College Football DFS Diary – September 5 2015

Guy)  What the hell are you doing?

Fletcher)  Iiimmm kicking my asssss! Do you mind?

Fresh off the ass-kicking I took with my September 3 college football DFS plays, I am back at it again for the Saturday slate. In case you missed it, I went 0-fer, which means you did not miss much.

That said, Thursdays mini-debacle made me realize how thorough I need to be if I am going to make all my plays public, so todays effort was much greater, which will hopefully lead to better results.

(Disclaimer – this Spanish language keyboard I am using does not have, or I cannot figure out how to produce, an apostrophe or a colon… so thanks in advance for not judging my punctuation errors.)

Revisiting the purpose of this college football DFS diary, I am documenting all of my plays for both college and NFL – and the thought processes that went into every lineup – so that I can track my record as I go, have more skin in the game, and hopefully help everyone involved learn more about how to succeed in DFS.

Based on the bankroll rules I set for myself in the initial post of this series my week one budget is $10 and will be split between the various formats as follows…

Tournaments – $1 (thank goodness for quarter tourneys)

Multipliers – $2

50-50s – $7

All of these contests are being played at DraftKings, which has become my preferred platform in recent years. If you want to support my work and get a sign-up bonus, join DraftKings through this link.

None of this should be construed as advice for how to build your DFS teams.

Tournaments

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $0.75 ($0.25 spent on Thursday)

Self reminder – the name of the game in tournament play is volatility. Go big or go home.

LINEUP 1

QB

Of the nine relevant teams who are expected to surpass 40 points, only three of them have a points-share under 80%. What I mean by point-share is, how much of the game total is the favored-team expected to score. For instance, Missouri is expected to score 48 of the 54 points (89%) in their contest against SE Missouri, which I interpret to mean that the game is going to be ugly and Maty Mauk wont play a full game… not what I want for my DFS lineup. Many of the projected top-scoring teams are in this same situation. The three that arent are

Washington State – 72% point-share (Luke Falk)

Tennessee – 65% share (Josh Dobbs)

Texas Tech – 62% (presumably Patrick Mahomes, but we are not 100% clear)

To be clear, I am experimenting with this point share concept. I dont have concrete evidence on it yet, but that is the whole point of this exercise – to try things, learn from them and improve.

To start off the lineup, I am selecting Josh Dobbs ($9600) because I buy into the expectation that his team will score plenty, but the game will be relatively competitive, meaning he will play the whole way.

Between Falk and Mahomes (presumably) I am a little worried about the weather outlook for Wazzus game, which calls for 40% chance of rain. I also do not like that Falk ($9600) is $1200 more expensive, which would create budget constraints very quickly. I am going to put Mahomes ($8400) into my lineup and see how far I can get. If things do not fit together, or if Mahomes does not start, my fallback option is Dane Evans ($6700) from Tulsa, who is a veteran QB with two intriguing weapons starting his first game in a new, Baylor-like pass-heavy system.

WR

Looking for volatility, I am going to try to pair my quarterbacks with one of their wide receivers with the hopes that a single play could net my DFS team two touchdowns.

For Tennessee, I see that their top receiver from last year has been suspended for this opening game and that their fourth-most targeted receiver from last year is out with an injury. Digging a little deeper, I see that two of the starters listed for this game, Josh Malone (sophomore 5-star recruit who was the third-most targeted receiver last year) and Jauan Jennings (freshman dual-threat QB recruit who switched to WR in the spring to get more playing time and won the slot job over a senior) are priced at the minimum salary of $3000. Because I will make multiple tournament lineups, I will try Malone first and Jennings later. I also probably have the option of putting them both in a lineup if I really want to bet on the Vols having a big game.

Looking to Texas Tech, they return their most-targeted option from 2014, Jakeem Grant ($7900), who saw 20.7% of the team targets while operating from his H position. Meanwhile, the second-most targeted position from last year (19.2%), the Y, has a new starter in the form of Ian Sadler ($4700). After these two interior receiver positions, the next-most targeted receivers saw 10% fewer targets last year. Considering the $3200 price differential, I am going to select Sadler as my stack with Mahomes.

RB

Switching gears to the running game, I want to find the intersection of good OLine, high point total and reasonable price. Since I am constantly glued to my Phil Steele magazine, I check out his unit rankings to see which of the best OLs are at my disposal today. All of these are among his top 25 units… Georgia, Arkansas, Stanford, UCLA, Auburn, Texas Tech, Mississippi, Indiana, Missouri, Bolwing Green. Obviously it would be great to get Nick Chubb (Georgia) or Alex Collins (Arkansas) but their $9000+ price tags would mean my final four roster spots would have to be acquired with less than $3800 per pick.

Meanwhile, Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey can be had for half their price and steps into a great situation after being a meaningful, multi-faceted contributor last year. Mix in the fact that Northwestern is starting a freshman QB and I can envision the Cardinal possessing the ball extensively and feeding McCaffrey. I am taking McCaffrey ($4800).

I have $19,500 for one RB, one WR and two flex. One player who I want to kick the tires on is Indiana RB Jordan Howard. He is one of my top devy runners and is making his debut for IU after transfering from UAB. IU is expected to score about 36 points with about 63% point-share, meaning the game should be reasonably close, but IU should be playing from ahead. I can envision Howard having a breakout game. I am buying for $7500.

Just kidding… that is going to make it tough for me to fill out my roster at $4000 per pop over the final three positions. Throwing Howard back and will look in the $5500 or less range.

Sony Michel, maybe as a hedge on Nick Chubb getting pulled early?

