Week 14: Scoring the Robert Meachem Fumble
Last Week’s Question: What Can Keeper
Leagues Do to Prevent Drastic Imbalances from Persisting for Years?
In last week’s column,
I shared a question from Barry, who is reluctant to join a keeper
league in which one owner will be able to hang on to Tom Brady
for another five years.
The way that most leagues seem to prevent this sort of imbalance
is by including rules such as the following from Mark’s
Here is our rule, which works quite well.
We use the 12th round because in a snake draft that give the guy
with the last pick in the 1st round the 1st pick in the 12th round.
This year the 12th round picks included R. Mendenhall, J. Maclin,
J. Stewart, L. McCoy, Felix Jones, and H. Nicks. Last year’s
12th-round picks included Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, and Aaron Rogers.
1. Teams can retain 0-3 players from rounds 12-19 for the future
year. The player will move up 2 spots in the draft order each
year (i.e. a player drafted in round 14 this year can be retained
and will be that person’s 12th-round pick the following
year). A player can only be retained for 2 years (only on your
roster for 3 years).
Mike’s league takes an interesting approach that prevents
any player from being retained in consecutive seasons by any owner:
In our league we have a keeper system as follows.
Teams are allowed to keep up to 2 players per year. The stipulation
on keepers is that you cannot keep a player 2 years in a row.
(This applies in trades too. Kept players are not eligible to
be kept the next year even if traded during the season to a different
team). Keepers must be a 4th-round pick or later. (This goes for
players acquired midseason too; you cannot swap MJD and AP between
two teams and claim them both as keepers, since they were both
picked earlier than the 4th round), and you can only keep
one player that you drafted. The second keeper has to be acquired
through transactions (i.e. via a trade or from the waiver
To keep a player, you need to declare them as a keeper before
the draft. For your 1st keeper, you give up your 4th round pick,
and for your second keeper you give up your 5th round pick. While
far from a dynasty format, this allows teams to keep a breakout
player they discovered for up to one additional year and plays
a role in trades throughout the season. It worked out well for
me this year, as last year I drafted Chris Johnson in the 6th
round and traded for DeAngelo Williams midseason. I was able to
keep them both by giving up my 4th- and 5th-round picks. Next
year both will be back in the general draft though and available
to all teams.
The bolded section of Mike’s explanation struck me as a
particularly interesting way of keeping the pot stirred in a keeper
league, and I suspect that some leagues with persistent imbalances
might want to take a close look at the model he has provided.
However, lopsidedness was only a part of Barry’s question.
The really sticky problem seemed to be that he would only consider
joining the keeper league that is recruiting him if the league
changes its rules. Rule changes are always hard on leagues. Owners
who secured advantageous positions for themselves by playing within
the rules are usually not happy about seeing those rules changed,
so the only leagues that are likely to change their rules are
the ones that cannot find enough owners to fill the league. Todd
gave some thought to Barry’s specific quandary, but any
commissioners who worry about keeping their keeper leagues full
may want to pay attention:
In our keeper league, owners can only keep
their players for a maximum of 3 years, [which] provides new owners
with incentive to join the league (since they know that those
players aren’t off limits forever). This also motivates
those owners with great players to keep active and look for better
players each year.
As the commissioner of our league, I also have to consider when
a new owner joins the league. This speaks to Barry’s quandary.
I think it is up to the commissioner to make the league appeal
to a new owner. We had 3 new owners join our league this year.
I had each one look at their prospective team and draft position
(set in our league based on previous year’s standings) before
joining. I also gave them incentives (they get to re-choose their
keepers from last year’s team) if they didn’t like
the team. Barry’s question also makes me think about the
possibility of giving the new owner a better draft pick, letting
them select one keeper from another team (as in an expansion draft),
or giving them an extra mid-round draft pick. These are just some
ideas . . .
For whatever reason, I have always been a pushover for the sanctity
of contracts. If the rules in my league give a ridiculous advantage
to a competitor of mine, I tend to accept that imbalance as part
of the game that I agreed to play. I am therefore reluctant to
advise any commissioner to make any changes to league rules unless
they are necessary to the survival of the league. However, if
the rules of your league are so imbalanced that you can’t
attract new owners to replace those lost through attrition, I
recommend a three-step process.
First, create a list of ideas along the lines of what Todd has
outlined. Second, rank the proposed rule changes from the one
that is least obnoxious to current league members to the one that
will only be resorted to in case of emergency. Third, set a timeline
for having the new rules go into effect.
Imagine a 12-team keeper league that has lost 2 owners and is
having difficulty replacing them. They can agree to give the new
owners no special treatment if they join by June, to throw in
better draft picks if they haven’t found new owners by the
first of July, to let them select one keeper each from other teams
in the league if they haven’t been replaced by the beginning
of August, etc. The benefit of an approach such as this is that
the owner who doesn’t want to give up his advantageous position
can keep that position if he can find two new owners to fill the
league in time. If he can’t find replacements without changing
the rules, then that is probably a fair indicator that the rules
need to be amended.
