Last Week's Question: Does following
college football make you better at fantasy?
Before I plunge into answers concerning my college football query,
I want to review a couple of belated responses that came in concerning
my question from two weeks ago on bench depth and IR spots.
Todd was unable to submit his response over the Thanksgiving holidays,
but his detailed answer (posted as a comment to last week's column)
deserves the attention of commissioners who are trying to strike
the right balance on the IR question:
I ran my re-draft league for years with 6 bench spots. After a
particularly difficult year of injuries league-wide, we added
an IR spot for a year. After that year though, we realized that
adding an IR spot with that many bench spots made the FA market
My fix was to eliminate a bench spot but keep the IR. So we have
5 bench spots, and one IR. I have found this to provide a good
balance. It keeps FA turnover somewhat high [and forces] managers
to make tough decisions, but gives them the option to bench that
stud they lost for "X" amount of weeks. This works well
for my league where a couple managers tended to try to hoard players.
I think that the decision [concerning whether to have 1 or more
IR spots] ultimately depends on the make-up and personality of
the league. The commissioner must be in tune with that and make
adjustments (season-to-season) accordingly.
The idea of limiting the IR category to exactly one player and
incorporating it as part of a shallow bench should appeal to most
of the readers who indicated that they consider shallow benches
essential to good competition in fantasy. But since we heard overwhelmingly
from such readers last week, I'm happy to feature the commentary
of Bill, who let me know via email that he thinks it's a mistake
to assume that deep benches appeal primarily to owners who are
too lazy to make tough decisions:
I was traveling last week, and after seeing such a one-sided
discussion I felt compelled to weigh in. Short benches do provide
a different type of game and definitely have merits, but to suggest
a short bench us a truer test of skill is not true.
Last season I astutely drafted Le'Veon
Bell in the mid rounds and DeAngelo
Williams in the late rounds. A short bench forced me to
drop Williams the week before Bell went down. I lost Williams
to an underperforming team with waiver priorities. A tough choice,
yes—but hard to call this anything but bad luck.
More to the point, a deep bench allows the skilled owner to build
depth by picking up on breakout players early rather than lose
them to the league bottom feeders. This owner can now withstand
bad luck injuries because of their skill and ultimately use this
extra talent to make trades.
Short benches also limit trade activity.
Since their comments add new perspectives to the conversation,
I'm happy to feature the comments of Todd and Bill on bench depth
and the IR tag.
As for my question about college football, there doesn't seem
to be a consensus about whether those who pay close attention
to it do better in fantasy than those who don't. Ralph wrote in
to attest that the best owner in his league is a fan of college
We have an owner who is fanatical about college fb in our 12-team
dynasty that has won the league 4 times in 7 years. Each spring
he's the best prepared for the rookie draft because he's so familiar
with the players coming out, and his rookie picks nearly always
pan out. I started buying Waldmans rsp in an attempt to keep up,
but it doesn't replace the time he has invested in cfb. Personally
I can't stand the college games and don't watch them. He does
and it gives him an edge in dynasty.
Note that Ralph plays in a dynasty league, where knowledge of
incoming rookies would presumably pay the highest dividends. From
Nate's perspective, however, a focus on college football can be
a distraction in redrafter leagues:
I guess I qualify as the dominant owner in my league since I've
won more championships than anybody else, but this isn't about
me. It's about the owner in my league who talks nonstop about
college players and how he expects them to do in the NFL. He's
one of just three owners [never to have won a title in our league],
but that doesn't stop him from telling us which college players
have the best prospects in the NFL, which is mostly just him repeating
the hype of college commentators. Even when his predictions come
true, it's usually a year or two after he has given up on the
players himself. If anything, I would say his focus on college
makes him over-value rookies. That might work in keeper leagues.
It doesn't work in our [redrafter] league.
I wish I had collected enough data to reach even a tentative
conclusion on this question, but the answers were split. Sorry,
folks. Maybe I'll get some belated feedback to tip the scale one
way or another.
As usual, my thanks go out to everyone who wrote in (even if
they were answering questions from a previous column).
This Week's Question: Do any readers
allow pots to accumulate over multiple years?
I can't vouch for the story I'm about to tell you. It comes from
a man named Eddie who is engaged to one of my wife's cousins.