One game that has kind of a sneaky-high point total, with a clear lead-runner and some quarterback tumult is Maryland – Richmond. Also, it has a 30% chance of rain. Brandon Ross can be had for $4200 with the expectation that he will be Marylands top offensive threat on a day where they are expected to score 39. Lets try this.

For my last receiver spot, I am going back to the Tulsa – FAU game I mentioned earlier, which has a 67 point total and, for Tulsa, a team total of 36. Remember, if Mahomes does not start I am using Dane Evans from Tulsa, so using a Tulsa receiver here essentially would guarantee me that I have a stack regardless of which QB plays… and no matter what I like Ian Sadler in my lineup. Keevan Lucas ($7800) would be a bonus, but he is too expensive. Im going to roll with the oversized, and finally healthy, Keyarris Garrett instead for $5200.

Down to my flex spots and $10,100 remaining, I want to try to find the best upside I can. I remember Jon Bales saying once that everyone in your tournament lineup should have a reasonable chance of scoring two touchdowns in that game. Thats the mindset I must use for these last spots.

One guy who I think fits that bill is Jon Hilliman from Boston College. The Eagles are breaking in a new QB and and 4 new offensive lineman, but the team total is 37? Not sure how that works, but I am pretty sure it implies a big day for Hilliman. I will take the bait for $6900.

$3200 left and I know I have Jauan Jennings there at $3000 if I need him. Scrolling frantically through the bottom of the barrell to see if any starters have been misvalued…

AHA! This could be worth a dice roll. Greg Howell from FAU is the newly minted 1A starter. Maybe he doesnt get every carry, but the majority could be good enough. According to Phil Steele, Tulsa has one of the worst defensive lines and defenses in the AAC. FAU has the 6th best OL in CUSA. Its not pretty, but maybe? With a team total set for 31, I will take the touches and hope for the best.

rsz_cfx_tourney_1

Wow, that got carried away… I will keep these much shorter moving forward

LINEUP 2

Next lineup is going to be close to this one, but with a few tweaks.

Right off the bat, Josh Dobbs is going in again, but this time paired with Jauan Jennings. Realizing the limits of the Tulsa defense, I want to give FAU QB Jaquez Johnson ($6200) a try given his dual threat ability and past performance. As far as I can tell, his most trusted remaining receiver with the loss of Lucky Whitehead is Jenson Stoshak ($4400), so that will be my stack there.

I mentioned before that I wanted to get Indiana RB Jordan Howard in a lineup ($7500) which I prioritized here due to the scores he has received in my prospect evaluation system, his quality offensive line, and the high team total. Same as last time, RB Christian McCaffrey is getting the call here, as is TTU WR Ian Sadler. That gets us to the Flex spots wih $9800 left. Because I feel good about the decisions made with the last lineup, I am sticking with Brandon Ross from Maryland. With $5100 remaining, I decided that the upside of Sony Michel was the best value at that point with the notion that he will get some touches while Chubb is in the game and then all of the touches for a period in the early second half. Even though he is a backup, a line of 100+ yards and two touchdowns would not surprise me.

rsz_cfx_tourney_2

LINEUP 3

No Josh Dobbs at QB this time, however Dane Evans gets proactively played here, instead of the backup treatment he got in tournament lineup 1. He gets stacked with top target Keevan Lucas. For my second QB, with the goal of creating variance, I went with unknown CJ Beathard who has the Iowa starting job and strong team total to support a nice debut for him. For better or worse, it was one of the Vegas lines that stood out like, what do they know that I dont, and I decided to ride their coattails. He gets stacked with Iowas most proven receiving commodity, Tevaun Smith. Maybe I am getting lazy here, but McCaffrey and Ross just create so much flexibility due to their low price and their strong likelihood of a high touch count. I am sure I will curse this decision on Monday. Oh well.

As a sort of hedge against not having any of the Tennessee passing offense, I really wanted to get Jalen Hurd, their lead RB, so he went in the Flex. Down to $8700, I went looking for a cheap boom-bust pass catcher and found the phenom Hunter Henry. He is Arkansas second favorite target and their best touchdown threat. Would it be surprising if UTEP hung around long enough to activate the Arkansas pass game? Finally, knowing I had a few cheap options in my back pocket, I went looking for a cheap RB. Algernon Brown from BYU fit the bill as the replacement for Jamaal Williams. Taysom Hill should draw a ton of attention and, in expected windy conditions, I could see Brown receiving a large number of carries.

rsz_cfx_tourney_3

Multipliers

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $1 ($1 spent on Thursday)

Feeling like I have a good sense of floor and upside, I want to fill this roster with high-floor high-upside players.

QB
Maybe I am falling into a trap here, but so many factors point toward a good outing for Dane Evans, so I am locking him in with his main guy Keevan Lucas. Mixing things up, I am rolling out Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson. Although the Auburn team total isnt spectacular at 34, playing Johnson is kind of a hedge against all the uncertainty of the offense, with the Duke Williams playing time issue and the unknown running back split. No stack for JJ.

RB
Back at it with Hilliman and McCaffrey at RB. Also, you will see that my flex plays were both running backs I have used before. (Maybe I get too fixated on certain games and players and dont diversify enough?)

WR
One game I havent touched yet, but features a 36 point team total is UCLA – Virginia. Even though we dont know who UCLAs passer will be, his top target will certainly be Jordan Payton. Finally, I circle back on Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings, who I feel might have a slightly higher floor than his bargain brother Josh Malone. Jennings it is.
cfx multiplier

50-50s

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $4 ($3 spent on Saturday)
Alright, I am out of gas on the writeups. Here are the 50-50 lineups I am using.

