By Andy Behrens
September 22, 2007
• Roto Arcade This Week : Sept. 17 | Sept. 19
The original plan for today was to write a buy-low/sell-high column. But it turns out that virtually every member of the fantasy community had the same thought. As a result, at this very moment there are something like 67 articles out there telling you to add Steven Jackson and trade Jamal Lewis. No need for me to pile on.
Before moving to another topic, it's worth mentioning that nobody's really getting anything too valuable in Lewis trades. Here are the players he's been dealt for in recent one-for-one Yahoo! swaps:
A few of those acquisitions – Andre Johnson, Thomas Jones and Calvin Johnson – are especially nice when you consider average draft positions, projected value, and the fact that Lewis wasn't drafted as a starting running back in very many leagues.
But Julius Jones? Shaun McDonald? Anderson? Quinn?
That's not selling high, really. It's just selling. You might as well start Lewis in Week 3 at Oakland if you can't find anything better. The Raiders have allowed 144.5 rushing yards per game and 4.9 per carry. There's a fair chance that Lewis will enter Week 4 as the NFL's leading rusher. The Browns will still be the Browns, so you'll want to revisit the trade market for Lewis next week.
Enough with the buyable and sellable players, though. Let's discuss another aspect of fantasy trades: approval and vetoes. After Wednesday's mention of a four-player deal in the Tank Johnson Desert Classic, feedback like this arrived:
"If you allowed a trade of Shaun McDonald and Brian Leonard for Chester Taylor and Lee Evans only two weeks into the season, you're doing a poor job as commissioner."
"I have to agree with Big Daddy Drew. That trade is horse crap. When one team is getting all the better players in a trade, it ruins the league. If the league has a commissioner-approves trade policy, then the commissioner is doing the league a disservice by allowing this trade."
Earlier in the baseball season, after foolishly inserting myself in a private league's trade dispute, we dealt with the topic of commissioner approval. My opinion is that as long as a deal isn't collusive, there's no reason for a commissioner to disallow it. During the season, trades are really about need. If you're an 0-2 team, you might reasonably prioritize a Week 3 win over anything, including the long-term value of someone like Lee Evans.
Don't talk to me about competitive balance, either. None of us are trying to achieve that. In fact, the purpose of everything you do as a manager is to achieve competitive imbalance. You're trying to win. Everyone should be trying to win. As long as all parties in a trade believe they've improved their chances, there's not much left to consider. The only person in your league who's expected to act selflessly at any time is the commissioner – that's why it can be such an awful job.
After the baseball trade column, a few dissenting emails arrived. Some of them indignant. Some of them violently indignant. The trading of virtual assets in notional worlds inspires strong feelings, for obvious reasons. Many of these emailers made the same comparison to illustrate their point: a commissioner's responsibility to his fantasy league, they said, is like the SEC's responsibility to financial markets.
But if Joseph Addai is dealt for Tony Romo in your 12-person league, there are no far-reaching implications. There's zero chance that the Federal Reserve will respond. No currencies are affected. No jobs move overseas. Jim Cramer doesn't freak and tell you to buy precious metals. The impact of the trade is limited to the 12 people in your league, at least two of whom were presumably happy with it.
The commissioner's essential responsibility is to assemble a league of competent owners. And if they can't do that, they should assemble a league where everyone is similarly incompetent. People are going to make mistakes. They'll draft kickers early, they'll drop the wrong running back, they'll succumb to the fleeting charms of the Cincinnati defense, and they'll make trades that fail miserably. It happens. Nobody needs to be protected from themselves in a fantasy league.
You know what can actually ruin things? If one or two owners agitate for a veto by insulting another manager. That gets ugly quickly. The problem that most of angry owners have with lopsided trades is, in fact, that they didn't make them. If you judge a trade to be one-sided yet not collusive, the most productive thing you can do is make similar offers to the victimized owner.
In leagues where owners have the opportunity to protest trades, though … well, sometimes if a rival team makes a deal, self-interest compels you to protest. I've been involved in leagues where countless trades were agreed to – most of them perfectly fair – but none actually went through. Because everyone reflexively vetoes everything. Those were ruined leagues, yet every veto was ostensibly in the interest of preserving competitive balance. Which, of course, wasn't anyone's real objective.
Don't know if Drew is over the Lee Evans deal quite yet. I think not. But he did post some fantastic vintage O.J. Simpson print ads at Kissing Suzy Kolber on Friday. I can't recommend them highly enough. You'd be crazy not to trade Jamal Lewis for some Juicemobiles.
• L.J. Smith had a few spare pieces of groin removed this week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He's out for Sunday. And you don't need to carry two tight ends if neither of them is an elite player, so Smith can go in 10- and 12-team leagues. Rookie Brent Celek should have an opportunity here, though he's not yet worth considering for fantasy purposes. There is, however, a small cult of excited Brent Celek emailers.
• Greg Olsen will make his regular season debut for the Bears in the Sunday night game against Dallas. It's possible that this is only big news to me, as I've added, dropped and added him again in maybe eight leagues. I'm convinced he can be a top-tier fantasy entity. The rap credibility is an exciting bonus.
• Steve McNair will start against the Cardinals this week, which seems like decent news for the Cardinals. Mark Clayton is expected to start as well, though he's not yet a top-30 WR. Derrick Mason is tied for the fourth-most looks in the NFL after two weeks, yet he's still available in 27.3 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Plaxico Burress, listed as questionable with an ankle injury (that led to a lost touchdown on Sunday), is reportedly a game-time decision. Tom Coughlin told the AP, "It's going to be one of those deals depending on how he feels." That quote has a pleasant Dr. Seuss-meets-Mike Ditka sound, no? Burress has been limited in practice. It would still be a surprise if the No. 5 overall fantasy wide receiver can't play against Washington on Sunday. We've all ranked him as though he'll play.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Saturday, Sep 22, 2007 10:34 am, EDT
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