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Christine Michael: The Redwood Hot Tub of Trade Chips

michael

Archer: “New hot tub. 50 jets. Hand honed California Redwood. No big deal.”
Burt Reynolds: “The California Redwood is endangered.”
Archer: “So. I already got my tub.”

A few weeks ago, Tywin RotoViz dropped a post on what to do about the possibilities of trading Josh Gordon in light of his recent transgressions. That case wasn’t your classic buy low or sell high transparency that we normally see in fantasy football, which is why it was special. We had already had  taste of just how productive Gordon was for fantasy, but what about players we don’t even really know are special yet?

That was a pretty loose transition to the player I’m getting at, which is Christine Michael. Today, Michael is pretty much good furniture, like Archer’s hot tub. His current owner is the guy who bought a Playstation 4 when it released but doesn’t play video games. He just wants to show it off. There may be a time he uses it, but right now it’s window dressing.

Fellow RotoVizian Andrew Cohen has already written a piece on why the time to pick up Michael is now and James Todd has had him on the radar since last July for plenty of good reasons that include Michael’s crazy athleticism, to the possibility of the incumbent Marshawn Lynch being released next offseason. Michael’s trade value is already pretty near its ceiling and this is a guy that only had 18 carries as a rookie, all of which came when the game was way out hand. While both raise good points on why you should buy at his iron price, let’s at least explore the idea of why there may not be a more ideal time to sell.

New Ben Tate

There hasn’t been a handcuff as popular as Michael is now since Ben Tate. For years, owners sat on Tate in dynasty waiting for him to be unleashed, and now that he has, no one even seems to care. Before we had Michael and his alluring measurables that we are dying to see get undressed, Tate was that same player for many.

Player

Year

Pick

Age

Ht

Wt

BMI

40YD

Vert

Broad

20YS

3C

Michael

2013

62

22

70

220

31.6

4.54

43

125

4.02

6.69

Tate

2010

58

22

71

220

30.7

4.34

40.5

124

4.12

6.91

Both trade off agility and speed while being equal in terms of explosion and both were taken at similar points in the draft. Of course, Arian Foster came along and kept the window closed for Tate, while Michael seemingly has doors being opened for him. But there’s one thing Tate holds as a trump card here: he was productive exiting college.

Player

College

Year

Gs

Carries

Yards

YPC

TDs

Catches

Att/Gm

Ydgs/GM

Michael

Texas A&M

2012

11

88

417

4.7

12

8

8.00

37.91

Tate

Auburn

2009

13

263

1362

5.2

10

20

20.23

104.77

I may be the only one concerned that Michael was relegated to being a short yardage back behind Ben Malena, a player that just went undrafted this current offseason, but I’m often on islands. Michael had a falling out with the coaching staff, got frustrated and was even ejected from a game for punching another player. Even before that 2012 season, he never ran for more than 899 yards in a season due to injuries.

Final Year Production and The Future

Final seasons in college are important indicators for probability of future success. Michael himself has never even had an elite college season, even though we believe he’s going to be a slam dunk RB1 in the pros. How rare is it for a back to have such an unproductive final season and then become a future NFL star?

There have been 37 backs selected since 2001 that have failed to end their college careers with a one thousand yard rushing season. Sure, that’s an arbitrary cutoff, but we’re just looking for a ballpark of the playing field.

PlayerCollegeYearPickAgeGsYardsYPCTDsAtt/GmYdgs/GMTop 30 NFL Yrs
Frank GoreMiami (FL)20056521129454.8816.478.758
Maurice Jones-DrewUCLA20066020129144.91315.576.177
Ronnie BrownAuburn2005223129133812.876.085
Joseph AddaiLousiana State20063022139114.9914.470.083
Brandon JacobsSouthern Illinois200511022129926.61912.582.672
Jahvid BestUCLA2010302098676.11215.796.331
Lamont JordanMaryland20014922119204.31119.483.641
Brandon JacksonNebraska20076321149895.3813.470.641
Justin FargasSouthern California20039622127154.4713.459.581
Leon WashingtonFlorida State200611723114304.438.839.091
Christine MichaelTexas A&M20136222114174.7128.037.910
James DavisClemson200919523137514.41113.257.770
Wali LundyVirginia2006170221157441013.152.180
Michael SmithUtah St.201221223138707.698.866.920
Cory ByrdSouth Carolina200823822129035915.075.250
Maurice MorrisOregon20025422109605.7816.996.000
Jamie HarperClemson201113021134603.9715.235.380
Cedric PeermanVirginia200918522117745.1713.970.360
Andre BrownNorth Carolina State200912923137674.4713.559.000
Chris HenryArizona20075021115813.5715.052.820
Kolby SmithLouisville200714822138625.6711.866.310
Correll BuckhalterNebraska200112122114507.179.640.910
Mike JamesMiami (FL)201318922126214.2612.351.750
DeShawn WynnFlorida200722823127014.9611.858.420
Chris ThompsonFlorida State20131542286877.5511.485.880
Theo RiddickNotre Dame201319922139174.8514.670.540
Edwin BakerMichigan St.201225020146653.9512.147.500
Allen BradfordSouthern California201118722117677510.069.730
Da'Rel ScottMaryland201122122137085.859.454.460
Mike GoodsonTexas A&M200911121104064.359.440.600
Chris OgbonnayaTexas20092112212373546.231.080
Thomas ClaytonKansas St.20071862596374.6415.270.780
Lorenzo BookerFlorida State20077122136164.3411.047.380
Chris RaineyFlorida201215923128615214.371.750
LaBrandon ToefieldLouisiana St.20031322294754.1212.952.780
Rock CartwrightKansas St.200225722112924.426.026.550
Alfred BlueLSU20141812410343117.429.800

Out of those 37 backs, only ten went on to post a top 30 PPR season and only five did it multiple times. Out of those five, Ronnie Brown and Joseph Addai were first round selections. Brandon Jacobs was selected far later on, but he only did it twice. The two best players are Frank Gore and Maurice Jones-Drew, who have gone on to be staples of fantasy football production for the past decade. Both of those backs were also selected right at the same spot of the draft as Michael even though both were also younger entering the draft. While those are two beaming beacons of hope that didn’t share the same physical gifts as Michael, the entire outlook isn’t really endearing.

Opportunity can trump all at the running back position. Michael has never had a true workhorse season in his football career, and is now playing for an offensive coordinator that has given his lead running back 280 carries or more in seven of his eight seasons calling plays. If he’s capable of that taking that on, it may not even matter if he’s efficient, he’ll succeed on volume.

The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing for those who own a player, that is as highly regarded as Michael is, when involved in trade talks. No one wants to trade away the next potential superstar. As of today, there’s little room for Michael’s trade value to really ascend within dynasty circles, even with the release of Lynch at this point. But there’s a lot of room for it to collapse. I’m not suggesting you have to move him if you own him, but this is a rare sell high moment that isn’t as see through as the usual selling high, because there are really more truths to Michael not being good than there are that he is good at this point.  If you can’t get the value you desire in return, at least you own good furniture for when you have guests.

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