Week 3: Does Your League Have an Advisory
Board or Committee?
In last week’s column, I
suggested that forcing the teams of absentee owners to be selected
by the auto-draft system available in most computerized leagues
(instead of being selected by a human proxy for the owner) is not
so much a punishment of the absent owners as it is a reward to the
owners who show up. Teams selected by the auto-draft system generally
aren’t all that bad, but the predictability of the choices
that computers will make enables the owners who are present to know
when they should reach for a player and/or when to leave someone
desirable on the board for another round.
A reader named Mike wrote in to confirm that the auto-draft method
can really work to the advantage of the no-show participants in
the league. Even though the auto-drafting method his league used
was not computerized, the point remains significant:
We had our first player miss the draft this
year. We quickly decided that we would take one of the Top 200
lists and simply draft the best available player for him, and
his only "punishment" would be that his starters had
to be picked before his bench. That meant he would be taking a
Defense and a kicker in rounds 8 and 9. We're an 8 team league.
The upshot? He ended up with a better team than he would have
picked on his own, guaranteed. He was ECSTATIC when he saw his
roster. Some punishment.
His first 9 rounds:
Not too bad for someone who wasn't even there.
A reader who signed off as Michael (not Mike) would presumably
have been irritated by the way things worked out in Mike’s
I believe STRONGLY that owners who miss their
drafts should be penalized. To have someone else (or to have a
computer) draft gives them too much of a chance at drafting a
superior team without having to make the risky decisions involved.
The question is how to do it so that their teams aren’t
so bad that they have no chance to win.
My solution is simple. If you miss your draft, you forfeit your
first round pick (until the last round). After that, you can go
on auto-draft (if online), have a [proxy, or have the commissioner
select your team based on a list generated before the draft.]
The 1 time we had to do this for someone, we decided to start
them in the 2nd round, and use an ADP list to draft in the order
of RB, RB, WR, WR, QB, RB, WR, TE, etc. This was agreed to beforehand.
In the end, they ended up with a serviceable team that finished
over .500—but still missed the playoffs. They ended up with
2 #2RBs rather than a stud, and 2 #2WRs rather than a stud, and
I think that’s fair. It did put them behind, but didn’t
Note that to Michael’s mind, the distinction between
having a team picked by a computer and having one selected by
a proxy is irrelevant. His point appears to be primarily to penalize
the owner who is absent (presumably as a way to give everyone
in the league an incentive to attend the draft—which is
of course laudable).
Like Michael, Tom was less interested in my auto-draft/proxy distinction
than in trying to preserve incentives and a sense of fairness
for the entire league:
Years ago in a re-draft Yahoo league, one
of our guys...let's call him Aaron...was having browser difficulties
with the Yahoo draft scripts. Right before it came time for one
of his first picks, his browser locked up, kicked him out, and
he had to reboot his whole system. None of the rest of us knew,
of course. He just didn't post anything in the chat, and didn't
make a pick...until the clock ran out, and the computer autopicked
*Antonio Freeman* for him...in what was definitely one of Antonio's
last and most lackluster years. He still gets made fun of for
that to this day, particularly when he's taking a long time to
make a pick.
I think the point there is that it's definitely a benefit to use
a system that allows you some level of control. Yahoo drafts force
your hand. The clock is absolute, and even if you're logged in,
if you don't make your pick in time, the system will autodraft
for you. The problem with that is seen with Aaron. The system
has flaws, and no amount of planning can guarantee that Microsoft
won't ruin your draft with the blue screen of death and an Antonio
Freeman pick. A system that allows changes in mid-draft will also
allow for what happens in our drafts occasionally. We get to the
12th of 15 rounds, and someone ends up needing to go take care
of life. They ask someone else to take over for them at that point.
They've drafted 12 rounds, and it's not catastrophic to their
team to have someone else pick the 3 final rounds for them. Again,
a system like Yahoo has nothing in place for this, aside from
having someone sitting next to your computer who can step up to
the keyboard, or possibly someone logging in as you from somewhere
I do like your idea of giving the advantage to the people who
have made the effort to show up on draft day. I also think, though,
that there should be a distinction made between people who can't
show up because they weren't paying attention, or people who can't
show up because the *best* day for the draft was a day they had
a wedding. In other words, if you just cannot find a day when
all the owners can make it, you are forced to pick the day when
the most owners can make it. Do you then give the 11 people who
can make it a benefit just because 1 guy who could have made it
another day couldn't make it that particular day?
