In my final summer column,
I asked readers to weigh in on the question of whether the responsibilities
of most commissioners put them at a competitive disadvantage. The
question actually came from an FFToday reader named Robert, and
he was not alone in his frustration, as I heard from quite a few
frustrated commissioners, including Tom:
We ARE at a disadvantage when drafting. I am
trying to keep track of 13 other draft picks, dealing with possible
trades, keeping an eye on time limits, keeping track of roster limits,
preventing Beto from eating everyone else’s chicken wings,
and then making my pick if I can think straight.
I do not have a system that makes me able to feel comfortable in
my picks. When I leave the draft, I have no clue who I just drafted,
and it was never like that in the past when I wasn't the commissioner.
I would love some hints.....
Bud wrote in to point out that frustration with the draft is only
the tip of the iceberg for some commissioners, since the management
of a league for an entire season is a workload unto itself.
I was the commissioner of two leagues up until
this year. I shut down one of them in order to focus more on the
other one. I can tell you that "managing" a league of
16 owners (including myself) is a job in and of itself. The draft
was conducted on-line, however it was not without its problems.
Owners were instant-messaging me with all sorts of things from potential
trades they were working on to questions about the draft, to issues
with their internet browser!
I had to get reminders from people to tell me that it was my turn
to pick (for my own team), and when that came up, I had to pick
quickly, and I felt rushed.
Oh - and I think that all commissioners should get free entry into
their leagues that they participate in. Please print that for ALL
to see, I'm sure most commissioner/owners would agree that the commish
job is just that, a job. Throwing us a bone like that would go a
David makes a point that echoes Bud’s sentiments without
losing sight of the question about whether commissioners are at
a competitive disadvantage:
Being commish is a job, but I don't think you
can say that it necessarily puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
You just need more preparation because you can't be reading a magazine
on draft night. And since the commish does have all these other
duties... he's more aware of the upcoming draft and probably is
in the mindset to do research earlier than the other guys.
This column will focus on how commissioners can be competitive
with the other participants in their leagues, but since Bud pointedly
raised the question of commissioner compensation, I want to get
that matter out of the way. I heard from at least half a dozen readers
who pointed out that since commissioners do get more than their
fair share of frustrations from running fantasy leagues, their entry
fees are covered by league. For what it’s worth, the league
that I consider my “main” fantasy league has had such
a policy in place for more than a decade. I have never heard any
complaints about the policy. If anything, I think most of us suspect
the commissioner is undercompensated.
I received far too many responses to Rob’s question for
me to include the remarks of all those who wrote in, so I have
done my best to break the responses into general categories and
to include only the most comprehensive or representative answers
that I received.
Although a few readers (mostly former commissioners by the sound
of their notes) wrote in to say that being commissioner was nothing
but a liability, that was a minority perspective. Most of the
responses I received suggested that the disadvantages of being
a commissioner are either completely offset or more than offset
by the advantages. As Mike put it:
I don't complain about the extra work because
I see running the draft as more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
I have NEVER called a player’s name only to hear, "He
was picked two rounds ago!" I always know what everyone has
drafted, and what they are likely to be targeting in the next
round or two. I never reach for a QB or TE when those around me
have already filled the position and I can wait a round or two.
I can see runs coming before they start by looking at the available
list compared to the league rosters. This more than offsets the
frantic filling out of boards and draft lists.
John expands quite persuasively on this point:
As one who has commissioned a league with
friends for a number of years, and more recently a work league
as well, I find that the duties of the position can have pros
and cons. On a very basic level, being a commissioner can give
you a better understanding of the league and its members. What
I mean by this is that commissioners are probably the most knowledgeable
league members with regard to scoring, roster sizes, trade deadlines,
free-agent settings and so forth. Granted, any fantasy player
worth his salt "should" know these very basic but important
pieces of information, but commissioners are almost forced to
become walking encyclopedias of any rules and regulations.
If knowledge is indeed power, this is taken a step further by
the ability of commissioners to easily look back and dissect the
drafting patterns and tendencies of their competition. For example,
with the draft results from the last 4 years at my fingertips,
I can readily determine who tends to draft which players. I also
notice general strategies by certain players, i.e. who targets
RB/RB in the first two rounds, who reaches for a TE early, and
for the less savvy members, who likes to get their starting lineup
(DEF and K included) set within the first 10 rounds of the draft.
In many ways, the draft is the most important time for any league,
so if you have a solid grasp of how the draft might unfold based
on the habits of league members, that can be a competitive advantage.
