Last Week's Question: What Measures Can
Fantasy Leagues Take to Salvage Week 17 of the Regular Season?
Last week's column
featured a proposal from Tim, who wants his league to continue
scheduling its championship game for Week 17--but would like to
take the stress out of setting lineups for owners of NFL players
who may sit out (or see limited action) because the Week 17 game
is meaningless for their franchise.
Tim has considered changing to a "team player" concept
for the final week of the season--seemingly as a direct response
to an owner who was annoyed that Michael Vick sat for Kevin Kolb
in Week 17 of 2010. Tim's argument for the "team player"
model is that it would relieve stress from owners who are too
busy traveling over the holidays to keep up with whether their
players are going to start or not.
My own response to Tim's idea appears near the end of last week's
column, and the readers I heard from this week only reinforced
my opinion that the "team player" approach is not a
particularly useful answer for the problems presented by Week
Michael does a nice job of covering the objections of most readers
before moving on to his own suggestions for Tim:
First, in my opinion, 'teamQB', etc. is a bad idea in the first
place (eliminating not only backups, but then also shifting value
of QBs who have more viable backups). Also, I have seen 'teamTE'
in the past. With so many teams going to 2 TE systems (NE most
famously), I would urge against this practice as well.
Ok, with that out of the way, I do not think you can change the
ownership rules in the last week. It is highly unlikely that the
team owning Kolb and Vick last year would oppose each other in
Week 17, but it is possible and therefore must be taken into account.
Here are some ways I think you could [take some of the stress
out of setting lineups for fantasy championships in Week 17]:
The third option is my favorite, but I think you can combine all
- Designate alternates: Allow an owner to start Vick, but
if he does not play, then the alternate player automatically moves
up. The owners would have to be transparent about who their initial
starter is. This does not help though if the starter plays 1 series
and leaves (in which case the switch to the alternate would not
happen)--a risk that would have to be weighed.
- Move the trade deadline closer to the playoffs: This
would allow owners to potentially trade guys who may be sitting
in Week 17 before they get into the playoffs. There are always
teams fighting for that last playoff spot that would gladly take
an initial upgrade in points even if it may cost them in the playoffs
(since they have to get there first). This also gives an extra
advantage to owners who wrap up a playoff bid early.
- 2-week scoring: Instead of making the playoffs EITHER
wk16 or wk17, make the championship wk16+wk17. This allows an
accumulation of points, and that Vick owner likely gets at least
1 week of Vick (starters can be independently assigned for each
week as normal).
Although readers like Michael wanted to help Tim out of his bind,
most readers who still cling to a Week 17 championship think that
Tim's league should simply "suck it up" or "deal
with the challenge." Shaun manages to speak for this crowd
without sounding antagonistic:
My 14-team PPR league has been playing together with our championship
matchup in week 17 since our inception. Some complain, but for
the most part we love it this way. This separates the good fantasy
players from the bad ones and makes you care all the way to the
end. People need to be more proactive and start thinking 3-4 weeks
in advance and pull from past experience which dictates that NFL
teams that have secured their playoff spots will be resting their
key players after the first half of those Week 17 games.
There may be something to the idea that owners who need to impose
special rules in order to make Week 17 palatable probably should
not be playing in Week 17 at all. Leagues that want to try making
adjustments in Week 17 can start with any or all of Michael's suggestions.
However, since Michael is merely pitching ideas (instead of speaking
from experience), I would
like to hear from any commissioners who experiment with his
I can remember being beaten by the likes of a Matt Hasselbeck
300-yard, 4-td explosion that felt like it came out of nowhere.
I learned a valuable lesson and now make the proper provisions
for Week 17. I have Greg Jennings on my team this year and prior
to his injury was planning ahead for Week 17 which (for the record)
never had me putting Jennings in my lineup.
Furthermore, I noticed last week that an owner released Kendall
Hunter on waivers, and I immediately scooped him up with full
intention to play him as a flex or 2nd rb in Week 17. SF plays
the Rams that week, and I know Gore will be lucky to get 5 touches
(if any) in a meaningless game against the league's worst rush
These [decisions are] what fantasy is all about.......fun isn't
it? And when it is fun, shouldn't we try to make it last as long
as we can?
With the advent of smart phones with twitter these days, is there
really an excuse for not being able to manage the last-minute
information needed to make the right line-up call moments before
stepping on that plane or tuning out for a second with the family
for taking a bite of that stuffed turkey? I didn't think so. I
think folks need to stop complaining and just embrace week 17
for what it is. I know I do now.
This Week's Question: Was There an Upset
in Your Fantasy Playoffs Akin to the Chiefs' Upset of the Packers?
Most fantasy leagues have a clear frontrunner that emerges as
the consensus favorite fairly early in the season (by Week 6 or
so). These frontrunners almost always make the playoffs, but tend
not to win championships as often as we might expect. Maybe the
owners become complacent and fail to be as active on the wire
as they should be. Maybe a couple of injuries to key players reduce
a great fantasy squad to mediocrity. Or maybe the best team in
the league just happens to have its worst performance against
an ordinary team on its best day of the season.
