I want to make one thing clear right from the beginning. This is just an opinion article, and is obviously not intended to be accepted as fact. There were some things that have been bothering me about how this fantasy football season has progressed thus far that I felt needed to be addressed.
Log in to our forums, and we can discuss what you think the replacement refs impact has been on NFL games and fantasy football this season.
After the Monday Night Football game which culminated in Golden Tate’s ahem.. touchdown. Many fantasy owners will be scrambling to their waiver wire thinking that Golden Tate must be the big fantasy pickup of the week. Tate did have a nice 41 yard TD, but that last one was caught by the defender in the end zone, and Tate just happened to sneak his arm in there, which the replacement officials interpreted as simultaneous possesion resulting in a touchdown.
I’m not saying the regular officials would have gotten this one right, but I don’t think they would have called it a TD so readily, which was the deciding factor in this case. The catch was not reviewable because of simultaneous possession so the call on the field stood.
That is one brief example of a replacement ref call that has affected the NFL games, and it was a major one. My underlying problem is with their impact on the game/stats in general, and how that has been impacting fantasy football thus far.
How has it affected fantasy football leagues?
1) In the majority of fantasy leagues, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were first round locks, and fantasy owners built their team around them. After week 3 results, Tom Brady is the 14th overall QB in terms of fantasy scoring, and Aaron Rodgers is 20th. What possible impact could the refs be having on their games? From what I have seen on the field, defenders are getting away with more contact downfield, pushing WR off their routes after the 5 yard line, leading to more “bad passes” from our two star QB’s.
Don’t believe me? There was a play in the MNF game where Greg Jennings was thrown to the turf in the end zone by the defender on a play away from the ball. There was no flag thrown even though they were 30-40 yards downfield, and Greg Jennings immediately retaliated by lashing out at the offending player. It ended up resulting in offsetting penalties, when you can believe that the regular officials would have called illegal contact on the Seahawks.
2) The officials are afraid to throw their flags, and many times when they do throw a flag it is a bad call, which will lead to fewer calls being made as the replacement officials will be even more afraid to make a holding or pass interference call going forward into week 4 and beyond.
The primary beneficiaries of these non-calls? The defense, as evidenced by the growing number of low scoring games around the NFL. The more the defenders are able to get away with, and trust me they will keep testing the limits, the lower scoring games we will see in the weeks to come. As a result, kickers and defenses in fantasy will continue to accrue points, but some top tier talent won’t post the fantasy numbers that we are used to seeing.
Lets hear your thoughts on the issue. Log in to the fantasy football forums, I will have a thread prepared where we can discuss whether you think Brady and Rodgers have regressed, if the replacement officials have made a difference, or if you think it is something else entirely.