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Week 17

Last Week's Question

In last week’s column, I discussed a retroactive scoring adjustment that involved the Colt defense in Week 15. San Diego’s Drayton Florence intercepted a pass by Peyton Manning, but subsequently fumbled the ball, which was recovered the Colts, who obviously still had their offensive players on the field. Initially, my league-hosting service, which happens to be for the league in question, credited the Colt defense with a fumble (which is worth 3 points in my league). A day or two after the game, however, RTSports ruled that since the Colt defense was not on the field at the time of the fumble, it should not be awarded any points for the turnover. The result was that an owner in my league who had won our championship by the score of 105 to 103 suddenly found himself proclaimed the loser (103-102).

In my article, I didn’t mention that pretty much the exact same thing happened with the Bear defense because that defense wasn’t involved in our championship. But it was an important development for one reader, Brian, who wrote:
I lost a game this past weekend by .3 (109.6 to 109.3). I lost because the Bear Defense was credited with a fumble recovery that was analogous to the Colts example you discussed. In the Bears’ game, Rex Grossman was intercepted by the Falcon defense. The Falcon defender then fumbled, and Justin Gage (a wideout for Chicago) recovered for the Bears.

Initially, this recovery was credited to the Bear defense—giving my opponent 1 additional point.

The software we use in our league has not recognized any scoring changes for either the Colts fumble recovery or the Bears recovery. I was wondering where I could find scoring corrections for the NFL that may not be recognized by our league software.

I can't believe our league has not recognized the Colts scenario that you describe in your article.

Your thoughts?

Well Brian, my thoughts are that leagues have to play by whatever rules they agree upon in advance. If your league rules specify that you will be bound by the software you use, then that would appear to be the end of the matter. Unless your software service corrects the score, you probably have no choice but to swallow the bitter pill of your (arguably unfair) defeat. If you have no such rule in place, then you can presumably make your case based on how such plays were scored in other leagues. To the best of my knowledge, the single most authoritative and respected provider of statistical information concerning the NFL is Stats Inc. I haven’t looked into the way that Stats Inc. categorized the turnovers in the games involving the Colts and the Bears, but if I were you, I would request that my league commissioner consider overturning the score in the game if Stats Inc. does not credit the turnover in question to the Bear defense. Your opponent will presumably be opposed to such a review, so your best bet might well be to ask the commissioner to put the matter to a vote within your league.

A reader named Mike wrote in to explain how the scoring in his league is a matter of constant scrutiny within the league—but a matter that operates according to a fairly stable timeline:

To answer your question about how to handle retroactive scoring corrections, our pool is not unlike how you post scoring on your Fantasy Football Today website. That is, after the week's games are completed, I email everyone in the pool a "Preliminary Scoring Summary", and it is always subject to quality control by the other Commissioners. They cross-check my numbers and call me to correct little mistakes, such as the most often missed items including two-point conversions, rushing TD's by wide receivers, or passing TD's by running backs. Any other members of the pool who notices a mistake, usually with respect to their own franchise, may also call or email with corrections. By the time I am ready to post a roster for our weekly meetings on Thursday night, I assume that quality control has performed its duty. The scoring totals are final for the previous week, and weekly winnings are distributed. It's that simple.
As long as Mike has final say on which scoring adjustments to accept and which to reject, that method does sound simple. The problem that Brian might have with this solution, however, is that his opponent would presumably be unwilling to accept the “correction” that he would like to propose to his commissioner. Of course, the most beneficial thing about the model Mike’s league employs is that it would appear to keep owners in constant dialogue with each other about the ways in which games are scored. It also keeps the players in control of their league, something that Reggie argues against:
In our league, the commissioner used to email the final rosters out to everybody every week. Beneath the roster, he included the rules for the league—including our provisions for handling tiebreakers and disputed scores. He stopped doing that when we moved to a league-hosting service because all of the rules are posted on the website for anyone to see any time they feel like looking.

I saw where you wrote that maybe it would be a good idea to send out those rules to all participants in a league on a weekly basis in the playoffs, and I guess there’s no harm in that. But I don’t see how it would make any difference. Anything that people send me over and over just ends up getting ignored anyway, so it’s not like everybody’s going to reread the rules just because they’re in the playoffs.

My take on your buddy’s problem is this: Tough luck, but them’s the breaks. If you belong to a league-hosting service, I think there’s an implicit agreement to abide by the rulings of that service. Even if everybody in a league disagrees with the way that service scores things, I say they have to live with it because otherwise what is the point of having a service to do your scoring for you?

In my opinion, the Colt defense shouldn’t have gotten credit for that fumble, so your hosting service got it right. But if your service had credited the Indy D with the fumble, then that’s what you would have to live with because that’s what you’re paying for.
Reggie seems to be speaking on behalf of whoever it was that beat Brian. Considering Reggie’s strong feelings on this subject, I suppose he might just be the guy who beat Brian. I can certainly see the merit in what Reggie has to say, but I’m not ready to swallow the notion that anything my hosting service does is something I have to live with. If my hosting service has a some kind of bug and accidentally adds 100 points to the score of any player whose last name begins with ‘W,’ am I supposed to shrug that off simply because I had as fair a shot at Kurt Warner as anyone else?

I think hosting services are just that: services. In my opinion, they should serve the needs of the leagues they host, not dictate to the leagues. Therefore, if my league votes 12-0 to disregard the “correction” concerning the Bears and Colts, then I think we can award our trophy to the person with the high score that we recognize—regardless of what the website says his score was.