Maybe you set a deadline for assigning a live proxy for the draft,
and anyone pulling out after that gets autodrafted (with exceptions
made for emergencies).
Thoughtful answers such as Tom’s suggest to me that
the best way for leagues to handle absentee owners is with precisely
as much nuance and flexibility as comes naturally to them. But
Mike Krueger reminded me that the best solution is for owners
not to miss their drafts. I must move in less disciplined circles
than Mr. Krueger. In the decade that I have been playing fantasy
football, I have honestly lost count of the number of drafts during
which at least one owner missed at least half of the draft. I
know for a fact that Krueger participates in more leagues than
I do, so I was stunned when I received this note from him:
I guess I've been lucky (or perhaps unlucky)
enough to never have drafted in a real league where somebody was
There you have it, folks. If no one in any of Krueger’s
“real league[s]” has ever missed a draft, then you
all just need to ratchet up your level of dedication!
As for my proxy/auto-draft distinction, even the best answer
I received that was on topic refused to acknowledge the validity
of the distinction. According to Samson:
Owners who miss the draft are sufficiently
penalized by missing the draft. I don’t think anyone in
my league plays just to claim a pot of a few hundred dollars at
the end of the season. The point of fantasy football is to have
fun, and nothing about FF is more fun than the draft. If you pay
your entry fee and then miss the draft, it doesn’t matter
if your team gets picked by someone else or by a computer. All
that matters is that you missed out on fun that you paid for.
The owners who do show up for the draft don’t need to get
a leg up on you because they got a leg up on the fun of the league
just by showing up. End of discussion.
Samson makes an excellent point, and I am happy to end
the discussion exactly there.
Questions for Week 3:
If your league uses an advisory board or committee to assist
the commissioner, exactly what sorts of questions does the board
address? What is the most successful ruling it has issued? Has
the board gotten itself or the commissioner or the league as a
whole into any trouble? What form does the board take?
For those in leagues that do not use advisory boards, have you
ever encountered a problem that it seemed wrong to leave solely
in the commissioner’s hands? And how did you resolve the
problem without resorting to an advisory board? What was the specific
quandary? Please be as detailed as possible in your
These questions all stem from a note I received from Scott, who
I created what I call an advisory board and
assign different duties to them that come up during the offseason,
pre-draft, draft, post-draft, and season. My advisory board is
made up of me (commish) and 3 other long time owners that have
the league’s integrity in mind first and foremost. Any decision
on rule changes, player disputes, or trades requires a majority
vote to pass (3-1). I believe with 4 heads you can hash out more
quickly and accurately what needs to be done in any situation
[than by putting all questions up for a league-wide vote].
Last Man Standing - (Courtesy
of Marc Mondry)
Reflection: Cincinnati over Green
This loss is what I get for picking a game featuring two teams
I did not have a chance to study the week prior.
That said, there happen to be some extenuating circumstances
for this pick. In the beginning of the second half, the Packers
lost starting LT Chad Clifton, leaving a gaping hole at their
most shallow offensive line position. The NFL depth chart doesn’t
even list a backup! Antwan Odom (the DE that lines up opposite
the LT) went on to sack Aaron Rodgers (a fairly mobile QB) four
times in the second half. It seems clear that the sudden and unexpected
loss of Clifton is the key factor here, particularly when we consider
that Odom is a mediocre pass rusher who has topped 3 sacks in
a SEASON only once, when he tallied 8 sacks in 2007 for the Titans.
It is not a coincidence that Green Bay scored 21 points
in the first half and managed only a field goal in the second.
It is also not a coincidence that Ryan Grant was a non-factor
in the second half (3-7-0 in the second half versus 11-39-1 in
the first half).
Moreover, after my predictions were submitted to FFToday, Green
Bay lost run stopping strong safety Atari Bigby for Week 2 (and
potentially more). Perhaps that, in addition to huge NT B.J. Raji’s
absence sheds some light on Cedric Benson’s stellar afternoon
Even with the nightmare that was the second half of that game,
Green Bay still came within seconds of tying the game at the end
of the 4th quarter. I’m going to give myself a pass on this
one. If you picked GB last week, so should you.
Then again, Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion.
