Roundtable Week 14

The Footballguys Roundtable panel discusses and debates the practice of tanking in dynasty leagues, the most and least favorable fantasy matchups this weekend, and which recent fantasy newsmakers are playoff worthy or playoff teases. 

Welcome to Week 14 of the 2020 Footballguys' Roundtable. Our intrepid and oddball panel of fantasy pundits discuss and debate the practice of tanking in dynasty leagues, the most and least favorable fantasy matchups this weekend, and which recent fantasy newsmakers are playoff worthy or playoff teases.

Let's roll...


Tanking

Matt Waldman: Should tanking be allowed in dynasty leagues? How does one enforce that tanking doesn't happen if your league is against it?

Andy Hicks: This all comes down to rules, how active people are, and the seriousness of the league. I personally have no issue with tanking, but if it’s the same owner year after year, it can get tiring. Then again, one less competitive owner.

If it’s a fun league, then simply adding a brutal punishment for tanking/coming last usually helps.

If the league is more serious then there are many ways to legislate a solution eg last doesn’t equal first pick. A lottery between the bottom three teams can occur. Ultimately if someone plays against the spirit of a league, removal of the manager should be an option. Much easier to get a new owner when they get told they have first pick. Hopefully, the league commissioner has a level head and can remove emotion and bias from any situation.

Will Grant: I agree with Andy that in dynasty/keeper leagues, you will always have the attitude of "I can't make the playoffs so may as well go for a better draft pick" mentality. It comes with the territory. For me, the key is you want owners who are engaged. You don't want teams to just auto-start the same lineup every week with injured or bye week players - that just gives a bad impression to all.

In any league, this type of thing can be resolved with a simple clause in the league rules/constitution. It's under the 'absent owner / no tanking' category and it should be as simple as 'the commissioner has the right to modify a team's weekly lineup in the event that an owner is inactive or chooses to start injured or inactive players'— something like this. You can also put in something about doing this multiple times can lead to penalties, up to and including removal from the league.

The key reason to have something in place is the league balance. It's easy to focus on the 'tanking' owner playing for next season but it can also impact this season— possibly giving a weaker team an extra win/playoff spot they didn't earn. This is why the commissioner needs to keep an eye on this sort of thing to make sure it doesn't upset the league balance.

If a team is actively tanking, they probably wouldn't defeat the top squads that season anyway, but if giving a weaker team an easy win gets them into the playoffs over someone who deserves it, the commissioner needs to step in and make a correction.

Adam Harstad: The reason most people oppose tanking is narrowly selfish. They want the top pick, but someone else is tanking, so that other person gets it instead. Or they want to make the playoffs, but their competitor is handed a free win against a team that didn't set a lineup, and that competitor makes the playoffs instead.

This is a bad reason to oppose tanking. Fantasy is zero-sum. There are only six playoff spots, there's only one 1.01 pick, and every action every team takes changes who gets those. This is why leagues shouldn't allow trade vetoes, because often other teams will veto perfectly fair trades just because they hurt their odds of making the playoffs or getting the 1.01.

Sure, the GMs hurt by tanking are worse off, but the GMs who are helped by tanking is better off to an exactly equal degree, and everything offsets. This is why you'll see pro-tanking teams justify it in terms of their own selfish interests; "I paid my dues, I should be able to run my team as I see fit", or "this is the thing that gives me the best chance of winning a title in the long run."

Selfish interest makes terrible policy. But there are two much stronger cases against tanking, IMO.

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