Week 13: What Measures Can Keeper Leagues
Take to Prevent Lopsided Advantages from Lasting Too Long?
Last Week’s Question: How Do You Handle
Plays that Blur the Lines between Offense, Defense, and Special
In last week’s
column, I shared a question from a reader named Tony:
In our league we do not award points to individual
players for yards and or touchdowns scored on special teams. It
seems this year we have had more fake punts/fake field goals than
usual—with a few of them resulting in scores. For example,
in Week 8 Josh Brown (the kicker for the Rams) threw a touchdown
pass on a fake field goal. Should this have counted for Josh Brown
as an offensive player, or for the Rams’ defense/special
I suspected that the answers to Tony’s question would be
unanimous, and they were (which is not surprising when only a
handful of readers provide the rationale for their responses).
This is what Clifford had to say:
I can imagine some plays that blur the line
between special teams and offense a lot more than the example
in your column. If a kicker attempts a field goal and the kick
is blocked and the opponents recover the kick and try to run it
back, but they [fumble—and then] the kicker recovers it
and runs it in for a touchdown, that might be a headscratcher.
But I don’t see anything confusing about the Josh Brown
example. Maybe some leagues treat kickers differently because
they do so much on special teams, but for us they are just like
any other skill player. They get points for doing things outside
of their ordinary roles just like anyone else. When running backs
make catches, they get the same points for yardage and scores
that receivers get. Whenever LaDainian Tomlinson throws a TD pass
(and he has had a few), he gets exactly the same points that a
quarterback would get.
I can’t see any difference between Josh Brown throwing a
TD pass on a fake field goal and a running back throwing a TD
pass on a gadget play. If you started the running back, you should
get the points for the TD pass, and if you started Josh Brown,
the same logic applies.
In addition to soliciting feedback on Tony’s question, I
asked for readers to share any examples of plays that might blur
the lines between offense, defense, and special teams. Perhaps
the reason I didn’t receive any examples is that FF participants
rely so much on their league-hosting websites to resolve these
sorts of questions for them, as Chad’s answer suggests:
I don’t have any opinion on how that
Josh Brown throw should have been handled, but I can tell you
that our website credited him with the pass the same way it would
have credited a quarterback. I don’t think FF players need
to worry about this stuff any more than NFL players need to worry
about the calls the refs make. You just let the officiating crew
make the calls and live with [their rulings] whether you like
it or not.
The only reader who seemed to be at all sensitive to Tony’s
plight was Barry, who clearly paid attention to Tony’s caveat
about his league not awarding points to any players on special
Most people think of a field goal unit as
a special teams unit, but 4th down is still an offensive down.
I would say that for the purposes of Tony’s question, the
guy who returns a punt or a blocked field goal is on special teams,
but the guy who punts or kicks it is still on offense.
Perhaps Tony is hung up on the personnel who were on the field,
so maybe his league has to do a better job of defining what a
special teams play is. Maybe they should add a qualifier that
says, “A kicker is on special teams on kickoffs, but on
offense for field goal attempts.” I bet his league gives
kickers points for their field goals, so they must not define
field goals as special teams if that is the case. For my money,
a fake field goal that happens on 4th down is still an offensive
My thanks to everyone who wrote in. I emailed Tony my own answer
last week, and it was consistent with the opinions offered here
(as I suspected it would be).
This Week’s Question: What Measures Can
Keeper Leagues Take to Prevent Lopsided Advantages from Lasting
This week’s question comes from the same Barry who responded
to Tony’s query:
I get invited to join one or two keeper leagues
every year, but the ones that seem most interested in grabbing
new owners are the ones with serious imbalances in talent between
teams. One league, for example, treats any player acquired on
waivers as if he was picked up in the final round of the draft.
Since the owners in that league only have to give up a pick one
round higher than the one in which they acquired any given player
the previous year, the owner who used the waiver wire to grab
Tom Brady when he took over for Drew Bledsoe won’t even
have to burn his first round pick to keep Brady until 2014!
It isn’t really tempting to buy into a league in which one
of my competitors would have that much of an advantage. Even so,
those guys keep asking me every year because they can’t
get any new people to stay with them. I think they should change
their rules so that new owners are at less of a disadvantage,
but I don’t know what I could propose that would be fair.
I know some leagues set a limit on the number of years an owner
can keep a player and others make you give up a pick two or three
rounds higher than the one in which the keeper was acquired. I’m
writing in the hope that you and your readers can tell me a good
mix of rules to help imbalanced keeper leagues that can’t
really attract new owners because things are just too lopsided.
