Last Week’s Question
Our construction of a Point of Reference fantasy league continues
this week. In last week’s column,
I indicated to readers that the consensus response to my initial
questions (both in the FFToday polls and the email responses that
I received from readers) was that for such a construction to be
useful to the greatest number of FFers, it would feature:
- 12 teams;
- head-to-head scoring; and
- a redrafter format.
Although I thought some readers made legitimate cases for introducing
a modest keeper element into the league (perhaps retaining one
player from year to year), the number of responses that favored
a pure redrafter format was so overwhelming as to make further
discussion of the point moot.
We now appear to have the answers to the next three questions
that I asked, but we have an almost even split on one category.
I’m going with a very slight majority on the question of
tight ends, but it isn’t the numbers that sway me on this
one so much as the quality of the argumentation. If you have a
legitimate counterargument that you think outweighs the points
I quote below, I’ll be happy to reconsider. However, at
this point, it appears that the next three points have been settled
- no IDPs—special teams to be lumped in with team defenses;
- starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 Defense/Special
Teams Unit; and
- a roster size of 16 players.
Although I know a number of folks who love their IDP leagues,
it appears that the team defense concept still rules the world
of fantasy football. The
poll that Mike Krueger set up indicates that 84% of respondents
advocated that format, and at the team defense concept was even
more popular with those who wrote to me on the subject. As Ryan
If you want to change the name of this league of yours
from the Fair, Fun, and Simple League to the Point of Reference
League, go right ahead. But don’t forget that it’s
still a good idea to keep it fair, fun, and simple. IDP leagues
may be fun, but they aren’t for the average fantasy baller.
That’s just way more information than most of us have
any interest in processing. This one’s a no-brainer.
A poster named Gobbledog spoke effectively to the next two points
with the following comment he added to the thread in the poll:
I'm for 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE... there are so many WRs
that starting 3 is easy even for 12 team leagues. I've used
the flex position before and I hated it. Stacked teams are already
at an advantage. Flex positions just make it that much worse.
As for roster size - I like it relatively small. (16 seems
to work fine). I joined a second crap league this year and the
dumbass Commish decided it would be a great idea to allow rosters
of 20. Well sure enough, our waiver wire is a total joke. There's
no reason to even look for good pickups because there's nothing
available. NOTHING. Everyone has 2 TEs, 2 Defenses, 3 QBs, etc....
it's ridiculous. IMO scanning the waiver wire is a big part
of the fun. Too much roster space kills the fun.
I received similarly thorough and thoughtful answers via email.
The two most substantial responses came from Dan and Gary. I’ll
start with Dan’s remarks:
For the first part, as much as I love watching individual
efforts on defense and special teams, for the sake of sanity of
the average Joe, and to limit draft/auction time into a reasonable
time frame, I'm going to go with team defense and special teams.
This would mean, you get points anytime the defense, kickoff or
punt team is on the field. (Not when there's a double fumble recovered
by the offense and they score off of that play. Lol, some managers
tried to use this before.)
Note that 2 out of Dan’s 3 recommendations coincide with the
consensus view above. He differs from the consensus on the point
of tight ends, and I can certainly see the appeal of his argument
(since my own favorite league model is one in which tight ends and
receivers are simply interchangeable). However, the numbers and
the arguments are against Dan on this point. There was no clear
majority opinion on how the average starting lineup should look,
but only 10% of respondents to the poll opted for the option that
did not require a tight end. Moreover, I received some interesting
arguments from several readers explaining why the tight end should
be a required roster component in an average league. Gary made one
such argument in his response:
For roster size and preferred lineup, I think this will go hand
in hand with total number of teams in the fantasy league. For
a 10-team league, you might do a QB,2RB,3WR/TE,1Flex,1K,and 1DEF,
since you'll have more fantasy players to work with. We all know
there's a limited amount of good producing TE's, so there should
be no need to punish a team to require one, as each NFL team makes
similar choices. So TE's and WR's should be combined and used
at the manager's will. Since I went with a 12-team league in your
first part question, I'll base my answer on that. I would like
to see the lineup closely resemble most NFL team lineups, and
factor in the average amount of viable fantasy starters available
each week. (Keeping in mind that this year in Week 6, there were
6 teams on a bye, so for purposes of having a backup for the QB
slot, means that in any 14 team fantasy league, one team would
not have a possible starting backup. Hence more of a reason to
have a 12-team max limit in a fantasy league). Using some more
basic math, there are on average 176 viable fantasy starters each
week in the NFL, discounting bye weeks (Again, this is accounted
for by having a 12 team league). 32 QB's, 32 RB's, which is obviously
based on the 32 NFL teams, and 64 WR/TE's based on fant. points
generated by those positions for the year. Since I'd require only
2 K's and 2 Def per team that means 24 for each of those. Divide
that by 12 teams, and you get just over 14 players per team.
