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So in the first article, a figure was calculated for what a fair payment would be for NCAA football players given their contributions to college football, along with their comparative market value. While the number of $159,503.80 is inherently useful for a straight calculation, it overgeneralizes a Division 1-A football player. This article will look at how to better distribute the pool of over 1.7 Billion dollars that should be split amongst college football players.

Change 1: We will create two different types of college scholarships. One scholarship is a “Full” Scholarship worth the full value of $159,503.80. The second scholarship will only compensate for Tuition, Room, Board, with an additional payment to offset taxation. These will be Full Athletic Scholarships and Academic Athletic Scholarships (FAS and AAS). A minimum of 60 of the 85 scholarships issued must be FAS’s, although they may offer FAS’s to all 85 scholarship players.

This is created as not every football player is providing the same level of value to college. A Heisman Trophy candidate is clearly producing more than a third string Punter, for example. This is also in part a possible competitive balancing tool, as a smaller school may offer a Full Athletic Scholarship compared to a larger school only offering an Academic Athletic Scholarship.

Players who accept Athletic Scholarships cannot have their scholarships revoked except for what I will refer to as “Gross Student Misconduct”, which for all intents and purposes means “Actions that would cause a member of the student body to be expelled from college”. Additionally, a player on an Academic Athletic Scholarship may be given a Full Athletic Scholarship instead at any point, but a player with a Full Athletic Scholarship cannot have it revoked or demoted to an Academic Athletic Scholarship outside of Gross Student Misconduct. These scholarships will in all cases, pay for at least four years regardless of if the athlete remains on the team.

Change 2: Full Athletic Scholarships are now paying for tuition out of a fixed value. Full Athletic Scholarships will now factor in insurance benefits and financial investments.

A Full Athletic Scholarship is a scholarship of a fixed value, which in this case is $159,503.80. Tuition benefits must come out of this value, and tuition can of course, vary wildly between schools and even between in-state vs. out-of-state students. Tuition prices are factored in only based on what the athlete would be charged if he had no scholarship or athletic involvement. This means that yes, it is possible for athletes to be paid more by their hometown university than one across the nation. Of course, colleges have an option to increase revenue being paid to athletes: Lowering tuition (Possible positive externality 1).

So from this point forward, the value of a Full Athletic Scholarship after taxation becomes relevant. Athletic Scholarships may be taxed for everything beyond the actual cost of Tuition, which varies. We’ll continue to use the number of $20,396.57 for Tuition as a general purpose figure.

$159,503.80 (Full Athletic Scholarship value) – $20,396.57 (Tuition) = $139,107.23 (Income Post Tuition)

Since Hawaii’s rates won’t apply to most athletes, we’ll assume a value of $90,000.00 since it will make some of the math a bit easier to understand. This assumes of course, that athletes are taxed on this much income immediately. While some 18 year olds would be responsible with this much money annually, outside pressures from family, peers, agents, marketers, etc may cause this money to be utilized poorly.

If this money is invested prior to taxes, we’ll have a fairly substantial pool of money for them to rely on throughout their life. Thus, the short term needs and desires of an athlete to have spending cash must be considered along with their long term needs, as this is going to be the only football related revenue most of these athletes will ever receive. With only 255 players being drafted every year, and 10,710 players in Division 1-A Football at any time, this isn’t an unreasonable statement.

We will also consider insurance needs, such as health/disability insurance as well, and set aside $5,000.00 per year for this. I have no idea what the true cost would be, but this feels like a reasonable estimate and provides a backup if they do not have employers insurance to cover their needs.

With all of this said, our goal will be to put $30,000.00 in scholarship money directly into an athlete’s hands every year. While this is definitely a significant number, this will also allow for enough to be invested and saved for short and long term needs. When room and board and other expenses (Which are taxable) are factored in, a FAS will need to have just under $66,000.00 in taxable income in order to provide for this

$66,000.00 (Taxable Income) – $9,818.75 (Federal Income Tax*) – $4,422.72 (State Income Tax**) – $4,092.00 (Social Security Tax) – $957.00 (Medicare Tax) = $46,709.53 (Post Tax Income)

Of which $11,700.00 goes to Room, Board, Books, Supplies, and miscellaneous other expenses, $5,000.00 to long term insurance needs, and $30,009.53 going directly to the athlete after taxes.

However, with $66,000.00 of taxable income out of $139,107.23, this means that the remaining $73,107.23 would be going into long and short term investments for the athletes. This would be broken up into Long Term Portfolios, and Short Term Portfolios. One quarter of this money, or $18,276.81 would go to the Long Term Portfolios every year, while the remainder, $54,830.42 would go into Short Term Portfolios.

The Long Term Portfolios would be accessible by the players 30 years after their graduation, but with options for it to remain longer. The Short Term Portfolio would accumulate interest that is paid annually to the players, and the principal behind it would be paid back to the player 30 years after graduation or later.

If the long term portfolio can yield 5% return on investment, it will issue a one time payment to the players of $340,462.46 thirty years after their graduation. Delaying by another 10 years would increase this payment to $554,577.47. This is however, subject to taxation.

The short term portfolio would be valued at $236,325.96 when the athlete graduates college if it gains 5% interest. This portfolio would be paying $11,816.30 in interest annually if the athletes withdrew this. Alternatively, they could invest this identically to the long term portfolio, which would be worth $1,021,387.18 thirty years after graduation, or $1,663,732.09 forty years after graduation. So a Full Athletic Scholarship could be valued as such…

Free Tuition, Room, Board, Books, Supplies for Four Years ($128,278.68)

$30,000.00 Annually for Four Years in post-tax income

$11,816.30 Annually for Thirty Years after graduation ($354,489.00 Subject to Tax)

$577,088.42 One-Time Payment Thirty Years after graduation (Subject to Tax)

Long Term Insurance Benefits

Bringing the total value of the scholarship to $1,179,856.10, with $931,577.42 subject to taxes at varying points. Post taxes (VERY roughly), the net value of a FAS becomes $731,022.10.

It’s worth noting that this plan would inject an additional $782,978,433.30 into investments every year. The current model in NCAA football likely does not permit this much money to flow back into the economy, although this is something I cannot prove (Possible Positive Externality 2). Additionally, the forced savings and investments may also be utilized as a teaching tool for athletes to learn about proper investment and long term financial planning (Possible Positive Externality 3).

So to summarize, a Full Athletic Scholarship under this plan would pay…

$20,396.57 Annually in Tuition

$11,700.00 Annually to cover for Room, Board, Books, and Miscellaneous College Expenses

$19,290.47 Annually to pay for various State and Federal Taxes

$ 5,000.00 Annually to pay for Long Term Insurance Benefits

$30,009.53 Annually to the Athlete, after taxes.

