Last Week’s Question
In my column for Week 8, I posed
two questions about fantasy trading. The first concerned the viability
of trading future draft picks, and the responses to that question
were included in my column for Week 9.
The second question concerned a specific trade and came from
a reader named JB who had concerns about a Derrick Mason-for-Steven
Jackson trade that was vetoed in his league. I touched on some
responses to that question last week, but I want to delve into
that discussion in greater detail. As I do so, I’ll ask
readers to bear in mind that we know things now (particularly
about Jackson) that we didn’t know back in Week 7, when
the trade was vetoed. I’ll therefore request that readers
do their best not to filter these responses through the lens of
As I noted at the end of last week’s
column, some readers were less interested in the specifics
of the Jackson-Mason trade than they were in the more general
questions that JB raised. He was inclined to reconsider the question
of whether vetoes in his league should be handled by a vote or
by the decision of the commissioner, a question which prompted
some fiery commentary from various readers.
Steve weighed in on the trade itself and the veto question:
In both of the leagues I run, we have a 24 hour veto
window. We have never had a trade shot down, mainly because my
owners are knowledgeable, but they also have vast mounts of integrity.
Steve seems to mention the idea of wagering on who gets the
better end of a trade as a humorous insight into how intensely his
league studies trades, but I suspect that simply having owners discuss
such things could be quite helpful for reminding owners who are
sure that a trade is lopsided in one direction that other owners
might see it as lopsided in another direction. In one of my leagues,
I recently executed a trade for Laurence Maroney. I don’t
want Maroney based on how he has performed this season, but I do
want him based on how I think he will perform during the playoffs
in that league. Not everyone in that league agrees with my assessment
of Maroney’s value, but the ones who disagree most vehemently
can have their ruffled feathers smoothed just by being reminded
that two or three other people do value Maroney as highly as I do.
I wouldn't personally veto [the Jackson-Mason] trade, even though
it seems it is a lopsided trade. It's not a given that Jackson
will return to his pre-injury for—and even if he does, defenses
will be able to key on him. Mason, on the other hand, is getting
his QB back soon, and Baltimore is rounding into form quickly.
One of the fun "side" games we play in our league is
watching trades to see who actually got the better deal at the
end of the season. (Some even go as far as to place wagers)
One problem that JB’s veto situation brought to light was
the fact that many players veto trades not because they think
they are unfair, but because they just don’t like the idea
of competitors improving their teams. Kent explains:
In my league, trades all go to a vote where majority
wins. We have 12 teams, but the commish doesn't vote. We had a
trade where Ahman Green and Ben Watson went for Rudi Johnson and
Chris Chambers. There were owners against because the two fellas
involved were best friends and they felt that the deal was lopsided.
I didn't think so, but my point is let your owners decide the
fairness of it. In my league you have to vote before you get to
put in your starting lineup for that week. This forces owners
to at least look at the deal if not study it. I have some owners
that will just about vote anything down as unfair and a few who
will always vote for anything no matter what so it leaves probably
half the league to make the right choice. And in the end isn't
that part of a fantasy football league is letting the owners make
league decisions by vote? It is to me. The question of how an
owner’s experience relates to a trade shouldn't be a factor.
If a rookie owner gets fleeced and the league doesn't vote it
null, then let the rookie learn from the experience. Finally you
can't let the commissioner be the sole decider of anything in
the league unless he is a non participatory commissioner (which
I doubt there are many of those). How could he be the sole arbiter
of his own trade? or of a trade between teams he is competing
against? Trust your owners, commish!
I think Kent speaks powerfully for a number of leagues, but I
wouldn’t push his logic as far as he does. I’ve been
in leagues that left veto decisions to the commissioner. Some
of these leagues worked beautifully; some of them left a foul
taste in my mouth. I’ve been in leagues that required owners
to vote on vetoes. Again, some of these leagues worked beautifully;
some of them left a foul taste in my mouth. The personalities
of owners are part of the picture, but there’s also the
matter of how well they know each other and how well they know
the commissioner and how respected the commissioner is. The right
solution in one league might not work so well in another, but
I have to say I’m extremely impressed by the way Kent’s
league forces owners to cast their votes on trades before they
can submit their lineups. In leagues that do require votes, this
strikes me as an excellent practice.
I heard from lots of folks like Kent who think it’s important
to have the members of the league vote on trades, but I also heard
from readers like Tom who think that commissioner vetoes are the
way to go:
I'm in multiple leagues as usual, but in my "money"
league, the Commish has the ultimate veto power on all trades.
