Last Week's Question
week I asked readers about a strange rule that had come to
my attention concerning players who are put on injured reserve.
It struck me as a bizarrely intricate (even inconsistent) rule
because of the way its implementation was explained to me. As
I said last week, I have a co-worker who told me that in his league,
owners who lose players to season-ending injuries have first dibs
on their backups provided that their backups are still available
on the waiver wire. All by itself, there’s nothing
fishy about saying that if Carson Palmer blew out his ACL, Palmer’s
owner would have first crack at Jon Kitna. But I had a hard time
reconciling that claim to the reality that in many leagues, Larry
Johnson is already on the roster of someone other than that of
the owner of Priest Holmes. It made no sense to me for the Palmer
owner to have an automatic handcuff on Kitna (who is presumably
undrafted in many leagues), while the owner of Holmes had no similar
handcuff on Johnson. I concluded my explanation of my co-worker’s
claims by observing that I thought he was pulling my leg.
Apparently not—as I heard from several other FFers around
the country whose leagues seem to be organized along the same
principle. Consider this response from David:
No, he was not pulling your leg. The league I'm
in (Gonzo Football League, Fanball, head-to-head) has the exact
same rule. The injured player must be declared out for the season
[for his owner to have first dibs on the backup]. . . . Before
this rule was adopted, a vote was held. I personally voted against
it because I feel that homework by the owners is a vital part
of the game. However, I have actually benefited in the past from
the rule, so I guess it evens out.
I had an almost identical response from a reader who identified
himself only as C.:
I just wanted to let you know my league also has the "first
right of refusal" rule for players injured during the season.
It works identically to how the other person's league works in
your article. A team owner has first refusal rights on the immediate
back-up to the injured player if that player is not already drafted
or claimed prior to the injury of the “key player.”
This is limited, though. We set a time period of 1 week for the
team owner to make a decision. If the decision is not made before
the start of the upcoming week's games, and the waiver order “resets,”
then the owner forfeits his right to claim the immediate back
up (again, only if the back-up is a free agent). This prevents
the team owner from sitting on a player and keeping a potentially
valuable waiver wire commodity away from everyone else (the time
limitation is key to this working fairly).
Another FFer who wrote in to stress the importance of timing
in these circumstances was Chris:
I’m in a 3-man commissioner group, and the
way we handle injured players, other than IR, is to give a certain
amount of time to the owner to get his player's backup. If Carson
Palmer goes down Sunday during a game, that owner has until 10
am Tuesday morning to get his backup. If he goes down on a Monday
night, the owner has until Wednesday at 10 am. After the time
elapses, it’s first-come, first-served. Of course this rule
is only in effect if no one else had picked up that particular
player's backup prior to the injury.
Spanky wrote in to explain that even though his league does not
extend special privileges to teams with injured players in the early
part of the season, they incorporate a special exception after their
deadline for trades and pickups has passed:
We play a 13-game regular season. Our trade/pickup deadline is
prior to week 10 games. After that time and before the playoffs
start in week 14, if a player goes on the NFL injured reserve,
the team that owns that player can pick up any available player
to replace the injured player. This is to avoid having a team
ending up not having a player to start at a certain position if
injuries hit him too hard.
Although most of the responses I received concerning my the rule
in my co-worker’s league were sympathetic, a few folks were—to
put the matter diplomatically—critical. One such response
came from Charles, who went on to explain how his league handles
I don't know if this is the best way to do things, but we used
to cut off all transactions after week 10. After a couple instances
of teams having to take a 0 at a spot because of injuries, we
implemented this rule.
I am commissioner of my league, and that story about the right
to take a backup if you lose the starter is just stupid. Part
of the fun of fantasy is taking late flyers in the draft or trading
for your starter’s backup. In our league we have a rule
that once a player goes on IR, your team gets an extra waiver
pick. We limit waiver moves because some teams will keep going
to the waiver well too much. Only 7 moves are allowed per team
each season, but teams get one extra waiver move for each player
put on IR in the course of the year.
We use a bidding system for players serving as backups
to injured starters. On the week that a player gets injured,
the owner of that player has first dibs on the backup for $1.
If the owner declines, the bidding starts at $1 and is open
until 24 hours before kickoff. Highest bidder wins and must
Paypal the funds into the league account before being allowed
to pickup the player or the next highest bidder wins. All monies
go into the end-of-season bash. This is only used in cases of
injured players. We do not charge for free agents, for waivers,
or any other transactions. But injured players take on a different
meaning in this 5-year running league where some owners only
have access to the internet once a week due to employment constraints
(deep sea drillers).
This past week we have collected $46 for Tyson Thompson
and Patrick Pass alone. Last week, Joe Jurevicius brought in
$23. The total for the season so far is $181 in bidding monies.
The league entry fee is $500/owner, and the first place payout
is $4,500, so there’s a little more than pride on the
line here. This method, while a bit odd, works well because
those who decide they really need the player, pay real money
for the right to own him and the owner of the injured player
pays a small set amount if they elect to acquire the backup.
Those who chose to speculate and acquire a backup before the
starter gets injured use valuable free agency moves.
Warren’s league has an alternative solution that Charles
may want to consider—since it leads to four draft parties
per season instead of just one. (And apparently Charles’
league could afford to have as many parties as Warren does!)
We have a 10- team league. After weeks 4, 8, and
12, we get together and have a supplemental draft to replenish
our rosters. Order is determined by yearly point totals with last
place picking 1st and reversing each round like a snake-draft.
The draft is over when everyone either says they are done or everyone
passes on the same round. You must leave the draft with a balanced
roster like you started out the season (though trades of 3 players
for 2 players sometimes leave unbalanced rosters between drafts).
Owners even trade players before the draft for supplemental picks
if they know that they have no chance because of their draft order
to secure a player that they really need.
This seems to really work well for us, but there are a
few owners that miss the chance to strengthen and add depth
to their teams by not attending these drafts. Many regret missing
drafts later in the year. This is our solution, and I hope this
can help other leagues if they have problems with injuries to
replace players by a simple method.
This Week's Question:
This week’s question comes from David, whose league faces
a problem when it comes to prioritizing waiver wire picks. His
league sounds identical to mine in that it awards waiver wire
priority to teams that trail in the standings. The worst teams
in the league always get to pick before the best teams in the
league. I believe this to be fairly standard practice.
But David wants to know if it makes sense to give teams with
players placed on IR priority when it comes to waiver wire picks.
Should a 5-1 team get to pick ahead of a 2-4 team simply because
the 5-1 team lost a player for the season on Sunday? Perhaps there’s
a case to be made here, but I can see a lot of confusion being
added by this wrinkle. Suppose that Brian Griese, Deuce McAllister,
Patrick Crayton and Chad Pennington had all gone down for the
season in the same week. Are the owners required to replace players
at the position where they took the injury hit? Could I claim
first dibs on the waiver wire because of Pennington’s injury—but
then pick up a receiver? Does the IR status of a scrub receiver
like Crayton carry as much weight as the loss of McAllister? I’m
not sure that I see a fair and sensible way to implement this
rule. If your league has such a rule, I’m sure that David
and others would like to know about it.
Finally a 3-0 week in Week 6. I hope that some of the readers
used my Denver pick since it doesn’t get any easier for
them going forward. In fact, their game against the Giants is
my trap game of the week.
Trap Game: Denver @ NY Giants:
The Broncos come into the Meadowlands riding a five game winning
streak. They have beaten their divisional opponents and the Super
Bowl champion Patriots. With all that said, the Broncos may not
have the defense to keep the Giants down. The G-Men at home are
going to be very tough to beat. Yes, the Giants secondary is less
than stellar, and they looked at some free agents this week, but
the Broncos might have a hard time running the ball and have to
rely on Jake’s arm (always an iffy proposition). If the
Broncos do win, it will be with a field goal at the end.
#3 Indianapolis at Houston (4-1):
If you haven’t used Indy yet, this game should be the time.
The Colts will look to go into their bye week 7-0, and their defense
should pretty much secure the victory based upon the way that
the Texans offense has been playing. Combine that with Manning’s
ability to audible at the line of scrimmage and this one will
be over early.
#2 Buffalo at Oakland (3-2):
Buffalo’s offense has hit another gear with Kelly Holcomb
at quarterback and with Willis McGahee running the ball in tandem
with the short controlled passes, the Bills should be able to
control the clock and then air it out against a defense that seems
like they are getting worn down. The Raiders are giving up 366
yards per game and have only gotten 4 turnovers all season. Considering
that the Bills rarely turn the ball over, have a solid defense,
and should be able to control the clock, this game will be very
quiet by the bay for the home team. Look for the Bills to win
this one if they can put the Raiders out of reach by the 3rd quarter.
#1 Washington over the 49ers (3-2):
Welcome to the NFL Alex Smith. Your team has so much confidence
in you that they just traded your backup and are going to let
you face the Redskins and the Buccaneers in your next two starts
before you might get a reprieve against the Giants. The Redskins
have been playing sound football on defense, and Mark Brunell
has the offense moving now. While this won’t be a blowout,
it will be a good lesson for Mr. Smith to take into next year.
Unfortunately for him, it will be a lesson on how to avoid the
blitz and read defenses quickly.
I’m 8-1 over 3 weeks, which is pretty good. If only my
against the spread picks were anywhere close to this...
#3 Seattle (4-2) over Dallas (4-2):
The Cowpokes have lost one of their most sure-handed receivers
in Patrick Crayton for several weeks, and mammoth LT Flozell 'The
Hotel' Adams is done for the year. That's a pretty lousy combo
of setbacks for a team led by an immobile QB. I also think the
Hawks will be revved up for this game after last year's Monday
night meltdown against this team.
#2 Green Bay (1-4) over Minnesota
Both teams have only beaten the Saints, but the negative karma
emanating from Viking Central is stifling. The Pack should be
getting back two starters on the OL, and a healthier Ahman Green
as well. I also have a hunch that the first home game since Love
Boat-gate will turn into a chorus of boos early and often.
#1 Washington (3-2) over San Francisco
The Niners just shipped off Tim Rattay to Tampa, handing the keys
to rookie Alex Smith. Washington's run defense is pretty solid,
and I don't have much faith in San Fran's ability to get a road
win with a rookie QB.
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,
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programs are also available.