Last Week's Question: What “extras”
make your league special?
In my Week 2 column, I
mentioned a bizarre bet (involving a nipple ring) and featured an
excerpt from a league newsletter on my way to asking a question:
What happens in your league that sets it apart?
With the proliferation of league-hosting websites and automated
score calculators, FFers seem to have more time than ever to focus
on the weird and fun “extras.” But do they bother?
My impression from the overwhelming amount of feedback I received
to this question is that individuality is alive and well in all
sorts of leagues around the world. Some of the zany practices detailed
below make bets involving nipple rings seem pretty ho-hum. However,
most of the answers I received concerned rules and scoring systems
that range from outrageously bizarre to plain old hyper-complex.
For this column, I’ll focus on the weird “extras”
as opposed to mind-boggling draft procedures and unusual scoring
formulas. However, I look forward to getting into the nitty-gritty
of unique league rules in Week 4 and/or Week 5.
I’ll start with Andy, whose league has a whole new spin on
the concept of a league newsletter:
I used to write silly articles for my league
each week, but now I've gotten a webcam and make videos. Making
videos for your league to view each week gives even the worst teams
a reason to keep up with the league.
I guess this isn’t such an earth-shattering idea, especially
since the sitcom The League depicts the main members of
the cast sending each other nasty, taunting videos done via webcam.
It’s one thing for me to send my opponent a short clip explaining
why my team is going to destroy his; it’s another thing entirely
for the commissioner to target a video at the entire league in lieu
of a newsletter. My only complaint is that Andy didn’t send
me a link to one of his videos, so I’m not sure how funny/engaging
this format is. However, I had to start with Andy’s response
because he finished up with an anecdote about the design of Bill
Simmons’ sadistically random (or perhaps randomly sadistic)
league, which is definitely unlike any league I’ve ever participated
I'm not sure of all the particulars, but here's the deal: Simmons'
league is a standard 12-team league with 13 owners. Each year, all
13 owners show up at the draft ready to draft, and then the league
champion from the previous year decides which owner to boot out
for the season. BRUTAL. If I recall, last year the league champ
booted out Mad Men star Jon Hamm. I could never do this, but the
idea of it seems amazing.
Don’t go getting carried away with the idea of randomly ejecting
some guy from your league just to make things interesting. I heard
from plenty of commissioners who set their leagues apart in two
perfectly sensible ways: 1) by making the draft a special occasion;
and/or 2) by awarding the winner a unique trophy.
I’ve discussed both of these topics in previous columns, so
I don’t need to dwell on them here. But I see how this is
a critical point in the eyes of some commissioners. Based on the
photos some readers mailed in, the uglier and more disgusting a
trophy is, the more meaningful it is likely to be to the people
competing for it. One reader belongs to a league whose splendiferously
ugly trophy has been renamed for a league member who passed away
mid-season some years ago. That’s definitely not something
I would expect to find in some random 12-team setup on ESPN.
Brandon’s response mentions both the importance of a draft
party and a league trophy, but he throws in a number of other touches
that make his league stand out in my mind. I’m particularly
fond of the surprise gift of an NFL jersey, but different readers
will doubtless focus on different aspects of his detailed response:
I am the commish for a league that is in its 10th year (I know,
only 10, but I am 24 years old, so take that into consideration).
Anyway we have done a live draft for many years now and always
go big. We rented a cabin in central WI this year for the draft
just to mix things up.
I also have live streamed the draft for the last 4 years on ustream,
Google+ hangouts, and Youtube. We have had owners draft from China,
and other parts of the US, and still stream it live.
As a commissioner I also pick one player a year, buy their jersey,
and give that away to whoever selects that player.
In addition to the epic draft, we usually have weekly polls that
rank the 10 teams in the league done by team owners. I also do
a weekly Game of the Week for the league, and this year I am live
video streaming the Game of the Week announcement, and I have
a guest team owner to interview about the last week and the upcoming
week. We also have one owner who weekly does predictions of the
games and write ups on each.
We have had [so] many arguments over the years about rules and
whatnot that we have a League Constitution with all of the rules
of the league. We also vote a Rules Committee to determine violations
and hand out punishments and fines. We are pretty intense about
rules and violations.
I give out trophies at the end of the year for division winners
and the league winner. I also hold an awards banquet for the league
and stream the awards presentation online as well. Before we all
moved to all over the state of WI we used to make our fantasy
teams in the Madden football game and have a double elimination
After each season we all get together (in person or online) to
have a meeting to vote on rule changes, or adjustments to the
As an FFer, I’m very impressed by the fact that a league
Brandon started as a teenager has so much going on. But as the
writer of this column, I’m even more impressed by how many
great ideas are packed into this one response. Brandon’s
answer to my question is so “win” that I can’t
help feeling as if I owe him an ugly trophy.
I heard from a number of readers who wanted to let me know that
individual creativity is alive and well in FF, and I’m grateful
to everyone who wrote in. In the interest of keeping this column
to a manageable length, I won’t get into all the scoring/drafting
variations this week. But I look forward to diving into that material
in Week 5 (unless my question for Week 4 falls flat—which
is a distinct possibility).