This Week’s Question: Is There a Right
Way to Handle the Scoring for the Robert Meachem Fumble Recovery
A reader named Paul has requested feedback from other readers
of this column concerning an offensive player who may or may not
have scored a defensive touchdown:
You should really do a Q&A about the Meachem
play (which is reminiscent of [the celebrated] Keenan McCardell
play back in 2003). I note that my league (RTSports.com), Yahoo!,
CBSSportsline and ESPN all interpret the scoring on that play
differently. We are dealing with it now in our league because
it will determine whether one team gets in the playoffs.
For readers who missed the Saints-Redskins contest, the play in
question involved an interception thrown by Drew Brees, who was
trying to connect with TE Jeremy Shockey. The pass was picked
off by Redskin safety Kareem Moore, but Robert Meachem stripped
the ball from Moore and ran it in for a TD. Meachem may have lined
up as a wide receiver before the ball was snapped, but he assumed
the role of a defensive back when he took the ball from Moore.
To complicate matters even further, the play started as a pass,
but of course Meachem had no reception on the play (as he took
the ball directly from Moore). Worse yet, commissioners in performance
leagues have to decide whether the distance of the TD run should
be measured from the original line of scrimmage or from the point
on the field where Meachem took control of the ball. I can understand
why the play is causing trouble in all sorts of scoring systems,
and I look forward to
hearing from any commissioners who are willing to explain
how they handled the play in their leagues.
Wk 12 - Last Man Standing
- (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)
My need to prepare for exams prevents me from making this week’s
analysis as extensive as I would like it to be. As you read this
on Thursday, I will either be taking my first three-hour exam
of the day or studying for my second exam (scheduled for the evening).
Wish me luck; I will need it.
Trap Game: Atlanta over New Orleans
This pick might seem outlandish to you, but the deck is absolutely
stacked against New Orleans. Think about it. New Orleans…
- just clinched the division last week, making the last 4 games
significantly less important, as they only fight now for home
field advantage, and the only other team competing for that
honor is Minnesota (two games behind at 10-2);
- has all the pressure on them to stay undefeated;
- must travel to Atlanta;
- is playing a tough division rival that generally plays well
within the division;
- has been playing terrible football lately (compared to earlier
in the season);
- has demonstrated a penchant for let-down games (e.g. St. Louis,
- and has remained undefeated only after multiple (improbable)
4th quarter comebacks.
The fact is that the Saints are spectacular on offense, but the
team is far from invulnerable. Don’t be shocked if they
lose this week to Atlanta, despite the huge 9.5 point line.
3. Tennessee over Saint Louis
This one is pretty simple. Saint Louis is terrible, and Tennessee
has been playing great ball despite a tough loss to the Colts
last week. Most importantly, the Titans are playing at home for
their playoff lives. If they lose on Sunday, they’re done,
and they know it. If you needed more reason to go with the Titans
this week, the Rams just announced that S O. Atogwe, their run
stopper and second leading tackler, has just been placed on IR.
Chris Johnson for 300 yards from scrimmage this week, anyone?
2. Baltimore over Detroit
Let’s start with a basic premise: Detroit is just bad.
From there, we can discuss the other aspects of this game. The
Lions have to travel to Baltimore to play in an unfamiliar (and
fairly unfriendly) stadium out in Baltimore. They have to figure
out how to move the ball against a stingy Baltimore defense that
most assuredly will not allow Kevin Smith to beat them. Most importantly
(and perhaps most challenging of all), Detroit needs to come up
with a plan for at least containing Ray Rice, something much better
defenses have struggled to do.
Good luck Detroit. You can even have the luck the readers wished
me for my final exams. You need it more than I do.
1. Indianapolis over Denver
Denver isn’t exactly the ideal team for your #1 selection
to be playing against. They are 8-4, likely bound for the playoffs,
still have a shot at the division, and have every incentive to
take their A-game to Indianapolis.
That said, there comes a time during the season that you’re
going to have to put your neck out on the line and pick a game
that isn’t what you consider to be a “sure thing.”
It happens every season, as your options dwindle, the playoffs
inch closer, and every franchise is fighting for its life.
When you get to this point (which for me happens to be this week),
you probably want your money on the best team you can put it on,
regardless of the opponent. I’d much rather go down with
Indianapolis than trying to squeak out a San Francisco win over
Arizona—or a Washington win over Oakland.
I know this selection flies directly in the face of much of what
I explained in my upset pick of Atlanta over New Orleans. Admittedly,
it does. Perhaps I just have more faith in Peyton Manning than
I do in Drew Brees. More likely, I think the Colts have been playing
better ball than the Saints lately; I would be floored if a team
like Washington could take the Colts to OT.
For now, there’s nothing left to do but see how the cards
fall. Good luck this week.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question please email me
no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.