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Week 16

Last Week's Question

I fear that between my holiday travel schedule and a technological snafu (attributable to my own incompetence, no doubt), I have been unable to access the responses from readers that drifted in over the course of the week. Before I started my wanderings, I remember reading a few follow-up suggestions concerning post-season fantasy leagues as well as a number of interesting points about the possibility that fantasy football is eroding team loyalty. I look forward to incorporating those responses in next week’s column (once I have returned home), and I will certainly be sending my thanks to those who wrote in. My apologies for not responding to you if you wrote a response to the Week 15 column, but I should be able to set things right next week.

This Week's Question

My question for Week 16 concerns the way to handle retroactive scoring adjustments in fantasy leagues. However, since it can be a bit tempting to dismiss such questions with a knee-jerk response along the lines of, “Sheesh, just get it right the first time,” I want to start by mentioning a real NFL “adjustment” that may help us to understand the plight of winners who become losers after having spent some time thinking of themselves as winners.

As many football fans are already aware, the NFL erroneously informed the Indianapolis Colts earlier this week that LT Tarik Glenn had been selected to the Pro Bowl. Tony Dungy promptly notified Glenn (and seven other Honolulu-bound Colts) of the honor. What did Glenn do next? My guess is that he called his wife to tell her the news. If not his wife, then maybe his best friend from college. I don’t suppose it matters who he called, but it’s presumably safe to assume that he started talking about himself as a Pro Bowler to somebody. He certainly began to think of himself as a Pro-Bowler.

The problem is that Glenn should not have been thinking of or talking about himself in that way. He is not, in fact, a Pro Bowler. The NFL made what league officials are calling a “tabulation error.” After informing Tony Dungy and the Colts about which Indianapolis players made the Pro Bowl, the league apparently got around to carrying the one—or some such thing—and discovered that the spot that had been wrongly awarded to Glenn in fact belonged to Baltimore’s Jonathan Ogden.

Glenn, as it turns out, is only a first alternate to the Pro Bowl—not a bona fide selection.

So roughly two hours later, the NFL called Tony Dungy back. We can only imagine the conversation. It probably went something like this:

“Hey, ummmm, Tony, what’s up?”

“We’re gearing up for the Seahawks. What can I do for you?”

“Wellll, ummmm, remember when I called earlier about your seven Pro Bowlers?”

“Eight Pro Bowlers,” Tony corrected.

“Wellll, ummmm, gee, that’s the thing of it, really . . .”

“What’s the thing of what?”

“The way to look at it is, wellll, ummmm, seven is pretty good—more than any other team is sending.”

“And eight is even better. Can you get to your point?”

“Wellll, ummmm, it’s just that, gee whiz Tony, I dunno how to tell you this . . .”

“Tell me what?”

“We sort of ummmm, wellll, forgot to carry the one when it came to tabulating the votes for Jonathan Ogden. And it sort of turns out that wellll, ummmm, Tarik Glenn is only a first alternate for the Pro Bowl.”

“Do what now?”

“Look, it was an honest mistake, and . . .”

“And you want me to tell Glenn that he’s NOT going to the Pro Bowl?”

“That’d be great. Bye bye.”


Whereupon Tony Dungy had to go buttonhole Glenn. Again, I wasn’t privy to the conversation, but I’m guessing the first words out of Dungy’s mouth were, “Wellll, ummmm . . .”

We can debate whether Glenn is more valuable to his offensive line than Ogden is to his. We can say (as many analysts have already) that Ogden was outplayed by Glenn this year—and that the Raven is going to the Pro Bowl by virtue of name recognition rather than performance. We could even try to appeal to Ogden’s sense of fair play and call upon him to turn down his Pro Bowl selection so as to enable Glenn to move up from his alternate position. But why should Ogden do such a thing? He’s not the one who screwed up.

I suppose it’s the nature of honest mistakes to create awkwardness, and one of the leagues to which I belong is currently experiencing the awkwardness of an honest mistake.

The championship for this particular league occurs in Week 15, and the loser of that championship can relate to Tarik Glenn extremely well at the moment. His name is Chris Hull, and he went to sleep on Sunday night thinking that he had won the championship 106-105. First thing Monday morning, he logged into our website again to confirm that he had won—or maybe not so much to “confirm” the victory as to revel in it.

There it was: 106-105. Chris’ name was going on the trophy. He was going to pocket the purse. What would he buy with his winnings? Probably a bigger television so as to enjoy football even more next season.

We all congratulated Chris. Even his opponent congratulated him. It had been a tight game, but Chris had won it.

Then, late on Monday or some time on Tuesday, a message appeared on our league website. A fumble recovery that had been credited to the Colt defense was nullified because it was actually the Colt offense that had recovered the fumble. Fumbles are worth three points to defenses in this league, and since Chris had used the Colts in the championship game, his score sank from 106 to 103.