5050 cfx 1

5050 cfx 2

5050 cfx 3

5050 cfx 4

Total Shares of Players (8 possible lineups)

QB

Josh Dobbs – 4

Patrick Mahomes – 2

C.J. Beathard – 2

Dane Evans – 2

Jeremy Johnson – 2

Kevin Hogan – 1

Matt Johnson – 1

Tommy Armstrong – 1

Jaquez Johnson – 1 (I thought I played him more than this. Guess I just hated the stack options)

RB

Brandon Ross – 8  (oh shit! got carried away – or lazy – with this)

Christian McCaffrey – 5

Jon Hilliman – 4

Greg Howell – 3

Jordan Howard – 3

Jalen Hurd – 3

Algernon Brown – 2

Wayne Gallman – 1

Jaylen Walton – 1

Sony Michel – 1

WR

Ian Sadler – 5

Jauan Jennings – 3

Josh Malone – 2

Keyarris Garrett – 2

Keevan Lucas – 2

Hunter Henry – 2

Roger Lewis – 2

Jordan Westerkamp – 2

Jenson Stoshak – 1

Tevaun Smith – 1

Jordan Payton – 1

DaeSean Hamilton – 1

Dan Vitale – 1

In doing this count and looking back through my rosters, I realized that I have a reliance on RBs in the flex position. Not sure if that is good or bad, just a thing to monitor.

Alright, so now here is the fun part… you get to tell me where you agree or disagree with my thought process, player selection, etc., so go ahead and leave a comment.


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a cohost of Rotoviz Radio – A Fantasy Football Podcast.  Continue this conversation with him on TwitterGoogle+ or Facebook.

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College Football DFS Diary – September 3 2015

¨Merry Christmas, Carl!

– Frank W. Abignale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can, one of my all-time favorite movies

What a day! College Football is back… and I´m in Argentina where I probably will get to watch zero of it. We´ll see though.

In celebration of the day and my committment to expanding into the college football DFS world, I´m submitting this as entry #1 of my college football DFS diary. Inspired by the transparency of some of the professional podcasters I´ve been listening to, who literally publish a monthly report with full detail of their financial matters, I´m keeping this log to document the plays I make, why I make them and the financial outcomes that follow.

Because times are little tight after four months of travel without a source of income (except for a Gus Johnson article), I´m starting the season with $100 in my CFB budget. FYI, I´ll be doing this same thing for NFL, also with $100. I hope that the relatively small numbers that ensue won´t dissuade you from engaging with me in the process of weekly improvement.

Speaking of finances, one of the key themes that comes up over and over again in DFS, poker, sports betting and life (but under the name ¨budget¨) is bankroll management. In episode 10 of Rotoviz Radio the Millionaire Maker winner Drew Dinkmeyer outlined his strategy for management which goes something like this…

play 10% of your bankroll each week

of that amount, put 70% into 50-50s…

20% into multipliers…

and 10% into tournaments.

As tempting as it´s going to be to break that rule and swing for the fences, I´m committing to the process to see how I can grow my bankroll throughout the season. If I´m being honest with myself, I know that downside management is as important as upside potential.

With that said, here´s a snapshot of my week one budget (I know a colon should go right here, but the puncuation is different on a Spanish-language keyboard, so just be patient with me. Thanks.)

Week 1 Allocation – $10

Tournaments – $1

Multipliers – $2

50-50s – $7

All of these contests are being played at DraftKings, which has become my preferred platform in recent years. If you want to support my work and get a sign-up bonus, join DraftKings through this link.

None of this should be construed as advice for how to build your DFS teams. The intentions of this recurring blog are to document my plays & processes ahead of time so that I can learn from them each week and grow as a player.

Tournaments

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $0.25 ($0.75 on Saturday)

rsz_cfx_tourney_sep_3

QB
The three teams expected to score the most points tonight are Arizona (Anu Solomon), Oklahoma State (Mason Rudolph) and TCU (Trevone Boykin). I´m staying away from Anu in tournaments because Arizona is expected to score 70% of the points in that game, which could mean an early exit for such a valuable player. For OK State, I´ll get my exposure to them in the run game, but don´t want Rudolph because of the strong possibility of rain. Finally, Boykin is such a household name that I feel many people will take him and I need to create separation in a tournament setting.

The first QB I selected was Connor Mitch from South Carolina, which is expected to be the fourth-highest scoring team of the night. Playing in good weather conditions against a North Carolina team that ranks as Phil Steele´s fourth worst DLine in the ACC, worst LB core and fifth-worst DBs, I´ll take my chance on Mitch to have a solid debut.

From here, there´s a strong cluster of team point totals in the 29-32 range including…

WKU, who is possibly without their top returning receiver and, I think, will not possess the ball that much

Ohio, who I expect to run the ball a ton, but more on that in a minute

UNC, while I like Marquise Williams, I don´t like the matchup against SC and I feel his premium price will be constraining

Vandy, who I expect to run the ball a ton, but more on that in a minute

UCF, strong possibility of rain

Duke, which is where I´ll pull my second QB, Thomas Sirk. Last year Sirk was a dual-threat, redzone specialist QB who inherits the full time job this year. His matchup is relatively favorable as a Power 5 QB taking on a smaller conference defense, albeit on the road (in a dome). Also, I´m a little more comfortable with him being a ¨new starter¨since he has seen adequate game action in the past.

RB
Oklahoma State has the second-highest team total of the night, but the weather in Mt. Pleasant calls for a 48% chance of rain, so I´m thinking that the passing game will suffer a bit. Moreover, it has been my observation that in early season Power 5 vs. small conference games, the line play is where the difference shows up. Chris Carson is a highly touted JUCO transfer and I´m going to lean on him to breakthrough in his debut. I was tempted to play Rennie Childs, who is his backup and may thrive in mop up duty.

