Losing any game is tough. But some circumstances make it hurt a little more. A touchdown vulture denying your starter. A Hail Mary that connects, giving your opponent the win. Facing Tyreek Hill this past weekend and watching your lead slowly evaporate.
Those are all bad. But none are quite as bad as losing to a team that doesn't even have a complete starting lineup.
Imagine facing a team that had Mike Evans in week 5, or Matt Stafford last weekend, and seeing that they were still in the lineup. Those are guaranteed zeroes, my friend. It's like the win is in the bag. You can't believe your luck.
Then the games start, and you can't believe your luck: Your kicker knocks in a couple extra points while theirs is hitting field goals all day long. Their receivers all find the end zone, while yours end up in that weird makeshift tent while they check for injuries. A touchdown here, a fumble there, and the team nobody is managing somehow manages to beat you.
So sure, sometimes the owner who quit on his team wins a game. But they're really winning more than that. They've won a license to mess up your league. Most of the time, several players who are injured or on the bye means a loss, and an easy win for the other team. Too many of those scenarios can shift the competitive balance of the league. A playoff team might not the the one that deserves the spot. It might be the one with the lucky schedule that has them facing a roster of benched and injured players at the end of the regular season.
Now, we all know that luck plays a role in almost everything related to fantasy football. So with that in mind, why add the disruption of a team that leaves players in the lineup who aren't playing? Some owner thought they'd be 5-1, and they're 1-5 instead. So now their focus is on their other teams. You know, the ones in other leagues where they're 4-2 or 5-1 or maybe 6-0. Those teams get their attention, and the team in your league gets abandoned.
And what's the penalty in your league for letting a team drift along the schedule? In too many, it's nothing. They paid their dues, so they can do what they want. Sometimes they actually beat a team that's trying, but most weeks they dole out easy wins. And while it's annoying now, it can really hurt your league over the next two months.
Now is the time to identify abandoned teams and prevent them from hurting the league. See if it couldn't be helped one week (life happens) or if they're not active anymore. If it's the latter, the commissioner needs to find a replacement or at least make sure the team is as competitive as possible.
You might not want to say anything if you see that team on your schedule. After all, who wouldn't want an easy win? But it's more important that bad owners get discharged from your league, and teams actually earn their wins. That keeps a league healthy and fun and eliminates sour feelings and general apathy.
Besides, you might not even win that game. That result would be karma punishing you for not saying anything in the first place. There are no good outcomes to letting an abandoned team float along in your league. They hand out victories like candy on Halloween, plus the occasional shame of losing to a team that isn't really trying. But if you identify and fix abandoned teams and let every owner face the best competition every week, the league will be better off as a result.
What does your league do when a team leaves in bye week or injured players? How do you deal with abandoned teams? Have you ever lost to a team that had a couple of guaranteed zeroes its lineup? Share your thoughts below.