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Week 1, Christine Michael, and Tom Brady’s Balls: The Position Report (2015)

Welcome to The Position Report, the weekly column in which I will humor myself and maybe a few of you by looking at the NFL franchises and coming up with something to say. Some of the time, what I say might even be (ir)relevant.

If you’re looking for actionable information, you should probably stop reading. Otherwise, read on—but remember that I gave you fair warning.

Dallas Cowboys

It’s a well-kept secret that Trent Richardson and Montee Ball host a regular poker game. They invite lots of other running backs in the league to attend. Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy have a standing invitation, but they’ve never attended. Doug Martin is rumored to be a regular. (Alfred Morris has never been invited.) Mark Ingram once showed up, took a look around, got a weird feeling, and left after shaking a few hands.

The strange thing about this poker game is that no one ever wins. Everyone who plays loses. Money just seems to vanish into thin air. At the end of the night, when everyone goes to count their chips . . . they have no chips. That makes no sense, but it’s true. For these running backs, it literally is less than a zero-sum game. It’s the kind of quirk that would’ve been sung about in “Hotel California.”

Here’s the reason I mention this: Right now, Christine Michael has been sitting at an aggressive table of high-stakes players for sixteen hours straight, he’s holding ace king suited, and he’s going all in.

He can check out anytime he likes, but he can never leave.

Buffalo Bills

There are lots of successful signal callers who do nothing in the NFL for a few years before becoming starters. They’re called “college quarterbacks”—and one of them will be starting for the Bills next year.

Kansas City Chiefs

If you go to PlayerProfiler.com and search for Knile Davis, you will see that the player to whom he is most comparable is Ronnie Brown, who is comparable to Andre Brown, comparable to Trent Richardson, to Toby Gerhart, back to Andre Brown, to Richardson, to Gerhart, and so on.

1) The slippery slope is real—and it leads to the deepest circle of hell.
2) Trade Davis immediately.

Philadelphia Eagles

This is just a reminder that in 2013, the Eagles were ninth in the NFL in yards passing.

Last year, they were sixth.

“F*cking score points,” indeed—but a team needs to be able to move the ball down the field to score those points. The Eagles have been able to move the ball the last two years with a quarterbacking threesome of Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, and Michael Vick, and I don’t see how Sam Bradford, as long as he’s playing, can’t be at least as good as those guys.

It’s just a question as to how long he’ll be playing.

As a side note: When you picture Terrell Owens, what jersey is he wearing? Is there anyone in the Hall of Fame right now who, when entering, just said, “F*ck it, I never really liked any of my teammates or the teams I played for. I was basically in it just for myself, and I still had a badass career. I don’t need to be affiliated with a team”?—because when TO eventually gets into the HOF I could see him saying, “Nah, I’m not going in as a Cowboy, or an Eagle, or a 49er—and definitely not a Bill or a Bengal. I’m above all that. I’m TO! I’m entering the Hall of Fame as a Free Agent—because I can still play in the NFL.”

Seriously: TO in the HOF as a free agent. This makes too much sense for it ever to happen, but it would be the purest way of representing what his career was all about.

Washington Whatevers

Dan Snyder is the TO of owners. That dude just destroys teams. Of course, it’s always the same franchise that he’s destroying, year after year, over and over and over . . . but, still—he’s the TO of owners.

Also, there’s this—

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

From now on, I shall refer to this franchise as the Washington Reds. I like tying the communist undertones of that nickname to our nation’s capital. It just seems appropriate.

Also, when I say “Reds,” I’m referring to the color of their socks, which are in the red spectrum of the color wheel.

Does this work for everyone?

Carolina Panthers

To honor the fallen Kelvin Benjamin, I would like to catalogue a few highlights of his all-too-brief career:

  • K-Benjy drops a pass.
  • K-Benjy catches a touchdown in garbage time.
  • K-Benjy drops a pass.

I’m glad that we took the time to do this. I needed closure.

Arizona Cardinals

Why is it popular to bag on K-Benjy for being old when John Brown, who entered the NFL at the same time and is a year older, is praised as a potential breakout candidate? Is it because people simply dislike Benjamin’s athletic profile and playing style but know that they can’t say that and so they instead use the age concern as their justification for fading him?

Man, f*ck the fantasy age-police.

