Here are some of the questions and responses in the article:
Do you think the NFL lockout will affect your fantasy football league(s) this year? If so, how?
“Yes. It’s reducing interest in football, which naturally reduces the normally rabid league interest in fantasy football. Aside from any missed games and diminished interest, the lockout will ostensibly kill the preseason evaluation period. Most people in my league watch the preseason games to scout for draft steals, and I think the lack of a preseason will lower the overall quality of teams in our league.” – a 5-year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan in Washington, DC
“…Already has affected it…we usually get together to watch the draft…also, our league is a keeper league, which means roster management with trades can be a 12 month deal…no one is of the mind to talk trade…it’s a downer…” – an 18-year fantasy veteran and Steelers fan in Parkland, FL
“Every year I go to Waco, Tx for my fantasy football draft. Leading up to draft weekend, most of the participants have studied training camps, made offseason grades, and compiled their draft strategies (a couple even make notebooks). I travel the furthest for this annual ritual. This year we haven’t made our reservations (we typically rent a cabin, lake house, or stay out at someone’s ranch for the weekend), we don’t know what dates to begin blocking off the calendar, and we are forced to discuss basketball to fill the time.” – a 10-year fantasy veteran and Cowboys fan in Washington, DC
“We already decided to cancel the fantasy league and start a pool league on Monday nights. Both sides are greedy, bloodsucking, overpaid, egomaniacs that are destroying minimum wage jobs while they (complain) that they can’t live on only 20 million a year. What a bunch of sniveling little babies that don’t deserve any attention or respect.” – a 25-year fantasy veteran and Bears fan in Waikoloa, HI
“Most definitely it will. This is one of the aspects of NFL football that brings even casual fans closer to the game. I know some women, who can’t even tell you the rules of football, but play fantasy because they enjoy it. It’s kind of like filling out NCAA brackets, everyone does it. The NFL even markets fantasy, and I’m assuming spends millions on it. For instance everyone knows the classic T.J. “Who’s Your Mama” commercial. This is just one more aspect of the “golden goose” that this lockout will kill.” – a 5-year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan in Durham, NC
Has your league made contingency plans if the lockout stretches into August?
“Yes, we have a keeper league with non-standard rules that have necessitated that we already start planning for possible adjustments to our rules depending on whether or not there is a season and how long it is. We have already pretty much decided we must have a draft this August even if the labor dispute is unresolved at that time.” – an 11-year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan in Alexandria, VA
“We are going to try to find a fantasy UFL or college football league and if we do that there will be an asterisk on the trophy.” – an 8-year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan from Fisherville, VA
“Since our league is a fairly turnkey operation, we are flexible as to when we start. The only thing that will change will be the entry fee; Likely lowered based on number of weeks missed. So ultimately, the end-of-season prize pool may not be as large. That would be a disappointment.” – a 12-year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan in Silver Spring, MD
“Nope. We’re counting on the NFL getting it done. To quote Harold Camping, “There is no Plan B.”” – a 10+ year fantasy veteran and Redskins fan in Baltimore
This is just a small sample of the fantasy sports population. In the United States, there are approximately 27 million people who play fantasy sports, and a majority of those play fantasy football. By far, fantasy football is the most prosperous sport within the industry. If there is no NFL season, the ramifications could be disastrous to the fantasy sports industry, including the companies that provide services and the people who spend money to play. Obviously the fans want there to be football, but amongst those fans is a very important demographic of people who play fantasy football. The delay or cancellation of the season will have a far-reaching impact on many industries, and it is important to remember that the fantasy sports industry is one of them.
To my knowledge, this Washington Post column is one of the only articles written about the NFL lockout where the impact on fantasy football was addressed. I realize that fantasy football pales in comparison to the popularity of the NFL, but in many respects they are part and parcel to each other. The popularity of the NFL helped launch the massive growth and popularity of fantasy football. Additionally, the mainstream acceptance of fantasy football has given the NFL newer and more casual fans. The business and companies that write the fantasy magazines, create the draft boards, run the websites providing stats and advice, the websites that host leagues, make the trophies, host parties, and so on, will be in dire straits if the season is affected. While NFL fans will eventually go back to their teams and either watch games on TV or go to the stadium, the same cannot be as definitely said for the fantasy football companies. They may not have the flexibility or financial ability to close shop and reopen. Just something to think about.
THE SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Smittydogs v. Moneyball
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE
Decided April 19, 2011
Cite as 3 F.J. 7 (April 2011)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league” or “The Incontinent League”) utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform seeks an evaluation of a trade made between two teams within the Roto league. This is an NL-only keeper league where each team is permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with each individual player allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) years. Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept. This Roto league also has a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the subject Roto league uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.
The Incontinent League’s draft took place on April 2, 2011. That day, the Smittydogs made a trade with Moneyball. The Smittydogs traded John Axford (RP-MIL) to Moneyball in exchange for Ryan Franklin (RP-STL).
(1) Should the trade between the Smittydogs and Moneyball be upheld and approved?
This trade was not submitted to the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment until April 18, 2011. The trade was made on April 2, 2011. In order to evaluate the fairness and validity of the trade, the Court will base its analysis as of the players’ status and team needs as they were on April 2, 2011.
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. The standard of review has been that people pay money to purchase a team in a league, draft their team, and manage it accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. The Court also acknowledges that the analysis for evaluating trades is much different in a keeper league than a non-keeper league. A trade that may look uneven or lopsided on its face may receive a different opinion when it is involved in a keeper league. The reasons for this are obvious, but must be restated. In a keeper league, teams that are having unsuccessful seasons are more likely to continue to pay attention and make moves that will set themselves up for better success in the following season. They can do this by acquiring young talent that is not under contract within the league, or by dumping salary (assuming it is an auction league) and allowing greater financial flexibility to sign key players in the next season’s draft. In non-keeper leagues, there is no rationale for thinking ahead, nor is there any need to stockpile young, inexpensive talent.
Another factor that the Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or under-the-table dealings going on between teams. The Court has not been presented with any evidence of such malfeasance, so assumptions will be made that this is not an issue.
At first glance, the trade of John Axford for Ryan Franklin looks fair and even. This trade consists of two middle-tier closers for teams projected to be competitive and successful in 2011. Axford secured the role as closer for the Brewers in the 2010 season where he accumulated 24 saves, along with a staggering 8 relief wins, 2.48 ERA, 76 strikeouts, and 1.19 WHIP. Coming into the 2011 season, the Brewers are expected to compete for the National League Central title with the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. This improved starting pitching projected well for Axford to have an abundance of save opportunities. Ryan Franklin, the closer for the Cardinals, is entering his third full season as a stopper. A converted journeyman starter, Franklin has been a solid second tier closer since 2009 and is projected to continue this trend into the 2011 season despite the devastating loss of Adam Wainwright. However, there is some concern about Franklin beginning a downward in comparing his statistics from 2009 to 2010. Franklin only had 27 saves over a full season, along with a relatively high 3.46 ERA. His WHIP was an impressive 1.03, but he only had 42 strikeouts which is demonstrative of his pitch-to-contact capabilities. That being said, Axford is still unproven after only having one half of a season as a closer. There are risks involved with both players, as there are with most closers in baseball.
In terms of the players’ salaries and contract status, it does not appear that either team is gaining a tremendous advantage either way. Franklin costs $1.20 and is the final year of his contract, meaning he will be eligible for the draft in 2012. Axford costs $1.00 and is in the 2nd year of his contract with only one year remaining before he is a free agent again. This equality also helps prove that the trade is fair and equal.
