Week 5: Are League Hosting Services Making
Last Week’s Question: Upset-picking
In last week’s column, I suggested
that the best way to honor Marc Mondry’s trap game selections
might be with an FFToday-sponsored upset-picking contest. I also
confessed that I did not know of an existing set of rules for such
a contest—at least not in any form that would make such a
game as fun to participate in as Last Man Standing pools are.
I hoped that some readers would already be playing such a game
and could simply forward the rules to me, but I heard from no
one who claimed to participate in a pool dedicated to picking
upsets. I did, however, hear from a number of readers who were
willing to devise the rules for such a contest.
I will start with Keith’s response because his opening
paragraph is bound to be music to Mike Krueger’s ears:
I am not a subscriber to your site, but I
will be purchasing pre-season information next year. The information
the site gives is top notch.
For the contest you could award a flat point total for each game
(say 10 or 15 points) with additional bonus points for the spread
number. For instance, Team A is chosen as a 4.5 point underdog,
so a potential 14.5 or 19.5 points would be awarded should Team
A win the game. I thought about a flat total of 20 or 25 points,
but this would deter from choosing the bigger underdogs which
are less prone to win. The opening lines could be used with only
underdogs of 3 points or higher available to pick. With a flat
point total of 12 points designated, all games would be worth
15 points or higher depending on the spread number. Total points
at the end of the pool is the winner.
Most of the readers who wrote in with ideas for the contest
had ideas very similar to Keith’s. I chose to quote Keith’s
response because his praise for FFToday suggested that if we really
do get such a contest going, then maybe Krueger could see his
way to awarding a free Cheatsheet Compiler/Draft Buddy package
to the winner. (Krueger loves it when I use my column to put pressure
on him to give things away.)
Although most readers stuck to a pure points approach, the second
most popular response to my query involved using dollar figures
(not real dollars) and any number of sites relied upon by the
betting community. Charlie’s idea is the clearest, simplest,
and (mercifully) the shortest example of this approach:
I think that you can use the moneyline for
each NFL game to develop a simple upset-picking contest that rewards
· Each player picks one underdog each week
· Correct picks receive points equal to the return on a
winning $1 bet on the moneyline
This week, correctly picking the Lions over the Bears is worth
4 points (moneyline is Lions +400). Correctly picking the Jaguars
over the Titans is worth 1.3 points (moneyline is Jags +130).
Here is a link to the weekly
moneylines on Yahoo.
Either of these ideas could work fine, but Todd had a
number of suggestions for spicing things up, including:
- Deductions for wrong answers;
- A three-strikes rule; or
- The ability to pass on weeks in which no upsets look attractive,
and elimination from the contest the first time you are wrong.
I will be asking my colleagues at FFToday (and Marc Mondry, of
course) for feedback on what form such a contest would ideally
take for them, and I will see if we can have something in place
for the last part of the 2009 season. In the meantime, now that
readers can see the general trends of each other’s thoughts,
please feel free to contact
me with any ideas you might have for such a contest.
This Week’s Question: Advisory Boards
& the Vanishing Commissioner
Before Marc Mondry distracted me by correctly predicting the
game that would snap the Lions’ losing streak, I asked readers
to chime in on the subject of advisory boards or committees in
fantasy football. Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least) it seems
that advisory boards primarily function as an extension of (rather
than a counterbalance to) the commissioner. Tim’s response
indicates this tendency:
I became a commissioner in 2002, and we've
never had an official advisory board. But we have had a lot of
turnover and fluctuation in our league over the years: 27 different
owners and league sizes of 12, 12, 12, 9, 10, 8, 10, and 10. Because
of this, I have a de facto advisory board made up of the three
other founding league members (one is my vice-commissioner).
I ask the entire league for input on things like whether to have
a live or autopick draft, but I go to the "board" for
discussions on major rule changes such as scoring categories and
roster size. We don't have a lot of trading going on, so any rule
issues there are handled by the vice-commissioner and me.
If the responses I received to my column are representative,
the overwhelming majority of leagues that form advisory boards
do so for the same reasons as Tim’s. The primary purpose
of an advisory board appears to be to help a fantasy league hang
onto its own identity despite owner turn-over.