Also, where I come from, bigger, faster, younger, durable, more productive RBs who are better receivers and drafted with the 86th pick eventually overtake smaller, slower, older, fragile, less productive RBs who are worse receivers and drafted 101 picks later. That might sound f*cked up, but it’s true.

David Johnson would have to be an uncharacteristically bad third-round pick for him not to replace Andre Ellington as the starter within a year.

By the way, where I come from originally is Texas, if that makes a difference. I’m straight outta Compton.

Oakland Raiders

Last weekend, I saw the Dr. Dre & Ice Cube propaganda flick—and even though I knew that what I was watching was an extensively revised and slanted version of history—I left that movie totally convinced of one thing:

The Raiders need to move back to Los Angeles.

Rap music has not been the same since they returned to Oakland after the 1994 season.

And Amari Cooper would be great in LA. He’s basically the Dre of wide receivers. He might look all young, innocent, and kind—but that dude has some anger to his game.

Speaking of which—

Los Angeles Chargers

A special message from the NFL . . .

New York Giants

Let’s go through this one more time. For everyone who has an issue with the sample size of Odell Beckham, Jr.’s 12-game rookie campaign, I have a solution for you.

Add four games to it.

Just pretend that last year, instead of catching 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs in 12 games, OBJ did that in 16 games—and then project his 2015 production from there.

But if even that four-game discount isn’t good enough for you, I don’t know what to say. Wanting OBJ to suck will not make him suck. The only thing likely to stop him within the next few years will be either his quarterback or his health.

THE GLSP GETAWAY

Do you find this column tedious? Do you ever wish that you could just get away from the inanity of the typical Freedman article? If so, then YOU’RE IN LUCK!

Each week in the Position Report I will set aside some space to bring you something other than the usual drivel. Instead, I will look at some players whose GLSP projections intrigue me.

Green Bay Packers

In Week 1, Davante Adams is likely to see 5-11 targets, based on how quarterback Aaron Rodgers has historically distributed the ball.

Per the WR GLSP App, that would give Adams this Week 1 projection against the Bears:

Adams STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 4.4 6.6 8.4
Median 7.8 10.6 13.3
High 15.4 18.6 21.7

That median score is respectable, but it’s probably not as high as people think it should be. For instance, the site’s writers have projected Adams for 15.4 pts. this week in PPR formats. I also like Adams a lot, but . . .

For instance—

Miami Dolphins

Let’s assume that Jarvis Landry also gets 5-11 targets in Week 1:

Landry STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 9 13 16.9
Median 13.8 16.5 19
High 15.9 19.2 22.9

And the RotoViz writers have projected Landry for 14.0 pts. in PPR formats. It’s not a lock that Landry outperforms Adams, but Landry is probably the safer play. I doubt that most of the RotoViz crew would agree with that statement.1

Baltimore Ravens

And now let’s assume that, with Breshad Perriman out, Steve Smith., Sr., will be targeted 6-12 times, as he was in 12 games last year:

Smith STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 3.5 5.9 7.2
Median 5.6 7.6 9.6
High 8.6 11.6 14.6

1) This is what getting old looks like.
2) RotoViz writers have projected 15.4 PPR pts. for Smith—exactly the same as their projection for Adams. I really don’t even know what to say. I had no idea we were such fans of the undead.

San Francisco 49ers

But if we’re really going to be talking about the undead . . .

Boldin STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 2.4 3.4 4.4
Median 7.2 9.9 12.7
High 12 15.2 18

1) Holy sh*t. Look at that high projection. Any given week, Boldin is still capable of turning back the clock and playing like “Q.”
2) No one else with that high of a high projection has that low of a low projection. Boldin tends to hover closest to the median projection, but that low score throws some shade on the idea that Boldin is a high-floor investment.

Atlanta Falcons

Jones STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 7.2 9.5 12.7
Median 11.3 14.6 17.8
High 17.8 21.5 25.1

This year, Jones has a chance to dethrone Iglesias and become the King of the Julios—and it could all start with this game.

Minnesota Vikings

In Week 1, Adrian Peterson is likely to have 10-30 touches. That’s a huge range, but it’s safe. If one looks at games no earlier than the 2013 season, the RB GLSP App gives AD this Week 1 projection:

Peterson STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 6.8 8.3 9.3
Median 10.4 11.6 12.6
High 16.7 18.1 19.2

The RotoViz writers have projected Peterson for 17.2 PPR pts. So we are relatively high on Peterson, but . . .

