Before I get into the responses to last weekís question,
allow me to make a public service announcement for defense streamers:
The Detroit Lions are coming off their bye and are probably available
in your league because no one wants to start them against the
Green Bay Packers. However, their game against Aaron Rodgers in
Week 6 will be the last time they face an elite QB in 2019. Starting
it Week 7, they face the Vikings (twice), Giants, Raiders, Bears
(twice), Cowboys, Redskins, Buccaneers, and Broncos. When youíve
only played 4 games and Jameis Winston is the scariest QB on your
horizon for the rest of the season, you are strolling down Cakewalk
In Week 5, I shared a quick and easy 10-question quiz with readers
looking to assess their own predictive strengths & weaknesses.
It boiled down to looking at the top 5 players/units at QB, RB,
WR, TE, and Def/ST after 4 weeks and naming the most likely and
least likely representatives from each group to remain in the
top 5 through the end of the season.
To keep things as simple as possible, no explanations were required.
I just wanted a list of 10 names like the one Mike Krueger generated
in response to the column:
1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Dak Prescott
3. Christian McCaffrey
4. Austin Ekeler
5. Julio Jones
6. Mike Evans
7. Travis Kelce
8. Mark Andrews
However, readers such as David went above and beyond the call
of duty by providing explanations for their choices:
These first four were pretty straightforward in that Mahomes
and McCaffrey are the respective "fantasy elite" at
their positions and the centerpieces of the Kansas City and Carolina
offenses. Dak's productions seems like it will almost certainly
decrease a bit as Zeke rounds into form and Ekeler's opportunities
should diminish to an extent with Gordon's return.
Julio was another easy one as I'm not sure the Falcons will be
playing with many (if any) leads this season and Julio is practically
matchup-proof. I view Kupp as the engine of the Rams offense (without
a healthy/high-usage Gurley) so I pivoted away from you here.
Godwin's position has historically been more valuable in a Bruce
Arians offense, though I wouldn't be entirely surprised if we
had the same top 5 headed into Week 9.
Kelce was another layup given his ceiling, but I think Hooper
stays involved (for some of the same reasons I felt strongly about
Julio) as I imagine the opposition (playing with the leads that
Atlanta will not have) using softer coverages with said leads,
allowing Hooper to accumulate yardage underneath. It doesn't seem
(to me) that the maintenance days are working for Andrews - his
production suggests the foot problem is a nagging one, Boyle and
Hurst are both capable enough to limit his snaps/routes, allowing
someone like Ertz to slide in.
Chicago was another layup - they're just *that* good and they
seem to rally behind Mack's disruptiveness. I had no idea Pittsburgh
was even among the top 5, but they won't get gifted turnovers
(like they did against the 49ers) often and won't play Cincy at
home every week.
This seems like a cool exercise, and even though my selections
"make sense" I wouldn't be surprised to see (aside from
the Mahomes/CMC locks) just about anything happen.
There’s no need to write all this stuff down if you’ll
be able to recall your rationale for each selection at the end
of the season. But if your memory is as unreliable as mine, you
might benefit from emulating David’s approach.
Bruce found a happy medium between David’s analysis and
Krueger’s list of names by confining his commentary to a
single thought (sometimes snarky) for each player:
1) Mahomes because Chiefs running game isn't as reliable as Seahawks'.
2) Jackson because he's the least experienced of the non-Mahomeses.
3) McCaffrey because Carolina needs the offense to run through
4) Ekeler because of Gordon.
5) Kupp because Goff looks to him.
6) Evans because the Winston-Godwin connection seems more lasting.
7) Waller because Oakland needs him week in and week out while
Kelce is one weapon of, like, 50.
8) Engram because he's on the Giants.
9) Patriots because they play so many bad teams this year.
10) Jets because they're like the Bills D used to be and are bound
to burn out from being on the field so much.
We’re not even 6 weeks into the season, and we can already
see intriguing disparities in perspective in just 3 responses.
My thanks to everyone who took the quiz. Things should be much
more interesting in Week 9 (after the halfway point of the season,
when no repeat answers are permitted).
This Week’s Question: Do you prefer an active or passive
Fantasy websites make it easy for commissioners to put leagues
on auto-pilot, which is exactly what most commissioners do.
In one of my leagues, however, the commissioner is taking a surprisingly
active role. Last week, for example, he decided to waive transaction
fees for a winless team for the rest of the season (to incentivize
the owner to stay active on waivers). He also promised to waive
transaction fees for other losing teams in the future if their
records warrant it, but he didn’t specify how bad a record
would have to be for him to consider waiving transaction fees
for the owner.
