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Mike Davis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Q & A - Week 5: Is Fantasy Football Broken?

Last Week's Question: Cumulative Points in Leagues with Doubleheaders

In last week's column, I shared Tim's question about cumulative points in leagues with occasional doubleheaders. Tim's league decided to have doubleheaders in Weeks 2-4 of the 2012 season, but some of the owners were surprised to see their cumulative point totals for the season skyrocketing as they played their doubleheaders starting in Week 2.

Tim did not send me his scores, but let's say his team scored 90 points in Week 1, 95 in Week 2, 100 in Week 3, and 105 in Week 4.

If each game counted once, his cumulative point total at the end of Week 4 would be 390.

However, the website that tracked his scores told him that he had 90 total points after Week 1, 280 points after Week 2 (90 + 95 + 95), 480 points after Week 3 (90 + 95 + 95 + 100 + 100), and 690 points after Week 4 (you do the math!).

There are plenty of head-to-head leagues in which the method of cumulative point calculation for doubleheaders would not make any difference. Advancing to the playoffs in most head-to-head leagues (as in the NFL) is tied to the win-loss record, not total points. (Admittedly, total points may be resorted to as a tiebreaker, but that is not the crux of Tim's problem.)

Tim participates in a hybrid league that awards a couple of playoff spots to teams based on their cumulative points rather than their number of wins. In such leagues, the question of whether to count the scores from doubleheader games once or twice can matter a great deal.

It's hard for people to give unbiased answers to questions such as this once the season is underway. Owners of the Chicago Bear defense would probably love to see the scores from weeks 2-4 counted twice towards their season totals. Owners of Greg Jennings . . . not so much.

Martin's experience is similar to what almost everyone else had to say:

We have three doubleheaders each season to give us a full sixteen games. The website counts those games double on our cumulative points even though the commissioner says he didn't set things up that way. It's just the way the website works by default. It hasn't mattered for us. I think we use total points as our fourth or fifth tiebreaker for [seeding in the playoffs, but] it hasn't come up for us.

Martin speaks for almost everyone who wrote in, but Sam takes issue with the idea:

It would be weird if the first quarter of a football game was thirty minutes long and the next three quarters were fifteen minutes each.

That is exactly what Tim's league sounds like it is doing to me. They are just arbitrarily making the first quarter of the season count for twice as much as the other three quarters.

A football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Do we all think it's time to give up on Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden just because they are getting off to a slow start? I wouldn't give up on either one after just 4 games, but in Tim's league, they've already played 7.

In my opinion, we draft players for the whole season, not for magical weeks when their scores get counted twice.

Maybe it won't make any difference, but I see spikes in fantasy football scores all the time. If I lose to a division rival 150 to 100 in Week 4 and then beat him 150 to 100 in Week 8, then I think we are about equal. But if you double the score in Week 4 and not the one from Week 8, then he ends up with 400 to my 350. Weak.

I would not play in a league like that.

I see how this could be a hot potato of a question in hybrid leagues that send teams to the playoffs based on total points. Unfortunately, my own experience with sporadic doubleheaders is limited to leagues that only use points as tiebreakers (like Martin's league). We have had playoff questions come down to total points in the past, and the fact that some weeks get counted once whereas others get counted twice was not an issue so far as I know.

Since Tim's question did not reach me until after the Week 2 games had already been played, it's clear that this question was not resolved far enough in advance. I told Tim that in my experience, it is "normal" to count the scores from doubleheaders twice--but I should stress that I do not know whether that is "normal" in hybrid head-to-head leagues that award some playoff spots to teams based on total points.

Unfortunately, I did not hear from anyone in such a league. Sam raises what I would call fair hypothetical objections, but he wrote in to let me know what he "would" do if his league incorporated such a scoring mechanism, not what his league actually did to handle the problem.
Best of luck to you and your league, Tim. I'm sorry I cannot offer a more experience-based discussion of the subject.

