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Mike Davis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Q & A
Week 10

Last Week's Question: Is It Lame to Trade Injured Players?

Last week's question came from Daryl, whose attempt to trade a healthy Dwayne Bowe for an injured Andre Johnson was vetoed by his commissioner in Week 5. In leagues that require commissioner approval for proposed trades to go through, it must be extremely tricky for the commissioners to issue fair and consistent rulings on trades that involve injured players.

Some players take much longer to recover from hamstring injuries than others. Some players take the field even though their injuries prevent them from contributing to their team's success. And some players (strep throat cough, Peyton Hillis, strep throat cough) take medical advice from the agents who are negotiating their contracts rather than team physicians.

When I featured Daryl's question in last week's column, I hoped to hear from commissioners who had formulated guidelines that they relied upon to help them decide whether to approve or veto trades involving injured players.

Instead, I seem to have opened up a familiar can of worms. Most of the responses that I received were only tangentially related to the trading of injured players, as those who wrote in were far more interested in comparing laissez-faire leagues to regulated leagues.

Dan speaks clearly for the laissez-faire camp:

Focus as much as you want on Johnson's hamstring, but the injury is simply a red herring. The problem isn't about figuring out whether the commissioner should have vetoed the trade or not. The real problem is that there are still leagues that expect their commissioners to evaluate the "fairness" of trades.

Trades are very simple in my league. Owners who want to make a trade work out the details and present them to the commissioner (me). My only job is to move the players between the teams, not to make any judgments about who is getting the better end of the bargain.

Back in the day, when FF was new and everybody was worried about collusion, I understand why commissioners were expected to "police" their leagues. But now I think most leagues are like mine. People know each other. There's too much respect for anyone to try anything like collusion, and if any two owners did try something sneaky, they wouldn't be invited back next year.

In real fantasy leagues (the ones with the same people playing year after year, not random computer-generated leagues), people value participation in the league from one year to the next a lot more than they value the idea of cheating to win one championship. You have to trust your owners to do the best possible job of competing, and that means letting them make the trades they want to make.

For me, there is absolutely no reason for commissioners to supervise trades in a league. If you can trust the people in your league not to collude (and you really should be able to do that), then the commissioner should keep his nose out of trades. And if you can't trust the people in the league not to collude (maybe because it's a new league and the owners are just getting to know each other), then you simply shouldn't allow trades at all. Just make a rule that all player acquisitions have to happen on the waiver wire. Problem solved.

Scott doesn't take things to the same laissez-faire extreme as Dan. He concedes that commissioners should have veto power over suspicious trades, but he doesn't think they should exercise that power very frequently:

As commissioner in my league, I try to keep my hands off trades as much as possible. I have never vetoed a trade in 6 years. The key is to be in a league where you trust people to not cheat. The example you gave (injured Andre Johnson for Dwayne Bowe), and how the commissioner vetoed it, speaks to the insecurities of the commissioner. . . . And don’t even ask about leagues where all owners vote on trades. That’s just ridiculous. I was in a league like that for one year and then I bailed. Find a commissioner you can trust and let him lead the league.

Gary acknowledges that different leagues need different levels of supervision by their commissioners, but he is sure that the injury status of Andre Johnson would not have been a concern in his league:

I understand that many leagues have commissioners that decide whether or not a trade is fair. And for some of those leagues, that is probably a good thing.

My league (I stepped down as commish three seasons ago) has 16 teams, and we are in our 22nd year. The commish does not get to veto trades. We have been around long enough to know no one participates in collusion. Yeah, some trades baffle, and it does separate the good from bad owners--but it’s all okay.

So, back on point, yep, we allow players to trade for injured players. Any owners who want to gamble on the return of a specific player are more than welcome to.

The other responses that I could have included would only serve to echo the thoughts of Dan, Scott, and Gary. Trust is clearly something that most successful, long-lived fantasy leagues have in common. Commissioners trust their owners, and owners trust each other as well as their commissioners.

This Week's Question: What Is the Best Sales Pitch You Can Make for Keeper and/or Dynasty Leagues?

Your new word for the day is redraftercentrism, which can be defined as the erroneous belief that the fantasy football universe revolves around a dense gravitational core of redrafter leagues in the middle, with keeper leagues and dynasty leagues circling that core in eccentric orbits that keep them on the outside of many fantasy football discussions.

In case it would be helpful for you to see the word used in an actual paragraph, here goes:

It is easy to see that Mike Davis is guilty of redraftercentrism in the Q&A column that he writes for FFToday. He makes distinctions between performance leagues and scoring-only leagues; he talks about leagues that give points per reception and leagues that don't; he discusses both serpentine drafts and auction drafts--but he fails to give questions that are relevant to keeper and dynasty leagues nearly as much attention as the questions that are relevant to redrafter leagues.

The funny thing about last week's column was that the answer section received more feedback than the question section. Readers who were too late to have descriptions of their keeper leagues included in the column continued writing to me days after it was finished and posted.

The common theme of these belated notes was that it was a breath of fresh air to see the Q&A column specifically engaging issues related to keeper leagues because these leagues get so little attention despite being "way more fun," "so much more fun," or "loads more fun" than redrafter leagues.

Members of keeper leagues were excited to have their concerns featured in the column, and members of dynasty leagues wrote to ask when I was going to focus on them. For the record, people in dynasty leagues also believe that their style of play is "way more fun," "so much more fun," or "loads more fun" than that of redrafter leagues.

