Last Week's Question: What's your procedure
for bringing new owners into an existing league?
My Week One column
featured the remarks of Daryl, who pointed out that the veteran
owners in his league seemed to be the ones least likely to get the
first pick in their serpentine redraft. Daryl's league awards the
top draft spot to the team with the worst record, but for two years
in a row, the owner who finished last has quit the league--only
to be replaced by a newcomer whose reward for being late to the
party is the top overall pick in the draft.
Based on the feedback that I received concerning this situation,
many commissioners do not share Daryl's view of this development
as a problem. I'll discuss the differences of opinion below, but
Daryl's solution to his perceived problem was to auction off the
top spot in the draft in the event that the owner to which it was
assigned left the league. The new guy gets the top spot assigned
to him for a preemptive bid of zero dollars, but anyone else in
the league who wants to place a higher bid on the spot is welcome
to do so. (The new owner is allowed to participate in the bidding,
but he can choose not to, in which case he will end up with the
spot originally assigned to the high bidder for the top pick.)
Byron was one of several readers to argue that this procedure of
auctioning off draft picks seemed like "a lot of effort expended
over nothing, since it's not clear that the top pick in a serpentine
draft is any better than any other pick." Byron's point might
have been a little easier to appreciate before Adrian Peterson broke
away for a TD on his first touch of the season, but the logic still
holds. A conventional serpentine draft dictates that the greater
your advantage is in odd-numbered rounds, the greater your disadvantage
is in even-numbered rounds. Like Byron, I don't consider picking
first an "advantage," and I certainly wouldn't bid for
that spot. Nevertheless, if other people were willing to pay extra
for that perceived privilege, I would be happy to let them fatten
the league purse with their bids.
My favorite answers came from Rob and Rudy because they were polar
opposites. Rob says:
Our 14-man league is going into its fifteenth
season, and we have a waiting list of almost twenty people trying
to get in. The newest guy joined last year after a five-year wait.
Here's what I have written at the top of the waiting list sign-up
sheet on the website:
Openings are RARE, but IF you ever do get into the league, you'll
get the last pick in the draft AND YOU'LL LIKE IT! Otherwise, don't
bother signing up.
We haven't had any problems with this policy.
Rudy's experience has been quite different:
My problem is that when guys decide to leave
the league, they usually don't even tell me. We don't realize they
need to be replaced until [they fail to show up for the] draft party.
Then it's just a bunch of us getting on cell phones and calling
people we know trying to find someone who is A) interested in joining
and B) available to come to the draft. Of course we'll let the new
guy have the top pick in the draft. Who cares about [details like
that when the only alternative is to] have a computer manage the
tenth team in the league?
Obviously, different league dynamics result in different approaches
to bringing in new owners. If you're desperate to fill a spot, you're
likely to offer any incentives you can think of to entice a new
owner to join your league. And since I still agree with Byron's
point, offering the newbie the top pick in the draft is a low-cost
(arguably a no-cost) perk.
Serpentine drafts are certainly commonplace (perhaps even standard)
in redrafter leagues, but it's not clear how widespread the "worst-to-first"
approach of Daryl's league is. I heard from numerous commissioners
of leagues in which draft order is randomly determined. In such
leagues, finishing last one season has nothing to do with picking
first in the following draft, and these commissioners were quick
to point out that Daryl could solve his problem simply by randomizing
the draft. As Anthony explains:
It seems [Daryl's] league is punishing a new
owner for joining the league by putting him at a disadvantage. They
should just treat the new owner as if he was the previous owner.
If the owners don't like that the new guy is getting the 1st pick,
[they can] do a random draft order like we do in our league drawing
names from a hat or pick from a deck of cards using ace through
ten for 10-team league or ace through queen for 12-team league.
Our draft is random every year. In our league we just look among
our owners to see if they have a friend or co-worker that wants
in. The first person with a recommendation gets in.
Of all the answers I received, the most detailed and satisfying
came from Ben. His league used a random approach to start with,
but has carried that random starter-pattern forward in a way that
is predictable, fair, and fun. What I like best about his model
is that when it's your turn to pick first in a draft, you pick a
draft position instead of a player. If you want the top overall
pick, then fine, it's yours. But if you've decided to draft a WR
in the first round and you think Calvin Johnson will be available
with the seventh pick, then you can select the seventh pick so that
you get to pick far earlier in the second round than would have
been the case if you had burned the top overall selection on Megatron.
Several years ago we drew numbers out of the
hat. By the numbers chosen you got to select your draft position.
