddar handle:

(If you prefer sending a check, shoot me an email and I’ll shoot you my mailing address.)

Venmo also accepted, use

blogoBitcoin accepted.  If you’d like to pay in Bitcoin, I’ll take it.  Cash equivs only though — your payouts will still be in dollars.  Send USD equivalency of $105 to this wallet:  1Ejse9RT31KfuHi4MAiwnyvnUn7QPN4LUM , (or scan QR code at right with your wallet app).

Why use Bitcoin for Cheddar?  Click footnote.1 More info on Bitcoin?  Wiki.

Using a form to submit picks.  Each week I will publish a blog post that includes the point spreads, the comment section for submittal of essays, and a link to that week’s google form for pick submittal.  Once you’re registered, your username will appear in the first pull down menu.  Select your name then make your picks in the form.

You may change your picks after they are submitted but try not to and note that the entries are timestamped and able to be audited.  In other words, if you change your pick after kickoff we will use original pick.


Here is a link to a sample form.


Each week you will make six college or NFL football picks against a point spread.  You must pick at least one college and one NFL pick.  The Cheddar spreads are locked in Wednesday AM and available as a pdf linked in the sidebar scoreboard.  See section below for more detail on pointspreads.  I also tweet out a notice and link when it’s up.  (Follow me, 603_brown, on twitter.)

Essay pick:  One of these picks is your essay or money pick and Cheddar’s reason to be.  It’s your pick of the week and must be accompanied by at least 100 words or so on why this is the pick of the week (though the best essays are often quite longer).  This pick is worth three points; the other five are worth one — eight points available each week.2

All-play:  Another of your picks will be a weekly all-play in which the Executive Committee decides on the biggest or most interesting game that week.  You may elect to make the all-play your essay, it will be worth three points, and you must round out your slate with five more games.

Eight points each week:  The essay is three points, the rest are one point.

Pick of the year (POTY):  You may designate one pick each season as your Pick of the Year and it is worth six points.  The capo di tutti capi pick.  Naturally this requires an essay.

Your essay must be posted in the comments thread of the weekly Cheddar post here an hour before kickoff.  Your other picks must be time-stamped before kickoff.  You may stagger your picks (e.g., some Thursday night NFL is begging to be played but your essay isn’t ready; you may play the Thursday game and submit the other picks later).  If you do stagger the picks in that way submit your additional picks as a new comment in reply to your first entry.  Do NOT edit the original post.

Line moves.  Lines are locked in Wednesday morning and a pdf is posted from at that time.  These are the lines to use for Cheddar (and be careful to use the current line, not the opening line).  In the event of a major line movement in variance from the Cheddar line (such as when a starting quarterback unexpectedly becomes unavailable to play after the Cheddar line is set) the Executive Committee may take that game off the slate or adjust the line to reflect the current Vegas line.  All such line adjustments will be announced to all participants by email.  In the event that a line swing occurs too quickly for us to respond or is adjudged too minor to warrant a move, we request the participants’ exercise of their usual forbearance and good nature.

Scoring.  Essay wins are three points; all-play wins are one point (unless it is your essay, in which case it is three and you will pick another game to complete your slate of six picks); the other four picks are worth one point.  Pushes (ties) earn half the point values.  POTY is six points.

Essay policy.  The essay component is the centerpiece of Cheddar and its most important component.  That said, everyone needs a week off so one essay-free week is allowed.  After you have used your bogey, failure to submit an essay will result in all picks to be scored as normal (one point).  In other words, your max score is six instead of eight.

Week one score worth half.  The scoring for week one will be cut by half, both to encourage late entrants and to recognize that the first week is just one small step of a long haul.

Playoff qualification.
The playoffs start after week 18 of Cheddar (the end of the NFL season).  20% of the entries (and ties) will qualify for the playoffs.  If there is a tie for the final slot(s), those entrants will have their own sudden-death in the following weeks until the tie is broken, with the next week with the loser(s) then eliminated from the larger playoffs.

Playoff scoring.
In the playoffs, you carry over your regular season totals as your starting point.  From there the weeks are scored as follows:

  • Wild card week:  10 games, 25 pts max, 2 points/game, 7 points/essay;
  • Divisional week:  5 games, 30 pts max, 5 points/game, 10 points/essay;
  • Championship week:  2 games, 25 points max, 10 points/game, 15 points/essay;
  • Super Bowl:  12 point essay.

In the playoffs all picks are submitted to Exec Committee and published simultaneously to reduce gamesmanship.

Payouts.  Everything that comes in goes back out in payouts.

1st place – 50%;
2nd place – 15% (changed in 2016 from 20%);
8 weekly winner pool – 25% (changed in 2016 from 30%);
Regular season winner – 10% (new in 2016).


Your handle
Let me know what name you’d like to go by and it shall be done.  By convention I will link to your twitter or your webpage or your facebook or nothing in the sidebar standings.  Let me know which you prefer.

Twitter list.
You give me your twitter, I’ll add it to the ‘cheddarbay‘ public twitter list.  It’s a recommended follow if you’re joining up; tends to be good dialog.

