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Mike Davis | Archive | Email  
Staff Writer

Q & A - Week 6: Dr. Frankenbode's Super Happy Funtime League

Last Week's Question: Is Fantasy Football Broken?

In last week's column, I shared the complaint of a reader named Scott, who suggested that Dez Bryant should have been penalized in fantasy leagues for dropping passes and running the wrong routes during the Monday night game in Week 4. Scott's note concludes: "QBs get deductions for interceptions. RBs get deductions for fumbles. Even kickers get deductions for missed extra points. So why don't WRs get deductions for dropped balls or for running the wrong routes?"

As I pointed out in last week's column, it is extremely difficult to imagine anyone knowledgeable and trustworthy enough to serve as the final authority on whether receivers really are running their routes incorrectly. However, since I see stats about drops far more commonly now (both online and during game broadcasts) than I used to, I thought it might be the case that a few leagues would have moved in the direction that Scott maps out. (As an example, I have Roddy White in one of my leagues. The latest update I received about him is this: "Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White, who led the league with 15 drops last season, has just one so far in 2012.")

So are FF commissioners suddenly paying attention to dropped passes as a statistically significant category? If any of them are, they did not respond to last week's column.

I heard from exactly ZERO commissioners who have instituted point deductions for dropped passes in their leagues. This suggests that the answer to the question "Is fantasy football broken?", in most leagues at least, is a resounding NO.

I did hear from a number of readers who shrugged off Scott's argument. Of these replies, Marc's was the most evenhanded:

Honestly, and no disrespect meant, Scott sounds like he's just bitter because he lost a fantasy match-up on a Monday night. Happens to everyone, doesn't it? At what point do you start making Fantasy Football [too] complicated to enjoy by micro-managing your league's scoring settings? Do we start penalizing LB's in IDP leagues for missing tackles? What about penalties acquired by players? How about we start penalizing corners for pass interference calls? Or perhaps false start/illegal motion penalties by TE's?

Do we start discounting the garbage yards/TD's acquired by QB's at the end of a blowout when in fact that QB has had a poor performance up until the last 5 minutes of the game, and the opposing defense has relaxed a bit? Anyone who has played this game for awhile has at some point reaped those type of rewards, and probably won a FF match-up or two just because of the garbage yards.

There are a kazillion different stats kept on players these days. We certainly can't expect every possible option to be available in the league settings. I'd sure hate to be the Commish who has to look up every stat on players and adjust scoring if that particular option wasn't available in his online league's scoring settings.

Lets try and keep this game fun, and realize that sometimes, it's just not fair.

Marc speaks for a chorus of readers, but I encountered some other viewpoints. As I indicated in last week's column, it can be just as challenging to agree about which statistical source to trust for scoring purposes in a league as it is to incorporate a new scoring category. Michael spoke to this part of the question:

It is a tough thing to account for drops as too many different sites are not consistent in how they are determined. Until the NFL recognizes it as an official stat, it will be hard to convince my leaguemates to utilize them. A "cleaner" solution is to utilize a target % bonus (targets are much more consistently done). Put the bonus at 75% of targets caught or if the league is more granular, a sliding scale from negative points (say at 25%) and up. The league will have to consider the shifts that such a system will cause though. Much like in PPR, possession WRs who get more of the "safe" short passes will see their scores increase, reducing the value of the riskier long ball guys. Atlanta makes a great example as such a system would help Roddy White while hurting Julio Jones. It is up to the league whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

James is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Scott. He has no interest in seeing deductions for dropped passes. In fact, he does not understand why other leagues have any deductions at all, since there is no way for legitimately earned points in a football game to be taken off the scoreboard:

Our league is into its 22nd year, same 10 owners, high school buddies, and we’ve kept our scoring pretty basic since day one. I hear lots of chatter around the office and elsewhere about scores [in other leagues--scores that go] well into the 100’s. It’s like they get points if their guy steps on the field or swigs from the Gatorade bottle. A great week for us is about 50-60 pts, average is 30-40pts. Posting a 100 is like the holy grail. Only been done few times in our history. And what’s up with getting negative points? Never understood that either; football is about scoring.

Now I think about it, we probably started out this way because all we had was the newspaper (USA Today was the official one) to tally up scores, then put into a word document, print, and fax to the owners…..and that was my job, not a fun one either…..oh the good ol' days!

I love to hear from old school FFers like James, especially when they speak for the majority, as James does with his disdain for dropped passes resulting in deductions. I don't know whether the category of dropped passes will ever be important in fantasy football, but for the time being, it seems that this idea can hit fantasy commissioners square in the chest and still bounce harmlessly to the ground.

This Week's Question: Can you improve Dr. Frankenbode's Super Happy Funtime League?

Michael Bode has been an avid reader of the FFToday website for years. He has contributed so many thoughtful and balanced responses to various questions posed in this column that I think of him as a "regularly featured guest contributor."

This week, he wrote to me with a question of his own, and I hope that readers of this column who have benefited from his insights over the years will be able to help him with his quandary. He wants to set up a new fantasy league for next year, and he hopes to have all the kinks worked out well in advance.

I like simple, streamlined fantasy leagues, but I also like intricate and complicated leagues. The description that Michael outlines below leaves no doubt which kind of league he is trying to set up, so please offer feedback that is in the spirit of what he is obviously trying to achieve. (It looks to me like he is after a balance of intricacy, fun, and fairness, and I know that most readers of this column value at least two of those characteristics).

