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Week 3

Last Week's Question

A reader named Keith wrote in seeking advice on how to transition his ordinary serpentine redrafter league to an auction league (particularly considering how his league-mates are reluctant to change their ways). I summarized my correspondence with him in last week's column. I only wish I had responded to Keith's plight as comprehensively and usefully as Joe does:
Having served as a commissioner for more than a decade, I can say that the success of a FF league is built on democratic theory. This means one does what the majority of the owners desire. I start and end all meetings by saying, "This is not my league; it's your league. Thanks for your participation." This philosophy results in a minimum of turnover and outright abandonment (we have NONE). So my first suggestion is to quit belly-aching and since you enjoy the league and owners, respect the majority opinion.

That being said, here is an idea for you. Approach the owners with the idea of having a second draft based on auction rules (using play money). Offer to set-up and run a FREE league at Yahoo. If they have any inclination to try an auction, they will approve the idea. If not, forget it and yield to democracy.

P.S. Offer to host the draft and provide the beer. If they won't come for free beer and a free league, they ain't interested pal.

Of course, the difficult part of Keith's question is that he is sure that his co-owners only think they don't want an auction league. He is convinced that if they will just try it, they will like it, and perhaps Joe's suggestion about the free beer is the way to get them to give it a whirl. Keith's co-owners might also be interested in testimonials such as the one offered by Greg:
Recently I drafted an auction team for the first time for another owner who couldn't attend draft. I was told I would love it . . . and I DID! What a blast. The commish who ran things was very organized (a must) and things went very smoothly. I bid on and got studs like P. Manning and S. Alexander and got good value for lesser players like M. Bennett (get well soon). As a longtime fantasy football owner and commissioner I had no idea what I was missing.

Switching over from a "regular" draft to an auction league would be scary because of the massive change involved for all the owners. I may bring up the idea during next year's draft for the year after, which will give everybody a chance to think about it and mull it over.
I'll fasten onto one of Greg's parenthetical points here by stressing that he found an organized commissioner to be "a must." My first point of advice to Keith was to join an auction league in addition to the league he was already in, but he rejected the idea because the main thing he likes about his league is the people he plays with. After receiving Greg's response, I will suggest that a person in Keith's position will probably do well to join an auction league in addition to his own league if only to participate in a competitive auction or two before attempting to overhaul his own league. While it's true that one can get plenty of great information about auction drafts online or from many of the preseason fantasy publications, people like Keith are probably setting themselves up for disaster if they do convince their league-mates to try an auction draft without having participated in enough such drafts to have a feel for how they are best conducted.

I'll close with a cautionary response from Jarett, who wrote in to share his failed experience with Keith.
I understand Keith's problem exactly. My league has been together for 6 years, and two of us have been trying to get us to use an auction draft for a couple of years now, but the rest of the guys just won't bite. It seemed to me that maybe the other owners didn't want to try it because they were afraid of being taken advantage of. They want to stick with what they know because they feel like it makes the playing field level. I can understand that, so I decided that the best thing to do would be to have a practice auction. I emailed everybody and got them to agree to meet for this year's draft 2 hours early. We usually start at 8 p.m. on the Monday before the season gets underway, but everyone was able to make it at 6. The first plan was for us to have our regular draft from 6 to 9 and then to stick around for a phony auction draft from 9 to whenever.

But then some guys started grumbling that they didn't have that much time, so we agreed to have a kind of abbreviated auction. Since our usual draft is 16 rounds, we decided that for our auction draft, we would keep the players at the bottom of our rosters (the ones drafted in rounds 9-16) and put the players drafted in rounds 1-8 up for auction. It seemed like a good way to save time.

Then at the draft, only one kicker (Vanderjagt) and three defenses (Baltimore, New England, and Dallas-the Dallas guy is a homer) went before round 9. By round 12, a few people were complaining that the auction would be screwy because only the very best and worst kickers and defenses would be available in the auction pool [since the others would stay on the rosters of the owners who drafted them in rounds 9-16]. But that gripe turned out not to matter because by round 16, we were all too tired of drafting to be interested in having an auction anyway. It seemed like a good idea on email, but there's only so much fantasy football a group can take in an evening. The moral of the story is that if you want to have a practice auction, I think you should 1) practice putting together a whole team and 2) schedule it on a separate day than your official draft.
This Week's Question

It's early enough in the season that I think we can all look objectively at a question that starts to become a little cloudy for us in the thick of the fantasy playoff race: What should we do with Week 17? I posed this question at the end of the 2003 season and have saved the responses of those who wrote in at that time. But I remain curious about what people think is the best way to handle a week that is problematic for most leagues. Do you hold your fantasy championship in a week when star players are riding the pine simply because their teams have already made or been eliminated from the NFL post-season? Do you avoid fantasy match-ups in Week 17 like the plague? Do you combine the scores from Weeks 16 and 17 to determine the winner in your league? What solution has your league adopted for the problem posed by Week 17? What solutions have you considered, implemented, and rejected? Why?

LMS Picks for Week 3 (Courtesy of Matt)

Trap Game(s): Jacksonville Over Tennessee:
There are so many great match-ups this week with potential, like Chicago over Minnesota or Green Bay over Indy, but those are games that are going to be close anyway. This week, I would stay away from picking Tennessee because Jacksonville is now defined as a defensive team, and with Tennessee ailing on offense this game may come down to a field goal or less. This game has all the makings of a hard fought battle. Take the under.

#3: Kansas City over Houston (2-0 This Season):
I'm trying to avoid the divisional match-ups this week, which are so tempting to take. Remember my notes from last week about these types of games. Kansas City cannot afford to start 0-3 and think about making the playoffs, especially if they lose to Houston. Priest Holmes might be questionable and Eddie Kennison might be out for a few weeks, but at home, this team should win.

#2: Atlanta over Arizona (2-0 This Season):
The Dirty Birds are starting to make believers out of me again. What a difference a healthy Vick can make for that team. Warrick Dunn might be out this week or longer but T.J. Duckett should be able to fill that void. With the Birds at home and Arizona's offense not clicking, this could be one of the easier picks this season.

#1: Seattle over San Francisco (2-0 This Season):
I don't think it is fair that the 49ers have now become the patsies of the league, but this team is not what it used to be. Seattle has a revamped defense that the 49ers have not seen yet, and San Francisco will have to field a rookie quarterback. The Seahawks could get a defensive score against an inexperienced Dorsey, who will be making his second NFL start, and Shaun Alexander should have a BIG day at home now that his knee is rested. While this may be a divisional game (potential trap), Seattle should outclass the 49ers this week.

For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your LMS picks, please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.