Fantasy Football and COVID-19 face off

Never underestimate Vegas casino online fantasy football fans. In a battle between fantasy football and the coronavirus pandemic, fantasy football fans are preparing for the upcoming NFL season and are ready to meet the uncertain season head-on. They are ready to consider how the pandemic will affect certain players, adjust for the way that rookies might be behind early in the season and factor in the shortened pre-season as it reflects in Average Draft Positions. 

Altering Approach

As the player considers draft strategy this year, they need to think long and hard about some basic draft principles as well as some needed alternations. One of the first issues that a fantasy player needs to think about in any situation involves picking running backs. Some seasoned fantasy team builders believe that the running backs tend to be more fragile picks in early rounds when they are at a greater risk of busting. You want to find the player who can dominate touches and snaps on his team and ensure that he won’t lose an iron group on backfield touches and snaps.

Some analysts suggest that players prepare for the period that ranges from the end of Round 3/beginning of Round 4 through  later single-digit rounds. Through the years there’s been very little running back upside in this period – often called the “Running Back Dead Zone”. One can assume, however, that the rate of elite RB seasons during the Running Back Dead Zone is pretty much on par with the rate for the running backs that are drafted during the double-digit rounds.

It could be argued that RBs are boosted in drafts during the Dead Zone because of their perceived safety  as they they project for a high rate of touches. RB projections can also be misleading since, when you do a projection, you need to make an educated guess about how to identify the back that will lead the backfield. Injury or ineffectiveness can affect the back that leads but the projection that you choose can determine who looks good. 

It can be argued that the top 15 Fantasy drafts running backs  -- those who go in the first or second round — are those who are relied on to dominate touches and thus be top picks on a Fantasy roster.

Should you take backs who you want to be the lead guy in their backfield? That may not be a great strategy. You might get a solid producer but he may also turn out to be someone that you can’t use in the line-up.  It’s true that it’s not easy to find consistently productive RBs in Fantasy but if you take them there’s a cost – they might be pushed up alongside wide receivers who have a stronger floor-to-ceiling profile. The WRs are, in the long run, better picks for the Fantasy football roster since they go alongside right ends or elite/second tier quarterbacks.

And how does COVID-19 affect your decision? Many top level fantasy football competitors believe that the pandemic will exasperate these phenomena. Whether or not perceived opportunity that’s not bankable will result in running backs being pushed up in Fantasy drafts, this coming season, that opportunity will be less bankable than ever. 

In fantasy, playing time is key for all positions. Running back, however, is considered fantasy’s most opportunity-dependent position. Tight ends and wide receivers earn targets so the pecking order determines how high up the ladder each player will move if another player gets injured. In 2020, it’s safe to assume that late-round running backs have more opportunity than ever to be thrust into larger opportunities.

Regarding running backs, the projected role of the starter could be altered if the team sees something in the backup. It’s more precarious than ever to draft a RB based on the perception of a strong workload. What is worrying here is that, at a different position, those backs may end up costing a shot at a high-end difference-maker. Which then translates to more late-round running backs who experience improved circumstances during the 2020 season.

In summary, this year, don’t build a roster that’s heavy with running backs.  

Legal Questions

The technicalities of the draft aren’t the only reason that the pandemic may be affecting fantasy sports. The football season hasn’t yet started but the baseball season resumed in late July and now fantasy sports operators are considering potential legal challenges relating to contractual relationships and game rules.

Lawyers representing fantasy sports operators are reviewing how fantasy sports operators will handle league payouts if the MBL 2020 season can’t be completed due to a Covid-19 outbreak among players. Will all entry fees be refunded or will fantasy sports owners receive winning payouts based on the fantasy league standings when the time the season is halted?

Additionally, who will bear the financial risk between statistical providers and fantasy sports operators if the season must be halted due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Statistical providers’ contracts generally include language relating to seasons that don’t happen because of a “force of God” – or a strike. Up until this year, none of those contracts included language that referenced a season stopping because a pandemic. But now, many do.

Finally, do leagues that drafted prior to the onset of Covid-19 need to redraft? Some injured players are not healthy and some previously healthy players have been injured. Also, game rules have changed since. (For example, MBL now plans to have more inter-league games, employ a universal designated hitter and play no out-of-conference inter-division games.) This doesn’t affect fantasy games that are played as a hobby, but in Daily Fantasy Sports, where participants bet on the games, this is an important issue.

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