Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Does Your League Handle Dual-Position Players?

Last week’s column featured a question from Nestor, whose league is having trouble with Dexter McCluster because he is listed as a running back and a wide receiver on the Yahoo! site that hosts the league. Nestor wonders whether McCluster’s owner should be able to plug the player into an RB slot or a WR slot depending upon his needs each week.
Readers had widely differing (but in most cases sensible) responses. The most legalistic answer came from Todd:

Precedence works for the legal system—and should work in games as well. Whatever McCluster’s owner did first should stick for the rest of the season. If he started him as an RB in Week 1, then he’s a running back for the rest of the season. If he first started him as a receiver, then he is a receiver for the remainder of the year. It is clearly an unfair advantage to be able to put one player in at multiple positions (since that is freakishly rare in the NFL), and I would make a stink about it if anyone in my league tried to use the same player in multiple roles over the course of the season.

I am glad that this question pertains to a player with the limited productivity of McCluster (who has scored a grand total of 22 points so far this season in my primary league). I understand the point of raising a stink on principle, but the good thing about addressing this question in regard to a player with marginal fantasy impact is that most heads will remain cool, and the question can be answered more soberly than would have been the case with a star such as Eric Metcalf (who spurred Eric’s league to put a rule on the books for dual-position players years ago):
Our league (the Semi-Tough Fantasy Football League) has been in existence since 1993 (albeit with only 2 original members of an original 10-team league still in the league). We dealt with the issue of dual-position players way back in the days of Eric Metcalf, who was listed as a RB/WR and subsequently codified it in our league rules:

Players listed as multiple position players (e.g., a player is listed as a RB/WR) can be played at any position at which they're listed. The bible will be the official rosters as listed at the site.

We also addressed and codified instances where defensive players sometimes play offense (we do not use IDP), called

1. The " Deion Sanders rule":

a) All defensive TD’s scored off of a fumble return/recovery, interception return, or blocked kick (FG or punt) will be scored to the team defense, not the individual player.
b) All offensive TD’s scored by defensive players playing an offensive position will be scored by the individual player, not the defense.

2. Special team scores will be scored by the individual player, not the team defense (except where noted above) including:

a) Kickoff and punt return TDs.
b) TD passes, receptions, or runs resulting from fake kicks.

Shaun’s response might not stand up to a great deal of scrutiny, but the simplicity of his position is very attractive:

Sometimes we have to be bold enough to imagine that we are smarter than Yahoo. Just because a website says someone is a running back doesn’t make it so. If McCluster were a running back, then you would think he would have some rushing yards to his credit this season, but my stat sheet shows that his only yardage has come from receptions and punt returns. There’s really no question here. Move along.

Nestor’s league might be persuaded by Shaun’s logic, but there isn’t much here that is generally applicable to the question of dual-position players. If I start a receiver who goes into a game and gets one touch on an end-around before being shut out for the rest of the day, then my receiver wasn’t transformed into a running back just because his only yardage for the day was rushing yardage. Nevertheless, Shaun’s response is funny and moderately compelling.

The response that is likely to ruffle the fewest feathers in Nestor’s league (and that seems generally applicable in similar cases) came from Evan:

[The problem of] players listed at multiple positions never came up as an issue in my league—maybe because our site doesn't list multiple positions. But if it did, I would have to allow [the owner to use the player however he wanted] if that is how the site [categorizes him]. In my league, if we do not have a specific rule for something, the site's default rules apply (e.g. the Robert Meachem Play).

My thanks to everyone who wrote in concerning the dual-position question. Even if all the responses were not included here, I believe that all of the positions on the question were represented by the responses above. I wish Nestor and his league the best of luck in figuring out how to proceed from here, and I will try to inform readers about his league’s decision if I hear back from him.


  1. Very insightful. I didn't really think about this much before.

  2. i wish i had one so i knew more about this

  3. Not really into football, but, when I do watch it, I want to understand what the fucks going on... Thanks for the good info man

  4. anyone wanna explain how this shit works lol

  5. lol good post. a long one though. eh i'm not too much of a football fan

  6. Man, fantasy football seems complicated.

  7. been playing some fantasy football before, but we had eeeeasy rules! :D

  8. This is fantasy football for all of you readers in the dark. Fantasy football is set up to make the player, or "owner" of the fantasy team, feel like a coach by presenting micro coaching abilities. This is a long article on just one small aspect of fantasy football.