Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Week One of 2016 SEC Picks

The Auburn Realist: Overview
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We are less than two weeks from the start of college football! And, by that, I mean the Tennessee vs App State and South Carolina vs Vandy games on Thursday night. That also means it is time for me to inundate you all with my fantasy advice and less-than-professional handicapping advice. No worries, though, since you are getting it all ffoooooo fffreeeeee.

But, in case you wondering if there is a relationship between the cost of my picks and their monetary value....no. Turns out, I went 22-17 last year in the SEC against the spread. And that isn't cherry picking games, yall. That was four or five premier games a week. A 56.4% rate is what Vegas considers "printing your own money." So, take that all you touters who sell your picks.

Typically I pick only the top four picks, but since this weekend is massive, I will pick all the games of note. 


Thursday September 1st

South Carolina at Vandy
South Carolina opened as a four point favorite in Nashville but the consensus line is now Vandy -3.5 with an over-under of 42.5. To get there, the 'Dores are projected to win 25-18. Vandy scored 25 or more points just twice last year, once in a win and one in a blowout loss to UT. The line scares me, though I would take the under on the points.  As far as the spread, new coach Muschamp hasn't fielded a competent offense yet and Vandy was quietly one of the very best defenses in the country. The Commodores will be better on offense and will hand the ball of to Ralph Webb early and often. The Gamecocks were 109th against the run in 2015. Take Vandy to cover

Appalachian State at Tennessee
The great orange hype trains starts against App State, the giant killer. It's been a long time since the opening day victory against Michigan. App State isn't an out of division team anymore. Now they play with the big boys. UT is a 23.5 point favorite with an over-under at 57.5 points. Before you go throwing down money, consider a few things first. App State was 10-2 last year with their two losses coming to Arkansas State (a Sun Belt foe) and the Clemson Tigers. And, before you think they are some gimmicky offense with no offense, you better educated yourself. App State ranked 48th in all of FBS in total offense while sitting at 30th in total offense. They held Clemson to three points in the first quarter, seven in the third, and three in the fourth. A 28 point second quarter killed them, but consider that App State tossed three picks in the quarter, one for a pick-six. 

Meanwhile, UT was 110th in total defense and 50th in total offense. Sure, UT's schedule is a far sight harder, but it bears knowing. In addition, the bulk of the Mountaineers production in QB Taylor Lamb and RB Marcus Cox are back. I am taking the over on points and Appalachian State to beat the cover

Saturday September 3rd

Clemson at Auburn
The line has held steady at Clemson -8 and an over-under of 59 points before dropping a point to -7. Dating back to 2008, Clemson is 2-2 against SEC teams in openers, having beaten Auburn and UGA, but having lost the return game to UGA while being dismantled by Alabama in 2008 in Swinney's first game as a head coach. Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn has never lost an opening game at Auburn, though he hasn't fared well elsewhere with teams the like of Clemson (Arkansas vs USC, Arkansas State vs Oregon). Though Clemson has one of, if not the best, offense in college football, it also has a completely retooled defense that returns only three starters. Meanwhile, Auburn's offense and defense were dreadful last year. However, the chances of Gus Malzahn reaching new lows after his worst college offense ever are slim to none, even if he doesn't have a true returning skill position player of note. 

The thing is, Auburn has seen the length and breadth of the Clemson defense against Alabama which makes Clemson totally exploitable. No such film exists on Auburn, who will field a completely different offense in 2016. In addition, the Auburn defense looks poised to have an incredible year while the Clemson D will take a step back from a defense that was really just "meh", checking in at 44th overall. This game is a terrific game to throw caution into the win and rack up some big bucks, but as a responsible better, I have to take Clemson and the points, though I would take the under in a surprisingly low scoring game. 

Georgia vs North Carolina
UGA is a very slim 2.5 point favorite in a very good matchup. The over-under sits at 54.5 points. What's the status on Nick Chubb and Sony Michel? Will true freshman Jacob Eason start? No one really knows. UGA's defense ranked 9th nationally in 2015, but a lot has changed, including the defensive coordinator. That can't be said for the other team. North Carolina's defense The defense gave up a ton of yards (100th), but ranked 35th in points allowed, which is saying something in the ACC. 

Questions remain for USC on if Mitch Trubisky can replace Marquise Williams. Williams was both electrifying and mystifying. He was as likely to run for a 50 yard TD, throw a 70 yard bomb, or gift the opposing defense a TD. However, Elijah Hood is back after a nearly 1,500 yard season where he averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Much of that was due to William's ability to pull the ball, which Trubisky won't do. What he will do is pick defenses apart. In his limited duty, he was nearly flawless, albeit in mop-up duty. Still, UNC is primed for a big-time upset. I am taking UNC and the over on points

LSU at Wisconsin
A few years ago, this would have been the premier game of the day. LSU is still LSU, but the Badgers are a far cry from where they were. LSU is a 9.5 point favorite and the over-under sits at 44.5. Wisconsin's lone chance at staying in this game would be a Dave Aranda defense, but he will be on the other side of the field. The only question will be, will Leo Fournette stay in the game after half? Just kidding. Even if he is pulled, his back up, Guise, is just as capable. I am taking LSU, the points, and the under on the points

Florida State vs Ole Miss (neutral field)
It's amazing that the line slipped just one point with Deondre Francios, the freshman, being named QB. Still, Free Shoes U is favored by 4.5 and the over-under is 57.5 points. Ole Miss has to rebuild their defense after losing Nkemdiche. But, you know, he wasn't exactly an every down or even an every game player. Chad Kelly is, perhaps, the best QB in the country. While he did lose a lot of talent in reliable Treadwell, he does get Washington State transfer Stringfellow and tight end Evan Engram back to go along with two of the other leading WRs. The issue will be up front. Can Ole Miss retool that line and let Kelly throw? 