Quick Review of Last Week
As for the New York Jets defense punishing Brady & Co. –
you heard it here first. In all seriousness, I watched all
60 minutes of this game, and the Jets defense is as impressive
as advertised. Darelle Revis very well might be the best cover
corner in the league; Rex Ryan certainly thinks he is.
To illustrate this point – look at the stats of the two
WRs that Revis has covered this season:
- Andre Johnson – Week 1 (Revis): 4-35-0; Week 2 (Nick Harper):
- Randy Moss - Week 1 (Terrence McGee): 12-141-0; Week 2 (Revis):
Two of the consensus top four WRs in the country absolutely disappeared
when they were covered by Revis—even though they had no
difficulty torching other quality cornerbacks for some serious
In the end, it’s not just Revis. The Jets are the league’s
leading defense, allowing a paltry 241 yards and 8 points per
game. Oh, by the way, did I mention that they are also the first
team to keep the Patriots out of the end zone in almost six years.
Let that sink in.
The first time in 90 games.
- Tennessee losing to Houston at home – Houston’s
offense is always dangerous, and the Titan defense is not what
it used to be without big Albert Haynesworth clogging up the
middle. Additionally, this contest was a divisional game, which
always presents a risk.
- Miami losing to Indianapolis – I mention this game to
give credit to former FFToday LMS guru Matthew Schiff (who appears
on the leader board this week). He took Miami as his #1 pick
this week. Although the Fins lost, he was dead on about how
the game played out. The Miami offense dominated the Colts,
keeping their defense on the field for more than 75% of the
game. If the Dolphins could have slowed down Dallas Clark a
little, Miami could have stunned the entire league. If nothing
else, the Dolphins certainly played well enough to win. You
have to respect Schiff’s gutsy (and accurate) pick even
though it does not result in a W.
Reader’s Week 2 Picks
The second week of the season was tough, as only two emerge unscathed.
Congratulations Mark and Scott—the top prognosticators after
| Top Prognosticators
- Week 2
||WAS, MIN, BUF
||WAS, MIN, BUF
||SF, MIN, TEN
||GB, IND, MIN
||TEN, BUF, ATL
||WAS, IND, GB
||GB, MIN, WAS
||GB, IND, WAS
||GB, WAS, TEN
||MIN, WAS, MIA
Remember to email your
picks to me by noon on Sunday.
Trap Game: Detroit over Washington
“You have to respect the gutsy pick!” is what I said
about Schiff taking Miami as his #1 last week. Well, here is another
one. Yes, for the first time in 20 games, the Lions are going
to win this week!
Admittedly, I have a pretty big head after nailing two huge upset
picks in a row (Raiders over Chargers, Jets over Patriots), and
this pick could look asinine on Sunday evening, but I have a good
feeling about the Lions this week.
The Lions are not as bad as everyone might think. Detroit was
beating the Vikes 10-0 during the second quarter and took a 3-point
lead into halftime. (I can only imagine what choice words Brad
Childress used in the locker room.) Minnesota flattened Detroit
in the second half, but the Lions played an excellent half of
The Detroit defense may not be as bad as we initially thought.
I am willing to give them a pass on the Week 1 debacle against
the Saints because Brees & Co. did worse to the Philadelphia
defense this week. That Eagles unit is no shabby defense, so if
the Saints can put up 48 on them, they can score at will against
That brings us to this week’s game against Minnesota. Detroit
held AP under 100 yards rushing on the day and held the Viking
offense to a total of 265 yards. That’s pretty good! Moreover,
Minnesota only converted 3 out of 11 third downs. That’s
pretty good defense too!
The offense is really what let Detroit down this week. The running
game, surprisingly, was up to the challenge and did a serviceable
job against a very strong Minnesota front 7. The problem was the
3 turnovers (two Matt Stafford interceptions, one Kevin Smith
fumble), which allowed Minnesota to put points on the board fairly
easily. The last two Minnesota TD drives started at the Detroit
27 and 16 yard lines, respectively. It’s not hard to put
up points when your drive starts in the red zone.
Now a quick look at the Lions’ victim this week: the Washington
Redskins. The Skins looked awful ast week at home against the
lowly Rams—and probably should have lost the game. Their
defense is serviceable, and much upgraded from last year with
the addition of Albert Haynesworth, but the offense is pitiful.
