Before I address the responses to last week’s question, I
want to share Shaun’s tip on the quickest and easiest way
to get information on players if you already know who you are trying
to find out about. When Shaun is curious about anything pertaining
to the NFL, he starts by going to Google, then selects the “News”
option (which hovers over the Google search bar at about the halfway
point), and then enters the name of the player that he wants to
find out about. This spares him the trouble of having to go to the
websites of local papers and scanning articles that may or may not
be of interest to him. I hope Shaun’s advice will be helpful
to those who were unaware of this quick and easy research method,
but I still recommend reading local papers in order to find out
what’s going on with the surrounding cast of fantasy stars
(as well as the teams that they match up against each week). Even
if a Google news search on Fred Taylor is sure to provide me with
some great information on the Jaguar running back, it won’t
necessarily direct me to an article that is strictly about rookie
left tackle Khalif Barnes—and I think it’s hard to appreciate
Taylor’s value for the remainder of the season without understanding
the kind of upgrade that Barnes appears to be over Ephraim Salaam
(who is nearing retirement) and Mike Pearson (who is not 100%).
That caveat aside, however, Shaun is certainly on target when
he calls Google News the “killer app” for sports news.
My thanks to him for writing in.
Last Week's Question
week’s column, I revisited a topic that readers bring
to my attention with some frequency: the problem of collusion
and various methods for preventing it. Since I don’t know
that I’ve ever actually addressed the outrageously unsportsmanlike
quality of this practice, I’m happy to let Gary get up on
a soapbox for me:
I’m absolutely fortunate. Even though I am
the commissioner of my league, I don’t veto trades. The
league has been around 17 years, and there isn’t anyone
in our league that would trash their own team just so another
could benefit. We all play spoilers. Also, on the last regular
season game of the year, we do a free-for-all instead of our championship
match-up. This also helps, since the owner with the best score
gets his back his entry fee. Thus, in my 10 years as commish,
I haven’t had to nix a trade.
I know that collusion happens in other leagues, however.
Once, I was on the elevator at work, talking to a friend of
mine in a different league (10 teams). His brother was on the
elevator, as well. As I was walking back to my cubicle, I heard
his brother say something to the effect of trading back and
forth so they can have the best teams.
I know this stuff happens, but I was still aghast. I was
taught sportsmanship at a very young age. Even if I haven’t
won anything, I will try my damnedest to win one game. It truly
sickens me when I hear of adults that do that. It truly does.
I think Gary’s league has found an excellent way to put
Week 17 to work. I particularly like it because it goes hand-in-hand
with a rant against collusion. We all know collusion is rotten,
but it makes sense to say so from time to time—particularly
when we take measures to prevent it.
Don wrote in to point out that sometimes what looks like collusion
is simply one league member taking advantage of another. I know
exactly what he means, as we already had an instance in my league
of one owner trying to get a rookie to trade him Chad Johnson
for Brett Favre. The method Don uses requires a lot of judgment
calls, but there are obviously circumstances in which it makes
In the league I commission, we have about four to
six rookie owners each year, due to turnover or growth. Accordingly,
there is always a potential for some veteran franchise owner to
try to snow a rookie. For that reason, I rule trades with an iron
hand. All trades are submitted to me as commissioner. Those trades
are reviewed and judged once a week. For each trade, I look for
fairness. If someone is trading a stud RB, they better be getting
fair market value in return. There have been times where a trade
may be questionable. On those occasions, I will contact the respective
owners and ask them to provide me with reasons why the trade is
acceptable. Of course, I do not reveal to each owner what the
other has said to me. In the eight years of commissioning leagues,
I have never needed to veto a trade.
One of my biggest concerns for trades involves my own team.
In an instance where I am trading with another team owner, the
trade will be submitted to two other owners for review. One
owner will be from my own division to represent a competitive,
vested interest, and the other will randomly picked. These owners
will have to use the same criteria I would use. Though none
of my trades have ever been denied, I did have to put up a good
defense of a trade once. All in all, it’s a good system,
but it is made so mainly by the integrity and honesty of the
Mike wrote in to explain his league’s reliance on what
is probably the most widely used anti-collusion measure: a trading
In the 30+ years of our league's existence, it has
rarely happened that two owners conspired to load up one team
in an attempt to share a year-end pay-out. One very simple thing
that we did is adopt a rule: there are NO inter-owner trades after
Week #12 (because collusion is only likely to happen during the
last quarter of the NFL season, when an owner has more or less
given up). Prior to Week #12, we would leave it up to our 3 Commissioners
to veto any suspicious trades; however, I am not aware that it
has ever happened earlier in the year. I would know, because I
have been a Commissioner almost every year since inception.
I don’t know how the playoff schedule is set up in Mike’s
league, but a Week 12 trading deadline has obviously worked for
his league for a while. In other leagues, such as Stewart’s,
Week 12 is too late:
Collusive trades happen when leagues do a poor job
of structuring incentives. Example: if you let your trading deadline
occur in week 12, there's an excellent chance that some 3-9 team
(clearly out of the playoff hunt) may agree to jettison star players
to a front-runner for a couple of retreads. How can a 3-9 team
have a star player at all? It’s pretty easy in head-to-head
leagues, where an owner can have the 2nd-highest point total in
the league and still lose. Contrast this with a league which has
a week 6 or 7 trading deadline. It's still early enough that owners
may feel that they can turn it around and won't be willing to
dump stars at bench prices.