This game is already picked tight, but I just can't see going against Ole Miss. I will take Ole Miss in the upset and the under on the points

UCLA vs Texas A&M
I caution against betting on TAMU, regardless of what the lines are. You simply don't know which team is going to show up. Right now, TAMU is a 2.5 point favorite with an over-under of 56.5. UCLA lost their lead back Paul Perkins to the NFL and that is a bigger loss than people think, especially for how it helped freshman phenom Josh Rosen last season. I don't think he is that good and I do think TAMU's defensive backfield is. After all, they were one of the leaders in college football in pass yards allowed. The Aggie defense will get better under John Chavis. The question is, will the Aggie defense return to form? One thing we know is, Sumlin's team is pretty dang good in openers, having covered in their two marque matchups. I am taking TAMU and the over on the points

Alabama vs USC (Neutral Site)
Now the game you all want to hear about. Alabama is currently a 10.5 point favorite and the over-under is 54 points. Now, this seems like a severe trap game. Alabama is now flirting with starting a dual threat freshman QB and will have a new defensive coordinator for the first time in forever. 

It's hard to go against Saban and the Tide in openers considering how they have been dominate in these openers. USC is just another in a long line of big names without the ability to back it up. To me, the lynchpin to your bet will be if Hurts is named QB. If he is, I would caution against playing Bama. USC does have a lot of talent and could really make Bama pay for sloppy play, which they have showed in these openers. Conversely, a safe start at QB means Bama will cover. At this point, we have to assume one of the older QBs will start, so I will take Bama and the points and the under

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler 8/19/16

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Many people have asked "are you not fishing?"  It's true that I haven't posted any fishing reports in, well, a month. But, it's for a good reason. No, it isn't because I haven't been fishing. I kinda wish I had that excuse. Truth is, I have been fishing just as much as normal, but I haven't been catching anything. 

Now, it's also true that I have been on Wheeler, which, as the FLW stated, is the stingiest lake on the Tennessee River. But, I also had two tough trips on Wilson that I did report. 

Starting with that trip, there has been a very, very dry period. I fished some Ditto wildcats and was essentially blanked for a few weeks (truth be told, I DID catch fish, but didn't weight in a measuring limit the entire time). Then, I decided to prefish for a few wildcats. That didn't help, either. Not only did I get blanked while prefishing, I got blanked during the tournaments. Over the last month, I have averaged catching around three fish a trip and that includes short fish. 

So, you can imagine just how much I looked forward to this passed weekend's tournament out of Ingall's on Wheeler. Our Calcutta pot (for a fish over six pounds) stands at over $1,000 and I have to back pay for any tournament I skip, so Brad and I figured we were in it to win it, even if we didn't think there was any chance there would be a six pound fish caught. 

Prefishing started the Friday, a week and a day before the tournament. Josh and our friend Anthony fished the Decatur area for several hours, but didn't have a sniff. That next day, Brad and a friend were able to get several hours in fishing out of First Creek. In the four hour trip, they caught 15 fish including a 4.5 and 3.5 smallmouth. The three best fish would have gone around 9 pounds, which we figured would be perfect. 

The following Tuesday, I fished for two hours after work, concentrating on shallow grass lines in the Decatur area. Though I did manage to catch a couple of fish, none of them were over two pounds. All of the fish I caught were on a Spro frog. But, between my and Josh's trips. I was fairly certain that Decatur would not provide the winning fish, even if 90% of the club stayed in the Decatur area. 

The day before the tournament, Brad and I put in at First Creek. We decided to completely ignore the one spot he had found success, which was a main river point where the fish had been actively schooling. We decided to test the same pattern (if you can call chasing schoolers with top water a pattern). 

Not only were there never more than one active fish busting shad on the surface, but that active fish could not have been less interested in our collection of top water baits. We caught exactly one fish.

Not very encouraging, to say the least. Yet, we had a decision to make. Where did we feel like we had the best chance to catch a winning sack? Wheeler has been tough on absolutely everyone. There just haven't been any fish caught. My feeling was that most of the club would stay within 2 miles of Ingall's simply because they didn't want to spend the gas money.  Instead, they would almost certainly junk fish and hope for the best. 

Not that I was against fishing Decatur, because Josh and I have had a ton of success flipping grass line in Decatur. But, it would only take one other boat to fish the same area and the spot would be dead. Add in the fact that both Josh and I had tested the same area within the week and the prospects weren't very good.

What has been good to Brad and I have been smallies around 1st Creek. You can read about some of those trips by clicking the link below.

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/23/16


Fishing Report for Wheeler Lake 4/25/15


His last trip seemed to confirm that good smallies were living there year round. We were willing to make that trip and gamble. Turns out, only two other boats were willing to do the same thing. 


It took exactly 20 minutes to make the run to 1st Creek while doing 60 MPH. 

As we pulled up on the point, we could see active fish, but they were extremely scattered and they would not stay on the surface for more than about three seconds. We tossed a variety of baits at them including Sammys, Pop-Rs and even soft jerk baits. The fish would not touch the Sammy but would occasionally hit the Pop-R. However, they would not get hooked. It wasn't "slapping" as you might typically see. It was a hard hit, but the fish would not eat it. I assume they were headbutting the bait in order to stun it. Time after time, they would hit my Pop-R but wouldn't get hooked.