There are so many variables at play that no one is really shocked
when the best team in the league fails to take home a championship.
Being the best team only means having the best shot at the trophy.
Nothing is guaranteed in fantasy football (just as there are no
guarantees in the NFL).
But even if there is nothing surprising about seeing the best
team in a fantasy league eliminated from the playoffs by a lesser
squad, some fantasy upsets qualify as genuine stunners. These
upsets cause the kind of jaw-dropping that we saw with Kansas
City's upset of the Packers. The Packers are the consensus favorite
to win the NFL championship, and they have looked like the best
team in the league for most of the season. Considering how difficult
it is for teams to go undefeated in the NFL, it isn't surprising
that the mighty Packers lost a game--but the fact that the loss
came against the lowly Chiefs has left a number of fans scratching
This week, I am calling upon readers to send
me the scores from the most surprising upsets in their fantasy
playoffs. I am not interested in games in which great teams lost
to mediocre teams. I do not care about bad teams that managed
to squeak past mediocre teams. I am after the scores (and more
importantly the lineups) from fantasy playoff matches in which
marginal playoff teams managed to defeat truly impressive fantasy
I will be particularly grateful to readers who can provide me
with a means of corroborating the scores/lineups/rosters they
send--such as links to their league websites or contact information
for the owners involved. It might be a fun exercise for some readers
to come up with hypothetical matchups between imaginary fantasy
squads in Weeks 14, 15, and 16, but fantasy teams are already
imaginary enough for my taste. I am interested in genuine fantasy
playoff upsets, not imaginary fantasy matchups.
If all goes according to plan, my Week 17 column will feature
the single greatest playoff upset of 2011 in the world of fantasy
football. The numbers from that game may have a palliative effect
on those of us who feel we were robbed of the championship by
a team that did not deserve to beat us. Perhaps the bitter taste
in many of our mouths will be less bitter when we see which owner
out there was even more outrageously robbed than we were.
(Courtesy of Matthew
To all of you who have remained alive in your LMS pools to this
point in the season, you have done exceptionally well. Our LMS
pool in our normal fantasy league was won this week by yours truly
with his Arizona pick. The irony is that the other team owner
left in the LMS pool went with my #2 choice last week (Tennessee).
Oh well, you can’t get them right all of the time...
#3: Washington over Minnesota
(11-4, PIT, SD, GB, BUF, HOU, CIN, NO, CAR, NE, DAL, DET, NYJ,
This game isn’t high on NBC’s list to “flex”
to the Sunday Night Game of the week, but if you are stuck and
have used my first two choices as well as the NE, PIT, BAL, etc.
picks by this point in the season, Mike Shanahan and his shenanigans
might be just the pick for you. This game will not be flashy,
but players like Santana Moss and Percy Harvin may break a catch
or two for long touchdown runs respectively. Some players, like
Rex Grossman and others, may just be starting/playing their second-to-last
game on their team or possibly in the NFL in spite of what transpires
in the last few weeks. They’ll be giving it their all to
earn the right to return in 2012.
#2: Houston over Indianapolis
(11-4, SD, AZ, DET, GB, NYG, PIT, JAX, NO, DAL, MIA, NE, CIN,
SF, BAL, TEN):
Indianapolis may have caught Tennessee “napping”
last week, but don’t look for Arian Foster to take any plays
off against this divisional rival. Houston is 10-4 with a chance
at the #1 seed (most likely the #2 with NE in front with only
MIA and BUF to play), so the chance of a new winning streak in
Lukoil Stadium is slim to almost nil. The Texans have a strong
defense (3rd in total points per game and 2nd in yards allowed
per game). Put that defense up against an Indy offense that is
31st in total yards per game (283 yards per game) and the formula
for a blowout is established. Take the Texans as a surprisingly
safe road pick against a normally challenging division rival.
#1: Carolina over Tampa Bay
(12-3 SD, PIT, TN, PHL, CIN, GB, DAL, NYG, OAK, BAL, SF, ATL,
NE, NYJ, ARI):
Cam Newton is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the
NFL for many years to come. And unfortunately for the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, they will get to face him twice a year for probably
the next 7 to 10 years (barring injury). That said, this game
will be more about what each team’s defense is lacking than
what each offense is capable of. The Bucs' defense has given up
the 2nd most points and 3rd most yards per game in the league--something
that is unheard of for a normally stingy Tampa Defense. And while
the Panther D is average at best in every statistical category
(17th to 25th), Josh Freeman and company don’t seem to present
nearly the matchup problem for them that Newton presents for the
Bucs. Take the Panthers at home as these up-and-comers start to
get comfortable winning games in December when they mean the most.
For responses to this month's
fantasy question please email