As referenced in Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 34 (June 2010), the dichotomy between the Smittydogs and Moneyball’s motivations is precisely why the Court must look at trades in keeper leagues differently than non-keeper leagues. However, had this trade been made in a non-keeper league, the Court would still likely approve it. Neither of these players are long-term solutions or top-rated prospects. The typical keeper league analysis of projected future value is not necessary in this transaction. The Court would like to reiterate that the analysis and evaluation of the trade is retroactive to April 2, 2011 when the trade was consummated. Had the trade been evaluated as of the present date, the analysis could be different due to the ineffectiveness of both players, especially Franklin who is likely to lose his role as closer on the Cardinals. Should Franklin be relegated to set-up relief and not have opportunities to gain saves, his value will severely plummet. Regardless, the trade was evaluated based on when it was made.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade should is fair, equal, and free from collusion. The trade comports with the best interests of the league and should be approved.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The third installment of the OBFBL Retrospective will focus on the twelve previous champions and what their draft positions were. Since the inception of the league, a random, fresh draft order is selected prior to each season. The standings from the prior year have no bearing on the next year’s draft. That being said, I will be taking a look back at each year’s champion and where they drafted to see if there is any distinct advantage that exists.
1999 – Rodillaté Muchacha (#7)
2000 – NAACP (#12)
2001 – Celebate Whores (#14)
2002 – Punch and Pie (#10)
2003 – Zimmer’s Revenge (#4)
2004 – Mets in 2004 (#8)
2005 – I Lost the Ketubah in Canada (#15)
2006 – Don Zimmer’s Boner Jams ’06 (#1)
2007 – Giant Douche on a Plane (#12)
2008 – Benny Smells Like a Bee-otch (#4)
2009 – A New Hope (#14)
2010 – Dawg Eat Dawg (#6)
Over the course of the first twelve seasons of the OBFBL, the average draft position of the championship team is 9 (ok it is really 8.9 but I rounded up because decimals suck). This is not surprising given the league has 18 teams, and the ninth pick of the draft obviously falls square in the middle. However, interestingly, no #9 team has ever won the league.
Only #’s 4, 12 and 14 have produced multiple champions. The #1 pick has only produced one champion and #’s 2 and 3 have not produced any. No team drafting beyond #15 has ever won the league.
So what can be taken from these statistics? Probably not much at all, but they are interesting to see. Logic would tell you that drafting in the middle of an 18-team league is best because you have an equidistant amount of time in between picks which allows you to avoid missing a run at a certain position. On the contrary, being near the top or bottom means you have potentially 35 picks in between which could prevent you from grabbing a player at a position that is going like hotcakes. But there are advantages to being near the top or bottom, such as having back-to-back picks.
The bottom line is that there is no clear advantage irrespective of where your draft position is. Just have a game plan, be creative, follow your instincts, and adapt to what is going on around you and all teams have an equal chance of winning the championship.
This season marks the 13th year of the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League (“OBFBL”). Back in 1999, I created a 16-team (expanded to 18 teams in 2000), head to head, points fantasy baseball league comprised of friends and family. It is a non-keeper league where a random fresh draft order is done before each season. Now thirteen years later, the league is still running strong with some new faces and rule changes to keep up with the times. Back then, the internet was just becoming a must-have for any fantasy league. I initially started the league by doing everything manually which proved to be a logistical disaster. So after the first week of the season, the OBFBL was run on TQ Stats where it would remain until 2008. After TQ Stats was bought out by Fanball, I moved the league to CBS where it has remained ever since. Times have changed and the league has evolved every year, including rule changes, format changes, and administrative changes. Now thirteen years later, the OBFBL has reached adulthood (at least in the eyes of Judaism).
I will be doing a retrospective of the league by compiling various lists of data and information from over the years, including interesting tidbits from old drafts and analyzing success based on draft position. Given how long the OBFBL has been running, I thought I would make the first edition of the retrospective a tribute to longevity. The following is a list (in order of when they were drafted) of the Top 25 players that were drafted in the OBFBL in 1999 and are still currently playing today. I will include some analysis and commentary for each player based on where they stood thirteen years ago and where they stand today.
1. Alex Rodriguez-SS-SEA (1st round, 2nd pick) – A-Rod was still a young pup but was already established as one of the game’s elite players at a premium position. He went second overall behind Mike Piazza, which isn’t that surprising given Piazza’s credentials at the catcher position. Today, A-Rod remains a viable fantasy option at third base for the Yankees. He is no longer a lock for a first round pick, but he is still near the top of the list for options at his position.
2. Ivan Rodriguez-C-TEX (1st round, 15th pick) - Pudge was in the prime of his career as one of the game’s best offensive catchers not named Piazza. Clearly benefiting from “the juice,” he put up some monster offensive numbers and was always highly regarded by OBFBL league members. He is a shell of his former self as father time and lack of injections have depleted him of his offensive skills, but he is still the starting catcher in Washington.
3. Derek Jeter-SS-NYY (1st round, 16th pick) – this was back in the glory days of the American League shortstops. Jeter never could compare to the numbers put up by A-Rod, Nomar, or even Miguel Tejada, but he still produced terrific offensive numbers in terms of hits, runs, stolen bases, walks, and RBI at that position. Presently, he is coming off his worst offensive season and just signed a controversial contract extension. There is no reason to think he can’t or won’t return to his season average numbers, but he certainly is not mentioned as a possible first round pick anymore.
4. Chipper Jones-3B-ATL (2nd round, 6th pick) – Chipper was the premiere option at third base back then in the days when he was healthy and could play 150 games. He is barely hanging on today as he annually recovers from various injuries that he has sustained during his likely Hall of Fame career. He is no longer an option for a starting third base slot, but he will likely be drafted and could be valuable if he can stay on the field.
5. Manny Ramirez-OF-CLE (2nd round, 8th pick) – much of what was said about Chipper can be said about Ramirez. He was entering the prime of his career in 1999 and would only get better as the years went on. Today, he is hanging on as a DH in Tampa Bay and could still rack up numbers if his body doesn’t betray him. He will be a later round pick with some upside.
6. Vladimir Guerrero-OF-MON (2nd round, 12th pick) – at the time, Vlad was blossoming into one of the best fantasy players in the league. He hit for an extremely high batting average, had tremendous power, and also stole lots of bases. This was right before he truly emerged as an elite force, but it was evident you could build a fantasy team around him. Today, Vlad is relegated to a full-time DH as he joins the Orioles after spending one successful year in Texas. He is a middle round pick with good upside as he hits in a solid lineup in a great hitters’ park.
7. Jason Giambi-1B-OAK (2nd round, 14th pick) – he was also emerging as an elite option at first base in 1999. Today, he is a backup first baseman in Colorado and primarily used as a left-handed pinch hitter. He has no fantasy value and should not be drafted.
8. Jim Thome-1B-CLE (2nd round, 15th pick) – Thome was already a proven veteran power hitter on his way to a prolific career hitting homeruns. He has changed teams several times, but he remains a candidate for a bench spot on your fantasy roster as he serves as a DH for the Twins.
9. Scott Rolen-3B-PHI (3rd round, 4th pick) – he never fully reached his potential due to injuries and a bad attitude than ran him out of Philadelphia. He was a solid option at third base, but never performed up to the expectations that were set. Today, he has revitalized his career in Cincinnati and managed to stay healthy in 2010. Assuming he avoids injuries, he is a solid middle-tier option in 2011.
