Last Week's Question: Should roster-freezing
leagues allow the reactivation of players from IR?
My column for Week
14 featured a question from Rudy, who found himself caught
between a rock (a league policy of rosters being frozen throughout
the playoffs) and a hard place (a separate policy that requires
owners to activate players from IR when those players are reactivated
by their NFL teams).
If Aaron Rodgers returns to action in Week 16, then Rudy is compelled
by the second rule to reactivate him (which is reasonable, since
active players in the NFL do not belong on IR in fantasy). But
if Rudy reactivates Rodgers in Week 16, then he’ll need
to drop another player from his roster to make room for the QB
(which sounds like a lot of activity for a “frozen”
Although I don’t know why Rudy’s league has a frozen
roster rule, most such rules come into being to prevent a sneaky
form of collusion that can occur between teams that have been
eliminated from the playoffs and teams that are still in the hunt.
Let’s say that I’m out of contention with Keenan Allen
on my roster and that my closest friend in the league is one game
away from the championship—but in need of help at receiver.
In a typical redraft league, if I attempted to trade Allen to
my friend, everyone in the league would call B.S. So instead,
I might wait for an open add/drop period and drop Allen at 3 a.m.,
when my friend just happens to be the only other person awake
and monitoring the league website.
Frozen rosters prevent such nonsense from happening, but they
can also create a lot of unexpected headaches. Since most serious
fantasy teams only have room for 1 kicker, a frozen roster policy
can mean going into a championship game with an empty roster slot
because your kicker happened to sustain a concussion the week
prior. Jeffrey’s league has developed a solution for just
such a contingency: “My league also freezes rosters during
the playoffs. Due to this, we have switched to team kickers.”
If you’re going to have frozen rosters, owning the generic
kicker for the Chargers (instead of Nick Novak specifically) prevents
owners from being arbitrarily screwed by injury.
Jeffrey went on to explain how he would handle Rudy’s problem:
[S]ince [Rudy’s] league has an IR roster spot, there is
an option. This team would have to drop a player and just put
Aaron Rodgers on the active roster before the freeze. Basically,
they are losing a roster spot, but it could pay off in the championship
game. This is how I would set it up if I was the commish of this
Andy largely echoed Jeffrey’s rationale, but his emphasis
on “intra-team moves” shines a spotlight on what is
most important from my perspective:
Our league locks rosters for add/drop. You can still make intra-team
moves from bench to starter. Your league should have you keep
Rodgers on IR except for one of two scenarios: 1) someone else
on the roster goes on IR, thus a 1-for-1 swap with no add/drop,
or 2) you move Rodgers NOW to your bench before rosters freeze.
Scenario 2 is more likely, and it keeps the spirit of the 'frozen
roster' rule in place. We have someone in our league carrying
Rodgers on their bench (not IR), but it keeps him from adding
someone who is useful today.
Andy makes a series of good points here. For the sake of simplicity,
let’s say that Rudy has Carson
Wentz as his other QB. By moving the IR tag from Rodgers to
Wentz, he would maintain the same number of active players on
his roster without utilizing the add/drop feature of the league.
Such an outcome requires having just the right injured player
on your roster ahead of time, so it isn’t a universally workable
solution, but it might work in some cases.
The distinction that Andy makes between frozen rosters and frozen
starting lineups is also astute, though even less likely to crop
up in ordinary circumstances. It’s not unusual for leagues to
lock rosters for the playoffs, but I’ve never been in a league
that required owners to keep the exact same players on the bench
from one week to the next of the post-season.
In any case, the matter is even less complicated for me than it
is for Jeffrey and Andy, both of whom contend that Rodgers should
be reactivated in fantasy before the Packers reactivate him in
reality. My take on the question is that owners should always
be permitted as much latitude as possible without compromising
fairness. And since the fairness component of roster-freezing
has to do with preventing collusion-via-waivers, I don’t see why
the owner of Aaron Rodgers needs to do anything about the IR tag
on Rodgers until the Packers change it. Rudy presumably put Rodgers
on IR shortly after his injury and long before the playoffs began.
At the time, his purpose was to create a roster spot that he filled
with somebody else (let’s say he grabbed Blake
Bortles in desperation). As far as I’m concerned, he can keep
Bortles on his roster until Rodgers is reactivated—meaning that
if Rodgers isn’t reactivated, he can keep Bortles until the end
of the fantasy playoffs.
But is it fair for Rudy to be able to “unfreeze” his roster and
dump Bortles once Rodgers is back in action? I think so—because
the fallout of all these contingencies only affects one team:
Rudy’s. Collusion requires multiple participants. But the only
one who can use Rodgers is Rudy (who already has him), and if
Rudy drops Bortles to reactivate Rodgers, that’s okay too—since
no one else can add Bortles to their roster.
In other words, if the point of roster-freezing is to prevent
collusion, then someone would need to explain to me how the reactivation
of Rodgers could lead to collusion for me to consider the “frozen
roster” rule more important than the “reactivation from IR” rule
in Rudy’s league.
Readers who disagree with my conclusion (or who want to take issue
with the arguments of Jeffrey and Andy) are welcome to respond
to this column via email or in the comment section below. They
might also want to tackle Jason’s question on the same subject:
“How do leagues that utilize playoff roster freezes address suspensions
such as Gronkowski?”