In the meantime, I would throw a PTL JP Hammershad, which is a soft jerkbait. I was throwing it on a spinning reel with 10 pound braid. I was getting hits, but for some reason, the knot kept breaking. It turns out, the wacky rig hooks I was using feature an eye that isn't completely closed. The line was fraying due to the constant back and forth motion of the jerk. 

After struggling with the top water, we picked up jigs. On both of our first cast, we caught a keeper fish. However, the fish would not touch the jig, nor worm, nor C-rig for the next four hours. We changed depths and boat positions. Nothing seemed to work. 

Though we had dedicated ourselves to fishing this one spot for the whole day, if needed, we rapidly got to the point where it was obvious the winning sack wasn't coming from there.

We began fishing some other patterns that had worked in the spring. This included shallow cuts on the main river. 

The first small cut we fished resulted in an explosion. A big fish destroyed my Pop-R. After a good fight, we netted our big fish of the day, a 3.42 largemouth. But, we were a long way from five fish still and only had two hours to figure it out.

The next set of shallow cuts resulted in nothing more than a few bream which were caught on top water. Brad continued to throw a sammy while I threw the Pop-R.

We came to the first deeper cut which was about 50 yards deep and had log jams in the back. One back-to-back-to-back casts, I had hits on the Pop-R. However, the fish continued to short strike it. That was until a smallmouth killed the bait while leaping two feet in the air. This one came to the boat. Not a giant smallmouth, but a nice keeper. At this point, Brad ditched the sammy and went to a Pop-R. He boated the fifth keeper just seconds later. 

The moves paid off as each of the next three cuts held between three and four smallmouth. Suddenly, we had gone from absolutely no pattern to a rock-solid one. We needed shallow cuts between 50 and 75 yards deep in at least 8 feet of water with submerged timber and log jams. Most importantly, we needed shade.

 The issue was that all the fish were 14.75 inch smallmouth. While larger than the two largemouth we had caught first, they were illegal to keep. We kept plugging away. Along the way, I managed to hook every log of every log jam. Of course, it didn't help that the smallies wanted the bait right at the log jams. So, it was either cast right to it and maybe get bit, maybe get hooked or not get bites. I know it got on Brad's nerves cause it got on mine. If it could be hooked, I hooked it! 

Then the sun came out and the bite completely died. 

At 1:30, we made the 20 minute run to Decatur, just barely missing a massive storm that brewed behind us. The issue was that it arrived right at weigh in. 

We weighed in a five fish limit that included two nice smallmouth for 9.35, missing first place by .98 of a pound. Our friend Brian came in third thanks to the big fish of the day, a beautiful 4.34 smallie caught early on (and not on our end of the lake!). In all, we caught around 12 bass and around 5 bluegill, perch, and sunfish. 

It was terrific to get back into the winner's circle of this club, which features some very fine fishermen. Brad and I hadn't cashed a check since the second tournament of the season, where we destroyed the fish on Wilson back in March. 

While I am proud of Brad and I for figuring it out, I am most proud that our two boat team has cashed a check in all but one of the club tournaments. That being said, with the .98 differential between us and first, I can't help but think about all the fish I missed. Were any of them huge fish? No. But at least two were decent fish that might have put us over the hump. 

But, they say that's what separates competitors. Some are happy just to be there in the spotlight. Some get in the truck thinking about what they could have done better and what they will do next time. 

Or, maybe I am incapable of just being happy. Who knows. 

We have one more club tournament before the Classic. And, well, guess what. It's on the G. However, the Calcutta rolled again meaning that the big fish of the tournament, no matter how big it is, will pay out over a grand. So, guess I better get back on Guntersville. (UGH). 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

College Fantasy Football's Best Teammate Double-Ups for 2016

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Assessing Value to Position for Your 2016 Fantasy College Football Draft



What's a teammate double up? Pretty simple. That's when you pair your quarterback with a reciever from the same team. Obviously, this is an attempt to maximize points and it doesn't work for all QBs, nor all of their WRs. 

Here is what it does do: It takes a mid-level QB who has a favorite WR (or even just a stand-alone WR) and the combination goes from decent to very good and a very good set of players to unbeatable. That is, owning both of these players gets you paid twice for the same plays. A TD pass from the QB to that WR profits you 12 points for the TD plus yardage for one single play. I've seen 70 yard TD passes (thinking back to my Geno Smith/Tavon Austin teammate double up) score me 23.5 points on a single play. 

Of course there is risk. If the offense has a bad day, you can get yourself into a hole very quickly. But, hey, that's fantasy football. 

What are we looking for? A couple of things. The first are pass-first systems. Take Baylor (before the current mess), for instance. If you have the Baylor QB, you can use virtually any starting WR and be assured that chances are high to get at least some solid yardage. A single TD between the two can elevate your score significantly. In this case, a second tier WR that doesn't even lead his own team becomes incredibly valuable despite not having any initial value. 

What about a QB with a favorite target? Take Shane Carden and Justin Hardy. Both of these guys were worth owning on their own. Carden threw for 4,700 yards and 30 TDs. Of those, 1,500 and 10 TDs went to Hardy. The two were an unstoppable combo. 

In the case of TEs, there are only a few that are worth owning, much less drafting. But, pairing one of these TEs with a good or great QB gives you a massive score differential on your opponet. 