10. Andruw Jones-OF-ATL (4th round, 11th pick) – the other Jones in Atlanta came up in 1996 as a 19-year old and was established as a burgeoning star by 1999. He was a solid #2 outfield option and would continue this trend well into the 2000′s. As he entered his 30′s, his skills rapidly declined and now he is simply a reserve outfielder on the Yankees.
11. Kevin Millwood-SP-ATL (4th round, 13th pick) – he was the youngest stud on those great Atlanta pitching staffs and expectations were high for him. He never truly reached those levels, but he was a solid option for a #2 or #3 starter in fantasy. Today, he is coming off a horrendous 2010 that has left him looking for work as of today.
12. J.D. Drew-OF-STL (5th round, 4th pick) – Drew was a highly touted prospect and former #1 pick that refused to play in Philadelphia. His legacy is that he gets constantly injured, even when he wakes up in the morning. He never lived up to his potential and has remained an average players for his entire career. Now playing in Boston, he may be splitting time with Mike Cameron which could decrease whatever value he had left.
13. Jorge Posada-C-NYY (5th round, 13th pick) – a lot of credit is owed to Posada for lasting so long and being as productive as he has been over his career. He has never been an elite option, but he has remained a solid top 10 catcher for almost 15 years. Only now has he unwillingly relinquished his catching duties as he nears the end of his career. It is a credit and testament to him that he was a solid fantasy option in 1999 and in 2011.
14. Edgar Renteria-SS-STL (6th round, 7th pick) – it is also hard to believe that Renteria has been around this long too. He was a solid fantasy option at SS back in 1999 as his offensive skills were much sharper. Father time and nagging injuries have sapped Renteria of his offensive production and he is likely done as an everyday player. But he is a World Series MVP and has had two game-winning hits to win championships. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact he won’t be drafted this year.
15. Todd Helton-1B-COL (6th round, 11th pick) – at the time, this was a steal to get Helton in the 6th round as he would embark on the first of several monsterous seasons. Helton became an elite option at first base benefiting from hitting in Denver and being in the middle of the Blake Street Bombers. Allegations of performance enhancing drugs surfaced in the mid-2000′s and coincidentally his numbers dropped significantly and he has been ravaged by injuries. Helton is no longer an option at first base and probably should not be drafted.
16. Mariano Rivera-RP-NYY (6th round, 12th pick) – it’s as simple as this…Rivera was the best at what he does in 1999 and is still the best in 2011. He may not lead the league in saves, but you can count on very few blown saves, lots of strikeouts, and barely any earned runs allowed.
17. Bobby Abreu-OF-PHI (7th round, 8th pick) – very few players have such polarizing effects on people as Abreu. He would become a fantasy stud due to his high batting average, propensity to draw walks and score runs, homerun power, and high stolen base totals. However, he never reached that superstar status that was pinned to him. He has remained relevant in fantasy over the years, and will now serve as the Angels’ full-time DH. This may be the last year of consistent production out of Abreu as time catches up with him.
18. Magglio Ordonez-OF-CHW (8th round, 7th pick) – it has been a tale of two careers for Maggs as he was on his way to reaching elite status until a significant leg injury hampered him in the mid-2000′s. After leaving the White Sox, Ordonez has been a rollercoaster in terms of performance with the Tigers. When healthy, he can still be a productive hitter. However, health is an ongoing concern for him and reach 25-30 homeruns does not seem realistic anymore. The end is near for Maggs as well.
19. Chris Carpenter-SP-TOR (8th round, 15th pick) – it is easy to forget that Carpenter began his career way back in 1999 with the Blue Jays. He was a highly-touted prospect that never could put it together or stay healthy enough to live up to his potential in Toronto. In the mid-2000′s, the Cardinals took a chance on Carpenter and it has paid off to say the least. When healthy, he is a top 10 pitcher…but it seems like he is hurt every year. His hamstring injury this spring is something to watch closely.
20. Miguel Tejada-SS-OAK (9th round, 9th pick) – it was around this time when Tejada joined group of elite offensive shortstops. He became a prolific homerun hitter and run producer emerging as the third best option behind A-Rod and Nomar. Over the years, allegations of steroid use ran rampant and conveniently his power dissipated. He can now be considered a journeyman infielder as he joined the world champion Giants a shell of his former self. His multiple position eligibility and starting gig as a shortstop will get him drafted, but don’t expect much production anymore.
21. Johnny Damon-OF-KC (9th round, 14th pick) – Damon was a young prospect with big upside at the time as a speed guy. He hadn’t developed his power stroke yet, nor had he developed the facial hair he would later be known for. Much like every other good Royal, he would price himself out of Kansas City and go on to shine in Boston and New York. Now he with Tampa Bay looking to re-establish himself as a viable everyday player which should land him a draft selection as a 3rd outfield option.
22. Carlos Guillen-2B-SEA (14th round, 10th pick) – one of the key pieces of the 1998 Randy Johnson trade, Guillen is the epitome of a health risk. He has produced solid numbers throughout his career when healthy at various positions. When he has had very good offensive seasons, expectations run high the following year only to be met with disappointment from his inability to stay on the field. He is slated to be the Tigers’ second baseman again, and if healthy, he is a nice late round option as others pass him over.
23. Derrek Lee-1B-FLA (15th round, 10th pick) – at the time, Lee was still a relatively unknown commodity. He would become a solid option at first base but never produced eye-opening numbers until later in his career with the Cubs. He is another victim of Father Time and nagging injuries as he joins the Orioles in an attempt to re-establish himself as well. He has fallen to a third-tier option at first base which could mean a steal for someone that grabs him in the later round.
24. Carlos Beltran-OF-KC (15th round, 16th pick) – seeing the physical condition of Beltran now, it is hard to remember him as a young stud. He had a brief cup of coffee with Kansas City in 1998 and hopes were high for him in 1999. He produced a solid rookie campaign but wouldn’t emerge as a top talent until 2001. Now he is slowly coming back from knee injuries which have precipitated a move from CF to RF. He is playing for a contract this year which should motivate him. But health is a major concern for Beltran as he looks to earn another big payday.
25. Roy Halladay-SP-TOR (16th round, 6th pick) – what better way to conclude this list than with the best pitcher in all of baseball today. Back then, Halladay was a prospect who was rushed to the big leagues and faltered for several years until he finally put it all together in the early 2000′s. Now he is clearly the top pitching option in any draft. His talent and abilities have always been there, as evidence by this late round pick in 1999 when he was still an unknown. Now thirteen years later, he has justified all of the hype, and then some.
So there you have it. This was the first of several trips down memory lane. While thirteen years doesn’t seem like an overly long amount of time, you can see that lots has changed. It is interesting to see how some players were correctly projected to be successful and have remained relevant at a high level ever since. Stay tuned for more retrospective articles in the coming days and weeks. Feel free to share your comments, thoughts and analysis by sending me an email to email@example.com.
If you play fantasy baseball, you know that there are a myriad of different types of leagues that you can participate in depending on your tastes and preferences. Some examples of customizable leagues include rotisserie, head-to-head, points, auction, salary cap, AL only, NL only, mixed league, and others. But one of the most important choices you can make when deciding what type of league you want to join is whether it is a keeper or non-keeper league. In a keeper league, each team owner is allowed to retain a set number of players on their roster for a pre-determined number of consecutive seasons. In a non-keeper league, rosters are refreshed every year and team owners have no long-term rights to a player from season to season.
