Last Week's Question: Is it more difficult for commissioners
to veto trades in the wake of the Trent Richardson move?
In my column
for Week 10, I shared a note from Cliff, a commissioner who
thought the Trent Richardson deal was lopsided (in Indy's favor)
when it was first announced. Given Richardson's lackluster performance
with the Colts since the trade, Cliff no longer thinks it was so
lopsided, but the owners in his league won't let him forget his
initial reaction to the Richardson deal whenever he considers vetoing
one of their trade proposals.
Most of the responses I received concerning Cliff's plight shared
my sense that commissioners should only veto trades in cases of
suspected collusion--and not simply on the grounds of perceived
As Mike put it:
No vetoes of any trades unless there is collusion...you
can't veto stupidity. As commissioner in a league, I am no more
an expert on player value than any other league member. Plus, a
team loaded at a particular position may make a lopsided trade to
improve at a weak position. To that owner, he might be giving up
"nothing" (a bench player) for "something" (a
starter). Looking at a trade just player-for-player is shortsighted.
The Richardson trade is a perfect example.
Mark shares Mike's opinion, but takes the time to explain how he
gathers the information he needs to decide whether a trade qualifies
I believe it is up to the commissioner to veto
trades. There are a few conditions that need to exist. First, I
rarely veto trades. The only exception is if I feel there was some
type of collusion involved between the two owners and league integrity
is at stake. This rarely happens, but some have tried. Second, if
I have any questions, I talk to both owners to get the whole story.
If I have depth at RB/WR and I trade Lacy, D. Jax and Kyle Rudolph
for Jimmy Graham, it may seem lopsided, but what if Lacy and D.
Jax are both #4 RB/WR on my team who rarely start and I just improved
my starting TE from Rudolph to Graham? Just an example, but Lacy
and D. Jax may be the #2 RB/WRs on the new team, and Rudolph is
Final point, when you put matters to a vote, owners will generally
vote based on how it affects their team and not on the legitimacy
of the trade. Therefore, the commissioner should always look at
the integrity of the league first and maintain control of the trade
Craig goes even further. For him, it isn't enough to consider swapping
a solid performer on the bench for an iffy starter. It may be that
an owner's motives are completely inscrutable to the commissioner,
and that owner shouldn't have to explain himself:
I am commissioner of our fantasy football keeper
league and have been for the past 8-9 years. Although I have the
authority to void trades, I RARELY DO. I don’t believe it
is my place to decide whether or not the proposed trade is “fair”
(i.e. each side is getting equivalent value). Team A may be making
a trade to win now, for example, while team B may be making a trade
with an eye toward the playoffs, or the future. While the owner
of Team B may know what he is up to, no other might know why he
is making the trade, nor in fact would the owner of team B want
other owners to know. I look only to see whether or not there appears
to be any collusion which will advance one team owner's agenda with
the assistance of his “buddy” to the detriment of the
rest of the league. Throughout most of the year we freely allow
– even encourage – trades to try and keep the competition
level and interest high. It’s worked so far. Our league has
been in existence, continuously, since 1989.
Although we are entering week 10, the competition has been even
enough that all 10 teams still have a shot at the playoffs. We do,
however, prevent trades after Thanksgiving so that no team owner,
now convinced he will not make the playoffs, can aid another team
through a trade with the goal of helping the other team advance
to the playoffs.
Readers should be cautioned that collusion isn't always easy to
spot--and that commissioners have to be careful about incentives
that may be plain as day to the trading partners, but almost invisible
to outsiders. As Jack explains:
I'm the commissioner of my 12-team 1-QB league
and we just yesterday went through this debate as to what power
the commissioner should have with regard to vetoing trades that
appear to be lopsided and possibly could jeopardize the integrity
of the league.
A key detail to understand is that this is a 2-player keeper league
-- if a player is drafted (and never placed on waivers) he can then
be kept at cost the following year.
So, Team A (6-3) traded Eddie Lacy ($30) and Alshon Jeffery ($4)
to Team B (2-7) for Drew Brees and Marshawn Lynch. Drew Brees was
drafted so he could be kept at cost (or just drafted again at the
same price), but Marshawn would be a second year keeper making him
cost roughly $80 to keep (i.e. not keepable).
Initial outcry to this trade was that it's crazy. And upon initial
review they're not wrong! Team B also has Matt Stafford sitting
on the bench, a more than serviceable replacement for Brees, so
essential it's a Stafford for Brees and Lacy for Lynch swap with
a side of Alshon Jeffery. Not so bad! Team A has acquired 2 elite
players to make a push for this year, sacrificing his only two "sexy"
keepers while Team B has acquired great keeper options and arguably
made his team better....?