As Nolan explains, however, there can be clear uses for an advisory
board in leagues with a stable population of owners:
We call our group the trade committee, but
I guess you would call it an advisory board. Each year before
the season begins, we assign one person from each division to
the trade committee. As the commissioner, I have veto power over
any trade that doesn’t involve my own team. If I want to
make a trade, then the trade committee has veto power over the
trade. Since we have 4 divisions, there are 4 people on the commission.
The one with the lowest total points at the time of the trade
is considered the “alternate.” He only gets to vote
if one of the other three [has to recuse himself for being involved
in the trade in some way]. I have never had a trade vetoed by
the committee, but it is only fair for my trades to be subject
to the league’s review.
The most interesting response to my question about advisory
boards came from Larry, who is obviously a fan of Jim Mora:
Advisory boards? Advisory boards?? Are you
kidding me? Talking about advisory boards?
I could have used an advisory board back when I had to do everything
from tracking down a 12th owner at the last minute (and getting
him to write a check without quite understanding what fantasy
football was) to figuring out how many points to award to the
owner of Brad Johnson when he threw a TD pass to himself to calculating
everyone’s score with a newspaper, a pencil, and a legal
There was honestly a time in my life when I thought the main job
of the commissioner was to explain fantasy football to people
who couldn’t understand how the Pittsburgh quarterback could
be on the same team as the Dallas kicker. I wish I had thought
of an advisory board back then. They could have “advised”
me of how many points the running backs scored each week by checking
the box scores while I was working on QBs and WRs.
Now that the league is computerized, there is barely enough work
left for a commissioner to do—much less an advisory board.
When the website that hosts our league has a scoring change, people
don’t even send me their angry emails anymore. They write
directly to the site, but they all accept the ruling of the website
as final. They may disagree, but at least they know it’s
impartial. I’m having a hard time understanding what need
there can be for an advisory board now that most fantasy leagues
are fully automated.
For that matter, I’m not even sure what need there is for
commissioners. My main job the last few years has been collecting
the money, paying the winners, and sending out reminders to everybody
about the draft. You can bet that when I find a website that will
do those things for me AND let me plug in our rules (which haven’t
changed in over a decade), I’ll take advantage of it.
Don’t get me wrong. I like being commissioner, but I would
probably like it even more if I were commissioner in title only—with
the website doing everything I used to do, including tracking
down someone who wants to join the league if a spot opens up.
How are these other leagues coming up with extra jobs for extra
people when the job of the commissioner is dissolving right before
I got a kick out of Larry’s answer, and I’m
delighted he can have so much fun with the idea of the vanishing
commissioner. It isn’t clear to me how his league handles
trades—though it sounds like they either automatically go
through or need to be approved by a league-wide vote (instead
of being reviewed by the commissioner, as in Nolan’s league).
I suspect that the mere possibility of collusion is enough to
keep commissioners in business for a long while yet, but I would
be interested to hear
from readers with strong opinions about whether league-hosting
services are making commissioners an endangered species.
Last Man Standing - (Courtesy
of Marc Mondry)
Reflection, Saints over Jets, 24-10
Of course, the week after Mike Davis bestowed such lavish praise
on me for the accuracy of my trap game selections, I leapt out
of the plane this week without my parachute.
Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but there certainly were
aspects of this game I didn’t foresee.
First and foremost was the New Orleans defense, which played
some really good ball. The TWO defensive scores were great, but
even when they weren’t running to the end zone, they were
all over Mark Sanchez and did not allow the Jets’ power
running game to get moving. New York tried everything. Five different
Jets ran the ball two or more times, but the ground game stayed
grounded. This says just as much about the Jets offense (hence
the Braylon Edwards acquisition?) as it does about the Saints
defense, but one thing is clear: the Saints defense knows how
to play when they are ahead.
