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Week 9: What Do Folks think of The League?

Last Week’s Question: Can We Schedule A Season of 16 Side Bets?

Here is a brief recap for any readers who have not been following the conversation that has been developing in this column for the past three weeks:

  1. Apathy is a problem in some FF leagues.

  2. It tends to become more of a problem as the season progresses—with the result that some owners who start 1-7 do not even bother to make lineup changes for players who are on byes in Week 9.

  3. Many commissioners have reported that having small payouts for the high score each week keeps owners (particularly owners who have been statistically eliminated from the playoffs) engaged, since it is still possible for that 1-7 team to win some cash.

  4. I have endorsed (some might say “championed”) this practice in the past, but notes from readers in recent weeks have compelled me to consider ways of jazzing up the notion of a weekly payout.

  5. Last week I invited readers of this column to suggest 16 side bets that would carry us through the fantasy season with a different category each week.

As Martha (whose list of categories appears below) put it:

Our league has a $25 weekly prize that keeps things lively. Long ago and far away, it was for the weekly high score, but since the goal was to keep everyone engaged for the entire 13 weeks of the regular season, that didn’t do much for the teams out of contention, as they rarely sniffed the rarified air of the top score. We do still recognize that one three times, though, partly because we ran out of other ideas – although your article has given me a few more!

Since most fantasy leagues avoid Week 17 of the regular season, I saw no point in asking for 17 side bets. However, numerous respondents pointed out to me that there is little reason to extend the side bets beyond the regular season of fantasy football (say Week 13 or so) because as soon as the fantasy playoffs begin, those who did not make the playoffs can become as apathetic as they like without adversely affecting the results of the remaining contest.

To paraphrase what several readers said: If I am 1-7 and leave three inactive players in my lineup in Week 9 and my opponent beats me by one point and proceeds to the playoffs, then the person he pulled ahead of in the standings has reason to be incensed by my apathy. But if I miss the playoffs and don’t even check the league website after Week 13, then my apathy is simply my problem—not the league’s.

Commissioners who only want to forestall apathy during the regular fantasy season might want to draw upon any of the models in Set 1.

Set 1 – Option A – Courtesy of Todd:

  • Week 1- Longest TD Pass
  • Week 2- Highest Margin of Victory
  • Week 3- Most Combined Yards: Pass, Rush, & Receiving
  • Week 4- Most Rushing Yards
  • Week 5- Highest Score, with a Loss
  • Week 6- Longest Return for a TD (KO, INT, FR, PR)
  • Week 7- Lowest Points Allowed by Defense
  • Week 8- Most Passing Yards
  • Week 9- High Score by an Individual Player
  • Week 10- Longest FG
  • Week 11- Most Receiving Yards
  • Week 12- Longest TD reception
  • Week 13- Longest TD Run

Set 1 – Option B – Courtesy of Martha

  • Week 1: Lowest team score (kind of the consolation prize for sucking when you’re presumably trying to win)
  • Week 2: Highest combined RB score
  • Week 3: Highest combined WR score
  • Week 4: Highest team score
  • Week 5: Prime-time Player of the Week (most points by a starter)
  • Week 6: Highest team score
  • Week 7: Highest point score by a starter who was acquired through claims, free agency, or trade that same week
  • Week 8: Coach of the Week (coach who starts his or her optimum lineup and gets the best percentage of actual points versus possible points)
  • Week 9: Longest field goal
  • Week 10: Highest team score
  • Week 11: Highest score of D/ST, K, TE combined
  • Week 12: Highest score of QB and OT player combined
  • Week 13: Highest score of RBs and WRs combined

Set 1 – Option C – Courtesy of Ryan

  • Week 1: Diamond in the Rough (Highest scoring player to have been taken in the last 3 rounds of the draft. Must be active in lineup for consideration.)
  • Week 2: Highest combined Def/ST and Kicker score
  • Week 3: Highest QB score
  • Week 4: Consolation #1: Highest score with a loss in Weeks 1-4
  • Week 5: Longest FG
  • Week 6: Longest passing TD
  • Week 7: Longest receiving TD
  • Week 8: Consolation #2: Highest score with a loss in Weeks 5-8
  • Week 9: Longest rushing TD
  • Week 10: Run and shoot: Highest scoring #4 WR through Week 10 (Only those that have stayed on a team through the whole season are eligible for consideration.)
  • Week 11: Highest combined RB score
  • Week 12: Consolation #3: Highest score with a loss in Weeks 9-12
  • Week 13: Highest combined WR & TE score

I made slight modifications as necessary to the schedules above in order to keep the position-specific contests in Weeks 1-3 or 11-13 (so as to avoid byes). The owner of Adrian Peterson probably wouldn’t think too highly of a commissioner who scheduled the RB high score contest for Week 9 (when the Vikings are off).

Although most commissioners do not seem to be concerned about whether the whole league is engaged once the fantasy playoffs get under way, those who want to keep the side bet action going through the entire fantasy season may want to consider the options in Set 2.

