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Week 2

Last Week's Question
I have asked readers in the past about how late is too late to get a fantasy football league started, but when I asked the question this time, I received an answer from Rodney that would not have made sense in previous years:

We generally have our draft at some point in the preseason. We like to get together and have a preseason game on in the background as we draft. I’ve always thought that was a pretty good way to do things—especially since a lot of the guys in my league end up getting drawn into the preseason hype. It’s funny to see them drafting a guy who looks great against second-team defenses, but who they’ll end up cutting by Week 4. Things were different for us this year. Schedule conflicts forced us to draft on the Thursday night that the season started. We agreed at first to leave the television off so that we couldn’t be influenced by what was happening in the game, but then we started getting suspicious of each other every time someone stepped outside to make or receive a call on a cell phone. In the end, we decided we might as well just watch the game as we drafted. The result was that Heath Miller probably ended up going way sooner than he should have. That got us to talking about how if we were going to draft after one game in Week One had started, we might as well draft after all the Week One games had been played.

The more we thought about it, the more we like this idea—at least this year. When you consider that virtually a third of all NFL teams have new head coaches, it seems like it only makes sense to give us a little time to wrap our heads around the changes that these coaches will make in their organizations. We didn’t put things to a vote or anything in my league, but we sort of talked about the idea that any time in the future that there are more than 8 head coaching changes in an offseason, we’ll put off our draft until after the Week One games have been played. Have you ever heard of such a rule?

The short answer to Rodney’s question is that I have never heard of such a rule, but that doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to it. However, readers like Seth clearly think that the uncertainty Rodney is trying to avoid is precisely what they want to preserve in their league.

My league makes a point of drafting before the preseason. As far as I’m concerned, the right time for a draft is any time after the NFL has finished drafting players and before the preseason starts. I don’t understand people who do all this whining and moaning about injuries and suspensions for [violations of the substance abuse policy]. Injury is one of those risks that you have to do your best to compensate for with depth. Suspensions for drugs can happen in the season just as well as the preseason, so what’s the point of saying that fantasy players shouldn’t have to concern themselves with this injury or that suspension because it happened in the preseason? C’mon, it’s all football. It sucks for the Packers when Javon Walker gets knocked out in the first game of the season, but it sucks just as much for Miami when Ricky Williams gets suspended before the season starts. Why do so many people who play fantasy football want to make it so they never have to make any decisions about risk management?

I understand that there are plenty of dedicated FFers like Seth who like fantasy football to the extent that it presents them with the challenges of running a multi-million dollar organization. I suppose there are people who take the game seriously enough to have figured out a way to play it year round (with offseason trades, renegotiations of the salary cap, etc.) However, I think Chad spoke for most FFers in his response:

Everyone in my league is convinced that there is one “best” time for a fantasy draft; and we all agree that it is after the last game of the third week of the preseason and before the Week 4 games of the preseason start. The tendency in the NFL seems to be to give starters some playing time in the early part of the games in the first 3 weeks of the preseason, but to play second stringers and other “undraftables” in that final game. Not everyone does this, but the tendency seems widespread enough to make me wonder why anyone would schedule a draft any sooner or later than this ideal time.

Apparently I didn’t ask my question very well, since the responses I received tended to be about the “ideal” time to draft rather than the latest point at which a draft for a meaningful fantasy football league is possible. C’est la vie. I’ll try to do a better job with my phrasing this time.

This Week’s Question
What are fair and reasonable rules for the handling of the “Injured Reserve” category in fantasy football? If you think that there is no reason for IR in fantasy football, it is probably because you have a good bit of roster depth in your league. One of the leagues I mentioned in last week’s column allows participants to carry rosters of 40 players. If you have that much space on your roster, it’s no big deal to hang onto a guy like Trent Green for the period in which he’ll be recovering from that nasty hit. But some leagues really try to limit roster sizes so that owners cannot horde players. I play in a league that requires 8 starters, but only allows owners to keep rosters of 14 players. I’ve heard of leagues with rosters of only 12 players. Obviously, small rosters force owners to think very carefully about which players to cut when they have to make room for bye week adjustments. In such leagues, the use of the IR tag is critical to hanging on to great players who won’t be able to contribute every week, but there are wildly different rules from one league to the next about which players can be placed on IR.