Our commish is in the other conference (we have 2 12-team conferences)
and his only requirement is that the trade is balanced and not
a give-away. If he vetoes a trade, then he offers suggestions
on who needs to be added to make it passable instead of just saying
it can't be done period.
If your league tends to bog down in arguments about trades,
the buzzword that you might want to focus on is “transparency.”
A commissioner who just says “NO!” without offering
explanations is likely to generate distrust. An owner who quietly
deals Steve Smith for Jason Campbell is likely to raise a few eyebrows.
Make trades and objections to trades as public as possible in order
to avoid anger, distrust, and accusations of foul play. Tom makes
an excellent point about the value of his commissioner’s vetoes—since
they come with directions about what the participants might need
to do in order to equalize lopsided trades. If you are willing to
trade Steve Smith, let the whole league know. You can probably do
better than Jason Campbell. But if no one is willing to give you
a better QB than Campbell and you desperately need a quarterback
and already have Randy Moss and Chad Johnson, then it will be clear
to everyone why you traded as you did. It’s easy for people
to say, “You could have done better” in response to
trades that are executed behind closed doors. Open the doors; put
the player on the market; and let everyone see just how much other
teams really were willing to give you.
I like that better than the auto leagues I am in where owners
can vote down a trade they don't like (or didn't think of for
themselves). It always seems that those vetoes are always self-serving
(voted down so they can make a play for a player they now know
could be available). Like your article indicated... a lot of the
time those owners wouldn't have done the research on their own
to see which owners were willing to move an injured or non-producing
stud but will try to cash in when the info is presented to them
on a silver platter.
In a sense, I’ve oversimplified things to this point by
talking about whether trades should be vetoed by commissioners
or by a vote. Even those who agree that trades should be put to
a vote disagree among themselves about what kinds of votes should
count. A reader whose name was unfortunately scrambled in my electronic
First to the question of whether or not JB should change to the
format where the commissioner (only) vetoes a trade. My suggestion
would be to continue to allow the other owners to vote to approve/reject
a trade. However, I would increase the owners needing to approve
the trade from four to six. He has a ten-team league, so he should
be requiring the majority of owners to approve/reject a trade.
I'm assuming he has two divisions with 5 teams in each. If he
only requires four owners to reject a trade, then he is more likely
to see trades rejected because the other 4 owners in the division
will block the trade to prevent their opponent from getting stronger.
That will eventually stymie the league as no trades will get through.
As for the question of whether or not Steven Jackson for Derrick
Mason is a fair trade - six weeks ago I would have had these
owners tortured for even suggesting such a trade. Today, it
doesn't seem like such a bad deal depending upon the circumstances.
Let's say I have Jackson on my team, and partly due to his injuries,
my team has gotten off to a slow start. Let's say I'm 2-5 after
7 weeks. I need to make a move NOW as I'm dangerously close
to being eliminated from the playoffs. Jackson will do me absolutely
no good sitting on the bench. So I try to trade for Mason, whose
value is higher in the PPR league, in an attempt to salvage
my season. I can understand an owner attempting to do that,
and wouldn't necessarily suspect collusion on the part of the
owners. Although, if I was dealing Jackson, I might have tried
to get more out of the other owner based upon the potential
once Jackson returns.
I don't believe a trade should be rejected simply because one
owner will have "sky high" potential. It should be
based upon the merit of the players involved - and that should
be the only criterion.
I hope JB’s league will pay careful attention to that last response,
and I wish that all FFers were required to memorize the first
paragraph of this response from John before being allowed to vote
for or against any trade:
My criterion for determining a lopsided trade is
largely related to comparative value; if one team is receiving
a player whose addition improves that team significantly more
than the addition of the other player involved improves his team,
I would call it lopsided. That doesn't
mean the value of the players involved needs to be equal.
For example, with S. Jax injured, I have been forced to rely on
my 3rd and 4th RBs as starters. I have been trying (unsuccessfully)
to trade a starting WR (Wayne or L. Coles) for a solid 2nd-tier
RB with less overall value. The improvement from my 3rd/4th RB
to a good 2nd-tier back would be worth surrendering a top-15 WR,
given my decent depth at that position, even though the player
I receive would have less overall value.
