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Trouble inside the Numbers

Big week 8 stats might be hiding a bigger problem.

I’m guessing some records were broken in a few leagues this past weekend. Not just point totals, but margin of victory as well. A fantasy team relying heavily on Raiders probably wasn’t very competitive, for example (just like the actual team).

Unfortunately, a lopsided matchup might be more than a bunch of guys having career days. It might be a management problem your league needs to address.

On the surface, it doesn’t look like a big deal. Not only were there huge performances, but they were achieved by players who could conceivably be on the same fantasy team. In one league I’m in, a manager started Alvin Kamara, A.J. Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. He didn’t face Derrick Henry or Christian McCaffrey, or anyone else who was great, and his opponent had an off day. The matchup was essentially decided before the late games started.

Unfortunately, the winning manager happens to be my brother, so even though I didn’t play against him I still have to hear about it for a whole week. But enough about my problems.

The point is, a lopsided score is fine. It happens every so often. But when a team nearly doubles up their opponent, who had a terrible week, you might be tempted to check the lineups and see how things went so wrong. I don’t usually pour over lineups that don’t involve me, but I might want to see how it went down. And that’s when I see it.

What is “it,” you ask? Players on their bye week but still in the lineup. Injured guys still starting for a fantasy team. That blowout was one part great performances on one side. But the other part might be manager apathy and neglect.

It might even be hiding in a close game. In one league, my matchup went down to the wire Sunday night. When I finally pulled away thanks to Tyler Bass, I imagined my opponent cursing the television as I barely held on for the victory. But when I looked at his lineup (I don’t look at opponent rosters until after most games have been played) I saw a defense on the bye and a player who had been ruled out earlier in the week. If he had played his backup defense (who even keeps a backup defense?) I would have lost. If he had played any fill-in on his roster I’d take the L. There was nobody angry at the television. They weren’t even paying attention. I won the game, but I lost some of the fun afterward and a lot of confidence in my team.

And that manager might be a problem. There’s nothing more damaging to a league than uninterested players. They give away wins, they mess up the playoff seeds, or even affect who makes it. They take away the fun of the competition, they take a spot away from someone who might have wanted to play in the league, and they won’t work the waiver wire or respond to messages. No trash talk, no communication, no participation. It’s unacceptable, and with essentially half a season left, it has to be addressed.

Now, there might be a good reason why that lineup wasn’t updated. Life happens, and maybe it was an honest oversight. But you shouldn’t have to wait a couple more weeks to find out. And if you don’t know the person, you can’t do much on your own.

Fortunately, you have someone in the league who used to have an important role, but now has a lot of free time: The commissioner. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they don’t have a lot to do these days. But one thing they can do is reach out to managers who aren’t doing their job. If you notice someone fielding incomplete lineups, let them know and have them follow up. The commissioner can find out if it was a one-time thing, or if the manager is willing to do better in the future, or if a change needs to be made.

But is it really your job to monitor other people's lineups? I think it is. If a league member isn't pulling their weight, it hurts your experience. Suppose, at the end of the season, you need another team to lose to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, they're playing half a lineup because the other owner doesn't care. You don't even get to enjoy the drama of seeing if you’ll catch a break, or crash out of contention. That's exactly the kind of fun fantasy football can provide, but you miss out because someone couldn't be bothered to set a functional lineup. What does that take, three minutes? And your league wasn't worth it. Think about that.

If you see some lopsided scores, don't assume it was just a few powerhouse players smashing the competition. Maybe it was, but it also might be something else. If you might have an abandoned team in your league, address it immediately. Better to deal with it after week 8 than right before the playoffs. Good luck this week.

Did an active team in your league get demolished in week 8? Do you have a manager who seems to have bailed? How does your league deal with abandoned franchises? Share your thoughts below.

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