Therefore, roster size would be 16; Starting Lineup includes:
1QB, 1RB, 2WR/TE, 1FLEX (can be either RB,TE, or WR), 1K, and
1DEF/ST. 1 backup for each position is required, also 1 extra
roster spot to help deal with the Flex position/Bye weeks/backups,
and a special 3rd QB backup will be drafted which would have to
be an official QB on the roster of one of your 2 other QB's. This
would provide a much needed insurance for the high injury prone/unsecured
QB position. The lineup also allows 1 IR position, guidelines
to be determined. (If the 3rd QB spot seems unjustified, then
I would push for a 2nd IR spot to help deal with that issue).
As for defense, I say we keep it simple stupid and
go with Team Defense plain and simple.
The primary difference between Gary’s take and most other
responses is that Gary is willing to let FFers carry rosters of
18 players, an option which appealed to less than one-fourth of
those who responded to the poll in the forums (whereas the 16-player
roster appealed to more than half of those who participated). Gary
was not alone in thinking that the Point of Reference league should
require tight ends simply because most NFL teams do, but perhaps
the best argument for the use of tight ends came from Donald:
As for the Roster, I say we do the following: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR,
1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF/ST.
The reason for this is your standard pro formation includes 1
QB, a RB and FB (Hence the 2 RB), a TE, a K, and a DEF/ST. Yes
you can go no TE or 2 TE or 3 or 4 WR but this is a point of reference
league, so as such we shouldn’t have flex positions. By
keeping to the standard NFL team pro set we set a standard to
compare. This will affect other aspects of the league and is a
major piece of the puzzle.
As for the roster size that is simple. I say 18 players—double
the starting line up making each team draft double the starting
positions so 2 QB’s, 4RB’s, 4WR, 2 TE, 2 K’s,
and 2 DEF/ST’s. That makes for 16 players and then the other
2 roster spots can be any position to allow for flexibility of
strategy. This roster size also allows some players to be available
on waver wire and also makes trading with other manager’s
I don’t care whether you go with 2 or 3 wideouts,
but I think an average league in 2006 or 2007 should require tight
ends. I think you have to start by accepting the fact that whatever
form the PoR League takes initially, it is going to have to adapt
to changes in the NFL if you really want it to be useful to anyone.
Five years ago, I would have been against requiring tight ends,
but anyone can see that the NFL is in the process of reinventing
that position. It used to be Gonzo all by himself (or maybe a
Shannon Sharpe or Marcus Pollard would get close under crazy circumstances),
but now just look around the league. You still have Gonzo, but
then there’s also Antonio Gates, Alge Crumpler, Todd Heap,
Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow. Remember Heath Miller on opening
night? And how about Desmond Clark, Randy McMichael, L.J. Smith,
Chris Cooley if you played them in the right match-ups? This Owen
Daniels kid has come out of nowhere, and if your league is supposed
to help educate people, then it should get them to think about
whether Daniels is a better bet than Benjamin Watson or Jason
Witten for the rest of the season.
There’s obviously no right answer on this question, but I
like Donald’s idea of going with tight ends for at least as
long as there appears to be a glut of talent at the position. I
don’t think fantasy works at all if we try to be slavish devotees
of the NFL model, but I also think there’s something intuitive
and attractive about including a skill position for the simple reason
that is used by every single NFL team.
