The Ezekiel Elliott saga has been marked by judges, rulings, appeals, stays, suits and countersuits and a lot of meaningless chatter. There's no way to untangle it all in this column, but I know one thing for sure:
You don't want this kind of behavior in your fantasy league.
Can't happen, you say? Apples and oranges? Well, many leagues have one or two "rules-lawyers" who are always itching for a fight with the commissioner. I admit the stakes aren't as high and the charges are never as serious as in the Elliott case, but the same ego displays and escalations can erupt over minor issues, and they can definitely threaten the integrity of your league.
Let's say a weird scoring quirk isn't covered clearly in the rules and affects the outcome of a game (if you play fantasy long enough, this will happen at least once). The commissioner makes a ruling and that's it, right? Hardly.
The aggrieved party complains to the commissioner, citing whatever evidence they feel makes their case. Then they go to the league message board and start attacking them, sometimes personally. If things still don't go their way, they'll call for a league vote (even if the rules don't allow for one). Then more pouting and complaining will follow, including threats to leave the league. They might simply abandon their team, though emotional infants might go so far as to drop all their players, causing additional headaches as the league sorts out the new free agent bounty.
Maybe you've seen some of this happen before. To me, it's the fantasy version of lawyers and appeals and judges in real life. No matter who's right, it takes away from the game. And it's exhausting.
Now, if you think your commissioner has made a bad ruling, you have every right to point out where the rules dictate a different outcome, or explain your logic in making a different case.
But if it doesn't go your way, don't escalate it to the point of hurting the league. Remember, your commissioner doesn't earn a salary in the neighborhood of $34 million, like some others do. They're just another owner who is saddled with the most thankless job in fantasy, usually without compensation. Don't bring other owners into it, don't attack anyone publicly and don't abandon your team.
If it really bothers you that much, make a mental note to not rejoin next season. Keep it to yourself and move on. There's no sense in announcing you're done with the league. It's like when people say they're leaving a social media platform. Why announce it? Stop drawing attention to yourself. Leave or don't leave. But don't make yourself the center of attention to feed your ego.
As an owner, you agreed to play in the league for the entire season. Even if you start out slow. Even if a hurricane gives some starters an unexpected bye. Even if your first-round draft choice gets hurt in week 1 and gets sent to IR with the coach hoping for a return around Christmas (sorry, DJ owners).
And yes, even if the commissioner rules in a way that costs you a game. You can overcome any and all of those things. You can't control them, but you can control how you react to them. And continually challenging the commissioner is the wrong way to react.
A fantasy league isn't a dictatorship. But it isn't a democracy, either. You gave someone the authority to make tough decisions because you trust them and their judgment. You consider them to be honest, right? If not, why are you in the league in the first place?
So if you trust the commissioner, please respect their judgment, even when you don't agree with it. Escalating court battles aren't good for the NFL, but they won't break the league, either. It's a billion-dollar business with billion-dollar teams and millionaires for players. But your fantasy league is only viable as long as a dozen friends say it is. And even if the friendships are strong, it won't survive constant attacks, unhappy owners and a lack of trust. For the good of the league, let the little things go.
There are a lot of ways you can do to help yourself in week 2, like waiver adds, bench promotions and whatnot. But this ugly scenario could come up now, next week or months down the road. Pledge to avoid those pitfalls and encourage others to do the same, and your league will be stronger if (when) it does happen. Good luck this week.
Have you ever been involved in league drama? Has it ever broken up a good league? Share your stories below.