$11,816.30 Annually after the Athlete is no longer on a scholarship.

$577,088.42 Thirty Years after Graduation.

The last two are subject to taxation.

Change 3: Players will receive revenue from sources other than their scholarships with some restrictions.

Recent legislation seems to make this an inevitability, so we’ll factor this element into the equation. It is my understanding that the revenue reported by the Department of Education does factor in television rights, so we won’t consider that a part of the revenues a player is additionally entitled to. However, the popular franchise NCAA Football would likely have to issue payments to the players under this umbrella of changes. At this moment, the franchise appears to be on hold, but we’ll just assume that it would restart with the same level of popularity as before.

Sales of NCAA Franchise ***

NCAA Football ’14 – 1.71 Million

NCAA Football ’13 – 1.84 Million

NCAA Football ’12 – 1.75 Million

NCAA Football ’11 – 1.72 Million

NCAA Football ’10 – 1.72 Million

On average, NCAA Football sold 1,748,000 copies every year over the last five years. While it should be abundantly clear that the players are not entitled to all or even a large portion of the revenue from this game, they’re still entitled to a decent take. I have relatively limited knowledge of licensing fees from the use of likenesses in a video game, but I would imagine that the players would be entitled to at least 3 dollars of every sale of NCAA Football. This $5,244,000.00 revenue from licensing fees would mean that each player in football is entitled to an extra $489.64. This number is in line with what the recent O’Bannon vs. NCAA settlement**** will pay most of the college players.

The last major change that I would make is that I would allow NCAA Athletes to make paid appearances and sign autographs for profit, under the following restrictions.

  1. These appearances and signings occur when school is not in session.
  2. Half or more of all proceeds generated are donated to a charity of the athlete’s choice.
  3. This charity is a charity that is not directly affiliated with athletes (IE: Donations may not go to the Jay Cutler Foundation or the Mia Hamm Foundation, but they may go to the ALS Association Research Program, the Salvation Army, or Veterans of Foreign Wars.).

Since the donations would be considered tax-deductible, this will benefit the athlete by reducing their tax liabilities. This will also cause an increase the the amount of money donated to charities (Possible Positive Externality 4), and increase the positive exposure of the NCAA and its athletes (Possible Positive Externality 5).

So, there we go. It’s again, not a perfect model, but one that more accurately encapsulates a true value of the contributions of college football in America. Is there room for criticism? Definitely. It’s at least a starting point.

TL;DR Version

Change 1: Creation of two types of scholarships, 1 that similar to existing “Athletic Scholarships” that only pays for college itself, and a “Full Athletic Scholarship” that also pays for their true economic output.

Change 2: Full Athletic Scholarships will now also pay for long term insurance assistance, along with diversification into investment portfolios that will pay athletes back well after they’re no longer on scholarships.

Change 3: Players will be able to capitalize on revenue from other sources.

Positive Externality 1: Colleges may be given incentive to lower tuition for all students in order to attract football talent.

Positive Externality 2: Over 750 million dollars per year will be invested into varying sectors of the economy.

Positive Externality 3: Athletes will receive education on financial planning as a result of Full Athletic Scholarships.

Positive Externality 4: Athletes who wish to utilize their name and likeness for profit will donate substantial portions of money to charity.

Positive Externality 5: Increased donations to charity by NCAA Athletes in the form of money will increase positive press on College Football.

* – Federal Taxes assumes a player has no dependents, is single, takes 1 Personal Exemptions and a Standardized Deduction. This was calculated using tax-rates.org.

** – State Taxes are calculated using Hawaii’s values, which are the highest nationally.

*** – Per VGChartz.com

**** – http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/11055977/ncaa-reaches-20m-settlement-video-game-claims

The Twitch: Short fantasy relevant blurbs with reactionary news that’s far too premature for the rest of the fantasy year.

 

The Twitch

Colts @ Broncos

  • Behind TY Hilton and Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener was 3rd in targets for the Colts with 8. Now, Andrew Luck won’t likely throw 53 passes per game and Coby Fleener only got 3 catches out of those 8 targets, but if you’re in need of TE depth, Fleener has had a long history with Luck and may continue to see balls thrown his way.
  • Montee Ball received 23 carries compared to 4 for CJ Anderson, and no other Broncos RB touched the football. Sure, he wasn’t particularly productive with those carries, but there may not be much of a time share, which can only benefit Montee Ball.

Saints @ Falcons

  • Mark Ingram got as many carries as Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson combined and was productive with them. He also scored a pair of TD’s. He didn’t do much passing (Although Pierre Thomas caught 6 catches) but Ingram looks like he’ll get his fair share of work so far.
  • Devin Hester could be an interesting flyer. With 6 passes thrown his way and 5 receptions off of those throws, he may continue to get work in the Falcons offense. Don’t expect Matt Ryan to get 450 yards a game, but there could be yardage for Hester available.

Vikings @ Rams

  • Greg Jennings and Matt Cassel have a good rapport. As long as Cassel is starting, it’s worth considering Jennings in most leagues. Six catches, 58 yards, and 1 TD lead the Vikings receivers.
  • Brian Quick caught 4 passes from Shaun Hill and 3 from Austin Davis, pacing the Rams WR’s. While the Rams might still be doomed this year, Brian Quick appears to be a favored target for both of the QB’s on the active roster.

Browns @ Steelers

  • Andrew Hawkins and Terrence West will be amongst the most popular fantasy pick ups. Ben Tate got hurt early (and has always been injury prone) and West looked solid vs. the Steelers. Hawkins paced the Browns in both yardage and receptions, and it wasn’t close.
  • Markus Wheaton was hyped during camp but didn’t really do much during the preseason. 6 catches, 97 yards, and tied the team for most targets… guess preseason might not matter that much after all.

Jaguars @ Eagles

  • Without Cecil Shorts on the field, Allen Hurns and Marquis Lee were the most productive receivers for the Jaguars. Marcedes Lewis (Remember him?) also had 6 catches but only managed 35 yards. Hurns provided the highlights this week, but with an uncertain receiver situation when Shorts comes back, he might not sustain this momentum.
  • No one expected Nick Foles to repeat his 2013 performance, right? The yardage and touchdowns will still be there, but he isn’t going to be what he was last year.

Raiders @ Jets

  • I’ll just point out that Denarius Moore paced the Raiders with 8 targets, but was only able to come up with 2 catches for 8 yards. He’s been a solid receiver otherwise, and is available in nearly 95% of leagues.
  • Chris Ivory had a nice looking stat line (10 carries, 102 yards), but 71 yards were from a single carry. If someone in your league is coveting him, sell high. He’ll be in a time share with Chris Johnson regardless.