I am trying to set up a new style league for next season. I want it to be a bit complex though, so I am already starting to think about how the underpinnings of it should work.

General Idea: It will be a rotisserie style league but on a week-to-week basis rather than cumulative. Imagine a 12-team league in which you can accumulate 12 points per category based on your scores in week 1. In week 2, every category resets. So, you can accumulate 12 points per category based on your scores in week 2. And so on. The cumulative standings add up your scores from each of these weeks. Top tier of scores (top 4 if 12 teams) then compete in a 3-week playoff done in the same manner to close the season (weeks 14-16).

Ok, that part is all setup. It's more simple than it sounds and really makes it more fun (in my opinion) as you are always competing against the entire league rather than just 1 opponent, but if your players happen to tank one week, then you are not as penalized as you would be in a pure rotisserie-style league as you can recover in all categories rather than "chasing" one.

The complex/interesting portion: I want this to be an auction-limit league. So, every player has a price and every team has a budget. Teams can overlap players, and every team can change their lineup on a week-to-week basis based on a changing set of prices for the players. However, I also want to give an advantage to the teams that see and grab the player "about to bust out" before they bust out (like owners who nabbed RGIII before week 1). So, while the auction price will change on a week-to-week basis for players, I want the team to be able to "lock in" a price for the players they had the week before (all players must be started). At the same time, I am debating whether there should be a limit to how long a "lock" should last.

My questions:

1. Does anyone out there have a league similar to this style? What hosting websites do you use, or do you utilize the good old-fashioned Excel format?

2. How many weeks do teams allow players to be "locked"? What byproducts of the "lock" have people seen?

3. How do leagues deal with players who are "locked" during bye weeks? All players must be started, so a team would theoretically lose their bargain through the bye week. That doesn't seem fair. What about injuries?

Some answers to Michael's questions may be too long/detailed/specific for inclusion in next week's column. Any readers who want me to pass along their answers to Michael without including them in the column should direct me to do so. If you have more general answers about what you would like to see in whatever fantasy league you fantasize about starting at some point in the future, those answers might be helpful for Michael and interesting to the entire FFToday community.

Last Man Standing - Week 6 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: San Francisco over NY Giants (3-2, Wash, CLE, TB, Den, ATL):
San Francisco has had this game circled on their schedule since it came out as they would like nothing better than to “make up” for last year’s loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship game. But in spite of the Giants’ 25th-ranked rushing defense that gives up 4.5 yards per carry and a secondary that is one injury away from actually being the complete sieve that it resembles, Eli Manning just might be able to squeak out the win against a 49ers defense that is 2nd overall (262.8 yards per game) and best at points against (allowing only 68 all season or less than 14 per game). The Giants are 2nd in total points per game with an average of over 30 points per game and should put a big scare into the Bay area in spite of their poor defense. This isn’t the Buffalo Bills or NY Jets that the 49ers will be playing, and while the Giants are VERY beatable, this one has the makings of a trench battle decided by one or two turnovers with a strategic “air strike” by the winning team. My call, take the GMen and the points (they love being the underdog).

#3: Baltimore over Dallas (4-1: PHI, TB, CHI, AZ, HOU):
I’m going to confess, I’m not a lover of this game for a Survival Pool Pick. The Cowboys are coming off their bye and have had two weeks to get ready for this game. For their part, the Ravens have been uncharacteristically giving up a ton of yards (over 260 per game), which is something that Tony Romo should be able to exploit. While Joe Flacco has quietly made the Ravens an offensive team with an improved passing game, they might find it difficult on Sunday when they meet the number one ranked defense against the pass in the Cowboys (who yield only 168 yards per game through the air). This is going to be a tight game, so use this pick only as a last resort.

#2: Pittsburgh over Tennessee (3-2: CHI, Wash, NO, HOU, SF):
The Steelers are starting to get healthy. And that’s a good thing. Rashard Mendenhall has added a boost in the backfield that was needed to keep the defenses from pinning their ears back and attacking Ben Roethlisberger. The unfortunate Titans, however, cannot say the same thing about CJ2K and Matt Hasselback. The Titans offensive line, despite pains taken in the offseason to acquire Steve Hutchinson, cannot seem to open big enough holes for the running game. The wide receivers, short of rookie sensation Kendall Wright, hardly strike fear into any secondary, let alone a Steelers Secondary that still packs a punch. All that said, though, don’t expect a total blowout, as Jared Cook might be able to sneak in a touchdown or two since the Steelers are softer on the tight ends than they are on the wide receivers. This should be an easy win at home against a Titans team that is still trying to figure out how to compete every week and is last in total points allowed (over 33 per game).

#1: Atlanta over Oakland (4-1: HOU, SF, IND, BAL, NYG):
Oakland has given up an average of 31 points per game (3rd worst behind Buffalo and Tennessee). The Falcons average just under 30 per game, and there is nothing in the injury reports to suggest that fans in Atlanta have anything to worry about this weekend. Need I say more? If you needed more information, Atlanta has only turned the ball over three times all year, and the Raiders don’t exactly frighten Matt Ryan. At this point, the ghost of Al Davis is probably the most frightening thing about the Raiders. Look for this one to be on cruise control by halftime as this game plays completely to Atlanta's strengths.

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