In order to determine what the general consensus is in terms of preferring keeper or non-keeper leagues, I recently polled 100 people on Facebook, Twitter, email lists, friends and personal acquaintances to gauge the growing trends. The results of the poll showed that 68% of fantasy baseball players preferred keeper leagues, 30% preferred non-keeper leagues, and 2% were either undecided or liked both equally. This did not come as a surprise to me given the trends over the last decade where fantasy baseball players have become more sophisticated and leagues have better replicated real baseball team management. It cannot be denied that people do enjoy drafting players and then have the ability to sign them to long-term contracts and retain them over the course of a set number of years. This was the most common reason given why people prefer keeper leagues. The strategy that goes into deciding who to retain as part of a fantasy team’s long-term planning is a decent simulation of a real baseball general manager. That aspect is something that people clearly enjoy.
A keeper league configuration requires a tremendous amount of strategy, foresight, instinct, long-term planning, intuition, knowledge of minor league players, and guts. Depending on how many players you are allowed to retain, team owners endure much angst in making these crucial decisions. People also need to be conscious of injuries (my condolences to those who already declared retention of Adam Wainwright), injury-plagued players, and players returning from injury. People must also take into account a player’s age, future potential, position on a team’s depth chart, and supporting cast when deciding whether to retain that player going forward.
Depending on which style you choose to play, the actual fantasy baseball draft takes on a different meaning. In a keeper league, younger players who do not have lengthy resumes and are unproven have higher values assigned to them because of their long-term prospects. Signing these young players gives team owners a sense of creating their own dynasty and building for success going forward. This has almost as much intrinsic value as trying to win the league now. In a non-keeper league, the objective of team owners is to select the best players possible for the current season. This comparison applies to both auction and straight draft leagues. Obviously in an auction league, the heightened value of younger players is reflected in the dollar amount spent on those players, whereas in a straight draft, the value is represented by an early round selection. Ona aspect that is common between keeper and non-keeper leagues is the evaluation of potential “sleepers.” Every year, there are certain unknown commodoties that are deemed “sleepers” because of their potential for a breakout season. The criteria used to determine whether someone is a sleeper is completely subjective and arguably arbitrary. But regardless, sleepers are usually a late round pick in a straight draft or a cheaper purchase in an auction depending on how badly someone buys into the hype. Either way, the evaluation of a sleeper is usually based on the present and not the future.
While there are obvious logistical and pragmatic differences between keeper and non-keeper leagues, the biggest distinction is arguably the evaluation of trades made. In a non-keeper league, there are certain objective criteria that can be used to evaluate a trade and determine whether it is fair or not (note that I said fair – not intelligent). You can look at the players involved in the trade and tell whether it passes the sniff test or not. You can look at the players’ statistics and tell whether the trade has equal value. You can look at the rosters of each team involved in the trade and determine what the motivation might be to make the trade, as well as ascertain whether any collusion may be taking place. But all bets are off when looking at trades in a keeper league. In keeper leagues, trading away current high-priced talent in exchange for young, up and coming players is a perfectly acceptable and common strategy to employ. This is most typical when a team competing for a playoff berth needs a player to produce for him this year, so he would trade away unproven talent to a team looking to rebuild for the future. Does this sound familiar? It happens in real baseball all the time. So when evaluating whether a trade like this should be approved, you cannot use objective criteria like statistics, team rosters, or auction values. For example, Team A is in second place and needs to bolster his pitching staff to make a run at the league championship this year. Team B is in second to last place in the league and has no chance of earning a playoff berth this season. Team A possesses several younger players who are projected to be stars down the road and under contract for multiple seasons, but they cannot be relied upon at the present time to contribute from a fantasy perspective. Team B possesses current star pitchers who are under the final year of their contract in the keeper league. So Team A offers a package including Aroldis Chapman, Jeremy Hellickson, Mike Moustakas and Freddie Freeman to Team B in exchange for Roy Oswalt and Chris Carpenter. In a non-keeper league, this trade would never be allowed because the current values of these players is so lopsided. For 2011, Roy Oswalt and Chris Carpenter are light years more valuable than the package of young players. However, in a keeper league format, this trade would be considered fair and equal based on what each team’s needs are. Team A would be acquiring two top pitchers to help his run at a championship this season. He doesn’t care that these players are essentially rentals and do not have as much long-term value. Team B would be acquiring four young players with great upside to build for next season and beyond. This dynamic is exactly what MLB general managers do when deciding whether to trade veteran players for prospects.
When it comes to deciding whether to play in a keeper or non-keeper league, it all depends on your own personal taste and preferences. But beware, keeper leagues are premised on the fact that they will be running continuously year-to-year while retaining most if not all of its league members. There ideally needs to be a commitment in place amongst all league members that they are in it for the long-haul since they are investing in their team not just this year, but for years down the road. That is why the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment advises you that the best way to ensure stability is probably to be involved in a non-keeper league for a few years and establish a continuous rapport with the other league members before transitioning the league into a keeper format. This will demonstrate a commitment amongst your league members that they are dependable and consistent with their status in the league, and it also presumes that you have open lines of communication with other league members to discuss those difficult trade scnearios (like the one referenced above). Stability is key to having a successful keeper league because when a team has to be replaced, the new person coming into the league is likely stuck inheriting that team and must make decisions he or she doesn’t necessarily want to make. The verdict is that keeper leagues are unquestionably more popular and provide unique challenges and opportunities as compared to non-keeper leagues. But if you decide to do a keeper league, beware of the distinctions and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure you are in a league that will sustain itself down the road.
The Court would like to thank its law clerk, Lance Kodish, for his assistance with some research and composition within this article. The Court also wants to hear your comments on whether you concur or dissent with the verdict by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Facebook at www.goo.gl/xF0pt and Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment (@FantasyJudgment).
On February 9, 2011, I participated in the second Fantasy Alarm expert fantasy baseball mock draft with 11 of the brightest minds in the fantasy baseball industry. My fellow draftees included Mike Harmon (Fox Sports), Nick Gleichman (RotoSports), Ryan Hallam (Fantasy Alarm), Chris Carbonell (Roto Experts), Keith Hernandez (KFFL), Nate Stephens (Roto World), Rich Wilson (FantasyPros911), Cory Schwartz (MLB.com), Steve Gardner (USA Today), Jeff Mans (Fantasy Alarm), and Geoff Stein (Fanball). Once again, the format for the mock draft was a 12-team mixed Roto league with the standard 5 x 5 categories. I had the 11th pick overall and I vowed to not select Carl Crawford in the 1st round. I was also drafting next to my distant cousin, Geoff Stein, as I had done in the last mock draft.
In a surprise to no one, some guy named Albert Pujols was taken with the first pick. Then, the principle of position scarcity took over as Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez went second and third, respectively. This was the first mock draft I have seen with Tulowitzki going second overall. His monster September last season has fantasy owners setting high expectations for the new hundred million dollar man. Next went Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun. None of these picks were surprising except that Longoria going 4th overall is likely because third base is a relatively weak position compared to first base and outfield. Next went NL MVP Joey Votto, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez. Cano has definitely established himself as the premiere second baseman in fantasy baseball so he is well worth a first round pick. Votto and Gonzalez are solid picks at a very deep first base position. Because first base has lots of solid options, I chose David Wright with the 11th pick overall instead of Mark Teixeira. Third base is not what it used to be in terms of depth, so I went with Wright who can contribute in all five categories. Next in the wrap-around went Carl Crawford and Teixeira before I took Josh Hamilton in the second round. Hamilton is coming off an MVP season and just recently signed a two-year contract, so I am looking for him to continue his offensive onslaught now that he can focus without the specter of arbitration or free agency. Hamilton is a five-category stud in the outfield, and I like the combination of him and Wright leading my offense.
