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). 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fishing Report for Wilson 7/22/16

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You ever had one of those weeks? I know, everyone has. Now, before I get clowned, I do realize these things are truly trivial and that 90% of the world had a worse week than me. It's hyperbole and I know it. Just bear with me.

Anyway, all week I trudged through work with the excitement that each night of the week offered something to look forward to. For three nights, it was softball. All three games were rained out. Friday was a night tournament on Wilson with my wife. This event, in particular, I looked forward to the most. 

Wilson has been my best tournament lake, by far. I have failed to case a check in only about three tournaments that I have ever fished. My best tournaments have come on Wilson. 

Sure, last Saturday's tournament wasn't very good, but some crazy things happened to the pattern in under 12 hours that took us from a likely 13 pound three fish limit to failing to weigh a limit at all. You can read about that trip by clicking the link below.

I also had some feeling that this would be the last time I had Big Booty Judy (that's my boat's name, not my wife) out on the water. I have been having some serious issues getting her on plane with a full load. I had already planned to take it in for warranty work. 

Wouldn't you know it, a storm rolled in and held us out an extra hour. That was bad for me as I was planning to go froggin' around grass and needed the sun. 

Eventually we blasted off and I headed back into Shoal's Creek. I found my magic stretch of grass and went to work with a variety of baits. First, I started out a little deeper, thinking the weather might push the fish out and get them roaming. For that, I threw a chatterbait and a swim jib, both with PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammer Swimbait

Meanwhile, Alyse was throwing a Spro Little John. In one small spot about three yards, she caught three or four short largemouth. It wasn't a great start, but the consistency on the bites told me they might still be buried up in the grass, despite the weather. I couldn't get them to bait moving baits, so I went to flipping. In particular was a brush pile in 5 feet on the edge of the grass. I was flipping behind the visible section of the pile when the line started moving to the left. So, I set the hook. 

It wasn't a fish. The line was sliding down a branch I couldn't see. So, I am jigging on the rod and trying to pop it free, but unable to get the job done. 

So, I troll up to it and I still can't get it. I step forward on the deck......

....and go head first into the water. It happened so fast that my mouth was wide open yelling obscenities when I went into the drink. In the process, I broke 3 guides off my rod. Awesome.

The good news is, the water was 90 degrees. Yes. 90. And there were no snakes or turtles in the brush pile.

The evening only went downhill from there. Aside from a single catfish and a ton of bream bites, we didn't land a measuring bass. The story from everyone was pretty much the same. If you didn't catch anything before dark, you didn't catch them. That is, other than the winning boat, which had 8 pounds including a 4 pound smallie.

The local Friday night derby had 20 or so boats and the weights and numbers were the same. 

After dark I jigged and threw a shakey head on a variety of areas including docks, bluffs, and main river points. Nothing seemed to work.

So, Judy went to the shop today and who knows when I'll be back on the water. Not that it really matters because the combination of drought and heat has made fishing all but impossible. I hate to say it, but the grass mats on Guntersville are looking appealing. 

I just wish I had that fall on GoPro. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Best College Fantasy Running Backs for 2016

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It's that time of year again, folks. I have been blown away at the amount of response I recieved last year as well as the continued questions of "when will you start covering the 2016 season?" Well, the time is now. This year I will try and shorten my rants and raves so that we can get right down to business. 

First off, know the scoring rules of your league. Is it a PPR? Are there any scoring bonuses? How about return yards? All of this feeds into building a draft strategy. It will tell you the most important part of drafting: what is the VALUE of a player and position NOT what his scoring potential is. That is, what is the difference between the elite, the very good, and the average.

Consider this: if you drew a line at the No. 20 back ( in terms of yardage), Samaje Perine had 1350 rushing yards. That is almost a THOUSAND less than the number No. 1 back, Derrick Henry. However, if you draw a line at No. 50, Michael Gordon had 1,062 yards. That's a 300 yard drop-off even though it is 30 spots below. That's not much change in value between a very good to average back. 

Repeating with touchdowns, Henry lead the pack with 28. Skipping down to around 25(lots of ties), Stanford's McCaffery had 15. That's half the TD production between an elite to very good back. Looking at the 50th spot, OU's Joe Mixon had 11, only four less than McCaffery. 

What's all of this mean? There is a tremendous swing in value from the top five elite backs to the very good backs and virtually no value from the very good to the average. In other words, if you can't get the elite, there is no reason to really burn early draft picks on the other backs instead of other positions with similar spreads. If you are the last few picks of the draft, you should really consider taking one of the elite backs first while everyone is picking up QBs. 

