Week 8: Can We Keep Apathy At Bay By
Scheduling A Season Of Sixteen Side Bets?
Last Week’s Question: Do you have tips
for writing FF newsletters?
In last week’s column,
I called upon readers to send me tips for writing FF newsletters.
I asked everyone who sent newsletters (or sections of newsletters)
to provide a brief explanation of what other potential newsletter
writers could learn from their samples.
Although a few inattentive participants simply mailed me newsletters
that were cut-and-paste jobs into the body of an email, most of
those who responded took the time to provide explanations. As
one might expect, most FF newsletters tend to do the same kinds
of things, so instead of barraging readers with excerpts that
repeat each other, I will focus on the briefest and most clearly
explained samples, such as Tom’s. Instead of a newsletter,
Tom writes a weekly matchup report spotlighting key games:
[In my matchup report, I try] to be mildly
humorous (e.g. Steve Smith is suffering from H1Delhomme), but
also to do a little analysis. In the last couple of years when
I've been a little late with my picks (getting towards Friday,
Saturday), I've gotten emails from other owners: "Are you
going to post your picks this year?"
In the picks, I usually say something about key roster moves or
last week's big starts or risk/reward lineup decisions, and when
the matchups start over, I review the last game between the two
teams. So it's sort of newslettery. I also use the picks to nudge
(via mocking) owners who forgot to make bye week roster moves,
so they don't do it again.
It's fun, and I'm usually only mildly successful (I think I'm
just over .500 for the year, which is typical), but I think I
probably do it for the same reasons others do newsletters.
Here are a couple of shorter picks from Week 4 as an example:
Enforcers (2-1) vs. Syndicate (2-1)
Two weeks ago, Enforcers and I squared off both here and in the
All-Defense league, each of us winning one matchup. This week
Enforcers and Syndicate match up in both leagues. The game here
looks like a good one. Do I recall anyone snickering when I picked
Cedric Benson for Syndicate in the draft...? Syndicate has some
bye issues, but it looks like he'll be able to handle them nicely.
Even Garcon won't be able to save the day ("Garcon means
'boy'"..."alright everybody cool it, this is a robbery!")
Syndicate by 10
Dudmonkeys (1-2) vs. Nixers (1-2)
Both teams have enough talent to be better than 1-2 (well...barring
that thing that Cutler tried to call a game in week 1...and which
my crew was sadly unable to take advantage of). Dudmonkeys has
WRs who you'd think would be hit or miss, but are most often hit,
but RBs who are underwhelming so far. The Jones brothers are running
well for Nixers, and if Welker is back, that should seal the deal.
Nixers by 15
Tom has my thanks for giving us an overall sense of his weekly
reports as well as some deftly chosen excerpts. Todd, by way of
contrast, moves from a quick outline to two categories that are
staples of the newsletter:
I do a weekly newsletter in the league I
run. I include marquee matchups, a quick standings update, highlights/major
happenings (e.g. a team’s 1st win of the season, the point
when there are no more undefeated teams, and any off-the-charts
performances by teams or individual players).
I also hand out two weekly awards: 1) Pansy of the Week and 2)
You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me!
Pansy of the Week is basically busting the team's stones when
they perform poorly. YGBKM goes to the guy that somehow got screwed
over (e.g. outscoring every team in the league EXCEPT the team
he faced—or facing a Tier 4 WR who goes for a career day,
and gives the guy a loss.)
In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that Todd’s
first category isn’t quite named Pansy of the Week, but
the first word does start with a P and end with a Y. I made a
slight editorial change in the interest of keeping FFToday a family-friendly
Of all the tips I received for newsletter writing, no one managed
to put more useful information into a single paragraph than Michael,
I've always had a short newsletter with roughly
the same 3-part format. First, we give a quick recap of last week’s
games, making sure to point out both the really good moves and
the serious blunders made and how they affected the games. [I
don’t bog down in details, but] I make sure that every owner
is mentioned. The second part touches on anything happening that
week in the NFL or in our league that could affect the upcoming
games. The third part is a quick preview of all the upcoming games,
with a special in-depth preview of whatever is that week's best
matchup. This week's Game of the Week, for example, pits the #1
(6-0) and #2 (5-1) team in the league, who also happen to be in
the same division. I try to keep the whole thing under a page
in length, but it's something fun that everyone looks forward
If I were to train new FF newsletter writers, I am not sure I
would do anything but drill them on Michael’s key points.