It’s certainly a tricky situation to say, “Yes, I
would like to join your league, but I need you to review these
rule changes.” Can
any readers help with this quandary?
Wk 12 - Last Man Standing
- (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)
Well, we are getting down to the nitty gritty, and it is becoming
exponentially more difficult to find three teams I like each week
that I still have available, especially because this year a lot
of teams have played Jekyll and Hyde with us (looking dominant
one week—and losing to Oakland or Kansas City the next).
Parity is obviously important to the NFL, but this season has
made Last Man Standing feel like Russian roulette, thanks in large
part to the inconsistency of teams such as Pittsburgh, Green Bay,
Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Arizona, Baltimore, Denver, and the
New York Giants. Wildly erratic play makes this part of the season
very difficult. Good luck to you; I know I’ll need it!
Trap Game: Tennessee over Indianapolis
I liked Houston as a trap game pick last week, but ultimately
thought that Indianapolis was too good to lose to them. Most of
us suspected that Peyton Manning would find a way to score a bunch
of points at will in the second half and win the game. Well, that’s
more or less what happened, with one small difference: Peyton
didn’t beat Houston; Houston beat Houston with terrible
defense, bad penalties, and offensive ineptitude in the second
This week, things will be different. The Titans are as hot as
ever, as I mentioned when I picked them two weeks ago to beat
Houston, and they are really playing some inspired ball behind
Vince Young. I never thought he would be a great NFL quarterback,
but he sure is running that team well recently. It helps to have
an unstoppable running back like Chris Johnson.
The other thing going for Tennessee this week is that the Colts
have been struggling, despite their spotless record. Peyton has
faltered of late, matching his career high for consecutive games
with 2 interceptions. The last time that happened was 2001. He
sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and is doing things
that are generally beneath his caliber of play. For example, against
Houston for most of the game he had tunnel vision for Pierre Garcon,
at one point throwing 5 or 6 consecutive passes to him, multiple
times into double coverage. At his best, Peyton never does that;
he usually spreads the ball around.
If the Colts don’t clean up their act, they very well could
see their first loss of the season on Sunday.
3. Chicago over Saint Louis
I have more confidence in this game than its #3 spot suggests,
but I have already selected Chicago as a #1 and #2 this season.
I am convinced that it would just be too much for Saint Louis
to head into Chicago and win a game.
As usual, Chicago can only hope to contain Steven Jackson. Luckily
for the Bears, however, the Rams don’t have a single offensive
weapon other than Jackson. Even though the Chicago defense is
uncharacteristically weak this season, and the offense is inconsistent,
the Bears should be able to move the ball at will against the
Rams. This pick isn’t as safe as it normally would be, but
there’s just no way that the Rams keep up with Cutler &
company in a scoring race, and no way Chicago fans could stomach
losing at home to a St. Louis team that obviously needs to be
2. San Diego over Cleveland
In contrast to my #3 pick, I have less confidence in this selection
than its #2 designation might suggest. San Diego is traveling
into Cleveland, and away games always seem to give the Chargers
trouble. Perhaps they have grown accustomed to the beautiful weather
out in SoCal, but whatever the reason for their missteps, I try
not to pick them for away games.
That said, the Browns are playing such consistently terrible
football recently that even if their opponent is no better than
mediocre, one cannot afford not to select the team playing
against them. They have no offense, a defense riddled with injuries,
and very little hope of winning this game. I don’t wholly
trust the Bolts, but I trust they can stomp on one of the worst
teams in the NFL.
1. Cincinnati over Detroit
I was on the Detroit bandwagon for a while this season, but the
injuries to Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson have proven too costly
for the Detroit offense to overcome. When you can assume your
defense will allow 28+ points per game and your two most talented
offensive players are injured, it’s pretty difficult to
Cincinnati, though sometimes Jekyll (sweeping Pittsburgh) and
sometimes Hyde (losing to Oakland), should manage to win this
one handily. Their defense has drastically improved over the last
couple of years, with a young, talented secondary allowing the
front seven to get very aggressive and go after opposing quarterbacks.
Chris Benson has resurrected his career and is leading a reinvigorated
Bengals offense; even if he doesn’t play, Bernard Scott
should have no trouble topping the century mark against the Lions.
Pick the Bengals this week with confidence.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me
no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.