Big Names

Christian McCaffery(Stanford) - This guy will be one of the very first players off the board. McCaffery had almost 200 more total yards from scrimmage (2600) than the next back. He did trail Heisman winner Derrick Henry by about the same amount in rushing yards. He also was woefully short in terms of touchdowns. Where Henry had 28, McCaffery had only 8. He was tied for fifth in receiving TDs for a back with 45 catches for 645 yards, second best in college football. I caution people, however, not to take No. 5 too early. Stanford replaces all but one member of their offensive line including the Outland Trophy winner and will be breaking in a new QB. There is little doubt that McCaffery is a special back, but he does his damage in volume, not scores. However, if your league scores return yards and offers bonuses for big-time yardage or is a PPR league, then McCaffery should be a top back. Know your rules, because it makes or breaks McCaffery's value.

Dalvin Cook(FSU) - Cook has none of the problems that McCaffery has. Cook will be running behind a line that returns four of five starters in a top-scoring offense with a new QB. Where as McCaffery was dependant on yardage volume, Cook offers a blend of both. He had 1,700 rushing yards and 20 TDs, that was good for sixth and seventh, respectively. Unlike McCaffery, he isn't a threat elsewhere. FSU will lean heavily on Cook. FSU does play some tough games against Ole Miss, at Louisville, Boston College (tops in the country on defense), Clemson, and North Carolina. But, let's be real, the chances of these being low scoring affairs is slim. Cook should be one of the first three backs off the board and possibly a first round pick (depending on the depth of your league).

Leonard Fournette (LSU) - There isn't much to say about this guy. He almost eclipsed 2,000 yards and added 22 TDs. His 162 yards per game was the best in the nation. LSU returns the majority of its offense including the center and left tackle and guard. The other projected linemen are both upper classmen. It's been said a million times, but all that makes LSU a national contender is a QB. the Tigers were 107th in passing in 2015 and 7th in the rush. But, when it was crunch time, LSU struggled to get it done on the ground. One might say that having the lack of down field ability helps Fournette's touches. But with talented WRs Dupre and Dural, 3rd down could become magical for Fournette owners if the QB is just a tiny bit of a threat to throw down field. Some people wonder if Fournette might be spared for the NFL. Indeed, he has first round potential and has a capable backup in Derrius Guice. It shouldn't scare owners from drafting him in the top three backs, but it shouldn't be a question that owners should also own Guice, too. 

Royce Freeman (Oregon) - It is no secret that Oregon struggled for the first time in many years to win games. Yet, they were still the 5th best scoring team in the nation. Along the way, Royce Freeman quietly had an incredible year with over 1,800 rushing yards and 17 TDs. Additionally, he was 16th in catches for a back with 26 for 350 yards and 2 TDs. Unfortunately, Freeman won't have an experienced line to run behind as only two returning starters come back. In fact, Freeman and the two linemen are the only returning starters. The good news is that Montana State transfer Dakota Pruckup will be this year's starter. While Pruckup is a severe running threat which will steal carries, it will only help Freeman's quality of runs. Is he a top five RB pick? I don't think so, but certainly a top 10 or 15. Pruckup will steal a ton of redzone carries, the line is inexperienced, and the quality of opponents is backloaded on the schedule, right about playoff time.  

Wayne Gallman (Clemson) - Gallman's ascension was no surprise. The redshirt sophomore added over 100 carries to his 2014 total of 161. He ran for 1,500 yards on 283 and added 13 rushing TDs. With Deshaun Watson poised to become a top overall pick in this upcoming draft, expect Gallman to absorb many of the redzone carries that Watson had exploited in previous years. That will boost those TD numbers way up. Additionally, defenses will key on Watson and it doesn't really matter if it works or not. It will help Gallman's efficiency. Simply put, Clemson is the best offense in the nation and it pays to own the lead back. Gallman is as safe a bet as there is in fantasy football. Expect the yardage to remain around 1,500 but the TD mark to go up to around 20. He is a top fantasy option. 

Not So Big Names

Jeremy McNichols (Boise State) - If I asked you what running back was second in TDs in 2015, would you have known McNichols? I gotta be honest, I don't even remember him from fantasy. His 26 total TDs ( 20 rushing and an amazing 6 receiving TDs on 51 catches for 460 yards) was good for second in all of college RBs. However, it's his lack of yard volume (thanks to All-Mountain West Brett Rypien and WR Thomas Sperbeck) hurt his overall value. Still, McNichols rushed for over 1,300 yards as the Broncos piled up a 15th best offense behind a very good passing attack. McNichols is primed to be a top five guy thanks to four of five returning linemen. Expect Rypien to take a slight sophomore dip. Regardless, Boise State is still in the Mountain West and play no one. If you are in a PPR league, McNichols should be a top five pick. 