However, these advantages extend only so far. Commissioners often
seem to be the most gung-ho fantasy players, but against other
fanatical researchers and draft preparers, they can certainly
find themselves at a disadvantage. The free time we have to spend
on scouting players can vary from person to person, but it is
certainly a fact that if two people have identical free time but
one has to separately email owners, bang down doors for fees,
organize draft dates and locations, and take care of any other
peripheral issues, then those responsibilities can work against
The many readers who made arguments similar to John’s
know who they are, but since I think he makes the point adequately,
I want to move on to the two primary tools stressed by commissioners
who feel that they have overcome the disadvantages that are inherent
in attempting to manage a draft while participating in it: 1)
delegation (which I will touch on below); and 2) preparation (a
topic which will be discussed in detail in my Week 2 column).
Lee has adopted a delegation policy that would likely be useful
in most leagues:
I appoint a league member to help me run the
draft. The person I use is the one 6 spots away from my own draft
position in a 12-man league. I seat this person to the left of
the board; I am at the right. While I am conducting the draft,
he will mark off the taken picks from a draft sheet for me so
I know who is gone. I have another draft sheet with my info on
it I don't want him to see. When it gets to the 6th pick we switch,
He runs the draft and I do the same for him. That keeps me up
on the draft and gives me plenty of time to prepare my own selections.
Works great for me.
Brad and Cliff take things further than Lee, as their
leagues actually divide the responsibilities of the commissioner
position between various league members. I quite like Brad’s
idea of a “draft coordinator”:
I am the commissioner in a keeper league,
and I actually assigned a "draft coordinator" position
in my league! It is his responsibility to choose the date, and
put it all together. I will do some of the prework for creating
the charts and pulling rankings, etc. This splitting up of tasks
allows me to focus on the draft more.
Cliff’s league doesn’t stop delegating after
As far as our commissioner goes, we have two.
There is one guy who is the 'Comish' who sends out all the emails,
coordinates the draft, oversees the summer rules meeting/draft
number selection meeting, deals with any disputes, oversees the
league, collects the money and handles payouts, etc. Then we also
have an assistant commissioner, or “Commish Jr.” as
we call him. Commish Jr. runs the website, manually adds the bonus
points we award (for NFL's leading QB, RB, and WR that week),
oversees weekly waivers/trades, and generally deals with any technical
Most leagues move organically towards the kind of delegation
that works for them, but if your league delegates duties in a
particularly helpful or interesting way, I will do my best to
share your practice with other readers in next week’s column.
However, since I received a number of detailed responses about
how preparation is a commissioner’s best friend when it
comes to running a successful draft, I want to focus in my Week
2 column on the preparative strategies that appear to be working
for commissioners in all sorts of leagues. I already have more
on the topic of preparation than I will be able to fit into a
single column, but if any readers know of some particular form
of preparation by their commissioners that enhanced their draft
experience this year, please
let me know about it.
Last Man Standing - (Courtesy
of Marc Mondry)
LMS is an acronym for “Last Man Standing,” and this
column offers advice and information to help people in their LMS
or Eliminator competitions. In these competitions, participants
must pick one team each week to win. If your team wins, you’re
in; if not, you’re out. The wrinkle is that you cannot pick
any team more than once during the season.
In this column, I will highlight at least 3 games that make for
good options each week. I will also usually single out a “trap
game”—a game that most people think would be a good
choice, but that I consider risky for whatever reason. Of course
I don’t expect anyone will agree with me 100%, so please
feel free to email me with your gripes and arguments. I can talk
(or text) about football until I am blue in the face (or fingers).
Last year I had a couple of people write to me and tell me that
they could do a better job picking the games than I could. One
enterprising reader even said that his eleven-year-old sister
could do a better job than I had done. Ouch.
This year, it’s time to put your pride where your mouth
is. I invite any and all of you guys and gals to submit
your own picks to me at least an hour before the first kickoff
for the week. Shoot me your 3 picks for the week, and I will keep
a running track of wins and losses (ties count as losses) over
the season. I will post a short leaderboard at the end of the
column identifying the readers with the highest win percentages.
Who knows? Maybe someone will give me a run for my money.
Honestly, I’m sure plenty of you will, and I’m sure
a couple will beat me. You think you’re one of them? Send
me your picks each week and we’ll see.
Trap Game: Oakland over San Diego
Okay, I know an Oakland upset sounds crazy, but hear me out.
The Chargers are undoubtedly the more talented team—and
should win this game by 10+ points. That said, there are a couple
of things that scare me about this contest.