Now that said, dynasty leagues pose an interesting wrinkle.
Teams out of the running this year may decide to hold a fire
sale to turn things around next year. Given that teams in professional
sports do this all the time, why shouldn't fantasy owners in
dynasty leagues be allowed the same opportunity?
Whether I had the space to include your response or not, I want
to thank all of those who wrote in. I hope some of these ideas
are helpful to leagues as they fight the good fight against collusion.
This Week's Question:
Does your league have any special mechanism in place to help
teams that get hit by injury?
Apart from allowing owners to free up a roster spot by putting
injured players on IR, my league does absolutely nothing for owners
who get bitten by the injury bug. In this respect, I think we
are representative of most fantasy leagues. For example, I lost
my top draft pick (Deuce McAllister) for the season thanks to
a torn ACL. It cost me $2 to put him on IR because all transactions
in my league cost $2. I tried to claim Antowain Smith on the waiver
wire, but Smith was awarded to another owner whose record is worse
than mine. It’s too bad that I couldn’t get Smith,
but I think most FFers regard injuries as an integral part of
the game—an obstacle that they simply have to overcome without
But maybe I’m wrong. On my way into my office this morning,
I struck up a conversation with a co-worker who is in another
fantasy league. He said he was looking for a running back, and
I asked if he had considered Antowain Smith. “I’m
not eligible to request him until the owner of Deuce McAllister
passes him up,” he said.
“Do what now?” I asked.
He explained that when injury strikes in his league, the backups
are always offered first to the owners who have just lost the
“You mean that no one in your league could draft Larry
Johnson except for the guy who had drafted Priest Holmes?”
“No,” he said. “You can draft anyone you want.”
“So if you had drafted Antowain Smith at the beginning
of the year, then you could use him now? But if you waited until
McAllister went down, you couldn’t pick up Smith until Smith’s
owner declined him?”
“Wait a minute. What if you wanted to pick up Jon Kitna
on waivers? Could you pick him up this week if you wanted?”
“But if Carson Palmer gets injured next week, then everyone
has to wait until Palmer’s owner passes on Kitna before
they can snap him up?”
“Exactly. Injuries are all about bad luck, and we want
our league to be as much about skill as possible.”
I didn’t follow the logic then, and I don’t follow
it now. In fact, the more I think about that conversation, the
more I think he must have been pulling my leg. But maybe I’m
wrong. Maybe other leagues do generally think that owners who
lose key players to injury deserve some kind of special dispensation
from the league. If your league takes special pains to help out
owners in case of injury, I want to hear about it.
Trap Game: Minnesota @ Chicago:
The monsters of the midway are back, at least on defense, and
the Vikings may very well struggle on the natural grass. Chicago
is ranked third in overall yards given up, and the Vikings have
had a hard time putting points on the board. But these divisional
games are always tight and could go either way.
#3 Atlanta at New Orleans (3-1):
No team is in more disarray than the New Orleans Saints. Everyone
knew that this would be a tough season after Hurricane Katrina,
but last week was just demoralizing for the Saints. It may be
difficult to regroup after a 52-3 shellacking, a game in which
they lost Deuce McAllister for the season—and Aaron Brooks
sat a large part of the second half. On the other side of the
field, Matt Schaub proved that he could more than step in for
the late scratch of Michael Vick even though the Falcons did not
win the game. The Saints are not going to play nearly as well
as the Patriots did last week, and as long as the Falcons remember
to show up, they should win this one handily.
#2 Denver over New England (2-2):
There are so many other games that are easy picks, but in looking
at the schedule of games this week, this is the one that everyone
will be watching. Tom Brady and New England were able to beat
the Falcons on the road, but the Broncos have been playing great
football ever since their season opening loss at Miami, which
is starting to look understandable. On the Broncos’ side
of the ball, the two-headed monster of Bell and Anderson should
be able to establish the run for some play action passing to Smith
and Lelie. Combine the return of Champ Bailey with some early
season snow that arrived earlier this week in the Mile High city
and you can look for the Broncos to squeak by the Super Bowl champs
in battle with a playoff atmosphere in October. This game will
be important for home field advantage and/or a playoff spot come
#1 Seattle over Houston (2-2):
The Seahawks finally got the monkey off their backs with the Rams
and should easily win this game. The number-one ranked offense
will come home and face a Texans secondary that is better than
it was last year, but anything would have been an improvement
over the 31st ranked defense it had in 2004. The combined rushing
of Alexander and receiving by Jurevicius should make this Sunday
night game boring very early.
#3 Atlanta (3-2) over New Orleans
(2-3) (at San Antonio)
The Saints' two wins have come on big emotional lifts...the 1st
game of the season, and the 1st quasi-home game of the season.
You can't sustain that kind of emotion all season long, and last
week the team basically quit on Jim Haslett. Minus the Deuce,
the Saints are depending on Aaron Brooks, which is a scary thought.
#2. Chicago (1-3) over Minnesota (1-3)
The Bears like to run the ball, and Minny can't stop anyone from
running the ball. On top of that, there are rumblings about Mike
Tice's job security. And of course it’s a Vikings road game,
so you have that going for you, which is always nice.
#1. Seattle (3-2) over Houston (0-4)
Seattle's D is not generating much of a pass rush, but then again,
Houston's offensive line isn't generating much protection either.
It's a fascinating case of the resistible force against the movable
object. But Seattle's offense is playing lights-out, and I think
both Hasselbeck and Alexander will have big days.
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
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.