This Week's Question: Is Week 2 the
craziest week in FF?
A reader named Howard has put me in a bit of a bind by asking
me a question that I happen to find intriguing even though I have
no idea how anyone could answer it:
Every year, we get a reminder that Week One
is the craziest week of the entire season. Untested rookies are
everywhere you look. New coaches unveil their new schemes. Sometimes
the things that worked against third-stringers in the preseason
don’t work at all against starters in real games. Or even
worse, sometimes they do work! You just never how any of the teams
will look until they start playing ACTUAL games.
Then, when they finally play the first games of the season, it’s
like everybody simultaneously goes insane. “OMG Eric Decker
was a non-factor in Week One. I better cut him.” Or “OMG
Philip Rivers has suddenly remembered how to play QB. I better cut
RG3 to snap him up.” You get the idea.
So here’s my question: If Week One really is the wildest week
of the regular season in the NFL, then is Week Two the wildest week
in fantasy? It seems like the second week is when the most irrational
decisions get made. Everywhere I look, I see owners overreacting
(either positively or negatively) to whatever they think they learned
in Week One.
I think quality players ride the pine in Week Two more than any
other week of the season because owners are mad at them for not
delivering top results right out of the gate. What do you think?
This question makes me sigh because I like everything about it
except the idea of passing it on to a general audience. My experience
with questions like this is that I’m likely to get a handful
of anecdotal answers. (For example, I can practically guarantee
I will receive five responses from people who will say, “Can
you believe my opponent benched _____ for Anquan Boldin in Week
I wish I knew how to ask this question in a way that would give
us some indication of whether Week 2 is the “wildest”
week in fantasy football. But the only methods I can think of
are all labor intensive, and my experience with labor-intensive
mn is that readers mostly shrug them off. If I asked everyone
to examine the lineup choices of the other owners in their leagues
in an effort to find the one or two owners who seemed to make
the most questionable decisions about benchings, that would only
be a starting point. I would then ask them to monitor the lineup
choices of those owners for the rest of the season to see if their
poor judgment was specific to Week 2 or merely part of a larger
pattern of team mismanagement. Even then, readers would be making
a whole lot of subjective assessments.
If you can think of a way to answer Howard’s question, I
would love to hear from you. If you can think of a better way
for me to refine his question, I’ll be grateful for your suggestion.
If you just want to chime in on which week of the season you consider
“wildest,” I might be able to find room for your thoughts
But in all honesty, I have to tell Howard that I don’t have
a good track record with questions like this. I would love to
generate some nice feedback for him, but I’m not counting
on it. If I don’t get enough quality responses to make for
a decent column next week, I’ll just delve in the scoring/drafting
idiosyncrasies mentioned above.
Survivor Picks - Week 3 (Courtesy of
I don't normally provide an editorial before my survivor picks,
but I just want to say that I am truly sorry for any of you (inclusive
of my friends and neighbors) that chose my Eagles pick last week.
It just goes to prove that a Giants fan has no business picking
Philadelphia anytime, even if the line SCREAMS it.
Trap Game: Denver over Oakland
How can this be a trap? Peyton Manning and crew should easily win
this game at Mile High over the second-worst team in the NFL, right?
Not so fast. Denver's defense is 5th overall against the rush but
28th against the pass, and Terrelle Pryor has the ability to beat
you both ways. In 2011, the Raiders came into Denver a touchdown
underdog and won against a Broncos team led by Kyle Orton coached
by John Fox in his first year. Denver is vastly improved since then,
but there are definitely better options this week. If that isn’t
enough to make you avoid this matchup, blame it on the divisional
rivalry and take one of the games below.
#3: Minnesota over Cleveland (2-0: KC,
The Vikings aren't a good passing team, but when you have the
best running back in the NFL playing against the 28th-ranked rushing
defense, who needs to pass? Add in the fact that Cleveland just
traded away the only viable offensive weapon that they had in
Trent Richardson, AND their starting Quarterback is out due to
a sprained thumb, and you have the formula for a blowout win at
home against a Browns team that has already packed it in for 2013.
Unfortunately for the Dawg Pound faithful, next year can't come
fast enough and the Vikings will easily win this one.
#2: San Francisco over Indianapolis (1-1:
The 49ers suffered a disappointing loss in Seattle last week,
and now they have to face a Colts team that dramatically improved
its run game with the shocking trade on Wednesday for Trent Richardson.
Don't look for Richardson to be a major factor in his first week
with the Colts, but Indy must now be considered a viable playoff
team in a division that has THREE potential division champions
(Tennessee and Houston are the other two). Meanwhile, Frank Gore
should have a great game against the 28th-ranked rushing defense
of the Colts and loosen up the passing game for Colin Kaepernick
to get back on track in this Week Three contest at home.
#1: Seattle over Jacksonville (2-0: IND,
Take the Seahawks at home. Need I say more? (In fact, I don’t
need to say more because this one is a no-brainer.)
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.