Newsletters should primarily be fun, but they also serve the quite
useful purpose of reminding everyone every week that someone is
watching the entire league—as long as the writer of the newsletter
says something about every team in the league.
- Have a limited number of sections that will repeat themselves
every week. (If you think about the format of this column for
the past 5 years, then you can well imagine that Michael was preaching
to the choir with his note.)
- Keep the newsletter to a single page. If you have a lot of
time and printer cartridges to spare, it could be double-sided
11X17 with photos and charts, but there is no need to be that
elaborate. Most newsletters can fit everything necessary on a
single 8.5X11 sheet of paper (though whether the writer wants
to use both sides of the page will be determined by how much information
the other owners actually care to absorb on a weekly basis).
- Find at least one interesting thing to say about each team
each week. Even if the only interesting thing you can say about
Roy’s Boys is that Roy should have stopped playing Chad
Pennington once he went on IR, then at least Roy will know that
someone is paying attention to his team—and that perhaps
he should pick up an active quarterback.
Of course, not every newsletter is actually printed on paper.
Many are distributed electronically, and some commissioners manage
to achieve the effect of a newsletter without doing anything like
writing a newsletter. As Chris wrote:
I am the commissioner of a 14-man league, and I
work a lot on the site to ensure everyone checks it daily. Every
day, I update the site with a new "Hottie of the Day"
with 3-5 pictures, a new poll to vote in, and a new YouTube video
of the day. Of course, ESPN allows you to do this.
If the purpose of a newsletter is to keep everyone interested
in and informed about the league, then I suppose Chris’
method achieves those objectives without his having to produce
a document each week. Some of us are computer-oriented—and
some of us aren’t. It’s up to the commissioner to
decide whether polls on the website and pictures of “hotties”
will be enough to get people to stay on top of the league. Anyone
trapped at a desk all day is probably going to end up checking
on the league website to see Chris’ latest YouTube selection,
but other people might be more inclined to read a newsletter that
they can hold in their hands—even if only because that way
they can take it to the restroom.
This Week’s Question: Can we keep apathy
at bay by scheduling a season of sixteen side bets?
Once we approach the halfway point of the season, I invariably
receive notes such as this one from Jeff (who contacted me last
Our league incorporated a new rule this year that
works very well. We call it the "weekly high points award."
Each week the team that scores the most points gets a cash prize.
If you win it three times it just about covers your entry fee.
It's great for several reasons:
- keeps interest high all year even for teams not likely to make
the playoffs because they can still win money and are motivated
to keep managing their teams even if they are doing crappy or
having bad luck early in the season.
- every team is playing every other team every week for the high
points title, so it's like you're playing several matchups per
week instead of just one
- interest is high each week all the way through the end of the
Monday night game...so if you blow your opponent out on Sunday
and they have no more players, you still get to pull for your
stud to do well if he's on Sunday or Monday night because you're
playing for the high points.
I have written in the past about precisely this method for keeping
apathy at bay. If you start 0-4, it is nice to have a cash incentive
to keep playing, and Jeff does a great job of explaining the benefits
of providing a weekly award to the high point scorer.
However, I cannot help trying to connect the high-point award
mentioned by Jeff to Paulie’s idea of a “Commish’s
Challenge” (covered in last week’s column) and Todd’s
suggestions for spicing up a league:
We do weekly pools. $100 is our entry fee, and
we set $10 per week aside for the pools. The categories range
from Longest TD pass to fewest points allowed by a DEF. I also
throw in Highest Score with a loss. No one wants to win that one...bittersweet.
Paulie and Todd handle their weekly awards differently than Jeff
in that the contested category changes each week (instead of simply
being “high points” all season long). If awarding
a small payout to the highest scoring team each week is working
for your league, then by all means stay with it. But if you are
looking for a little more variety, then you might want to take
the approach of Paulie (who dedicates one week to quarterbacks
and another week to running backs, etc.) or that of Jeff (who
provides some sample categories in the snippet above).
Since most fantasy leagues steer clear of Week 17, I would love
to see a 16-week schedule of special categories for weekly awards.
Since the byes occur in Weeks 3-10, I would probably want to see
positional contests in the other weeks. Weeks 11-16 would make
perfect sense for high-point awards to kickers (Week 11), defenses
(12), tight ends (13), receivers (14), running backs (15), and
quarterbacks (16). But what about the first 10 weeks? If we take
a cue from Todd and give an award for the longest TD pass in Week
1, then what do we do with Weeks 2-9? I
would love to hear from any commissioners who already have
a season’s worth of categories in place—as well as
anyone who feels like doing a little wishful thinking.