Bengals @ Ravens

  • Giovani Bernard actually paced the Bengals in receptions, and although his work on the ground was middling, he’ll be a huge part of the Bengals offense.
  • Justin Forsett, not Bernard Pierce, will be the Ravens RB you’ll want now that Ray Rice has been cut. Doesn’t mean there’ll be much there for Forsett, but he’ll get whatever yards are there for the Ravens.

Bills @ Bears

  • The Bills will incorporate three RB’s into the rotation, and if Anthony Dixon’s performance this week was any indication, they may be giving him even more work in the future.
  • Jay Cutler put up 17 points this week against a defense that is still fairly decent. Given how porous the Bears defense is, he might not be a bad pickup if you can get him.

Redskins @ Texans

  • Niles Paul had the most yardage for the Redskins, but only had 4 targets. Pierre Garcon or Desean Jackson will still be the better WR.
  • The Texans look like they’ll run Arian Foster into the ground as there’s no talent behind him. Despite their comparative lack of talent, Jonathan Grimes or Alfred Blue may worth picking up if/when Arian Foster gets injured.

Titans @ Chiefs

  • Dexter McCluster wound up seeing more work at RB than Bishop Sankey. He can still take the top off of a defense, but don’t expect that to continue throughout the season.
  • Yes, Donnie Avery lead the Chiefs in every single passing category, but Dwayne Bowe was out. He’ll be back next week… let someone else get Avery for the moment. He’ll be closer to his 2013 numbers when he’s relegated to the #2 option.

Patriots @ Dolphins

  • Kenbrell Thompkins had 10 targets, behind Rob Gronkowski. He’s available in most leagues and may be worth a roster space.
  • Knowshon Moreno may have the starting position for the Dolphins, but Lamar Miller may still be worth owning in fantasy. Can the Dolphins offense sustain two fantasy caliber RB’s? Maybe.

Panthers @ Buccaneers

  • The Panthers will, in fact, give carries to Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. This will probably damper DeAngelo Williams’s value rather than give any real value to either of those RB’s.
  • Brandon Myers replaced Tim Wright and looks like he may have a big role to play with the Buccaneers, especially if that offensive line is as bad as we think it is. Definitely worth a look at TE.

49’ers @ Cowboys

  • I honestly have nothing to add to this for the 49’ers. No real surprises, no disappointments. Michael Crabtree underperformed, but it’s more likely to be a fluke than a recurring theme.
  • Lance Dunbar got some work out of the back field but DeMarco Murray was the only running back with carries. Murray is injury prone but will likely be productive until then.

Packers @ Seahawks

  • James Starks is available in over 30% of leagues and may have a bigger role, especially if Eddie Lacy’s concussions prove to be an issue. He outrushed Lacy, but if they’re both healthy, Lacy still will get most of the work.
  • Doug Baldwin was 2nd in targets behind Percy Harvin. He has had at least 775 yards in two of his first three NFL campaigns, so there’s definitely potential.

Giants @ Lions

  • If the Giants can’t figure out their offensive line, that should be a good sign for a slot receiver like Jerel Jernigan. He was 2nd behind Larry Donnell in targets and lead all WR’s for the Giants.
  • No real surprises for the Lions, but Joseph Fauria caught a 2 point conversion. Fauria caught 7 TD’s last year, so he may be worth looking for.

Chargers @ Cardinals

  • Malcolm Floyd lead the Chargers in productivity amongst the Chargers’ WR’s with 50 yards and the only passing TD from Phillip Rivers. He’ll likely produce 700-800 yards, like he has in his non injury shortened seasons.
  • Larry Fitzgerald only saw two targets and couldn’t pull any catches from it, but rookie John Brown was actually tied for second in targets with 5. Brown could be a player to look out for.

New England Patriots

Coaching: How long has Bill Belichick coached the Patriots? Who cares at this point. It’s his team, and that extends to the offense which Josh McDaniels is taking over after a few years elsewhere. McDaniels will likely be subserviant to Belichick, reflecting his offense rather than his own philosophies.

Overall: Ranked 9th in both rushing attempts AND yards per carry in 2014 (2065 yards, 4.4 YPC), but will be losing LeGarrette Blount who was their most productive rusher on a per carry basis (And a close 2nd in yardage). Finished 10th in passing yardage but only 17th in yards per attempt. Repeating similar metrics this year appears likely given the development of Tom Brady’s younger receivers and the depth along the skill positions on this team. With that being said, the Patriots are defined by their head coach more than any other NFL team takes their personality from their coaching. Bill Belichick is primarily a defensive coach who as time has progressed, proven to be equally adept at managing an offense.

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady’s the QB. Despite throwing the 2nd most attempts in his career (628), Brady posted one of his worst campaigns in years, setting lows in Completion Percentage (Lowest since 2003), Yards per attempt (Lowest since 2006), Touchdowns (Lowest since 2006), and Yardage (Lowest since 2010). His interceptions weren’t particularly out of line with other seasons though. The real talk is if Brady is over the hill, given his 13th place finish amongst quarterbacks.

Don’t worry too much about it. Tom Brady’s receiving corps is largely intact from last season, but the Patriots added Brandon LaFell (627 yards last year) and continued improvement from Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson should mean that Tom Brady will have no issues replicating his 4,343 yards from last year. And without LeGarrette Blount hammering in TD’s in short yardage situations (7 TD’s on 153 carries), there’s more opportunities for touchdown passes. After all, his three seasons before this, Brady had 36, 39, and 34 TD passes. It’s worth noting that if Brady had matched his 34 TD passes from two seasons ago, Brady would have tied with Phillip Rivers for 6th in fantasy scoring rather than 13th.

TL;DR: Tom Brady can be acquired in the 6th round and is usually the 6th QB off the board, if not later. Draft him. Draft him now.

Running Backs: In the past 5 years, the New England Patriots have failed to be a top 12 rushing offense only once. In that same time frame, the Patriots have had three different leading rushers, and their #2 RB in terms of rushing yardage has changed every season. Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount split carries fairly evenly last year, while Shane Vereen spent most of the year injured. In limited action Vereen accumulated 208 rushing yards (4.7 ypc) and 427 receiving yards (9.1 ypc). Shane Vereen is being drafted as a borderline RB2 at this point despite having fewer than 1,100 yards from scrimmage in his career in his first three seasons of work. Stevan Ridley is on again, off again in Bill Belichick’s dog house, but he’s been the team’s leading rusher the last two seasons despite offering basically nothing as a receiver (10 catches in 2013).

Short story here is that the Patriots are a consistently productive rushing offense, but good luck finding who’s going to be the bell cow this year, or even on a week to week basis. Despite leading the team in rushing overall, Stevan Ridley only lead the team in rushing yards on a week to week basis five times. The Patriots change things up and fool defenses more than nearly any other team in fantasy. It’ll be brutally frustrating to own any of the RB’s in the New England backfield, but there’s definitely production to be had.

