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Mike Davis | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Q&A – Kenyan Drake's Third Bye

Kenyan Drake

Last Week’s Question: What if everybody makes the playoffs?

My column for Week 8 featured a rule change in Mark’s fantasy league that allows all teams to participate in the playoffs (though byes and seeding are awarded based on performance in the regular season). It’s a new rule for 2019, so we won’t know whether his league likes it or not until December, but I invited readers to comment on the idea.

The feedback was … generally less than enthusiastic. Even though I tried to fend off arguments that such an approach makes the regular season almost meaningless, the most common criticism was exactly that. Eventually, I hope to learn whether Mark himself ends up feeling that way about the change.

In the meantime, however, some readers may be interested in approaches from a couple of readers who were sympathetic to Mark’s agenda, but resorted to less extreme measures in their own leagues. The Cinderella approach in Jeremy’s league mimics Mark’s emphasis on hot streaks at the end of the season, when they matter most:

This is along the lines of the Cinderella concept we introduced a few years ago in our league (25 years and counting). Out of 14 teams, the top 7 by record make the playoffs and the last spot is awarded to the team among the outside 7 teams that scored the most points in the last three weeks of our regular season. It allows the hot team to get into the playoffs. One thing we learned about this is the "hot" team has taken down the #1 seed the past two years, so we are allowing the regular season winner to pick their first round opponent as opposed to defaulting to the #8 seed Cinderella opponent.

The point here is that ALL teams are in playoff contention right up to at least week 11 and possibly week 13 (playoffs start week 14).

This strikes me as a great idea--especially for commissioners who struggle to keep cellar dwelling owners motivated at the end of the fantasy season. Anyone who gets off to an 0-4 start in Jeremy’s league is very likely to start acquiring (through trades and waivers) the players with the best matchups in that 3-week stretch before the fantasy playoffs. In other words, owners who might otherwise be incentivized to check out completely can end up even more engaged than they would have been at 4-0. Thanks for a great suggestion.

However, even after making room for the Cinderella team, Jeremy’s league retains a conventional approach by excluding roughly half the teams from the fantasy postseason. The closest approximation to universal playoff admission came from Sean, whose league only excludes 2 teams (out of 10) from the championship tourney:

Here's some info about the fantasy playoff system I designed many years ago when I created my dynasty league. It's a 10-team league and 8 teams make the playoffs. The division winners are the top two seeds, and the last place team in each division misses the playoffs. The playoffs run from weeks 13-16. Those four weeks are treated as a mini-season, with new standings each week, and initial seeding always being the tie breaker. Each week the bottom two teams are eliminated. This allows top seeds the luxury of potentially losing a game during the playoffs, while keeping pretty much all teams engaged and reducing the possibility of "tanking." Lower seeds could potentially win the title, but they would have to win four straight, and I have found this to be a very rare occurrence (the #8 seed has won the title just once in our twenty year history). We have used this system for about twenty years, and it works great.
Sean included a helpful graphic to illustrate how teams are eliminated from his tourney, but it won’t survive the FFToday editorial process, so please check the comments below to see if Sean or I can post a link for it.

Bruce was the lone reader to express support for Mark’s model. He pointed out that teams too often get into the playoffs by virtue of early-season wins from players who are often injured or in different situations (perhaps even on different teams) at the end of the season.

If Cook gets hurt and Mattison takes over for him in December, the Mattison owner is in better shape to perform in the playoffs than the Cook owner. But in most playoff systems, the Cook team limps into the playoffs to stink things up because of what Cook did in September, while the team with Mattison puts up a ton of points...against no one. That’s not the way fantasy playoffs should work.

One problem seems to be that while everyone has a clear sense of how the fantasy playoffs shouldn’t work, the collective sense of how they should work remains murky. My thanks to everyone who chimed in on the subject.

This Week’s Question: Drake’s Third Bye + 2nd Quarter Quiz

Kenyan Drake had one bye with the Dolphins in Week 5. He’ll enjoy another in Week 12 with the Cardinals. That sort of thing routinely happens with midseason trades in the NFL. But since Drake was traded on a Monday morning and his original team (Miami) wasn’t scheduled to play until the Monday night game, Drake effectively got a third bye in conjunction with the trade.

I had Drake in my lineup in the FFToday Staff League. By the time the trade was announced, it was too late for me to use any of my other players in that slot because they had already played, and the Sunday morning waiver window had long been closed. My matchup was out of reach anyway, so it didn’t make much of a difference in that game, but I’m eager to hear from anyone who felt particularly screwed over by the Drake trade. If you were such a person, I doubt you got any help from your commissioner with a last-minute roster change … unless he’s a fan of Tool and likes the idea of “prying open Drake’s third bye.” (My apologies. I couldn’t help myself.)

Quick Quarterly Quiz #2*

*DO NOT REPEAT any of the answers you gave after the first quarter of the season.

According to the scoring system in the FFToday Staff League (FFTSL), the top 5 QBs after 8 weeks of NFL action are:

1) Deshaun Watson (newcomer this quarter)
2) Russell Wilson (was #3 after Wk 4)
3) Lamar Jackson (was #1 after Wk 4)
4) Aaron Rodgers (newcomer this quarter)
5) Dak Prescott (was #4 after Wk 4)

The only 2 QBs to fall out of the top 5 between Week 4 and Week 8 were Patrick Mahomes (was #1; now #7) and Carson Wentz (was #5; now #12).

Question 1) Which of these QBs do you consider most likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Mahomes, who may rebound from injury in time to finish in the top 5. My Q2 answer is Watson.)