Rather than write out what every pick was after this, I will go through each of my picks with some comments and analysis. If anyone would like to see the whole draft board, please email me at email@example.com.
3rd Round: Jon Lester-SP-BOS. My first pitcher is the ace of the Boston Red Sox and one of the best young starting pitchers in all of baseball. Lester has asserted himself into the elite category with his tremendous 2010 season that saw him post 19 wins, an ERA of 3.25, and 225 strikeouts. These numbers should easily be attainable again, and I would even look for him to crack the 20-win demarcation with an improved offense and a better Jonathan Papelbon closing games. Lester is a top five starting pitcher so there was no hesitation grabbing him here at the end of the 3rd round.
4th Round: Adam Wainwright-SP-STL. After Geoff Stein decided to forego pitching and take Jason Heyward and Adrian Beltre in the wrap-around, I decided to double up on the starting pitching by selecting Wainwright. He is the National League version of Lester as he also has emerged into the elite of fantasy starting pitchers. Wainwright reached 20 wins and had an amazing 2.42 ERA with 213 strikeouts. He has consistently put up numbers like this for a couple years now, so I fully expect him to do the same in 2011. Having Lester and Wainwright as my 1-2 combination sets me up nicely in the pitching categories.
5th Round: Dan Uggla-2B-ATL. In almost every other mock draft I have done, I bypassed second basemen until the end of the drafts because after the top tier they were pretty much all the same. Here, I couldn’t let Uggla slip by in the 5th round. Now in Atlanta, I don’t see any change in Uggla’s normal offensive output. If anything, he could improve a little by hitting in a better lineup. To get 30 homeruns, 100 RBI, and 100 runs scored from my second baseman in the 5th round could be a steal.
6th Round: Justin Morneau-1B-MIN. This is a potential risk as Morneau is just starting to come back from his concussion that prematurely ended his 2010 season. But all signs are pointing towards the former AL MVP being ready for Opening Day. When healthy, Morneau is a lock for a .300+ average, 35 HR, and 110 RBI. People were clearly concerned about his health because there is no reason he should have fallen to me in the 6th round. That is fine with me as my infield now consists of Morneau, Uggla and Wright. I’ll take that against anyone else.
7th Round: Jonathan Papelbon-RP-BOS. I will admit that this pick was a bit of a stretch. I probably could have waited another round or two, but the closers were going off the board and I wanted to make sure I grabbed one. With Bell, Wilson, Rivera, Marmol, and Feliz off the board, I took Papelbon expecting that he will be better in 2011 now that he facing free agency. The Red Sox will be very good this year which means lots of save opportunities. He is a competitive guy so I look for him to be extra motivated to prove that 2010 was a fluke in terms of his meltdowns.
8th Round: Carlos Lee-OF-HOU. This pick also received some criticism as being too early for El Caballo. True, I probably could have waited another round or two. But given there would be 21 picks before I selected again, I wanted to grab Lee here and bank on a huge comeback season. Lee had a miserable 2010 season that saw his average and power numbers drop considerably. But the Astros were horrible for most of 2010 and he had no protection in the lineup. His career numbers are impressive across the board, and he is still only 34 so there should be plenty of gas left in the tank. Plus, he is my second outfielder so I am not relying on him to carry my team.
9th Round: Jason Bay-OF-NYM. I can basically repeat everything I said about Carlos Lee above. Bay’s 2010 season with the Mets was an outright disaster. Before his season-ending concussion, Bay struggled mightily hitting for any kind of power. He is still young and his career averages show that he should bounce back to at least 25 HR and 90 RBI. The downside to Bay is hitting in the cavernous Citi Field. But he is a smart enough hitter to modify his approach and find a way to utilize his power and hit for average taking advantage of the spacious gaps.
10th Round: Roy Oswalt-SP-PHI. Despite what team he plays for now, Oswalt has always been one of my favorite pitchers. I added him onto my fantasy team during his rookie season in 2001 and rode his wave into the semi-finals that year. He has always been one of the most talented pitchers in baseball and has had some misfortune with health, poor run support, and shaky bullpens. That seemed to changed once he was traded to the Phillies in 2010. Now the #3 starter in one of the greatest rotations in baseball history, I look for Oswalt to have a monster season pitching for a contract and being matched up against other teams’ third starters. Plus, he is also my third starter behind Lester and Wainwright. Not bad.
11th Round: Corey Hart-OF-MIL. I wear my sunglasses at night…so I can…Sorry, I got carried away. Despite eliciting memories of that great 80′s song, Hart had a great year in 2010 which earned him a contract extension from the Brewers in mid-season. He reached career highs in homeruns (31), RBI (102), and runs scored (91) hitting in a potent Brewers lineup. With Milwaukee now poised to make a playoff run thanks to the pitching they acquired, I foresee Hart being a major complement to Prince Fielder in terms of run production in support of the pitching. If Hart replicates his 2010 season as my 4th outfielder, that would be nice. AS he says, never surrender.
12th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. While Lidge is often pulling a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde routine with his reliability, I am high on him this year as the closer for the Phillies’ insane rotation. They should be playing in lots of close games because of their pitching and the fact they are not as offensively reliant. Lidge had a tremendous second half of the 2010 season, so I look for him to continue that trend. Oh by the way, he is still waiting for Pujols’ homerun from the 2005 playoffs to land.
13th Round: Starlin Castro-SS-CHC. This 20-year old stud fills out my infield which makes me very happy. Castro came up in mid-season last year and showed that he was ready for the big leagues. He does not have much power at this point in his career, but he should hover around .290 and steal lots of bases. Depending on where the Cubs bat him in the order, he could also score 100 runs if he learns how to be patient and get on base. Big upside here with Castro.
14th Round: Vernon Wells-OF-LAA. With my four outfield spots filled, I decided to take Wells as my Utility Player because of what he provides in terms of power production. He also gives me some flexibility in the outfield in case Bay or Lee struggle to return to pre-2010 form. Wells and his albatross of a contract were traded to the Angels this winter, which should benefit him in several ways. He now is playing for a team with a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, and he doesn’t have to face the pitching of the AL East as often. The Angels’ lineup will hinge on the health of Kendry Morales, but Wells should fit in nicely with Abreu and Hunter.
15th Round: Brett Myers-SP-HOU. Myers is another fantasy favorite of mine dating back to his early years as a starter for the Phillies. He had a very solid 2010 season which earned him a contract extension from the Astros. Myers has always been a good strikeout pitcher so he will help in that category. It is debatable how many wins he will earn because the Astros are not very good and don’t have the most reliable bullpen. But based on how I drafted, Myers is on my bench and ready to fill in if an injury to Lester, Wainwright or Oswalt happens.
16th Round: Josh Beckett-SP-BOS. How the mighty have fallen. Beckett’s horrible 2010 season has landed him off the radar in terms of fantasy relevance. He is projected to be Boston’s fourth starter, so if healthy, this could be a big bounce-back season for him. Beckett obviously has all the talent in the world, but he just cannot seem to stay healthy. With some of the pressure off of him due to the emergence of Lester and Buchholz, Beckett can ease his way back into relevance by pitching against other teams’ fourth starters and by being smart with his approach. He gives me depth on my bench and could be good trade bait if he performs well.
17th Round: Lance Berkman-1B-STL. Continuing my trend of drafting players who had awful 2010 seasons, Berkman is another guy looking to bounce back. He was never healthy in Houston as his power was depleted and his average sunk to new lows. He was traded to the Yankees for the pennant stretch and did not perform well as their primary DH. However, he did hit well in the playoffs which was good enough for St. Louis to sign him and give him a starting job in right field and hitting behind Pujols and Holliday. Now appearing to be healthy, Berkman should have something left in the tank and will have plenty of opportunities hitting in a very good Cardinals’ lineup. Look for a return to .300 with 20 HR and 80 RBI.