Receivers: Did any position group get eviscerated more than the WR’s for the Patriots last year? Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are both big targets but were very raw coming into the NFL. Edelman is a converted quarterback, and the big free agency pickup Danny Amendola has never had a consistent track record of health. While I think Edelman will continue to be the most reliable fantasy contributor amongst this bunch, Dobson and Thompkins are worthy late round fliers (mostly Dobson) who could yield some explosive results. Brandon LaFell may wind up being the next Brandon Lloyd here, but given his middling career so far, expect the same 500-700 yard season he’s put up as of late. Danny Amendola would likely get the majority of the work in New England if he could see the field consistently, but… he can’t. The 10th round pick you’ll likely need to draft him isn’t an unwarranted gamble though.

Rob Gronkowski remains one of my favorite players in the NFL, if only because of having exceptionally fond memories of watching him carve Pac-10 defenses while he was in college. Extrapolating his numbers over a 16 game season, and he would have had 96 Catches, 1,457 Yards, 10 TD’s. If it wasn’t for Jimmy Graham scoring 16 TD’s, Gronkowski would easily have been the #1 TE in Fantasy last year (With 10 more catches going for 242 more yards than Graham). On the other hand, he’s gone on Injured Reserve in each of his last two seasons (For a broken forearm and a torn ACL/MCL), and also missed his entire last season in college due to a herniated disc in his back. He’s demonstrated that he is the best TE in the game while he’s on the field but has just as strongly demonstrated that he cannot stay on the field reliably. This is not the return you’ll need from a third round pick, which is what you’ll have to spend to acquire him. Let another player deal with the headache of owning him unless there’s substantial value.

 

Recently I was asked to write a guide to playing a fantasy football league to two people who have never done anything of the sort before. Is this going to sound a lot like what Matthew Berry writes up? You bet it will.

 

1. Know the rules of the league you’re playing in. This seems obvious, but the league’s rules will change your priorities around a lot. In a PPR (Points per reception) league? Running backs like Jamaal Charles and Darren Sproles who can catch the football become more important and WR’s in general become more valuable. In a 2-Quarterback league, you’re going to be looking at guys like Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill that you wouldn’t think about in a regular league. The bottom line is, you can’t know who to draft until you know what’s important in your league.

2. You can’t win your league in the first two rounds, but you certainly lose it. We generally have at least a vague, faint idea of who the most productive players in a given year will be. It’s why you don’t see Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, or Peyton Manning slip very far in most drafts. Now imagine if, when every other team gets a player like that, you’re getting someone who doesn’t put up numbers. Or is injured the entire season. That’s a LOT of ground to make up, since the other teams still have their best player, while you’re trying desperately to make up ground.

3. You’re going to win your league with late round draft picks and shrewd waiver pickups. The reverse to the previous rule… while it’s very hard to find elite production, mediocre productivity is easy to find. 26 guys last year had between 600 and 800 receiving yards. That last guy, Jerricho Cotchery, had 602 yards. He was 69th in receiving yardage. Think about what when you’re in a 12 team league. The team that wins your league is the team that drafted Josh Gordon, Harry Douglas, or Jordan Cameron late last year. Or the guy who picked up Alfred Morris two years ago. Remember that it’s very easy to find SOME production, and don’t be afraid to take huge risks after you’ve got a solid core of players. It’s worth it to find the next Jimmy Graham or Keenan Allen.

4. Don’t worry about a defense or a kicker. I’ll go over defenses in more detail later, but kickers are damned near impossible to predict and even if you did predict them… the difference in their scoring over the course of a season is virtually nothing. Wait until the last round to draft your kicker. For defenses, if you’re going to be active, you’re almost always going to be better off getting a brand new defense every week to play an utterly useless offense every time. For example, you could safely assume that the Raiders and Jaguars will have impotent offenses this year, so selecting a defense that will play them in Week1 will be a fairly safe bet. Just so happens, the Jets and the Eagles, who get those bumbling offenses in week 1, aren’t really being drafted at all in typical 12 team leagues. Which means you can get them as late as you damned well please.

5. Don’t get more than two quarterbacks or two tight ends. If you have a quality player at each of those positions, then you should only need your backup QB and backup TE for a single week. Those second picks should also come fairly late. Make sure you have the majority of a starting lineup before you go and draft your backups.

6. You should have as many running backs or wide receivers as you can. In a 15 round draft, you’ll have room to get about 9 Running Backs or Wide Receivers. You’ll start at least two, possibly three of them, but do try to build your depth here. It’s the most random position and since you’ll have to start more than one of them every week, it’s worth it to build depth there.

7. Watch the preseason and follow the news, but…

8. Don’t read too much into what you see and read. If someone’s being hyped and you’re not sure why, that might be a sign to not buy high. If you see a player who’s done well and been consistent struggle or fall in the draft a little bit, that might be your cue to get some value that wasn’t there a while ago.

9. Practice! The only way to know what’s going to happen come draft day is to join up with mock drafts and figure out what you’ll see. Seriously. There’s no better way to learn what to look for then to well… look for it.

10. Blah blah blah have fun whatever.

Miami Dolphins
3rd year of HC Joe Philbin. 1st year of OC Bill Lazor, who previously worked with Philadelphia (QB Coach), the University of Virginia (OC/QB Coach), and Seattle (QB Coach)
Offensive Line: I’ll address the line here since this hangs over the entire fantasy potential of this offense. Miami had awful pass protection, losing two starting offensive linemen due to the well known hazing scandal. On top of this, their overall talent was fairly meager to begin. Their best lineman, Mike Pouncey, will be out to begin the year, and they’re working with an entirely new offensive line from top to bottom. If the line pans out to any repsectable level, the prospects of the entire team will be fairly decent, as there’s potential here amongst everyone. If not, not a lot to look forward to.
Quarterbacks: Ryan Tannehill finished 16th amongst quarterbacks in fantasy football, but it doesn’t feel like that to most people. While admittedly, he wasn’t very good last year, he has some marginal value. Consider his 2013 stats as a baseline, as his rapport with Mike Wallace can’t possibly be worse than last year, and his blocking also can’t be any worse than last year. He hasn’t missed a game yet, but there could be concerns about his durability if he’s continually under siege this year as well. He’s a decent QB2 with a shot at a 4,000 yard season, so there’s a lot of yards to go around in the Miami offense. He’ll also add some yards with his legs. He’s actually one of the best running QB’s in the league despite no one talking about this.

