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Agility Scores, Christine Michael, and Matt Forte


A couple of days ago, I introduced the Agility Score and discussed its potential use as a breakthrough metric for unearthing hidden gems at running back. In that article, I looked at Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell and explained why he’s a dead ringer for Doug Martin. Yesterday, our trip through the Similarity Score landscape discovered Zac Stacy and explained why he’s a better bet to be Ray Rice 2.0 than Giovani Bernard.

Both backs have a lot in common with Christine Michael. The former Texas A&M star ran hot and cold on campus, but his Combine was a tour de force of athleticism. When it was done, he’d jumped higher than any other RB prospect in history (43 inches). Unfortunately, most of the historical backs with 40-plus inch verticals have been either busts or non-prospects. (David Wilson, Ryan Williams, and Ben Tate are still hoping to redeem the explosive leapers.)

On the other hand, Michael posted the second lowest Agility Score of any true running back prospect in the Combine’s history. His 10.71 is well below the 11.1 threshold I’ve mentioned and second only to Roy Helu’s 10.68. Unlike the vertical, his lateral explosiveness puts him in good company.

In the set of comps I generated for Bell and Stacy, I focused on players with mediocre to poor Speed Scores. Although Michael didn’t record a mind-blowing Speed Score either, I’m focusing on more athletic backs here due to what I perceive as his freakish athleticism. (This doesn’t necessarily help his projection as it eliminates a guy like Ahmad Bradshaw and adds players like Roy Helu and Alex Green.)

I’ve included all backs above 215 pounds who posted an Agility Score below 11.1 and Speed Score above 95.

Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Christine Michael Texas A&M 2791 5.3 34 44 220 4.54 103.6 10.71
Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Roy Helu Nebraska 3404 5.9 28 54 219 4.4 116.9 10.68
Anthony Allen Georgia Tech 3036 5.6 33 33 228 4.56 105.5 10.85
Doug Martin Boise State 3431 5.6 43 67 223 4.55 104.1 10.95
DeShaun Foster UCLA 3049 4.4 39 57 222 4.57 101.8 10.98
Delone Carter Syracuse 3104 4.8 24 28 222 4.54 104.5 10.99
Stevan Ridley Louisiana State 1419 4.6 19 17 225 4.65 96.2 10.99
Ben Tate Auburn 3321 4.9 24 53 220 4.34 124.0 11.03
Alex Green Hawaii 1652 7.1 20 38 225 4.45 114.8 11.06
Matt Forte’ Tulane 4265 5.1 39 103 217 4.44 111.7 11.07

There’s a lot of overlap between Bell, Stacy, and Michael. I’ve discussed Martin, Foster, Carter, and Ridley at length in the previous two articles. As with the other two players, the Martin comparison seems especially valid and definitely intriguing.

Here we’ve added Helu, Ben Tate, Alex Green, and Matt Forte. Tate and Forte are two more excellent comps. Based on college results and schedule strength, you could make a pretty good argument that Michael was more efficient than either of them. Forte finished with quite a few more receptions, but one of the strengths of Agility Score is that it helps project passing down usage at the NFL level. Michael could be a version of Matt Forte who doesn’t struggle at the goal line.

Helu and Green are already being labeled as busts, but both exist as excellent arbitrage opportunities for reality GMs and fantasy owners alike. My research strongly suggests the ability to generate yards before contact takes a big jump between a player’s first and second seasons. Although Helu and Green have both completed two NFL seasons, injuries have limited their opportunities to deal with this learning curve and come out the other side. Washington and Green Bay appear to be souring on these two size/speed/agility phenoms without giving them enough snaps to truly develop.

Christine Michael’s Dynasty Value

Michael is the easily the best athlete in the 2013 RB crop, and his on-field production has been dynamic. The efficiency numbers, touchdown percentage, and total receptions all bolster his projection. Based purely on performance, he would be solidly on the first round radar. Unfortunately for Michael, character concerns are likely to push him well down in the reality draft.

Michael will obviously appeal most to the free-wheeling gunslingers in your dynasty league, but he should also appeal to those who are set at wide receiver. 2013 rookie drafts will not be stocked with the kind of talent that creates a significant opportunity cost in selecting Michael.

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