Commish HQ: Putting My Own Reserve List to the Test

By Reginald James
Reginald James

It all began with a Monday morning phone call telling me that someone in our fantasy football league had been arrested over the weekend. It certainly wasn’t for jaywalking. It was a serious charge.


It turns out, that I had just texted the person (who would be arraigned the next day) the night before to remind them that the deadline for league members to pay their pool money was Monday. When I got up, I wondered why I hadn’t heard from them. They were always the type to respond. The phone call I received revealed the reason why.


Of course, I was first surprised at the news because this was someone I knew personally, they weren’t some random perp on the news. Their arrest did make the news, by the way. During the phone call, I began to think about how the person who called me was doing, because they were related to the person awaiting arraignment and myself. I sat thinking about how this was going to affect them.


After the gravity of the situation settled in, another thought entered my mind - I had to find their replacement in our fantasy league, Cair Paravel. Yes, that was just as much of a reality as anything else that had to do with this situation. Granted, this person’s arrest and what follows with them, will have much more serious ramifications both for themselves and their family, and their absence in my fantasy league is trivial by comparison. Still, it was a matter that had to be dealt with.


If you’ve followed me at any length over the years, you’re likely to have come across my insistent recommendation that fantasy commissioners keep a reserve list of people who they can invite or bring into their league if there is ever a vacancy. You never know when you’ll have to replace someone.


With one phone call, one week before Keeper declarations, and two weeks before our league draft, I suddenly found myself in that situation, and I laughed to myself as I thought, “I guess I have to follow my own advice.”


I’m not a St. Elmo’s Fire type of guy. I don’t run with a crew. My reserve list was a very short one. It’s non-existent now. At the time of the call, the list had three candidates. Two were family members, both who had been in Cair Paravel several years ago. The other person was someone I had worked with about three years ago.


I sent out queries to one of my cousins, and to the person from work, explaining that I had an opening. In full disclosure, I shared that I was contacting not only them, but also others in my search for a replacement. I also called another cousin of mine who was aware of what happened. They are also in the league and already knew we had a slot to fill. I told them I had a couple of people in mind, but I wanted him to think of people he personally knew and trusted to be in our league just in case things didn’t work out on my end.


I preferred to keep things in the family, so I was hoping one of my cousins would be interested in coming back. It was the third person who responded almost immediately. They wanted in. Cool. My mini “crisis” seemed to be averted for the moment. I still wanted to wait for my cousin to respond. It took the rest of the day. When they finally texted me back, they informed me they weren’t interested frankly, with anything that had to do with the NFL. One down. I reached out to my other cousin. He responded shortly thereafter, declining my offer as well.


Two out of my three candidates declined, but I only needed one, so I was all set. On the same day I lost a league member, I had my league vacancy filled before that day ended. Not too shabby. Hooray!


While my story didn’t involve too much drama, I’m sharing it because I want to highlight how important my reserve list was to me. I was ready for the moment. I didn’t have to scramble and figure out what to do. If you’re running a league, you should think about being prepared in this way. Life happens quickly sometimes.


One might say I got lucky, and honestly, I would’ve had to hustle pretty hard if everyone on my paltry list had deferred. I likely would’ve had to bring someone in I didn’t know myself, which is absolutely something I didn’t want to do.


I’d also like to point out the importance of always keeping your eyes and ears open for new people to add to the list. For example, I’m not part of a club, or work in an environment with a large pool of people that I relate to on a daily or regular basis. When I meet someone new, it’s not long before I’m looking to see if they’re football fans, or if they play fantasy. I have to take advantage of the moments as they arise, especially because my list of candidates is never likely to be very long.


As a fantasy league commissioner, you should be continually vetting people as potential members of your league. If you work with someone who plays fantasy football, pay attention to the stories they tell about their league, pay attention to the language they use to describe their commissioner and the people they play with. What you hear may reveal whether you’d want them in your own league.


I met our newest member on a job about three year ago. They had overheard me talking to someone about being a fantasy writer, and that sparked our own conversation. They were one of those folks who was crazy about fantasy football, so on and so forth. After a number of conversations over time, I decided to put them on my list.


Now I’m back to square one. I honestly don’t need any more surprises because I no longer have an active reserve list. I have to start a new one. Once again, I will endeavor to follow the very advice I offer to my readers and build it back up. The work begins anew.


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