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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Trading Future Draft Picks in Redraft Leagues

Last Week's Question: How long should players remain locked on waivers?

My column for Week 4 featured a question from Dan, who wondered how long players remain locked on the waiver wire in "most leagues."

I wasn't sure whether one approach would emerge as typical because I've played in multiple leagues for a lot of years without encountering much consistency when it comes to waivers. And if the answers I received via comments and email are any indication, there doesn't appear to be a "default" method for determining how long players remain locked on waivers.

Even the simplest methods are highly variable, as these four responses suggest:

#1 (from King): As for waivers players are locked at that player's game kickoff and locked until the following worst-to-first waiver wire.

#2 (from Gary): We put a one-day (24 hour) [lock] on players cut. Otherwise the rest are free agents and can be picked up whenever.

#3 (from Bill): All leagues I have participated in, players are available immediately, as long as they haven't played yet.

#4 (from Frustrated): In all of my leagues players that are dropped are on waivers for 2 days, then are available. I see no reason to hold a dropped player out until waivers after the weekend.

Using a player's kickoff as the beginning of a lockdown period (as King mentions) sounds reasonable. But Scott's league has discovered that allowing free agent acquisitions during games intensifies waiver wire competition in a way his peers enjoy:
[My league] has a different approach to waivers: We don’t have any. All players are considered free agents except when they are dropped by a team after 24 hours of ownership. At that point, they enter a 48-hour waiver period before going back to free agency. When games start on Sunday, all unowned players stay unlocked and available for pickup. This results in a league where the owners are *very* invested in watching the games on Sunday, lest one of their stars goes down and another opportunistic owner scoops up the replacement.

We have loads of fun with this since most of the managers are close to a device of some kind and we all trash talk each other while the games are going on. It also makes waiver claims interesting by reducing the potential usage of them strictly to owner-dropped players. If you see somebody burn their waiver position to claim a player you just dropped, it can be a heartburn-inducing moment while you second guess your decisions. It also has the side effect of making our rolling waiver priority very static. Owners value their spot and will do everything they can to avoid using it. I’ve seen some owners go an entire season without ever burning their position and I’ve personally woken up at 3:30 in the morning just to grab somebody I wanted without using my waiver spot. It’s unusual and it’s a blast!
It's easy to see the upsides and downsides of the approach Scott describes. How many Dalvin Cook owners could have taken the sting out of his ACL injury in Week 4 by snapping up Latavius Murray before the game even ended? Then again, if you owned Cook but happened to be mowing your yard (instead of dutifully watching football), then you could come back indoors an hour later for a cold beer along with the news that your star running back was gone for the season and that before you had even learned of the injury, your opponent for next week had already rostered Murray—just to keep you from getting him.

Different leagues have different sensibilities about how vigilant owners should have to be in order to reap their waiver wire rewards. Bruce's league probably wouldn't respond well to the rule from Scott's league that encourages such Johnny-on-the-spotism:
Our waivers run once per week on a 4-round request basis worst-to-first and a 1-transaction per team per week FCFS waiver. (This was enacted to compensate for late kicker injuries etc., but is not restricted to [such cases].)

Dropped players lock until the next waiver request round and players lock at the kickoff to their respective game. All this is in place to ensure all teams get an opportunity on dropped players and take away any advantage from owners that hover over their computers.
Since simplicity varies so much from one context to the next, my takeaway is that simplicity matters less than tailoring your league's waiver schedule to the temperament of the owners. For this reason, my guess is that most leagues have developed schedules that sound complex when written down, but quickly become second nature for most participants, as in Dave's league:

I've seen this done many different ways, but in the IDP keeper league I run, we do the following:
  • Waiver requests open from 1 a.m. Tuesday (after MNF) to Wednesday at 9 p.m. (waiver order inverse of total points each week)

  • Waivers auto run at 9 p.m.

  • First-come/first-serve opens at 10 p.m. Wednesday through game time/1 p.m. Sunday

  • Players that are dropped are immediately available
Everyone knows when the waivers will run and when the pool opens up, and everyone gets immediate email notifications on transactions. We love it and wouldn't change it.

Mr. Squeeze's league follows an even more complicated schedule that doesn't seem to cause problems:

We have constant waivers with a clock. 1st WW period is noon on Tuesday - noon Wednesday; any players dropped during that period are immediately eligible for the next period that runs from noon Wednesday until 5 pm Thursday. Then the clock starts again with waivers processed at noon Saturday, and then again at noon on Sunday. The waiver order is reset each time waivers are processed, except for the last hour before kickoff on Sunday, which is a first-come/first-served process. We charge $5 to drop, and $5 to add a player in our league, so at $10 per transaction the kitty gets fat and happy.