They have the league’s second worst offense (just in front
of the Rams), averaging just 13 points per game. And remember,
that’s after playing the Rams (who lost to Seattle 0-28)
3. New York Giants over Tampa Bay
My Giants gave me quite the scare last week. That said, the way
they won Sunday night bears mentioning. The Cowboys, to their
credit, did a fantastic job shutting down the Giants’ powerful
running game (97 total rushing yards on 26 carries). There are
not many teams in the NFL that can have Plan A go so wrong and
still beat a talented team like the Cowboys (in Dallas no less).
And if you really know the Giants, you know that they didn’t
win using Plan B either—because if Plan A is to run the
ball until the other team drops dead, Plan B is to run the ball
some more. The Giants had to really leave their comfort zone and
depend on a couple of inexperienced receivers (Steve Smith, 10-134-1,
and Mario Manningham, 10-150-1). They were impressive, and a team
that flexible is going to be difficult to beat.
This week, the Giants head down to balmy Tampa Bay, and while
I generally do not love teams on the road, the Giants are an anomaly
in that they often play better on the road than at home. Recall
the 2007 season, when they set the NFL record with 10 straight
The fact is that Tampa Bay just isn’t ready for a team
like the Giants. The Bucs got embarrassed by the Cowboys in Week
1 and then handily beaten by the Bills in Week 2. Their offense
is in shambles with the departure of the OC just prior to Week
1, and the team’s defensive personnel seems to fit the old
Cover-2 scheme, not the new scheme that coach Raheem Morris has
installed. That unit has given up 67 points and 900 total yards
in two games. Ouch.
2. Dallas over Carolina
I am not sure why this game isn’t on the LMS radar. Yes,
Marion Barber is going to miss this game, but Felix Jones and
Tashard Choice should have no trouble filling in.
The Cowboys match up very well against the Panthers. Carolina
has to run the ball to be successful, and Dallas just last week
shut down one of the strongest rushing offenses in the country.
Carolina’s defense, though stout against the pass, is bottom
5 against the run, allowing an average of 168 rushing yards per
game. The Panthers allowed the Eagles (not a dominant rushing
team) to rumble for 185 yards on 32 carries (5.78 ypc). Those
numbers are all the more telling because the Eagles did not have
a carry longer than 25 yards to pad the stats, and almost half
of those rushing numbers came when Kevin Kolb was under center.
When you can put 8 in the box and can’t stop the run, you’re
To make matters worse for Carolina, Dallas boasts the most prolific
rushing attack in the league (185 ypg), and the Cowboys amassed
a lot of those numbers against the Giants, who are perennially
strong against the run.
Aside from all the numbers, the Cowboys are emotionally primed
for this game. They lost their home opener and desperately want
a win in their new gargantuan stadium. Dallas also must regret
losing a tough game to a divisional rival. Expect the Boys to
take their frustration out on the Panthers this week.
1. Baltimore over Cleveland
This one might be the best pick of the entire season. If you
do not include Baltimore in your rankings this week, you are just
The Ravens are playing absolutely fantastic football right now.
The defense has been business as usual (tops in the NFL against
the run), and the offense has been one of the bigger surprises
of the young season. Joe Flacco was a trendy sleeper in this year’s
drafts (I’ll admit I didn’t buy it) and seems to have
taken a developmental step. It remains to be seen how he fares
against truly strong defenses, but at a minimum he is at the point
where he can reliably beat up on bad ones. Cleveland definitely
belongs in the ‘bad ones’ category (allowing 205+
yards rushing per game).
The other surprise out of Baltimore has been Willis McGahee.
Most analysts wrote him off in favor of Ray Rice, thinking at
best McGahee would be a goal line TD vulture, but there he was
last week looking a whole lot like a featured back – and
performing quite well (15-79-2).
On the other side of the ball, do we expect the Browns to be
able to generate any offense? I don’t. The running game
is near hopeless. Jamal Lewis will be lucky to average 3 ypc against
the stout Ravens D. And do we think Brady Quinn is capable of
dissecting the Ravens’ complicated defensive scheme? He
has already struggled mightily this season against the Broncos
and Vikings. Worse yet, he has never faced the Ravens before (Derek
Anderson started both games last year). Look out, Brady.
That’s all ladies and gents. As always, make sure to email
me your picks to me
by noon on Sunday, and I’m always happy to chat football
if you have questions!
For responses to this week's fantasy question please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football