Running Backs: In Bill Lazor’s 3 years as offensive coordinator at Virginia, his top two running backs shared relatively even workloads. His top RB received between 160 and 184 carries, and his second RB received between 137 and 152 carries. Under Joe Philbin, he has typically relied on a single running back who received the majority of the carries with the backup receiving significantly less work. It seems like Joe Philbin’s tendencies will continue.
Miami rarely ran the ball last year (29th in the league) but was at least reasonably productive when they attempted (4.1 YPC, 17th). It’s currently unclear whether or not they’ll continue to abandon the run game, but the personnel is lackluster enough to warrant ignoring the running game.

Lamar Miller is being drafted as a RB3 despite not a lot of competition for the starting job. Lamar Miller finished 26th last year in rushing yards (709) in his first season as the primary ball carrier for Miami with another 170 yards in the air. Knowshon Moreno, Daniel Thomas, and Mike Gillislee will be meager competition for him to get work, and it seems like his 2013 statistics are a baseline with potential for much more. He isn’t getting a lot of love, but if he’s healthy, Lamar Miller could be a sleeper at RB.
Knowshon Moreno is being drafted only a couple of rounds later as a handcuff for Miller. He’s been injured most of training camp and is only on a one year deal. He’ll steal carries here and there, but Moreno can likely be ignored in fantasy. Given he’s being drafted in the middle rounds, he’s not worth picking up.
Late Sleeper: Mike Gillislee is not being drafted at the moment but has, compared to most, a relatively clear shot to substantial playing time. Moreno and Thomas are both injured and only mildly effective. Lamar Miller is not a significant threat in the running game. It wouldn’t be surprising for him to see carries as the season goes on. Gillislee was a sleeper amongst many draft analysts coming out of Florida, and he might get a shot to prove why this year. More than worth considering as a late round flier.
Receivers: Lots to look forward to here, actually. If 2013 is any indication, there’s about 4,000 passing yards to divide out here, so you’re definitely going to have some impact fantasy players amongst them. Brian Hartline lead the team in receptions and yards last year (But not targets) over Mike Wallace. Wallace is going as a WR3, but Hartline is being drafted as a late round sleeper, and is at least occasionally going undrafted entirely. He’s had 1k yard seasons in both campaigns with Ryan Tannehill, and it doesn’t seem like that’ll change. Wallace is likely being properly evaluated given his struggles to develop timing and rhythm last season, but Hartline, who isn’t asked to go deep as often, is representing some serious value.
Charles Clay tied for 9th amongst TE’s for receiving yardage last year while also pitching in with 7 total TD’s (1 from rushing). Given his late draft position (14th overall amongst TE’s) he represents some value albeit with some risk as he has little track record. Given he’s being drafted as a late round flier, he’s not a bad dart to throw at the wall.
Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson also contributed in the passing game last year, but with two and possibly three ball dominant targets in the fold, it’s unlikely that they’ll be fantasy relevant. Brian Hartline’s PCL tear may slow him down, so keeping an eye on one or both may not be a terrible idea.

This is part of a series for the entire league taking a look team by team about fantasy prospects, outlooks, and potential sleepers.

Buffalo Bills
Coaching: This is the 2nd year under the Doug Marrone era, with Nathaniel Hackett as his offensive coordinator. Since Hackett came with Marrone from Syracuse, it seems reasonable to state that he’s primarily working under Marrone’s offensive philosophies, so his past won’t be considered.

Overall: Buffalo was 2nd in terms of Rushing Yardage (2,307, behind only Philadelphia) but was not particularly productive on a per-carry basis (4.2 YPC, tied for 14th in the league with Houston and Carolina). Owing in large part to having 3 rookie quarterbacks who all saw playing time, the Bills had one of the least productive passing offenses in the league by any metric. It seems safe to assume that they’ll throw for more than 3,103 yards this season and will likely have more than 16 touchdowns (A number that tied for 30th in the league), most of this improvement will be reliant on continued improvement and more importantly, good health from EJ Manuel.
Quarterbacks: EJ Manuel was 11th in QB rushing last season with 186 yards despite not playing through a full season. He was fairly raw entering the NFL, and injuries prevented him from playing through about 40% of the NFL season. Extrapolating his numbers over a full season would give us…
303/515, 3321 yards, 19 TD’s, 15 INT’s with 313 Rushing Yards and 3 Rushing TD’s
Which would alone give Buffalo another 300 yards or so in passing offense, which is a start. It’s also pretty safe to assume that EJ Manuel will do better this year than last. This is important, since even in his injury shortened season, the numbers aren’t pretty for EJ Manuel.
29th in QB Rating (Behind Kellen Clemens, Case Keenum, and Christian Ponder)
28th in Total QB Rating (Behind Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Mike Glennon)
28th in Completion % (Behind Robert GRiffin, Mike Glennon, and Joe Flacco)
32nd in Yards per Attempt (Behind Alex Smith, Brandon Weeden, and Matt Schaub)
24th in INT % amongst QB’s with at least 200 Attempts (Behind Cam Newton, Chad Henne, and Ryan Tannehill)
29th in Fantasy Football Scoring amongst QB’s (Behind Mike Glennon, Terrelle Pryor, and Josh McCown)
So… there’s work to be done. Clearly. One saving grace is that if EJ Manuel was healthy for the entire season, his pro-rated performance would yield 227 points and place him 16th in the rankings amongst QB’s. He’ll also have more talent to work with than last year and it seems likely that Manuel will be more capable, rather than less, in his 2nd year.
EJ Manuel does in fact, have some value as a QB2 in fantasy if you think he’ll remain healthy for all 16 games. On the other hand, quarterbacks outside of the elite handful are rather fungible commodities… and he was banged up quite a bit last year. He’s got some upside if you’re buying into the development and the hype, but there’s a lot of depth at QB, even if the pool up top is rather shallow.

Running Backs: CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson last year were options 1A and 1B, with both having just over 200 carries. Jackson had a significantly higher amount of TD’s compared to Spiller, and actually saw more work in the receiving game, where CJ Spiller’s effectiveness was decidedly lackluster (33 Receptions for 185 yards). With Fred Jackson signing a contract extending him until the 2015 season, it doesn’t seem like his role is going to evaporate. Tashard Choice was the 3rd running back for the Bills last season, and saw very little work (35 carries, 8 targets). Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown appear to be in line for more work than that, but given that the Bills already ran the ball more times than anyone else in the game, it’s hard to see where that production comes without eating into Spiller and Jackson’s workloads.

CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are the only two fantasy relevant players here barring injury. Based on previous track records, there won’t be a huge difference between them in terms of productivity. With that being said, CJ Spiller is going 5 rounds ahead of Jackson. With only 1,394 combined carries/receptions, Fred Jackson has a lot less wear on his tires than you’d think given his age (In fact, it’s even fewer than what LeSean McCoy, who’s 7 years younger has had), so his aging curve isn’t going to be typical. Spiller may have more opportunities for breakway plays, but his athleticism didn’t translate to touchdowns last year, and it might not this year.

