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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Procedures for Bringing New Owners into an Existing League
Q & A: Week 1

Last Month's Question: Does Romo's contract indicate that Jerry Jones is playing fantasy football?

In my August column, I floated a pretty outrageous idea to readers in the interest of stirring things up. I wanted to know if fantasy football could somehow help to account for the seemingly bloated contract that Tony Romo signed with the Cowboys in the offseason. Romo is a polarizing figure, so it's no surprise that there are some people who defend his contract and others who contend that he is being grossly overcompensated. However, what I noticed when talking to Cowboy fans over the summer is that the more outraged they were about Romo's contract, the less likely they were to be involved in fantasy football.

On the one hand, Dallas fans who have seen Romo win exactly one playoff game in his entire career with the Cowboys have a hard time understanding how he can be worth 1/20th of one billion dollars to Jerry Jones. (Romo's new contract extension essentially guarantees the 33-year-old QB more than $50M).

On the other hand, FFers who know how hard it is to find QBs that deliver 4000+ passing yards (along with an impressive TD-to-interception ratio) each season can see why Jones was willing to fork over so much cash.

I was hoping for interesting arguments from readers about the manner in which fantasy football (with its focus on statistical productivity rather than wins and losses) may have influenced the valuation methodologies of fans, coaches, owners, and perhaps even players themselves in the NFL. What I got instead was a list of talented quarterbacks who never managed to win Super Bowls. I saw Romo compared to Dan Marino by Miami fans, to Dan Fouts by San Diego fans, and to Jim Kelly by Buffalo fans. Hey, as long as we're just throwing out the names of gifted QBs who never won a Super Bowl, where were the Minnesota fans who should have been comparing Romo to Fran Tarkenton? I guess they had to stay quiet because no one thinks of Romo as that much of a scrambler!

I don't see any of those QBs as a strong analogy for Romo, but perhaps that's because I live in Cowboy country, where Romo's detractors aren't angry because he hasn't won a Super Bowl, but because he doesn't seem to care (or even notice!) when the Cowboys lose. Romo's critics aren't likely to see a resemblance to Marino (whose Super Bowl loss came against a 49er team led by the legendary Joe Montana) or to Fouts (who took the Chargers to the playoffs every year from 1979 to 1982 and won a playoff game in 3 out of 4 seasons) or to Kelly (whose reputation would be entirely different if Scott Norwood's field goal attempt at the end of Super Bowl XXV hadn't sailed a yard to the right of the goalpost).

But just as Romo's critics would refuse to accept such comparisons, Max refused to accept my seemingly ridiculous FF-based explanation of Jones' motivation to (over)pay Romo:

Romo’s contract seems outrageously inflated to me, but I’m not buying the fantasy football angle. I think it has more to do with the fact there’s less than a dozen quarterbacks with proven track records of being able to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season and there’s 32 teams in the league. With the bending of the rules to make passing more attractive, a quarterback who can sling it is worth a lot, even if he has a penchant for throwing it to the wrong team at the most inopportune times. Still, 55 Mil guaranteed? Sheesh.

Fair enough, Max. Fantasy football is one heck of a reach to account for that eye-popping contract, but Romo's paycheck does seem to cry out for some explanation beyond what he has delivered to this point. Sheesh indeed.

This Week's Question: What's your league's procedure for bringing in new owners?

Sometimes readers write in with questions because they have answers they're eager to share. That seems to be the case with Daryl, who contacted me in mid-August to ask how other leagues go about replacing owners from one season to the next:

We don't have a lot of turnover in my league, but when owners decide to leave, it's usually because they finished at or near the bottom of the standings.

Okay, fine. They had a bad year, and they want to quit. So we start looking for someone to replace them.

The problem is that we award draft positions based on the reverse order of the standings. The worst team obviously needs the most help, so that team gets to pick first. (Pretty standard I think.)

For two years in a row, the owner who finished in last place has decided not to return to the league, so the new guy is the one who ends up with the top spot in the draft. That's kind of a bummer for the old-timers, so we made a new rule:

Any departing owner forfeits two separate assets to be recovered

  • A franchise – which will be filled by an incoming owner

  • A draft selection position – which will be put up for auction amongst all 12 owners (incoming and veteran) once all 12 owners are in place

Open franchises are handled as follows

  • Any applicant must be approved by a majority (at least 50.1%) of veteran owners to become an “approved applicant"

  • All “approved applicants” are eligible to bid for any open franchise – highest bidder wins (minimum winning bid $0)

After all 12 owners are in place, the forfeited draft selection position will be put up for auction amongst all 12 owners (minimum winning bid $1)

Daryl's league ended up auctioning the top draft spot on ebay. He sent me a link while the bidding was still active, and I wanted to include it in this article, but the auction has since closed and disappeared.

The simplest way to handle this transaction would probably be to say that the newcomer to the league simply lands in the spot previously assigned to whichever owner wins the auction for the top pick. Apparently Daryl's league calls for a more complex resolution that requires subsequent auctions of abandoned draft slots (with the newcomer getting an automatic $0 preemptive bid on each new slot) until no higher bids are made.

I'm interested in what readers think of Daryl's auction model, but I'm also asking a much larger question. Even if you don't have an opinion about auctioning off draft slots, I'm interested in the measures that long-standing fantasy leagues take to attract new members without alienating the veteran players. Whether this is a question your league has resolved satisfactorily or an ongoing point of contention, I look forward to learning how your league brings new owners into the mix.