Vanderbilt, which I mentioned a minute ago, has a new OC that is expected to heavily feature the RB. Ralph Webb is clearly that guy and I expect him to have a strong night as Vandy attempts to assert themselves in a new regime and keep the ball away from a strong WKU offense.

WR
For the tournament setting, I wanted to stack my quarterbacks with wide receivers from their team. For South Carolina, I was tempted to go with Pharoh Cooper, but his premium price would have created constraints elsewhere. Instead I picked Deebo Samuel, who is the #2 option and should benefit from UNC´s efforts to slow his dynamic counterpart, Cooper.

With Duke, they appear to be operating with two established receivers Johnell Barnes and Max McCaffrey – and many question marks behind them. In this instance, I opted for Max McCaffrey who is $500 cheaper, more experienced and bigger. Maybe those are trivial, but in a situation where it´s not obvious that one is preferred, why not take the guy that has those things going for him?

My third WR, who I was put onto by Dan Hindery, is David Ungerer from Idaho. Ungerer has a minimum salary (at this point I have $9,700 left and one WR position and one Flex to fill) and is expected to be one Idaho´s favorite pass catchers in the game. He has drawn positive reviews all summer for his mental and physical maturation and was trusted by the coaching staff last year to be their top punt returner as a freshman. I´ll kick the tires.

FLEX
Last year Ohio ran the ball 47 times in their game vs. Idaho to the tune of 5+ yards per carry. According to Phil Steele, Ohio has the third-best OLine in the MAC, compared to Idaho having the third-worst DLine in the Sun Belt. With the sixth-highest team total of the night, in what should be a relatively close game, I´m happy to bet on A.J. Oullette to get plenty of touches. I also like that this is probably the most obscure game of the night.

The last roster spot I filled was with William Stanback from UCF, whose game I have written about before, and who is expected to receive the lion´s share of carries for a run-heavy team. With rain in the forecast and 29 points expected for his team, it wouldn´t surprise me if Stanback found the end zone multiple times.

Multipliers

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $1 ($1 on Saturday)

rsz_cfx_triple_up_sep_3

QB
For the same reasons as before, I went with Connor Mitch, but this time I paired him with Marquise Williams, who he´ll be playing against tonight. Of the five passers priced over $8,000, Williams is the one for whom I´m most willing to pay. The idea here is that I´ve got a little higher floor than the tournament lineup, but still some nice upside for my money, especially if this game turns into a back-and-forth contest.

RB
Again, I´m rolling with Ralph Webb, but this time pairing him with Michigan´s De´Veon Smith, who will be the starter tonight against Utah. While I don´t love the matchup, I expect the game to a slug fest with a heavy dose of running, which I think bodes well for Smith.

WR
Deebo Samuel is again my pairing with Connor Mitch, but this time it´s more forced due to budget constraints from the Marquise Williams expenditure. Speaking of Williams, I´m pairing him with Ryan Switzer, who is the second most expensive Tar Heel, but one who I slightly prefer due to his utilization and the PPR scoring. At this point I´m getting pretty tight on my budget and WKU´s Antwane Grant could be a great value, especially if top returning receiver Jared Dangerfield misses the game.

FLEX
As I previously mentioned, I´m intrigued by the OK State run game tonight, but this time I roll with Rennie Childs, who could easily get as many touches as Chris Carson, but comes at a discounted price. Finally, Ty Slanina offers some exposure to the TCU pass game as their slot receiver. Until a usage pattern becomes more established for this season, I don´t see a reason why, on this night, Slanina couldn´t be the team´s leading receiver, but comes at the third-highest price point.

50-50s

Today´s Allocation of Weekly Budget – $3 ($4 on Saturday)

Lineup 1

rsz_cfx_5050_one

Shifting to a mindset of higher-floor players, I started this off with Marquise Williams at QB because of his dual threat ability. RB Aaron Green followed, as he´s a way to get exposure to the TCU offense without having to guess on receivers, or pay top dollar for Trevone Boykin. Then, Ralph Webb, because I just can´t get away from the idea that tonight is an ¨attitude game¨ for a veteran Vandy line/team after a tough 2014. Thomas Sirk again shows up as I like his dual-threat ability. Looking for a little volatility, I added pass catchers for both QBs in the form of Johnell Barnes (Duke) and Ryan Switzer (UNC). RB De´Veon Smith again makes an appearance as, what looks to be, a cheap source of touches. At this point, I have $7,300 left and two spots to fill. I fall back on David Ungerer (this dude is going to kill me or make me look awesome) because he´s cheap and should get targets in a reasonably competitive, indoor game. Finally, with $4,200 left I went with tight end phenom, Jonnu Smith. FIU is only expected to score 16 points as a team, but I feel like Jonnu is probably the best bet to score a touchdown from that offense and should receive ample targets.

Lineup 2

rsz_1cfx_5050_two

With the highest team total of the night, I couldn´t help but get a share of Anu Solomon from Arizona. Here´s hoping that game doesn´t get ugly early leading to him playing for only a half. The RB tandem is the same as before, as are pass catchers Ungerer and Jonnu. As I mentioned before, Antwane Grant should be a solid play either way, but with even more upside if Dangerfield is out. The final three spots I filled were with Tanner Lee, a second year QB from Tulane, who was about as cheap as I could get. That´s what I get for spending elsewhere. Then, I really wanted to get A.J. Ouellette in my lineup again, as I like his floor. Finally, for some UNC passing game exposure, I added WR Mack Hollins.

