Posted on: December 2, 2008 1:20 pm

NFL - Rule Change

The current NFL rules allow too much latitude in the way teams are allowed to post their injuries.  While there are fines for mis-representation, there is way too much wiggle room for teams to "fudge" the status of players. 

While most of us can agree it's a nice thought for your home team to "fool" it's opponent with who will play, and who won't- in reality, a team will not alter it's game plan based on an injury report 90% of the time.  The exceptions to this rule, are when key players are OUT.  An offense might pick on a particular hole to run through, if a superstar lineman is out, replaced by a rookie, or pick on a replacement cornerback.  The same can go for defenses, also- gear up for the pass, if the star running back is out, or double up on the wide recievers, if the star-pass-catching TE is out.  Again, this is based on the assumption that the player is OUT.  If there's any real chance they'll play, a team will still prepare for that player.

Why then, the need to shore up the rule?  This is a historic time- a time where interest by the fans is unprecidented.  We're talking Fantasy Football.  The current NFL fan base is the most knowlegable ever- for any sport. As the "sport" of Fantasy Football grows, the interest in the NFL will continue to grow with it.  With the increase in interest, the need for accurate knowledge grows.  Even more so for the more serious fan, who puts money into a Fantasy League.  With leagues costing from $30 to over $1000, who wouldn't want accurate information?  I haven't seen any statistics on the number of money-leagues/players there are, but it wouldn't surprise me if the gross revenues from Fantasy Football leagues aren't getting close to the $1 Billion per year mark.  Big business, no doubt.  As that number increases, there will be pressures never felt before, on coaches, especially, to cater to the fantasy aspect.  Who gets the ball, and how often, are questions that coaches may soon have to answer to, not only to the owner of the team, but to fantasy owners, as well.  With that being said, the importance for truthful information for the fans, is going to outweigh any potential gain by injury deception. 

Let me give you a classic example.  Week 13 of this season, Brian Westbrook was listed as "Questionable", with knee and ankle injuries. By definition, a player listed as "Questionable" has a 50-50 chance of playing.   He had performed poorly the previous month, so there was no reason to doubt the accuracy of this information.  So what happened?  Westbrook rushed 22 times for 110 yards, two TD's, caught 3 passes for 20 yards and 2 more TD's.  I think to most people, this over-qualifies for the term "questionable". 

What impact did this have on the Fantasy Football community?  Well, as you may have guessed, it affected me.  I had 2 other "healthy" options at RB- Matt Forte, and Chris Johnson, both whom performed well that week, though by comparison, Westbrook almost outscored them both combined.  If I had expected Westbrook to be "Probable", I would have started him- after all, he was my #1 draft choice.  The result of my choosing to bench Westbrook?  I lost that week by 1 point, which also eliminated me from the league playoffs. 

Sour grapes?  Sure.  After all, I did my homework on the subject.  I didn't just listen to a guru, or flip a coin, or let the computer pick for me.  I used all the tools at my disposal.  Could it have been prevented?  Absolutely.  I think that the Eagles knew Westbrook was healthier than a 50-50 chance to play.  If he was hurting that badly, they would have limited his playing time, in an effort to prevent a setback to his health.  Without a healthy Westbrook, the Eagles become a pass-oriented team.  No doubt Arizona came prepared to defend against the pass.  Many fellow fantasy owners argue that I should have started him anyway- you always start your stud.- they did.   These people obviously didn't have decent options for replacing him, as I did.  Basically, they got lucky- it had nothing to do with following the "stud" rule- after all, Westbrook outscored his previous 4 efforts combined- and then some.

In my opinion, and I'm sure some other angry/disappointed fantasy owners, the NFL should modify the injury status reporting rules.  They need to define, in better detail, what each status is, and what is expected from that player.  The NFL should also monitor teams and the accuracy of their reporting.  For example- if 10 players are listed as "Questionable" (50-50 to play), and over the course of 4 or more weeks, 75 or more percent of those players played significant playing time- then a red flag should be raised concerning their reporting practices, and a fine/sanctions levied against that team- perhaps extending to reduction of a roster spot for a number of weeks. 

Sure that $30 I spent on that league is a pittance- but multiply that by the millions of fantasy owners who get burned like I did on any given week,  plus those high rollers who spend upwards of $1000 per league- and we're talking no small bananas.  Don't forget that losing hurts, too- whether you pay for your fantasy league or not- you can't put a price on that.
Posted on: October 25, 2008 4:33 pm

Fantasy Football Unified Rules

I would like to propose a commission for the unification and standarization of fantasy football rules.  While some differences between leagues are good, there are some that can create problems and confusion.  There are also overlooked areas that could be tapped into for fantasy football points, making it even more competitive.

My personal favorite rule change to FF that I propose, concerns DST- or Defense/Special Teams.  As current rules in all leagues I've ever played in, part of the DST points are based on the amount of points the Defense gives up.  In reality, this number isn't always a true number.  If a quarterback throws two INT's for touchdowns, the DST gets unfairly penalized for the 14 points the QB gave the other team.  In my proposed rule change, these points would be subtracted from the DST point total given up, fairly reflecting the DST's performance. 

Another proposal to be considered is Win/Loss.  A lot of FF points get racked up by players on teams who are behind, and are forced to score, and score fast, to attempt to get back in the game.  For example, let's say the Giants get a 21 point lead on the Lions after 3 quarters.  The Giants can now sit on the ball, and try to run out the clock.  Any Giants player from this point on, fantasy-wise, is next to worthless, barring a huge defensive mistake by the Lions.  The Lions offense will now be racking up yardage on offense, trying to get back into the game, while the Giants defense sits back in 'prevent' mode- merely trying to avoid the 'quick score'.  By the time the game is over, the Giants will probably hold off the Lions, and win by 7, but the game was never technically that close.  Anyone who has played FF for some time knows exactly what I mean, and has been frustrated by the fact that his the Giants players on his team hit a 4th quarter roadblock because of their own success, meanwhile his FF opponent, who has Lions players, ends up winning the FF game because of this 'slow-down/catch-up' mode of play in the real game.  My proposal is to give FF players, including DST's, 3 extra points if their NFL team wins.  This also adds another dimension to the FF draft- now you need to consider how well a player's team will fare during the season. 

I think some standardization of some rules are in order also.  For instance, the use of Flex players.  This is perhaps the biggest difference between league rules, and can make a huge difference in how you draft.  Some leagues don't use the Flex player option at all, some use it, but only use RB/WR, others allow TE's, some QB's, a few allow all four.  With the myriad of rules and options, if you forget an option like this during your draft, it can cripple your team.  For example, I have a team that I forgot didn't use the Flex option- it used 2 RBs, and 3 WRs.  During the draft, there were great RB's available, so I grabbed them, expecting to use a 3rd RB at the flex position.  I drafted RB heavy, WR light, and after an injury to my #1 WR, my team was crippled at that position, and unable to replace him with a quality player either through trade, or waiver wire.  Granted, it was my mistake for not remembering the 'rule', but with so many options, it can be very tough to keep to a draft strategy, trying to flow with how players are being drafted, while remembering how your league point system works.

This brings other point variations to the forefront.  Some leagues give 6 pts for a TD, others 4.  Some give Points Per Reception, others don't.  Some give bonuses for 100 yard games, or long runs/receptions.  These and many other differences can add another dimension to the game, but at the same time, it can detract from the game, and spoil it, if not accounted for. 

Standardization of the rules doesn't mean inflexibility of the point system- it just provides for a consistent, fair set of rules to use as a base for all fantasy football systems, whether on CBS, Fox, ESPN, or independent FF leagues.  With a base set of rules for everyone to use, the game is easier for new players to use, and easier to keep track of variations, because a variation from the standard set of rules is easy to call out in league rules.  In fact, leagues can be rated for difficulty, based on the amount / type of variations from basic league standards.

If CBS would like to help back me in my efforts, I'm listening !
Category: Fantasy Football
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com