Despite the fact that injury reports issued by head coaches are notoriously unreliable, plenty of leagues require players to be listed as “out” or “doubtful” to qualify for IR status. But what about holdouts such as Deion Branch? Would you have been able to put him on IR in your league in Week 1? Do you have a strong opinion about whether you should be able to protect players who won’t be able to play for you while making room for their replacements on your squad? Is a bye week a good reason to put a player on IR, and if so can you put entire defensive units on the IR list? Should IR decisions all be approved by the commissioner, or is it acceptable to let individual FFers make such decisions? If a player is obviously hurt, can you put him on IR on Tuesday even though the first injury report of the week won’t come out until Wednesday? Any thoughts on the way to handle IR in fantasy football are welcome.

Last Man Standing (Courtesy of Matt & Michael)

Matt’s Picks

This is one of those weeks that every Survival Pool contestant should get through to the next without too much trouble. There are 5 games in the NFL that are predicted to be double digit wins for the favorites and three additional games that should be won by more than a touchdown or more. That said, where are the traps?

Trap Game: Kansas City at Denver
Whoa!!! Are the Rams that good on defense this year, or did the Broncos just come out flat like last year? Jake Plummer had one of his worst games as a Bronco, but don’t expect the hook in the near future (unless of course he does it against the Chiefs). The Chiefs are going to rely on Larry Johnson heavily. Mix that in with some short passes to Tony Gonzalez from Damon Huard and the Chiefs might steal a victory in Mile High. If that happens, look for some wholesale changes by Shanahan in Denver.

#3: Cincinnati over Cleveland (1-0 Season):
This one SCREAMS upset because of the rivalry. The Browns came out very flat against the Saints this week, have gone through how many centers? 8 or was that 9? The number one possession receiver is out with broken ribs (Joe Jurivicius) and Reuben Droughns rushed only 11 times in a close game. The Bengals have won the last three meetings and should easily win this one. With few weapons at the Browns’ disposal and a healthy Carson Palmer at home, this game should be over rather quickly, and any thought of the upset should be long gone by the second quarter.

#2: San Diego over Tennessee (1-0 Season):
Ladainian Tomlinson definitely does not need pre-season as proven in his game against the Raiders. This week should be a continuation of last week’s romp while Philip Rivers gets comfortable leading the Chargers. Tennessee’s defense was overwhelmed by Pennington and the Jets, it should be very interesting to see what a high-powered offense can do. Unfortunately for Vince Young, he will get to learn a lot about the blitz as the Chargers’ front seven should be attacking all day long.

#1: Baltimore over Oakland (0-1 Season):
How bad did Aaron Brooks look against the Chargers’ defense? 7 sacks and less than 100 yards passing are awful. Don’t go blaming the loss just on Brooks but the whole offensive line. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, this week doesn’t get any better. The Ravens have a very good defense, and they showed it in one of the other shutout games in the NFL. Steve McNair and company should be able to open a lead and then let the defense “tee off”.


Michael’s Picks

I'll try this again. 2-1 last week, missing the 3rd game when I wasn't comfortable finding a third. Guess I fulfilled my own prophecy. I'll make my top pick each week a team I haven't picked in the top spot in a previous week. Let's see how long I last before missing it. The other 2 will just be the best picks as I see them regardless of whether the team has been picked before.

3. (0-1) Denver over Kansas City
I'm going with the "Inexperienced backup quarterback on the road" theory here.

2. (1-0) Indianapolis over Houston
Colts should roll at home. I'd like to save them for Tennessee if there is a game I like just as much or better this week, which I do.

1. (1-0) Baltimore over Oakland
Ravens looked great, Raiders looked horrible. Ravens at home with the Raiders coming across country after a Monday night game.

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.