Last Week's Question: What do readers
think of the "mulligan rule"?
Last week's column featured
an explanation from Randy about the "mulligan rule" in
his league, which allows an owner to substitute a high-scoring bench
player for a low-scoring active player at the same position after
the relevant games have been played. Randy burned his mulligan in
Week 3 by switching out a ho-hum performance from A.J. Green (who
was originally designated as "active" on his roster) for
a career game from Antonio Brown (who was supposed to be riding
the pine that week on Randy's team).
Randy plays in a head-to-head (H2H) league that awards one mulligan
each year to the owner with the highest losing score from the previous
season. Almost everyone who plays in H2H leagues eventually has
to swallow the bitter pill of putting up the second-highest score
in the league on the day when they just happen to be matched up
against the owner with the highest score. It leaves us all with
the feeling of having been robbed, and the mulligan appears to be
an attempt to take the sting out of that experience.
For as long as I have been writing this column, I have maintained
that each league has to find its way to the rules best suited to
the temperaments of the owners involved, and as long as everyone
in Randy's league is happy with their mulligan rule, all I can say
is "More power to 'em." However, most of the responses
I received concerning the mulligan shared my own sense that even
if Randy really did get robbed in 2012 by putting up the highest
losing score of the season, the owner he played against in Week
3 of this year has now also been robbed. I'll feature Mike's response
because he didn't just write in to say what he didn't like about
the mulligan, but to explain more equitable alternatives that address
the frustration of putting up the second-highest score and losing:
I don't like the mulligan idea you wrote about.
What does the previous season have to do with the current one? And
the two situations are unrelated. What does losing with a high score
have to do with benching a player who scored a ton of points? Answer:
Nothing. Worst rule ever.
The simple solution to "the single most frustrating thing"
is what our leagues do: one is a double header league. If you have
the second highest score, you get at least one win.
In the other, you play every team, every week (which also has the
added benefit of solving the previous week's question: when an owner
checks out, it affects every team equally).
James isn't even sure that the frustration of losing with a great
score in H2H leagues merits any special rules at all:
Mulligan??? Are you kidding me??…….in
our league, this is what we call the “bonehead” of the
week award, leaving someone on your bench that could have gotten
you the win…….as I did last week not starting Alshon
Jeffrey and lost by 7pts…… That’s just the breaks,
suck it up and move on.
Bernie found the idea of using 20/20 hindsight to make lineup decisions
so comical that he sent me this little joke:
Help! I just tried the “mulligan”
idea at the race track. Told ‘em I meant to bet that horse
that just won and paid eighty bucks. They’ve got me down here
in Security and won’t let me go! Would you ask that “mulligan”
commissioner what I should do now?
In addition to asking for comments on Randy's mulligan rule, I invited
FFers to share any rules in their leagues that might qualify as
mulligans in their own right. Eric sent in the only answer that
I'm commish of the Semi-Tough FFL, and we have
a rule that isn't quite a mulligan rule but is close enough to warrant
We do not allow teams to make free agent or waiver pickups once
the playoffs start. This means it is important to get your roster
in order with adequate depth in the last week or two of the regular
We have one exception rule in the event that every player on a team's
roster at a particular position is listed as Out or moved to IR
on the official NFL injury report. For example, if a team only has
one rostered TE and he is injured in a game or practice and is subsequently
listed as OUT or moved to IR , that team can invoke the rule and
drop the injured player for a waiver/free agent player. However,
if the player is only listed as Doubtful, Questionable or Probable,
no move is allowed.
That last distinction has bitten a few owners in the butt, usually
at QB or RB: if they are carrying 2 QBs and one is Out while the
other is Doubtful, it's tough luck; also, we start 1 RB, 2 WR and
have a WR/RB Flex position, so same tough luck if only carrying
2 RBs on the roster with one RB Out and the other Doubtful.
My thanks to everyone who wrote in (whether I had space to include
your answers or not). Thanks also to Randy for sharing his weird
mulligan rule with me. Even if the idea wasn't a hit with the readers
of this column, I wish the mulligan league the best of luck.
This Week's Question: How can you reduce
the "luck factor" in H2H leagues?
Bob doesn't like the "mulligan rule" from Randy's league,
but he is interested in ways of taking the sting out of the wins
and losses in H2H leagues that seem unfair. It doesn't just bother
Bob to see teams with high scores losing to teams with slightly
higher scores. It also bugs him when the second-lowest scoring team
of the week just happens to be matched up against the lowest-scoring
team. The lowest-scoring team might not feel robbed in those circumstances,
but every other owner who outscored the second-worst team is likely
to grumble that the win should have come their way instead. Bob
calls the solution that he is considering an "electoral college"
type of system.
This system would solve the 2nd highest scoring
team issue addressed by the “mulligan” It also helps
to eliminate the instance of [absentee] owners late in the year
because it wouldn’t be the case of someone playing against
a losing owner [who has checked out] and someone else playing against
an active losing owner. [With my system,] if owners become less
active, it has no effect on anyone, it would still depend on your
own team's performance. We all know the frustration of missing the
playoffs because you're fighting for a final spot and the team you
are fighting against is playing a team that didn’t set its
lineup while you play a team who picked up that scrub waiver wire
pick and trounced you. It still keeps the win/loss aspect of football,
but isn’t totally points based. The inherent flaw in both
systems is in the win/loss weekly schedule, you can have a 2nd highest
scoring team loss and a 2nd lowest scoring win and in the points
based you can be out of it too early in the season and never be
able to catch up without scoring 200 points in week.