I wouldn't want the commissioner to have final say over
trade vetoes. The assessment of "lopsidedness" is
too subjective to leave to a single person's discretion. If
a trade is clearly one-sided, enough managers should recognize
that to muster sufficient votes to disallow it; those cases
that don't enough eyebrows to draw a veto probably are reasonably
I think John does a beautiful job of stating a point that sails
right over the heads of many FFers. I’ve been in conversations
in which trading partners want to obsess about which round a player
was drafted in or how many points the two players generate each
week, etc. It does no good to bog down in these kinds of specifics
when the whole purpose of trading is to address a much bigger
picture. The value of the players can easily be lopsided in your
favor, and yet my positional needs can make things work out such
that my team benefits more from the trade than yours does.
Although I quite like the first paragraph of John’s response,
I’m not sold on the second. In some leagues, it’s
easier for trading partners to persuade a single well-informed
commissioner of how a seemingly lopsided trade is mutually beneficial
than it would be for them to persuade a dozen knuckleheaded, paranoid
competitors of the same thing.
Yet another thoughtful response on JB’s trade came from
This most recent question specifically hits home because
one of my leagues has just gone through a big ordeal with trade
vetoes, after multiple deals in the past few weeks that have owners
crying "that's bs!" Similarly, the biggest trade in
question also involved Steven Jackson, who, as JB pointed out,
is a bit tough to gauge right now. I won't get into the teams'
rosters and scoring format, but the deal was Derek Anderson, Jamal
Lewis and Bernard Berrian for Drew Brees and Steven Jackson. On
a side note with Jackson, I had this thought ... isn't it at least
possible that if the Rams continue to lose, and if he even has
a minor tweak to his groin injury, or another minor injury pops
up, he could be put on IR for the season just to make sure he's
ready to start over in 2008?)
Phil’s primary point is echoed by Donovan, who also
believe that collusion—not perceived lopsidedness or the perceived
fleecing of a rookie by a veteran—is the only reason to veto
After much discussion between owners during recent weeks about
trade vetoes, I've finally made up my mind and formed a solid
opinion when it comes to vetos: Basically, it's JB's option 3.
I'm only going to veto a trade if I really believe two owners
are trying to cheat. Other than that, it's too difficult to say
that a trade is "fair" or "unfair" because
as players of fantasy football, we all have our own strategies
If Owner A and Owner B make a trade, and everyone in the league
thinks it's an "unfair" trade because Owner A got the
best of the deal by far, and everyone else thinks Owner B actually
made his team worse, as long as Owner B believes he made his team
better (and can give his reasoning if necessary), who are we to
say that he's wrong? Who are we to say he can't play the game
that way? We're not fortune tellers, and we've all seen that the
players who are supposed to be the best, don't always live up
to that billing. Heck, this pre-season, who were the top RBs after
LT? Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, or Shaun Alexander are the
answers you'd get from a very large percentage of pundits ...
how did that turn out? Even if Steven Jackson was healthy all
year, it's tough to say he'd have been that "great"
once the Rams line started to fall apart.
If someone traded Ronnie Brown for Larry Johnson before the season
started, most people would've thought it very unfair, and up until
a week ago that opinion would have been absolutely wrong. But
what if somebody traded Ronnie Brown for Larry Johnson last week?
Again, many might think it was now unfair the OTHER way, and again,
in hindsight they would have been absolutely wrong. We never know
when somebody's going to get hurt, we never know when somebody's
teammate is going to get hurt and if it will effect their performance,
and we never know when somebody might must start to just plain
perform better/worse. It's the NFL folks, and if you haven't noticed,
it ain't easy to predict.
So, as long as I don't think an owner is intentionally trying
to improve another owner's team, I've decided I'll just have to
let every trade go. You play the game your way, and I'll play
the game my way, and if at the end of the season I don't like
playing with you, I'll go elsewhere next year. If everyone in
our league doesn't like playing with you, maybe you won't be back
next year (but be an adult about it and pay your fees for transactions
before you go!).
Trades should only be vetoed if collusion is suspected,
I heartily endorse the spirit of Phil’s and Donovan’s
remarks, but I’m not entirely satisfied by Phil’s point
that a player need only be able to justify, in his own words, how
a trade will benefit his team in order to prove that there is no
collusion. When lopsided trades occur between relatives, close friends,
or husbands and wives who participate in the same league, we can
justifiably expect collusion even if the husband can look us in
the eye and tell us that he’s sure that Vinny Testaverde is
headed for the Pro Bowl—and that is why his 1-8 team traded
Peyton Manning to his wife’s 7-2 team for Testaverde.