That’s a perfect segue into the other aspect of this game
I predicted incorrectly: Mark Sanchez’s (in)ability to play
from behind. I was very impressed with Sanchez over the
first couple of weeks, but I failed to realize that because of
the Jets’ stellar defense, he was always ahead or in a very
close game, so defenses never dare to play too aggressive. The
Saints forced Sanchez into a different storyline. After starting
up 17-0, New Orleans brought the heat all day long.
Those two things combined to bring about a bad Jets loss. It
is worth mentioning that the Jet defense still played very well,
holding the Saint offense to 10 total points and keeping Brees
& Co. out of the end zone until just under 7 minutes were
left in the 4th quarter.
Reader’s Week 4 Picks
Spectacular picks this week readers! Everyone went 3/3. Mark
Den Adel has been on an absolute tear – I’m not sure
anyone is going to catch him.
| Top Prognosticators
- Week 4
||Last Week's Picks
|Mark Den Adel
||HOU, IND, CHI
||SF. CIN, IND
||HOU, SF, IND
||CHI, HOU, SF
||SF, IND, NYG
||IND, NYG, CHI
||NYG, CIN, SF
||HOU, IND, WSH
||IND, CHI, NYG
||NYG, CIN, SF
Remember to email your
picks to me by noon on Sunday.
Remember last week when I was discussing a certain Tampa Bay WR
and asked people to guess what his name was? Well, three readers
correctly identified Sammie Stroughter (though technically nobody
spelled ‘Sammie” correctly), and all 3 had the opportunity
to write up analysis for one of the games this week. Two of them
(David Hanson and Paul Gazzanigo) chose to participate, and they
both chose to write up the Minnesota game.
Both of them did a spectacular job. Congratulations gents!
In order to keep the spotlight on the readers this week, I’m
going to keep my analysis short and sweet.
Trap Game: Atlanta over San Francisco
Just as an aside before I discuss my trap game selection, the
Seahawks are a .5 point favorite over the Jaguars at the time
of writing. I expect Jacksonville to win the game by 10+ points.
That said, the line is too marginal for this contest to be one
of my trap game selections.
Now: Atlanta over San Francisco
I am not a believer in the 49ers, especially the 49ers sans Frank
Gore. You have to like that they (unexpectedly to me) blew out
Saint Louis this past week. Their decision to get Vernon Davis
more involved in the offense is also a positive. Take a closer
look, though; the 49ers, at 3-1, have beaten Arizona, Seattle,
and Saint Louis, three NFC West division rivals with a combined
record of 2-9. Beat someone with a better than .500 record and
I’ll be more impressed, Mike Singletary.
Atlanta is just a different caliber team from Seattle, Arizona,
and Saint Louis. The Falcons are better than San Francisco at
every single skill position (except maybe RB, though without Gore
there’s no contest), and the defense should be able to contain
the 49er offense. Atlanta will be coming into this game fresh
off the bye week—and should have no trouble giving the (comparatively)
tired Niners more than they can handle.
A caveat about this game: cutting against the ‘freshness’
of coming off the bye week is the fact that the Falcons have to
travel coast to coast to visit the 49ers at Candlestick Park.
Playing your A game after a long trip like that is more easily
said than done.
3. Minnesota v. Saint Louis
David Hanson’s Analysis:
Normally this could be a ‘trap game’
for a team coming off such an emotionally draining matchup, but
given that they are playing the Saint Louis Rams – one of
the league’s five teams still without a win – we shouldn’t
be too worried.
Everyone will be talking about Brett Favre’s performance
on Monday night (did you hear that he now plays for Minnesota?),
but let us not forget about Adrian Peterson. Peterson had his
second worst performance against the Pack in his short career
- rushing for only 55 yards on 25 caries (a 2.2 ypc average, down
from his season average of 6.0 before entering the game). Statistically
it was his second worst, but in his mind I’m sure he counts
it as his worst – given that he coughed up a fumble that
was returned for a TD that momentarily tied the score at 14-14
and that he was virtually invisible in the 2nd half. You don’t
want to have an angry AP on your hands, and you can be sure that
he will be hungry coming into the game.