Seattle Seahawks

Let’s assume that Marshawn Lynch will also get 10-30 touches in Week 1:

Lynch STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 8.8 10.7 11.4
Median 12.8 13.4 14.4
High 15 16.3 17.5

The RotoViz writers have projected Lynch for 17.8 PPR pts., not only above his high GLSP score but also above their projection for AD, who of the two has the superior high projection—and the writers are clearly shooting for ceilings with these rankings. DraftKings has AD salaried at $7,700 and Lynch at $7,300. If a preeminent daily fantasy sports site and GLSP are pushing one direction and we are pushing against them in the opposite direction, the odds are decent that we end up on our asses. – Cordially, Dissenting Costanzan.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Based on what Doug Martin has done in the last two years in games in which he had 10-30 touches, here’s what we can expect out of him this week:

Martin STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 5.8 6.7 7.5
Median 9.3 9.8 10.1
High 17.3 17.8 18.2

That’s decent, but would you say that it’s any better than . . .

New York Giants (Revisited)

Vereen STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 5.6 6.4 7.4
Median 8.9 12.6 16.2
High 16.7 18.5 20.2

That’s what Shane Vereen has done in the last two years in his 12 games with 8-18 touches. Martin is $4,500 on DraftKings; Vereen, $4,200.

Detroit Lions

On the basis of what Calvin Johnson did last year in the 11 games he started when actually healthy and not playing a decoy, here’s his Week 1 projection:

Johnson STD 1/2PPR PPR
Low 9.5 10.7 12.9
Median 12.9 15.7 18.6
High 17.8 21.7 24.9

When Megatron can no longer play, he’ll let us know.

This concludes the GLSP Getaway. Tune in next week!

Cincinnati Bengals

I’m not convinced that at a fraction of the cost A.J. McCarron couldn’t be just as bad for A.J. Green as Andy Dalton is.

#TicklingPandorasBox

Houston Texans

When the Texans move to Oklahoma City after the 2022 season, can we still call them “The Texans”?—because you do know that Oklahoma is basically the New Jersey of Texas, right?

And if not that, then “The Oilers.”

New York Jets

Blood sugar, baby, he’s magik, sex magik, FitzMagic
Blood sugar, baby, he’s magik, sex magik, FitzMagic
Blood sugar, crazy, he has it, sex magik, FitzMagic
Blood sugar, baby, he’s magik, sex magik, Fitzpatrick

Pittsburgh Steelers

Look, nine receptions on 11 targets for 133 yards and a TD—that’s nice and all—but only three yards on one punt return? Antonio Brown already has me behind the eight ball in leagues in which return yardage is sextupled.

Indianapolis Colts

Frank Gore is older than his father and Vick Ballard’s legs have rendered him an NFL invalid.

Backups Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga are both big-bodied productive runners with underrated receiving skills. They are very much what late-round and/or undrafted workhorse running backs looks like. That Varga in particular is still on an NFL roster is a minor miracle.

Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota: “What’s the plan?”
Ken Whisenhunt: “F*cking not score points. What’s your plan?”
MM: “In that case . . . surfing?”

Denver Broncos

Do you think that when John Elway convinced Peyton Manning to sign with the Broncos, he ended his pitch like this?

And we’re going to give you all the support you need by drafting in the next four years a second-round backup quarterback too raw to win games right away if we needed to start him in a pinch and too young and inexperienced to be of any use to you as a sounding board; a third-round running back clearly too small to be a workhorse; a second-round running back too unathletic and uninstinctive to be anything more than a short-yardage specialist; a third-round backup cornerback we’re hoping never to need to put on the field; a second-round wide receiver we won’t be willing to trust; a third-round backup left tackle whom we’ll make redundant a year after we draft him; a second-round left tackle to protect your blind side as a rookie; and a third-round tight end who will be on injured reserve in his first year and whom we don’t really need anyway.

Does all of that sound good?

Plus, you’ll have John Fox as your head coach!

I’m guessing not.

By the way, I know that “uninstinctive” is not a word—but it sounds like a fake word a former NFL QB would say, right?

Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s not that Marqise Lee is bad. It’s that he’s small, slow, and terrible—and now he’s not even on the field.