First and foremost, it’s Week 1, the week during which
anything can happen. This week San Diego has to travel out to
Oakland Coliseum. Honestly, I cannot think of a more hostile place
to play than Oakland, especially when Oakland still (theoretically)
is in the race for the playoffs. Raider fans won’t be able
to sustain the delusion for long, but they are a downright scary
bunch of folks when they actually think their team has a shot
of going somewhere.
Furthermore, Oakland isn’t as hopeless as everyone seems
to think. They have plenty of offensive talent, and they are taking
themselves seriously enough to have released Jeff Garcia. Apparently
they have realized that JaMarcus Russell is the long-term answer,
a step in the right direction. Plus, at the end of last season
Oakland made some strides, particularly on offense. They have
a very talented TE in Zach Miller and 3 talented (and healthy)
running backs: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Justin Fargas.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they put up a fight against the
Chargers, and if that wouldn’t surprise me, they don’t
make for a great LMS pick.
3. Baltimore over Kansas City
In all honesty, I do not love this pick. I was extremely close
to taking Atlanta for my third pick, but decided I could not trust
the Falcon defense. Instead I am going with Baltimore, in a game
that the Ravens should win handily at home against Kansas City.
I don’t have full faith in the Baltimore defense anymore.
Parting with Rex Ryan and losing a bunch of defensive talent (notably
Bart Scott) to the Jets is going to hurt. It could hurt A LOT.
That said, I am one of the ‘non-believers’ in Matt
Cassel and the rest of the KC offense, especially since Cassel
hasn’t gotten into a rhythm with Dwayne Bowe. The Raven
D should be able to get lots of pressure and create turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, I would not describe the Ravens
as an offensive juggernaut, but they should be able to get the
job done against the flimsy Chiefs defense. The real key is that
they are at home at M&T Bank Stadium. I really just can’t
visualize the Chiefs coming in and having their way with the Ravens,
though I certainly can see the game going the other way.
2. New Orleans over Detroit
It was pretty much a no-brainer to include this game on the list.
Before I explain, please note that I think Detroit is improving
by the day as a franchise and in 5 years or so could have a bright
future (if they can draft some solid defensive players). The offensive
talent is in place now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they
put up 20+ points vs. the Saints in week 1.
Unfortunately for Calvin Johnson and the crew, 20 points just
isn’t going to get it done. 30 points might not get it done.
40? Well, 40 would probably do it. Drew Brees is going to have
a field day at home against the Lions’ secondary. Moreover,
between Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mike Bell, the New Orleans
running game should top 150 yards. My over/under for the New Orleans
offense is 33.5 points. Anyone taking the under? At best, New
Orleans absolutely dominates this game; at worst, it’s a
shootout, and Sean Payton’s got the bigger guns.
A word of caution: Games like this can be dangerous for LMS competitions.
Generally, I trust defenses, not offenses, to show up with consistency.
That’s why this game isn’t number 1 for the week.
1. New England over Buffalo
Full disclosure: I have a genuine visceral dislike for the New
England Patriots. My girlfriend of 4 years is from Concord, MA.
On this point, we do not get along. The 2007 Super Bowl was mighty
I made that disclosure for two reasons—first, to give a
shout out to my lady (since I promised her); and second, to provide
some background for this recommendation.
I have a litany of reasons for recommending the Pats this week.
They are at home against a divisional opponent that they have
historically dominated. This divisional opponent has a bonehead
for a head coach (Dick Jauron) and will be missing its ‘beastly’
running back (Marshawn Lynch). Tom Brady wants to come back and
prove that he can still dominate as he did in 2007. Bill Belichick
will certainly want to run up the score and make a statement that
the Pats are back in business this year. Honestly, need I say
Okay, if I must, I’ll continue. I have no worries about
Brady’s injuries. The shoulder will be fine, and the fact
that the Patriots (a team historically excellent at personnel
management) let Matt Cassel leave speaks volumes about Brady’s
leg injury. The last time Buffalo beat New England was opening
day of the 2003 season. To put that in perspective, that was when
the dynamic duo of Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds still led the
Bills. Lightning strikes what, once every six years? Bills fans
sure hope so . . .
With that, I am finished. Remember to send in your picks for
this week! They are due Thursday at 7:30 EST. I know it’s
a quick deadline this week, but get them in. After all, I wouldn’t
want anyone else to miss out on the crapshoot that is Week 1 forecasting!
For responses to this week's fantasy question please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football