If there is any justice in the world, fantasy owners that quit will find themselves banished to a world without football, or at least one without DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket. While a good commissioner can handle almost any problem thrown his or her way, including complicated trades, scoring disputes and even possible collusion, an owner that quits can kill even the best of leagues.
The midseason quitter
If you have an owner at this year's draft who selects a place kicker with a fist pump and comment of "steal of the draft," make sure to get his league dues before he leaves. Chances are this is the type of owner who is going to go missing by Week 4 once he realizes that no kicker is the steal of any draft.
If a league owner's starting lineup corresponds perfectly with every skill position of his favorite team, make sure to have a good description for the sketch artist at the police station when you file the missing persons report. Of course, it does not always happen like this; sometimes an owner just disappears for no apparent reason, sending the league into damage control.
The rollover quitter
Most rollover leagues demand a rather large commitment from owners, especially dynasty leagues. Dynasty leagues typically involve year-round action. Owners must be ready for the league's free agency period, prepare for the league's rookie draft and constantly look to make offseason trades to put their team over the hump or get them started up the hill.
Dynasty leagues can grind to a halt if an owner suddenly goes M.I.A., either midseason or during the offseason. Owners that quit in a rollover league often quit for the same reasons that one does in a single-year league: They have a bad team. The difference here is that the replacement owner could be stuck with that team for years and could take years to get things on the right track. Owners that are new to a dynasty league format are typically the most likely candidates to quit on their team and the league. They don't always comprehend the kind of commitment such leagues require.
What to do when an owner quits
The key thing for dealing with an owner that quits is to already have a plan of action in place. Trying to figure out what to do with an ownerless team will take up a good deal of time that the league might not have. If an owner quits at the end of the season, there is a little more time to find a replacement. However, if the owner quits midseason, the league might only have a few days before the next round of games, making it important to get the ball rolling on a solution quickly.
One solution, and probably the simplest of solutions, is to use the last starting lineup for the ownerless team for the remainder of the season. The biggest problem with this solution comes when a player in the starting lineup has a bye week or is injured, which gives a team an easier matchup than those that faced the team before it was ownerless. The thing to remember with all of the solutions offered in this article is that there is no "perfect" solution, just ones that can help you through the remainder of your season or offseason until a suitable replacement owner is found.
Another solution that some leagues use is to appoint a different de facto owner each week to manage the ownerless team as well as his or her own. While this solves the problem of bye weeks, it might bring questions of collusion to the league. There are likely to be times, especially as your league inches toward the playoffs, where it is just as important for another team to lose as it is for yours to win. There might be questions raised in the de facto owner's roster moves or lineup selection to help out his or her team or another owner's. Again, this is not the perfect solution, but as stated there really is not one.
One possible scenario is to have your league pick a company, namely KFFL, to provide weekly in-season rankings to the league for your commissioner to apply to the vacant team's starting lineup. This offers a non-partisan solution to who should be played each week.
Things get a bit tricky with dynasty and other rollover leagues when looking to replace an owner that has quit either midseason or during the offseason. The No. 1 problem in finding an owner is that rollover leagues are more complicated than single-year leagues.
In a dynasty league there are more decisions to be made on a weekly basis than just setting a starting lineup. While scoring from league to league usually varies, the rules in dynasty leagues typically vary to a larger degree. Picking up an owner that is not familiar with a dynasty league format is usually not the best solution, as the replacement owner is going to need to get up to speed on the league rules and get comfortable with a rollover format in a rather short period of time. As a result, the pool of suitable replacements is made a bit shallower.
The other problem in finding a surrogate owner for a rollover league is that most often the quitting owner has left behind a team that is not just bad, but rather it is likely to be bad for years to come. It is difficult to find an owner willing to take over a team he or she did not have a hand in selecting, even more so when that team is going to struggle for more than one season.
The two solutions offered so far become a bit more problematic in rollover leagues. While a league can simply put a freeze on that team in terms of roster moves and its starting lineup, this could run the team further into the ground, making it an arduous task in finding an owner to take over the team. Appointing a replacement owner on a week-to-week basis is more difficult in rollover leagues. As mentioned, the week-to-week commitment is higher in this style of league, and while some owners may have time to commit to one team, they might not have the time for two. If you do find a replacement owner and they happen to be a rookie to the rollover format, it is important for the entire league to help in getting the rookie up to speed on the rules and nuances of the league.
One way in which to get over this hump is to find one of the current owners to take over the ownerless team. Some dynasty league players take special pride in being able to rebuild hopeless franchises. While this still will leave the league with an ownerless team, it should be an easier spot to fill, as only experienced dynasty players are likely to give up and leave a strong team behind. Since few people are willing to do this regardless of their desire to be viewed as the Vince Lombardi of dynasty leagues, an incentive might be added. That incentive could be in the form of a return of league fees or even additional draft picks.
Another solution for all leagues is to always have a list of replacement owners on standby. With the increasing interest in dynasty and other rollover leagues, there are more fantasy players that would like to give it a shot. By having a list of owners who have already expressed an interest to enter the league, you cut down the time needed to find a replacement owner.
There is no perfect solution in dealing with owners that quit, and there are likely to be some owners that are not happy with the solution the league decides upon. However, a league can fall apart if an owner quits and no plan is in place, as there is typically little time to plot a course of action. If a plan is in place - one agreed upon by the majority of owners - there is a good chance that this season, and future years, can be salvaged.
Adam Barricklow is based out of Central Ohio and has been a KFFL Contributor since 2003. Adam has been playing Fantasy Football since 1996 and has been addicted since day one. Adam plays in various leagues, running one of them and uses his experience and knowledge to create reports that are able to help the fantasy player look at every perspective.