Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Mike

Mike's Articles

Week 8

Last Week's Question

In last 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 response:

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 quarterback position:
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 us.

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.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt & Stewart)

Oakland may have surprised Matthew last week, but I hope his trap game pick was helpful to a few readers.

Matt’s Picks

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.

Stewart’s Picks

#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 (3-4)
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 it done.

#1: Pittsburgh (4-2) over Baltimore (2-4)
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 the task.

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.