I can’t speak for all leagues, but the roster-freezing leagues
to which I have belonged wouldn’t have responded to the Gronk
suspension in any particular way because his suspension took place
in Week 14 (which is traditionally the first week of the fantasy
playoffs). Even if your league allows you to put suspended players
on IR, there wouldn’t have been any point in doing so with Gronk
in roster-freezing leagues because his owners wouldn’t have been
able to modify their rosters via waivers or add/drop even if they
had Gronk’s slot open for another player.
I hope this discussion has been helpful, and I’m grateful to everyone
who participated (whether I had space to include their comments
Take a minute and give your fantasy football
commissioner some love this week. He likely deserves it.
This Week's Question: What do you appreciate
most about your commissioner?
I hereby propose that Week 16 of the NFL season be recognized
as Fantasy Commissioner Appreciation Week. And with any luck,
I’ll be able to feature some testimonials about the contributions
of commissioners to human happiness in my column for next week.
This idea stems from a conversation that I’ve had with a
reader named Sam in the comments section of my column from Week
14. Sam clearly understands the role that commissioners play in
keeping owners motivated, and his approach goes well beyond handing
out a weekly prize for high score and slapping together a Toilet
I have been writing articles for my league for most of its existence.
I publish "Game Summaries," "Power Rankings"
and "Matchups" every week and these are all custom articles
that I spend about 8 hours (total) per week on. In the preseason
I do a "Draft Review / Season Preview" article as well.
These are things that I have found keep teams engaged. Our league
is 20 teams (2 conferences of 10 that meet in the Super Bowl)
and we have very little turnover because of the type of engagement
that is created through personalization. You can't eliminate apathy,
but you can create an environment that engages more proactively
and maximizes interest. It really can be as simple as you get
what you give.
I’ve been in numerous leagues run by commissioners like
Sam. They’re always a blast, but I sometimes forget to express
my thanks to the commissioners who put in the extra effort that
make such leagues as enjoyable as they are.
I hope to correct that oversight next week by featuring the comments
of owners who appreciate the behind-the-scenes work that goes into
effective commissioning. If your commissioner goes above and beyond
her/his ordinary duties, please either comment below or send
me an email about it. If you are a commissioner who does something
unusual to enhance the experience of your league, don’t be
too ashamed to sing your own praises. My primary objective here
is to recognize the work that commissioners do—even if commissioners
are the only ones who appreciate it.
The 0-13 Browns could easily finish 2017 with a perfect 0-16 record.
It’s always tempting to pick against the Browns—especially
when you haven’t already used Cleveland’s opponent
in your survival pool. Baltimore has been so uneven this year
that the Ravens are probably still available to most survivalists.
But this is an intra-divisional matchup with the Browns playing
at home, so don’t say I didn’t warn you when Joe Flacco
and Terrell Suggs get upstaged by Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman.
Will the Browns have enough to win? I don’t know, but 0-13
teams rarely end up 0-16 . . . probably because home games against
divisional opponents can always bring out the best in the very
#3: Jacksonville over Houston (8-6, BUF,
TB, CLE, NE, NYG, ATL, PHI, MN, SEA, PIT, KC, NO, BAL, TENN, CIN)
In Week 1, the Jaguars went into Houston and absolutely SHOCKED
the Texans and the rest of the NFL. This week, Houston is missing
both DeShaun Watson and Tom Savage and will be turning to former
UNC standout T.J. Yates. Yates finds himself back under center
as a starter for this first time since November 15, 2015, when
he led the Texans over the NY Jets. But the Jags’ defense
is one of the best in the league. Combine that with a steady-as-you-go
offense that is built around rookie-of-the-year candidate Leonard Fournette, and that is the formula for a repeat of Jacksonville’s
Week 1 triumph. If you’ve been waiting for a week to use
the Jags, in spite of the divisional rivalry, feel free to take
the home favorite in this one.
At the beginning of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals were expected
to make a push for the 6th playoff spot in the AFC. Now they can
finish 8-8 at best. To do that, they will have to play a lot better
than they did in their 33-7 loss to the Bears in which they generated
less than 250 yards of total offense. The Vikings, in spite of
their loss to Carolina last week, have the inside track to win
the NFC North, and possibly play at home all the way through the
playoffs. But premature talk of that possibility may have led
to the team’s unfocused performance against the Panthers.
Don’t be surprised if Case Keenum isn’t put on a short
leash going forward with Teddy Bridgewater healthy and sitting
on the bench. No matter which one is under center, it should be
a home win for the Purple People Eaters.
#1: New Orleans over NY Jets (11-3 ATL,
OAK, NE, SEA, PIT, DEN, DAL, PHI, HOU*, DET, JAC, CIN, LAC, GB)
Look at what we have left as a survival pool pick! Yes, the Saints
are at home against a NY Jets team that was blanked on the road
by the Denver Broncos last week. Thanks to their own loss in Atlanta
last week, the Saints essentially must win this game to avoid
a showdown in Week 17 that would determine whether they make the
playoffs. At 10-6, there is a potential for a 3-way tie with the
Saints looking in from the outside with Seattle, the Rams, Philadelphia,
Minnesota and Atlanta all but locked in. To avoid that scenario,
Drew Brees and company must “get it done” in Week
15. Make no mistake, the Jets will try and give them a fight,
but trying will only get a team so far if it can only muster 100
yards of total offense (as the Jets did in Week 14). I wouldn’t
have given the Jets a chance with Josh McCown under center. With
Bryce Petty filling in for him, they’re even more difficult
to take seriously.
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.