Set 2 – Option A – Courtesy of Greg:

  • Week 1 – longest TD pass
  • Week 2 – longest punt return
  • Week 3 – longest interception return
  • Week 4 – longest kickoff return
  • Week 5 – fewest points allowed by a defense (while on the field)
  • Week 6 – longest pass reception
  • Week 7 – most sacks by a defense
  • Week 8 – longest run
  • Week 9 – longest pass completion
  • Week 10 – longest fumble return
  • Week 11 – high-points for kickers
  • Week 12 – high-points for defenses
  • Week 13 – high-points for tight ends
  • Week 14 – high-points for wide receivers
  • Week 15 – high-points for running backs
  • Week 16 – high-points for quarterbacks
Set 2 – Option B – Courtesy of Mark:

  • Week 1: High score by WR
  • Week 2: High score by RB
  • Week 3: High score by QB
  • Week 4: High score by backup defense (i.e. not the first defense drafted by an owner; can be active or on the bench)
  • Week 5: High score by backup kicker (ditto)
  • Week 6: High score by backup TE (ditto)
  • Week 7: High score by backup WR (ditto)
  • Week 8: High score by backup RB (ditto)
  • Week 9: High score by backup QB(ditto)
  • Week 10: Consolation for bust of the first round (Prize goes to the owner of the 1st-round player with the lowest point production through Week 10; it should go to the owner who drafted the player even if he has since been cut or traded).
  • Week 11: High score by an undrafted Kicker (weeks 1-11 combined)
  • Week 12: High score by an undrafted Defense (weeks 1-12 combined)
  • Week 13: High score by an undrafted TE (weeks 1-13 combined)
  • Week 14: High score by an undrafted WR (weeks 1-14 combined)
  • Week 15: High score by an undrafted RB (weeks 1-15 combined)
  • Week 16: High score by an undrafted QB (weeks 1-16 combined)*

*These undrafted players/units need to be picked up on waivers at any point prior to the week of their contest. I have not tried this system, [but my guess is that everyone in the league] would start studying player stats and adjusting rosters to make room for these folks as the season winds down. You would have to make some interesting choices/predictions in Week 9, just when some people are starting to lose interest.

It is tempting for me to cut and paste all of the submissions I received from readers into the body of this column, but there is already substantial overlap in the 5 I have selected, so I fear I would be pointlessly consuming cyberspace. My thanks to everyone who wrote in (whether your “schedule” was included or not). In any case, I think the options provided here should be enough to get any commissioner started on a side bet schedule of her/his own.

This Week’s Question: What do folks think of The League?

The fantasy football subculture has become significant enough for there to be a television show dedicated to our little hobby. The League premiered last Thursday at 10:30 on FX. I watched it with my wife. I won’t say anything here about what we thought of it, as I don’t want to influence reader responses.

Objectively, I don’t think the show can be considered a hit. According to, it ranks 19,537th out of only 18,410 shows on television. I typed those numbers correctly, so there appear to be roughly 1,100 non-existent shows that are more popular than The League. Ouch.

The next episode will air on Thursday the 5th at 10:30. If you have a chance to watch it and formulate a paragraph’s worth of opinion about it, I look forward to hearing from you.

Wk 9 - Last Man Standing - (Courtesy of Marc Mondry)

Busto! Arizona’s loss to Carolina proves to be fatal to over 75% of people that submitted picks last week. Luckily, a couple of us were able to dance around the land mine.

What happened? A couple of things. First, Arizona’s defense is not as good as most people think. They have had great numbers, but they padded the stats against some terrible NFC West competition. Their defense relies on turnovers, and they just weren’t able to get the pressure they needed because they were playing from behind and allowed Carolina to eat the clock with the running game.

Second, where in the world is Anquan Boldin? I know he has been a little gimpy recently, but I’m not convinced that’s the whole story. Something is up with the Arizona passing game in general. We just haven’t seen the production we’ve come to expect from Kurt Warner and Co. Perhaps it’s the lack of a running game.

The explanation may lie in the drastically reduced number of check downs to Tim Hightower. Early in the season the Cardinals were doing this at will, which led to Hightower putting up WR-like numbers and keeping the defenses off balance. Why Arizona gave up on that strategy is anyone’s guess.

On an unrelated note, this game illustrates a theme across the NFL this year. People are overrating teams based on records without looking at their opponents. Look at what happened to the Giants against New Orleans, Chicago against Cincinnati, and now Arizona against Carolina. All 3 losers have good records and have beaten up on some bad teams, but generally lack wins against quality teams. Watch out for this when picking

Reader’s Week 8 Picks

 Top Prognosticators - Week 8
Player Last Week's Picks Overall Win % Point Differential
Scott Goldschmidt CHI, SD, IND 21/21 100 370
Mark Den Adel CHI, SD, ARI 22/24 92 438
Marc Mondry CHI, SD, DAL 22/24 92 402
Paul Moore CHI, SD, DAL 21/24 88 391
Supernewper CHI, DAL, ARI 21/24 88 307

Remember to email your picks to me by noon on Sunday! Please make sure you are not picking teams more than three times!