Let's take a look at some of this year's potential Teammate Double-Ups


Zach Terrell/Corey Davis (Western Michigan)- These two will rival any set of duos out there. In 2015, they weren't even the best set on the field. Daniel Braverman took his talents to the NFL and left Davis ready to take over the lead role. There are two sophomores on the offensive line but three upperclassmen. Outside of a week one matchup against Northwestern, the Broncos should sail through. But, keep an eye on the shift from a passing first attack to a strong game. The Broncos have some gifted backs and a lot of depth. 

Skylar Howard/Shelton Gibson (WVU)- I love Dana Holgerson a lot, especially early in the season. West Virginia is one of my favorite plays in the double-up game. These two hooked up for 9 TDs last year. Howard would have been an elite QB if not for the 14 INTs. That was far and away the most in the top 30 QBs. Can he cut those out in his senior season? WVU had the Big 12s leading rusher last year who decided to transfer after the season. So, the pass-first mentality will most likely be back. Additionally, the interior offensive line are all upperclassmen. Owners need to beware that WVU does have a fairly formidable schedule. While they might not win many games, you can still expect a lot of points. 

Luke Falk/Gabe Marks-Despite being in the Air-raid offense that spreads the ball around, Marks came down with over 100 balls for 15 TDs and 1,300 yards. Falk went on to post ridiculous numbers. 4,500 yards and 38 TDs on 8 INTs? Wow. This one is an easy, easy pick. 

Dane Evans/Josh Atkinson- Evans has been the poor mans lottery pick the last few years. He is dangerously close to setting new records at Tulsa. He just hasn't had the elite TD production (25) that others above him see. But, it is hard to beat his pure volume. This guy could explode this year and be the best passer in fantasy. Though Atkinson wasn't the number one guy last year, he still had 1,000 yards and 5 TDs. That isn't great production. But, he had 76 catches, which makes him valuable. However, keep in mind that just because he is the leading man back doesn't mean he is an elite threat. Many times these guys thrive with another star WR across the field. Just be careful, here. 

Sleepers

Tommy Armstrong Jr/Jordan Westerkamp(Nebraska)- Armstrong has a ton of value because of his running ability. His 400 yards and 4 TDs helped lift him from a mid-30s QB to a top 15. There is no way this guy throws for another 16 INTs this year. Just no way. He has a big arm. Westerkamp is a deep threat. He is rated as one of the better NFL prospects this year and I think these two have a huge year. The INTs will go down and the TD grabs will go up. 

DeShaun Watson/Jordan Leggett (Clemson)- Watson isn't going to sleep on anyone, nor is Artavious Scott. However, Leggett is one of only five or so draftable TEs. It would behove a Watson owner to take Leggett early and make sure they are teamed together. TE production is sporadic at best, but teaming these two up creates a massive point differential between you and the rest of the league at the TE position. It's kind of like this: in the 9th round, why take a flyer on a RB or a WR when you can have this guy and get 16 TDs for the price of 8? 

Greg Ward Jr.\Chance Allen (Houston) - Don't expect as big a year from the Cougars. They lost Demarcus Ayers and Kenneth Farrow, their leading reciever and rusher (outside of Ward). Obviously Ward has a lot of value by himself, but Allen will have some. As the second leading reciever, he caught 56 balls for 750 yards and 6 TDs. Is that elite production? Of course not. But he will benefit from Ward Jrs ability outside of the pocket. That's particularly important as the Cougars will have a very young line. Ward's fantasy production may drop, but the combination of these two may make up for it. 

Are there others? Absolutely. I have two or three more in mind, but I keep those to myself. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Best College Fantasy Receivers for 2016

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Assessing Value to Position for Your 2016 Fantasy College Football Draft


There really isn't a position quite like the WR position in college fantasy. Unlike the NFL, may WRs possess extra rolls that may see them running or even throwing the football. Additionally, no other position in fantasy is quite as unstable, year to year, than the recievers. Who knows who will repeat last year's feats? Additionally, your scoring system could make these guys worthy of first round draft picks or completely undraftable. Read more about that on:


I covered it in both of the articles listed above, but when I rank players at the WR position, I go in the opposite direction of most. 

  1. Those with any chance at playing extended duty at QB are a first priority. 
  2. Then, any that see  heavy use in the ground game.
  3.  Next, I feature those with heavy reception volume. 
  4. My next priority is yardage volume
  5. Last are those with heavy touchdown totals. 
I do this because I don't place enough value on the position to be my gamebreaker. Instead, I expect consistency out of this position. Sure, if they have a 30 point game, that's great and it most likely ends in a blow out win for me. However, players that fit into the first two positions of priority are extremely rare and typically don't emerge until after the draft. These players are also my secret weapons, so sorry, but I won't be talking about them today. 

In case you missed it, there is a significant difference in value between WRs in standard vs PPR leagues and you can see the differential in the following graph. 


Let's assume that you are in a PPR league. We do that because most leagues are PPR and there isn't enough value otherwise to even really discuss players. 

Let's talk about some players.

Taywan Taylor (WKU)- Ranked first in both standard and PPR leagues, he had the benefit of playing for the most prolific QB in a while, Branden Doughty. They were easily the best Teammate Double Up on the game last season. Don't misunderstand, Taylor will still get a ton of opportunity. The Hilltoppers are picked to win the conference. But, they have a major question mark at QB. While the new QB may be good, he isn't going to be an NFL player like Doughty.  WKU have an incredibly experienced offensive line and very deep backfield. Don't be surprised if a WKU player is a top fantasy guy, but don't be surprised if it's a RB instead of Taylor. Worth drafting? Sure. But, take caution. 