There is a rule in the league charter that gives him “discretion”
to keep things competitive, but nothing specific about waiving
transaction fees. Even those who applaud his initiative may struggle
with his lack of clarity concerning which teams qualify for free
transactions. He admits he doesn’t have a formula (since
the winless team is still technically capable of making the playoffs)
beyond a sense of how dire a team’s situation is. If he
grants such a waiver to any 2-4 team, it will apply to all 2-4
teams, but he can’t be sure whether 2-4 is worthy of such
a dispensation until after the Week 6 games. And why should he
have to answer the question ahead of time, since the 2-3 teams
could all end up 3-3?
I’m convinced he’s acting in good faith and that
his seemingly arbitrary method of implementing this out-of-the-blue
policy is just a pragmatic way of encouraging competition in the
league, but a lot of commissioners would be reluctant to a) take
the initiative of formulating such an ad hoc policy; & b)
expect the rest of the league to let them “play things by
ear” in its implementation.
Technically, the rest of the league can stop him by having the
competition committee make a motion for a league-wide vote. But
that sounds like a lot of work. Even the people who aren’t
excited about this kind of commissioner activism will tolerate
it for a while.
I’m glad no one is trying to shut this commish down (yet).
I like his approach. After years of playing with commissioners
who simply collect fees & write checks and let the league
software handle the rest, I like getting a weekly newsletter from
this commish in which he details the major events of the week
(such as who had the lowest score, who ran into an unexpected
buzz saw, and why he has decided to use his “discretion”
to do x, y, or z).
I like the idea that he’s actively curating the league
in a way that most commissioners don’t. I’m surprised
(given my laissez-faire inclinations in fantasy league management)
how much more fun it is to check in with that league this year
than it has been in years past.
How about you? Do you like a “hands on” commissioner
taking proactive steps to keep the league moving in some preconceived
direction? Or do you think a good commissioner is one who simply
fades into the background?
If you have examples of especially good or bad moments with active
or passive commissioners, please share them in a comment below
or by emailing me.
Survivor Pool Picks (courtesy of Matthew Schiff)
#3 Redskins over Dolphins (4-1; PHI, BAL, SF, lar, NE)
It may seem crazy to get anywhere near a game featuring two such
terribad teams. It may seem even crazier to pick the road team,
especially since the only thing likely to be at stake in this
contest is the #1 overall draft selection in 2020. However, these
rebuilding franchises have both forsaken their fanbases to such
a degree that it only makes sense for the visiting Skins to feel
more at home in Miami than the Dolphins. Who shows up to watch
Miami play these days anyway? Probably season ticket holders looking
to express their dissatisfaction with the team--ready and waiting
to pounce on Josh Rosenís (inevitable) mistakes but entirely
oblivious to Case Keenumís (also inevitable). Then too,
back in 2002, when Bill Callahan took over Jon Grudenís
Raiders, he started off with a 31-point victory over the Seahawks
before cruising to the Super Bowl and losing to Grudenís
Buccaneers. In 2019, Jay Grudenís Redskins are nothing like
the 2002 Raiders, but then again, the 2019 Dolphins are nothing
like the 2002 Buccaneers. My moneyís on Callahan (a head
coach capable of getting to a Super Bowl, if not winning one)
to remind the world of his existence with a win over Brian Floresí
#2 Chargers over Steelers (3-2; HOU, BAL, NE, ind, kc)
Iím forced to pick this game because every other game is
a toss up, a division rivalry, or features a previously used favorite
(such as KC or NE). Melvin Gordon returned to the lineup last
week in the Chargersí loss to Denver, but instead of struggling
against a capable starting QB (as L.A. did in Week 5 vs. Joe Flacco)
capable starter such as Joe Flacco, the Charters should be able
to contain 3rd string QB Delvin Hodges, who will likely be filling
in for 2nd stringer Mason Rudolph (still in the concussion protocol,
despite having returned to practice on Wednesday). This is not
an ideal game, but if you have used Dallas, Baltimore, KC, and
New England, then this is the best of the rest.
#1 Cowboys over Jets (5-0; NE, SEA, DAL, LAC, PHI)
Sam Darnold has been cleared to return to the lineup this week,
but his return wonít be enough at MetLife stadium to make
a difference against a Cowboys team that should be able to run
and pass the ball well. In fact, it would ne be surprising to
see Jason Witten in the end zone this week against a Jets Defense
that is soft in the middle. Meanwhile, the Cowboys, while picked
apart by Aaron Rodgers last week, should be able to contain an
offense that still hasnít got the kinks worked out.
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.