Last Week's Question: Is Fantasy Football
In last week's column,
I shared the complaint of a reader named Scott, who suggested that
Dez Bryant should have been penalized in fantasy leagues for dropping
passes and running the wrong routes during the Monday night game
in Week 4. Scott's note concludes: "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?"
As I pointed out in last week's column, it is extremely difficult
to imagine anyone knowledgeable and trustworthy enough to serve
as the final authority on whether receivers really are running their
routes incorrectly. However, since I see stats about drops far more
commonly now (both online and during game broadcasts) than I used
to, I thought it might be the case that a few leagues would have
moved in the direction that Scott maps out. (As an example, I have
Roddy White in one of my leagues. The latest KFFL.com update I received
about him is this: "Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White, who led
the league with 15 drops last season, has just one so far in 2012.")
So are FF commissioners suddenly paying attention to dropped passes
as a statistically significant category? If any of them are, they
did not respond to last week's column.
I heard from exactly ZERO commissioners who have instituted point
deductions for dropped passes in their leagues. This suggests that
the answer to the question "Is fantasy football broken?",
in most leagues at least, is a resounding NO.
I did hear from a number of readers who shrugged off Scott's argument.
Of these replies, Marc's was the most evenhanded:
Honestly, and no disrespect meant, Scott sounds
like he's just bitter because he lost a fantasy match-up on a Monday
night. Happens to everyone, doesn't it? At what point do you start
making Fantasy Football [too] complicated to enjoy by micro-managing
your league's scoring settings? Do we start penalizing LB's in IDP
leagues for missing tackles? What about penalties acquired by players?
How about we start penalizing corners for pass interference calls?
Or perhaps false start/illegal motion penalties by TE's?
Do we start discounting the garbage yards/TD's acquired by QB's
at the end of a blowout when in fact that QB has had a poor performance
up until the last 5 minutes of the game, and the opposing defense
has relaxed a bit? Anyone who has played this game for awhile has
at some point reaped those type of rewards, and probably won a FF
match-up or two just because of the garbage yards.
There are a kazillion different stats kept on players these days.
We certainly can't expect every possible option to be available
in the league settings. I'd sure hate to be the Commish who has
to look up every stat on players and adjust scoring if that particular
option wasn't available in his online league's scoring settings.
Lets try and keep this game fun, and realize that sometimes, it's
just not fair.
Marc speaks for a chorus of readers, but I encountered some other
viewpoints. As I indicated in last week's column, it can be just
as challenging to agree about which statistical source to trust
for scoring purposes in a league as it is to incorporate a new scoring
category. Michael spoke to this part of the question:
It is a tough thing to account for drops as
too many different sites are not consistent in how they are determined.
Until the NFL recognizes it as an official stat, it will be hard
to convince my leaguemates to utilize them. A "cleaner"
solution is to utilize a target % bonus (targets are much more consistently
done). Put the bonus at 75% of targets caught or if the league is
more granular, a sliding scale from negative points (say at 25%)
and up. The league will have to consider the shifts that such a
system will cause though. Much like in PPR, possession WRs who get
more of the "safe" short passes will see their scores
increase, reducing the value of the riskier long ball guys. Atlanta
makes a great example as such a system would help Roddy White while
hurting Julio Jones. It is up to the league whether this is a good
thing or a bad thing.
James is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Scott. He has
no interest in seeing deductions for dropped passes. In fact, he
does not understand why other leagues have any deductions at all,
since there is no way for legitimately earned points in a football
game to be taken off the scoreboard:
Our league is into its 22nd year, same 10 owners,
high school buddies, and we’ve kept our scoring pretty basic
since day one. I hear lots of chatter around the office and elsewhere
about scores [in other leagues--scores that go] well into the 100’s.
It’s like they get points if their guy steps on the field
or swigs from the Gatorade bottle. A great week for us is about
50-60 pts, average is 30-40pts. Posting a 100 is like the holy grail.
Only been done few times in our history. And what’s up with
getting negative points? Never understood that either; football
is about scoring.
Now I think about it, we probably started out this way because all
we had was the newspaper (USA Today was the official one) to tally
up scores, then put into a word document, print, and fax to the
owners…..and that was my job, not a fun one either…..oh
the good ol' days!
I love to hear from old school FFers like James, especially when
they speak for the majority, as James does with his disdain for
dropped passes resulting in deductions. I don't know whether the
category of dropped passes will ever be important in fantasy football,
but for the time being, it seems that this idea can hit fantasy
commissioners square in the chest and still bounce harmlessly to
This Week's Question: Can you improve Dr.
Frankenbode's Super Happy Funtime League?
Michael Bode has been an avid reader of the FFToday website for
years. He has contributed so many thoughtful and balanced responses
to various questions posed in this column that I think of him as
a "regularly featured guest contributor."
he wrote to me with a question of his own, and I hope that readers
of this column who have benefited from his insights over the years
will be able to help him with his quandary. He wants to set up
a new fantasy league for next year, and he hopes to have all the
kinks worked out well in advance.
I like simple, streamlined fantasy leagues, but I also like intricate
and complicated leagues. The description that Michael outlines
below leaves no doubt which kind of league he is trying to set
up, so please offer feedback that is in the spirit of what he
is obviously trying to achieve. (It looks to me like he is after
a balance of intricacy, fun, and fairness, and I know that most
readers of this column value at least two of those characteristics).
