Concerning Last Week's Column
Although I didn't solicit responses to last week's column concerning
what leagues can do to facilitate trading, I received a few nevertheless.
Readers may recall that I made four suggestions about what FFers
can do to make trades occur more frequently in their leagues:
- Get over the fear of embarrassment;
- Let go of draft position or auction price after the season
- Don't try to "win" a trade; and
- Don't be afraid to get the slightly shorter end of the stick
on a trade.
I'll stand by those recommendations based on my own experience
and the overwhelmingly positive feedback that I received from
readers. Nevertheless, I did not mean to give the impression that
those four suggestions constitute the only approach (or even the
best approach) for creating an atmosphere in which trading is
the norm rather than the exception. A number of readers wrote
in to add their two cents concerning what they perceived as omissions
in my list of pointers, but I received an extremely thorough response
from Steve, who covered all of their points and a few of his own
in a response that I can't help sharing with everyone:
Your four points are all right on the money, but you don't mention
a big reason trades can be rare: league structure. It's the job
of the commissioner to organize the league such that people have
an incentive to trade. This includes:
Thanks a lot for writing in, Steve. I obviously couldn't have said
it better myself.
1. A big enough league. In an
eight-team league, you can often pick up strong players off waivers
and never really have to trade. We've got a 10-team league, which
I think is just about perfect: small enough that everyone has
a shot at decent starters, large enough that the good players
don't hang around on waivers.
2. Careful thought given to roster
depth vis-a-vis starting lineups. If you start eight players
but have 20 players on your roster, you can stockpile enough depth
that you never have to make a tough roster decision. True, 20-player
rosters mean most of the available talent has been taken, so the
waiver wire isn't a realistic option. In theory, that means that
if you want to make a change, you have to trade. But I've found
that big rosters make teams self-sufficient. In our league, we
have 8 starting positions, and each team has 14 roster spots.
We've found that this is a pretty tight number, requiring teams
to make some tough choices about who to hold and who to drop,
especially when you have byes, injuries, suspensions and people
holding on to handcuffs.
3. Starting lineup. We used
to have a flex position and combined WR/TE slots, but found that
they reduced the need for trades. So I scrapped them and went
with a straight 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF setup. I'm
considering adding a third WR slot because there seems to be a
lot of WR depth these days. The general idea is to roughly balance
the number of starters with the number of acceptable players at
each position, so that there will be depth imbalances that encourage
4. Positional considerations.
I try to balance the benefits at each position so that, for example,
TEs and Ks are more than just after-thoughts and nuisances. With
TEs it's easy; they score just like WRs, but the good TEs are
so rare that they're worth more than a similar WR. With the kickers
we add bonus points for distance and don't subtract for missed
kicks. So unless they do something freaky like fumble or throw
an interception, they're always good for positive points and a
good kicker can often reach double digits. In the end QBs and
DEFs routinely score the most points, but they're also the easiest
to replace with a waiver-wire pick, which lowers their trade value.
RBs are more likely to have monster games and also more likely
to stink. But they're scarcer, which raises their trade value.
WRs, TEs and Ks are streaky; a reliable player at any of those
positions is worth quite a lot; the rest usually factor in as
trade balancers. The final goal is achieved: that a good player
at any position can be a reasonable trade for a good player at
any other position.
5. Control the waiver wire.
Our waiver process allows owners to add/drop up to three players,
with the worst teams picking first. After that, it's a free-for-all
up until game time. Standard stuff, but what it means is that
good teams are unlikely to get a good player out of the waiver
process. Our league tends to see a flurry of trade offers before
the waiver deadline - as teams try to get value from players they're
thinking of cutting - and another flurry after, when everyone
sees who actually got cut and picked up.
6. Set the example. I actively
encourage trading, starting with allowing the trading of draft
picks. I make many trade offers, publicize trades when they occur,
and mention trades in my weekly results write-up. I warn people
about the looming trade deadline well in advance. Basically, I
try to make it clear that trading is part of the warp and woof
of the league. This year, our league started out slowly: the first
trade didn't occur until Week 4. But by the time our trade deadline
passed in Week 11, our 10-team league had seen 14 trades involving
50 players and 7 teams. That doesn't count the many, many offers
that were turned down. I consider that a success.
Last Week's Question
Last week I asked about methods for scoring punts and kick-offs
in fantasy football (not the returns, but the punts and kick-offs
themselves). Although I received a number of responses to the question,
over half of the people who wrote in did so not to tell me what
their scoring systems were, but simply to point out that they had
long wondered themselves about how such facets of special teams
play might be incorporated into special teams play.
I hoped to hear from someone who had figured out how to incorporate
hangtime into the scoring equation, but I had no such luck. As
far as the scoring of kick-offs is concerned, I received just
one response (from Aaron), who wrote:
In our league, we separate special teams from defenses and kickers.
