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Fantasy football need not be unfair

Posted by Ladd Biro  November 5, 2012 08:31 PM

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Did you notice what happened when Darren McFadden left in the second quarter Sunday with an ankle injury?  Oakland sent out Mike Goodson to carry the ball.

When Jordy Nelson’s day ended after his first target against the Cardinals, the Packers offense wasn’t forced to finish out the game with ten players.

Crazy, isn’t it?  A player gets hurt during an NFL game, and another one steps right in and takes over. 

So why is it that once McFadden left yesterday, my fantasy team was stuck with zippo thereafter?  (Truth be told, RunDMC had delivered virtually nothing before his injury either; but at least there was hope for more.)  And why were Nelson’s owners forced to take a goose egg when a perfectly healthy receiver was surely sitting on their bench twiddling his thumbs?

I was similarly burned in Week 7 when Maurice Jones-Drew pulled up lame after his second carry of the day.  My top RB left me hamstrung at the worst possible time, and gave my opponent an undeserved advantage that cost me the matchup. 

I know you have felt my pain in similar circumstances.

Fantasy football was never intended to operate like real football (the operative word being “fantasy”).  Most of us relish the challenge of selecting our starting lineups each week, even though it sometimes means leaving Mikel Leshoure’s three-TD breakout game on our bench.

So while I can appreciate the less-stressful aspects of playing in one of those rare leagues where one’s optimal starting lineup is determined after the fact, I’m not a proponent of that approach. 

Rather, I propose a simpler solution to address the unfair aspects of the early-injury exit: If a player at any position is injured in the first half of his game and does not return, that player’s owner may substitute one bench player of his choosing at the same position into his starting lineup.

As it turns out, I won my matchup in spite of McFadden’s ill-timed departure; but the rule would have turned my Week 7 loss into a victory.  And I’ll bet it would have saved many a Jordy Nelson owner this weekend as well. 

Would that have been unfair to their competitors?  Only if you think it’s fair that they won with one receiver tied behind their opponent’s back.

I’ll be appealing to our commissioner for this rule change next summer.  Who’s with me?


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins.  He won’t carry you to the Promised Land, but the rookie could see you through the last week or two of byes.  Miami faces the awful Tennessee and Buffalo secondaries over the next two weeks, and Tannehill exhibited no signs of his knee injury in Sunday’s shootout with the Colts.

Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers.  If you didn’t grab him prior to Sunday’s outing, you may have missed out on Redman’s best performance of the season.  But with all the instability in the Steelers’ backfield, he’s worth picking up anyway.  He could get another start if Rashard Mendenhall and/or Jonathan Dwyer aren’t ready to return in Week 10, and you’ve gotta love the Monday night matchup with the Chiefs.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers.  Antonio Brown’s owners may want to scoop up Sanders as insurance, in case Brown’s ankle injury costs him a game or more.  Sanders would be a decent flex play in that tantalizing Monday nighter.  And no, I’m not interested in Jerricho Cotchery.

Don’t be fooled

Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders.  Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned.  The knock on McFadden has always been his fragility, and the injury bug bit again on Sunday. Though X-rays on RunDMC’s ankle were negative, initial reports are that he may have incurred a high ankle sprain. In the meantime, his backup situation is somewhat unclear, though Reece may be the strongest candidate simply due to his pass-catching skills.  Oft-injured Mike Goodson (who also hurt his ankle Sunday) and Taiwan Jones are also in the mix.  This backfield quacks like a committee, and the Raiders weren’t exactly tearing it up on the ground with a healthy McFadden.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts.  The rookie was all the rage after his Week 3 outburst against the Jaguars.  We cautioned then that his 113-yard, one-TD performance was likely an aberration and, as expected, he was virtually invisible over the next four games.  Expect a similar falloff in the weeks ahead, as Hilton and his fellow rookie quarterback continue to mature.

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers.  I reluctantly dropped Finley last week to make room for another player, then agonized over whether his little “chat” with Aaron Rodgers would make me look like an idiot.  So far, so good.  As Green Bay heads into its bye, feel free to eject Finley as well.  If he can’t prosper with Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson out of the picture – and Tom Crabtree can – there’s something seriously wrong.

Originally published on the blog Fantasy Fools.

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About the author

Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.

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