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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Apathy and Intricacy

Part 1 -- Update on Daily/Weekly FF Discussion

In my last column, I shared what little I've learned about daily/weekly fantasy football and solicited feedback from readers who have participated in this emerging fantasy sports trend.

I received some interesting commentary (both from those who have played daily/weekly FF and from those who have strong opinions about the subject even without having participated in any daily/weekly contests). I have decided to postpone sharing that commentary until closer to the beginning of the season for a couple of reasons. One concern is that many FFToday readers won't check back in with the website until the middle/end of August, and I want to give those folks a chance to chime in on the discussion as well. A second (and potentially more titillating) consideration is that FFToday will probably be offering some new features in 2014 to assist our daily/weekly FF enthusiasts, though I shouldn't talk about that content until all the details have been hammered out. I ask the readers who have already sent in their opinions about daily/weekly FF to be patient. Your voices will be heard just as the NFL season gets underway (which is when more people are paying attention anyway).

Part 2 -- A Technique to Combat Apathy

The best thing about postponing the daily/weekly FF discussion is that it gives me a chance to address a note I received from Dave last season (though I wasn't able to work it into any of the hot topics of 2013). Dave wrote in with a suggestion for keeping owners motivated through the very last game of the fantasy season.

If your league suffers from owners who "check out" after being eliminated from championship contention, you may want to review Dave's method, which uses draft position as an incentive for keeping everyone (even the cellar dwellers) as competitive as possible to the bitter end:

After hearing some of the ways other leagues handle draft order, I wanted to share how we do ours now as I use a hybrid that I think works well. I wanted a small incentive for all guys to play right through to week 16. We have a 14-team redraft league. Top six make the A playoffs, bottom eight make the B playoffs. If you lose your B playoff, I set up a C for those 4 teams and the 2 losers of the first round A games play each other in a 2-week total match.

The following year I do a random draft order, but the winner of each of the 3 playoff divisions gets their choice of the 4 draft picks of the people that were in their division. So let's say the random draft generator has the four guys in the C division draft in the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 11th positions. The person who won the C division gets to choose which of those 4 positions he wants. The person who lost the C division final gets the choice of the 3 remaining and then the guy who won his C consolation gets the choice of the 2 remaining.

What I like about it is:

1. The guys have at least something to play for right up to week 16.

2 The guys with weaker teams from the previous year have just as much chance as ending up with the number 1 pick (or what pick they want) as the A division teams but if you did well in the playoffs you do have a greater likelihood of drafting in a position that you want.

3. In the grand scheme of things, draft order doesn't confer a huge, if any, advantage anyway.

This idea appeals to me on all sorts of levels. The best thing about it, from my perspective, is that it doesn't force the successful owners to take "rewards" they don't want. In conventional redraft leagues with serpentine drafts, the top overall pick can feel like a punishment more than a reward. If I regard the top four choices as roughly equal, then I don't want the first pick. I would rather pick fourth, take whichever stud is left on the board, and not have to wait until the very last pick of the second round for my next selection.

I'm a sucker for rules that give individual participants agency, but even Dave admits that the agency he gives the owners in his league isn't terribly important. It may seem odd that he invites his fellow owners to compete over draft position only to admit that it may not confer much of an advantage, but it works for me. I'm not 100% convinced that my position in a draft has anything to do with how successful my team will be, but if you give me a chance to pick my own spot, I'll still take you up on it.

The only niggling concern I have about Dave's method is that it appeals strictly to people (like me) who are suckers for intricate/nuanced rules. I know more than a few FFers who simply lack the patience to try to understand what Dave has outlined. There are too many contingencies and complications for this method to incentivize everyone.

Over the years, I've received all sorts of suggestions for dealing with owner apathy, and the one thing they have in common is that they all add one more layer of complexity to league rules. They probably do work as well as I imagine for those of us who enjoy complexity, but they're presumably counterproductive for those who prefer simplicity.

I suspect a few commissioners out there have tried to implement rules such as Dave's only to run into resistance from league members who insist on keeping things simple. Am I right? If your league would rather just accept a certain level of apathy than implement new rules to combat it, what do you do? I'm eager to hear from any commissioners who have wrestled with this problem.

Part 3: Summer Reading

Are you starved for NFL-related journalism?

I'm not talking about fantasy articles. July and August provide the fantasy community with plenty of projections (which are always interesting) along with discussions of the likely impact of coaching changes on player stats (such as the contention that Scott Linehan will probably improve Tony Romo's value). There are also mock drafts to be analyzed and commented upon.

I'm talking about real-world football journalism. During the regular season, I don't have enough time to read everything about the NFL that piques my interest, but during the offseason, I can't find much that holds my attention. I don't want to read another word about where Johnny Manziel went in the draft. I don't care what anyone says about whether Josh Gordon will be active in 2014; I'm happy to just wait and see. I'm tired of having links to information about the never-ending Aaron Hernandez saga pop up in my browser.

I know it's possible for interesting stories about the NFL to be written in the offseason because I read one in June. What I don't know is why I can't find more fun stuff to read about the NFL than the endless rumor-mongering, speculation, and armchair two-a-daying that seems to constitute offseason NFL journalism.

PLEASE HELP! I need people to send me links to the best NFL-related (not fantasy-related) articles they've encountered this summer. If possible, please let me know what stands out about any articles you're willing to bring to my attention. I hope to share two or three selections from readers (along with a link to the most interesting article I've seen this summer) in my next column.

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.