As regular readers know, I am very big on the idea of discussing league rules changes while the issues are still fresh, rather than waiting until the start of the next season, when memories are dimmer.
My subject today is the waiver process in football. After 15 weeks, you and your league-mates are likely at the point where you have a good feeling for the ups and downs of whatever process you follow. Now is the time to consider tweaks to be implemented in 2012.
I compete in leagues with a variety of waiver formats and can see the merits of each.
For example, one league follows a simple first-come, first-served model that is open at all times. The only time a player cannot be dropped is if he is among your starters and it is between the start of the first game of the week and the conclusion of the last game.
However, because bench players can be flipped at any time, it leads to a race to the waiver wire when any major injury occurs. For example, when DeMarco Murray went down, Felix Jones was rostered within seconds.
Personally, I don’t watch every NFL game closely enough to prosper in this format. Someone else is almost always quicker to the trigger than I am. Yet a majority of the owners in this league favor this format, so it remains.
On the other hand, I still made the playoffs in this league, so it wasn’t a total waste for me. To be honest, I also use this league as a scouting service to give me quick ideas on hot players to add in other leagues.
One way to dial back the action in a league like this is to cut the size of the bench. That way, in the example above, it would likely lead to another good player being dropped to make room for Jones or perhaps Felix not being immediately picked up at all.
A more standard format is to not allow pickups between the kickoff of the first game of the week and Wednesday. Waivers are accepted from midnight Tuesday morning until Wednesday night. In non-FAAB formats, waiver priority is used to break ties.
Another one of my leagues has been bouncing around somewhere in between. Originally, it allowed free picks the entire week, but a change was made to Wednesday waivers at the start of this season.
Unfortunately, the commissioner did not add the standard first-come, first-serve transactions from Wednesday night until the first kickoff of the week. This swung the pendulum too hard in the other direction, locking out any late-week changes when player injury statuses became clearer.
A few weeks into the season, the commish decided unilaterally to make a change that he thought would fix the problem. Inadvertently, he created another by not ending first-come waivers until Monday night. That did not close off the loophole of the in-game injury-induced races mentioned above.
That led to a second in-season change in which first-come waivers were shut off at first-game kickoff. This is the only example I can think of in which I would have been in favor of an in-season change – to fix a blatant oversight – or as in this case, two of them. But at least action was taken.
Consider rule discussions now to prepare for next year, whether waiver-related or in any other area. Good luck in your league playoffs!