Last Week's Question: Does your league
have any special provisions for quarterback injuries?
Oh sure, you've all been paying attention to Michael Vick. But have
you been paying attention to me? In the offseason, I concocted a
brilliant plan for FF domination that involved Vick and his backup
(Nick Foles). I made a series of predictions that, taken individually,
seem pretty accurate. Collectively, however, they have resulted
in a bleak outlook for my team in Week 9.
Prediction #1: Vick will start the
season hot because he is an immensely talented athlete in a new
offense. It doesn't even matter whether Chip Kelly's offense is
any good or not because until opposing teams have film that they
can study of Vick in action in his new set up, he will be lights
Consequence #1: If I'm really willing to put my money where
my mouth is, I will go into the season with Vick as my starting
QB. In my main league, I wasn't even tempted by the likes of Brees
and Manning or Romo and Stafford. I waited until the tenth round
to pounce on Vick as my first QB selection, and I was delighted
Prediction #2: Vick will get hurt.
There's no if about it. He will miss at least three weeks this season,
and I need someone to cover my QB position for those weeks.
Consequence #2: Nick Foles is a great choice at backup,
and it doesn't even matter whether he is all that great because
the defenses that study film of the Vick version of Kelly's offense
will be completely unprepared for the Foles version. I don't even
have to draft Foles. I can pick him up on waivers after Vick (inevitably)
gets hurt. This is exactly what I did.
Prediction #3: At least one top-twelve
QB will get off to a slow start and be cut by his owner before Week
6. This happens every year. If I can just scrape by until Week 6
with Vick & Foles, then I will be able to snap up a quality
starter (someone who got drafted in the top 6 rounds or so) to replace
my tenth-round QB for the balance of the season.
Consequence #3: Two quarterbacks who met this description
became available to me on the waiver wire. The first, Matt Schaub,
was cut by his owner after his third consecutive pick-6. I thought,
"Wow, Schaub is mired in a rough patch, but there's no way
that his past success is a fluke. He's the real deal. He'll snap
out of it." I picked him up just in time for him to throw his
fourth consecutive pick-6 before sustaining the ankle injury that
sidelined him. The other high-profile QB who ended up on waivers
was Jay Cutler, whose response to being snapped up by my team was
to tear his groin.
When I started Vick in Week 1, he put up 31 points for me, which
more than justified the tenth round pick I burned on him. When he
earned me 45 points in Week 2, I felt like a genius. I came back
to earth with no complaints in Week 3 (just 21 points). Weeks 4
& 5 were a bit rough, but I started Nick Foles with confidence
in Week 6 and felt like a genius once again as he racked up 40 points
vs. Tampa. Who wouldn't have given Foles the nod again in Week 7
after that gangbuster performance in Week 6? Of course, Foles had
a terrible day against Dallas before leaving with a concussion.
I'm not used to seeing single-digit performances by a QB, but that's
exactly what I got from Foles vs. the Cowboys. I lost that week's
fantasy matchup. It was as if I didn't even have an active QB in
Week 8 felt the same way--only worse. I started Vick, who got exactly
one point for me before leaving the game with an aggravated hamstring.
For two weeks in a row, two different starting Eagles QBs were responsible
for gaping holes in my lineup. I know that I have to take the bad
with the good, and this was the bad part of the Michael Vick experience
that I had prepared for by targeting alternate QBs on waivers.
Still, I never expected to be in this position in Week 9. I can't
start Vick (who is out with a hamstring), and I don't trust Foles
(even though he has been cleared to start). I certainly can't use
Cutler (who will miss a chunk of the season with that torn groin)
or Schaub (who probably wouldn't be the starter in Houston even
if he was healthy, which he isn't). All I know is that when I submitted
my waiver wire claim for Jake Locker yesterday morning, I didn't
feel like quite the genius I was when Foles was destroying Tampa
in Week 6 or when Vick tore apart San Diego in Week 2. Go Titans!
Thanks to injuries, I've had virtual no-shows at the QB position
for two weeks in a row. I lost both of those contests, so perhaps
I was a little more sympathetic to Ryan's question about how certain
leagues might handle QBs who are essentially MIA at their position
thanks to injury.
To be clear, most leagues don't do anything at all. Most commissioners
will simply say, "So you lost a player in the course of the
game due to injury? Who hasn't?" My commissioner didn't even
have to say that to me. I silently swallowed both of my losses with
the appropriate blend of bitterness and alcohol.
Steve's league, however, is more merciful than mine--and he isn't
happy about it:
We have this rule in my league and it drives
me mental. It was introduced one year after an owner lost his QB
early in the first playoff game. According to this rule, when you
start a QB, you also start his back-up. If the injured QB goes down,
the back-up comes in, and everything is gravy.