Lineup 3

rsz_cfx_5050_three

Realizing that I still haven´t touched two of the marquee players on the board, I started this lineup off with Trevone Boykin and Devontae Booker. Because I´m overloaded with Ralph Webb, I got away from him here in favor of AJ Ouellette. Three players in and I´m already feeling crunched on my budget. I immediately went with Grant, Jonnu and Ungerer since I like them all okay and knew they could cheaply get me to my flex spots. Kolby Listenbee provided some upside volatility paired with Boykin. Finally, De´Veon Smith was a good option for the remaining dollars I had.

One last thing

Because I had some change left in my account for whatever reason, I entered the following lineup into a Millionaire Maker sattelite tournament for $0.25 as well as a free roll game. I think I´ve covered all the players at this point, except for maybe Cayleb Jones, who is Arizona´s top target and would seem like the best candidate to blow up in an Anu Solomon stack.

(I just realized that I said in the intro that I was going to avoid Anu in tournaments. I made this lineup before I wrote that and don´t feel like changing things at this point).

rsz_cfx_free_roll

Total Shares of Players (6 possible lineups)

QB
Thomas Sirk – 3

Connor Mitch – 2

Marquise Williams – 2

Anu Solomon – 2

Tanner Lee – 2

Trevone Boykin – 1

RB
Ralph Webb – 5

A.J. Oullette – 3

De´Veon Smith – 3

Aaron Green – 3

Chris Carson – 1

William Stanback – 1

Rennie Childs – 1

Devontae Booker – 1

WR
David Ungerer –  5

Antwane Grant – 4

Ryan Switzer – 3

Jonnu Smith – 3

Max McCaffrey – 2

Deebo Samuel – 2

Ty Slanina – 1

Johnell Barnes – 1

Mack Hollins – 1

Kolby Listenbee – 1

Cayleb Jones – 1

Alright, so now here is the fun part… you get to tell me where you agree or disagree with my thought process, player selection, etc., so go ahead and leave a comment.


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a cohost of Rotoviz Radio – A Fantasy Football Podcast.  Continue this conversation with him on TwitterGoogle+ or Facebook.

2014 NFL Draft: Young and Beastly Tight Ends

eric ebron nfl draft unc

Bowl season is upon us which means getting our last looks at top NFL prospects.  The other day I looked at Running Back declarations to monitor and today we’ll look at tight ends.  As you may have read in Tyler Wilson and the curse of the old quarterback or We need to have a talk about Giants WR Rueben Randle I believe that prospect age DOES matter, so it’s interesting to look at which players have the right blend of talent and youth.

For Tight Ends it is VERY RARE for a player to play his rookie season at age 21.  Only seven TEs in NFL history have recorded 10+ catches in their age 21 season.  In a minute you’ll meet one 2014 TE who could join this elite club:

Aaron Hernandez, 45

Rob Gronkowski, 42

Jason Witten, 35

Tony Gonzalez, 33

Martellus Bennett. 20

Johnny Mitchell, 16

Todd Heap, 16

Pretty spectacular list, huh?

For the purposes of this article, I’m looking for Tight Ends who:

1) are eligible for 2014 NFL Draft

2) would play their rookie season at age 21 or 22

3) are taller than 6’4”

Here are my results and opportunities for you to watch them during bowl season.  Please understand that the likelihood of them being in the draft varies greatly from guys who have graduated to guys who are eligible but haven’t declared.

UPDATE: Check out Johnny Manziel and the 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Age Project for ages of (almost) every player eligible for the `14 Draft.

TE School Born Height Bowl
Eric Ebron* North Carolina 4/10/1993 6’4”1/8 Belk
Colt Lyeria* Oregon 11/13/1992 6’4” 5/8
Rory Anderson South Carolina 10/2/1992 6’5” Capitol One
Austin Seferian Jenkins* Washington 9/29/1992 6’5” 3/4 Fight Hunger
Xavier Grimble USC 9/2/1992 6’4” 5/8 Las Vegas
Jace Amaro* Texas Tech 6/26/1992 6’4” 5/8 Holiday

Ebron is the real standout of this group as he is destined to join that 21 year old, 10 catch group.  The others would be 22 in their rookie years.  If you think I’m missing someone, please leave a comment!

If you thought this article was stupid, awesome, or somewhere in between continue this conversation with me on Google+ or Twitter.

2014 NFL Draft: Young and Beastly Running Backs

Image credit to Amanda Snyder/MN Daily
Image credit to Amanda Snyder/MN Daily

I did a little research into NFL Draft prospects today.  Specifically, I looked into the ages of players eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft at both the Running Back and Tight End positions.  As you may have read in Tyler Wilson and the curse of the old quarterback or We need to have a talk about Giants WR Rueben Randle I believe that age DOES matter.  It’s pretty rare that an NFL rookie will make his debut at age 21, so I LOVE those guys, and am still able to get excited about 22 year old rookies.

Similarly, when it comes to the running back position, I like backs who are 210 pounds or more.  Workout data will play a big role in this equation, eventually, but for now I just wanted a quick filter of running backs who:

1) are eligible for 2014 NFL Draft

2) would play their rookie season at age 21 or 22

3) weigh more than 210 lbs.

Here are my results and opportunities for you to watch them during bowl season.  Please understand that the likelihood of them being in the draft varies greatly from guys who have graduated to guys who are eligible but haven’t declared.

UPDATE: Check out Johnny Manziel and the 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Age Project for ages of (almost) every player eligible for the `14 Draft.

