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Q&A - Has your league implemented any policies to make the IR category easier for commissioners to handle?
Week 13


Last Week’s Question:

What mid-season or end-of-season activities have been a hit with your league?

Apparently mid-season and end-of-season activities only used to be a hit with leagues. Take Ryan’s league for example:

We used to pick on whoever was last to pay their league fees by crashing their house on Sunday of Week 15 for [the first part of our 2-week] fantasy Super Bowl. The first couple of times it was fun to force [the unwilling host] to feed us with whatever he happened to have on hand. But even if it is funny to eat some poor guy’s baby food because he is out of Doritos, it is only funny the first time. The second time, it’s like, “Dude, seriously, where are the chips?” I don’t think we ever officially killed that tradition, but it died in the 3rd or 4th year due to lack of interest.

Or consider what happened to Rod’s league:

Our league was founded in 2001. We had a rule from the beginning that for each of the first 10 weeks of the season, the owner with the lowest score would have to donate an extra $20 to the league (or $10 each in case of a tie for lowest score). Initially, the idea was to take the extra $200 that we would have by Week 10 to have a kind of “pre-playoff party” so that the commissioner could announce who made the playoffs and what the brackets would look like.

What were we thinking? How are you going to schedule a day for watching football for 14 guys (most with kids in school) anywhere near Thanksgiving? We decided the first year to just add the $200 to the purse and let the commissioner send out a league email about the playoffs. We have had no serious discussion of our “pre-playoff party” since—though we continue to collect the extra money to sweeten the purse.

I suspect Rod has a good point about the difficulty of planning anything just before or just after Thanksgiving. If any leagues do schedule successful mid-season or end-of-season activities, they are keeping their secrets to themselves. My thanks to Ryan and Rod for sharing ideas for activities—even if they fizzled. And my apologies to those who wrote in with ideas they would like to try, but I was really interested in learning about proven traditions.

This Week’s Question:

Has your league implemented any policies to make the IR category easier for commissioners to handle?

A reader named Brian is apparently sick and tired of dealing with the IR category—so much so that he has dropped it from the league he runs:

It seems like every league I have ever been in starts with an IR spot. Then at some point the commissioner drops it because of the hassle of monitoring against misuse. I know I dropped it from the league I run for this reason. What are some common stipulations leagues have for placing a player in the IR spot? How quickly do they expect the person to be moved out of that spot once the player is eligible? How do commissioners monitor this, and what if any penalties do they [impose on owners who abuse the category]?

My first response is to say that I do see the IR category abused. I have seen owners put whole defenses on IR for their bye week so as not to have to let go of an inactive defense to make room for a temporary replacement.

My second response is to point out that this column has engaged injury and the IR question in the past. You may find it helpful to review the columns from Weeks 7 & 8 of 2005, Week 3 of 2006, and Week 11 of 2008.

And my third response is to suggest that the wholesale jettisoning of the IR category probably isn’t the best choice. Your note makes it sound as if it is commonplace for fantasy leagues to do without the IR category, but I suspect that the majority (perhaps the vast majority) of commissioners retain the IR category despite the hassles associated with it.

If any commissioners want to make a case for doing away with IR status for fantasy players, I will be happy to include their arguments in next week’s column. I am also interested in hearing about policies that various leagues have implemented to make the IR category less of a hassle for their commissioners.

Last Man Standing Picks (Courtesy of Mark Den Adel)

Note: Mark roared back into action by going 3-0 each of the last 2 weeks. He is now 27-8 for the year, but things will get tougher for him as he has already used New England, Baltimore, Dallas, Green Bay and New Orleans, and the NY Giants in all three slots.

1) Philadelphia over Houston
Although Houston shut out Tennessee last week (thanks to Rusty Smith being the QB), the Texans are still 31st in passing defense. Michael Vick will shine as he takes the 8th-ranked passing offense against the porous secondary of Houston. Arian Foster (my 5th-round fantasy pick) has been a fantasy stud this year, but Philly’s 12th-ranked rush defense may force him to spend more time catching dink and dunk passes than carrying the rock. Matt Schaub has disappointed fantasy owners, but he and his owners are all relieved to know that Andre Johnson isn’t suspended (perhaps because the game is on the NFL Network Thursday night?). Although Houston is only one game out of first place, I expect Philly to bounce back from a disappointing loss at Chicago to win this game at home.

2) San Diego over Oakland
San Diego has won 4 in a row. Despite being a game behind Kansas City, the Chargers appear to be in the driver’s seat of the AFC West. The reeling Raiders have now dropped 2 in a row, and since they have to travel to San Diego for this contest, a double-digit loss seems likely. Oakland lost Bruce Gradkowski, so Jason Campbell will be under center again. We all saw what San Diego’s 2nd-ranked pass defense did to Peyton Manning in Indy on Sunday night, so one shudders to think what they will do to poor Campbell on their home turf. Unfortunately, the Raiders cannot take solace in their ground game; McFadden has been slowed the last couple of weeks, and San Diego’s defense is 3rd against the run. It’s hard to imagine the Raiders winning this one.

3) Minnesota over Buffalo
Fred Jackson should come back down to earth against the Vikings’ 5th-ranked rush defense and since Buffalo’s run defense is last in the league, either Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart (or perhaps both!) should do well against the Bills. Brett Favre showed in last week’s win over the Redskins that he is more in sync with Leslie Frazier and is benefiting from a smaller playbook. I think there is still fire left in the Vikings—and with a new coach I expect Minnesota to win the games they are supposed to win (this contest being one of them).

Upset of the Week
Maybe I should rename this the “close but no cigar pick”—as I’ve lost 8 upset picks in a row. I am not excited about my options this week, but I have to take Pittsburgh over Baltimore—perhaps because I like having an excuse to watch Sunday Night Football. This is a divisional contest that Baltimore won the first time. The Ravens will have a much tougher time the second time around because the Steelers now have Big Ben back at the helm. When Ben and Joe Flacco have both been the starting QBs, Roethlisberger is 4-0. Baltimore’s Michael Oher (subject of The Blind Side) was hurt last week, so he may not be able to play—and being in the 98th percentile for protective instincts won’t help him if he is on the bench. Expect Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to struggle against Pittsburgh’s top rush defense. This should be a field goal game—and I’ll take Pittsburgh to win.

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