I'm not sure how helpful this was to Dan, but I hope it's useful to commissioners who are trying to set up the ideal waiver system for their league. The place to start probably isn't by determining that players should be locked at kickoff, but by learning whether your owners respond better or worse to waiver competition, intricacy, or the other factors that go into formulating waiver schedules.

As usual, my thanks go out to everyone who wrote in (whether I had space to include your commentary or not).

This Week's Question: Do you recommend trading future draft picks in redraft leagues?

There's nothing unusual about trading draft picks in keeper/dynasty leagues, but the practice is often frowned upon in redraft leagues. The main argument against it in the redraft context is that permitting owners to give up players that are productive now for draft picks in the future only incentivizes the owners of struggling teams to set their sights on next season. "Off to a 1-3 start?" asks Wimpy the wily negotiator, "Why struggle? If you give me Ezekiel Elliott today, I will gladly pay you for him on draft day."

So what are your arguments for (or against) trading players for draft picks in redraft leagues? Please email your comments to me or post them in the comment section below.

Survivor Pool Picks - Week 5 (Courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

Trap Game: New England at Tampa Bay

Bill Belichick and company seem to have a hard time winning in the state of Florida. In fact, the Patriots have lost four of their last six games in Florida, but five of those games were against the Dolphins. Except for last year’s end-of-season runaway by the eventual Super Bowl Champions in Miami, the last time the Pats won a game in Florida was back in September of 2013 against the Buccaneers.

This doesn’t seem like the typical trap game, but New England has already lost unexpectedly to the Chiefs and Panthers, knocking many people out of their survival pools. If the Pats can lose while playing in the cozy confines of Foxboro, you better believe they can lose while visiting the Buccaneers in sweltering Florida. Jameis Winston has Doug Martin back at running back this week, and we can anticipate a game plan that keeps Tom Brady off the field. Why? Because it will take the Bucs scoring 30+ points to keep up with Brady and company, and the best way to win is to keep him off the field. This is a home team that has a lot of fight and a lot of weapons. As such, look elsewhere for your Survival Pool pick.

#3: New York Giants over San Diego (2-2, BUF, TB, CLE, NE)

With some of the strongest teams in the NFL taking the week off (Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington), this pick indicates how tough it is to find attractive mismatches in Week 5. The Giants have been abominably inconsistent this season and are just getting their offense on track with Wayne Gallman stepping in at running back to add some iron to an otherwise anemic rushing attack. The Chargers meanwhile should see large doses of Melvin Gordon to stymie New York’s attacking defense and keep the G-men off balance. But that won't be enough for the Chargers to overcome their identity as the current NFL team with the most one-possession game losses. This game won't be pretty and will probably come down to the final play, but the Chargers should find a way to keep that final play from working out in their favor . . . because that's what they do.

#2: Philadelphia over Arizona (1-3, NE, SEA, PIT, ATL)

Are the E-A-G-L-E-S for real? This is the week we find out. The Cardinals were expected to be a Super Bowl contender with David Johnson, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald as the core of the team. Instead, Arizona finds itself relying on Andre Ellington and CJ2K (who scares defenders about as much these days as Y2K frightens programmers) to carry the ball. The “other” Carson lining up under center, Carson Wentz, seems to be in control in his second year in Philly. With the addition of Alshon Jeffrey and LeGarrette Blount, the team has the combination of finesse and brute force in its offense. The biggest question they face is whether the defense can shut down some of the more proficient passing teams – of which Arizona is one. If they can, Eagles fans will be very happy.

#1: Pittsburgh over Jacksonville (4-0, ATL, OAK, NE, SEA)

The Jaguars are a much-improved team from last year and won very nicely in Week 1 over division rival Houston. But Week 1 was a long time ago. In Week 4, the Jags managed to lose to the Jets. If the most important part of the Jets' success vs. Jacksonville was home-field advantage, then that should be enough for the hosting Steelers this week. But if the key to that Jaguar loss was athletic talent rather than the venue, that also bodes well for the Steelers, who have at least 3 skill players who are likely to be more productive in 2017 than the entire Jets offense. Le’Veon Bell is back in football shape with Antonio Brown showing why he is considered the BEST wideout in the NFL today, and Big Ben is . . . well, let's just say he poses more of a threat to the Jacksonville defense than Josh McCown ever could. As long as the Steelers don’t fall asleep at the wheel, they should win this one running away.

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.