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Week 7

Last Week's Question

Last 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.

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.
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 injury:
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.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt & Stewart)

Matt’s Picks

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.

Stewart’s Picks

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 (1-4):
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 (1-4):
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 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.