Last Week's Question: What do you
like about smaller leagues?
In my column for
Week 3, I came to the defense of smaller leagues, but a reader
named Mike was unconvinced:
The deeper the league, the more skill is involved in winning.
We used to have a 15-team league. The hard core fantasy players
loved it because the guys who did it more for fun had no chance
to win. Of course that's the reason it disbanded. It was no fun
for the casual players to forfeit $125-$200 every season. In an
8-team league, luck rules.
Maybe Mike's right, but his point would have been stronger if,
instead of theorizing about why a 15-team league disbanded, he
had provided an example of an 8-team league falling apart because
the participants felt winning boiled down to luck. Of course,
he can only speak from his experience, and many readers share
a similar perspective on smaller leagues. One such reader (Gary)
emailed me just to say, "I cannot come to the defense of
A reader named Will was more receptive to my argument about basing
decisions on abundance instead of scarcity. Most of us experience
this at the quarterback position in larger leagues, but Will remarked
on the abundance of wide receivers in leagues that only permit
owners to start 2 WRs each week "because you can always find
a good one on the free agent list."
Other readers attested to the weird fun associated with the all-stud
approach of smaller leagues. "Frustrated Teacher" says,
"3 friends and I did a 4-team auction league one year just
for fun. Picking which stud will have the better week is always
tough and we had competitive fun even in that odd format."
Four teams is extreme—and sounds like a quirky blast to
Interestingly, I heard from two different devotees of the 8-team
model who both participate in 16-team leagues broken into separate
8-team conferences, each with its own draft. Bill's league is
now in its 26th year:
We agree [that smaller leagues can be fun]! Since we expanded
to 16 owners we've always had 2 separate drafts like conferences
and yes they play each other with the same guys. Our opinion has
always been it's better to lose because of a 2nd tier guy or stud
decision mistake than some idiot picking a lucky break on a WR
you never heard of! We've always loved it [because] it's harder
Jim's 16-team league also divides owners into two groups of 8,
and it's even older—going back 38 years. In fact, Jim tells
me that the very first pick in this league's very first draft
was Kenny Stabler (which is so awesome that I don't even want
to fact-check it because I prefer a universe in which it's true):
The South Hill Football League has been in existence for 38 years.
We started with 16 teams and continued that way for 6 years. It
was a struggle to field a team, keep a quarterback, find a tight
end, replace a hurt player etc. After the 6th year, we decided
to split into two 8-team divisions that cross over on the schedule,
meaning you can match up against your own player(s). The benefit
was immediately obvious... more points and then the next benefit...
more player pickups. We charge $5.00 per transaction and spread
that money out amongst the winners at the end of the year. The
usual number of transactions has been 200+! [Owners are] always
able to find a guy during byes, injuries etc. We only allow one
backup at each position, [which ensures more free agent transactions].
Jim included a lot of great info about his league that I lack
the space to reproduce here, but one point warrants our attention:
"There is one original franchise that has never won our league."
If 8-team drafts really do boil down entirely to luck, that one
team is having a 38-year run of bad luck. Yikes.
I was surprised to discover just how many older FFers have resorted
to this model of two smaller draft conferences within a single
league. Bob's league is even smaller than the ones described by
Bill and Jim:
We are a 12-team league with two 6-team divisions. Each division
has a separate draft. We play each team in our division three
times and each team in the other division once. Yes, in the interdivision
games, you play against one or two of your own players. In order
to do this schedule, we have doubleheaders. We are a touchdown-only
league: 6 points per TD, 3 points per FG, and 1 point per XP.
We are a TD-only league because we’ve always done it this
way. This is our league’s 34th year. We’ve been doing
this before most of you were born. We use TD’s only because
there were no computers when we started in 1984; no Fantasy Football
Today; no FF magazines, only Street and Smith’s existed.
. . . We sometimes didn’t know who scored a late West Coast
touchdown until the afternoon paper came out the next day. We
have 2nd generation coaches in our league, sons of original league
members. We love our league this way. Most of us are also coaching
in more modern PPR leagues, but the ANFL (the Armchair National
Football League) is what we love and is one-of-a-kind.
