Last Week's Question: Do ejections
warrant any special handling in fantasy leagues?
In my column
for Week 10, I reported Hugh's complaint about the hole in
his lineup created by A.J. Green's ejection. His point was that
in the NFL, Green's spot on the field was immediately assigned
to another player, whereas that same spot was simply left vacant
on his fantasy team.
Almost all of the responses I received pointed out (in one way
or another) that an ejection is no different than an injury. These
things happen, and fantasy owners have to learn to take their
lumps when they do. As RJ put it, "I don't care . . . if
he was shot dead on the field. You started the player and that's
the points you get."
Wayne took matters even further, suggesting that since ejections
hurt teams in much the same way as turnovers, it might even make
sense to penalize players (and their fantasy owners) when ejections
[G]iven the negative impact [ejections have], I'd probably be
more in favor of giving negative 2 points for an ejection like
a fumble or interception than having a special provision that
allows ejected players roster slots to continue to produce for
their fantasy team when they have ceased producing positive results
for their actual team.
The most actionable suggestion came from BigD, who pointed out
that fantasy owners who don't want to deal with ejections will
probably be better off playing in "best ball" formats,
which generate lineups after games have been played based on which
players had the best performance.
Such leagues not only take the sting out of ejections, but make
it fun to have feast-or-famine players on your roster, since they
will automatically end up on your bench during a famine and in
your lineup during a feast.
The most innovative suggestion came from Jack, who proposed a
form of insurance that Hugh's league could sell to owners:
Next year, Hugh's league could sweeten the pot by selling "player
replacement insurance" to owners who want to pony up for
it. Charge whatever you want (X dollars/week or some percentage
of the league entry fee—whatever seems right for the league).
Make the rule so that it only applies to ejections or injuries
or both (not just a bench player randomly outscoring a starter).
If Hugh wants to pay the extra fee for the protection, he'll feel
like a super-winner when one of his players gets ejected—and
a super-sucker every other week of the season.
That's a clever suggestion, Jack. But something tells me you're
not the commissioner who would have to figure out how to adjust
the scoring in a way that would accommodate a plan such as this
one. (Or maybe you run your league with pen & paper and it
would be effortless for you.)
In any case, I received no practical suggestions for the special
handling of ejections in fantasy—and no real indication
that such handling is even desirable in most leagues.
My thanks go out to everyone who posted or emailed a response
to last week's column, whether I included your remarks above or
This Week's Question: What's the quirkiest
rule your league's website can handle?
As someone who played fantasy football back when commissioners relied
on box scores and calculators, let me say that league-hosting websites
such as MyFantasyLeague, ESPN, Yahoo, etc. have been a giant step
forward in terms of convenience.
At the same time, however, they have had a standardizing effect
on the way leagues keep score and settle championships.
When I see suggestions like the one from Jack above, I'm reminded
of all the bizarre touches that commissioners shared with me in
the late '90s—scoring quirks that would presumably be impossible
to implement in most leagues today because they required complex
and idiosyncratic calculations by the commissioner.
For example, I remember hearing from one league that had a policy
with a silly name (something close to "the rolling snowball
of disaster") based on the total number of turnovers a team
had. If a team's skill players had more than 5 turnovers between
them, then the number of yards and points that team's defense
yielded was increased by 50%. The logic seemed to be that if your
offense turned the ball over that much, your defense would be
more tired and vulnerable. So even though your defense only gave
up 400 yards and 20 points, it would receive the score of a defense
that gave up 600 yards and 30 points. That's an easy adjustment
to make on paper—but not so easy (or enjoyable) to handle
via the typical league-hosting interface.
I know some commissioners can make their old, weird scoring formulas
work only by overriding the hosting systems they rely on and adjusting
certain things by hand. That's impressive dedication, and I hope
to hear from some commissioners this week who have to make such
adjustments just to keep a particular scoring tradition in their
But I also hope to hear from commissioners who have figured out
how to make their hosting websites keep track of unique/ highly
customized scoring procedures that might seem too elaborate for
most folks. Please post a comment below or email
me to let me know about the quirkiest rule or scoring adjustment
your league's website can handle.
#3: New Orleans over Washington: (5-5,
BUF, TB, CLE, NE, NYG, ATL, PHI, MN, SEA, PIT)
The Saints haven’t lost since Week 2 and are clearly playing
some of their best football in the heart of the season. Meanwhile,
Washington (4-5) is struggling to stay in the wild card hunt since
Philadelphia has pretty much locked up the NFC East. The Redskins
find themselves on the road for the second time in three weeks,
which helps explain why the Saints are 9-point favorites. I'm
not quite that confident in New Orleans' home field advantage,
especially since Seattle's 12th man wasn't enough for the Seahawks
to overcome Washington in Week 9. But as dangerous as the Redskins
can be on the road, they are unlikely to defeat the best team
Sean Payton has assembled in years (thanks to the resurgence of
Ingram and the emergence of Alvin
#2: Kansas City at the NY Giants: (7-3, NE,
SEA, PIT, ATL, PHI, HOU, TN, CIN, JAC, LAR)
The Verizon commercial that features Odell
Beckham Jr. must be a heartbreaker for Giants fans to watch.
Every time it airs, I imagine New Yorkers muttering, "Remember
when we used to have a thrilling passing attack?" It's probably
worse than that now—more along the lines of, "Remember when we
didn't stink?" Ben McAdoo is in a rotten situation. His future
is a series of tough opponents (divisional rivals plus Oakland
and Kansas City); his past is a 1-10 record; and his present centers
on the magic trick of keeping players who have already quit on
him from quitting on him. Eli
Manning's two Super Bowl rings can't be much of a consolation
to McAdoo—especially with Alex
Smith playing so well and being surrounded by so many healthy
offensive weapons. Barring a “dead cat bounce” where the Giants
finally find an identity, take the Chiefs for modest gain on an
#1: Jacksonville at Cleveland: (7-3 ATL, OAK,
NE, SEA, PIT, DEN, DAL, PHI, HOU*, DET)
Over the years (and I have had the honor of sharing this column
with Mike Davis since 2001), there have been many times when a
game that screamed "Lock of the week!" also screamed
"Caution!" You can't watch the NFL as long as I have
without learning a couple of basic lessons: 1) the Browns are
bad—consistently and unrelentingly bad; and 2) the Jaguars
have a tendency to play to the level of their competition. If
there's one team you can count on to be better at losing than
any other NFL team, it's the Browns. But if there's one team you
can count on for figuring out how to lose to the losingest team
of them all, it's the Jaguars.
But maybe not this year... Seriously, Jacksonville has a legitimate
shot at winning the AFC South in 2017. Their only real competition
is Tennessee, and a record of 10-6 will probably get them a ticket
to the playoffs whether they take the division crown or not. Combine
that with the fact that the Jags have one of the “easier”
schedules the rest of the way, inclusive of this week, and you
could plug the Jags in as your survival pool candidate almost
any week through the rest of the season. But if you had to pick
a week that the Jaguars should be an AUTOMATIC lock, then this
is the week to go “all in” on the Jags—if only
because no matter how determined Jacksonville may be to play down
to the level of their competitors, it's difficult to be as bad
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer
than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped
inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can
be found here.