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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Does a pass-happy NFL justify an increase in fantasy rushing scores?
Q & A: Week 12

Last Week's Question: Is your league full of oldtimers or newcomers?

If the results of last week's informal survey are any indication, Q&A does seem to appeal to an older crowd of readers. For each note I received from someone whose league was founded in the current decade (2010-2013), I received three from leagues founded between 2000 and 2010; and for each response I received from leagues founded in the first decade of the current century, I received two from leagues founded in the 1990s. The responses were rounded out by a handful of leagues that go back to the '80s. None of the leagues from the '70s that I've heard from in the past wrote in this time, but that could be because 1) they've said their piece in the past or 2) we've reached the point in the point of the football season when fewer and fewer folks are paying attention to their fantasy leagues because many teams have been eliminated from postseason contention.

James, the reader responsible for last week's question, fell into the largest category of all (leagues founded in the '90s). In his response to the survey, he mentioned the early days of distributing results to the league:

Before the cyberspace age, I would tally all the teams' points with the official “multi-colored fish wrap”, typed up results and updated standings on a spreadsheet and then faxed out to everyone. No emails then!! Or mobile phones……and for the life of me, can’t remember how line-ups were turned in back then, but it got done.

He went on to mention one of the stranger moments in the history of owner turnover:

Very little [owner turnover--], mostly at the beginning stages. But one year, an owner slept with another owner's wife, and after a vote, a Fedex package was sent, kicking him out. A few years later, all was forgiven and he’s back in. We all look back and laugh at that now.


Older leagues do their best to keep up with technology, but the younger leagues are, the better they seem to do at keeping pace. Jack (whose league was founded in 2005) wonders how many leagues are conducted online vs. in-person. That's exactly the kind of question that I get enough anecdotal feedback on to say that it varies not only from year to year, but from league to league. Some leagues that are usually adamant about having owners attend the draft in person will suddenly have a couple of owners who absolutely have to be out of town for the draft, so they will be "mostly live" with just one or two folks participating online. In Jack's league, for example:

Our draft happens entirely offline and for those who can't make it, we set up a television with a Google Hangout set up. It's like they're right there in the room with us!

I get overwhelmed trying to keep up with you youngsters and your new-fangled technology. Google hangout? Sheesh, those of us who started back in the '90s are usually happy if people just log in to the league website on time.

Some of the leagues founded in the last five years are clearly run by folks who have no idea which fantasy websites qualify as "old," but the only alternative websites to receive at least 3 mentions were FFChamps, Rotowire, and The Huddle. Of course, I'm sure FFToday's owner and editor (Mike Krueger) will be delighted by this response from Gary (a former commissioner whose league was founded in 1989):

Honestly, I have only used this site consistently. I catch news other places, but FFToday, from what I remembered, supplied me information on targets a receiver got a couple of years before other sites did.

I also received a thoughtful note from our own Matthew Schiff (our Survivor Picks guru) about the longevity of his fantasy league (now in its 23rd year):

Over the years our league has "matured." We find our kids are now taking over some of the spots in the league, albeit financed by dad. In some cases, they know more than we do--but not always (that's for my son). Our drafts have gone from drunken nights boasting about our awesome teams that would then go 1-12 in the season, to family events hosted on the deck at my house at a time that would allow the kids to be done early enough to get homework done. What's nice is we always make sure that our draft is done in person and not online. It is the one time of the season everyone is guaranteed to get together, and I've been told it's the main reason that our owners are part of our league.

I've been the commissioner from the beginning. Our rules have changed over the years, mostly for the better, and since I've always run our league with the full knowledge that the league is not mine but rather the participants', I've never been told that they had a problem with the commissioner. And thank God for the internet. We probably were one of the first leagues to sign up for online administration when we moved away from our original website to CBS Sportsline, [though] we currently use

Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer my questions--and especially to Matthew for his short essay on his league's development.

It's hard to think of anything less scientific than a voluntary online survey, but the responses I received to last week's question only reinforced my sense that the folks who read this column tend to belong to an older crowd. I can't help thinking that most leagues formed in 2013 were done so online by groups of owners who will never argue about whether a quarterback should get a deduction for taking a sack. I suspect that most new fantasy players simply accept the default settings of whatever online platform they join, which is probably fine. Nevertheless, I still enjoy the kinds of discussions that happen in this forum, such as . . .

This Week's Question: Now that the NFL has gone crazy for the passing game, should scores for running backs be tweaked in performance leagues?