With that being said, the depth of this RB Corps means that the fantasy upside for this outfit is limited. Dixon and Brown may steal another 50 or so touches from both Jackson and Spiller, but that’ll do more to hurt the latter pair’s value than to enhance the former’s.

Receivers: No receiver for the Bills had more than Scott Chandler with 655 yards. Stevie Johnson lead the WR’s with 597 yards, albeit with 100 targets (He caught 52 total passes, which is a rather poor conversion rate). This year, Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams were both brought in to bolster the WR corps, which may or may not be successful. Robert Woods is still on the roster (587 yards although he only caught 40 out of his 86 passes thrown his way), but will be surrounded by more talent than before. With 5 pass catchers tallying at least 360 yards a piece, there will be yardage to go around, and it’s entirely possible that we may have a thousand yard receiver in the mix here.

There’s a lot of potential in this WR corps for fantasy purposes. Scott Chandler may not be drafted frequently, but he was 12th in terms of yardage and the TD’s are variable from year to year. He’s worth considering, especially since he can be had late. Robert Woods had a decently productive rookie season, and it’s not unreasonable to think Year 2 won’t be better for him, and it’s worth remembering that while Mike Williams doesn’t have a 1,000 yard season under his belt, he did have at least 960 yards in two of his four professional seasons. Williams is also being reuined with his old college coach.

Sammy Watkins is being drafted as a WR3, which isn’t unreasonable at first glance. In the past two seasons, the best rookie WR had 1,046 yards and 861 yards (Keenan Allen and TY Hilton, respectively). The problem? Neither of them were considered the best rookie WR entering the season, and both had guys that occupied defenses more than they do (Antonio Gates and Reggie Wayne, respectively). Watkins has the potential to be very good, but he’s the biggest target in the Bills’ passing game which means he probably won’t enjoy the same success that previous top rookie WR’s had. As a backup he’s worth a flier, and if he lives up to the hype could be very good, but even though Keenan Allen posted 1,046 yards last year, that was still only 21st amongst WR’s. Temper your expectations accordingly. Robert Woods and Mike Williams are both very viable late round flier options, and both will be available very deep into your draft. One or the other should develop into a relevant fantasy WR.

Defense

The Bills finished 8th last year in scoring defense, which is solid. They’ll benefit from matchups with the Texans (Wk 4, Jets (Wk 8, Wk 12), Browns (Wk 13), and Raiders (Wk 16). For what it’s worth, the Bills may not be a bad defense to own in fantasy football this year given 5 favorable defensive matchups.

Question: What exactly are college football players in the Division 1-A level rightly owed for their services? This includes tuition, out of pocket expenses, food, board, etc.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a perfect answer. I merely wish to provide something that sparks some discussion.
We’ll work with the following assumptions.
1. College football players should be paid. This assumption is justifiable since colleges already award scholarships for playing football.
2. College football players should NOT receive the entirety of the revenue generated by college football.
3. College scholarships have economic value.
4. We’ll attempt to emulate existing models for football player compensation within this realm. And by this, I mean we’ll assume that college players are deserving of the same percentage of the money as NFL players are for their efforts.
5. Only players who are on an athletic scholarship will be counted for the purpose of this evaluation.
———-
First… what is a college scholarship worth? Collegedata suggests that the average cost of tuition for an out of state student at a public school is $22,203, in state for public school is $8,893, and private schools average $30,094. The Division 1-A Schools run the gamut of academic institutions. The average of all three is $20,396.67. This is FAR from a perfect number, but it’s difficult to encapsulate the choices available to athletes if they didn’t have an athletic scholarship available to them.
If we’re going to factor in room and board (10,000/Year), textbooks and academic supplies ($1,200), along with a small stipend for non-entertainment expenses ($500), we’re looking at every year, the average D1-A player should receive a scholarship valued at $32,069.67 per year.
———-
Second… what’s the total value of those scholarships? If we’re going to be fair to the colleges here, we need to factor this into the value of the money produced by college football. With 126 D1-A teams producing 85 scholarships each, a total of 10,710 players at any given time are receiving scholarships for football. 10,710 x $32,069.67 = $343,466,165.70 is the aggregate value of ALL D1-A football scholarships. Kind of a big number, actually.
———-
Alright. So the real question is how much revenue these players actually generate. While the numbers can be a little difficult to pin down, what appeared to be the most accurate number is from the Department of Education. From their report, in the year 2012, D1-A college football generated a total of $3,178,772,448 in revenue. Add this into what’s already spent for the scholarships, and we’re looking at a D1-A football pie to break up of $3,522,238,613.70. Over three and a half billion dollars.
———
Okay. Now, the real question to this is how the money should be broken up. The NFL’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement states that the players will receive 47-48.5% of the revenue generated. While the actual process for that number is rather complicated…. let’s just boil it down to players will get 48.5% of the revenue generated from college football, since the closest comparision (NFL Players) receive the same share. With that, then players would by rights, be entitled to an aggregate total of $1,708,285,728.00 of the money generated. Splitting this pile a total of 10,710 ways yields a total of…
$159,503.80 per player. Of which, $127,434.13 of this money on average would be paid in salary, the remainder as tuition.
That’s quite a bit of money for a 18 year old kid. While I’m sure there’s a lot of questions that pop up, to me the most immediately alarming issue is this.
How can 18 year olds who come into a sudden windfall of money help the athletes from squandering this money, both by protecting them from themselves, and protecting them from other people?
…Let’s deal with these questions in another post.