Last Man Standing - Week 6
(Courtesy of Matthew
I am trying to set up a new style league for
next season. I want it to be a bit complex though, so I am already
starting to think about how the underpinnings of it should work.
General Idea: It will be a rotisserie style league but on a week-to-week
basis rather than cumulative. Imagine a 12-team league in which
you can accumulate 12 points per category based on your scores
in week 1. In week 2, every category resets. So, you can accumulate
12 points per category based on your scores in week 2. And so
on. The cumulative standings add up your scores from each of these
weeks. Top tier of scores (top 4 if 12 teams) then compete in
a 3-week playoff done in the same manner to close the season (weeks
Ok, that part is all setup. It's more simple than it sounds and
really makes it more fun (in my opinion) as you are always competing
against the entire league rather than just 1 opponent, but if
your players happen to tank one week, then you are not as penalized
as you would be in a pure rotisserie-style league as you can recover
in all categories rather than "chasing" one.
The complex/interesting portion: I want this to be an auction-limit
league. So, every player has a price and every team has a budget.
Teams can overlap players, and every team can change their lineup
on a week-to-week basis based on a changing set of prices for
the players. However, I also want to give an advantage to the
teams that see and grab the player "about to bust out"
before they bust out (like owners who nabbed RGIII before week
1). So, while the auction price will change on a week-to-week
basis for players, I want the team to be able to "lock in"
a price for the players they had the week before (all players
must be started). At the same time, I am debating whether there
should be a limit to how long a "lock" should last.
1. Does anyone out there have a league similar to this style?
What hosting websites do you use, or do you utilize the good old-fashioned
2. How many weeks do teams allow players to be "locked"?
What byproducts of the "lock" have people seen?
3. How do leagues deal with players who are "locked"
during bye weeks? All players must be started, so a team would
theoretically lose their bargain through the bye week. That doesn't
seem fair. What about injuries?
Some answers to Michael's
questions may be too long/detailed/specific for inclusion
in next week's column. Any readers who want me to pass along their
answers to Michael without including them in the column should
direct me to do so. If you have more general answers about what
you would like to see in whatever fantasy league you fantasize
about starting at some point in the future, those answers might
be helpful for Michael and interesting to the entire FFToday community.
Trap Game: San Francisco over NY Giants (3-2,
Wash, CLE, TB, Den, ATL):
San Francisco has had this game circled on their schedule since
it came out as they would like nothing better than to “make
up” for last year’s loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship
game. But in spite of the Giants’ 25th-ranked rushing defense
that gives up 4.5 yards per carry and a secondary that is one injury
away from actually being the complete sieve that it resembles, Eli
Manning just might be able to squeak out the win against a 49ers
defense that is 2nd overall (262.8 yards per game) and best at points
against (allowing only 68 all season or less than 14 per game).
The Giants are 2nd in total points per game with an average of over
30 points per game and should put a big scare into the Bay area
in spite of their poor defense. This isn’t the Buffalo Bills
or NY Jets that the 49ers will be playing, and while the Giants
are VERY beatable, this one has the makings of a trench battle decided
by one or two turnovers with a strategic “air strike”
by the winning team. My call, take the GMen and the points (they
love being the underdog).
#3: Baltimore over Dallas (4-1: PHI, TB,
CHI, AZ, HOU):
I’m going to confess, I’m not a lover of this game for
a Survival Pool Pick. The Cowboys are coming off their bye and have
had two weeks to get ready for this game. For their part, the Ravens
have been uncharacteristically giving up a ton of yards (over 260
per game), which is something that Tony Romo should be able to exploit.
While Joe Flacco has quietly made the Ravens an offensive team with
an improved passing game, they might find it difficult on Sunday
when they meet the number one ranked defense against the pass in
the Cowboys (who yield only 168 yards per game through the air).
This is going to be a tight game, so use this pick only as a last
#2: Pittsburgh over Tennessee (3-2: CHI,
Wash, NO, HOU, SF):
The Steelers are starting to get healthy. And that’s a good
thing. Rashard Mendenhall has added a boost in the backfield that
was needed to keep the defenses from pinning their ears back and
attacking Ben Roethlisberger. The unfortunate Titans, however, cannot
say the same thing about CJ2K and Matt Hasselback. The Titans offensive
line, despite pains taken in the offseason to acquire Steve Hutchinson,
cannot seem to open big enough holes for the running game. The wide
receivers, short of rookie sensation Kendall Wright, hardly strike
fear into any secondary, let alone a Steelers Secondary that still
packs a punch. All that said, though, don’t expect a total
blowout, as Jared Cook might be able to sneak in a touchdown or
two since the Steelers are softer on the tight ends than they are
on the wide receivers. This should be an easy win at home against
a Titans team that is still trying to figure out how to compete
every week and is last in total points allowed (over 33 per game).
#1: Atlanta over Oakland (4-1: HOU, SF, IND,
Oakland has given up an average of 31 points per game (3rd worst
behind Buffalo and Tennessee). The Falcons average just under 30
per game, and there is nothing in the injury reports to suggest
that fans in Atlanta have anything to worry about this weekend.
Need I say more? If you needed more information, Atlanta has only
turned the ball over three times all year, and the Raiders don’t
exactly frighten Matt Ryan. At this point, the ghost of Al Davis
is probably the most frightening thing about the Raiders. Look for
this one to be on cruise control by halftime as this game plays
completely to Atlanta's strengths.
For responses to this month's fantasy question please email