Commish HQ: The Duo Designation Dilemma

By Reginald James
Reginald James

I’ve been getting a number of questions and comments regarding Taysom Hill and his dual eligibility. Some of the questions revolve around whether or not a commissioner should declare that he can only be used as a quarterback. Some commissioners were urged to do it by their league members, while other commissioners personally thought it was the right thing to do themselves. I’ve responded to two Taysom Hill questions for the Ask The Commish column. One commissioner banned Taysom Hill from being used as tight end. Drama ensued. I disagreed with that move. I agreed with one commissioner who refused to restrict how Taysom Hill should be played.


I wrote that players should be playable at whatever designation they have. More importantly, commissioners shouldn’t change rules, or in this case, player designations in the middle of the season, or after the season begins. Here’s what I actually said:


The only thing I would say, is if you were ever inclined as a commissioner to make a decision like that - specfically to neuter a dual designation, no matter the player, then it would be something that should be decided before the season starts, and before the draft. Then, everyone knows what the deal is from the very start. Whether they like the decision or not, is not as important as you locking in what’s expected at the very beginning. Everyone will be operating under the same rules. For example, if you made the decision to lock in Taysom Hill as quarterback before your league drafted, then folks would then get to decide if he was worth drafting as a quarterback. Everyone would know they couldn’t take advantage of the dual designation from the jump.


I’m going to expand on this for a bit.


Much Ado About Taysom


It’s now been about three weeks since some folks started yowling about Taysom Hill. The folks getting upset that managers in their leagues got to play Taysom Hill in the TE slot have now gone quiet. For some reason, Fantasy Twitter has gone quiet about Taysom. Why? Because he hasn’t done much since he rushed for 112 yards on nine carries, and scored three touchdowns.


Was the fuss really about the dual designation, or rather that someone else got to benefit from using Hill, if they were lucky enough to start him, that one time - and they didn’t?


Does this Taysom Hill scenario remind you of another topic, like trade vetoes? That, people vote against trades not because there’s anything wrong with the proposed trade, but instead they will veto the trade because it would make their opponent better? The underlying sentiment being, that if they don’t get to benefit from a trade like that, then no one else can either? It should.


The Tempest


Before Week 5, Fantasy Twitter wasn’t aflame about Taysom Hill. No one cared. Taysom was either hanging out as a free agent in a lot of leagues, or someone had him stashed away, hoping maybe he’d get a chance to be the starter. I would imagine that unless we’re talking about managers in deeper leagues, lots of people missed out on that fantasy point explosion on October 9 because his point production had been low and sporadic after a pretty good Week 1 outing. I don’t know who was starting him in Week 1 as quarterback, aside from perhaps super flex leagues. Jameis Winston was the starting quarterback, not Taysom. Taysom scored off a direct snap from shotgun. That rushing touchdown was Taysom’s only score of the day. He rushed for 81 yards. Sounds great, right? Well, he only had four rushing attempts. Four. He had one reception for three yards.


The promise of what Taysom could do was always bigger than what he was actually delivering.


Anyone who decided to chase those 15 fantasy points after Week 1, thinking they could plop Taysom Hill in the TE slot and get that production, got burned the next three weeks. No one was thinking about Taysom Hill. When he was sitting on the bench logging zeros in the the receiving column, and netting less than five rushing attempts per game, no one had anything to say. Before Week 5, Taysom had not played more than 16 (26%) of the Saints’ offensive snaps. In Week 5, he logged 30% of the snaps lining up only 23 times.


I wasn’t getting letters from league managers and commissioners about Taysom Hill’s dual designation - at all, not until that huge Week 5 game. When others could giggle and poke fun at the person holding on or perhaps crossing their fingers for Taysom to produce, it as all fun and yucks - until some folks got popped in the fantasy mouth by 34-points.


So, again, what was the real issue? Was the issue more about people feeling like they missed out of something big?



By the way, Taysom Hill lined up primarily as a tight end Week 7. He played 18 snaps (25%), ran 10 routes, and caught the only pass thrown to him for a touchdown. What do suppose went down in leagues where a commissioner, who seemingly knew better than the Saints' coaching staff, and took it upon themselves to disallow Hill being played as a tight end? Would you like to have been a manager in that league with Hill, who may have had intentions of playing him as a tight end?


