I got an e-mail recently asking about ratings for emergency fill-in players for SECOND SEASON Pro Football Game. "What ratings do you use if a position has been so ravaged by injuries that you're forced to play a player out of position? I imagine some positions can be swapped seamlessly (EA and EB for example, or A and D) and some maybe with just a small penalty, but for some there's no symmetrical alternative. It seems simple enough to use Pass/Run ratings of 0, but what about the skill positions? For example, what's the Q rating of a wide receiver forced to play quarterback?”
The easiest way to handle this problem is to simply ignore injuries beyond what's provided for on the team cards/sheets and fringe player list. However, if you want a truly open-ended result in your tabletop football adventures (which is personally what I prefer), here are some guidelines you can use for filling in "injury-ravaged" positions.
As was alluded to in the e-mail, many positions can be swapped seamlessly. Generally speaking, you can move players to similar positions (A-D, E-G on defense; EA-EB, offensive line on offense, etc.) with no penalty. For many teams, this has already been taken into consideration, with a reserve player showing up in multiple position boxes.
If you're using modern teams, it's not unreasonable to assume that there are players available on the sideline who are not specifically listed on the team sheet. First, check the "fringe player" list that came with the season. If there's no one there who can fill in, you can use a "generic" (un-named) player, rated 0 / 0. For teams from earlier eras with smaller rosters, it would make sense that the team could be forced to play someone out of position if no position players are available due to injuries. A case could possibly be made that in earlier eras a talented player playing out of position might not be downgraded much, or at all (think Chuck Bednarik). It's impossible to make a blanket rule here. Rather, I'll leave it to your common sense. Assuming you're using a back-up player to play out of position, you'd rate such players the same as a "generic" player, 0 / 0, regardless of what ratings they might have for their played-for position. If you're moving a starter out of position—say you're going to have Jerry Kramer play defensive end—maybe you can be a little more generous.
Beyond that, here are some letter grade guidelines for out-of-position players...
* For these players, if an R result is called for, the pass is incomplete.
** generally speaking, most teams have an "emergency" kicker to cover in the case of injury; usually, it's the punter. Similarly, the kicker will usually punt if the punter gets hurt.
Hopefully this will help guide you in a pinch! And, of course, these are only guidelines. It would be impossible to create a ratings scheme that takes every nuance of emergency fill-in performance into account. Sometimes a player performs unexpectedly well in an emergency role! Dallas safety Jeff Heath turned in a memorable performance as emergency kicker when Dan Bailey went down a couple seasons ago. Most NFL fans are familiar with the heroics of Tom Matte and Brian Mitchell as fill-in passers. But maybe the best emergency performance of all-time was when New York Jets punter Tom Tupa took over at quarterback for the injured Vinny Testaverde on opening day of the 1999 season.
Questions? Comments? Contact us—we're always happy to help!