Fantasy Football Ghost Ship

The term "ghost ship" in fantasy football refers to a team that has been abandoned by its manager. Managers who abandon their teams are generally looked at in a negative light and are not extended an invite to join the league the following season.

How to Identify a Ghost Ship

Managers may choose to abandon their teams for a variety of reasons, with the most common listed below:

  • The team has no chance of making the playoffs, prompting the manager to stop maintaining the team in the middle of the fantasy season
  • The manager is a "draft day dasher" who enjoys the drafting aspect of fantasy football but becomes disinterested once the season starts
  • The manager experiences several injuries or instances of players underperforming in a short period of time, causing a loss of faith in the team's ability to succeed

Problems with Ghost Ships

Abandoned teams can cause a number of issues throughout the league. Firstly, an abandoned team tends to provide the opponent with an easy victory, as owners who stop checking their teams tend to leave injured players in the lineup that do not count towards the team's weekly point output. Secondly, ghost ship teams disrupt the flow of transactions that takes place during the fantasy football season, as requests to trade for players residing on the abandoned team are often ignored.

Failure to respond to trade requests and pull injured players from the starting lineup creates an imbalance that impacts virtually every other member of the league. It prevents teams from trading for players they need to improve their lineups, as well as gives some teams an unfair advantage if the ghost ship has several players on a 'bye week' for a given matchup (bye week is used to refer to a scheduled week off for real-life teams, in which no game is played).

Dealing with Abandoned Teams

While most managers that abandon their teams are simply not extending an invite to the league in the future, there are two ways to deal with abandoned teams immediately:

  • The commissioner of the league can force trade requests to be accepted on behalf of the owner that has abandoned the team, so long as the majority of league members agree that the trade is fair.
  • The host site (Yahoo, ESPN, NFL, etc.) can be contacted and informed of the situation, at which point the abandoned team's players will be released into free agency and claimed by other teams. This process is governed by a priority order, which takes each team's record into account and gives struggling teams first priority over a player.