Survivor Picks - Week 1 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

[Note: In the past, this section of the Q&A column has appeared under the subheading "Last Man Standing" or the corresponding acronym ("LMS"). The "Last Man Standing" name stretches back more than a decade through a series of guest contributors all the way to the earliest installments, when I made these picks myself. Over the years, Matthew Schiff has been the most insightful and consistent contributor of this feature, but he has always written to me about "Survivor Pools," not "LMS Pools." In the past, I have edited his contributions to make them consistent with previous installments of this column, but he's been doing such a great job for so many years now that it's time for me to re-christen this section of the column in his honor. Accordingly, readers should no longer Google "LMS Picks" to find Schiff's predictions. Let it be shouted from all the virtual mountaintops of the cyberworld: This section of Q&A will henceforth be known as "Survivor Picks." So let it be written. So let it be done. The Q&A column and FFToday are once again delighted to feature Schiff's LMS Survivor picks for the upcoming season.]

Trap Game: New England at Buffalo: (8-8 in 2012):

Last year in Week One, the New Orleans Saints were getting adjusted to life without Sean Payton and fell flat on their faces against their division rival Carolina Panthers (and we warned you about it - going 4-0 in Week 1). This year, the Patriots travel to Buffalo, where the Bills may start rookie Jeff Tuel instead of EJ Manuel (who is recovering from minor knee surgery). If that happens as expected, this game won't be close. However, there are rumors that Manuel might start, in which case the Bills could sneak up on New England. The Patriots return Tom Brady for his 14th season with a totally revamped receiving corps from last year. If Brady is out of sync with his receivers (not unlikely given that Wes Welker is in Denver, Aaron Hernandez is in prison, and Rob Gronkowski is in . . .jured), and if the mighty Pats stroll into lowly Buffalo a little more confident than they should be--then we have the makings of a TRAP game. Belichick is notorious for losing early-season games when New England is favored by double digits. All I have to say is "Wildcat!" to bring back bad memories of an eerily similar contest in Miami. Thus, the beloved Pats should be AVOIDED in a game that Vegas has them winning big.

#3: Kansas City at Jacksonville (16-1 in 2012):

These two teams were atrocious last year, which is why they both brought in new head coaches (Andy Reid and Gus Bradley). The Chiefs, however, went the extra mile of adding some good players (notably Alex Smith and Donnie Avery) who fit into the West Coast Offense that Reid likes to run. When combined with other talented players like Jamaal Charles (now two years removed from his knee injury) and Dwayne Bowe, this team goes from being the doormat of the AFC West to a potential playoff contender. Kansas City's defense was ranked 20th overall last year in total yards allowed, but their offense was dead last, averaging just 13.2 points per game. Look for that to change this season as the Chiefs feast in Week One on a Jacksonville defense that was 30th in points allowed with almost 28 per game. Since someone has to win this one, I'll take the experienced coach and the upgraded offense to start the season off right. The only scary thing about the game is that the Chiefs are a lot better at home, but the Jags don't seem to have enough talent for the venue to matter.

#2: Denver over Baltimore (13-4 in 2012):

A rematch of last year's AFC Championship game is on tap for Week 1. Unfortunately for the Ravens, however, there won't be anyone named Ray Lewis or Ed Reed on the field for the first time in 14 seasons. Joe Flacco signed an extended contract, and Ray Rice is still around, but it will be Peyton Manning and a trio of running backs that take over this game. The Broncos have also upgraded their defense with the likes of Jack Del Rio at defensive coordinator and Quentin Jammer at safety (instead of his usual cornerback role). Combine those Denver upgrades with Baltimore's loss of Lewis, Reed, Anquan Bolden and Dennis Pitta, and this game favors a Mile High victory for the home team. Don't get me wrong; both of these teams will be in the mix at the end of the season, but the Ravens will need some time to figure out who they can rely on in the passing game and to replace the leadership of Lewis and Reed on defense before they can take on the big boys of the conference and expect to win.

#1: Indianapolis over Oakland (14-3 in 2012):

Survival pools are about finding that one game that is a lock each and every week. You see, it should be rather easy to find that one game where there is a clear potential winner and loser. Unfortunately for most of us though, in these types of pools, you are limited to picking a single team once per season. But there is some good news in that we already know who to pick on in 2013! The hapless Raiders openly admit they're in "rebuilding mode," and the rebuilding doesn't appear to be going well (as evidenced by the fact that they've already cut their 4th-round draft choice, QB Tyler Wilson). Compare Oakland's QB quandary to Indy's brilliant transition from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. The Colts' signal caller is only starting his third year, but has already established himself as a savvy veteran; he should have no difficulty against an Oakland defense that allowed 28 passing touchdowns last season and an average of 28 points per game. It's doubtful that newly acquired running back Ahmad Bradshaw will play in this week's opener, but Vick Ballard and Donald Brown won't have much trouble filling in. Expect a balanced attack at home against dysfunctional Oakland. The Raiders won't go 0-16, but picking against them straight up this season is going to be a pretty safe bet.

Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999. As a landlocked Oklahoman who longs for the sound of ocean waves, he also writes about ocean colonization under the pen name Studio Dongo. The latest installment in his science fiction series can be found here.