He assures me that his brother-in-law, who works for the Drug
Enforcement Agency, participates with his co-workers in one of
the most elaborate fantasy football pools I've ever heard about.
Eddie claims that everyone in the pool pays over $1000 per year
to participate in the league.
So far, so good. I hear from lots of people in high-stakes leagues.
But he further claims that the yearly payouts are miniscule because
the pot is saved from one year to the next—with the plan
of awarding a $100,000 purse to the fantasy owner whose team performs
the best over a ten-year period.
I asked Eddie to put me in touch with his brother-in-law so that
I could find out how the league intended to determine which team
was in fact the best over this ten year period, but I haven't
yet been able to confirm anything about this league. It sounds
a bit urban legendy to me.
Even so, it reminded me of a league that one reader mentioned
to me years ago: the
Empire League. The structure of the Empire League is fascinating
in that half of each year's pot rolls over into the next year
until one champion wins the league two years in a row.
The idea of a progressive/rollover pot in fantasy football is
intriguing, but I've never participated in such a league. Have
you? If so, please comment below or email
me with as many particulars as you care to share.
#3: Colts over Texans: (10-3, JAX, OAK,
DAL, MIN, PIT, NE, CIN, TN, GB, AZ, DET, NYG, SEA)
Andrew Luck and company have to win out to make the playoffs,
and it starts with beating a divisional rival this week. Like
all teams that aspire to go deep into the playoffs, the Colts
have figured out how to remain competitive despite injuries to
key players. Donte Moncrief, their 3rd year receiver, is a perfect
example. He started the season with a bang before missing six
weeks and then picking up right where he had left off. Thanks
to Montcrief’s return, solid play from TY Hilton, Frank
Gore providing a steady rushing attack, and the magic of Andrew
Luck, the Colts could realistically win their next four games.
As for the Texans, their Brock Osweiler is everything Luck isn't.
Last year, seven different starting QBs in Houston made effective
use of DeAndre Hopkins' talents, but Osweiler has failed to ignite
the Houston offense all season. The good news for Houston fans
is that Osweiler's second-best game of the season came against
the porous defense of the Colts, but the bad news is that even
his second-best game featured just 269 yards passing, 2TDs and
a pick. That won't be enough against a Colts team with Luck at
the helm and its postseason ambitions on the line.
#2: Falcons over Rams: (11-2, HOU, AZ,
CAR, WAS, GB, TN, NE, MN, SEA, NYG, PIT, BUF, DEN)
There was a time when this game was a twice-a-season occurrence
between these former NFC West rivals—a time when Eric Dickerson's
Rams would challenge Chris Miller's Falcons. That time is behind
us—along with the idea that Todd Gurley's mediocre team
from L.A. can challenge Matt Ryan's high-flying squad from Atlanta.
While Jared Goff is busy showing Jeff Fisher all the tools that
he can contribute to future 8-8 seasons for the Rams, Atlanta
is focused on capturing a seat at the table for the NFL’s
second season—and Kyle Shanahan's third-ranked offense will
get one step closer to that goal by keeping the score out of reach
for the offensively stagnant Rams. Although I would rather have
the home favorite in a survival pool game this late in the season,
this is one of the most attractive options. Be bold and take the
#1: Lions over Bears: (12-1, SEA, CAR,
MIA, CIN, NE, PIT, GB, DEN, DAL, BAL, NYG, NO, SD)
I find myself very fortunate to have Detroit as an eligible pick
this week. The Lions are playing against a divisional rival that
will be feature Matt Barkley under center in his third career
start. With Jay Cutler on Injured Reserve with a separated shoulder,
many believe that the Lions will feast on Barkley’s mistakes
and be a viable defense in weekly fantasy pools. That's probably
how things will turn out, but even if Barkley plays well, there's
good reason to think that Matthew Stafford (who has thrived in
Jim Bob Cooter's offense) will outperform him—as he outperformed
Andrew Luck in a 39-35 shootout in Week 1, Kirk Cousins in Week
7, and Drew Brees just last week. Because this game features divisional
rivals, anything can happen. But considering how limited your
options are this late in the season, take the Lions if they're
available to you—and hold on for a squeaker.
Mike Davis has been writing about
fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer
than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped
inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can
be found here.