Judge Ed, Fantasy Football Ethicist: Keepers and Ticking Clocks

You’re on the clock. But it won’t stop ticking.

My league is doing an email draft for the first time ever. Is this fair considering that owners have no time constraints? Seems unfair to me. Anonymous, Arkansas

So long as everyone in the league has the same opportunity and unlimited time to draft you’d have to say it’s fair.  The better question, though, is “is it logical?” There’s nothing wrong with an email draft but there is good reason why drafts have time constraints. Let’s say I’m interested in drafting Ray Rice with the 2nd pick.  Without a draft clock why wouldn’t I wait for the conclusion of tomorrow night’s game to make sure he comes out of it uninjured before submitting my pick?

My judgment:  A draft without a clock is like Edward Cullen’s senior year of high school; pointless and never ending. Place time constraints on how long league members have to email in their next pick once notified of the preceding pick. An hour or two should be sufficient to ensure they have a chance to see and respond to the initial email. If an owner fails to provide a pick in time, their pick will be skipped over until they get it in.

Sleep with the enemy?

As a die-hard Redskins fan, I can never feel good about the Redskins’ opponent doing anything well in a game.  I have Jay Cutler as my starting fantasy QB and the Bears play my Redskins in Week 2.  I want to sit him because I want him to be awful and don’t want to feel like it’s ok if he does well because that will help my fantasy team.  My backup QB is Mark Sanchez.  What should I do??? Kathryn, Reston, Virginia

For starters, you may want to look for a new backup quarterback. Kidding aside, fantasy loyalty versus team loyalty is a question that even the most seasoned owner must grapple with. As a fantasy owner you have a responsibility to start the lineup that you believe gives you the best chance of winning that week’s matchup. Anything less is unfair to your fellow owners and will result in you being cast as either a fantasy leper or a chump.

My judgment:  NFL guru Herm Edwards once said “You play to win the game. You don’t play it to just play it.” So start Jay Cutler, put on your burgundy and gold, and head to your local watering hole. Once kickoff begins, cheer your ‘Skins on like you do every other week of the season. Your fellow fantasy owners will appreciate your efforts and who knows, maybe karma will reward you with the fantasy perfecta. A 31-28 Redskins victory in which Cutler throws for 300 yds and chalks up 3 TDs.

Keeper confusion

In a keeper league where you can keep one player each from rounds 1-3 (cost round drafted), 4-10 (cost 4th), and 11-16 or free agent (cost 10th), can you use a pick acquired from another team to pay for your keeper? (Our rules do not specify that the pick must be an original pick of the team seeking to keep, nor do they bar the use of acquired picks for this purpose. The rules merely state that the pick must be “in” the corresponding round) Thanks! John J Schwarz 

Be it on the waiver wire, lineup deadlines, or as the case here in keeper rules, a savvy fantasy owner can sniff out the loophole in their league’s rules faster than Mitt Romney can find his way around a tax code. It’s no easy task being a fantasy commissioner and too often the need to clarify a rule isn’t known until the crafty owner has figured his/her way around it. The commissioner needs to ask, is the owner indeed going rogue or are they keeping with the spirit of the original rule? If you’re still unsure of the answer or are unable to come up with a just penalty, I can recommend the name of a new fantasy ethicist who is able to help you out.

My judgment:  Not only do the rules not bar you from using an acquired pick to for a keeper, but doing so is keeping with the intended spirit of the rule. In order to acquire the extra picks you presumably had to trade a player (or picks) of fair value to the other league owner.  Sure, that gives you extra picks that you can use to pay for a keeper but it also gives you less players that you can potentially keep. In summation, nice work John! Keep on exposing the loopholes.