Some people in Chris’ position might have argued that the “Colt defense” is the unit that happens to be on the field whenever Indianapolis’ opponent has the ball. Every time Peyton Manning has thrown an interception, he has become a defender. When I pick the Colt defense in my draft, I’m not picking a particular set of players. I am picking any players who perform a certain function for Indianapolis. If the Colts decide to use Edgerrin James as a safety, then he becomes one of my players as long as he functions as a defender for the Colts. Similarly, once Manning was picked off by Drayton Florence on Sunday, he and James and Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark (and Tarik Glenn for that matter!) all became defenders. They were poorly trained and inept defenders—but defenders nevertheless.

At least, that’s the argument that I would have expected from some FFers that I’ve played with. Chris didn’t make that argument. He simply accepted the change in score and congratulated his opponent, Mark, on the win. (Mark beat me in Week 14, so I was relieved to see him win, since it’s always easiest to swallow defeat when the person who beats you goes on to take it all!)

The point is that Chris didn’t even realize his championship was in jeopardy. He thought that he had won the game, but the facts later sorted themselves out and transformed him into a loser. He and Tarik Glenn could get together for a beer and cry about how they got shafted, but it’s not clear to me that anything can be done for either of them. Mistakes are going to happen from time to time, which means that people are going to get shafted unfairly on occasion. Even so, I’m willing to bet that a few leagues out there have taken precautions against the kind of confusion that Chris experienced this week. Are there commissioners out there who send out reminders during the playoffs that scores aren’t final until ______? Are there leagues that require players to contest scores before the scores can be reversed (and how do such leagues function in an age in which league-hosting services make such adjustments on their own)? Or do we all just accept that the Tarik Glenns and Chris Hulls of the world sometimes get a raw deal?

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)

A note from Matthew by way of preface:

This should be the last week for Last Man Standing/Survival Pools. To all those still in the hunt, congratulations. Unfortunately, at this stage of the season, you are probably finding that most of the people who are still in the Survival Pools are matching you on every pick—and very few have dropped by the wayside. Why? Because most of the teams have become very predictable in picking the winners. If you are fortunate, you have left yourself one or two teams that are solid locks for you to pick. This week I am going to add final scores since that is probably the tie-breaker in your Last Man Standing or Survival Pool. Hopefully you can use this information and take home the big prize. Best of luck to all of you, and I hope to be included in next year’s column. With that said, I want to publicly thank Mike Davis for including me in his column over the last few years. It has been a real honor to be a part of what I consider a great place to pick up and exchange ideas on running a fantasy football league. Now let’s get to it.

Trap Game: Jacksonville @ Houston:
How did the 49ers stay in the game against a Jaguars team that is playoff bound? If the Jags do the same against the Texans, they will lose this week. Domanick Davis will probably not play because of his swollen knee, and Jonathan Wells may find that he has played himself into a role for next year. With Dan Reeves watching every move, the Texans will do everything in their power to make sure that they are not eligible for the first pick. David Garrard has to step up and play a smart game to clinch a playoff position, and if Fred Taylor is healthy enough to play, he should be relied upon to put this game away. Lately, the trap games have come true, so be careful in selecting the Jags in Houston if that is your best option.

#3: Dolphins over Tennessee (11-3 Season):
The Dolphins made it interesting against a Jets team that may be in a position to draft Reggie Bush. While the Titans are the youngest team in the league, they will make it tough for the Fins to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Sage Rosenfels will most likely be under center against a Titan passing defense that is ranked 26th against the pass. Chris Chambers should continue his late season surge, and Ricky Williams will be the featured back with Ronnie Brown most likely resting his knee. Tennessee will keep it close, but the Dolphins will prevail at home. Dolphins 20 Titans 13

#2: Chicago at Green Bay (9-5 Season):
Rex Grossman is back in the starting lineup and showed what the Bear offense could do with a balanced attack. Barring a major setback, the Bears should look up a playoff spot at Lambeau Field even with bad weather a possibility. The Bears defense is just too much for the Packers; Sam Gado might be out because of a knee injury; and you just might be seeing the last of Brett Favre. Don’t expect a rout, but do expect some offensive touchdowns through the air for Grossman. Bears 27 Packers 10

#1: Denver over Oakland (12-2 Season):
The Broncos/Raiders game is always a great game because of the long-time rivalry. However, these teams are definitely going in different directions this year. Jake Plummer will pick the Raiders defense apart with Rod Smith, and Tatum Bell should break loose for a 100-yard day. As for the Raiders, Kerry Collins may not be a Raider next year because of his salary and as such, he is auditioning for a job somewhere else. This was the year that he was supposed to light it up with Moss and Porter, but unfortunately they never did quite connect. Broncos 31 Raiders 13

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.

Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live, on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived programs are also available.