Last Week’s Question:
Can a team’s emotion eclipse an individual
Last week’s column
featured a question from Bryce, who has begun to lose faith in
Miles Austin and the other Cowboy skill players because he worries
that the Cowboy organization may not make much of an effort for
the remainder of what has been a very disappointing season for
them. Bryce’s assumption appears to be that less talented
players on competitive teams are more desirable than more talented
players on teams that appear to be “phoning it in”
for the final weeks of the season. A reader named Dave shares
Bryce is right about Dallas. I gave up on
them weeks ago and started making trade offers on Romo well before
his injury. I ruled out in advance any offer that included another
Cowboy as part of a trade package for Romo (Miles Austin, Felix
Jones, etc.). If you look at the lineups of the teams in our fantasy
Super Bowl each year, you see a lot of players from teams that
go to the playoffs. It isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but the
players on the most competitive teams in the NFL are usually the
players on the most competitive teams in fantasy leagues. If you
have a player on a team that has quit, you have to cut the player
whether you think he has quit or not.
I expected to hear from numerous readers who shared Dave’s
opinion, but he was the only reader who stepped up to support
Bryce’s assumption. The others who wrote in were overwhelmingly
skeptical of that assumption. Len makes a powerful argument:
When a preseason favorite (like the Vikings
this season) gets off to a horrible start, you start to hear about
how the team has given up. It’s an explanation that people
resort to when they can’t put their finger on the problem.
I don’t buy it. Owners and coaches may give up. Fans may
give up. But players don’t give up. They have too much at
stake. I can’t believe any QB in the league would let an
offensive lineman get away with “punching the clock”
on Sundays. I can’t see why an o-lineman would do anything
less than his best each week—if only out of a sense of self-preservation.
Have you looked at the defensive tackles in the NFL? Imagine one
of them rushing you. Imagine that you have made up your mind in
advance only to make a half-hearted attempt to block because your
team is losing and you are oh so very sad about it. Dude is gonna
put a hurting on you if you decide not to take that block very
For the years when the Ravens struggled on offense, do you think
Ray Lewis let anyone on that defense get away with “phoning
When teams lose in the NFL, fans hold the ownership accountable.
The ownership holds the coaches accountable. And the coaches hold
the players accountable. Players that don’t do a good job
get cut before the players around them get hurt. It doesn’t
sound like Bryce has lost faith in Miles Austin, but in the players
around him. There are plenty of talented athletes willing to step
in for those players as soon as any coach or scout can pinpoint
which ones aren’t making an effort.
I just can’t buy into this notion of “giving up.”
These guys play for their livelihoods each and every Sunday. Even
if a team loses 4 or 5 games in a row and goes through practice
one week without any enthusiasm, that doesn’t mean they
throw in the towel on Sundays. When the ball snaps, instincts
and training take over. [Any player whose instinct might be] to
quit on his team would never have made it to the NFL to begin
Len covered almost all the points of the various readers
who were skeptical of Bryce’s assumption, but Hector put
the finishing touch on the argument by approaching it from a fantasy
It may sound like a good idea to give up on
teams that seem to have given up, but that is really just one
more way to introduce a poorly defined variable into the fantasy
mix. Lots of people had high hopes for the 49ers before the season
started. They haven’t lived up to expectations, but that
doesn’t mean I have to leave Frank Gore on my bench.
Even if Gore looks uninspired for two or three weeks in a row
(which hasn’t happened yet, as I think Bryce should note),
the week I sit him for being a quitter is bound to be the week
that San Fran’s opponent gives the team some great bulletin
board material that lights a fire under Gore’s butt.
I can’t be worrying about categories that I don’t
really understand. I have a hard enough time making decisions
about categories that I genuinely grasp. Would I rather start
my second-best receiver against the 10th-ranked pass defense in
the league or my third-best receiver against the 30th-ranked pass
defense in the league? I know who my second-best receiver is.
I know which team has the 30th-ranked pass defense. I have numbers
to tell me which is which. This is a question I can ask and collect
data on and perhaps have a really good answer for by the end of
[But once we start to try factor in things] like a team’s
emotional intensity, there is no way for any of us to know what
we are talking about. Even if I assume that the Cowboys are moping
more than the 49ers right now, I don’t know how to quantify
mopiness or how to specify what mope-threshold has to be crossed
before I bench one of my starters. It’s an interesting question—just
like the question of how many angels can dance on the head of
a pin used to be interesting to some people. It’s just not
a useful question to be wondering about.