This Week's Question: Is Fantasy Football Broken?

Dropped passes and busted routes are bugging Scott this week, and he wants to know what he can do about them:

I had the lead in my fantasy game going into Monday Night. I lost because my opponent had Dez Bryant, which makes me feel like fantasy football is broken.

Bryant had a HORRIBLE game. He dropped passes. He miscommunicated with Romo. He blew a simple route that resulted in a pick 6 for Charles Tillman.

But at the end of the game, he had his best stats of 2012. It was the first time all year he got more than 100 yards. He still hasn't scored a TD, but he did get into the end zone on a two-point conversion.

The Cowboys only went for two because they were so far behind. And why were they behind? Because of Dez Bryant dropping passes and not running proper routes. That's why.

Bryant hurt his team more in Week 4 than he helped them, but the stat line says it was his best game of the season. How dumb is that?

QBs get deductions for interceptions. RBs get deductions for fumbles. Even kickers get deductions for missed extra points. So why don't WRs get deductions for dropped balls or for running the wrong routes?

I am not sure what to say about Scott's concern with busted routes. I would not trust Tony Romo to tell me whether Bryant ran the wrong route, and I certainly would not trust Bryant himself. I might trust Jason Garrett, but I can't escape the feeling that he has more important things to do than to adjust scores in Scott's fantasy league.

But as for the idea of penalizing receivers for dropped passes, I wonder if more leagues are doing such a thing now than when I asked a similar question years ago. It's a lot easier to get fairly reliable information about targets and dropped passes than it used to be, so maybe it has become more common for leagues to penalize receivers for drops. If your league deducts points from receivers for dropping passes, I would like to know how many points you deduct and whether you rely on STATS LLC or some other source for your data.

Last Man Standing - Week 5 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: Atlanta at Washington (1-2, Wash, CLE, TB, Den)
Matty “Ice” has his Falcons soaring against defenses through the air, and while Roddy White and Julio Jones should strike fear in the hearts of a secondary that has given up over 1300 yards in just 4 games (326 a game), this Falcons team is definitely more effective in the dome at home than in the open air on natural turf. You probably weren’t going to touch this game unless you have used up the below three choices, but beware, the Redskins would like nothing more than to surprise a Falcons team that needed a last-minute field goal in Week 4 to beat the 1-3 Carolina Panthers.

#3: Houston at New York Jets (3-1: PHI, TB, CHI, AZ)
You’ve probably used Houston by this week, but if you haven’t, do it with comfort. This Wade Phillips Texans defense is so dominating that both Sanchez and Tebow could be benched before the end of the game. Yes, benched. After putting up zero, bupkis, nada, zilch, a big fat goose egg against the Niners in Week 4, Rex Ryan must be pulling his hair out trying to figure out a way to move the ball against the number one ranked defense in the league. This one is a no-brainer, but I’ve already picked Houston in my #1 and #2 slots in prior weeks.

#2: San Francisco over Buffalo (2-2: CHI, Wash, NO, HOU)
Buffalo’s defense was expected to be improved with the addition of Mario Williams and company. But last week the Patriots torched them for 243 yards and three touchdowns on the ground by Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden (who?). As such, it sure looks like Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter won’t have much of a problem putting up at least 125 yards and two scores while their stifling defense (3rd overall) shuts down Ryan Fitzpatrick and company. So take the Niners as they return from two weeks on the road.

#1: New York Giants over Cleveland (3-1: HOU, SF, IND, BAL)
Many Eagles fans have said that the Giants lost last week’s game twice. Maybe they did. But this is their week to lick their wounds against a defense that yields 24.5 points a game. Victor Cruz with his league-leading receptions and targets should slice the Browns defense for a big day. Meanwhile, Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson may have decent days (statistically speaking) against a defense that has given up an average of 255 yards in the air and 118 yards on the ground weekly. Unless the Giants are looking past the winless Browns to next week’s NFC Championship Game rematch, this is the week to take the G-Men.

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