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CHANGES FOR 2004

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These changes come into play for everyone at the start of 2004. They're minor changes that have arisen because of the work in progress, but they apply in all leagues and not just the experimental ones.

PLAYER NAMES

The "Names" section has been removed from draftsheets, and you can no longer enter shirt numbers and names for the players you sign during the draft. They'll be named and numbered automatically (the same as they are if you leave them blank, as many of you do). You can still change names and numbers using the special actions in training camp or later: there are normally plenty of these to spare.

The main reason for this is the number of changes we'd have to make so as to include them in the online draftsheets. It's one section of the draftsheet that requires game data (so we know who you signed, and how many you signed, to allow you to name them) and the website can't see the game data. We don't want the rules to be different for online players and postal players.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

There are two new special actions. These work ONLY in minicamp. RA renames ALL the players on your roster according to the current data roster (which isn't necessarily up to date, of course, but probably won't be more than one season out). The RN action tries to fill out the no-name no-star guys but leaves the names already on your rosters alone (it doesn't work 100% of the time, because it can't use the shirt numbers it wants if you've got them already allocated to other players).

For both these actions, whichever line you enter them you should find the software changes the order and processes them last. But a good idea would be to put them last in the order anyway.

As ever, don't do anything that changes the shirt number of a player the same turn you try to make any other action on the same player. You don't know which order they'll be processed.

QUARTERBACKS

I've added a rule that you cannot waive your starting QB (which people only do when they're trying to play in the cracks between the rules: there are no footballing reasons for waiving your starting quarterback except when you're replacing him with his backup or someone new). You'll still be able to replace your starting QB by using a conditional waiver and signing a replacement (if you're in a league where conditional waivers are available) or by demoting him in favour of his backup and waiving him from the BQ slot.

WAIVERS

Players signed in the draft can no longer be waived in minicamp. This is partly because you don't know what their shirt numbers will be and partly because it's a common way of making a mess. They can still be waived in training camp. Apologies if this cause inconvenience to anyone by being introduced immediately without preamble, but it's part of the package.

SITUATION NAMES

I've increased the number of characters you can enter in situation names in the advanced game from eight to nine (so you can now enter names like "1ST SHORT" when you previously had to make do with "1STSHORT" or "1ST SHRT" etc).

DEFENCE FORMATIONS

In the advanced game I've increased the number of characters you can enter in the formations column from four to five, so you can list five formations to be included (eg. "BCDLS" for the shotgun and spread formations) or four to be excluded (eg. "XIJUT" to exclude the heavy run formations).

ROSTERS

The layout of roster listings has changed a bit, since the amount of information needed for each player has expanded to the point that we couldn't fit everything. So the "status" column has been added with a key to show what the different things mean. The key shows the codes for conditional free agents and conditional waivers even in leagues where those rules don't apply. Didn't seem worth writing two different versions.

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