18th Round: Scott Rolen-3B-CIN. Rolen had a solid 2010 season where he stayed healthy for the most part, something he has not customarily done over the years. He was a leader on a young Reds’ team that won the NL Central and is poised to defend their title. He is hitting in a great hitters’ park in Cincinnati and has a loaded lineup around him with Phillips, Votto, Bruce and Stubbs. Assuming he can stay on the field, Rolen makes a nice back-up at third base and could also be trade bait for someone looking to upgrade at a relatively weak position.
19th Round: Kurt Suzuki-C-OAK. My strategy is always to wait until the end to take my catcher. Except for when Mike Piazza was in his prime, I have never thought it was a good idea to draft a catcher early on regardless of the position scarcity. Even Joe Mauer, who is the best catcher on the board, is not worth such an early pick because his numbers don’t equate to draft position value. Yes, Mauer is much better than the 2nd best catcher, but I don’t think he is worth such an early pick. Suzuki is a solid offensive player for Oakland and has put up respectable numbers in terms of batting average and run production over the last couple years. He plays everyday and won’t hurt me, which is well worth the 19th round pick.
20th Round: Magglio Ordonez-OF-DET. Once regarded as a fantasy stud, Magglio Ordonez has seen father time and nagging injuries take its toll. He is still a productive hitter when healthy, and he is hitting in the middle of a solid batting lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. He provides me with additional depth and flexibility in the outfield, and could also be trade bait for a team looking for a bat down the stretch. For his value and potential, it is hard to argue with this pick in the 20th round.
21st Round: Ryan Raburn-2B-DET. This is my sleeper pick of the draft. Raburn has shown he can hit major league pitching and be a productive everyday player. Detroit just needs to find a position for him. His eligibility at second base also makes him attractive. I’ll have to see how things play out in spring training, but it would behoove the Tigers to find a way to keep Raburn’s bat in the lineup everyday.
22nd Round: Carlos Zambrano-SP-CHC. My team’s psychological experts are on notice as Big Z joins my rotation. While he is bat-shit crazy, he is also extremely talented when he can stay sane and keep his head in the game. Zambrano’s rollercoaster 2010 season ended on a very positive note as he was borderline dominant down the stretch after he returned from his hiatus. With Lou Piniella gone, Zambrano should be much calmer and seems motivated to perform as indicated by his desire to pitch on Opening Day. Again, he is 3rd on my bench depth chart and was my last pick of the draft. How many potential 15-game winners with 200 strikeouts can you find in the last round? Not many, so I took the Big Z with a big upside.
So here is my team broken down by positions:
C – Kurt Suzuki-OAK
1B – Justin Morneau-MIN
2B – Dan Uggla-ATL
3B – David Wright-NYM
SS – Starlin Castro-CHC
OF – Josh Hamilton-TEX
OF – Carlos Lee-HOU
OF – Jason Bay-NYM
OF – Corey Hart-MIL
UT – Vernon Wells-LAA
CI – Lance Berkman-STL
MI – Ryan Raburn-DET
B – Scott Rolen-CIN
B – Magglio Ordonez-DET
SP – Jon Lester-BOS
SP – Adam Wainwright-STL
SP – Roy Oswalt-PHI
RP – Jonathan Papelbon-BOS
RP – Brad Lidge
P – Brett Myers-HOU
P – Josh Beckett-BOS
P – Carlos Zambrano-CHC
So that is my team in a nutshell. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments and questions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a copy of the whole draft grid, send me an email and let me know. Also, you can comment on the draft on Fantasy Judgment’s Facebook page located at http://goo.gl/xF0pt or by tweeting me at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment (@FantasyJudgment).
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, over 28 million Americans currently play some form of fantasy sports. That represents a significant percentage of the population, which is indicative of how popular and prevalent fantasy sports have become in our society. The demographics that comprise these 28 million Americans are extremely diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, household income, sexual orientation, and just about any other category you can think of. So what is one of the only commonalities amongst every American that plays fantasy sports? The answer is that each and every one of us is under the jurisdiction of the United States Constitution and the laws that were promulgated from its ratification.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” — United States Constitution, Preamble
You may be wondering what the Founding Fathers’ ratification of the United States Constitution has to do with fantasy baseball. Granted, the Continental Congress did not convene in Philadelphia to do a fantasy baseball draft (although that is a pretty cool concept for an improv comedy sketch). However, the Founding Fathers knew that in order to maintain and uphold justice, a document containing the laws of the land in which everyone was subjected to was the best way to operate. The same can be said for how a fantasy baseball league should be governed. If a Constitution has worked for the United States for over 220 years, then it will work for your fantasy baseball league.
“We the people of various fantasy baseball leagues, in Order to form a more perfect League, establish Justice, insure league-wide Tranquility, provide for the common trade evaluation criteria, promote the general Welfare on draft day and beyond, and secure the Blessings of Position Eligibility to ourselves and our league websites, do ordain this Constitution for a fantasy baseball league.” — Michael A. Stein, Esq.- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment
In most fantasy baseball leagues, there is a Commissioner who is responsible for the overall administration and function of the league. He or she organizes the league and performs various tasks such as setting a draft date, setting up the league on whichever website it is hosted on, sending out reminders and updates to league members, collecting entry fees, creating rules and guidelines, implementing and enforcing these rules, evaluating or approving trades, and just about anything else that requires a decision to be made. Because fantasy baseball is usually played for a monetary award, people generally take the activity seriously and will challenge anything deemed to be unfair or unjust. At this point, the Commissioner is now responsible for deciding what action to rake in response to complaints and challenges. This responsibility is constantly viewed under the proverbial microscope because more than likely the Commissioner is also one of the league members and subjected to the very rules he or she created in the first place. Hence, the need for a league Constitution.
If a league Constitution is created before the season begins, then everyone in the league will have actual notice of all rules, regulations, guidelines, and deadlines well in advance of any potential issues. This shifts the burden to the other league members to be held accountable for abiding by the league’s rules. One thing I have always done in the leagues where I am the Commissioner is require that each league member sign and date the document. Once they send me their signature and affirmation, I now have written acknowledgement that they have read and understood the rules, and that they agree to be bound by the terms and conditions contained therein. This also provides the other league members with a sense of inclusion in the process because they are officially signing off on the rules of the league. I have consistently argued in the past that a league Commissioner should have sole authority on almost any decision in order to effectively run and maintain league. However, it is also very important to include the other league members in various aspects of the process. There is a big distinction between being a decisive leader and an overbearing dictator.
In the event someone complains or challenges something, the Commissioner can hopefully fall back on a specific rule or provision in the Constitution to address that concern. In a perfect world, any issue that comes up would be specifically addressed in the Constitution. However, we do not live in a perfect world so it is highly likely that something will come up that is not expressly addressed. My suggestion is to have language in the Constitution that deals with the process of addressing issues of first impression. The process could be: 1) the Commissioner confers with two additional league members and takes a majority vote to decide the issue; 2) take a league-wide vote to resolve the issue (not recommended); 3) consult an outside independent resource; or 4) the Commissioner objectively looks at the issue and has sole authority to decide it, but agrees to consider looking into it further during the off-season to amend the Constitution. While none of these will ever appease everyone all of the time, they at least provide some protection for the Commissioner to be able to make certain decisions that are outside the scope of the Constitution.
