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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Quirkiest Rule Your League's Website Can Handle

Last Week's Question: Do ejections warrant any special handling in fantasy leagues?

In my column for Week 10, I reported Hugh's complaint about the hole in his lineup created by A.J. Green's ejection. His point was that in the NFL, Green's spot on the field was immediately assigned to another player, whereas that same spot was simply left vacant on his fantasy team.

Almost all of the responses I received pointed out (in one way or another) that an ejection is no different than an injury. These things happen, and fantasy owners have to learn to take their lumps when they do. As RJ put it, "I don't care . . . if he was shot dead on the field. You started the player and that's the points you get."

Wayne took matters even further, suggesting that since ejections hurt teams in much the same way as turnovers, it might even make sense to penalize players (and their fantasy owners) when ejections happen:

[G]iven the negative impact [ejections have], I'd probably be more in favor of giving negative 2 points for an ejection like a fumble or interception than having a special provision that allows ejected players roster slots to continue to produce for their fantasy team when they have ceased producing positive results for their actual team.

The most actionable suggestion came from BigD, who pointed out that fantasy owners who don't want to deal with ejections will probably be better off playing in "best ball" formats, which generate lineups after games have been played based on which players had the best performance.

Such leagues not only take the sting out of ejections, but make it fun to have feast-or-famine players on your roster, since they will automatically end up on your bench during a famine and in your lineup during a feast.

The most innovative suggestion came from Jack, who proposed a form of insurance that Hugh's league could sell to owners:

Next year, Hugh's league could sweeten the pot by selling "player replacement insurance" to owners who want to pony up for it. Charge whatever you want (X dollars/week or some percentage of the league entry fee—whatever seems right for the league). Make the rule so that it only applies to ejections or injuries or both (not just a bench player randomly outscoring a starter). If Hugh wants to pay the extra fee for the protection, he'll feel like a super-winner when one of his players gets ejected—and a super-sucker every other week of the season.

That's a clever suggestion, Jack. But something tells me you're not the commissioner who would have to figure out how to adjust the scoring in a way that would accommodate a plan such as this one. (Or maybe you run your league with pen & paper and it would be effortless for you.)

In any case, I received no practical suggestions for the special handling of ejections in fantasy—and no real indication that such handling is even desirable in most leagues.

My thanks go out to everyone who posted or emailed a response to last week's column, whether I included your remarks above or not.

This Week's Question: What's the quirkiest rule your league's website can handle?

As someone who played fantasy football back when commissioners relied on box scores and calculators, let me say that league-hosting websites such as MyFantasyLeague, ESPN, Yahoo, etc. have been a giant step forward in terms of convenience.

At the same time, however, they have had a standardizing effect on the way leagues keep score and settle championships.

When I see suggestions like the one from Jack above, I'm reminded of all the bizarre touches that commissioners shared with me in the late '90s—scoring quirks that would presumably be impossible to implement in most leagues today because they required complex and idiosyncratic calculations by the commissioner.

For example, I remember hearing from one league that had a policy with a silly name (something close to "the rolling snowball of disaster") based on the total number of turnovers a team had. If a team's skill players had more than 5 turnovers between them, then the number of yards and points that team's defense yielded was increased by 50%. The logic seemed to be that if your offense turned the ball over that much, your defense would be more tired and vulnerable. So even though your defense only gave up 400 yards and 20 points, it would receive the score of a defense that gave up 600 yards and 30 points. That's an easy adjustment to make on paper—but not so easy (or enjoyable) to handle via the typical league-hosting interface.

I know some commissioners can make their old, weird scoring formulas work only by overriding the hosting systems they rely on and adjusting certain things by hand. That's impressive dedication, and I hope to hear from some commissioners this week who have to make such adjustments just to keep a particular scoring tradition in their league alive.

But I also hope to hear from commissioners who have figured out how to make their hosting websites keep track of unique/ highly customized scoring procedures that might seem too elaborate for most folks. Please post a comment below or email me to let me know about the quirkiest rule or scoring adjustment your league's website can handle.

Survivor Pool Picks - Week 11 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

#3: New Orleans over Washington: (5-5, BUF, TB, CLE, NE, NYG, ATL, PHI, MN, SEA, PIT)

The Saints haven’t lost since Week 2 and are clearly playing some of their best football in the heart of the season. Meanwhile, Washington (4-5) is struggling to stay in the wild card hunt since Philadelphia has pretty much locked up the NFC East. The Redskins find themselves on the road for the second time in three weeks, which helps explain why the Saints are 9-point favorites. I'm not quite that confident in New Orleans' home field advantage, especially since Seattle's 12th man wasn't enough for the Seahawks to overcome Washington in Week 9. But as dangerous as the Redskins can be on the road, they are unlikely to defeat the best team Sean Payton has assembled in years (thanks to the resurgence of Mark Ingram and the emergence of Alvin Kamara).

#2: Kansas City at the NY Giants: (7-3, NE, SEA, PIT, ATL, PHI, HOU, TN, CIN, JAC, LAR)

The Verizon commercial that features Odell Beckham Jr. must be a heartbreaker for Giants fans to watch. Every time it airs, I imagine New Yorkers muttering, "Remember when we used to have a thrilling passing attack?" It's probably worse than that now—more along the lines of, "Remember when we didn't stink?" Ben McAdoo is in a rotten situation. His future is a series of tough opponents (divisional rivals plus Oakland and Kansas City); his past is a 1-10 record; and his present centers on the magic trick of keeping players who have already quit on him from quitting on him. Eli Manning's two Super Bowl rings can't be much of a consolation to McAdoo—especially with Alex Smith playing so well and being surrounded by so many healthy offensive weapons. Barring a “dead cat bounce” where the Giants finally find an identity, take the Chiefs for modest gain on an equal bet.

#1: Jacksonville at Cleveland: (7-3 ATL, OAK, NE, SEA, PIT, DEN, DAL, PHI, HOU*, DET)

Over the years (and I have had the honor of sharing this column with Mike Davis since 2001), there have been many times when a game that screamed "Lock of the week!" also screamed "Caution!" You can't watch the NFL as long as I have without learning a couple of basic lessons: 1) the Browns are bad—consistently and unrelentingly bad; and 2) the Jaguars have a tendency to play to the level of their competition. If there's one team you can count on to be better at losing than any other NFL team, it's the Browns. But if there's one team you can count on for figuring out how to lose to the losingest team of them all, it's the Jaguars.

But maybe not this year... Seriously, Jacksonville has a legitimate shot at winning the AFC South in 2017. Their only real competition is Tennessee, and a record of 10-6 will probably get them a ticket to the playoffs whether they take the division crown or not. Combine that with the fact that the Jags have one of the “easier” schedules the rest of the way, inclusive of this week, and you could plug the Jags in as your survival pool candidate almost any week through the rest of the season. But if you had to pick a week that the Jaguars should be an AUTOMATIC lock, then this is the week to go “all in” on the Jags—if only because no matter how determined Jacksonville may be to play down to the level of their competitors, it's difficult to be as bad as Cleveland.

Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can be found here.