Last Week's Question
week’s column, I shared one league’s practice
of awarding priority picks in the waiver wire to teams who have
lost key players to injury for the remainder of the season. The
feedback I received concerning this practice varied widely.
Bryon’s league, for instance awards priority in a no-nonsense
sort of way:
The way I run our league is that the minute a player
is placed on IR, the owner has rights to draft a replacement regardless
of free agency order or time of the week. They have to call in
and place the source they confirmed the IR through.
I felt this to be the most fair because as the Commissioner, I
want the league to be competitive throughout the year. So even
though injuries are part of the game for both fantasy and professional
owners, for the sake of keeping the game interesting for all participants
throughout the season I incorporated this format.
Bryon is not alone, as Anthony wrote in with an extremely similar
Our system works like this: As soon as a player
is officially placed on IR with the NFL, the owner of that player
can immediately place him on IR and pick up a replacement. I said
“replacement” because you can only pick up a player
of the same position as the one on IR. Team owners do not have
to wait for the Thursday waivers to make the pick; they can do
it at any time during the season. If for example two different
team owners have QB's both go on IR at the same time and they
both want the same player, then the owner that contacted me first
gets the player. For example, I just had an owner place Griese
on IR this morning (Thursday) and picked up McCown, this transaction
has already occurred although the waivers list is not done until
after 7:00 in the evening. This system has worked for us going
on 5 years.
Mike wrote in to share a time-tested formula that awards waiver
priority only in the case of injured quarterbacks:
Ours is a simple league, with 17 franchises, no
bench players, no head-to-head games, and is time-tested for 30+
years. We have tried several formulas, but the only format that
seems to keep owner interest up throughout the season is for weekly
meeting waiver wire moves to be prioritized in reverse order of
year-to-date points, round by round. It does not matter if someone
wants to "I.R." a player, or drop one (either because
of non-productivity or his bye week). All owners get one pick
per round of changes. The only exception is at quarterback, since
each franchise has only 1 QB in our league: if one's QB is injured
("Questionable" or worse), one may automatically take
the back-up without charge or waiting his turn with respect to
YTD points. If that franchise owner desires a QB other than the
back-up to cover an I.R., he waits his turn like everyone else
with respect to YTD points. Furthermore, in our league, if you
put a player on I.R., and he accumulates even 1 stat in the game,
he is activated for that week, and the "covering player"
receives no points for that game, and is released to the unused
player pool, to be drafted by anyone at the following week's meeting.
Another reader named John wrote in to share a different injury policy
that (coincidentally enough) also features special rules for the
In my league, we stress a strong draft that goes
for 21 rounds (2 QB’s, 2 Kickers, 4 RB's, 4 WR's, 8 Def,
1 Utility). Each week we start 1 QB, 1 Kicker, 2 RB, 2 WR (TE
combined), and 4 Defensive Players (Tackles and Sacks). We only
get 2 add/drops a year unless a player is placed on the IR by
his team. If one of your players goes on IR, then you get an additional
add/drop for that player which must me used within 2 weeks of
the announcement of his IR status. (Use it or lose it). Since
quarterbacks are injured all the time, when we draft our teams,
we draft all of the Quarterbacks on a team. If you draft Joey
Harrington, you automatically get his backups. If during the year
he is injured or benched, you still have the Detroit QB. We do
the same thing with kickers, which is why the IR rule does not
include QB's and kickers.
At long last, however, I did hear from a few dissenters on this
topic. It turns out that there are a few commissioners out there
who think that it makes no sense to give special breaks to teams
that have to contend with injury. A different Mike from the one
mentioned earlier had this to say:
Our waiver/free agent system is as easy as it gets.
Everyone has the same chance at a player regardless of record
or whether you lost a player or not because we simply have a blind
bidding system with the free agent going to the highest bidder.
I had Duece McAllister in our league, and not only would I get
no sympathy from other owners about his injury, but everyone was
happy that I lost him. Now to remedy that situation I had to pony
up for Antowain Smith. Injuries are a huge part of fantasy football
and not just to the team that had the injured player. You can
make a huge jump in the standings if you bid right. If you are
thin at RB and there are no starters on the waiver list, you are
conceivably just one ACL tear away from having the starter that
might just round out your team. The only decision is how much
to bid, which is what makes things interesting.
Roman was even more emphatic than Mike when it came to stating
his objection to teams with injuries receiving special treatment:
I'd like to add a response to your discussion of
IR and fantasy backups. I take the position that fantasy owners
should have the same bouts with bad luck that real football owners
do. When a player goes down, the whole NFL doesn't rally around
the poor injured team and help them find a replacement. It's an
owner’s responsibility to secure sufficient backup for every
position on the roster, and if they want to fly without one so
they can load up on another position, then that is the risk they
take. All owners should ask "What if Duece were to become
injured?" and act accordingly beforehand. Consequently, the
concept of somehow tying the real life backup to an owner's IR
player is silly. In fantasy ball, the players on your roster ARE
the backups. They are on the same "team" and thus are
the players waiting to fill the spot. That's why you have a bench!
