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Mike Davis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Q & A - Week 9: Positional Quotas

Last Week's Question: Do rookies work as a special roster category in fantasy football?

In Week 8, I shared Burbs' question concerning fantasy leagues that give rookies special treatment. Each year, Burbs' league holds a special draft for rookies. The curveball they throw into their system is that owners can protect the rookies they draft for up to 3 years provided they do not start them.

I gather from his description that owners who start their rookies only get to hold onto them for the remainder of the season in which they have their first start. However, I am not 100% clear in my own mind how the protection scheme works.

Whatever the case, all Burbs wanted was the name of a league-hosting website that would make it easy for the commissioner of his league to track which rookies from 2012 will still be protected in 2013 and which ones will revert back to the general pool of players. I think he just needs a system that will automatically flag rookies that have been started at least once.

Even if that specific mechanic isn't built into any league-hosting websites, I suspect that multiple sites must have customizable features that would make it easy for the commissioner to keep tabs on which rookies saw action and which ones remained on the bench for the entire season.

I am frankly surprised that no one wrote in with a description of how they would accomplish this task on hosting services x, y, and z. Maybe it's more difficult to pull off than I imagine, or perhaps I have misunderstood Burbs' problem on a fundamental level.

My apologies to Burbs and the rest of his league if I misconstrued what sort of question he was asking. But if I have rephrased the question correctly above, and if anyone has a specific recommendation to make, I will be happy to forward any relevant answers to Burbs.

Because the question Burbs sent in was so specific, I opened it up in the hope of getting readers to share their thoughts about leagues that treat rookies as a separate category (whether for scoring purposes or roster requirements). Van was not excited about the idea:

Let's see if I have this straight. Cam Newton got off to a sensational start in 2011. RG3 has been just as impressive in 2012. So now we make it mandatory for owners to draft a rookie each year? Talk about short-term memory. Remember when Peyton Manning was a rookie? 56% completion rate. More picks than TDs. 22 sacks. Everyone knew he was going to be great, but he went through some growing pains first. If you drafted him in 1998, it was because you were in a keeper league and you expected him to pay dividends down the line, not because you had to pick up a rookie. Why fix what isn't broken?

My apologies to the readers of this column if it sounded as if I was trying to impose rookies on leagues that did not want them as a category. I was merely attempting to open the conversational gates to those who wanted to share their comments about special rules for rookies in fantasy football even if the comments were not entirely relevant to Burbs' question.

Richie speaks capably for those who wanted to express their satisfaction with having a rookie category in their leagues:

Our league of 16 teams has had a rookie category since 1995.

The league has always had a rotisserie component, but close to a decade ago began a head-to-head side as well...opening up chances to win some cash for all players.

The rookie category adds an exciting dynamic to the draft in that suddenly a rookie kicker is probably more valuable than a 3rd rb or 4th wr.

RGIII and Andrew Luck were both taken in the top 8 this year. I lucked out and my flyer on Russell Wilson in round 6 worked out.

Each team starts:
1 qb
2 rb
3 wr
1 te
1 k
1 def/st
1 offensive rookie

If keeping rookies in a separate category does not interest you, you definitely shouldn't do it. But from where I sit, Richie's league sounds like a fun variation on the FF theme that I just haven't gotten around to trying yet.

I guess the only question I have about a league like Richie's is, "Does any rookie QB with a reasonable chance of starting ever go undrafted?" QBs are, after all, the highest scoring players in most scoring systems. The reason RBs are often valued more highly than QBs is not because they score more points, but because there are fewer good ones to go around. Everybody in a 14-team league can start a decent QB, but not everybody can start two productive RBs. So I can imagine some FFers complaining about a rookie category because even in 2012, which has an exceptionally high number of active rookie QBs, some FFers would have to settle for rookies at other positions. Perhaps the scores generated by rookies in Richie's league go through some sort of calculation to balance relative value across positions. Or perhaps, given the stress of the QB position, it is safer to go with a kicker or a running back who will definitely see some action instead of taking a chance on the next Ryan Leaf getting the hook. Intriguing possibilities.

This Week's Question: How do we like "positional quotas"?

Earlier this season (in Weeks 2 & 3), I mentioned that many leagues have abandoned the old-school model of requiring owners to keep a certain number of players at each position on their rosters. When I started playing FF in the late 90s, the first league I joined had 16-man rosters. Each week, you started 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 Def/ST. And everybody's bench had the same positions as their lineup because we were all required to carry exactly 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs, 2 K, and 2 Def/ST.

I don't know how many leagues like that are still around, but as I joined various leagues in the years that followed, I noticed that even though all leagues defined lineups in very specific ways, fewer and fewer of them bothered to define how rosters should look. If I only wanted to carry one kicker or one QB, that was my decision. In the event of bye weeks or injuries, it was my responsibility to scramble for a replacement player. It was not the job of the commissioner or the league to require me to carry backups at every position.