RB School Born Weight Bowl
David Cobb Minnesota 6/3/1993 225 Texas Bowl
Isaiah Crowell* Alabama St 1/8/1993 215
George Atkinson III* Notre Dame 11/29/1992 220 New Era Pinstripe
Jeremy Hill* LSU 10/29/1992 235 Outback
Andre Williams Boston Coll. 8/28/1992 227 Advocare V100
Marcus Coker Stony Brook 5/11/1992 230
Tim Cornett UNLV 4/18/1992 210 Heart of Dallas
James Wilder Jr* FSU 4/14/1992 229 BCS Championship
Rajion Neal Tennessee 3/28/1992 212
Orleans Darkwa Tulane 2/28/1992 210 New Orleans
David Fluellen Toledo 1/29/1992 215
Jay Ajayi Boise year 3 220 Hawaii
Antonio Andrews WKU year 4 212

This is a very preliminary list, but an interesting group to monitor.  Just a little food for thought. If you think I’m missing someone, please leave a comment!

If you thought this article was stupid, awesome, or somewhere in between continue this conversation with me on Google+ or Twitter.

Was Jameis Winston’s 2013 Heisman Season the Best…Ever?

Image via Zennie62/Flickr
Image via Zennie62/Flickr

In a few hours Florida State QB Jameis Winston will be crowned the winner of the 2013 Heisman trophy, becoming just the second freshman (Case Keenum Johnny Manziel being the other) to earn that distinction.  While it is difficult to argue that anyone else has been more impressive in 2013, I am curious about how Winston stacks up to other 19 year old college QBs.  As you read in Tyler Wilson and the curse of the old QB, age DOES matter when evaluating college prospects, so let’s take a look at the greatest 19 year old quarterback seasons in my database.

jameis-winston

NOTE: These numbers are based on games played against bowl-eligible opponents.  Click here to read more about this methodology.

QB Year Age College Conf. % Multi-TD pass games Comp % TD:INT AY/A
Winston, Jameis 2013 19 Florida St ACC 86% 72.3% 3.7 13.0
Hundley, Brett 2012 19 UCLA PAC12 56% 65.4% 4.8 8.6
Moore, Kellen 2008 19 Boise St WAC 86% 68.0% 2.3 8.5
Mariota, Marcus 2012 19 Oregon Pac12 56% 66.2% 6.3 8.5
Kolb, Kevin 2003 19 Houston CUSA 57% 56.9% 3.3 8.3
Smith, Alex 2003 19 Utah MWC 33% 63.9% 3.5 7.8
Keeton, Chuckie 2012 19 Utah St WAC 67% 63.2% 9.0 7.7
Leak, Chris 2004 19 Florida SEC 67% 55.6% 2.5 7.3
Stafford, Matt 2007 19 Georgia SEC 63% 56.7% 1.6 7.3
Golson, Everett 2012 19 Notre Dame IND 10% 57.2% 1.4 6.7
Henne, Chad 2004 19 Michigan Big Ten 63% 59.6% 2.1 6.4

Hands down, no debating, Winston’s 2013 season was the best 19 year old QB season ever.  His Adjusted Yards per Attempt (AY/A) was 51% better than the second best player and it’s not like this list is a bunch of nobodies.  Kolb, Smith, Stafford, and Henne were round 1-2 selections.  Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley will likely continue that trend when they declare.  Impressive stuff.

Understanding that Winston is a young phenom, let’s see how he stacks up to the best passers in ACC (recent) history.

QB Year Age College Conf. % multi-TD pass games Comp % TD:INT AY/A
Winston, Jameis 2013 19 Florida St ACC 86% 72.3% 3.7 13.0
Rivers, Philip 2003 22 NC State ACC 78% 69.4% 6.3 9.5
Hamilton, Joe 1999 22 Georgia Tech ACC 71% 65.3% 2.0 9.0
Druckenmiller, Jim 1996 24 Virginia Tech ACC 67% 57.5% 3.7 8.9
Harris, Jacory 2011 21 Miami (FL) ACC 71% 63.0% 2.8 8.8
Taylor, Tyrod 2010 21 Virginia Tech ACC 56% 57.4% 3.8 8.8
Boyd, Tajh 2013 23 Clemson ACC 43% 65.5% 1.9 8.7
Yates, TJ 2008 21 UNC ACC 50% 57.5% 3.0 8.7
Vick, Michael 2000 20 Virginia Tech ACC 25% 55.5% 1.8 8.7
Weinke, Chris 2000 28 Florida St ACC 70% 57.3% 2.0 8.6
Ponder, Christian 2009 21 Florida St ACC 57% 70.2% 2.6 8.4
Wilson, Russell 2009 21 NC State ACC 57% 57.8% 3.4 8.4

Again, Jameis Winston finds himself comfortably atop a list that includes four first round picks and a handful of other strong players.

Ok, I hear you saying “but his team is so dominant blah blah blah.”  Ok, fine.  Let’s compare Winston’s performance against quarterbacks from the most dominant teams of the BCS era…

QB Year Age College Conf. % Multi-TD pass games Comp % TD:INT AY/A
Winston, Jameis 2013 19 Florida St ACC 86% 72.3% 3.7 13.0
Tebow, Tim 2008 21 Florida SEC 82% 64.2% 7.7 10.4
Young, Vince 2005 22 Texas BIG12 88% 69.0% 3.0 10.1
Leinart, Matt 2004 21 USC Pac12 86% 61.6% 7.0 10.1

Let’s remember that Leinart won the Heisman and a national championship that year, VY should have won the Heisman and DID win a national championship.  Tebow was coming off a Heisman and also won the NC.  So, even if you’re trying to discount his performance because of his team, he clearly outperformed others in that same situation.

Thus far we’ve established that Winston’s 2013 was the best 19 year old season, the best ACC season, and the best season among QBs on dominant, title-contending teams.  To the final question: Was Jameis Winston’s 2013 Heisman Season the Best…Ever?  Here’s a look at the highest graded QB seasons in my database of more than 500+ college seasons.  Of the 11 other quarterbacks on this list, seven were first round picks and nine were drafted in the first three rounds.