That’s why it was, and is important for commissioners to do the right thing and not be persuaded by self-interested protestations from league members. Additionaly, the platform a commissioner chooses to use, has established rules and player designations, and they should not get to whimsically pick and choose when they want to follow or  ignore them.


Remember …


Does anyone reading this right now remember when the Saints had Dan Arnold listed as a WR/TE? Arnold was a wide receiver at Wisconsin-Platteville, and listed as such on their roster. The Saints drafted him in 2018, and during camp, Sean Payton announced they were going to convert Arnold to tight end. As a result, Yahoo! gave him the dual WR/TE tag that first year.


He was used sparingly that season. There was never any outcry over Arnold. There were no rabid calls to ban the use of Arnold as a wide receiver. No one cared, because he didn’t have any fantasy value so folks just ignored that he existed. Just think what would’ve happened if he finally blew up in a game where he only played 23% of the snaps (vs Dallas), and a manager had played him in the wide receiver slot. Remember, Taysom Hill has only played over 26% of offensive snaps once this season.


… When?


Anyone remember Jaylen Samuels (RB/TE)? Marques Colston (TE/WR)? Joe Webb (QB/WR)? Let’s fast-forward to 2022. Why isn’t Fantasy Twitter up in arms about Jeff Driskel? Right now, today. Who? The Houston quarterback who, like Taysom Hill, also has a QB/TE designation. Feleipe Franks of the Falcons has the same QB/TE designation too. How about Ben Mason of the Ravens, who has him listed as a FB/TE? Yahoo! has him tagged as a RB/TE. Any noise about him? Nope.


Anyone in IDP leagues? On Yahoo!, L’jarius Sneed (S/CB), Danielle Hunter (LB/DE), and Denico Autry (DT/DE) are three examples of dual-position players. In leagues with non-flex slots, these players can be played in both slots. Is that okay? Is that fair?


What if Davis Mills goes down and Driskel plays? Are we going to do this dance all over again, where one person picks him up, plays him in the TE slot, and other league members start bellyaching about how unfair it is? Yeah, probably, but what isn’t fair, is for a commissioner to wait until someone becomes fantasy relevant to suddenly determine whether their dual designation actually matters. You can’t cherry pick how a player qualifies after the season has started.


There are a lot of players who will never rise to fantasy prominence. However, it never fails where every season, a player who isn’t on the collective radar of the crowd, will break out playing above all expectations. Some of these players will have a dual designation.


There are some commissioners who unfortunately, banned Taysom Hill from being played as a tight end. I would bet they haven’t done it for Jeff Driskel or for Feleipe Franks. Why should a commissioner get to apply the “Hybrid Ban” during the season only after a player becomes fantasy relevant?


It’s Not Your Call, God Commissioner


Commissioners have to make a choice. For me, there isn’t really a choice to be made. You let the designations stand, you don’t ban anything. Every league member has the same chance to do their homework and seek out players to draft. Some managers will purposefully seek out players that have a dual designation and determine if they’re worth drafting either to start or to stash, while others won’t. Some people put the work in. The players who miss out, don’t get to complain when someone else benefits.


Sometimes the designations make sense, admittedly, sometimes they don’t, but it’s not your place as a commissioner, to disregard a college player’s statistics and college career, to ignore Stats. Inc. or Elias Sports Bureau, and to dismiss the personnel decisions made by NFL organizations who draft these players, either on your on volition, or because people in your league are upset at someone else’s good fortune. Commissioners shouldn’t be in the business of enabling reactionary league members and facilitating the hijacking of established rules.

Now, let’s pretend that there is the option of playing God Commissioner.


As God Commissioner:


• Do you ban the use of all dual-eligibility players, from being drafted and rostered altogether?

• How do you decide which dual position you are going to restrict? What is this based on?

• How will you decide which hybrid players will lose half of their designation?

• Will your position restriction be applied on a case-by-case basis? If so, what criteria will you use?


Commissioner, is this how you want to run a league? Is this really the type of league you’d want to be in as a member?



Send your questions to The Commish: