Bring On The Replacements
Posted Oct. 03 at 09:32 AM
No, this column isn't about the replacement referees, who -- thankfully -- have become a footnote in the 2012 season. The experienced officials brought their knowledge, confidence and a few minor errors into week 4, and that's how it should be. But there were no game-changing calls. They didn't rule Lawrence Tynes' short field-goal attempt to be good somehow, they didn't flag the 49ers for "taunting" because they embarrassed the Jets and they didn't penalize Washington teammates Brandon Meriweather and Aldrick Robinson for "unnecessary roughness" when they collided during pre-game warmups on Sunday. I wouldn't put any of that past the replacements. The referees weren't perfect, but they didn't interrupt the game and the players on the field determined who won and who lost.
This is about a different kind of replacement; the kind that could save your fantasy league. Because while you think you have 12 owners, you might only have 11 or 10. If you're in a 10-team league, you might really be down to nine. Your 14-team league might have just a dozen active teams. We're just four weeks into the season, but some owners have already abandoned ship.
Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with these losers. Maybe they don't like being winless, maybe the replacement refs cost them a game or maybe they commited to too many leagues this summer. But whatever the reason, your fantasy league isn't a priority anymore and they've quit.
They won't tell you that, of course. They'll tend to their undefeated teams (when you're in 17 leagues, a couple will get off to a good start) and promptly forget about the rest of them. The message board will go quiet, e-mails won't get returned and trade offers will be ignored. The team will become a piece of driftwood floating through the season, bumping into a weekly opponent and providing an easy win. Those wins can affect your standings and playoff spots, and will disrupt the competitive balance of the league. An owner who abandoned their team can be a critical factor in determining your league's champion months later. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Or is there? While some people don't care if an owner abandons their team -- one less opponent and free money in the pot, they figure -- many others see the long-term damage that an absent owner can cause over the course of the fantasy season. They want to identify those people as soon as possible, and the NFL is going to help you do just that from here on out.
The bye weeks are here, and coupled with player injuries they'll help identify which owners have given up already. If a team started Reggie Wayne this past week, something's not right. If an owner kept Hakeem Nicks or Nate Kaeding in their lineup (after both were ruled out well before game time) that's a red flag. And now is the time -- not a month down the road, and not next week -- to find out what's going on.
If you're an owner and you spot a team that might be abandoned, notify the commissioner. It's their job to contact that owner and get an explanation. We all know that sometimes life gets in the way, and unforeseen circumstances might have led to a week with more serious priorities. It happens. But that has to be the very rare exception, not the rule. With a few mouse clicks you can set a valid lineup. It's hard to imagine that someone's life is so busy that they can't find 45 seconds in an entire week to do it. Aside from the rare emergency, there's no reason why setting a lineup should be a challenge. if it is, something needs to be done.
And by "something" I mean bringing in the replacements. Remember the potential owners we discussed over the summer? The short list of good people who could join the league in case someone dropped out at the last minute? Well, someone has dropped out...past the last minute. And it's time to find someone to replace them.
There are other options, of course. You could set their lineup based on the highest ranked players. You could have opponents play the league average each week. But no matter what, you can't let a team float along unmanaged. It's bad for the league. If an owner can't be bothered to set lineups in week 4 and doesn't have a good reason, they need to be replaced before they mess up the rest of your schedule. That's what those replacements are for, so try to use them and rescue your fantasy season.
The bye weeks will tell you a lot about who's given up and who's still on board. As a league member, it's your responsibility to be on the lookout -- kind of like a Neighborhood Watch -- and make sure nothing seems out of place. If it looks like a team might be abandoned, fix the problem now and consider bringing in an owner who can right the ship.
Sometimes replacements actually improve a league. Good luck this week.
Youtube Clip Of The Week: Kind of unusual seeing this before a game, but it's well-deserved.
Second Youtube Clip: In case you thought I was making it up... I wasn't.
How does your league handle owners who have abandoned their teams? How patient are you with apathetic team management? Share your thoughts below.
Posted by ERIC SCOLNICK | Oct. 03 at 10:19 PM
We have a new rule this year. A $5 fine for starting a player on bye or we know will be out at least 36 hours before the game.
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