Commissioner’s Corner: Dead Teams

Commissioners Corner

Dead Teams!  This is a common problem, and one almost every fantasy owner has experienced. Owners (for whatever reason) stop paying attention to and managing their team. There are a number of reasons this can occur, but the end result is the same in each scenario – the team goes into a freefall toward the bottom of the standings. This is something that can easily throw off the competitive balance of the league and cause active owners to become disgruntled.

So as the commissioner, what should you do to address and fix these situations? First, let’s take a look at some of the potential league-wide issues that ensue when an owner goes AWOL.

Disabled or Inactive players in the lineup

In a rotisserie or points based league, this is a guaranteed way for a team to sink into oblivion. Every point matters; every run scored counts, and with a dead player in your lineup you are basically forfeiting points. You may think this only hurts the team in question, but it also affects the standings. A few runs, homers, points of batting average, etc.., for a healthy player in the lineup could have easily moved this team up a few spots, potentially ahead of one of the front runners costing them a point or two in the standings. Instead those top team have a clearer path to the finish line.

In H2H leagues this is even worse. Whether it’s a hitter or pitcher (or maybe a combination of the two), you are potentially giving your opponent a win in a number of categories by not having a full lineup. Those wins are not earned, the the teams that played said dead team early on had the disadvantage of playing against an active owner. The owners playing the dead team have a much easier run at things – sometimes.

I say sometimes because occasionally that team will get a big week from a few star or surprise players and pull out a win. A win they might not have had if they had been active. I know that sounds confusing, if they won with a dead player in their lineup they surely would have won WITH an extra guy. Not necessarily. Who knows what type of moves they would have made with the rest of their roster. Maybe that injury fill-in they activated last month might have been dropped, or they might have sat a pitcher due to a bad matchup, yet they now get a win or two in categories because of dumb luck. Now one owner comes limping away lucky to finish with a tie, and the following week the next guy sweeps because that Cinderella player has turned back into a pumpkin.

Top 10 Talent on Bench

Not every top 10 player starts the season as a top 10 pick. Sometimes you take a mid-round flyer on a player or make an early waiver claim on a player that had a hot spring or a few big games in the first week. These players are now tearing it up, but the problem is they are on that owners bench

Maybe the owner left before the hot streak, they had struggling stars that they gave the benefit of the doubt to and hesitated to replace them, or they took them out for an off day and never put them back in. Either way, that’s points on the bench along with places in the standings that are being given away. Everything I said above about inactive players applies here but in reverse – it’s still neglect.

Healthy Players on the DL

This owner checked his roster during week one and saw that a couple of his picks were starting the season on the DL.  Replacements were picked up to patch things together short-term, but then the owner checked out. Sometime later those players have successfully returned from their injury and are playing well, but those fill-ins are still in the active roster – playing badly. Just like the scenario’s above, this owners is giving away wins and forfeiting spots in the standings and potentially handing teams wins they might not have otherwise had.

Too Much Talent on Waivers

I know, some of you wish you had this type of problem, but it happens. Because there are one or more inactive owners in the league, there are now players on waivers who have no right being there. They should be owned, and I’m sure the active owners would love to roster them. Unfortunately those active owners only have so many low level players to drop, and most (if not all) of them don’t have any more room on their bench. On the other hand, the dead/inactive team has a number of players that owners in other leagues have long since given up on and could (and should) be dropped, yet there they sit, either in their active roster or on the bench taking up valuable real estate. Now when those active teams have an injury or need a quick boost at a position, they have quality players to choose from as opposed to having to settle for a lesser player who could just be there to patch things together. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

I was discussing the topic of dead teams with a friend, and he sent me this reply in regards to a dead team in his league and how things were handled.

I had an owner who didn’t draft or pre-rank, didn’t touch his team until a week after the draft, and when he did, he only DL’d two of the three players (we have 3 DL spots).  He left the other DL player in the active lineup, and an empty outfield slot with a suitable player on the bench.  He didn’t check his team after that, and as a result he missed his innings the first week and was on his way to missing them again in week 2.

He had done this kind of thing before in the past, and I’ve told him it’s not fair to the others in the league when you give away points to the other team like that (you forfeit all pitching points if you don’t get your innings in).  So since he’s had multiple warnings the past 2 years and blew off his team for the second week in a row, I found another owner and replaced him.  I didn’t even e-mail him, I’ll let him read the “you are no longer the owner of this team” e-mail yahoo sends out.

He forfeited all pitching categories in week 1 which basically gave four wins to the other team. It was the same story for week two as the new owner was unable to salvage things and another three (potentially five) wins were given away. Those wins upset the standings and the playoffs as well as few points made the difference between 6th & 7th. If you receive multiple warnings about something (or several something’s) and you continue to do them, don’t be surprised if you find yourself without a team one day.

Well said, and in my opinion and appropriate action. In this case the commissioner did the correct thing in reaching out to the owner, and he gave them multiple chances and warnings the previous season. You don’t just want to boot an owner for neglect. Maybe there was a reason for their inactivity as real life does occasionally cross over into our fantasy world. If there was a legitimate reason you can let it go. If there was no reason at least they have been warned and know not to let this happen again. If it does, especially during the same season, that’s strike two in my book – baseball has a three strike rule.

If this is a case where the owner is too busy, some leagues do allow you to add a co-owner. You could recommend this option to them so at least if they find themselves in a situation where they can’t check their team, at least there is another person there who can pick up the slack for them. Even with a co-owner in place, if you still notice they are inactive and the co-owners is the primary one making all the moves, send them a note asking if they even have time to do this anymore. Maybe they just feel obligated since they joined and doing this will give them a way out without any hard feelings.

Now the examples above are not the only signs an owner is or has the potential to be neglectful. Not showing up for the draft or pre-ranking is a potential sign they do not care or take things as serious as the rest of the league. Also not responding to trade offers or inquiries from other owners is a potential red flag.

*****

The role of the commissioner should be to oversee that the league is run fairly for all owners and to uphold the integrity of the league. When it comes to dead teams and inactive owners, they need to consider what is in the best interest of the league. Nobody likes to fire someone – OK, maybe if you’re Donald Trump, but overall it is not fun. It is sometimes a necessary evil that is, whether you like it or not, part of the job description when you take on the commissioner role.

If you have to replace an owner during the season, especially in a keeper or dynasty league, try and do so before the leagues trading deadline passes. This will at least give the new owner a chance to make some moves and possibly set them up for next season. In redraft leagues the timing is less critical, but the longer you wait, the more out of whack the standings can become.

As a commissioner: do not over extend your powers and micromanage a league.  Keep an eye on owners and check that they are updating their lineups.  Suggest adding a co-owner to those managers who may have a busy schedule. Inquire if you see little activity to see if this may be an issue as the season progresses and down the line. Send out warnings if things persist after the initial contact. And, if all else fails, don’t be afraid to replace said bad owner. Also create a post or email the rest of the league and let them know why this owner is being replaced so there are no questions as to why this is taking place. This is a good idea as it not only lets everyone know that you are looking out for the league, but it also sends a silent message to the others that they need to be active.

Being the commissioner is a thankless job. Remember that if you decide to take on the role and responsibilities that come with the it.

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Jim Finch
The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball. You can also find me at FanRagSports.com
Jim Finch

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