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Q&A - How does your league handle dual-position players?
Week 4

Additional Feedback on Sorting Soft Defenses

In last week’s column, I spotlighted a webpage regularly updated by a reader named Joe as a tool for helping FFers find offensive players with match-ups against soft or questionable defenses.

Another reader named John wrote in to point out that we do not even have to leave the FFToday website for such information:

[FFToday offers] its own tool for analyzing matchups based on Points Allowed:

This tool is invaluable to me - especially with its ability to customize based on the user's point settings. I streamed IDPs last season all the way to a championship through this tool.

Maybe you guys don't want to be tooting your own horn, but this tool is arguably the most useful feature on your entire site.

Keep up the great work. I hit your site every day of the week.

In fairness to Joe, his list goes the extra mile of listing the particular quarterback that each defense will be facing next. I don’t really care how many points the Jaguars are giving up to opposing QBs if the only way for me to cash in is to start a Matt Moore or Jason Campbell against them. Nevertheless the FFToday tool for sorting offensive positions by their defensive match-ups is very elegant and useful. Many readers will no doubt benefit from bookmarking it as I have already done. My thanks to John for his note.

Editor's Note: The Fantasy Strength of Schedule tool at FFToday has similiar properties allowing you to easily view favorable matchups for each team & position for the current week and weeks to come.

Last Week’s Question:

Last week’s column also featured Dan’s question about adjusting FF scoring in response to NFL trends. For example, when rule changes create significant increases in passing yardage for all teams, some commissioners might try to compensate by reducing the point values for TD receptions or by increasing the value of rushing yardage. Noel is not such a commissioner:

It doesn’t bother us if RBs are suddenly more or less valuable to the team than they were last season. Most owners probably won’t even notice, and the ones who are bothered by it can trade RBs for wideouts (or vice versa) if it’s important to them. We have been using the same point system for over a decade, and I doubt we will ever modify it.

I understand Noel’s sentiments completely—especially in the context of a redrafter league. As I have written numerous times in the past, as long as everyone in the league is playing by the same rules, the rules are probably fair. In keeper leagues, however, NFL rule changes with dramatic consequences on statistical productivity can put certain owners at a disadvantage. Evan’s response doesn’t indicate whether he belongs to a redrafter league or a keeper league, but if his remarks apply to redrafters, then they apply even more forcefully to keepers:

Some of my owners have varied views on who should score the most points. We just split voting on upping the scoring for QBs. In general, the only tweaking I've done is to somewhat align scoring so that all positions are somewhat even. I gave Def/ST return TDs (and more points for lower scores) to keep them from becoming irrelevant. I also have ranged scoring for kickers. I bumped QB yardage points from 1pt / 25 yds passing to 1 pt / 20 yds. I try to keep scoring changes minimal from year to year to avoid confusion.

I try to keep the league fair to all players so one owner can't run away with it because he has some studs at a couple of positions. This can still happen, but it is mitigated, and I find that keeping everyone closer to the group minimizes apathy and collusion. I figure if parity works so well for the NFL, it should work for FF as well.

Adjustments aren’t simple for those commissioners who decide that emerging statistical trends in the NFL require them to modify their scoring systems. Most owners will groan if their commissioner decides that running backs should score one point for every 8.3 yards rushing instead of every 10 yards rushing. Paul can only laugh at adjustments such as these:

I don't adjust based upon NFL rule changes or trends because this is fantasy. I get to set the rules.

Even with the different effects of rules, different QBs (for example) will still score based upon skill and numerous other factors. I typically look at things like this: just because the umpire has moved back a little bit opening up the middle more, touchdowns are not now worth 5 points. The NFL keeps the points the same, I keep them the same. 1 yard still equals 1 yard.

Brady may be able to take advantage of the middle more, so I made sure to have Welker on my roster since I didn't get Brady.

This all usually works out by the league members choosing a player that fits their level of following player performance and ability of those players to adapt as well as just plain score any points. Players that don't adapt to take advantage of a new trend or rule change but are highly effective players, still score well.

Until the NFL changes 1 yard to equal 3.2 feet or a field goal to be worth 4 points, the main scoring in my league doesn't change. Scoring adjustments can be a nuisance or they can provide exactly the realism that league members want. For me, it is way too much of a headache to figure things out that minutely.

That’s my 2 cents. No hard feelings if it works out to 3.7 cents in some leagues.

This Week’s Question:

Nestor wants to know if there are any leagues with special provisions for handling players that are listed by teams or other sources as playing multiple positions:

What do you think about dual-position players? Should there be certain players that you can start at different positions? My league is having an ongoing debate about Dexter McCluster. Yahoo Fantasy Football lists him as a RB and a WR, so an owner can switch up where McCluster lines up on his roster from week-to-week.

To be crystal clear, this question is NOT about running backs who throw the ball. When LaDainian Tomlinson was throwing touchdown passes for the Chargers on trick plays, he was still obviously a running back. No one was tempted to recategorize him as a quarterback just because he threw the ball now and then. None of the leagues that I have belonged to were troubled by LT’s passes. He was simply a running back who earned extra points for passing yardage and passing TDs. FF owners would not have wanted to start him as a QB, but the important thing is that they couldn’t have started him as a quarterback even if they had wanted to because neither the Chargers nor Yahoo sports nor anyone else listed him as a QB.

This question is also NOT about flex players. Even leagues that allow owners to start either a wideout or a tight end or an RB at a flex position also have other positions that must be filled by players who fall into specified categories.

The McCluster case is different—and is reminiscent of the trouble some leagues had with Marques Colston when he was listed as both a receiver and tight end on certain league-hosting services. In leagues that require owners to start two wide receivers and a tight end, some owners of Colston were permitted to start 3 wideouts each week. And although it doesn’t happen as often these days as it used to, some coaches still use H-back players (e.g. Chris Cooley) that can be categorized as fullbacks or tight ends depending upon who is making the distinction.

I’m sure many commissioners have had to deal with complaints from owners about the owners of Marques Colston, Dexter McCluster, and other players who can be started in two or more different positions. How did your commissioner respond to these complaints? What was the league’s assessment of the commissioner’s response?

Thanks for an intriguing question Nestor.

Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of Mark Den Adel)

Last week I got all 3 games correct along with the upset alert as the Cowboys got their much needed win over Houston.

1) New Orleans over Carolina – New Orleans will bounce back after a tough OT loss vs. Atlanta. Carolina is not running the ball well, and their rookie quarterback is going against Gregg Williams’ defense. Yes, this is a divisional game—but this one is too easy to pass up.

2) Green Bay over Detroit – It is always tough after playing on Monday night, but Green Bay is a Super Bowl contender and Detroit is just trying to win a couple of games this season. It’s a home divisional game and the Lions have an inexperienced QB. I’m a little concerned with Green Bay’s penalty woes, but the Lions don’t have Julius Peppers on their defense.

3) San Diego over Arizona – Arizona escaped with a win against Oakland last week, and San Diego is upset at being 0-2 in the division. The Cardinals defense isn’t that good (as the Raiders demonstrated last week), so expect Philip Rivers to score at will. Arizona’s offense has been sputtering and now Breaston and Doucet are injured. Expect the San Diego defense to blanket Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards may also have a tough time running against the Chargers ninth-rated rushing defense. San Diego will bounce back at home with a win.

Upset Alert: Baltimore over Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh’s offense will not be able to score on Baltimore’s defense and Flacco/Boldin are starting to mesh. Although this is a heated rivalry, there Steelers are ecstatic to have 3 wins without Big Ben while Baltimore can’t afford to fall two games behind in their division.

For responses to this week's fantasy question please email me.