Another bit of advice for league Commissioners is to include language in the Constitution which states that no rules shall be changed, amended, or added in the middle of the season. You might argue that there could be a rule or provision that is so inherently prejudicial that it absolutely must be changed. My response would still be an emphatic “no.” Once a league Commissioner softens up on one thing (even if it is justifiable) and changes a rule in mid-season, then every other rule is open for debate. An argument could be made that any rule is so critical and crucial that it must be amended. This can only lead to disaster. The Commissioner is perfectly within his or her rights to say that the rules apply equally to everyone during the entire season, and any debate or conversation about changing such rules will be held after the season is over and in consideration for the next season.
A fantasy baseball league Constitution may seem like an easy document to create, but in reality it is not. There are so many different aspects to the game that require rules and guidelines. Because there are so many different styles of fantasy baseball to play, no two league Constitutions are alike. You must carefully craft the language used in each provision because there could come a time when the Commissioner is called upon to interpret it. When modifying the rules to my own leagues’ Constitutions, or when assisting others in drafting their leagues’ Constitutions, the litmus test I always apply to see the strength of the language is “If there is a question or challenge about this rule, is there any answer other than yes or no?” Vagueness and ambiguity are a league Commissioner’s worst enemy.
Just like the United States’ Constitution, a fantasy baseball league Constitution is a living, breathing document. It should consist of a set of fair and just laws that govern the league and apply equally to all members. But it cannot always address every possible scenario that arises. That is why it is fluid in nature and can be amended from year to year by taking into account new and changing circumstances that arise. This is not to say that you can’t enjoy a fantasy baseball league that isn’t governed by a Constitution. But you will notice a drastic difference in the overall functionality and administration of a league that is. The verdict is that every fantasy baseball league needs a Constitution.
Do you concur or dissent with the verdict? The Court wants to hear your opinion by sending an email to email@example.com, posting a comment on Facebook at http://goo.gl/xF0pt, or sending a tweet to www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.
Over the past 30 years, the fantasy sports industry has transformed from a taboo hobby into an American institution. Going from pen and paper to the web has facilitated remarkable growth and prosperity for just about every aspect of the fantasy sports business. It has transformed from being a small blurb in the Sunday newspaper to having hours of dedicated programming on television, radio, and the Internet. In fact, the fantasy sports industry was one of nine industries selected by Entrepreneur magazine as being insulated from the current economic recession. With over 28 million Americans playing fantasy sports and the industry generating over $3 billion in revenue, it seems like the fantasy sports industry is impervious to anything. However, the key to the industry’s success is still keeping its current participants playing and appealing to new potential customers.
Yahoo is one of the biggest fantasy sports entities in the world providing several services and products that have been the standard of the industry since its presence was made on the Internet almost 20 years ago. Yahoo has historically been very creative and innovative in its fantasy sports commissioner services as they offer highly customizable features in their leagues, as well as a variety of bonus services as well. However, it is one of their newest features that caught my attention and prompted me writing this article. It was something that I felt was so disturbing that I immediately thought it could be the beginning of the end for fantasy sports as we know it. No, I am not saying the business and industry will crumble tomorrow or that millions of people will stop playing. What I mean is that the industry has been infallible and continually prosperous, so at some point the law of averages will catch up and a downward trend will likely set in. It just has to at some point, right? This Yahoo product could very well be that impetus.
I would also like to point out that it is not my intention for this article to be a “gloom and doom” scenario for all of fantasy sports. The current NFL labor strife and uncertainty is without a doubt the biggest threat to most of the fantasy sports industry as we speak today. My point is that Yahoo’s newest service is something that could potentially change the way individual people perceive fantasy sports, as well as the way they play it. Generally speaking, people participate in fantasy sports for a myriad of reasons: enjoyment of sports, common activity and socializing with friends and family, desire to win money and prizes, hobby, distraction from work and home, etc. While it is competitive in nature, it is still all in good fun because there is nothing at stake other than bragging rights and some money (which hopefully people can afford to lose).
Personally, I am a staunch advocate for innovation and creativity within the fantasy sports industry. This should come as a surprise to no one since I run Fantasy Judgment (www.fantasyjudgment.com) and seek to convince the world that having a dispute resolution service as part and parcel to a fantasy league is an absolute necessity. When new products, services or features are added to fantasy league host sites, I usually embrace them as a symbol of progress and accommodation to the customers. But even I have my limits.
So after that lengthy introduction, you are probably wondering what in the wide world of sports I am talking about. Recently, I was sent an email about this from a friend who is a student at New York Law School and also runs a great blog called The Sports Tomato (www.thesportstomato.com). The email directed me to a page within Yahoo’s fantasy baseball products called “What’s New” (located at http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/sports/fantasysports/baseball/whatsnew/basewhatsnew-07.html). As of January 2011, Yahoo has added a feature called “Manager Rating” to their various fantasy products, specifically baseball. According to Yahoo:
“Manager Ratings will enable you to rate other managers in your league (Positive, Neutral, or Negative) and provide a short comment about your experience playing with them.”
Ok so that might not sound so bad on its face. The next few paragraphs are taken directly from Yahoo further explaining Manager Ratings in the form of a very short FAQ:
Why should I rate other managers in my league?
These ratings will provide future potential league-mates a good idea of what to expect when playing with other managers. Rating your fellow managers positively is a way to express your gratitude for an enjoyable experience and to help spread the word about fun people to play with.
Should I leave neutral or negative feedback?
Ratings and comments become a permanent part of a manager’s profile. If you have an issue with a fellow league manager, we encourage you to first contact them directly to try to resolve the issue. Other potential remedies include contacting your league’s commissioner or utilizing the league’s message board. If all else fails, you can choose to give a neutral or negative rating to that manager. However, please make sure that your comments are fair and are based in fact.
Can I edit a rating or comment after I’ve submitted it?
No, all ratings and comments are final and cannot be changed once submitted, so please be thoughtful in your ratings.
You may be thinking that I am completely overreacting to this and wondering how I can possibly conclude this will contribute to the possible downfall or demise of the fantasy sports industry. You may think I am jumping to conclusions and refusing to give this new feature a chance. You may even think this is the greatest new idea since OPS became an acceptable statistic. Well, you may be right on any of those accounts. But what if you’re not?
To preface my arguments, I will make the best analogy I can with regard to Yahoo’s new feature and fantasy sports players: Yahoo is Skynet. In case you don’t get the reference, Skynet is the network of computers in the Terminator movie series that gains control over all machines and electronics to destroy the human race. Once Skynet gained control of the government’s military and defense programs, it launched nuclear bombs at all targets, thus prompting retaliatory strikes and causing the deaths of billions of people. Essentially, Skynet was the puppet master as it sat back and watched humans destroy themselves.
Here, Yahoo is pulling the strings of fantasy sports players by giving them the means and methods of attacking each other with the ratings system. Granted, there will not be an exchange of nuclear weapons or mass genocide as a result of Yahoo’s new feature, but the point is that the wheels have been set in motion for people to take the competition to whole new level.
Every person who plays fantasy sports has their own style. Some people spend six hours a day reading material on websites and magazines when preparing for a draft. Some people like to make trades every week and send out proposals to other league managers on a daily basis. Some people like to play in keeper leagues where they trade off current talent in exchange for future potential talent. Some people simply stay quiet and have no interaction whatsoever with other league members. As long as a person pays their entry fees, they are entitled to run their own team in any manner they so desire as long as they stay within the rules of that league. There may be styles and personalities that clash, but generally speaking people accept that not everyone operates under the same set of guidelines and priorities.