If I counted right, I just rattled off 15 tight ends that are
all impressive this year, meaning that at least 3 of them would
be backups in your 12-team league. If it was just Gates and Gonzo,
I can see why you might lump them in with wideouts, but tight
ends are great right now—and the way the NFL recruits this
sort of talent, it seems a safe bet that TEs will only become
more important in the near future. If there’s ever a shortage
in TE talent, you might want to cut the position, but to leave
it out these days would be nuts.
This Week’s Question
I want to thank the readers who have responded to the polls set
up thus far and to Mike Krueger for setting them up. With any luck,
he’ll be able to put together a
poll for this week’s batch of three questions:
- Should the PoR League award points per reception?
- Should the PoR League award bonus points to players who rack
up certain amounts of yardage in the course of a game (such
as 100 yards rushing for a running back or 300 yards passing
for a quarterback)?
- Should the PoR League simply award a set number of points
for scores and a set number or points for yardage, or should
there be bonus points for long scores?
Our condolences go out to Matthew this week, as he reports that
his Atlanta pick (about which he was skeptical) eliminated him
from his pool. However, our fearless specialist remains committed
to helping those of you who are still alive in your pools.
Trap Game: Tampa at Carolina –
For those of you who have read my picks over the last three years,
here goes another Matthew talking about another divisional game.
Carolina has everything in its favor. A healthy Steve Smith, Jake
Delhomme comfortable in the pocket, Keyshawn Johnson as a reliable
outlet, a healthy DeShaun Foster, and a defense that finally is
playing like a John Fox defense. So why would this be a trap game?
Well, first of all in the last four seasons, except for two games
which were blowouts, each of the games has come down to a single
score at the end of the game. And while neither team is at the
top of its game recently, that doesn’t make this game a
bitter rivalry. Carolina is not much better than the Eagles, and
everyone knows how that game went (i.e. a 62-yard field goal to
win). If you pick the Panthers because you have used all my choices
below, I completely understand. But if you choose this game and
the Bucs win, shame on you.
#3: Atlanta over Cleveland (6-3 Season):
The dirty birds burned me last week, and by all accounts I should
avoid them this week, but because they are back home, I have to
take them against a team that is more injury-riddled than any
other in the NFL. The Browns are 28th against the run and the
combination of Dunn and Vick should be more than enough to overcome
the 6th ranked pass defense of the Browns. Don’t look for
a spectacular game from either side, just a grind it out win at
home for the dirty birds.
#2: Detroit over San Francisco (7-2
If ever there was a time to use the Lions, this is the week. Martz
and company will open up the air attack against a 49er defense
that except for last week against the Vikings, has more holes
in it than the Titanic. Combine that with the fact that the Lions
defense might be more difficult to run against than most think,
and Frank Gore has been a large part of the 49ers offense, the
Lions might have the ideal formula for a survival pool pick.
#1: Dallas at Arizona (7-2 Season):
Talk about two teams that are enigmas and you have the Cowboys
and the Cardinals. Once a divisional rivalry has now just become
a token of years gone by. Both head coaches for these teams might
be gone at the end of the season, one because he is frustrated
and the other because ownership is. Still there is a game to be
played, and if you had to pick a team to win this game, Tony Romo
and company have more drive than Matt Leinert who is still trying
to get up to speed. Look for a healthy dose of Julius Jones and
passes to Jason Witten to help the Cowboys put the salve on the
wounds from last week’s game in Washington.
3 - (5-4) - Falcons over Browns - Atlanta needs to bounce back after
last week's loss. They are at home and are a good rushing team that
should be able to take advantage of Cleveland. The Falcon defense
has been giving up too many points lately, but I think they'll get
some turnovers from the Browns. Expect Atlanta to get a lead and
grind out the victory with ball control and field position.
2 - (7-2) - Broncos over Raiders - Denver's defense has really been
carrying this team most of the season. Meanwhile, the Raider offense
has been terrible and will continue that trend this week. Expect
Denver to get a lead and grind out the victory with ball control
and field position.
1 - (8-1) - Ravens over Titans - Rookie QB is still learning to
play in the NFL. What do you think the tough Ravens defense will
do with him and the rest of this bad offense? Expect Baltimore to
get a lead and grind out the victory with ball control and field
position (kind of my theme 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
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.