Kickers get points for field goals and PATs, but special teams
units get points both for their returns and for pinning their
opponents inside the 20. If a kick-off ends up short of the 20
or goes into the end zone, we award zero points. But if the receiving
team is pinned between the 15 or the 20, then the kicking team
gets 1 point. If the receiving team is pinned between the 10 and
the 15, then the kicking team gets 2 points. If the receiving
team is pinned between the 5 and the 10, then the kicking team
gets 4 points. And if the receiving team is pinned between the
1 and the 5, then the kicking team gets 8 points.
I received no other responses concerning kick-offs, and although
I received numerous replies on the question of punting, they were
all variations on the same theme: a function of distance modified
by whether or not the punt landed inside the 20. The most exhaustive
response came from Randy, who writes:
We have punters in our league for one simple reason:
fantasy football is a game of statistics, and punters put up statistics.
Almost nobody pays attention to a punter, but you would be surprised
how much you pay attention when your game is on the line. You
either yell at the TV, "kick the hell out of it!" or
(if it is your opponent's punter) "Shank it!", and you
can really appreciate a good kick. We only score average punt
yardage per game, and number of punts inside the 20. Here is how
we score the punters. It may look like a lot, but we decided to
add a zero to our scoring rather than go to decimals. It is directly
proportional to a league if you take away the zero (i.e. 30 =
3, 50 = 5). I've found this to be a pretty good scoring. The top
punter, Lechler of OAK (What a leg!) is about 57th in total points
for the league, but most others aren't even in the top 100.
|Punters Can Score Too!
| Game Avg/Yds Per Punt
|| FF Pts
|Punts inside 20
This Week's Question
Gordon wrote in this week to ask:
I read your article for Q&A Wk #12, and you mentioned that
you were in a 48-team league. I was wondering if you can give
me a little more detail about that league. I understand that you
have 4 conferences with 12 teams in each conference. How do your
playoffs work, and how do you distribute your payouts? Do you
only play teams in your own conference?
I honestly have no idea how many other multiple-conference leagues
are out there, so I fear that I may be the only one who bothers
to write an answer to Gordon's question for next week's column,
but I welcome the responses
of other readers who have participated in such leagues and will
be happy to include them along with my own.
Currently I run a 12-team league and have been trying to figure
out an easy way to run a bigger league. We have been using CBS
Sportsline for our league hosting service. Currently they are
not able to run anything bigger then 16 teams I believe. I guess
I am looking for a way to easily run a bigger league like yours.
So if you have any tips and any suggestions of sites to use for
hosting a bigger league it would be appreciated. Thank you for
Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)
Trap Game: Minnesota at Chicago:
The Vikings have Moss back and everything should be perfect for
them, right? Wrong. The Vikings come into the Windy City fighting
to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers and are going to be playing
in the elements at Soldier Field, a stadium that can be less than
friendly in the winter. Chicago's defense is ranked 8th overall
in the league despite its pre-Thanksgiving thumping by Indianapolis.
The Bears may not have a stable quarterback situation, and if they
had, this would definitely be an upset pick. But, Minnesota is vulnerable
to a good running game and Anthony Thomas and Thomas Jones (944
combined rushing yards) will both be called on to control the clock
against the Vikings' explosive offense.
#3: Buffalo over Miami (6-5 This Season):
Buffalo is showing that this team has what it takes to win. In back-to-back
weeks they have beaten Seattle and St. Louis, one of which will
win the NFC West. Miami is coming off a win in San Francisco, but
will be hard-pressed to stop the homecoming of Willis McGahee for
his return to south Florida. In addition, the Bills defense is ranked
3rd overall, giving up only 279 yards per game. It will be a long
day for whoever starts at quarterback in Miami, and without a legitimate
running attack, the Bills should be able to control the clock and
#2: Detroit over Arizona (9-2 This Season):
It's late in the season and time to find that gem of a game that
can carry you into next week. You've used Indy, New England, Minnesota,
Seattle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore and are afraid
to take San Diego, Denver, Carolina, New Orleans, NY Giants or Washington.
So what's left? The Buffalo versus Miami game and this game. Detroit
has a young, up-and-coming offense that might struggle against a
defense that was solid early in the season. But Detroit has been
extremely opportunistic with turnovers (ranked 4th in the NFC with
a +5) and the Cardinals will have an inexperienced quarterback in
John Navarre and be without Emmitt Smith to relieve the defensive
pressure. Look for the Lions to win this one at home and keep their
slim Wild Card hopes alive.
#1: St. Louis over San Francisco (7-4
Last week's lock of Denver over Oakland knocked two of the last
five people out of The Champs Survival Pool and this pick might
be just as volatile. On paper the Rams should blow out the 49ers,
but the Rams defense ranks 28th overall and should allow the Niners
to stay in the game. Maurice Hicks may provide a spark running the
ball against a team that has allowed the second most yards (145)
per game. In spite of all of this, look for the Rams to focus against
their longtime divisional rival to keep pace with the Seahawks.
For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your
LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football