Okay guys, I get it. I haven't given keeper and dynasty leagues as much attention over the years as I should have. I'm sorry, and I'll be happy to feature your questions in the future. But I need specific questions. If I just say that this week's question is "Dynasty leagues," readers are going to scratch their heads and wonder if I really know what a question is.

But a question did occur to me as I read notes from various participants in keeper and dynasty leagues. At some point, almost all of them made a claim similar to this one from Jim: "This is year 3 [of our dynasty league], and it's possibly the most fun I could have in fantasy football."

I trust the owners from keeper and dynasty leagues who say they are having more fun than they ever had in their redrafter leagues, but I find it strange that they don't explain what specifically makes these leagues more fun. The implicit claim is, "Your redrafter league would be more enjoyable for everyone in it if you converted to a keeper/dynasty format."

But no one says why. The argument seems to be, "Trust me, a dynasty league is better. Just ask anyone else in my dynasty league. They're all glad we made the change."

Well, okay--but why are they glad? Can any of you explain the particular details that make keeper/dynasty leagues so much more fun than redrafter leagues? Think of next week's column as a public service announcement on behalf of the keeper/dynasty community. Don't just tell the dedicated redrafters of the world that keeper/dynasty leagues are more fun. Do your best to sell them on the idea by telling them why. I look forward to hearing from you.

Last Man Standing - Week 10 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

If you are still in your Survival Pool, good for you. Most of this week's games are expected to be “tight” with a number of divisional matchups sprinkled in for good measure. The few teams that are favored by large spreads are likely to have been used in a prior week, and now you have to find the game that will allow you to sneak into Week 11. While I have pointed out some heated rivalries during this season as possible LMS picks (divisional battles), most of these reluctant endorsements have backfired, so I want to remind everyone who has survived to this point that if you want to remain in your LMS pool, you have to find that ONE game that is your “lock of the week." With that caveat in mind, look over the following choices and use your best instincts to guide you through the first real test of the season.

Trap Game: Denver at Kansas City

The Chiefs were due for a letdown after four very solid wins. In came a Miami Dolphins team that had remained winless despite playing hard and well against most of their opponents. Who can blame KC for coming out flat against a team that was 0-7? Anyone who chose the Chiefs as their LMS pick last week--that's who! With Tim Tebow and his Broncos visiting Arrowhead on Sunday, Denver might just be in a position to steal a road game. Odds makers give the Chiefs just a slight edge as the home team in a game that pits two teams that are (on paper at least) statistical equals. But the trend of these teams seems to be in opposite directions with KC positioned for a second half run and the Broncos having a Tebow showcase. This game has the makings of a big AVOID for your LMS pick this week, but it will be interesting to watch.

#3: Dallas over Buffalo (6-3, PIT, SD, GB, BUF, HOU, CIN, NO, CAR, NE):

This is a risky pick because the Cowboys are vulnerable to giving up touchdowns through the air, and Fitzpatrick and company have been pretty efficient this season in that category (15 total TD’s through the air). The Bills, however, have a glaring hole in their defense as well, allowing the 4th most rushing TDs in the league this year (10 total), and the 13th most yards per game (120.8 per game). While many fantasy owners are wondering if Felix Jones will be back at running back this week or anytime soon, Jason Garrett will be hard pressed to pull DeMarco Murray after he set a franchise record with 466 yards over the last three games. Combine Murray's potent rushing with Tony Romo’s passing attack and the Bills' offense will be pressured to match the Cowboys’ offensive production in a game that should set the tone for the second half of the season for both teams. In the end though, Jerry Jones should be smiling as the home team takes this one decided by less than a field goal.

#2: Miami over Washington (6-3, SD, AZ, DET, GB, NYG, PIT, JAX, NO, DAL):

I thought about Carolina over Tennessee in this spot as well as St. Louis over Cleveland. But if there was one week that you could probably pick the Miami Dolphins to carry your hopes, it should be this week at home against the Washington Redskins. Miami is playing extremely hard for a team that is only 1-7 and seems to have some leadership from Matt Moore under center. Reggie Bush is taking advantage of his time as a full time running back in the NFL with Daniel Thomas dealing with hamstring issues, and Brandon Marshall may finally have a QB that can get him the ball for the first time since he left Denver three years ago. The only weakness that the Dolphins seem to have is that they currently are ranked 27th against the pass, something that shouldn’t be all that scary with Josh Beck and Rex Grossman coming to town. Roy Helu will most likely start at running back, despite Shanahan’s propensity to frustrate every fantasy owner who has ever chosen one of his RBs. Barring a complete letdown from their first win of the season last week, Miami wins this one running away. “Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, Number one.” At least this week...

#1: Baltimore over Seattle (7-2 SD, PIT, TN, PHL, CIN, GB, DAL, NYG, OAK):

Seattle is good at stopping the run, only giving up 110 yards per game, but their rushing attack has been less than stellar (ranked 30th overall) and will be facing Terrell Suggs #3 ranked defensive unit in that category. The Ravens are also opportunistic and lead the league in fumble recoveries (10 of 19). If this game were to be played in Baltimore, it would be an automatic blowout, but teams going west to Seattle always seem to have trouble. The Ravens need this game to stay in control of their own destiny in the suddenly crowded AFC North and should find that the Seahawks are in a giving mood to their visiting foes. So take Suggs and Company on the road since it will be the defenses that set the tone in this game.

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