This is why I am considering an “electoral college”
type of system in our league. The end result would be wins in a
head-to-head system, but to lessen the impact of teams putting up
the 2nd highest score getting a loss and the team with a bottom
2 or 3 score getting a win, we would award wins to top half of scoring
teams each week. so the 5th highest scoring team would get a win
in a 10- team league. I feel like this effectively keeps the head
to head scoring yet minimizes some of the luck factor of the schedule
and such. This would continue into the playoffs. Weeks 1 and 2 the
top half scores would move on and then face off in the championship.
Bob's proposal seems a lot less brutal than the "mulligan rule."
I haven't played with a setup like the one Bob describes, so I can't
comment on it with any sense of authority, but it sounds like a
clever sort of hybrid league. The best thing about H2H leagues is
that owners get a sense of every Sunday as its own special thrill
ride. The worst thing about H2H leagues is that the luck of being
scheduled against good teams on off days often plays a disproportionate
role in determining which owners advance to the playoffs. The best
thing about tally leagues (in which owners simply accumulate points
from week to week) is the way that such leagues eliminate the "luck
factor" tied to scheduling. But the worst thing about tally
leagues is that once the emotional thrill ride is stretched out
over the course of the entire season, individual Sundays become
Do you think Bob's model does a good job of combining the best elements
of the two systems? Do you have any recommendations for him to consider
before he implements his hybrid? I
look forward to hearing from you and sharing your thoughts next
Survivor Picks - Week 7 (Courtesy of
Trap Game: Atlanta over Tampa Bay
The Falcons were the #2 seed in the NFC last year and were expected
to make a big push towards the Super Bowl in 2013. Six weeks into
the season, these same Falcons are hoping that they can win enough
games to sneak into the playoffs after a 1-4 start. Julio Jones
(IR), Stevan Jackson and Roddy White are all expected to miss this
week's game, which leaves Matty "Ice" working with a bunch
of new faces. Meanwhile, Tampa is trying to find an identity with
Mike Glennon leading this team, and Doug Martin alone just may have
enough talent to surprise an Atlanta team reeling from their Monday
night loss to a big underdog Jets team (which yours truly chose
two weeks ago).
#3: Miami over Buffalo (5-1: KC, NEP,
MN, NO, SF, DEN)
Rarely so late in the season do you have three or four choices
for a survival pick that seem like "no brainers." Miami
at home against division rival Buffalo seems (at first glance)
like one of them. The Bills travel south as double-digit underdogs
in part because of a quarterback carousel fueled by injuries.
How can any offense that is forever practicing with a new guy
under center expect to defeat a strong divisional rival in a hostile
environment? A closer look at the relevant statistics, however,
suggests that (on paper at least) the Bills should win this game.
They generated 22 more points over the first 6 games than the
Dolphins, and now they face a Miami offense that, in terms of
total yardage, is dead last in the AFC and next-to-last in the
NFL. The teams are far more evenly matched than the line suggests.
Still, I expect Miami to win. On paper, Miami's 31st-ranked offense
is about as scary as Buffalo's 29th-ranked defense. But these
teams won't play on paper; they'll play on the Dolphins' turf,
and home field advantage will tip the scales in Miami's favor.
#2: Green Bay over Cleveland (4-2: DEN,
PHL, SF, IND, STL, HOU)
I thought about this game long and hard before deciding that Aaron
Rodgers, with rookie Eddie Lacy, could overcome a Cleveland Browns
defense that is ranked 7th in the NFL in yards allowed per game
but playing a tough Packers team at Lambeau Field. Green Bay will
be without James Jones and Randall Cobb (short-term IR), which
adds to the difficulty of overcoming a revamped Browns defense
suddenly capable of stopping almost any team, let alone one missing
two of its primary weapons. If this game were played in Cleveland,
this would have "upset special" written all over it.
But look for the mystique of Lambeau to be the difference for
the Pack to win a game that three weeks ago looked like an easy
blowout on the schedule.
#1: San Diego at Jacksonville (5-1: IND,
OAK, SEA, DEN, ATL, CHI)
The networks aren't climbing over each other to televise this
barn burner this week, but Phillip Rivers and first-year head
coach Mike McCoy have quietly revitalized a passing attack that
is averaging almost 100 yards more per game than the 2012 version.
But this contest is less about San Diego's strengths than it is
about Jacksonville's glaring weaknesses. The Chargers are poised
for their first back-to-back win of the season and should have
little difficulty with the Jaguars whether Cecil Shorts takes
the field or not. Stick with the plan of betting against Jacksonville
until further notice (or at least for this week). You would still
be in your survival pool with this tactic, and that's really all
that matters. Too bad many of you have already used San Francisco
in your pools because the 49ers visit next week.
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.