Each year it rotates. You move up one spot in the draft selection
order each year until you reach the first overall spot. If you have
the first spot one year, you drop to the 12th spot [the following]
New owners drop to the bottom of the draft order selection process.
See below for example. In 2013 we had two new owners.
2012 Draft Order Selection Order
1. Mike – 1st overall pick
2. Tom – 7th
3. Rich – 2nd
4. Ray - 3rd
5. Chad – 4th (left before 2013)
6. Chris – 5th
7. Miguel – 8th
8. Bob – 10th
9. Derek – 6th
10. Ed – 9th
11. Trevor – 11th (left before 2013)
12. Jean – 12th
2013 Draft Order Selection Order
1. Tom - 1st
2. Rich - 2nd
3. Ray - 3rd
4. Chris – 4th
5. Miguel – 5th
6. Bob – 12th
7. Derek – 11th
8. Ed – 8th
9. Jean – 6th
10. Mike – 7th
11. Ryan – 9th (new)
12. Florence -10th (new)
2014 Draft Order Selection Order (if all owners stick around)
Since my question from Daryl concerned draft position for new
owners, that's what most readers tended to focus on in their responses,
but Gary did a great job of tackling my general question about
bringing in new owners from a general perspective, so I'll close
this section with his remarks:
We have a league, 16 teams (touchdown only) that is embarking
on its 24th season. It’s also a small keeper league (we
can keep up to two players). This season, we brought in a new
owner (a legacy – 20yr old son of one of the early owners)
as we had someone quit on us.
The draft is random as we all have been in the league long enough
that the worst team might just have had a bad year with injuries.
So, no issues with that. What our commish has done (I’m
not commish anymore) is allowed the new guy to take over the previous
owner’s team and letting him have keepers. This year “The
Meat” didn’t keep any of those guys.
This works well for us as we haven’t expanded the league
since 1992. When the league expanded (I was one of the teams),
we started with a clean slate.
I love hearing stories like this one. When people tell me that
fantasy football is a passing fad, it's fun for me to think about
a league like Gary's, in which the vets are now playing against
an owner who was born four years after the league was founded.
Thanks for sharing that detail, Gary.
What "extras" does your league
offer that might set it apart from other leagues?
My next question grows out of a couple of emails I received this
week that were reports rather than questions. The first story concerns
Greg, who won his 48-team mega-league last year and celebrated by
drinking too much at his draft party this year. He got tipsy enough
to guarantee his opponents that he will win the league again in
2013, which prompted one of them to make him a bet: If Greg fails
to win the league championship, he has to show up to next year's
draft shirtless--and wearing a brand new nipple ring. If he wins,
the other bettor has to show up with a nipple ring. (There are forty-seven
ways for Greg to lose as opposed to one way for him to win. It's
a horrible, horrible bet. But it's a great story.)
I also received a league newsletter from a reader named Mike. Mike's
newsletter (titled "Lies, Rumors, and Results") reminded
me of the kinds of "extras" that I used to encounter all
the time in fantasy leagues. Take a look at his write-up of a match
featuring a team named "Nobody":
Nobody Spanks Gypsies
With Lubbock well known as a place better seen through the rear
view mirror, it was no surprise when Sam Stout announced during
the off season that Nobody was moving to Lubbock. Sam worked out
a deal for Nobody to play in the parking lot across the street from
the Student Union Building on the campus of Texas Tech University
and it was lined with curious coeds when Robin Stout’s Gypsies
showed up for the opener. Sam, looking to impress the girls, wanted
to come out of the gate looking good. He got his wish when Denver
quarterback Peyton Manning went off on Thursday night. Manning’s
60 point game set a new league record for quarterbacks in a single
game, eclipsing the previous record of 57 set by Michael Vick for
David Stout’s CowTown Bulls in game 10 of 2010. The Gypsies
were down big and would need monster performances just to get back
in the game. They put four players in double figures in the early
game on Sunday, but Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles’
16 was the best they could manage, and it was all downhill from
there as Nobody spanks the Gypsies 143 – 83.
When I started playing fantasy football in the late '90s, crazy
bets (like the one involving the nipple ring) and fun newsletters
(such as the one I received from Mike) were everywhere. Part of
the fun of joining a new league was discovering what kinds of "extras"
were considered normal for that particular group of FFers.
This year I ended up opting out of a league because the commish,
who had invited me to the league with the promise of a live draft,
changed things at the last minute to an "auto-draft."