Wk 8 - Last Man Standing -
(Courtesy of Marc Mondry)
Illness prevents me from handling this section of the column as
extensively as I would like, so I am keeping things short and sweet.
Reader’s Week 7 Picks
| Top Prognosticators
- Week 7
||Last Week's Picks
||IND, GB, NE
|Mark Den Adel
||NE, IND, NYG
||IND, NE, NYJ
||NE, IND, GB
||NE, IND, NYJ
Remember to email your
picks to me by noon on Sunday! The leaderboard has been shortened
due to lack of submissions. Please remember to send your picks
in, and remember you can join the competition at any time. The
leaderboard is by percentage, not point differential.
Trap Game: Minnesota over Green Bay
Favre’s visit to Green Bay is intriguing. There, I said
it. I don’t want to hear another word about it from anyone—not
the CBS announcers; not the beat writers in the Post; not Terry,
Jimmy, Howie, and Cris. Enough!
Phew. Now that that’s over with, we can talk football.
This one is very likely to be close. However, if it isn’t
close, Green Bay will most assuredly be the team trailing. The
Vikings are just too well rounded to be left behind. Adrian Peterson
is an animal; the defense is absolutely stellar; Percy Harvin
has proved to be dynamic in multiple facets of the game; and Brett
Favre’s numbers reflect now nice it is to play QB with the
best tailback in the league lining up behind you.
Green Bay is a tough opponent, but I just don’t have the
faith in the Green Bay defense that I do in Minnesota’s.
That’s the bottom line. I also think Ryan Grant is going
to struggle against the Minnesota front seven. If the Vikings
can keep pressure on Aaron Rodgers and force him into bad throws,
this could be a long game for the Cheeseheads.
3. Dallas over Seattle
The Cowboys don’t seem to be on anyone’s LMS radar
this week even though I think they make for a great pick. The
last time this happened, Dallas was losing at halftime and squeaked
out a 10-point win. I am hoping history won’t repeat itself.
It shouldn’t. The Dallas offense should prove too much
for Seattle to keep up with, even if Seattle finds a way to put
some points on the board. The three-headed beast of Barber, Jones,
and Choice is very difficult to contain for 60 minutes, and with
Miles Austin emerging as a real threat at wideout (and gaining
more of Tony Romo’s trust each week), it would surprise
me if Seattle holds Dallas under 30 points.
That said, the verdict is still out on the Cowboy defense. They
might absolutely shut down the Seahawks, or they could give up
27. Frankly, I’m not sure what will happen, but if you notice,
both are less than 30. That’s all that matters to me.
2. Chicago over Cleveland
You just don’t get much worse than this Cleveland team.
Heck, generally speaking you don’t get much worse than Cleveland’s
teams (except for LeBron’s Cavs).
Back to football – this is a team that cannot run the ball,
has zero weapons in the passing game with the departures of Kellen
Winslow and Braylon Edwards, and whose defense is at best, middling.
Chicago, on the other hand, is probably more like a .500 team,
held back by defensive inconsistency, terrible interceptions thrown
by Jay Cutler, and in my mind, a departure from the strong running
game they put on display last year.
Just because you have a QB with an arm like Jay Cutler’s
doesn’t mean you need to throw the ball 40 times a game.
But I digress again. Chicago has to be motivated by the terrible
loss they took last week at the hands of the Bengals, and should
take out some frustration on the lowly Browns. The Bears’
situation makes them a very strong pick this week, even a #1 if
you need one.
1. San Diego over Oakland
This was a trap game in week one, but not this time. This should
be a massacre.
San Diego is just a better team. They may not be heading to the
Super Bowl (and obviously you don’t have to be to crush
the Raiders – see Giants, New York) but they are in a different
class from this struggling Oakland team. Oakland lost 38-0 last
week to the Jets behind the unflinching leadership of Bruce Gradkowski.
And I still think he’s better than JaMarcus Russell.
The Chargers should also be motivated by their near loss to Oakland
in week one, and should get a boost from LaDainian Tomlinson,
who last week remembered how to run the football. They need him
to be a weapon. Sproles is as explosive as anyone, but he cannot
handle 20-25 carries a game. LT needs to be the man in San Diego;
this week, I think he is.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me
no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.