Fantasy Sports: The Nuances of The Can’t-Cut List

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Every so often, I post an article that transcends the minutiae of fantasy sports.

This is one of those articles.

On Sunday January 27, 2013 Rajan Rondo announced that he tore his ACL, effectively ending his season.

Boston Celtics guard Rajan Rondo is on one of my fantasy basketball teams.

About this fantasy league…

  • There are seven weeks left in the regular season of the fantasy competition.
  • 12-team league, Six teams make playoffs.
  • I’m in sixth place (Despite a slew of injuries—I’ve had players miss games every week since Week 2).
  • The league has a ‘can’t-cut’ list, a designation preventing certain players from being dropped by a manager. The can’t-cut list can be overridden by the commissioner.
  • Rajan Rondo is on the can’t-cut list.
  • I am not the commissioner of this league.

Upon learning of Rondo’s injury, I posted a note on the league messageboard asking the commish to manually drop Rondo from my team.

The commissioner initially refused, citing the off-chance that Rondo could still come back this season. (He later changed his mind, removing Rondo from the list).

Here’s my response to that initial refusal:


The point of the ‘can’t-cut’ list is to prevent managers from swaying the balance of power by dropping players in an unsportsmanlike fashion. It’s not a hard-line rule that determines how the league is operated; it’s a flexible ledger of players who are likely to be high-impact players, so much so that owners in standard leagues would have little reason to drop them, barring an injury.

Rondo is now injured.

Not for a day. Not for a week. For months.

There are fewer than 10 weeks left in the fantasy regular season. He has an ACL injury. Players don’t return from ACL injuries in two months. He’s likely out until next season. Even if he was coming back at some point this year, his injury timetable is long enough that dropping him is more than reasonable.

Rather than carry a player zeroing out his stat line for months on end, most people opt for an add/drop and grab something of some value. That is what I want to do.

This isn’t my first rodeo…

Evaluating the can’t-cut list is like evaluating trades; any good league fosters ‘false positives’. Teams should be allowed to operate freely and the commish intercedes only to rectify a problem or weigh-in on a pressing issue (e.g. trade approval). Managers should be allowed to run their teams as they see fit, including making trades and adding/dropping players. Completing trades and managing a roster should only be prevented if collusion is evident or it goes against the spirit of competition. Not every situation is governed by the letter of the law.

I’ve had this same ‘can’t-cut’ situation arise in leagues that I operate, including one just last week.

A manager asked me to drop Kevin Love (also on the can’t-cut list) from his team after hearing that he broke his hand again. I didn’t hide behind the ‘can’t-cut’ designation and force his team to carry K-love for the duration of the season; I exercised reasoned discretion.

I acted as an objective commissioner who understands the nuances of fantasy sports, not as a biased competitor.

With a 2-3 month injury timetable and only 8 weeks left in the season, dropping K-love made sense. He wasn’t talking about dropping a player who was healthy (even then, he has the right to ask the commish to drop him—it’s within the boundaries of ethical competition). He was managing his team with integrity, deciding not to gamble on a star player returning at some point in the season. His request is in line with the spirit of the game.

I no longer want Rondo on my team. Please drop Rondo from my team.

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I’m an entrepreneur-among other things-specializing in helping people build businesses and develop fulfilling relationships.


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