His explanation: "All the other owners are in multiple leagues,
so nobody has time for a draft."
Fantasy football is obviously far more technologically advanced
than it used to be. We no longer wait for commissioners to tabulate
wins and losses by hand from box scores. We all get updates emailed
straight to our inboxes from outfits like FFToday so that it's easier
than ever to stay on top of studs, duds, and sleepers. This should
give us more time to spend on the fun stuff (such as outrageous
wagers and newsletters), but I'm seeing less of the fun stuff than
I used to. Maybe this is just because I'm older (and therefore,
by definition, lamer). But my impression is that the zesty "extras"
that used to define the fantasy football experience are increasingly
difficult to come by. Please prove me wrong. Restore my faith in
the creative, fun, zany side of fantasy football. Tell
me what happens in your league that I just wouldn't see in any
old computerized 12-team serpentine redraft league on Yahoo.
Survivor Picks - Week 1 (Courtesy
of Matthew Schiff)
Trap Game: Washington at Green Bay
Green Bay starts the season against two of last season's playoff
teams. While on paper this game looks like a cakewalk for the Packers,
the Redskins have a legitimate shot of going into Lambeau Field
and winning this game like they did in 2010 (16-13 in overtime).
RG III needs to get back up to game speed quickly after playing
it safe during rehab in the pre-season. But the Packer defense is
vulnerable to the pass as proven by Anquan Boldin's 208-yard, 13-catch
and 1-TD day. Combine the threat of the run with last year's 1500-yard
back, Alfred Morris, and you have the makings for a legitimate upset.
"Blasphemy!" the cheeseheads shout. But the real possibility
of a Redskin win prevents me from wanting to go anywhere near this
one in a survival pool.
#3: New England over NY Jets (1-0: KC):
Any other week of the season, this could be my number one pick.
But let me ask you, Coach Belichick, how many of your key players
aren't hurt right now? Amendola and Sudfeld (pulled hamstrings)
are doubtful; Shane Vereen (broken wrist) is on short-term IR;
Gronkowski (recovering from back surgery) is not expected to return
until at least next week; eight other players are listed on the
injury reports; and to top it all off, they have a starting running
back who can't hold onto the ball (Ridley). This has all the makings
of a big time "trap game," and throw in that it's a
game between division rivals, and it screams "STAY AWAY."
But no, the NY Jets and Geno Smith won't be able to rally the
troops in Foxboro where the Patriots are 73-15 all time (9-4 against
the Jets) since Gillette stadium opened, and more than enough
of a team with subs to beat their division foes. Forget the stats
and the injury list. This game will come down to rookie mistakes
and an unproven QB playing against an icon in his home stadium.
The Patriots win this, but not by as many points as the odds makers
#2: Philadelphia over San Diego (1-0:
The Chip Kelly era has officially started, and it did so with
a bang. Up 33-14 at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Eagles held
on to win 33-27 Monday night and validate the collegiate up-tempo
style of play that Kelly brings to a team that is pretty much
the same as its 5-11 predecessor from last year. San Diego will
be hard-pressed to keep up with the pace of play that the Eagles
will bring, as demonstrated by their lack of ability to prevent
Houston from scoring in the final second of their Monday night
game, but Phillip Rivers should be able to have a good stat day.
Look for Vick and McCoy to "runaway" with this at the
Linc to go 2-0 on the season, as this NY Giants fan gives a shout
out to his hometown faithful friends, E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!
#1: Oakland over Jacksonville (1-0: IND):
Last week I said
that to win your survival pool you needed to pick games that were
"locks," such as any game played AGAINST the Oakland
Raiders this year. I was wrong; it was the Jacksonville Jaguars
that you should pick against every week. Did you see pictures
of the stadium in the second half of the Chiefs-Jaguars game?
It was 95% empty. It looks like the Jacksonville fans gave up
on their season even before the Jags finished their first game.
In relief of Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne brings his 14-23 record
as a starting quarterback to Oakland, where Terrelle Pryor hopes
to win his first NFL game as a starting quarterback (0-2). The
"Tebow" chants may still be heard in Oakland as Henne
tries to beat Pryor, who posted 112 rushing yards in a losing
effort. Unfortunately for the Jags, the Silver and Black faithful
should enjoy a rare win in their home opener of 2013.
Reader's Note: This game is not
for the faint of heart; it's for the Survival Pool player who
knows that he may have to pick one of these two teams at some
point this season. Why not take the chance this week when these
two cellar dwellers meet?
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.