My only point is that more often than not it is rather difficult
to truly assess the lopsidedness of a trade without looking at it
from every possible angle. And even then it still may not be possible
to fully asses. My viewpoint as the commissioner is that if a trade
does indeed look lopsided after digging into the details, I'm still
hesitant to veto it! If someone has the ability to bring a fellow
owner to agree to a trade that appears to be highway robbery --
then bravo! The only thing that upsets me is that I wasn't able
to take advantage of this golden opportunity. It boils down to the
fact that we are a self-proclaimed league of "gentlemen"
who possess a certain level of knowledge and experience regarding
football that no one would be boneheaded enough to offer (let alone
accept!) a trade that is so lopsided that it requires commissioner
interjection. It's with that mindset that I believe the only trades
that really require veto are ones where there is strong evidence
Of course, even if we all agree that commissioners should butt out
of trades unless there is "strong evidence of collusion,"
anything short of a confession is going to have to be vetoed on
the basis of a judgment call.
Perhaps the best way to test for collusion is to use a trade window
(such as the method Ryan suggests):
I thought I would offer up how we do trades
now ("The Window") because we do not really like the league
votes or the commish votes.
One of most often-heard complaints after a trade goes through is,
"I would have offered so much more for that guy." So why
not force these Monday morning quarterbacks to put up or shut up?
When a trade is agreed upon and reported to the league as a whole,
instead of having a veto/vote, allow a window of time where other
teams may make public counter-offers to either side. After the window
closes, if no other offers have been made, the trade goes through.
If offers have been made, either owner (or perhaps even both) may
pull out of the original deal in order to accept one of the counteroffers,
which will then go through "The Window".
Overall this works fairly well if you have active owners and it
eliminates people hating the commish or the rest of the league.
Only downside to the window is trades have to be done over 24 hours
in advance of rosters locking.
If the first guy to be eliminated from the playoff picture in your
league trades his best player (say, Peyton Manning) for a player
of questionable value (say, Willis McGahee), then the great thing
about the trade window method that Ryan advocates is that someone
else in the league can offer a much better RB for Manning (the likes
of Zac Stacy or even Danny Woodhead) to test whether the Manning
owner is really as desperate for RB help as the Manning-for-McGahee
Special thanks to Ryan for sharing his thoughts on "The Window,"
and thanks to everyone else who wrote in about vetoes (whether I
had a chance to include your comments or not).
This Week's Question: Would you describe
your primary league as consisting of oldtimers, newcomers, or a
mixture of the two?
When I first read this question from James, I didn't think it would
make its way into my column:
Maybe you have already done something on this,
but sometimes I’ve wondered how long other leagues have been
together and their backgrounds If interested, I will go into more
depth later but in a nutshell ours is same ten (+/- couple) high
school friends in our 22nd year……and how times have
changed since 1991.
Instead of reprinting James' question here, I thought I would just
send him a link to the very old Q&A column in which the answers
to a similar question appeared. But then I went back through my
archived articles (all the way back to 2004) without finding that
specific column. Apparently that discussion came up in the long-long
ago, at least two computers ago and too far back even for FFToday's
extensive archives. It might be on a floppy disk in my garage somewhere,
but I'm a little bit too laid up with a pilon fracture in my right
leg to go hunt for it. (Incidentally, pilon fractures suck.)
I remember being pretty much amazed by the responses I received
when I first asked that question. I heard from participants in leagues
that are almost as old as I am. (I was born in 1968, and I received
responses from people who could trace the lineage of their leagues
all the way back to the early '70s.)
I was fortunate to get this column going in the days when fantasy
football was just beginning to take the internet by storm, and I've
consequently had the pleasure of corresponding with plenty of extremely
experienced commissioners (some of whom I end up quoting two or
three times in the course of a single season).
In any case, it's been so long since I posed that question that
I guess the answers will have changed by now. I have a sneaking
suspicion that this column tends to appeal more to an older crowd
than to FF newcomers because I so often encounter questions that
remind me of my own league's transition from being managed by hand
(with weekly email updates) to existing entirely online. But maybe
I'm wrong, and maybe the responses to these questions will prove
1) What is the name of your league?
2) When was your league founded?
3) How many members do you have?
4) What kind of owner turnover have you experienced?
5) Did the league start in a specific geographic location or in
cyberspace? If it started in a specific place, where was that?
6) Are you the commissioner of your league now? If so, how long
have you been commissioner? If not, have you ever served as commissioner
in the past?
7) Other than FFToday.com (which, as we all know, has been a leader
in the fantasy sports community since 1998), what's the oldest online
fantasy information provider that you still use?