Or as Woody Allen put it to open Annie Hall:

There’s an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of them says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know—and such small portions.”

That’s essentially how I feel about life.

St. Louis Rams

In the last four years, Head Coach Jeff Fisher has drafted five running backs—Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardon, Zac Stacy, Tre Mason, and Todd Gurley—six if you count Tavon Austin (zing!)—and Fisher still doesn’t have a satisfactory starting RB for Week 1.

This guy basically treats RBs the way that high school offensive linemen treat pizzas at a cheap buffet: He devours them whole without even tasting them, and then he finally sh*ts them out a year later.

Gurley better prepare himself. I hear that Fisher’s gastrointestinal system is comparable to that of the sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon from Return of the Jedi.

Who’s the bigger nerd: The nerd or the nerd who follows him on Twitter?
@MattFtheOracle

New Orleans Saints

In eight of the final ten games of the 2014 season, Mark Ingram touched the ball at least 16 times. In those games, he averaged 21.4 carries and 2.4 receptions per game. He accumulated 102.1 scrimmage yards and 0.75 TDs per contest.

If you believe that the Saints are shifting to more of run-centric offense—and that would seem to be what the trading away of Jimmy Graham for Max Unger and the drafting of first-round offensive tackle Andrus Peat signify—then you have to expect that Ingram will touch the ball a minimum of 16 times in most games this season.

You know what you call a guy who gets 1,600 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs in a season? Adrian Peterson.

For Ingram, the only concern is whether he can stay healthy, whether C.J. Spiller and/or Khiry Robinson will syphon away touches, and whether the Saints can keep contests close enough to ensure that Ingram is not impacted by negative game flow too often.

I guess that’s three concerns.

Chicago Bears

Before the season started did you check out the RB Similarities Score App? Here’s the reason I ask:

Comparables YOY Change Density Plot

Most of the players to whom Matt Forte was historically comparable last season suffered major regression the following year. If he has a solid game this weekend and you have the chance to trade him in a reasonable transaction, you should consider it.

But, hey, you’re the one who drafted him, right? I’m sure that you had a plan when you selected in the first round a RB who markedly declined as a rusher last year and who this year will see far fewer targets and be 30 years old in December. You have your reasons.

Cleveland Browns

Right now, Fantasy Voldemort’s team actually seems to value him less than Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline, and Taylor Gabriel. That’s sad (for Browns fans), but I can’t really say that the team is wrong. Sure, Bowe scored 15 TDs in 2010, but in the four seasons since then he has scored only 13 times—and 2010 was, like, twenty years ago.

You don’t see Matt Cassel getting handed a starting job for something he did for another franchise a half decade ago. Why should Bowe be any different?

New England Patriots

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last eight-and-a-half months, it’s that Tom Brady’s balls are harder than rocks—from the Super Bowl fourth-quarter drive to give the Patriots the lead as the shadow of Deflategate loomed, to his decision to see the appeal process through to the end in federal court, to his statement on Tuesday on WEEI in Boston that he would like for equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally to be reinstated with the team, to his masterful 25-completion 288-yard four-TD dismantling of the Steelers on Thursday night. His balls couldn’t be any harder. I’m sure of that.

In fact there are only three things about which I’m surer:

  • I really dislike the word “surer.”
  • Roger Goodell handing the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft after Super Bowl 50 as they hate-smile at each other and poorly pretend not to be aroused with murderous urges—that is how all of this must end.
  • That first conversation—the one between Brady and his new ball boys—because he must’ve talked with them at least once about how he wants them to handle his balls, right?—that conversation must’ve been a classic—and awkward as f*ck.

But probably not as awkward as the conversation a few weeks from now in which Brady tells the new ball boys that they are being replaced—by Jastremski & McNally: “It’s not you, it’s me—I just really prefer to have my balls treated a certain way—and these bros give me what I want. They know me.”

We all know you, Tom.

You did it.

And I couldn’t care less.

I just admire your balls.

———

Matthew Freedman is a football writer for RotoViz, Pro Football Focus Fantasy, Fantasy Insiders, and DraftKings Playbook. He is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He hosts the various RotoViz podcasts and PFF Radio’s College Daily Slant. He is the creator of the Workhorse Metric.

  1. Editor’s Note: I definitely agree. #TeamLandry. CK  (back)

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