QB Year Age College Conf. % Multi-TD pass games Comp % TD:INT AY/A
Winston, Jameis 2013 19 Florida St ACC 86% 72.3% 3.7 13.0
Petty, Bryce 2013 22 Baylor Big12 100% 59.2% 19.1 12.6
Griffin, Robert 2011 21 Baylor BIG12 67% 69.5% 5.0 11.5
McNown, Cade 1998 21 UCLA Pac12 71% 58.6% 2.7 10.8
Bradford, Sam 2008 21 Oklahoma Big12 100% 68.3% 4.9 10.6
Smith, Akili 1998 23 Oregon Pac12 67% 53.9% 3.3 10.5
Wilson, Russell 2011 23 Wisconsin Big Ten 89% 69.9% 5.0 10.5
Smith, Alex 2004 20 Utah MWC 80% 69.6% 7.0 10.3
Tebow, Tim 2009 22 Florida SEC 40% 68.5% 5.6 10.2
Moore, Kellen 2010 21 Boise St WAC 100% 68.7% 5.3 10.2
Kolb, Kevin 2006 22 Houston CUSA 71% 65.5% 15.0 10.1
Young, Vince 2005 22 Texas BIG12 88% 69.0% 3.0 10.1

While I am far from declaring Jameis Winston to be the greatest prospect or greatest college quarterback, I think it’s fair to say that his 2013 might have been the greatest college QB season of all time.  I know that’s a bold claim, but no matter how I slice it, I can’t come to any other conclusion.

If you thought this article was stupid, awesome, or somewhere in between continue this conversation with me on Google+ or Twitter.

Who Will Win The 2013 BCS National Championship?

Image via Oakley Foxtrot/Flickr
Image via Oakley Foxtrot/Flickr

What do you look for in your National Championship contender?  Is it a veteran QB?  Is it an elite defense?  What is it about a team that leads you to believe they can go undefeated and play for all the marbles?

For me, I look for patterns in things.  While I understand that past performance doesn’t indicate future success, I think there is something to be said for trends.  When it comes to National Champions, one thing I look for is teams who have “big game pedigree”.  More specifically, almost everyone who has won the national championship in the BCS era has recently played in a BCS game within the previous two seasons.  Here’s what I mean:

Year Champion Coach HC Year BCS within
previous 2 years
1998 Tennessee Fullmer 7 yes (1997 and 1996)
1999 Florida St Bowden 24 yes (1998 and 1997)
2000 Oklahoma Stoops 2 no
2001 Miami FL Coker 1 yes (2000)
2002 Ohio St Tressel 2 no
2003 LSU Saban 4 yes (2001)
2004 USC Carroll 4 yes (2003 and 2002)
2005 Texas Brown 8 yes (2004)
2006 Florida Meyer 2 no
2007 LSU Miles 3 yes (2006)
2008 Florida Meyer 4 yes (2006)
2009 Alabama Saban 3 yes (2008)
2010 Auburn Chizik 2 no
2011 Alabama Saban 5 yes (2009)
2012 Alabama Saban 6 yes (2011)

Of the 15 national champions of the BCS era, 11 have played in a BCS game within the previous two seasons of their title run.  In short, they know what it takes to reach that level and their veteran leadership knows what it takes to get back.

Speaking of leadership, notice the coaching experience of the teams who the championship.  It’s interesting to see that of the 4 teams who didn’t have recent BCS success, all had second year coaches.  Let’s explore that for a second.  If you think about it, when a new coach gets hired everyone gets excited.  There’s a new burst of energy.  Every position is up for grabs.  Teams are hungry again.  In certain instances, it seems possible that the new-coach energy can continue through year two and, in the case of four teams, carry them to a national championship.  Let’s see if we can find any more trends in addition to the BCS history and/or the 2nd year coach.

Year Champion Previous Season Bowl Starting QB Age onDec 31 of Season
1998 Tennessee yes (orange) Jan2 20.4
1999 Florida St yes (fiesta) Jan4 27.4
2000 Oklahoma yes (independence) dec31 22.8
2001 Miami FL yes (sugar) Jan2 20.7
2002 Ohio St yes (outback) Jan1 21.5
2003 LSU yes (cotton) Jan1 24.9
2004 USC yes (rose) Jan1 21.8
2005 Texas yes (rose) Jan1 22.6
2006 Florida yes (outback) Jan 2 21.7
2007 LSU yes (sugar) Jan3 22.5
2008 Florida yes (capital one) Jan1 21.4
2009 Alabama yes (sugar) Jan2 21.6
2010 Auburn yes (outback) Jan1 21.6
2011 Alabama yes (capital one) Jan1 21.3
2012 Alabama yes (bcs champ) Jan9 22.3

Every team that has won the National Championship of the BCS era played in a bowl game on December 31st or later in the previous season.  This takes things one step further than just the BCS pedigree.  It indicates that there has been sustained success.

Additionally, notice the QB ages as of that bowl game date.  As you have seen at RotoViz, I believe that quarterback age matters for prospect development.  In this case, it matters for national championship projections too.  13 of 15 champion QBs have been older than 21, including the last 11 winners.  After they won the championship, they were legally able to drink the champagne.

Looking ahead to the 2013 season, there appear to be two recipes for playing for a national championship.  First and foremost, everyone has been from a BCS conference.  From there, two “tracks” exist that seem to be qualifiers for teams to make a title run.

Track #1)  Played in a BCS bowl game within last two seasons > Played in bowl game later than Dec. 31 in the previous season > Had  a starting QB who will be 21 years old on Dec. 31 of the upcoming season.