8) If there are other questions you might like to see answered,
submit them here. If I get enough interesting questions, I may post
them in a future column.
Survivor Picks - Week 10 (Courtesy of
Trap Game: Kansas City at Denver
You probably used the Denver Broncos earlier in the season, but
if you haven't, this is not the week to be bold in spite of the
almost double-digit betting line. Andy Reid has his Chiefs playing
solid football, and they have been focused on going into Mile High
since before the season started. This week the Chiefs get lucky
with Peyton Manning having limited mobility because of his ankle
injury, so the KC defense should be able to increase their league-leading
sack count (36). Look for this game to be closer than most think,
and when these teams meet in Kansas City in two weeks, there's a
very real possibility that the Chiefs come out on top. No matter
what, this will be the game of the week that everyone will be watching.
So sit back, open that beer and enjoy your snacks. Just don't take
the Broncos and assume that they will run away with it. Indianapolis
has shown the rest of the league the formula for beating Peyton
#3: NY Giants over Green Bay (7-3: KC, NEP,
MN, NO, SF, DEN, MIA, GB, SEA, IND)
The New York Football Giants find themselves all of a sudden in
the middle of a divisional race where 8-8 might just win the NFC
East (a far cry from a few years ago where playing an NFC East team
was feared by almost anyone). The Giants have played well enough
to win the last three weeks and will be tested by a Packer team
that will be without Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb
and possibly two offensive linemen who left last week's game with
injuries. Look for Scott Tolzien (the undrafted rookie from Wisconsin)
to be under center with Matt Flynn (the quarterback who was traded
from Seattle to Oakland, then released and went to Buffalo, only
to be released three weeks ago) as his backup. While both teams
will try and run the ball as much as possible, it most likely will
be the experience of Eli Manning that will make the difference (as
long as he doesn't throw another pick-6). Give the edge to the Giants
at home and bite your nails if you decide to take this game between
two teams that both won Super Bowls in the last three years, but
are uncertain about their chances of making the playoffs this year.
#2: San Diego at Miami (8-2: DEN, PHL, SF,
IND, STL, HOU, GB, SEA, DAL, NYG)
The Miami Dolphins are a mess. This team has hardly been able to
focus on football for the last week and a half because of the Martin/Incognito
hazing incident that highlights how out of control the Dolphin locker
room has become. Ryan Tannehill had such promise coming into the
2013 season after a stellar rookie campaign. Miami acquired Mike
Wallace in the off-season, got off to a 3-0 start, and looked like
the surprise contender of the AFC East. But since then, the Dolphins
have sorely lacked the explosive production of Reggie Bush, have
gone 1-5 in their last six games, and find themselves in danger
of becoming irrelevant. The Chargers come east this week trying
to get back to .500 after two consecutive losses. If Mike Glennon
and a combination of backup running backs can beat the Dolphins,
then Philip Rivers and Ryan Matthews should shred a team that most
NFL insiders expect to have a new GM and coach by New Year's Day
(or perhaps even sooner). On paper these teams are supposed to be
evenly matched, but the distractions for Miami will prove to be
the difference maker in this game.
#1: Houston over Oakland (8-2: IND, OAK,
SEA, DEN, ATL, CHI, SD, SF, CAR, TEN)
If you had asked most experts at the beginning of the season who
would have a better record when these two were scheduled to meet
this week, not a single prognosticator would have selected the
Raiders. Nevertheless, Houston heads into Week 11 with a shockingly
disappointing 2-7 record. Unfortunately for a team that was expected
to make a deep run into this year's playoffs, the Texans have
lost seven games straight, a head coach to a mini-stroke, their
starting running back to a back injury, and a starting quarterback
thanks to a rash of interceptions. But there is hope! Casey Keenum
(the kid who went undrafted after setting records at the University
of Houston) has stepped in over the last three weeks and completed
55% of his passes, passed for over 800 yards and thrown eight
touchdowns during his tenure as the starter. In spite of that,
Gary Kubiak has publicly said that he won't anoint him as his
starter going into 2014 unless he can keep it up. Well, that shouldn't
be hard this week against an Oakland team that has lost four straight
games and may start Matt McGloin in place of Terrelle Pryor (who
is suffering from a sprained knee ligament). No matter who starts
for the Raiders, their 29th-ranked scoring offense will have a
hard time moving the ball against the number one defense in yards
allowed (280.0 per game). Look for Houston to start winning again,
but it will most likely be too little too late this season.
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999. As a landlocked Oklahoman who longs
for the sound of ocean waves, he also writes about ocean colonization
under the pen name Studio Dongo. The latest installment in his science
fiction series can
be found here.