Comparing the players is not nearly enough. Here are some reasons
why one team might give up a “better” player on paper:
- The owner’s specific needs (extra players at one position,
desperate needs at another). This is an obvious one that becomes
magnified by the fact that, in many leagues, trades are difficult
to pull off. For these owners, they might end up taking nearly
any trade they pull off.
- The owner might be aligning the upcoming NFL matchups and his
own head-to-head matchups, and using that information, decided
it will benefit his team to make the deal to have one or two fantastic
matchups against his key rivals.
- Bye weeks. Trading a player that has already had a bye for one
that hasn’t is often an overlooked aspect.
- Injury potential. The example with Mason and Jackson is a PERFECT
one. Sure, Jackson is better while playing, but the opinions about
when he’ll play and how long he’ll play vary. Different
owners have different risk tolerances, which makes injured players
(or guys likely to get injured) prime trading candidates.
This list could go on and on. The bottom line is that most trades
are usually done because each owner thinks it will help his/her
team. LET THEM!!!
Will one owner get better because of the trade? Probably, but
it is just as likely that it will be the owner that you don’t
suspect. Good for them for coming up with a deal that made them
Envy for not being in on the deal is not a good enough reason
to veto a trade, and that is what most trade vetoes typically
boil down to. What’s really funny is that these vetoers
are often the same owners that act insulted when they get a trade
offer they don’t like.
Even if I accept the contention that collusion is the only reason
to block a trade, that doesn’t exactly provide me with a fool-proof
way of detecting collusion, which leads me to this week’s
This Week’s Question
In order to prevent collusion, many leagues ban trading fairly early
in the season (as early as Week 8, according to some readers). This
obviously prevents teams that have been eliminated from playoff
contention from “lending” their best players to friendly
owners for the remainder of the season. But it’s common for
leagues to go even further—and to prohibit owners from acquiring
new players in the playoffs even from the waiver wire. As Jeff explains:
In my league, our rosters are locked as we head into
the Week 12 games. If I make it to the championship game and both
of my QBs are injured, I have to play without a QB. I can sort
of see the reason for this, since the teams that are playing for
the toilet bowl championship still have access to their rosters.
One of my friends could cut his star QB just so I could pick him
up off waivers. I see how that would be collusion. But do you
really have to go so far as to prevent me from picking up ANY
QB if both of mine are injured in the playoffs? Are there leagues
out there that manage to be a little more flexible and still prevent
the possibility of post-season collusion through the waiver wire?
It appears that computer gremlins are sabotaging all efforts at
communication between Matthew and me, so I’m pleased to
present Paul Moore’s LMS picks once again this week.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I took alot
of flack from co-workers for my ATL pick lastweek. Fortunately
they held on. As did TBB. And WAS barely squeaks by NYJ with a
field goal in overtime. It’s odd that the game I felt the
most confident in
was SDC, but I had already used them. Home favorites in non-division
games went 7-2 last week (47-15 overall).
This week has 10 divisional matchups. Usually you want to try
and avoid those games, but you might not have a choice this week.
That leaves NOS as the only home favorite in a non-division game
(see trap) and my top pick this week.
Trap game: Arizona over Detroit
I don’t think ARI should be favored in this game. Detroit
is not the greatest road team, but they should be able to take
care of the Cardinals. They beat Chicago on the road a couple
weeks ago. Vegas is attempting to get an even amount of money
on each side of the game and by making Detroit an underdog they
must be looking for Lions fans to even out the betting equation.
#1. New Orleans over St. Louis
(9-0, Used SEA, CHI, BAL, IND, DAL, SDC, WAS, NEP, TBB)
NOS has turned the corner and gotten back to their 2006 form as
they easily dispatched JAX. They shouldn’t have any trouble
taking care of STL. I don’t think that even the bye week
will help STL (unless they get a 3-week bye).
#2. Pittsburgh over Cleveland (7-2
Used IND, DEN, NEP, sdc, TEN, sea, DAL, NYG, ATL)
PIT swept CLE last year and beat them earlier this year by 27.
Also, PIT is 4-0 at home and none of those games have been close.
I don’t see any of these trends changing.
#3. Seattle over San Francisco
(9-0 Used SDC, JAX, PIT, NEP, HOU, GBP, NYG, IND, WAS)
Last year SFO swept SEA, but this SFO team is not the same as
last year (Frank Gore is hurt). SEA beat SFO earlier this year
by 20 in week 4 when Gore was healthy. Round 2 should be more
of the same.
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.