Navigating the scoreboard.
I record all picks in a public Google Doc spreadsheet on the ‘picks’ tab.  Here is the 2013 link, this is link is also found in the sidebar standings.  For this review, though, open up the 2014 spreadsheet.  Here are some things to know:

  • The entries are all based on the Cheddar Lines which go up early Wednesday.  The math and is automated, the entries and win/lose/push are not so please be sure to double-check me.  We always have your posts for auditing and haven’t had big problems.  But we have had cases where entrant will catch a mistake a couple weeks later.
  • I track your awards and your ‘no-play’ weeks under your name in the left column.
  • I use nicknames for pro teams, school names for college.  Thus “Houston” means the Cougars, not the Texans; Cincy = Bearcats, not Bengals.
  • The picks tab is linked to the ‘table’ tab which ends up published as the Sidebar Standings.

Navigating the sidebar standings.
Ok, this was a good idea that has gotten better.  If you’re old, it will remind you of the morning boxscores/standings in your old Citizen-Journal.  You can find the standings at my site and at Frowns.  (If you’ve got a blog/site and want to run let me know and I’ll happily give the html embed code.)

  • Entrant column.  Shading in the entrant column indicates you’ve hit at Lobsterfest or Admiral’s Feast.  Multiple hits means darker shades of orange. Boldface means you hit that week.  As playoffs near, I’ll signify clinched slots with an ‘x’ prefix; eliminated with a ‘y.’
  • Delta.  Pretty proud of this feature.  It shows your progress versus the field from last week.
  • Updates.  I update the scoreboard manually and cannot do it remotely.  So if I’m around, the updates are fast.  Sundays are typically late as I’m typically not around.
  • The red dashed line.  It was pretty cool that when I added that line, it needed no explanation.

tagPick frequency.

I use to generate a picture of the picks that have come in.  Gives you an idea at a glance of who is picking what.  There is also a form responses tab in the main spreadsheet that shows this weeks picks as they come in.

A perfect week earns you LOBSTERFEST acclamation.  An Admiral’s Feast is awarded if your week is marred only by a push.  A Virgin Lobsterita?  Oh I think you know what a Virgin Lobsterita signifies.

Executive Committee.
Petty adjudications will be handled here.  Frowns as the Chairman Emeritus sits on the committee.  I do also.  Additional members are consulted ad hoc, particularly when conflicts of interest arise (i.e., Frowns or I are impacted by an EC ruling).

Why is it named Cheddar Bay?
The name of this contest originated from a Mangini-era-Browns related wager between Frowns and his friend (Jets fan) Fred Coupon that (if only the ’09  Browns would have managed to win one more game than they did) would have required Coupon to obtain a custom-made Eric Mangini apron and wear it for a whole day in Frowns’ kitchen while baking Cheddar Bay biscuits and mixing Lobsteritas for as many people as could fit in the house. The comforting but extremely addictive allure of the biscuits also offers a profound and salutary reminder of the importance of moderation in football wagering and consumption.

2015 teams.  As a curiosity I looked back to see the teams you wanted to ride last year.  Submitted without comment.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.26.12 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.26.25 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.24.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.24.49 PM

Past Winners

  • 2009:  Frowns
  • 2010:  P4EVA
    • Titus Pullo
  • 2011:  Dood
    • CLTIL
    • FlyHighCharlieFrye (FHCF)
  • 2012:  Harbaugh Handshakes
    • CLEinMPLS
    • Dennis Hemingway
  • 2013:  Frowns
    • ChuckKoz
  • 2014:  OXR
    • Zarathustra
  • 2015:  DQuatts
    • FHCF

  1. Bitcoin (BTC) transactions are immediate and remove banks, paypal, credit cards, and government agency from the deal.  Do you know the Paypal takes $3.35 out of your $105 payment?  50 players x $3.35 = $167.50 straight to the Palo Alto economy and I say eff that if I can help.  In a world where technology exists to avoid any fee, that strikes me a downright usurious.  BTC takes zero out of your payment.  It’s just you sending a payment to me.  Clean and easy — once you’ve used it a couple times.  Yes the prices fluctuates relative to the USD, but all currencies fluctuate.  I did propose to the Exec Cmte to make this an all BTC pool.  Was nixed.  🙁  FYI, I used coinbase to get started with BTC, yes we both get $10 if you buy some, recommended. [back]
  2. Note:  the essay is the core of the contest.  It informs your peers with profitable data for their weekly gaming investments while simultaneously fostering the incisive discussion that makes Cheddar so uniquely superlative. [back]
  • oxr

    Oh shit, that must be why my phone alarm was going off all week. Did I miss anything?

  • thatsfine

    Cheddar Bay is the best. Thanks for hosting again. For any new players or folks on the fence about joining, I’ll just say that Cheddar Bay is a like a handicapping skill-share – what little aptitude I have developed for picking lines has been largely due to reading the essays, picks, and thoughts of players on this board over the last 3 years.

    • It also just makes watching football games and following the football season a lot more fun.

      Uh, I’m in, obviously. Agnes is, too. Please kindly add us to the dropdown menu.

  • Chris P.

    I miss Cheddar. That’s on me. That has been rectified. Back.

  • cwonder23

    Cheddar Bay back again! My life is whole again!

  • jdoepke

    Glad to be back again, thanks for hosting! Aiming to finish above that red line this year after just missing last 2. Let the games begin!

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