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Q&A - Should I avoid using a receiver in my lineup if his quarterback is active for my opponent?
Week 10

Last Week’s Question:

What are some guidelines for trading next season’s draft picks as part of this season’s trades?

Last week’s column featured a trade proposal received by a reader named Dennis, who was offered Terrell Owens and an 8th-round draft pick for Carson Palmer and a 4th-round draft pick. Palmer and Owens would switch teams for the remainder of this season, but the draft pick swap would be in effect for next season.

I was less interested in getting feedback about the trade itself than in the rules that various commissioners use to govern the trading of future draft picks, but I did promise to include the best answer to Dennis’ question, which came from Larry:

I would tell Dennis to make the trade. He doesn’t need both Orton and Palmer nearly as much as he needs help at receiver. There is almost no cost to him this season if his other QB stays healthy. The only cost is in next year’s draft, but worrying too much about the future is the best way to lose in fantasy football. Get your team in the best possible shape to win this week—and let the rest take care of itself.

I hope Dennis appreciates the directness of Larry’s answer. What I appreciate about the answer is that it points to the concern that some FFers are bound to have about the trading of future draft picks. The desire that most of us have to win now could lead to some questionable judgments about the value of our future draft picks. What if some schemer decided to give up entirely on the current season in order to trade for a first- or second-round draft pick from as many people as possible in his league? Once we allow owners to trade future draft picks, we make it possible for one owner to draft most of his team next season in the first 3 rounds of the upcoming draft—provided he is willing to wheel and deal his team into complete worthlessness this season. Henry wrote in with just such a concern:

We are a competitive 14-team league, and we have allowed trading future picks. The problem is that some guys are willing to take crazy risks and give up a large chunk of their picks. The result is you get a guy who's got a complete roster by Round 8 the next year--and that's not fun.

So this year I'm feeling pressure from several owners to put a stop to this. Some want no draft pick trading at all, and others want it wide open. I don't want to eliminate trading picks altogether because I think there are valid uses for it. So where and how do you draw the line? I'm really stuck here. I would love to hear some proven examples of things that have worked.

The line that Henry wants to draw is not at all tricky for Mac, who does not apologize for the extremism of his position:

Trading future draft picks is idiotic in fantasy. The potential for collusion is sky-high. It’s hard enough for a commissioner to make judgments about which trades should be approved even without future draft picks being thrown in. Only a glutton for punishment would add [such an unnecessary complication] to the mix.

Most of those who wrote in seemed uncomfortable with the inflexibility of Mac’s position. It seems that many commissioners would like to find a way to make trading future draft picks work, but the strategies for doing so were sketchy or untested or idiosyncratic. Martin was willing to give such trades a try in his league, but the membership voted down his proposal:

A few of my owners wanted to be able to trade future draft picks, [but I think] too many nightmares could come out of [such trades] if they could happen unchecked. Before this season started, I put a vote to the owners about a new rule that would limit everyone in the league to one trade per season involving future draft picks. The proposal was shot down 8-3 (since I don’t vote as commissioner). Too many owners just saw too many opportunities for abuse. Now at least I can say it’s not my fault when I have to disallow any trades that include draft picks.

Van reported a thoughtful rules package for trading draft picks, but by his own admission it is untested:

We lost two members of our league three years ago over the trading of future draft picks. There wasn’t much discussion about the two trades when they happened, but at the next draft party when one owner got to pick 4 times in the first 2 rounds, people went ballistic. Our solution was to make a rule that only the picks from rounds 6 to the end of the draft can be traded, but no one has traded draft picks since. I think the early picks are too important to be traded away in advance, but apparently the later picks aren’t even worth trading—or not to my guys at least.

If any commissioners have formulated policies for trading future draft picks that really do work for their leagues (in actual practice—not just on paper), they did not share those policies with me. I wish commissioners like Henry luck in adapting the policies of Martin and Van to their leagues if they insist of keeping the possibility of trading future draft picks open. But based on the responses of Martin’s and Van’s leagues to the proposed solutions, it may be better and simpler for most commissioners to adopt Mac’s inflexibility.

This Week’s Question:

Should I avoid using a receiver in my lineup if his quarterback is active for my opponent?

A reader named Mike apparently wants to know whether anyone has done the math on the desirability of starting Reggie Wayne against a team that includes Peyton Manning. He writes:

I have a question about matchups that I haven't seen addressed anywhere. Let's say I start a receiver and (in fantasy) am facing an opponent starting the QB who throws to my player (in reality). Obviously the scores of the WR and QB will be correlated to some extent, but what effect does this have on the overall matchup? Basically I'm wondering who gains more in this sort of situation. In other words, if I had to choose a starter from two wide receivers who were exactly equal in all ways EXCEPT that one played on the same team of my opponent's QB and one did not, should I be more or less inclined to go with the player who my opponent's QB throws to?

I'm assuming the skill of the individual WR and the collective depth of the QB's receiving corps are pertinent. For example, whether it helps me or my opponent I'd guess it's a bigger deal to start Andre Johnson versus Matt Schaub (pretty much his only reliable wideout right now) than it is to start Braylon Edwards against Matt Sanchez (who has other reasonable targets) or Greg Camarillo versus Brett Favre (WR not likely to have an impact on fantasy or reality). But I haven't really been able to reach any conclusions on this and would love to hear some other people's thoughts.

I am not really sure there is a sound answer to this question other than the standard, “It’s situational.” However, if any readers of this column have helpful and relevant answers, I look forward to sharing them in next week’s column.

Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of Mark Den Adel)

Last week I recovered and went 3-0 with Minnesota winning in OT and Atlanta holding on against Tampa Bay.

1) Indianapolis over Cincinnati
Indy will bounce back from a tough road loss at the Eagles. Although the stats may tell you to expect a Bengals win, I’m going with Peyton Manning. Peyton will find someone to throw to and Jacob Tamme is proving to be an adequate fill-in for Dallas Clark. Austin Collie will be out with a concussion, but Manning still has Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon. The Colts need a victory as their schedule gets harder in the coming weeks (with games against New England and San Diego).

2) Philadelphia over Washington
Washington won the first matchup in what turned out to be Donovan McNabb’s triumphant return to Philly. But the Redskins are in a different emotional place this week. They are coming off a bye and have had to work through the consequences of McNabb being benched in the last 2 minutes of Week 8. Philly’s 10th-ranked passing offense should brutalize Washington’s terrible pass defense (which currently ranks as the second-worst in the league). DeSean Jackson returned to action last week, so Michael Vick has his full arsenal of weapons.

3) NY Giants over Dallas
The Giants have the 3rd best rushing offense and the 7th best passing offense in the league. They can beat almost anyone in the NFL, so it is hard to imagine them having any trouble against a Cowboy organization that is in complete disarray - even before a mid-season coaching change. Expect a double-digit blowout here.

Upset – Houston over Jacksonville
I was close but wrong about my upset pick last week - Indy over Philly. Houston is coming off tough losses at Indianapolis and at home vs. San Diego. Houston’s pass defense is last in the league but Jacksonville’s pass defense isn’t much better at 28th, and their rush defense is 22nd. Houston needs this game to get back above .500 and make a push for the playoffs. Jacksonville is coming off a surprising win at Dallas two weeks ago and is now coming off a bye week, but the Jags typically struggle when given an extra week to prepare.

For responses to this week's fantasy question please email me.