Q&A Session
Q: Why create the sack rate?
A: To put it into perspective, let’s take two extremes. Imagine a defense that only accumulates one sack all season. But teams only threw on them once. Imagine another team that collected 500 sacks in a season. But they’re thrown on twenty five thousand times. Every other passing play, the first team collected a sack. Every FIFTIETH passing play, the second team collects a sack. This puts that into perspective.
Q: Why don’t you include Hurries/Knockdowns/Factor in Quarterbacks and Divisions/Peyton Manning Factor/Sixth Senses/Roughing the Passer Penalties/Intentional Grounding?
A: To put it plainly, they’re not sacks. How much is a QB Hurry worth in relation to a sack? What about knocking the QB down? What sort of coefficient would we use to determine schedules? How would we do so, even? Similarly, what sort of bonus do we give other AFC South teams and anyone who plays a QB with a good feel for when the pocket will collapse? Do we penalize other teams too? What about turnovers created by pressure? It’s a crapload of questions that frankly, don’t have good answers. Enough people will criticize the work I’ve done already here. We don’t need even more things to argue over.
Q: I have a website and I’d like to host your data. Can I?
A: The data and analysis is my intellectual property. If you’d like to profit off of it, send me a message first.
Observations
- Congrats to the Chiefs, who cut their sack rate by about 60%. Granted, they were far and away the worst sack rate ever in 2008, and they’re still the second worst pass rush this year.
- The Saints have one of the worst sack rates of Super Bowl winning teams in the last decade. The Colts are even worse. Until lately, every super bowl winner had at least an above average sack rate.
- Once again, the average sack rate seems to be roughly sixteen. I would claim any defense that can get their sack rate below fifteen should be satisfied with their pass rush. Any team that is above sixteen should be looking to actively improve their pass rush.
Teams arranged by Sack Rate (Sack Rate)
Miami Dolphins (11.11)
Pittsburgh Steelers (11.66)
Oakland Raiders (11.83)
Minnesota Vikings (12.16)
Washington Redskins (12.78)
Denver Broncos (13.07)
Cleveland Browns (13.15)
Philadelphia Eagles (13.18)
San Francisco 49’ers (13.18)
Dallas Cowboys (13.62)
Arizona Cardinals (13.79)
Green Bay Packers (14.59)
Chicago Bears (15.17)
San Diego Chargers (15.26)
New York Giants (15.56)
New York Jets (15.66)
Carolina Panthers (15.97)
Cincinatti Bengals (16.09)
Buffalo Bills (16.22)
Baltimore Ravens (16.38)
New Orleans Saints (16.40)
New England Patriots (16.52)
Indianapolis Colts (17.15)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17.21)
Houston Texans (18.27)
Tennessee Titans (18.88)
Atlanta Falcons (19.18)
St. Louis Rams (19.64)
Seattle Seahawks (20.29)
Detroit Lions (20.96)
Kansas City Chiefs (23.14)
Jacksonville Jaguars (36.43)
Teams arranged by Defensive Yards Per Pass Attempt (DYPA, Sack Rate)
1. New York Jets (5.4, 15.66)
2. Buffalo Bills (6.0, 16.22)
3. Indianapolis Colts (6.2, 17.15)
4. Denver Broncos (6.3, 13.07)
5. Cincinatti Bengals (6.4, 16.09)
6. Green Bay Packers (6.4, 14.59)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (6.5, 13.18)
8. Carolina Panthers (6.6, 15.97)
9. San Diego Chargers (6.7, 15.26)
10. Baltimore Ravens (6.7, 16.38)
11. Houston Texans (6.7, 18.27)
12. Arizona Cardinals (6.7, 13.79)
13. Dallas Cowboys (6.8, 13.62)
14. San Francisco 49’ers (6.8, 13.18)
15. Pittsburgh STeelers (6.9, 11.66)
16. Chicago Bears (6.9, 15.17)
17. New Orleans Saints (6.9, 16.40)
18. Washington Redskins (7.0, 12.78)
19. New England Patriots (7.0, 16.52)
20. Minnesota Vikings (7.1, 12.16)
21. Tennessee Titans (7.2, 18.88)
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7.2, 17.21)
23. Seattle Seahawks (7.2, 20.29)
24. New York Giants (7.4, 15.56)
25. Atlanta Falcons (7.5, 19.18)
26. Kansas City Chiefs (7.6, 23.14)
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (7.6, 36.43)
28. Cleveland Browns (7.9, 13.15)
29. St. Louis Rams (8.0, 19.64)
30. Oakland Raiders (8.1, 11.83)
31. Detroit Lions (8.1, 20.96)
32. Miami Dolphins (8.2, 11.11)
Out of the 12 teams with the highest sack rate…
- 5 of them made the playoffs. (Vikings, Eagles, Cowboys, Cardinals, Packers)
- 4 recieved picks in the top 12 in the NFL draft (Dolphins, Redskins, Raiders, Browns)
- 3 ranked in the bottom 12 in Defensive Yards Per Pass Attempt (DYPA) (Dolphins, Raiders, Browns)
- 4 ranked in the top 12 of DYPA (Broncos, Eagles, Cardinals, Cowboys)
Out of the 12 teams with the lowest sack rate…
- 3 of them made the playoffs (Colts, Patriots, Saints)
- 6 recieved picks in the top 12 in the NFL draft (Jaguars, Chiefs, Lions, Seahawks, Rams, Buccaneers)
- 6 ranked in the bottom 12 of DYPA (Lions, Rams, Jaguars, Chiefs, Falcons, Seahawks)
- 2 ranked in the top 12 of DYPA (Colts, Texans)

Draft Theory: “You can draft running backs late, because they’re so easy to find and the position translates to easily from college to the NFL.”

Because of how the NFL has changed, we can no longer simply consider the first man on the depth chart to be a starting running back, and refer to the players behind him merely as “Depth”. As the platooning method becomes more and more common, we need to look at more than one running back playing a major role in a team’s success.

As a result, for the purpose of this study, if a team’s leading rusher accumulated fewer than 62.5% of the team’s total yards on the ground, then the top two rushers on the team will be considered.

Felix Jones – 685 Yards, 5.9 Average
Chris Johnson* – 2006 Yards, 5.6 Average
DeAngelo Williams – 1117 Yards, 5.2 Average
Jonathan Stewart – 1133 Yards, 5.1 Average
Jason Campbell*** – 236 Yards, 5.1 Average
Willis McGahee – 544 Yards, 5.0 Average
Ricky Williams – 1121 Yards, 4.7 Average
Rashard Mendenhall – 1108 Yards, 4.6 Average
Beanie Wells – 793 Yards, 4.5 Average
Steven Jackson* – 1416 Yards, 4.4 Average
Adrian Peterson* – 1383 Yards, 4.4 Average
Ronnie Brown – 648 Yards, 4.4 Average
Thomas Jones – 1402 Yards, 4.2 Average
Cedric Benson – 1251 Yards, 4.2 Average
Cadillac Williams – 823 Yards, 3.9 Average
Laurence Maroney – 757 Yards, 3.9 Average
Knowshon Moreno – 947 Yards, 3.8 Average
Joseph Addai* – 828 Yards, 3.8 Average
Marshawn Lynch – 450 Yards, 3.8 Average
Julius Jones – 663 Yards, 3.7 Average
Jamal Lewis – 500 Yards, 3.5 Average
LaDanian Tomlinson – 730 Yards, 3.3 Average
Larry Johnson – 581 Yards, 3.3 Average

23 1st round picks

Kevin Faulk – 335 Yards, 5.4 Average
Ray Rice – 1339 Yards, 5.3 Average
Maurice Jones-Drew* – 1391 Yards, 4.5 Average
LeSean McCoy – 637 Yards, 4.1 Average
Maurice Morris – 384 Yards, 4.1 Average
Clinton Portis – 494 Yards, 4.0 Average
Matt Forte – 929 Yards, 3.6 Average