Matthew reminded me of my first fantasy league when he wrote in with this reminder that for some leagues, roster rules are more involved than a simple cap on the maximum number of players:

I wanted to get your opinion on my league’s fixed rosters. My league has been in existence for 19 years now. We have always had strict roster limitations in that every team needs 2 QB’s, 3 RB’s, 4 WR’s, 2 TE’s, 2 K’s, and 2 DEF, plus one extra of any position (start 1 QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE,1K, 1D). Many people tell me we are too strict. But I think this adds a lot of thought into the game. This prevents a team from going out and picking up every available RB, for example. So when MJD gets hurt and someone wants to pick up Jennings , they need to really think about it since they will be dropping probably a RB or WR to do so. The emphasis becomes managing who you drafted with a handful of adjustments instead of who can pick up the most free agents, hoping that 1 of them actually pans out. Sometimes, someone may have a bye week issue they did not anticipate, and may have to drop a player they actually want to keep just because they need a body to fill in.

One of the benefits I see from this is that there are always serviceable RB’s on the waiver wire since you can’t cut your back up TE to pick up the week’s hot RB.

Currently, Andre Brown, Daryl Richardson, Felix Jones, DeAngelo Williams, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Danny Woodhead are all free agents. None of them are anything to get excited about, but if you were in a pinch, you could start one of these guys.

I guess the way I see it, if someone decides to pick up every hot pick up every week, they are eventually going to find one that works out. I don’t want someone rewarded simply because they are more willing to spend the $5 pick up fee 20 times if necessary to get one good player.

By the way, if a player goes on IR, then that owner as first crack at any pick up. That way if you lose a player for the season, you get an advantage over everyone else.

Matthew, the first thing I would advise you to do is to check out my column from Week 3, in which a number of readers responded to concerns about FFers who try to get ahead by jumping on "the flavor of the week." These responses are in many ways relevant to the concern you raise in your next-to-last paragraph.

However, I would also like to hear more general feedback from the FFToday community about leagues that require owners to build particular rosters (and not just particular lineups). I haven't been in a league that required everyone to own 2 kickers in years, and to be honest, I think I sort of miss it. It was an interesting wrinkle that did (as you point out) make for a waiver wire with a different feel.

I hope some readers who are still using this model will stick up for it. Of course, I also hope to hear from some readers who have removed such stipulations from their league (especially if they remember why they decided to make things more flexible).

Last Man Standing - Week 9 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

From one person on the East Coast to everyone else who is dealing with the fallout from Sandy, I wish you and yours a speedy recovery. Let’s look forward to this weekend’s NFL games and the distraction they can provide from the cleanup at hand.

Trap Game: Miami at Indianapolis (5-3, Wash, CLE, TB, Den, ATL, SF, NYG, NO):
The last time the Colts played the Dolphins was 2009, when Peyton Manning came to Miami and beat Chad Pennington and company 27-23. Today, Andrew Luck will lead his surprisingly resilient 4-3 Colts against the equally surprising 4-3 Dolphins, who are led by their own rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill left last week’s blowout of the Jets after sustaining a bone bruise, but he was back at practice (although limited) and is expected to be behind center for this winnable game on the road. He should continue to get help from a Dolphins defense that has allowed only 18 points a game (3rd overall) but yielded over 360 yards per game (21st overall). As for Luck, he is improving at reading coverages, but still has problems with dropped balls and slightly off target throws. This will be a close game and fun to watch, and as such warrants the “upset” watch, but the favored Fins should pull this one out with a defensive stand towards the end of the game.

#3: San Diego over Kansas City (7-1: PHI, TB, CHI, AZ, HOU, BAL, GB, SF):
Normally I’d say to avoid this game. But this year’s Chiefs have “given” away their season with a league-leading MINUS eighteen in net giveaways. While the Chiefs have statistically outgained the San Diego offense by more than 40 yards per game on average, they have scored 5 points less per game going into this divisional contest. On a personnel note, Vincent Brown was expected to return to active duty after suffering a pre-season injury, but he’ll still be watching from the sidelines when Phillips Rivers leads his teammates onto the field at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday. In the meantime, look for Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates to be on the receiving end of two or more touchdowns as the Chiefs do not defend the end zone well against the pass.

#2: Atlanta over Dallas (5-3: CHI, Wash, NO, HOU, SF, PIT, MIN, NE):
The undefeated Falcons host Tony Romo and company. While there may be other games that provide similar survival pool opportunities, none of them will be as exciting as Matt Ryan going head to head with a Dallas defense that is third in passing defense and 2nd overall in TDs allowed through the air (seven). It’s always interesting to see whether Romo’s Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde shows up on game day, but if he can hold it together, the Cowboys have a chance to steal one in Hotlanta. However, if Romo's recent history is any indicator, the Falcons should be safe from the losing bug for at least one more week.

#1: Green Bay over Arizona (7-1: HOU, SF, IND, BAL, NYG, ATL, NE, CHI):
Arizona is seventh in total points allowed, but past success against other teams is no guarantee of future results, especially against Aaron Rodgers and his quick-strike offense. While the Packers haven’t been scoring at will as in the past two seasons, they have done well enough this season to offset the loss of Cedric Benson with James Starks and Alex Green. The easiest way for the Packers to win this game at home would be for Benson’s replacements to step it up against Arizona's vulnerable rush defense (21st overall). Most importantly, if the 24-3 whipping that that the 49ers gave Arizona last week really is a blueprint for success, then the Pack should have no trouble with Skelton and company.

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