In fairness to Reggie, though, I can certainly see the benefits of abiding blindly by the rulings of hosting services. Votes can be pretty tricky affairs in fantasy leagues, as people cannot always be relied upon to vote for what they think is right. They can vote for their friends or against their enemies without even fully understanding the implications of their votes. For that reason, I can understand how Reggie, even though he didn’t exactly say so, seems to be advocating the presumed impartiality of league-hosting services.

Additional Models for Playing Fantasy Football into the Postseason

As I mentioned last week, I was unable to access some late messages that reached me concerning ways to set up fantasy leagues for the NFL playoffs. I surveyed a number of different approaches to postseason fantasy football in a previous columns, but if your fancy wasn’t tickled by any of those models, perhaps you’ll be able to use one of the following. The first comes from Norman:

Scoring rules for week 17 and playoff pools

Team consists of:
1 quarterback
2 running backs
3 wide receivers
1 tight end
1 offensive team
1 defensive/ special team
1 kicker

1 point for every 25 yards passing
1 point for every 10 yards rushing /receiving
5 points for every touchdown

1 point for every 10 yards rushing/ receiving
1 point for every reception
5 points for every touchdown

5 points for a win
2 points for a 2 pt conversion
3 points for a tie
5 points if team scores more than 35 points

5 points for every touchdown
1 point for every interception
1 point for every sack
10 points if opposing team scores 0-2 points
5 points if opposing team sores 3-6 points
5 points for a safety

1 point for every extra point
3 points for a field goal 0-45 yards
6 points for a field goal 46-50 yards
9 points for a field goal 51+ yards

For week 17 pool, add sunday night score for tie-breaker [ex. 17-0 dallas]. Week 17 pool costs $10 [winner take all]. Line ups for week 17 pool must be emailed or called in to me no later than 10 p.m. friday night.

Playoff pool costs $20. Payout is 50% first place 30% second place 20% third place combined scores of all 3 weeks of playoffs line ups for playoff pool are due no later than friday night at 10 p.m.

This approach is convenient because there is no trditional draft, and each franchise picks a new team each week (using anybody available)—so teams have duplicate players. Use the score of the last playoff game [last game before superbowl] to break a tie. I’ve been running this league for 7 years now and never have had a tie at the end.

Another reader, Kent, offers a much less complicated (but nevertheless interesting) model:

I know this is a week late but what I do in the postseason is let in as many people as I can. Where I work I get about 50-60 people in what I call the Fantasy Playoffs. I give everyone a sheet, and they get to pick two QB'S, two RB'S, two WR'S, two PK'S and two team defenses. Then we score it much like my fantasy league I run, and the guy with the most points at the end of the Super Bowl wins all the money. As the playoffs go, you lose players along the way, and you are leaving two teams completely off your roster as we only pick ten spots. I have run it for two years, and it is very popular. I get people from outside our place of work by the dozens.
Last Man Standing (Courtesy of MIKE)

Our own Matthew Schiff observed in last week’s column that your last man standing/survivor pools should have been coming to an end in Week 16. If you choose to continue these pools into Week 17, you are introducing an element of weirdness into the competition because teams that have already locked up their playoff spots (e.g. the Indianapolis Colts) are unlikely to play their starters for very long. Of course, you’ve heard me say before that weird rules aren’t necessarily bad so long as everyone in your competition is playing by the same weird set. With that in mind, I’ll be providing this week’s LMS picks in Matt’s stead. But before I get into the picks, I want to thank Matt for his consistent, popular, and useful contributions to this column over the years. We all look forward to the advice that he will have for us in 2006.

#3 San Francisco over Houston
The Texans already have a great runner in Domanick Davis, so the simple fact of the matter is they don’t need Reggie Bush nearly as badly as other teams around the league. Nevertheless, they might be able to trade the top pick in the 2004 draft for some much needed help along their offensive line. For that reason, I think the Texans will find a way to lose to the 49ers. The 49ers, for their part, can’t guarantee themselves the top pick in the draft by losing—as it is possible at the moment for as many as 5 NFL teams to finish with 3-13 records.

#2 San Diego over Denver
In past years, Mike Shanahan has protected key players once his team has locked up its spot in the playoffs (as the Broncos have). Marty Schottenheimer, on the other hand, remarked to the press this week that the only thing for any team in the NFL to do—whether it is playing a meaningless game or not—is to play to win. He told reporters that the only way Philip Rivers will play in relief of Drew Brees in Week 17 is if Brees gets injured, so I expect the Charger starters to have their way with the Bronco second-teamers in San Diego.

#1 Buffalo over New York Jets
There are many picks this week that I like better than this one (including San Diego over the Broncos and Pittsburgh over the Lions), but since it’s Week 17, I have to assume that most LMS participants will already have used such teams as the Chargers and Steelers. For that reason, I’ll suggest that players violate the cardinal rules of survivor pools by taking the visiting team in a divisional matchup. As we approach the end of the season, the Bill defense is learning how to play without NT Pat Williams (who left for the Vikings in the offseason) and LB Takeo Spikes (who was lost to injury). The Bills played well at the end of 2004 and are doing the same thing again in 2005. The Jets are worried about the future of oft-injured QB Chad Pennington and keep having to face rumors of the departure of head coach Herm Edwards to Kansas City. New York’s players had their last hurrah in the final Monday Night Football game; their mental bags are already packed, and the Bills should be able to steal this meaningless contest.

That will do it for this year’s Q&A. I want to thank all my readers—particularly those who take the trouble to write in with responses to the questions I pose in this forum. Even though I can’t print all of the responses I receive, it’s a real pleasure to get to look at the game of fantasy football from so many different perspectives. I look forward to hearing from some of you next season. But for now, good luck to those still alive in their LMS pools and their fantasy leagues. And here’s to a productive and rewarding 2006!

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.

Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live, on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived programs are also available.