Let’s meet the teams who pass those criteria for the 2013 college football season and should be on our National Champion watch list:

Alabama

Stanford

Clemson

Louisville

Florida

LSU

Oklahoma State

Notre Dame

Michigan

Wisconsin

Track #2) Second year head coach > Played in bowl game later than Dec. 31 in the previous season > Had  a starting QB who will be 21 years old on Dec. 31 of the upcoming season.

Ohio State–Note that Ohio State didn’t play in a 2012-13 bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.  I was tempted to omit them, except for the fact that they WOULD HAVE played in the BCS championship game.  Plus their coach is Urban Meyer, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Texas A&M

Ole Miss

Pitt

Just as important as who meets those criteria, it’s important to note who DOESN’T pass the test.  Amazingly, 13 of the preseason top 25 are “eliminated” right off the bat.  Sorry about your luck:

Oregon

Georgia

South Carolina

Florida State

Texas

Oklahoma

Nebraska

Boise

TCU

UCLA

Northwestern

USC

Oregon State

Using the system, we’ve narrowed 124 college football teams down to 14 teams who are in prime position to win the National Championship. From here, feel free to apply whatever criteria you want to pick your winner.  I like to look at close wins/losses from last season, turnover margins, and returning defensive talent.  Oh, and I might like to look at Vegas’ odds too, just in case anything catches my interest.

Being the gambling man that I am, I have landed on LSU (12-1) and Oklahoma State (30-1) as two teams that I think can make a run.  Consequently, I’ve put a few dollars on both just to see what happens.  A younger me would have put  money on Ole Miss at 100-1 or whatever it is now, but I backed away from that ledge begrudgingly.

In 2009, this led me to winning some money off a friend when I picked Alabama over the Tebow led Gators to win the SEC and National Championship.  Again in 2010, I won $400 after picking Auburn at 40-1 preseason.  Last year, Florida came within a Jordan Reed-fumble of putting my 50-1 Florida ticket into the SEC title game and possibly the National Championship game.

I’m not saying that you should make these same plays.  Instead, I’m just putting myself on record so that we can revisit this conversation throughout the season.

What Should I Watch? College Football Week 1 edition

Image via PDA Photo/Flickr
Image via PDA Photo/Flickr

Best Game For Scouting NFL Fantasy Football Prospects:

Georgia @ Clemson

Two of the best quarterback prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft square off in this match-up featuring Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd.  Both quarterbacks are fifth year seniors entering their age 23 season, so there should be minimal opening weekend rust.  As this will be Boyd’s first game without DeAndre the giant Hopkins, it will be interesting to see if uber-prospect Sammy Watkins can regain freshman year (2011) form and break through for some big plays.  For Boyd, avoiding interceptions will be a key as he posted the highest 2012 INT% of any of the top prospects.  From Murray, I’m expecting to see some NFL caliber deep throws, especially off play action.  The outstanding Georgia run game will take pressure off him, so there’s no excuse to be wayward with his deep passes.

Honorable mention: Rutgers (WR Brandon Coleman) @ Fresno State (QB Derek Carr, WR Davante Adams)

Game I’m Most Excited To Watch

Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt

You’re probably thinking “who cares about these middle tier SEC teams?”  Well, I do, and here’s why.  1)  It’s opening night of the college football season, so I will be like a kid on Christmas morning.  2) Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief and Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews are two of the four best wide receiver prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft.   3) I think that Ole Miss is one of the deep sleeper teams of 2013.  They have a second year coach (which typical means a big jump in performances), they came on strong in the second half, and destroyed Pitt in their bowl game.  4) Because the resurrection of the Vanderbilt football program has been awesome to see.  Yes, really.  They’ve been to consecutive bowl games and the arrow is pointing up.

Mississippi State vs Oklahoma State…a great early test–and credibility booster–for my National Championship sleeper Oklahoma State.

Highest Scoring/ Most Exciting Game

Washington State @ Auburn

Simply put, these teams are coached by two of the best offensive minds in college football; Gus Malzahn from Auburn and Mike Leach from Washington State (and, formerly, Texas  Tech).  Leach’s team should see a big leap forward in year two of his system.  When he was at Tech, his team scored 8 more points/game in year two compared to year one.  Meanwhile, Malzahn was the brains behind the Chizik/Newton/Auburn 2010 National Championship.  He left Auburn after the 2011 season to become the Arkansas State head coach but is back just a year later.  His offensive scheme is incredibly potent and should be quick to implement given the program’s familiarity.  I’m counting on points galore!

Honorable  Mentions: Northwestern @ Cal, Texas Tech @ SMU

Best Defensive Slugfest

LSU vs TCU

From 2008-2010 TCU ranked as the #1 defense in America.  2011 saw them take a step back and things were even worse last year due to a young defense and the transition to the Big 12.  The Horned Frogs return 17 of their top 19 tacklers this season and I expect them to play with a chip on their shoulder to re-establish themselves as an elite defense.  When it comes to LSU, I recognize that they lost some major talent to the NFL, but here’s what I like: this class is loaded with premier prospects who should be hungry to make a difference in their first year as starters.  I felt like last year’s D could have played “hungrier.”  I expect both defenses to be full throttle on Saturday night. (9pm eastern, ESPN)

Honorable Mention: Alabama vs Virginia Tech

Player To Watch

Casey Pachall. Senior QB, TCU– Going into last season I had Pachall ranked as my #2 QB prospect in college football  (Yes, I’m man enough to admit it). He played great through four games completing 66% of his passes with a 10:1 TD/INT ratio.  Unfortunately Pachall would leave the team due to drug & alcohol abuse issues and not play another game in 2012.  He’s back in the saddle for the 2013 season and eases back into things gets thrown into the fire with a week 1, primetime game against LSU.  It will be fascinating to see how he handles the spotlight in the Jerrydome.

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