Trap Game: Detroit over Seattle

I can’t say I love this trap game pick. What it comes down to is that there are no really attractive picks in my eyes, and I think this is a game that people will be tempted to pick but should stay away from.

Yes, Seattle is at home and Detroit does have to travel quite a ways to play on Sunday. However, what has Seattle done this season to give you any faith in their ability to crush a team? Anything?

Their offensive numbers are terrible, and their defensive statistics are midding—even with shutouts of STL and JAX. The Seahawks don’t even have the mirage of a running game; they just keep relying on Matt Hasselbeck’s arm to get things done. Is that what you want to pin your LMS hopes on? I hope not…

Detroit should get Calvin Johnson back this week. This will be the first game in several weeks with both Stafford and Johnson on the field together. Does anyone else think the two of them have something to prove? Detroit finally tasted victory just a couple weeks ago, and I do not think a repeat performance is unlikely. That’s enough for me to include it as a trap game to caution you guys and gals.

Think of this pick just like my SF upset pick two weeks ago – it’s a coin toss, and you don’t want your season resting on heads or tails.

3. New Orleans over Carolina

New Orleans is dominant right now. A couple of weeks ago, when they played the Giants, I thought it would be a toss up. For those of you that watched the game, you know it was anything but. We have known all season that the Saints play well from ahead, but in the past couple of weeks New Orleasn has shown the ability to come from behind. The Saints even find a way to win when they don’t have their A game.

Carolina did come through with a win two weeks ago over Buffalo, and the Panthers took it to Arizona last week. Last week also saw a return to the power running game that was so successful for the Panthers last year, as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for over 40 carries.

This week is going to be a different story. Carolina’s running game won’t have near the same success—for at least two reasons. First, the New Orleans rush defense is stingy. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Carolina is likely to be behind by multiple touchdowns for the last three quarters of the game. There is no way that the Panther defense will succeed in containing Drew Brees and Co. where so many other, significantly better defenses (NYG, NYJ, MIA) have failed so miserably.

That means that Jake Delhomme is going to have to beat New Orleans through the air. Uh oh for Panthers fans. Sounds more like a recipe for an interception returned for a touchdown than it does a day Jake Delhomme will want to remember.

2. Green Bay over Tampa Bay

The battle of the ‘bays’ presents an intriguing LMS pick this week. I am somewhat wary of taking the Packers, if only because they were one of two teams to burn me so far this season (damn Donovan McNabb and his loss to the Raiders). The Packers defense hasn’t fully adjusted to the new 3-4 scheme and still gives up way too many easy first downs and big plays. Perhaps they just need a year to learn the system. Injuries certainly haven’t helped.

This week, however, it’s not about the defense; it is about Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense. In an upset loss to Minnesota last week (ahem, correctly predicted here), the Packer offense made a strong late-game comeback behind Rodgers’ strong arm (and fast legs). That Viking defense is electric and gives hell to opposing quarterbacks. If Rodgers can perform against them, he should have his way with the porous Bucs secondary.

More than likely, though, Rodgers won’t throw the ball much at all. I expect the Packers to be ahead from the get-go, leading to 30+ carries from Ryan Grant. He should have one of his standard games – 4ypc, 1TD/20 carries. Let’s say 31 for 114 yards and a TD, just for fun.

Tampa Bay’s woes have been well chronicled by myself and many others. I do not feel the need to hate on them too much right now, especially in light of how many Bucs fans read this column (which I found out when I called Sammie Stroughter a no-name).

1. Atlanta over Washington

The Redskins, on the other hand, get none of my sympathy. Funnyman Chris Cooley is out for the season, which just adds to the Skins’ woes. They are down to one credible threat in the passing game (Santana Moss), and he tends to disappear for about 8-10 games a season. Clinton Portis is still serviceable but old, and the defense that was supposedly much improved with the addition of Big Ol’ Al hasn’t stepped up and shut down anyone, including the pitiful offense in Tampa Bay (oops, couldn’t help myself).

Atlanta, by contrast, has continued right where it left off last year, winning behind a strong running game and a very mature, young quarterback. Roddy White and Michael Turner are not putting up the numbers they did last year, but that’s not a problem: Turner was a product of a very easy 2008 schedule, and White has become the #2 option in the passing game behind Tony Gonzalez. Still, the team is better than last year, and that’s all that matters.

There are some questions on the defensive side of the ball for the Falcons, but any weaknesses are unlikely to be tested by Jason Campbell and the Washington offense, though I won’t be surprised if Campbell hooks up with Moss for a 35+ yard score. Other than that, the Falcons shouldn’t have too much trouble shutting down the Skins. I can’t say the same for the Washington defense trying to contain Turner, White, and Gonzalez.

For responses to this week's fantasy question please email me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football season.