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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Do the strangest decisions in FF get made in Week 2 every year?
Q & A: Week 3

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 in:

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 tournament.

After each season we all get together (in person or online) to have a meeting to vote on rule changes, or adjustments to the constitution.

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 2?”)

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 next week.

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 Matthew Schiff)

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, NEP):
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: DEN, phi):
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, OAK):
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.