7 2nd round picks

Jamaal Charles – 1120 Yards, 5.9 Average
Shonn Greene – 540 Yards, 5.0 Average
Frank Gore* – 1120 Yards, 4.9 Average
Ryan Moats – 390 Yards, 3.9 Average
Justin Fargas – 491 Yards, 3.8 Average
Kevin Smith – 747 Yards, 3.4 Average
Steve Slaton – 437 Yards, 3.3 Average

6 3rd round picks

Corell Buckhalter – 642 Yards, 5.4 Average
Michael Turner – 871 Yards, 4.9 Average
Michael Bush – 589 Yards, 4.8 Average
Marion Barber – 932 Yards, 4.4 Average
Brandon Jacobs – 835 yards, 3.7 Average
Darren Sproles – 343 Yards, 3.7 Average

7 4th round picks

Jerome Harrison – 862 Yards, 4.4 Average
Tim Hightower – 598 Yards, 4.2 Average

2 5th round picks

Bernard Scott – 321 Yards, 4.3 Average

1 6th round pick

Justin Forsett – 619 Yards, 5.4 Average
Ahmad Bradshaw – 778 Yards, 4.8 Average
Jason Snelling – 613 Yards, 4.3 Average
Derrick Ward – 409 Yards, 3.6 Average

4 7th round picks

Kahlil Bell – 220 Yards, 5.5 Average
Pierre Thomas – 793 Yards, 5.4 Average
Fred Jackson – 1062 Yards, 4.5 Average
Leonard Weaver** – 323 Yards, 4.6 Average
Ryan Grant* – 1253 Yards, 4.4 Average
Willie Parker – 389 Yards, 4.0 Average
Mike Bell – 654 Yards, 3.8 Average

7 Undrafted

* – Met the team criteria for being the sole main runner
** – Leonard Weaver is in fact, a fullback
*** – Jason Campbell is in fact, a quarterback.

55 Qualifying players
– Leonard Weaver and Jason Campbell are not counted due to not being true runningbacks.

22 out of 55 players are 1st round draft picks (40%)
7 out of 55 players are 2nd round draft picks (12.7%)
7 out of 55 players are 3rd round draft picks (12.7%)
6 out of 55 players are 4th round draft picks (10.9%)
2 out of 55 players are 5th round draft picks (3.6%)
1 out of 55 players are 6th round draft picks (1.8%)
4 out of 55 players are 7th round draft picks (7.2%)
6 out of 55 players are undrafted (10.9%)

These numbers alone though, don’t show the whole story. Wouldn’t it matter if more running backs overall are drafted in the first round or not? For the purposes of this, we’ll look at the 2002-2009 drafts.

Tomlinson, Lewis, Ricky Williams, Thomas Jones all are removed from this part of the study, as all four were drafted before 2002, and thus have outlived the “Typical” expectations of a running back. Thus, there are only 18 1st round picks that will be considered.

18/24 1st round picks are contributors (66.7%)
7/16 2nd round picks are contributors (43.75%)
7/17 3rd round picks are contributors (41.2%)
6/25 4th round picks are contributors (24%)
2/10 5th round picks are contributors (20%)
1/20 6th round picks are contributors (5%)
4/30 7th round picks are contributors (13%)

Conclusions: While it seems obvious, the data here suggests that like most positions, the best players are all first round picks, and it rapidly goes downhill from there. GM’s should expect to run into difficulty trying to find starting caliber running backs later in the draft. However, a good deal of first round running backs are still making meaningful contributions in the NFL, even though this is looking at up to 8 drafts ago, towards the tail end of a RB’s career. While I do not have the data, it seems like a running back might actually be a “Safe” pick.

Additionally, I would also suspect that a disproportionate percentage of second and third round running backs are making contributions compared to other positions in the league. It is worth noting however, that there overwhelming majority of late round running backs drafted flamed out of the NFL. So while you may wish to address other needs and draft a running back in the second or third round, also realize that one can’t simply say that RB’s are unimportant and only invest low draft picks. Additionally, my gut reaction tells me that a disproportionately high percentage of first round running backs make positive NFL contributions, making them overall safe draft choices.

Breaking this into two categories. The “Reach” and “Should not be owned by anyone” categories.

Players People are Drafting Too Early
1. Jahvid Best (ADP: 5.05) – I loved Best’s talent in college. He was one of two players I saw in person who made me crap my pants whenever he touched the football (Jeremiah Masoli being the other). However, Best is made out of glass. He’s had numerous surgeries and has several concussions already in his career. How’s he going to hold up with stronger, faster, tougher linebackers in the NFL? Prognosis isn’t very good.
2. Darren McFadden (ADP: 8.10) – McFadden hasn’t done anything in two NFL seasons so far. Hard to think he’s suddenly going to turn that around. Michael Bush is going five picks later, he’s the Raiders RB you want on your roster. McFadden has late round value in a PPR league, but that’s about all.
3. Austin Collie (ADP: 11.12) – Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Donald Brown. Six guys who can do damage with Peyton Manning throwing to them. Not all of them will be fantasy relevant this year, and I suspect the odd man out is Austin Collie, a slot WR who will have to share targets with Anthony Gonzalez, who’s more athletic and more experienced.
4. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams (ADP: 4.10 and 6.11)  – Considering Ronnie Brown is made out of glass and Ricky Williams is 33 and has a ton of mileage on his body, it’s hard to recommend drafting either of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if both of them are on IR by the playoffs. That being said, if they’re healthy, they’re going to get carries. But I don’t think they’ll be around during the end of the year.
5. Thomas Jones (ADP: 7.12) – Jones is probably the #2 option in Kansas City behind Jamaal Charles. That being said, Todd Haley’s basically an idiot. You never know. Jones is old and is running behind a terrible offensive line in Kansas City. I wouldn’t touch him.

Players No One Should be Drafting, but Are

1. Vincent Jackson (ADP: 3.12) – He might play half a season. Maybe. He’s gotta show up for at least six games to have a year count towards Free Agency. That’s probably what to expect out of him. Until he blinks, assume that he won’t play until Week 10, and he will be rusty.
2. Donald Driver (ADP: 6.04) – Old, crowded WR spot, multiple surgeries. What’s there to like?
3. Wes Welker (ADP: 5.03) – Serious injury, won’t be playing until October, may not be 100% until 2011. Not an Avoid at All Costs, but I wouldn’t touch him earlier than Round 10.
4. Terrell Owens (ADP: 11.06) – I don’t know if it’s an old algorithim of a CPU that keeps drafting Owens, but it should be incredibly obvious that he has no relevance in fantasy football anymore, and probably no relevance in the NFL.

Got a NFL, College, or Fantasy Football question? Email the Football Clod at footballclod@gmail.com

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