Question 2) Which of these QBs do you consider least likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Prescott, whose persistence in the top 5 is especially impressive given that he had a bye in Week 8. My Q2 answer is Rodgers.)

In the FFTSL, the top 5 RBs after 8 weeks of NFL action are:

1) Christian McCaffrey (holding steady)
2) Dalvin Cook (was #3 after Wk 4)
3) Aaron Jones (newcomer this quarter)
4) Austin Ekeler (was #2 after Wk 4)
5) Leonard Fournette (newcomer this quarter)

The only 2 RBs to drop out of the top 5 between Week 4 and Week 8 were Nick Chubb (was #4; now #6) and Alvin Kamara (was #5; now #14).

Question 3) Which of these RBs do you consider most likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was McCaffrey, whose bye in Week 7 did not knock him out of first place. My Q2 answer is Aaron Jones.)

Question 4) Which of these RBs do you consider least likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Ekeler, whose persistence after the return of Melvin Gordon has come as a pleasant surprise for his owners. My Q2 answer is Fournette.)

In the FFTSL, the top 5 WRs after 8 weeks of NFL action are:

1) Michael Thomas (newcomer this quarter)
2) Cooper Kupp (holding steady)
3) Chris Godwin (holding steady)
4) Julio Jones (was #5 after Wk 4)
5) D. J. Chark (newcomer this quarter)

The only 2 WRs to fall out of the top 5 from Week 4 to Week 8 were Keenan Allen (was #1; now #9) and Mike Evans (was #4; now #6).

Question 5) Which of these WRs do you consider most likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Jones. My Q2 answer is Thomas.)

Question 6) Which of these WRs do you consider least likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Kupp, which seems even dumber now than when I first wrote it in Week 5. I reasoned that there were too many mouths for Goff to feed for either Cooks or Woods or Cupp to emerge as a consistent top 5 target. Ouch. My Q2 answer is Chark.)

In the FFTSL, the top 5 TEs after 8 weeks of NFL action are:

1) Austin Hooper (was #2 after Wk 4)
2) Travis Kelce (was #4 after Wk 4)
3) Darren Waller (was #5 after Wk 4)
4) Evan Engram (was #1 after Wk 4)
5) Mark Andrews (was #3 after Wk 4)

The top 5 TEs for Q1 simply reshuffled themselves for Q2. This probably surprises me more than it should.

Question 7) Which of these TEs do you consider most likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was Kelce. My Q2 answer is Waller.)

Question 8) Which of these TEs do you consider least likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was, embarrassingly, Hooper. My Q2 answer is Andrews.)

In the FFTSL, the top 5 defenses after 8 weeks of NFL action are:

1) Patriots (holding steady)
2) 49ers (newcomers this quarter)
3) Panthers (newcomers this quarter)
4) Steelers (#5 after Wk 4)
5) Giants (newcomers this quarter)

Defenses made up for lack of turnover at TE, with 3 teams falling out of the top 5 between Week 4 and Week 8: the Bears (were #2; now #10), the Buccaneers (were #3; now #16), and the Jets (were #4; now #19).

Question 9) Which of these defenses do you consider most likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was the Bears. My Q2 answer is the Patriots.)

Question 10) Which of these defenses do you consider least likely to remain in the top 5 through Week 16? (My Q1 answer was the Steelers, who have climbed up a notch since I left them for dead in Week 5. My Q2 answer is the Giants.)

Once again, I encourage readers to record their answers to the quiz in the comment section below or by emailing me (especially if they include explanations for their choices). FYI, this is a lot harder than it looks, especially when you throw in the wrinkle of not reusing any names. When we revisit this quiz after the third quarter of the season (in Week 13), it will be impossible to answer both questions concerning TEs without duplicating (or contradicting oneself) unless there is some turnover at the position.

Survivor Pool Picks (courtesy of Matthew Schiff)

#3 Seahawks over Buccaneers (7-1; PHI, BAL, SF, lar, NE, WAS, GB, NO)

As home favorites in an interdivisional matchup, the Seahawks offer everything this column looks for in a survivor pick. But when the visiting team has to travel 2600 miles to play in an afternoon game that feels like it should be evening to anyone from the Eastern time zone, there’s even more reason than usual to play this one by the book.

#2 Bills over Redskins (5-3; HOU, BAL, NE, ind, kc, lac, SF, MIN)

The Bills are 9.5-point favorites in this game, making this the second-most lopsided contest of the week according to Vegas. But there is reason to be skittish about it. The Bills aren’t as good as their record suggests, and the Redskins are capable of playing well--if only in fits and spurts (especially if Case Keenum is under center, though it’s not clear whether he will clear the concussion protocol in time for this game). If Keenum is out and Dwayne Haskins gets the start, this game becomes much more attractive. If Keenum is active, my spidey sense tells me you might want to take Dallas over the Giants on Monday night instead.

#1 49ers over Cardinals (7-1; NE, SEA, DAL, LAC, PHI, dal, BUF)

Under ordinary circumstances, this would look like a trap game within the NFC West. But under ordinary circumstances, the Cardinals would have David Johnson (or Chase Edmonds) (or someone familiar with the Arizona playbook) in the backfield. On Thursday night, however, it looks like the Cards will have to rely on Kenyan Drake (acquired from Miami on Monday morning, roughly 78 hours prior to kickoff). With the San Francisco defense playing well all season (and particularly since their bye in Week 4), this one is shaping up to be a hilarious installment of Kenyan and Kyler as Kliff Kingsbury’s Keystone Kops.

Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms) can be found here.