Richie James (MTSU)- Staying in conference, the Blue Raiders surprised a lot of people when the incumbent starter at QB was replaced by Brent Stockstill, the freshman son of coach Rock Stockstill. Stockstill was amazing, and not just for freshman. James, a fellow freshman, made the most of that by being one of only a handful of WRs to eclipse 100+ receptions. I don't normally like sophomores after big years, but with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin coming to town and a veteran offensive line, it seems unlikely that Stockstill and James won't have at least three-quarters of the season last year. That's still pretty dang good. I love his reception volume. 

Artavis Scott (Clemson)-No, he wasn't a top 10 or even top 20 scored. He checked in at 32nd. Yet, he posted 93 total catches for 900 yards. But, he didn't catch but six TDs, which really hurt him. Here's the thing: Deshaun Watson has to take care of himself this year with the NFL  considering him first over all. He has a VERY young offensive line with just two upperclassmen. Scott slides in as the best option on the outside. His TD count is going to go way up this year making him one of, if not the biggest, mover. 

Josh Atkinson (Tulsa)- Aside from a handful of other QBs, Tulsa has one of the most prolific guys coming back in Dane Evans. Atkinson is the best option for Evans and last year that produced 76 catches for 1,071 yards. But, again, the lack of TDs hampered his over-all value. One would be quick to select him for that kind of volume and upside as well as the value at a double up. Not so fast, though. Keevan Lucas is clearly the top target after a stellar 2014 season where he caught 100 balls for 1,200 yards in 2014 before he was out for the season after four games in 2015. Before that injury, Lucas was already on pace to destroy those 2014 numbers and be perhaps the best WR in the game. Atkinson will undoubtedly get some looks with his 6-2 size. But it is the shifty Lucas in the slot that will score the points. Don't burn a high pick on this guy, but stash him. 

Calvin Ridley (Alabama)- Though it pains me to say it, Ridley will be one of the better picks in this year's draft unless something goes wrong in a hurry. Yes, Alabama is breaking in another new QB. Yes, offensive line may be an issue. But Ridley is poised to have a 100 catch year after an 89 catch year last year. Keep in mind that Alabama is in rougher shape at RB than any time in the Saban era. Ridley is almost assured to be a 100 catch, 1,000 yards for 10 TDs this year.  He is as safe a pick as any. 

Zay Jones (ECU)- This is a hard pass for me. After being the number two option for Shane Carden's record setting 2014, Jones responded in 2015 with almost 100 catches. However, ECU could not score TDs and that killed Jones value, though he still ranked 12th in PPR. ECU is in worse shape than last year and play some decent defense. 

Quincy Adeboyejo (Ole Miss) - I wouldn't say to take him real early, but Adeboyejo has incredible upside after being one of the better daily fantasy picks. His 600 yards on 37 catches isn't anything to write home about, but the focus on Treadwell and Engram meant easy TDs catches, for which he racked up seven. He will be playing with one of the best QBs in the country and is one of two returning WR for Chad Kelly. 

Gabe Marks (Washington State), Thomas Sperbeck (Boise State)- These guys are easy picks that I didn't spend time talking about. It isn't worth the effort. Just look at their stats. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Point Per Reception (PPR) vs Standard Scoring for College Fantasy Football Wide Receivers

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Assessing Value to Position for Your 2016 Fantasy College Football Draft


Not long ago, I did some research to point out value trends for each position relative to one another against the top 100 scorers in each position. You can read that post by clicking the link below.


One of the more interesting aspects of the college fantasy game versus that of the NFL is the disparity between QBs and RBs and then RBs vs WRs for a standard scoring league not using Point Per Reception (PPR). While there are some elite WRs in college, the college game has so much more focus on dual threat quarterbacks and huge numbers put up by running backs. The scoring reflects that. 

In most leagues, a player must start two WRs and one flex. In a PPR fantasy game, that flex position truly is wide open because of PPR. A running back, WR, or even tight end can provide serious points whereas in the standard, most teams might have one elite WR but certainly not a third worth starting over a mediocre running back. Most lineups will feature 3 RBs and 2 WRs with the TE being an afterthought whereas a PPR league can feature any combination of those. 

In fact, numbers show that only about 5 WRs are actually worth drafting in a standard league because of the lack of value versus other positions as well as the almost non-existent slope from recievers outside the top ten to the 100th. 

Drastic things happen, however, when a league uses PPR scoring. We will be referencing two graphs. The first will show all the positions where the top 100  (except PPR WR) players per position are graphed against points scored in 2015. The second will show the difference in scoring between PPR and Non-PPR (standard) WRs. 



The first thing that should be noticed is the point differential between standard  scoring RB and WR. For the first 50 players in their positions, there exists a nearly 50 point difference. In terms of the first 10 of each, there exists a 100 point differential. In other words, the 25th best RB scored more than 50 points more than the 25th best WR. At no point is the WR position equal  or greater in value than the RB. 

However, if the PPR system is used, things are drastically different. Suddenly the two positions are almost equal in value outside of the top five or so players per position. In fact, the slopes between the 10th to the 40th position are almost equal before the WR position becomes ultimately more valuable. In other words, it is better to have a mediocre WR than a mediocre RB, though an argument can be made the RB touches are ultimately more consistent. 

The decreased slope of the PPR WR scoring system also tells us that there is less of a performance drop off from one to the next. Yet, while the point production is steady from one to the next, there is less opportunity to exploit a matchup between you and an opponet with a similar set of players. Conversely, looking at the differential from the top ten to the next ten, there is substantial opportunity to gain point differential. What's that mean for a draft? Outside of getting those top ten, there is no value in the rest from one to the next. In comparison, there is such a steep slope for quarterbacks that one cannot afford to wait on a quality player because the next one behind him is substantially (8%) worse. 