All of these perspectives are interesting, but Sean's point is
probably the best one to end on:
I play in a 10-team dynasty league which I started back in 2000.
Doesn't matter to me how many teams are in a league, as long as
owners are active participants. That, to me, is the most important
issue for a successful league. I would rather play in an 8-team
league full of sharks than a 16-team league where half the owners
are deadbeats. It takes more skill to win in that 8-team league
than in the larger one where people quit playing halfway through
I couldn't have said it better myself, Sean. I won't even try.
This Week's Question: How long should
players remain locked on waivers?
The question for Week 4 comes from a reader named Dan, who writes:
One owner in our league was perplexed because he couldn’t
pick up a player in the same week he was dropped. Our league only
runs waivers once per week, and anyone dropped stays locked until
the next week’s waiver run. Anyone who passes waivers is a
free agent up until games start on Sunday. The other owner insists
that our settings are wrong and that the majority of fantasy leagues
allow dropped players to be picked up in the same week they were
dropped, after clearing a second waiver run. My rationale for the
settings we have is that most owners do not have the time to do
repeated waiver wire runs each week; doing so would give a definite
advantage to those who have the most time to dedicate.
I am curious what everyone else does with waivers and when dropped
players can be added back to rosters.
Short answers are obviously welcome here; please feel free to post
your response in the comments below or by emailing
me. If you care to explain why your league has developed whatever
timeline it uses, that may be helpful to other readers (even if
it goes beyond the scope of Dan's question).
This seems like an easy pick on paper but
the Bears RBs could pose problems for the Pack. Stay away.
The Packers are hard to figure. They handily won their first game
against the Seahawks, and yet barely pulled off a last-minute
comeback against the 0-3 Bengals. The Bears are even harder to
figure. Are they the no-shows who barely got on the scoreboard
vs. a Tampa Bay team with its primary running back on suspension?
Or are they the midway monsters who just beat a Pittsburgh team
with (surprise!) neither Le'Veon Bell nor Martavis Bryant suspended.
Rookie sensation Tarik Cohen is balanced with Jordan Howard to
take Chicago's eighth-ranked rushing attack even higher into the
stat-o-sphere. While it's usually automatic to take the Pack at
home, you probably don't have as clear a read on either of these
teams as you think. This one should make you nervous.
#3: New England over Carolina (2-1, BUF,
I include this game simply because it is the best “line
bet” available, but there’s something that “smells”
in New England—and it ain't the clam chowder. Cam Newton
is struggling; this week is his best chance to get his offense
straightened out. The New England defense is last in the NFL against
the pass and should help a Panthers team that is a paltry 30th
in overall passing offense. As such, while Vegas likes this bet,
and it stands out as a solid Survival Pool pick, I have far less
confidence in this pick than your bookie does, so I recommend
focusing on my top two choices for Week 4.
#2: Atlanta over Buffalo (1-2, NE, SEA,
The Buffalo defense is sixth overall and will face a fierce Falcons
offense that is surprisingly productive despite the departure
of Kyle Shanahan. But even if Atlanta is held to field goals instead
of touchdowns by Buffalo's defense, it's hard to see how the Bills'
anemic offense can keep up. Jordan Matthews is definitely a downgrade
from Sammy Watkins, and except for LeSean McCoy, the Bills don't
really have any offensive firepower. While Matt Ryan and company
may not run away with this game, they should safely win by more
than a field goal in their new stadium.
#1: Seattle over Indianapolis (3-0, ATL,
Jacoby Brissett has made a name for himself after being traded
from the Patriots in Week 2. This week he plays a reeling Seahawks
team that is looking up in the NFC West and desperate for a win.
The Colts are definitely improving and finding an identity without
Andrew Luck. But winning in Seattle on this particular Sunday,
when Pete Carroll has his team in a must-win situation, is just
too much for the Luck-less Colts to do against the Seahawks and
their 12th man.
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.