Giving people the means, method and opportunity to write commentary about other league members that becomes a permanent mark on their Yahoo profile is destructive. That is not to say that a negative comment on someone’s manager profile is going to inhibit their ability to buy a car or apply for a job. But what this scenario can do is completely change the dynamic between league members, including both people who know each other and those who do not. This is what frightens me into thinking there could be a slippery slope. Once people have motivation, incentive or justification for attacking each other in this forum, the very fabric of fun competition becomes unraveled. Playing fantasy sports is a hobby, not a career. As much as people enjoy doing it, no one is relying on playing fantasy sports as their sole source of income (unless they are financially secure for other reasons). But generally, if people stopped playing fantasy sports, they would still be able to put food on the table and likely find other activities to occupy their time. So the ability to retain people in fantasy sports leagues is somewhat delicate because there is no desperation or reliance on it for survival or well-being. The point is that any reason to avoid such aggravation like dealing with negative ratings or comments could potentially cause people to just stop playing fantasy sports in the first place. There is enough stress in life with family, work, and health. There is no place in someone’s life for added stress, pressure and degradation within a hobby.
Without having actual demographic statistics on this particular point, I will make a generic statement that there is a certain percentage of fantasy sports players who join public leagues comprised of people they do not know. There are typically no restrictions in doing this. However, if a person has negative feedback or comments on their profile, they are likely to be blacklisted or prevented from joining public leagues. At the very least, it is conceivable that league owners in a public league would not welcome a person with such negative ratings.
Why would someone give a negative rating in the first place? This is an interesting question because I am assuming that some people will actually care enough to spend the time going to the Manager Ratings page and leaving the feedback and/or comments in the first place. There will always be that one person in a fantasy league who has something to say about everyone and everything. That person would easily fit the profile of someone who leaves feedback and comments, either way. If a league member felt that another owner made bad trades, it could lead to a negative rating. Failure to respond to a trade proposal could do the trick as well. How about missing a deadline to either activate a player or take an injured player out? The appearance of indifference or incompetence is another motivation to ding someone. What about just doing it to be spiteful? There are multiple reasons why someone would actually go and leave negative feedback and/or comments.
So what is the big deal? It sounds quite childish, but the natural reaction would be to return the favor and leave negative feedback or comments about the other person. And then where does it end? This permanent scarring of one member profile is not going to ruin anyone’s life – I acknowledge that. But what it can do is taint someone’s reputation if they tried to join pubic leagues with people they don’t know. It could potentially influence others within the league to adversely treat someone if they have such a negative rating. It could potentially lead to the league commissioner not welcoming that person back to the league the next year. It could lead to the disintegration of various relationships, as well as the league itself. It could lead to a mutiny if the league commissioner does not rule on issues or trades appropriately and then his fellow league members leave negative comments, thus in effect giving the commissioner a vote of no confidence. Overall, it can lead to personal, internal battles amongst league owners that cause major rifts within a league and shift the focus from fantasy sports to middle school pettiness.
Instead of trying to win games and defeat your opponents by drafting better teams, making affective trades, and making intelligent decisions with your roster, people would devolve into teenagers trying to sabotage each other. This is not like eBay where feedback and ratings are truly important and necessary because there you are dealing directly with buyers and sellers whose reputations are necessary in order to instill confidence when choosing to do business with them. There are also protective measures in place with eBay to ensure that proper payment is made and that delivery of products is completed. In fantasy sports, there are no guarantees or assurances that leagues will be run smoothly and fairly, or that everyone involved will always do the right thing. Granted, companies like LeagueSafe.com and FantasySportsMarket.com provide financial protection for league fees. However, most people and most leagues do not take advantage of such services. That is why the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment strongly advocates that people play fantasy sports and join leagues with people they know. There needs to be some trust factor involved, especially when dealing with money. If people typically played in leagues with people they know to some extent, there is no need for any type of permanent feedback or commentary.
In summation, I do give Yahoo credit for continuing to develop new ideas and concepts to add to their products. They have always been one of the better websites for innovative fantasy sports features, so I cannot fault them for trying new things. But I don’t think they realize the slippery slope that this new feature could create. Once you change or alter the focus of fantasy sports’ competitive nature, you give people the detonator to their own fantasy bomb. Yahoo at least does encourage alternative forms of dealing with issues between league members before permanently writing negative feedback. One method they neglected to suggest was third party dispute resolution such as Fantasy Judgment. But irrespective of that, my hope is that people are circumspect about choosing to leave such comments about another league manager. Instead of focusing on that middle school-type response which has no discernible value anyway, the Court’s verdict is that Yahoo users should resist the temptation to comment on their fellow fantasy players in any manner. Just go win and let that speak for itself.
The Court would like to know whether you concur or dissent with its verdict by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, finding us on Facebook at www.goo.gl/xF0pt, or tweeting us at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.
As I attempt to navigate Fantasy Judgment towards its manifest destiny within the fantasy sports industry, I have entered into another valuable partnership. I am pleased to announce that Fantasy Judgment (www.fantasyjudgment.com) has officially entered into a partnership with Fantasy Phenoms (www.fantasyphenoms.com) to provide dispute resolution services for its readers and members. Fantasy Phenoms is a great resource for fantasy baseball and football information, and they also host creative and exciting daily fantasy games.
Led by owners and fantasy sports veterans Brett Greenfield and Jason Sarney, Fantasy Phenoms has a staff of six writers, plus Brett and Jason, and provides unique and detailed analyses of players for the benefit of their readers in the quest for fantasy sports glory. One of the best features is the use of Sabermetrics to evaluate pitchers by providing an index number using several different statistics to measure a pitcher’s worth. The individual position rankings in both baseball and football employ intricate statistical and mathematical analyses which break through the surface of a player’s true value and give their readers the best possible evaluation one can find.
I am looking forward to watching this partnership grow as the dedicated readers and members of Fantasy Phenoms utilize Fantasy Judgment’s services as a means to maintain the integrity of their leagues when issues do come up. This is why the relatiosnhip between Fantasy Judgment and Fantasy Phenoms works so well – people go to Fantasy Phenoms for advice, content and rankings to decide whether to draft, trade or keep a certain player. Then, they can go to Fantasy Judgment to ensure that any transactions they may enter into are fair and within the rules of the league.
So please welcome Fantasy Phenoms to the Fantasy Judgment universe.
I am pleased to announce that Fantasy Judgment has entered into a partnership with Fantasy Sports Dish (www.fantasysportsdish.com) to provide dispute resolution services for their loyal readers and audience. As Fantasy Judgment looks to expand its brand, what better way to start than by associating with a one-stop shop for all of your fantasy sports information and news?
Fantasy Sports Dish gathers and aggregates fantasy sports news from around the internet and put it all in one place for its readers. Run by Lightfoot Simmons (an alias so he doesn’t tip off his opponents in his various fantasy leagues), who has over 15 years of fantasy sports experience in all major sports, Fantasy Sports Dish was created to provide information for all fantasy sports enthusiasts who are constantly looking in all directions for fantasy news and opinions. They hope to also provide avid and experienced fantasy sports players with reliable and quality information. Another great aspect of Fantasy Sports Dish is the wealth of information provided on their Twitter feed (@fantasysprtsdsh). They are constantly tweeting updates, links, and news that is easily accessible and beneficial to its readers and followers.
This is one of the first steps in expanding the scope of Fantasy Judgment to audiences who may not have been familiar with our services. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with Fantasy Sports Dish and the opportunity to provide dispute resolution services to their passionate fantasy sports fan base.