*A note on PPR for RBs, as there were only 3 on the top 150 recievers (of any kind), The top receiving RB Taquan Mizzell had 75 catches, which would have elevated him several spots. Additionally, Christian McCaffrey, the number two receiving back, would have edged out Leonard Fournette for the top RB spot. However, outside of these players, it would have virtually no impact on the college fantasy results



Now, let's take a look at the rankings based upon Standard (Non-PPR) and PPR WRs by themselves. 

This graph is re-ranking the players from standard to PPR. Jumps on the orange trendline show us players who would fair better in the rankings in a PPR league. ECU's Isiah Jones would jump from 23rd in a standard to 10th overall. That represents two, perhaps three rounds worth of elevation. He isn't even the biggest mover.  Nevada's Jerico Richardson would move from 57th to 33rd. That's not a draftable position, but it is a jump making him worth owning, especially in deeper leagues. 

Conversely, this ranking shows us players who are touchdown dependant. While leagues are won with touchdowns, getting to the playoffs isn't. Getting to the playoffs has less to do with TDs and more to do with volume.  Predicting WR TDs is virtually impossible. Arkansas' Drew Morgan was ranked as the 19th best WR in standard leagues last year despite having 63 catches for only 840 yards. Why? He had 10 TD catches. He would rank 33rd in a PPR league because of  his 63 catches, a number that isn't really that impressive. In fact, his volume is more indicative of a player in the low 50s or high 40s.

You don't want to go into a divisional matchup or even a playoff relying on these guys to reel in a TD. There are a lot of guys who were held out of the endzone but had terrific years. Take Penn States Chris Godwin, for example. He ranked 24th in the WR position in standard leagues despite having over 1,100 yards on 70 receptions. His five TDs kept him low on the boards. Going to PPR elevates him to a top ten WR. 

In a standard league, there is less than 1% difference on average between consecutive players. The max difference came between players one and two, which was 14% before dropping to less than 1%. Conversely, the average difference between PPR players was 1.5% with a maximum of less than 8% between two players. In other words, having that blend of TD and volume makes taking one of these guys, if you can get them, extremely critical. According to my rankings, there are only three such players. There is significant scatter between scoring in the 15th to 35th pick. This means that the change from PPR and standard or vice-versa matters the most to these guys in terms of scoring differential. These are the guys that you have to pay close attention to when drafting WR. After 35th, there is no relative change. A PPR vs Standard draft now makes these such players third or fourth round picks instead of seventh or later. That's a huge deal. 

In conclusion, PPR leagues raise the value dramatically for the WR position to equal footing with the RB position. It allows a player to make up for missing out on elite talent at the QB and RB positions by picking up one or two of these elite WRs. In comparison, in a standard league, one would be hard pressed to make these differences up, no matter what, much less with devalued WRs.

It further separates the true elite from a field of around 10 to 3. The midrange is where the main difference between PPR and standard scoring really takes affect because of the players with TD dependency. It is these players that you should concentrate on. TDs can be easily cut down due to defensive focus whereas catch and yardage volume are nearly impossible to stop. Know what scoring system you will use and know how to exploit it to your advantage. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Best College Fantasy Quarterbacks for 2016

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Depending on your scoring system, the quarterback position in college fantasy football is drastically different than the NFL game. Not only is the talent pool incredibly deeper, but the point spread is logarithmic. You can read more about the value of the individual positions at the the link below.


Like every league, the devil is in the details. What is your league's scoring system? Specifically, points for yardage and TDs? Those are the big ones. 

The next is, how many teams are in your league and how many QBs start each week. This makes an amazing amount of difference. Why? Because each year there are 10-ish elite QBs who score over 30 points per game. In a 12 man league, everyone gets one of those guys, thus limiting the point spread. However, if you are in a larger league OR in a league that starts multiple QBs, this makes all the difference. That being said, let's take a look at some QBs. 

Big Names: These guys are easy, can't miss guys that everyone knows. But maybe we can help decide which you might take.

Deshaun Watson (Clemson)- He led the next returning QB by 50 points. He returns seven other starters on offense. Auburn and Louisville may put up a fight and Florida State certainly will. He is a must own, first pick of the draft player. 

Luke Falk (Washington State) - It's hard to argue with the comfort of a high volume passer in Mike Leach's offense. He returns the majority of his offensive line and every single playmaker on an offense that was first in the nation. He led the nation in TD passes and had only eight INTs despite throwing for 4,561 yards. He doesn't offer the extra value of running the ball, but his passing volume more than makes up for it. The Cougars don't have a series game until October 1st against Oregon, but it's the next week at Stanford that is the only true test of this offense. 

Greg Ward (Houston) - The Cougars aren't going to sneak up on anyone this year and they play Oklahoma in week one. Though Ward is a viable QB, he will not have the year he had in 2015. The offensive line is being rebuilt and Houston lost Kenneth Farrow and outside weapon Demarcus Ayers. Though Ward was one of two QBs to throw for at least 2,000 yards and rush for another 1,000 yards, he will see a huge dip this year and I caution you not to take Ward early. Losing Farrow and his potent down-hill rushing attack was a bigger loss than most people realize. There is no way that he repeats his 21 rushing TD performance.

