The Unwritten Rules

Over the course of the last three weeks, I have explored different ethical and strategic questions posed to me via email and social media. It has been a fun series to write, but now we have reached it’s conclusion for the 2016 regular season. I hope to make this a reoccurring series next season. So, whenever I can get enough questions and/or scenarios for a full piece I will write up my answers. Some people really enjoyed this series. Others hated it and the answers I gave, but it made for interesting discussions within the comment sections. I would label that a success. Feel free to send me more questions at or on twitter @JustinMasonFWFB and when I have enough, I will do an offseason installment. Thanks for playing along!

Is it acceptable to tank for better draft position next year? If so, to what end? Can I pick up poor players and start them on purpose? Can I make purposely poor trades? -Jason P.

As I said in a previous installment of this series, while I don’t have an issue with tanking, I think leagues should make safeguards against it. If you are going to tank because these safeguards aren’t in place, I have no problem picking up poor players and starting them. I do however; have an issue with making poor trades on purpose because it gives someone else an unfair advantage. If you believe that making your team worse in the short term makes you better in the long term, then so be it, but you shouldn’t make trades that you receive anything in return.

Use of the trade deadline: What should the cutoff be? Should teams who are out of the playoffs not be allowed to make trades? – @JLFoster10

In my opinion, trade deadlines should vary depending on league format. I tend to like mid-August for redraft leagues, end of August for short term keeper formats, and no deadline for roto dynasty formats. However, these are just my personal preferences.

As far as eliminated teams go, I think they should be allowed to make moves like any other teams. While, I personally wouldn’t make a trade if I was eliminated many people want to play for pride even if they have no shot. I would much rather have teams managed in spite of being eliminated than have a dead team with an owner that doesn’t care.

Earlier this season, Giancarlo Stanton was dropped into the free agent pool. When it happened, I announced on the message boards that I would be placing a $55 bid on him in an attempt to get another owner to blow a large amount of FAAB on him. Another owner then attempted to rally the league into price enforcing the bid. Does this constitute collusion?  – @BaseballATeam (The question has been paraphrased for the sake of brevity. You can read the full message board here if you are interested.)

Under the circumstances, I would say that this constitutes collusion. However, you kind of bring it on yourself. By announcing that you are making a certain bid publically on a message board, you invite people to discuss that move. Was the conversation that followed appropriate? No, but I think in a way you kind of reap what you sow.

In my dynasty league a trade was made between two teams with the caveat that the team receiving the better end of the deal would not start a few pitchers in order to keep him from making the minimum innings requirement. Is this cheating? – Jason K.

This would be collusion in my opinion and if I was the commissioner, I would veto this trade. Telling someone who they can and cannot start as a condition of a trade is the equivalent of one owner managing two teams and gives that owner an unfair advantage over the league. If the player wants to trade for the other team’s remaining pitchers, that is fine, but having the kind of influence you are describing is collusion.

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Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.

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Regarding eliminated teams making trades; whatever benefits gained from “playing for pride” are not worth the potential for abuse/cheating or just stupidity. An eliminated team who helps a team win (via trade) a league should never ever be allowed. Perhaps a compromise is to allow teams to trade only with teams within 2 positions in the standings of them after an agreed upon date.


In H2H keeper leagues, at minimum there ought to be a trade freeze once the playoffs start until the conclusion of the season. A trade deadline in mid-August is probably even better.