The Vikings are still in the league’s top 10 rush defenses
(89.5 ypg average) and have yet to yield a rushing touchdown this
year. Minnesota is vulnerable to the passing attack, as shown
late in the game against San Francisco two weeks ago and again
against Green Bay on Monday night. However, considering that the
Rams will be without their top wide receiver and their starting
QB, the Vikings’ weakness vs. the pass is hardly alarming
for this contest.. To make things even worse for the Rams, they
are going to be forced to pass quickly, as the Minnesota pass
rush is going to be trying to repeat their 8-sack performance
of Monday night. Expect to see a lot of screen passes and dump-offs
on Sunday from the Rams as they try to get the ball into the hands
of their one playmaker Steven Jackson, and expect Kyle Boller
to become very familiar with Jared Allen’s ‘Jack-in-the-box’
Paul Gazzanigo’s Analysis:
OK, this is going to be ugly. The Vikings
are still high over their domination of the Packers on Monday
Night Football. The score may have been 30-23, but the game was
not nearly as close as that score implies. There was obviously
a great deal of mutual respect on both sides of the ball on Monday,
but when all was said and done, the Vikings ran this show.
That momentum will carry into Week 5, when the Vikings visit St.
Louis. The Rams will be wearing throwback jerseys to celebrate
their Super Bowl XXXIV victory 10 years ago, and by the end of
this matchup, that memory will seem distant indeed. Steven Jackson,
while certainly a potent weapon, will struggle against the stout
Viking line, and whether it’s Bulger or Boller taking the
snaps, St. Louis’ QB will undoubtedly get to know DEs Jared
Allen and Alan Robinson, who combined for 6 of the 8 sacks delivered
to Rodgers on Monday. With that kind of pressure on the QB, and
their running attack being held to ‘fair’ at best,
the Rams will simply not be up to the task of rebounding from
the beating they will take from snap 1.
On the offensive side, Adrian Petersen (who went MIA vs. Green
Bay) will burst back onto the scene in this matchup, and as he
conditions the Rams’ D to brace for the ground attack, (to
the tune of 150+ and 2 TDs), Favre will do what Favre does –
take command of the field, scorch the secondary, then bound through
the air, index finger aloft, just like you know he did when he
was eight years old.
Whether or not you believe Brett Favre should have stayed retired
becomes moot when you watch him play, especially when he gets
And rejoice he shall, as the Vikings go to 5-0, and the Rams are
left winless yet again.
2. Philadelphia over Tampa Bay
There is nothing not to like about this game. Tampa Bay looked
atrocious as usual against Washington on Sunday. Sure, they
gave the Redskins some trouble, but let's put that into perspective:
this is a Skins team that gave Detroit its first win in over
a season. Josh Johnson is mobile and gives the Bucs some versatility
on offense, but that doesn't make him a good Quarterback. And
the Bucs defense...don't get me started.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, will be fresh off a bye week-and
will have Donovan McNabb back at the helm for the first time in
3 weeks. Westbrook should play, but even if he doesn't, we saw
last week that LeSean McCoy is more than capable of handling the
job. This shouldn't even be a contest.
1. New York Giants over Oakland
I’ve had my eye on this game for a couple of weeks. I decided
two weeks ago that it would be my #1 pick. That was before last
week’s Oakland-Houston game, which only reinforced my opinion.
I thought that Oakland was going to be a “not-terrible”
team this year. The Raiders played very well against SD in week
one and seemed to at least be putting together a decent defense.
The offense was unspectacular, but at least the running game was
Last week, against Houston, we saw just how bad this team can
be. Not only did the Raiders allow 29 points to the Texans (as
expected), but they couldn’t move the ball against one of
the worst defenses in the country. JaMarcus Russell is never going
to be a franchise QB. He may be a physical specimen, but perhaps
he would make a bigger contribution on the defensive line or as
a tight end. He certainly cannot throw the ball like a QB (under
40% completion rate last week). Surprisingly, Oakland couldn’t
even run the ball against Houston, and without Darren McFadden
this week, expect more of the same against the stout NYG defense.
Here we have a quality team (the Giants) at home, against a bumbling
outfit that has to cross the country just so it can trip and fall
. . . err, I mean play. LMS picks just don’t come any safer
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 season.