Seth Russell (Baylor) - Russell was far and away the best player in fantasy land before he was injured. He was averaging over 46 points per game, a full 8 points better than the next competitor. However, the instability surrounding the program, the loss of Art Briles, a completely new offensive line that returns one starter and the seriousness of his injury make me question burning a first round pick on Russell. Don't forget, Jarrett Stidham didn't play half bad until he was also hurt. It just seems like a recipe for disaster to take Russell early. However, even if he is 3/4 of what he was, it's still worth keeping an eye and making taking a flyer on him if he makes it to the second round. 

Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) - These guys have very similar resumes. Mahomes leads in every category including INTs. But, Texas Tech has been a wild ride in terms of QBs over the last few years. It wasn't unheard of to wake up and find out that a QB was dismissed, transferred, or just gone. Mahomes doesn't have much returning around him, but that hasn't seemed to matter. Mayfield, however, has a ton of weapons coming back and most of his offensive line. OU plays a slightly more difficult schedule with Houston and Ohio State. Of the two, I take Mayfield first due to stability and returning players, but neither will make it out of the first round. 

Chad Kelly (Ole Miss) - Outside of Deshaun Watson, Kelly is the safest pick on the board. He doesn't have the upside that the majority of the players listed above possess, but a repeat of last year (which seems likely) should be more than acceptable. If Kelly cuts down on those INTs (14 last year), he may be the second best QB in fantasy. Like Watson, he offers a lot with this legs, but to expect more than 10 TDs is reaching. Still, He should be the second or third player off the board and is a super safe pick. 

Not So Big Names: After the elite is a long run of good fantasy QBs. Among those are a few that will become elite. Who are they?

Dakota Prukup (Oregon) - The discussion truly starts and ends here. The FCS transfer isn't the arm of Vernon Adams, but Prukup offers something fairly unique: 1,700 rush yards and 24 rushing TDs....last year. Without a single passing yard or TD, that would rank 17th in college football fantasy. Sure it was at Montana State, but we saw Vernon Adams step in and be the man and he did it without having to be on campus more than a month. Oregon has issues on the offensive line, but the combination of perimeter playmakers and Royce Freemen negate that. Expect a deadly zone read attack. Oregon doesn't play a legitimate defense until USC on November 5th, and even that might be a stretch. 

Tommy Armstrong, Jr (Nebraska) - This is a bit of a flyer, but hear me out. Armstrong threw for 3,030 yards and ran for 400 more and seven TDs. Along the way he threw for 22 TDs. His 25 PPG ranked 17th in returning players. That included a second place finish in INTs among the top 100 QBs with 16. If he cuts that in half, he moves into the top 15 fantasy QBs for last year. Also consider that he missed one game and suffered through an absolutely bizarre loss against Illinois when he went 10/31 and an INT. Armstrong also has Jordan Westerkamp, one of the very best WRs and that offers a very good teammate double up option. 

Drew Hare (Northern Illinois) - Hare may be the biggest QB steal of your draft. After throwing for 2,300 yards, 18 TDs, and only 2 INTs while adding 900 yards and another 8 TDs in 2014, the 2015 left a lot to be desired. Two things happened: NIU played Ohio State and Boston College in back to back weeks and Hare missed the final five games of the season. Still, Hare averaged 20.56 points despite that. NIU plays a cupcake schedule this year and his numbers should be back on point. Keep in mind, his 361 points in 2014 would rank inside the top ten. Hare has Kenny Golladay at WR and Joel Bouagnon at RB. This is a very potent set of skill players who have the core of the line returning. 

Quinton Flowers (USF) - After a breakout season that included 34 total TDs and almost 1,000 rushing yards with his 2,300 passing yards, Flowers will be circled by many fantasy enthusiasts. I caution everyone on picking him early. Both UCF and USF have been some of the most confounding teams in terms of expectations. They are projected to win the AAC Easty and finish 9-4. However, they have to play Florida State and Temple which will be two tough calls to make. Additionally, only two starters return on the offensive line. The focus of the offense will be on running back Marlon Mack. I expect Flowers to take a serious step backwards. 

Steals: These guys were totally undervalued last year and will be again in the draft.

Brad Kaaya (Miami) - Hey, I warned you, didn't I? Kaaya wasn't the fantasy dream he was thought to be. But, hey, Al Golden wasn't the answer. Mark Richt is. There aren't many people better with QBs than Richt. What held Kaaya back was simple: he had the yardage (3,238) but not the TDs (16). That kind of yardage was more equivalent to a top ten QB, which most people expected last season. He has four returning starters on the O-line and Stacy Coley who had 47 catches for 700 yards and 4 TDs. Kaaya has tremendous upside. He had five games with over 300 passing yards and that includes missing one game and being taken out in a blowout loss to Clemson. Kaaya has very low downside and extremely high upside. Though he won't be your first QB pick, he may end up being your starter. 

Brett Rypien (Boise State) - Coach Bryan Harsin will be calling offensive plays. This is a very, very good thing for an offense that was already 18th nationally in scoring and 15th in yardage. This team is loaded on offense with eight returning starters including WR Thomas Sperbeck and RB Jeremy McNichols. Averaging over 23 points per game, Rypien tossed over 3,3000 yards and 20 TDs despite missing the first two games and sitting another blowout win against Idaho State the very next week. No one came on harder than Rypien. I am projecting him as a top 10 guy that won't be picked in the first to rounds. 

Potential Flyers

Thomas Sirk (Duke)- Will be bounce back from injury? He adds a rushing dimension not found in many places. But, does he have the weapons to take the pressure off?

Lamar Jackson (Louisville) - Jackson was electrifying at times but needed bowl practice to really appear to be a passing threat. He's in the right system, but the schedule is pretty tough. He has weapons but not much protection. He isn't worthy of an early draft pick but is a solid stash. 

Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State) - It doesn't get much harder for a small team than pulling Tennessee for week one. However, Lamb could be worthy of a first round flyer. His 31 passing TDs was tied for sixth. His yardage volume was low, however, thanks to a very, very good defense that ranked 14th in scoring and 11th in total offense. His 2,300 passing yards was among the lowest amount top 20 QBs. Will it be tough to top 31 TDs? Absolutely. Which is why he isn't on many boards as a top pick. But, he can offset that with yardage easily enough. He has four returning linemen and a very good running back behind him. However, a lack of returning WRs is a major cause of concern. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Assessing Value to Position for Your 2016 Fantasy College Football Draft

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Using Quality Factors in Your Pre-Draft Statistical Analysis


What separates the good from the best? It's an obvious answer: Draft Day.

But if you think it's all about having the best players, then you obviously haven't learned from having your tail kicked in the post-season last year.

See, fantasy football is about value. Knowing WHO to draft is important, but not near as important as knowing WHEN to draft them. Ever wonder why everyone laughed at you for drafting a QB first in your NFL league, even though that QB scored the most points last year? Did you think that the reason you were getting beat was because of the seemingly obvious discrepancy between your running backs and everyone else? The two are related.  That's the value I am talking about.

Don't worry. I've done some research for you and I plan to give you a little help. A little. Because, what's the point of doing all the work and handing it over for free? 

Let's get right to it. Let's assume standard scoring. 6 points for any offensive TD, 1 point for every 20 yards of passing, 1 point for every ten rushing or receiving yards. We will be using numbers based upon returning players only. So, that means that eventually someone has to do some research on up-and-coming stars (hint: I'll help you there, too). 

QBs:
21-20 point per game-9
20-30 point per game-32
The maximum average was 47 points per game and the next player averaged 38. 
There was nearly a 200 point difference between 1st and 10th and 150 points between 11th and 50. 

Conclusion: There is an absolute premium for the top 10 QBs. Considering that most use a 12+ man league, this means you have to do some catching up, somehow, if you are outside the top ten picks. Additionally, the shear volume of 20-30 point per game QBs means that, outside of the top 10, there is no reason to draft a QB in the first few rounds after the top 10 are off the board. The relationship between this group is extremely linear with a steep decline (7% point lost per QB taken) value. However, considering only the 11th-50th, there is only a 4% drop in value. Outside of the top ten, it is good to wait until the 4th round before drafting one while concentrating on RBs. 


RBs:
20+ points per game-8
15-19 points per game-19
10-14 points per game-28
The maximum was 27 and the next was 26.5, next was 25

Conclusion:  Though not as bad as with the QBs, there is a pronounced difference between the elite and the mid-pack, but not one between mid-pack and the average. The relationship between RBs from the 11thto 50th is very linear and the value doesn't drop as significantly as with the QBs. There is only a 2% difference  across the board and only 1.5% loss between consecutive RBs from 11th to 50th RB. However, the point spread between 1st and 50th is 200 points with the 100 point midpoint at 11th, which is not insignificant. In other words, after the 10th back, there isn't any real value from one RB to the next. This means that missing out on a top-tier QB means absolute priority on an elite back perhaps even taking two or three before a QB. But, having an elite QB allows owners to stock up on mid-level RBs or even select an elite WR or a backup QB. 

WRs:
15+ points per game-4
10-14 points per game-24
5-9 points per game-29
The maximum was 19, the next 17
There was an 80 point difference between 1st and 10th and another 60 points between 11th and 50th.

Conclusion: There are even fewer elite WR players than QB and RB. There is less than a 1.2% difference between consecutive WRs from first to 100 and less than 1% from 10th-100th. There is an 80 point differential between the top WR and the 10th while there exist only a 60 point differential from 11th to 50th. The majority of the production comes from the top five players so outside of those guys, there isn't any need to move ahead for a WR before another priority position.

A quick note, going to a PPR changes things. Do your own homework. 

TE: 
10+ points per game-2
5-9 points per game-29
The maximum was 13, the next 10.
There was a 100 point difference between 1st and 10th.
There was a 50 point difference between 11th and 50th.

Conclusion: Outside of an elite set of TEs that can be found, there is virtually no reason to draft a TE outside of those elite (unless there is a draft requirement), as there is no performance gain from one to the next.

I do not rank DSTs or kickers because they are much easier to find weekly matchups to expose.
According the the following graph, QBs score more points per position until the 30th QB, where RBs become priority. At the 43rd position, WR becomes more valuable than QB with the RB still holding sway. Even kickers hold more value than QBs after the 45th position followed by DST at 50 and TE at 61. Of the other positions, there is no swap in points scored. 

Obviously having either an elite QB or RB is a necessity. Having both is great but you must have at least one to have a shot. Priority is on QB due to the massive point spread between 1-10 an 11-50. Their value drops drastically per scoring position. But, the sheer number of the mid-pack QBs allow owners to make it up in other means.

Outside of the elite running backs, there isn't nearly the loss in value per position, meaning that after the elite, there isn't a reason to take one before another RB nor another position of need. The value per position doesn't drop and the point spread from 1-10 an 11-50 isn't nearly as bad as QB.

Outside of the top recievers, there isn't any value from one to the next. The relationship is very linear and shallow meaning that there isn't a difference from 10th-50th.

There are some very good TEs, but with there only being two and the rapid changing offensive philosophies and the lack of value outside of the top two, there isn't a reason to move up to draft.

Make sure to check back as we discuss draft plans!