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Week 16

Last Week's Question

The general question I posed last week concerned penalties in the NFL and the ways in which some fantasy leagues might have decided to factor them in to their scoring systems. I know there are some leagues out there that use offensive lines (if not individual offensive linemen), and I expected to hear that the o-lines are docked points for false starts.

I heard no such thing.

I know that many leagues out there use individual defensive players, and I expected to learn that in some such leagues, defenders who are flagged for interference are penalized in their fantasy scoring.

I learned no such thing.

I know that quarterbacks play an important role in virtually all fantasy leagues, and I expected to be told that in one or two leagues out there, QBs receive deductions for intentional grounding.

I was told no such thing.

In fact, if there are any leagues out there that bother to incorporate penalties into their scoring systems, none of their participants bothered to write in. I'm not surprised that most leagues ignore penalties. I've never been in a league in which the topic of scoring penalties one way or another even came up. But there are a lot of intense leagues out there, and I sort of assumed that I would have something to offer Monica in response to her query concerning the interference penalty on Terrell Owens in Week 14.

Sorry Monica, but I've got nothing.

In fact, not only did I not receive any solutions to Monica's problem, but I heard from a number of people who argued that it's wrongheaded to be concerned about the ground that an offense covers because of penalties instead of the efforts of individual players. As Joe put it,

To me, that's like saying it's painful to watch your wide receiver make a block that springs his teammate for a touchdown because you would rather have the teammate get tackled so your guy has the chance to score on the next play. Fantasy scoring will never be able to replicate exactly the impact a player has on the game. This isn't a problem; it's just part of the game.

As for William's question concerning the leg-whipping penalty, an unnamed reader wrote in to say, "The penalty was assessed from the point of the foul. Hence, the sack stands."

This Week's Question (1 of 4)

As the fantasy season winds to a close, it's a perfect opportunity for different leagues to learn from each other's mistakes. With that in mind, I'll ask readers to write in this week with any changes that they have decided to implement to their rules for next season.

In your responses, please explain what the old rule was, how and/or why it proved to be unsatisfactory, and what you intend to do next season to correct the problem.

(2 of 4)

I'll pose another question on behalf of a reader named SJ, who wrote in to express his dedication to scoring-only type leagues. I confess that I've always assumed that the main reason to go with a scoring-only league was to simplify record keeping for the commissioner. With the advent of various league-hosting services that keep track of stats automatically, I expected it to be simply a matter of time before scoring-only leagues would disappear. But SJ happens to prefer the scoring-only arrangement for reasons that may strike a chord with some readers. As he puts it:

I run a scoring-only league, and it is still the most competitive type of league out there. Why do people keep trying to incorporate ways to score (i.e. yardage, tackles, receptions, extra points for big plays, etc.)? It's time to promote less scoring and to increase competition.

There is nothing better than sitting in your favorite pub, sipping on your favorite beverage, and cheering actual scores in a head-to-head matchup.

What's wrong with leading 43-39 and sweating on Monday night because your opponent has Dillon? That makes a lot more sense to me than going to bed early because you need something crazy like 51 points from your tight end.

If you've participated in both scoring-only leagues and performance leagues and found that you preferred the scoring-only method, I'd like to hear your story for next week's column.

(3 of 4)

A reader named Shaun wrote in to ask if I knew of a website that supports Roto Football (along the lines of Roto Baseball). He says he prefers a Roto model because there are no playoffs, which means that no one gets eliminated halfway through the season.

I was unable to help him, but perhaps other readers can answer his question.

(4 of 4)

Since I'll be posting the questionnaire concerning league-hosting services in my column for Week 17, this is your last chance to add to the list of questions that I will be posing. If there are any particularly important features that you would like to see provided by the ideal league-hosting service, please let me know what they are so I can be sure to mention them in the questionnaire.

Happy holidays all.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt)

Whether you agree with Matt's top picks or not, those of you who are still alive in your LMS pools will want to pay attention to his trap picks, as he has been remarkably prescient this season.

Trap Game: Baltimore at Pittsburgh:
Pittsburgh now has the home field advantage virtually locked up with the combination of their win over the Giants and the letdown of the Patriots in Miami. All the Steelers have to do is win one of the next two games. Unfortunately for them, they have to play two teams that are both fighting for a playoff spot, Buffalo in Week 17 and this week's opponent, the Ravens.

In their last meeting, Tommy Maddox was knocked out of the game and Ben Roethlisberger came in to finish the game. Since then, the Steelers have only gone on a 12-game winning streak. The Ravens have the best defense that this rookie will face all season, and in their last meeting, he was roughed up pretty well. If the Ravens run the ball effectively against the Steelers and can play solid defense, home field advantage in the playoffs will come down to the last week of the season.

#3: Denver over Tennessee (8-6 This Season):
Most of the 8-6 teams in the AFC are going to be looking at the playoffs from the outside, and Denver does not look to be the exception to the rule. Last week they had the opportunity against a very poor defense to claim control of the 6th seed and failed to produce. So why might things be different this week? Well, Tatum Bell is expected to start at running back and Tennessee is playing Billy Volek and Antowain Smith, both backups, against a Denver defense that is ranked 11th in points allowed. Look for the Broncos to stay in the hunt at least one more week before being eliminated from post-season contention.

#2: New Orleans over Atlanta (11-3 This Season):
The Falcons are going to be on cruise control this week with nothing really to play for since they are in the playoffs and have a first week bye locked up. The Saints are out of the playoffs but would love nothing better than to win this game at home against their divisional opponent. Look for Deuce McAllister and company to try and run up the score against a team that will be doing everything to avoid injury.

#1: Seattle over Arizona (9-5 This Season):
Seattle can lock up the division with a win over the Cardinals and a Rams loss to the Eagles. While the Seahawks have no control over the Rams game, Mike Holmgren will tell his team that this week is the game that they must win since they travel to Atlanta next week and are not guaranteed a victory there. Arizona is coming off a solid win against the Rams last week, and Josh McCown seems to have reclaimed his starting role in the desert. Even so, the Cardinals can be run on and Shawn Alexander is one of the best. The Seahawks should avenge their loss in the desert and take control of the NFC West.

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 season.