Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, and Seven More Offseason Observations
Photo via Chris Darwin/Flickr
Photo via Chris Darwin/Flickr

Levine Toilolo

Levine Toilolo is expected to be the starting TE in Atlanta. This is the second report that says as much. Obviously there’s a lot to play out yet, but Toilolo should be on the radar as a late round flyer / trade throw in type. Not a great athlete, but he is pretty good in the red zone. His red zone production, as a college prospect, is comparable to some higher-touted prospects:

That production holds its own, and that might be important. Here are the NFL RZTDRTs for Atlanta’s primary receivers (since 2008, more than 25 targets):

  • Levine Toilolo, 33% N/A
  • Roddy White, 23%, rank 88
  • Julio Jones, 26%, rank 66
  • Jacquizz Rodgers, 14% N/A
  • Harry Douglas, 9%, rank 163
  • Steven Jackson, 7%, rank 169

OK, Toilolo’s percentage is based on a really small sample (2 TDs on 6 targets). But you get the idea: White is aging, Jones is recovering from injury, neither is a superior RZ TD producer, and it goes downhill fast after them. Toilolo seems to have a good opportunity to be a red zone specialist. Keep him on your late round radar.

Marshawn Lynch

John Clayton says Marshawn Lynch is a candidate to be cut in 2015. No shit. Shawn Siegele said as much last year. Andrew Cohen revisited the topic more recently, with some solid salary cap analysis. Maybe see if you can swap into Montee Ball, Sex Machine before Beast Mode goes Least Mode. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Cordarelle Patterson

Two-thirds of Cordarelle Patterson’s targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. And almost half of those came behind the line of scrimmage. There’s definitely a case to be made for Patterson’s break out. But it doesn’t include him being a “vertical threat.” Using just the second half of last season, the WR App gives him a decent WR2-ish projection.

Patterson Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 3.4 4.5 5.6
Median 6 7.9 10
High 8.6 10.9 13.6

But check out some of his unbelievable comparables, which give some hope for his eventual success. If you like Patterson but his price is too rich, try some RotoViz Arbitrage and target Jordan Matthews instead.

Matt Forte (and Marquess Wilson)

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and newly acquired Josh Morgan are great blockers. The trio each place in the top 13 for WR blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. What does this mean? First of all, I don’t think it means much of anything for Marquess Wilson, whom you should still try to acquire ASAP. If anything, see if the cost to acquire him drops with news of the Morgan signing.

But the addition of Morgan hints at something the Bears really value: blocking! (#Analysis). I bring this up because I love Matt Forte (in a strictly football way). This offseason, RotoViz has highlighted the surprising chink in Forte’s armor, and suggested shooting him like Old Yeller trading him now while the opportunity exists. While both of those links provide great insight into Forte’s situation, I think you could easily justify holding on to Forte if you’re in a “championship window.” His projections for the upcoming year are solid, Chicago seems to value blocking for the run game, and even 85% of really good is still pretty good. I might be grasping at straws here.

Strength of Schedule

Projected strength of schedule really has nothing to do with actual strength of schedule. As Scott Kacsmar demonstrated on twitter, the correlation between the projected and actual is 0.045, which is essentially meaningless. Two takeaways: don’t let “projected strength of schedule” factor in to your player projections and fantasy targets. And don’t waste time taking a team defense before the final round(s) of your drafts (go ahead, take team defense before kicker if you want).

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Austin Seferian Jenkins has recovered from foot surgery. That’s good news. While we still don’t have complete combine drill information for him, the assumption of good health going forward should help his draft stock. It will also move him up to second in my Rookie TE Rankings. While I also really like Jace Amaro, I’m sticking with Eric Ebron as my top TE prospect. Here’s why: applying the same logic used when I examined Ebron’s catch rate, let’s compare ASJ and Amaro using the College Career Graphs App:

We see they have a very similar YPT in their final season, which suggests that they were being used in a similar fashion, which in turn suggests we can reasonably compare the rest of their production in an “apples to apples” manner (which we may not be able to do with Ebron). In that case, ASJ clearly dominates Amaro in RZTDR and the market share categories. Look for Team RotoViz to have full rookie rankings out in the next week or so.

Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr rumored to be drafted in first 20 picks. I know, I know, it’s silly season. But he was also invited to the NFL draft “green room” which suggests the NFL thinks he’ll be drafted early too. A few thoughts. First, if he does go in the mid to late first round, that validates our set of comparables for him. Much of our other OBJ focused content also assumes a first round grade, so our impressions of him (for now) seem to be firming up. Of course, that content will tell you that, even though he compares favorably to Golden Tate,  we like Brandin Cooks better. Heck, we might even like Donte Moncrief better. For that matter, I think Jarvis Landry is better. All of this is to say that I think OBJ is shaping up to be over drafted, which will likely lead to lots of disappointed fantasy owners. Don’t be one.

Doug Martin

Jeff Tedford: Not a RB Whisperer. I enjoyed this article by @ashermolk over at Apex football, in large part because he works in some “percentages” or “market shares” when examining the role of RBs in Tedford’s offenses. I encourage you to read the full post, but the gist is that, historically anyway, Tedford has not utilized RBs in the pass game much at all. The obvious implication here is that this could be bad news for Doug Martin owners. As an experiment, I plugged Martin’s age, weight, and career production averages into the RB Sim Lab App. Here’s Martin’s very healthy 2014 projection:

Martin Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 12.4 13.7 14.8
Median 15.2 16.3 17.4
High 17.6 19.5 20.9

But that includes 25 yards/game receiving. What if the “Tedford Effect” drops that to say, 15 receiving yards/game? We get this revised projection:

Martin Revised Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 8.9 9.8 10.8
Median 10.6 11.6 12.7
High 12.7 14.3 15.8

That’s a five point/game drop across the board in PPR formats. Martin is currently a fringe first rounder in fantasy drafts. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to any news about how Tampa Bay plans to deploy Martin.

Geno Smith

At least one guy I respect thinks Geno Smith will be the Jets’ starting QB. Is that a ludicrous idea? I don’t think so. For one thing, Vick last appeared in all 16 games of a season in 2006. Since then he’s gone 12, 12, 13, 10, and 7. His completion percentage has dropped 4 straight years, as have his passing TDs and TD percentage. Before spiking in 2013, all of his yards/attempts metrics had also declined three straight years. So even though Smith had a horrific rookie season, it’s not like the Jets went out and signed Peyton Manning. The Jets did spend a fair bit of money to sign Vick, but I wouldn’t read too much into that; they still have a whopping $23 million in salary cap space, so they could have spent a lot more, if they really wanted to “guarantee” Vick as the starter.

I think there’s some merit to the idea that an improvement in his supporting cast will help Geno’s performance. While his ultimate upside is questionable, he has already demonstrated some big play ability, including 5 game winning drives. Since he’s essentially undrafted in redraft leagues, and is the 30th QB in dynasty startups, he’s a no risk acquisition. Last season he attempted only 443 passes (19th overall). Given the acquisitions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, it might be reasonably assumed that the Jets will pass more often this season. If Geno does earn the starting nod, there’s a good chance he’s a streaming option at the least.



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