Darren has a concern:

Do running backs even matter anymore? I have Adrian Peterson, and I'm in last place in my division. Meanwhile, the guy with Calvin Johnson was the first to clinch a playoff spot. And who's gonna give him trouble down the road? Not the guy with LeSean McCoy or the other guy with Jamaal Charles, but the idiot who blew his first-round pick on a QB (Peyton!). What's happened to fantasy football?

The NFL has gone nuts for the passing game, so I think RBs need a scoring adjustment to remain relevant, especially in PPR leagues. Instead of getting one point for every ten yards rushing, maybe RBs should get one point for every six or seven yards (just to keep pace with the receivers).

What do you think?

I think that as long as everyone in the league is playing by the same rules, there's probably no need to change them (and also probably no harm in changing them if that's what the majority would like to see). I can say that even in my non-PPR league, RBs are having less of an impact in 2013 than in recent years. From 2010 to 2012, the average weekly score of the top 10 RBs in that league ranged from 13 or 14 points (for the #10 back) to 21 or 22 points (for the #1 back). That's a pretty steady 3-year sample, but things get screwy if we go back to 2009, the year of CJ2K, who averaged a whopping 26 ppg that season.

This year, the #10 back is averaging 13.1 ppg, which is perfectly consistent with what the records in that league show from 2010 to 2012. But there's a remarkable difference at the top, as the #1 RB is averaging just 18.7 ppg. The very best RBs of 2013 aren't putting up numbers quite as good as the ones in recent history. This may very well have to do with new rules that have made it far easier to be productive through the air than on the ground. If the rule changes are here to stay, perhaps leagues will explore tweaking RB scores. And I hope to hear from anyone who has given this matter any thought.

Survivor Picks - Week 12 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: 49ers at Washington
Robert Griffin III is still a shell of what he was last year, and most teams have figured that out by now. The Redskins are on the verge of dropping out of the playoff picture, and they will be playing in prime time against the second best team in the NFC (and NFC West). It will take everything Washington has to try and stretch the 49ers' defense and let the "old" RG III run when the opportunity presents itself. But San Francisco can hardly afford to fall even further behind the mighty Seahawks, which will make this task more difficult for the home team this week. Don't expect Jim Harbaugh and company to come in and blow Mike Shanahan and his Redskins out as they try and stay alive in an NFC wild card playoff picture that has 4-6 teams still very much in the mix.

#3: Houston over Jacksonville (8-3: KC, NEP, MN, NO, SF, DEN, MIA, GB, SEA, IND, NYG)
Last week in this very same column I recommended the Houston Texans over the Oakland Raiders based upon the Texans' pride, their solid defensive unit, and the possibility that Terrelle Pryor might not start. All of those same things hold true this week, except that Chad Henne is the opposing quarterback, and instead of an Oakland defense that gives up an average of 350 yards per game, Houston now faces a Jaguars defense that gives up over 390 yards per game and an offense that is without its number one receiver in Justin Blackmon (suspended because of a violation of the NFL's substance policy). That said, the Texans are far from a lock, but better than most other options, if only because they are still the number one defense at 281 yards per game. Houston should win this game without a fight, but nothing has been easy for this team lately. As such, use this as your pure desperation pick, but if you are to follow the collective wisdom of the "bookies," this is as close to a "safe bet" as you can get.

#2: Detroit over Tampa Bay (8-3: DEN, PHL, SF, IND, STL, HOU, GB, SEA, DAL, NYG, SD)
In years past, it was well documented how the Bucs never win when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees. This Sunday, it is expected to be 32 degrees in Detroit, and while Ford Field is indoors, look for this superstition to continue against a Lions team that is in control of its destiny at 6-4 atop the NFC North. Megatron, Reggie Bush and Matthew Stafford's fourth-ranked offense should prove too much to handle for a Tampa defense that has lost five games in the last minute this year. That isn't to say that Mike Glennon and third strong halfback Bobby Rainey won't make it interesting. The Bucs won't roll over like Atlanta below, but if you've used New Orleans already, take Detroit with confidence at home.

#1: New Orleans at Atlanta (8-3: IND, OAK, SEA, DEN, ATL, CHI, SD, SF, CAR, TEN, HOU)
It has taken Drew Brees and Sean Payton only eleven weeks to reestablish themselves as the NFC team to beat after Payton's return from his one-year suspension. This week, look for the Saints to continue their march into the playoffs as they visit division rival Atlanta. The Falcons are now just playing the season out after last week's embarrassing loss to the Buccaneers. The season can't end fast enough for this Falcons team that had such high hopes of repeating as the NFC South Champions and number two NFC team.

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.