The real life backup has no more reason to be the guy that fills
the open spot than the other guy you have already drafted or picked
up. Fantasy owners forget that they are building a team and should
imagine that all of their players are wearing the same fantasy
jersey. The point then is to build a team that can rotate and
support itself internally. That's the whole game of fantasy football.
No crutches, just personal responsibility.
My thanks to all those who wrote in. Obviously, there are a number
of different perspectives from which to view this question.
This Week's Question:
This week’s question comes from Albert, who wrote:
Hey Mike, I’d be interested to hear what you
and your readers think of the way our league uses team defenses
to equalize competition throughout the year. The way we do things
is to draft QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, and kickers before the season.
But then we have a separate draft each Wednesday for team defenses.
Team defenses can make or break a team in our league because we
give 2 points per sack, 4 points per turnover, 8 points per defensive
score, and one point for every ten yards a team covers in returning
a turnover. We had problems early on with some teams losing interest
because the playoffs would seem out of reach for them by week
6 or 7. We put this rule in so that no matter how bad your draft
may have gone, you can still be competitive on any given Sunday.
We are a head-to-head league, but we select defenses in reverse
order of points scored so far in the season. It works great for
I’m happy to solicit feedback on your question, Albert,
but I don’t know why you should care what others think of
your system as long as it works for you. Since you asked, I’ll
say I don’t quite see the point of going in reverse order
of points scored in a head-to-head league. That wrinkle must make
it doubly sour when your team puts up the second most points one
week only to lose to the team that scored the most points. If
I understand you correctly, a team that consistently finds itself
in this uncomfortable situation could end up with a losing record—and
yet not get to pick a defense until near the end of your weekly
draft. If your point is to equalize things, why not go in reverse
order of the standings—with points used as a tiebreaker?
That’s just my initial response, but maybe some other readers
will have more to say.
Oakland may have surprised Matthew last week, but I hope his trap
game pick was helpful to a few readers.
Trap Game: Tampa Bay at SF
While both teams are not what they used to be, the Bucs are headed
in the right direction and might even win their division this
year. Chris Simms gets the nod this week at QB, and Cadillac should
be back on the field, but this game has warning signs written
all over it. Tampa Bay’s schedule has been rather soft,
and if the 49ers can run the ball, they might just steal one at
home. Of all the games this season that could possibly have an
impact on a survival pool, this one is the biggest.
#3: Miami at New Orleans (5-1)
This is the famous return of Ricky Williams against the New Orleans
Saints as well as Nick Saban’s return to Tiger Stadium.
While both of those things are nice, they will not have any impact
on this game. Ronnie Brown has established himself as the #1 back
in Miami and should have a solid day against a defense that is
ranked 28th against the run with almost 900 yards for the year.
On the other side of the ball, Aaron Stecker was injured last
week, and Antowain Smith will have a hard time trying to find
room to run against a revitalized Dolphins defense. Combine this
with Aaron Brooks’ ability to distribute the football through
a controlled passing game, and you have a rare opportunity to
take the Dolphins as your LMS team.
#2: Jacksonville at St. Louis (3-3)
Jacksonville’s defense is ranked 5th overall in the NFL
and 2nd against the pass. This does not bode well for a Rams team
that will most likely be without Mark Bulger, Torry Holt and Isaac
Bruce. While Byron Leftwich probably won’t air it out, he
should put up solid numbers to complement the health return of
Fred Taylor in the backfield.
#1: Carolina over Minnesota (4-2)
Minnesota pulled out a win against a key division rival, but late
game heroics will be a lot tougher against a team that many thought
would be an NFC Championship contender. The Panthers are ranked
2nd against the run, yielding 77 yards/game, which is a stark
contrast to the Vikings who are 31st and giving up 142 yards/game.
The Panthers and Stephen Davis should be able to control the ball
and the clock and win this one “running away” unless
they are looking forward to their meeting with Tampa Bay next
week and forget to show up.
#3: Houston (0-6) over Cleveland (2-4)
Yes, I'm expecting Houston to pop its cherry this weekend. Partly
because the Texans’ offense is showing signs of life, and
partly because the Browns' offense (which has scored a grand total
of 13 pts in the last 2 weeks) has not.
#2: Jacksonville (4-2) over St. Louis
The Rams fell behind by 14 to the Saints, and only with the help
of creative officiating were they able to recover. The Jaguar
defensive line is among the best in the league, as Steven Jackson
will soon discover, and Jamie Martin at QB is not going to get
#1: Pittsburgh (4-2) over Baltimore
No Ed Reed. No Ray Lewis. Jamal Lewis running more like Emmanuel
Lewis. Pitt is going to run all over the Ravens’ D, and
with the Raven running game still a work in progress, that puts
a lot of pressure on Anthony Wright. I do not think he is up to
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
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