I see a whole host of things wrong with this.
1) What ever happened to tough luck? I don't get this luxury if
my RB goes down.
2) What if the QB has a bad day and is pulled? What about a good
day and is sat in the 4th quarter? Back-up comes in and you can
continue to collect points?
3) How about a play where the back-up comes in under center for
a play and the starter splits out wide as a receiver and then catches
a touchdown? Double points?!
4) There's could be a trade/cut to a QB and they end up starting
on a new team. (Josh Freeman for example) If I had Ponder and another
had Freeman, who gets the Minnesota QBBC?
Sometimes guys get hurt during a game. Welcome to fantasy football.
(I'm up to a 6-6 vote to get rid of the rule. Just need one more
owner on my side for next year's vote. Here's hoping.)
It sounds like Steve wants to get rid of exactly the kind of rule
that Ryan is hoping to institute, so obviously this is a question
that can be quite divisive. It might be better left alone in your
league, but if you want to tinker with special rules for injured
QBs, then it may be worth pondering over the various solutions that
Eric has considered in all their complexity:
I've thought about this problem a lot over the
years and the two most popular solutions are less than satisfactory
1) Team QB - yuck, boring; I enjoy the strategic/tactical aspects
of FFL and, frankly, part of the fun of FFL is deciding whether
it is worth taking up a roster spot with a QB who is either the
backup to your starter or the backup you determine is most likely
to shine if/when he starts.
2) Automatically substitute bench QB if starter injured - What happens
when your starter is injured but has a better day than your bench
guy? And where do we draw the line on when the substitution occurs
- can I sub the bench QB if my starter is pulled because he's ineffective?
What about when the starter leaves the game for a period of time
and returns? Frankly, if you're going to institute this rule you
might as well make the league a "best ball" league where
every team gets their best possible starting lineup from all players
on their roster.
My solution is a middle ground between these two: if a team owner
elects to carry both a starting QB and his backup, then the owner
gets the production from both players in the event that they both
play in any particular week.
So, for example, if I had Jay Cutler *and* Josh McCown on my roster
last week and started Cutler, my final score would reflect individual
stats from both players. I like this solution because it involves
a cost benefit evaluation by each owner about the value of a roster
spot versus the likelihood of your starting QB getting hurt.
My main 14-team league doesn't have maximum roster limitations on
positions, so in theory I can carry as many QBs (or any other position)
as I want; in my secondary 16-team league, we can carry max 2 QBs,
so the rule may not work as well in leagues with positional max
For the record, we do not currently have this rule in any of my
leagues; I've proposed the rule several times in the 14-team league
but, frankly, ownership is relatively apathetic about change and
getting *any* rules changes has proven painfully slow.
I appreciate Eric's honesty in underscoring the point that his solution
is something he would like to try--not something he has been able
to test. I also like the point Eric makes about weighing the value
of a roster spot. The way my league is now, I had zero incentive
to pick up Nick Foles until after Vick was injured. With
Eric's rule in effect, I might have ended up drafting Foles with
my last pick.
I want to close this section of the column with Joe's response because
it leads to this week's question:
I don’t believe in the idea that something
should be done for injuries whether it is to the quarterback or
not. In head-to-head (H2H) formats, both teams could be hurt by
the unfortunate occurrence of an injury. Part of the "value"
of a player is his injury history, his probability for injury, the
strength of his offensive line (for QBs), running-style (RB and
QB to some degree), etc.
I am a Michael Vick owner and know I am playing with fire each and
every week. This past week in that same league, I was hurt by Arian
Foster's early exit. Did I lose because of that? No. Eli disappointed
as a replacement for Vick and my opponent's players simply had better
Maybe what I am about to rant about is warranted for another week's
discussion or a combination of last week's, this week's, and a future
I am NOT a fan of H2H leagues whatsoever. I can understand the novelty
of H2H, but one team's success has zero effect on the success of
the other team's players. In fact, fantasy football is all about
making the correct choices for YOUR team for THAT week. So, in essence,
you're battling yourself. Not as much fun, but that's the reality
of it. For example, I happened to play the best team (record and
points-wise), but the owner has 2 of his 3 best players on bye.
Does that make my team better? No. Did it put me in a better position
compared to the rest of the league? Yes. Is that fair? Not really.
That's luck and has nothing to do with my team other than [the fact
that] I wasn't hurt the same week by byes.