I want to say that Hector has given me food for thought,
but I think his point was to give me food for not-thought. Either
way, I am grateful to everyone who wrote in.
This Week’s Question:
What are some guidelines for trading next
season’s draft picks as part of this season’s trades?
I received a very specific question from Dennis this week, but
I would like to make it into a more general question about guidelines
for trades during one season that involve draft picks for the
upcoming season. Dennis writes:
Can I get your advice on a trade offer. In one of my leagues
(keeper league), my cousin & I are looking to improve our
WR position. We currently own, Ochocinco, R. Moss, E. Royal, D.
Bess, & B. Edwards.
The rest of our roster is as follows:
QBs: Orton & Palmer
RBs: Benson, Mendenhall, L.T., F. Jackson, D. Ward, & T. Hightower
We inquired about TO and just received the following offer:
- You get TO and my 8th pick for next year's draft;
- I get your 4th round pick next year plus one of your QBs.
I was wondering if you could share your thoughts on whether this
is a good deal for us or not.
Any readers who want to respond to Dennis’ specific question
are welcome to do so.
I will try to include the best response for Dennis in next week’s
But I am more interested in hearing from commissioners who have
instituted special rules in their leagues for the trading of draft
picks. I have heard from numerous readers in the past about trading
draft picks for the upcoming season. I have even seen some very
complicated trades that involved conditional draft picks based
on the performance of the traded players. Certain commissioners
have told me that they forbid the trading of draft picks because
the risks for abuse and collusion are simply too high.
Does your league allow
the trading of draft picks for the upcoming season? Have you
run into trouble as a consequence of trades such as the one Dennis
details? Do you police the trading of draft picks in a way that
has prevented any suspicion of collusion? I look forward to hearing
from commissioners of any leagues in which draft picks are traded.
Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of
Mark Den Adel)
Last week was tough. The bad news is that I went 1-2, but the
good news is that I cannot be wrong about the Cowboys again this
season—since I have now picked them in each of my three
slots. They lost every time I picked them, so good luck to anyone
who decides to go put their faith in Dallas going forward.
1) Minnesota over Arizona
The Vikings are my favorite team, and it hasn’t been fun
watching their train wreck of a season. Fortunately, the schedule
is getting easier for Minnesota—starting this week against
Arizona. Although the Vikings defense couldn’t stop the
Patriots when it needed to last week, I think their pass defense
will come up big this week—thanks in part to Arizona’s
revolving door policy at the QB position. Arizona’s 30th-ranked
pass defense has been bad all year, but it will look particularly
bad in the raucous Metrodome. I'm sure the Vikings noticed what
LeGarrette Blount did to the Cards last week, so Adrian Peterson
should get plenty of chances to abuse the Cardinals on the ground
when the Vikes need a break from abusing them through the air.
2) Atlanta over Tampa Bay
I keep wondering how Tampa Bay wins. Is it the defense, the offense,
the special teams, the coaching? It doesn’t appear to be
any of those things. Maybe it is just plain magic, but I expect
the magic to run out against a Falcons team that looks like one
of the best in the NFC. Atlanta’s rush defense is very stout
(6th overall), so I don’t expect a repeat performance from
Blount. But Tampa’s 30th-ranked rush defense could easily
make Michael Turner the top fantasy running back of Week 9 .
3) Green Bay over Dallas
Since Dallas disappointed me 3 times when I picked them, I have
no choice but to start picking against them. Dallas is 26th against
the pass, and the passing game is all Green Bay has. Expect Rodgers
to put up 300 yards with a couple of TDs. As you saw last week
in the shutout vs. the Jets, Green Bay’s defenders have
come back strong from their injuries and should have little trouble
containing a Dallas offense that is in disarray.
Upset – Indianapolis over Philadelphia
We rarely see the Colts as an underdog and Peyton Manning only
loses as an underdog to Bill Belichick. I will therefore take
Indy over Philly. I understand why the Eagles are favored. They
are coming off a bye against a team that played a hard-hitting
divisional Sunday night game and has some banged up players. Moreover,
the Eagles are a team with a track record of performing well when
given an extra week to prepare for their opponent—but those
opponents have not usually been as disciplined and talented as
Manning and the Colts.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me.