Monday, July 8, 2013

Big Boys and Hipsters: A look at draft day steals and over-rated players

Hello all,

It has been a ridiculously long time since my last post, mainly because other things such as 'parenting' or 'yardwork' or 'vacation' happening the past two weeks.  Lucky for you, while doing said yardwork or driving home from vacation, I had plenty of time to think about fantasy football!

As parents out there can attest, road trips are memorable, fun experience that you usually don't realize are fun and memorable until you've been home for a few days.  Alas, the title of this blog came to me after several failed attempts to go out to eat with my 15 month old son.  I had been excited to try several trendy bars or microbreweries in the hopes of having a nice cold one after a fun day with the kids, only to find that 15 month olds do not like trendy bars or microbreweries.  15 month olds like to scream and wander the restaurant, make an ill-fated attempt to fly down flights of stairs or run into the waitstaff in a kamikaze effort to be removed from the restaurant.  However, what do 15 month olds love?  Fast food restaurants.  For some reason, the allure of fluorescent lights, pubescent teens taking orders and ketchup packets make kids calm and happy.  What was my son's favorite destination over the course of a 3-day vacation?  Big Boy.  That's right, the quintessential sign of America's love of greasy food and its effects on the circumference of our waists.  My wife and I had to pry our son off of the Big Boy statue because our son would not stop affectionately hugging his new best friend. 

So what does this have to do with fantasy football?  Why, it's only the greatest analogy between sports and food ever to be made, that's what!

This was my first trip to Big Boy, and I must say, it hit the spot.  I had low expectations, wasn't expecting much in return, and actually had an enjoyable experience.  I liken Big Boy to a player you draft in a later round without much expectation, only to see them perform far beyond your expectations.  We shall call these players Big Boys.

On the other hand, the hip places I attempted to go to, only to experience utter failure, I shall use to discuss those players who you hold in high regard prior to your fantasy draft.  You have high hopes that they hold the key to fantasy glory, only to draft them and watch as your team continues to have the highest projected points each week and lose to that random person you added to your league just to round it up to an even number of players.  We shall call these players Hipsters, partly because of hip restaurants, but also because we all have a negative connotation of real-life hipsters, so let's keep that bitter taste in our mouths.

So, let's get the bad news out of the way:  The Hipsters

1.  Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
Ok, let's get something out of the way from the get go.  Being a Hipster doesn't mean you won't be an effective player.  Alfred seems like a nice young man, probably my favorite running back ever named Alfred to play in the NFL.  However, people have this guy ranked in the Top 10 of ALL players heading into drafts, and that is just too high.

Why you ask?  Sure, there are the issues regarding his coach and his love of using any man off the street to be his starting RB at a moment's notice, and somehow having success doing this (anyone know what Selvin Young, Mike Anderson, Mike Bell, Tatum Bell, Reuben Droughns, Travis Henry, Peyton Hillis, Evan Royster, Ryan Torain or Roy Helu are up to?).

There's also the fact that the Redskins have discussed using RGIII more as a passer to preserve his health, which means more passing plays.  Morris was only targeted 16 times last year in the backfield, which can obviously change, but regardless, less running plays is less running plays.

However, here's the kicker.  In looking at many top fantasy RB's over the past five years, I have noticed a major trend: Any RB who exceeds 300 rushing attempts in a season sees a decline in their rushing yardage the next year.  4 years ago, Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN wrote a great article about why people should be leery of Michael Turner because he exceeded the magic number of 370 carries, which he goes on to demonstrate as the forbidden number of attempts for RBs.  I will spare you all of the details, because you can check these people's stats on your own, but the following players, many of whom were quite dominant in fantasy at one point or another (or still are) have all seen their rushing yards and attempts decrease following a season of 300 or more carries:  Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Michael Turner, Matt Forte, Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson.  The only person I saw actually have an INCREASE in rushing yards (by 144 yards) was Ray Rice from 2010-2011.

How many attempts did Morris have last year?  335.  The only running backs with 300 or more carries last year were Morris, as well as Foster, Peterson, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch.  Now, even if AP or Arian Foster or Marshawn Lynch have a down year next year, it probably won't be as precipitous a fall as other backs may experience.  These guys have been consistent for at least two consecutive seasons, and there is no way you can't draft them if the opportunity arises.  But I would be hesitant with Morris and Martin, or possibly offer them as trade bait.  I feel that I need to see at least one more good year out of these two before I take a first/second round gamble on them.  I am reminded of how Ryan Mathews was considered a first/second round draft pick his first two years in the league, and yeah, I am still wondering why I drafted a guy who doesn't even have two t's in his last name when spelling 'Matthew.'

I will continue with posts on Big Boys and Hipsters soon.  My son took 3 hours to fall asleep yesterday (he had an accidental five minute nap in the car, which somehow recharged him and convinced him that he didn't need sleep) so a longer night's sleep is very much in order.  Until next time,

Davey Dave

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