Alternative to H2H:
Everyone plays against the league average. If the league average
for your league is 85 points, your team must score more to get a
win. If your team scores less, you receive a loss. This gives teams
beset by early injuries to their players the chance to overcome
them by simply beating the league's average. Is this being done
in any league I am in? No, the set up is not available and would
need to be done manually. However, I am a programmer and just might
have to do it myself to get what I want.
This Week's Question: Does your league
put the average weekly score to work as a category?
If you have a strong reaction to Joe's proposal concerning an average
weekly score (which appears in the final block quotation above),
I would like to know whether that reaction is positive or negative
However, in order to make Joe's question about a weekly average
score relevant to as wide an audience as possible, this seems like
a great opportunity for me to ask if there are any leagues out there
that are already using the weekly average score as a meaningful
part of their contest. I've been in plenty of leagues whose commissioners
make a note of the weekly average. I remember one commissioner who
dedicated a section of the newsletter to the weekly average and
a list of the teams that failed to beat the average score (called
"The Wall of Shame" if memory serves.)
If your league does anything with the weekly average score (beyond
simply calculating it), I
look forward to hearing from you. And my thanks to everyone
who wrote in concerning injured QBs.
Survivor Picks - Week 9 (Courtesy of
Trap Game: Philadelphia at Oakland
If you think you know what the Raiders are, think again. Their quarterback
is capable of running the entire length of the field for a TD in
just a few seconds, but he is also capable of spending entire quarters
doing almost nothing. The most impressive thing about Terrelle Pryor's
93-yard run is also the most unsettling: He generated more rushing
yardage on that one play than passing yardage (just 88 total yards
through the air) in the rest of the game. Sure, he's capable of
making that one play that breaks a game open. But he's also capable
of doing, as Jim Mora might put it, "diddly-poo." And
this week he and the Raider nation are up against an Eagles team
that will have to rely on Nick Foles (who has apparently recovered
from his concussion). But will it be the awesome Foles we saw vs.
Tampa or the bumbler who showed up against Dallas? Who knows? Don't
try to figure it out. Just steer clear of this one.
#3: Seattle over Tampa Bay (6-2: KC, NEP,
MN, NO, SF, DEN, MIA, GB)
Pete Carroll was once the hot new college coach who had just made
the jump to the NFL and was on the hot seat with the Jets before
returning to the college ranks to take USC to a National Championship.
But Carroll has since returned to the NFL and proven that not ALL
college coaches lack what it takes to coach in the NFL. Greg Schiano,
on the other hand, has yet to win a game in 2013. On top of that,
his players are talking out of turn and there is a real sense that
he has lost his locker room and will soon lose his job. Coach Carroll
empathizes with his situation, but in this battle between two teams
clearly going in opposite directions, don't look for any miracles
for the Bucs. The Seahawks win this one running away against an
offense that is 31st in yards per game (297), 9th in fumbles given
up (11), and 31st in touchdowns scored (10). If you aren't quite
sure what to do and haven't used the best defense in the league,
this is a perfect matchup for you.
#2: Dallas over Minnesota (6-2: DEN, PHL,
SF, IND, STL, HOU, GB, SEA)
The Cowboys lost last week on the old Dan Marino fake spike play
that was perfectly executed by Matthew Stafford for a one-point
victory. On paper their matchup against the struggling Vikings seems
like one of those no brainers, but anytime you face an offense that
has Adrian Peterson in it, there is always a possibility that he
will break an 80-yard run for a touchdown that puts Minnesota on
top. Combine that with the fact that Monte Kiffin's defense has
now given up a record number of 400-yard passing games to opposing
quarterbacks in a season (not to mention a 300+ receiving day by
a receiver) and you have to wonder whether Jerry Jones is ready
to fire Kiffin after this game if the Cowboys don't pull this one
out at home this week. The Cowboys defense is dead last in yards
allowed, but thanks to a 4th-ranked offense, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant
should have one of their best days ever against the league's 30th-ranked
defense and atone for the one that got away.
#1: Carolina over Atlanta (7-1: IND, OAK,
SEA, DEN, ATL, CHI, SD, SF)
With Jacksonville on a bye and most of the heavy favorites this
week probably burned already in survivor pools, only one game really
stand outs as a legitimate candidate for consideration. The Carolina
Panthers find themselves above .500 after eight weeks for the first
time since 2008 on the strength of their third-ranked defense in
total yards per game (301). But the Falcons' aging running back
Steven Jackson is anticipated to return for his first game since
week two to take some pressure off of Matt Ryan. Even so, without
a healthy Roddy White (hamstring) and Julio Jones (season ending
IR - broken foot), the Panthers second-ranked scoring defense should
be able to limit last year's NFC South Champions to less than two
touchdowns at home as they establish themselves as one of the favorites
for an NFC wildcard spot.
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.