Donnel Pumphrey (SDSU) - Pumphrey returned for his senior season to break Marshall Faulk's career rushing mark. Just think about that. SDSU isn't a great offense, thanks to the inability to pass the ball (119th in the country). But the 14th best rushing attack was good in 2015 and will be very good in 2016 thanks to returning most of the line. Pumphrey has to do it in volume. He was fourth in the nation is carries and one of the worst for premier backs in terms of YPC (5.3). His 1,600 yards was good enough for sixth and he was tied for 10th in total TDs. Pumphrey adds an extra dimension in the passing game which is vital in a PPR league. He lead the team in receptions with 28 for 400 yards and another three scores. The Aztecs must develop a down field passing game. Doing so will improve his efficiency as a runner as well as a pass catcher.  The Aztec defense is amazing and it creates short fields for the offense. The defense was fifth overall and had a 1.57 turnover margin a game. They play a very soft schedule, making Pumphrey a first five back.

Joel Bouagnon (NIU) - Bouagnon finished tied for 10th in scoring and 29th in total yards in 2015. Normally, that kind of disparity is a cause to avoid a player. Typically you'd want to avoid a touchdown dependant player, especially as a RB1. However, Bouagnon (and NIU) fell on some hard times in 2015 as they lost a top fantasy player in Drew Hare to an injury, then a backup. Then another backup. The Huskies ended the year with a true freshman QB and three straight losses. A typically stellar offense suffered to a 66th ranking. No one was hurt more than Bouagnon, who failed to score a TD in his last three games after scoring at least one in 11 in ten games including two more more in six of those ten. Additionally, after rushing for over 100 yards in four straight games and five out of ten, Bouagnon ended the year never eclipsing 70. Drew Hare is back and with him most of the offensive line and game breaking WR Kenny Golladay. This unit will be good, though Hare will also steal some carries but Bouagnon will be a red zone threat. Only SDSU posses a serious threat to stop the Huskies. 

Kareem Hunt (Toledo) - After missing three of his first four games, Hunt responded by scoring in all but one game and getting two TDs in five of his last eight games.That was a quiet year for a player who put up 1,600 yards and 16 TDs the year before. He has been called "the best player you've never heard of" by Bleacherreport. Consider this, if Hunt had played every game in 2016, he would have racked up 1,200 yards and 16 TDs. Coulda woulda shoulda and it still doesn't put him in the elite category. But, it would put him in at least the "very good." I believe that is his absolute floor. His upside? Well, he returns four of his five linemen while the Rockets have to break in a new QB. Meanwhile, they play a very soft defensive schedule that will feature a lot of scoring. You don't have to buy the hype on him, but the NFL is. He is the second rated RB in the 2017 class. Hunt, if he can stay  healthy, is a potential 1,800 or more yard rusher that can be stolen in the later rounds. 

Marcus Cox (App State) - Many fantasy owners took a "wait and see" approach when the Mountaineers moved over to the big time. They have not disappointed. Cox has been incredibly productive in his career, rushing for at least 1,200 yards each and every year. Though he had career marks in YPC and total yardage in 2015, he had a serious dip in TDs. HE had 15 and 19 in 2013 and 2014, respectively before just scoring 9 times last season. This offensive unit returns five of the six linemen. Taylor Lamb, the returning QB, had 31 TD passes and was 10th in passing efficiency on a unit that was the best in the Sun Belt and 26th overall despite being 93rd in passing yards. They do have to replace the entire WR core, which is a major benefit to Cox who has caught 77 balls for 8 TDs in his career. He will be carrying a lot of the load. Though they get started with Tennessee in Knoxville, don't be afraid to start him every game this coming year. 


Corey Clement (Wisconsin) - The heir to Melvin Gordon had a horrendous year with injuries and suspension. After almost 1,000 yards as as backup to Gordon, Clement gained just 250-ish yards in 2015. In his place, Dare Ogunbowale ran for 800 yards and seven scores. That isn't the Wisconsin fans know. The Badgers ranked 95th in rushing. The interior offensive line returns as well as seven players who started for a mixed unit in 2015. Unfortunately, they get LSU in game one before a two game reprieve ahead of a Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State slate. Luckily, come playoff time, the Badgers get softer opponents like Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota. It's tough to believe in both Wisconsin and Clement, but he has huge upside, perhaps more than any other player. Clement is the No. 1 rated RB in the 2017 class. 

Jovon Robinson (Auburn) - Before you label this a homer pick, just hear me out. Robinson was pushing for playing time as a true freshman before an academic issue sent him to the JUCO ranks. He was slated to get carries behind Roc Thomas, though most everyone knew Robinson was the better all-purpose back. Then, he was injured in his first carry of the first game. He responded in a huge way to close out the 2015 season and earned Birmingham Bowl MVP. His numbers were very modest. In fact, he isn't a top 100 back according to fantasy stats. However, he will be the bell-cow for a much improved Auburn unit that looks to be a run-first approach. He has the makings for at least 1,000 yards and 12 TDs as a floor. Chances are those stats will be closer to 1,500 yards and 15 TDs, earning him a terrific sleeper pick for a top 20 back in the league. He has the line and the offensive system to be a star. 

James Conner (Pitt) - Conner has had it rough the last year. First, a game one injury knocked him out for the year and then he had to beat cancer. Will the talented back be ready? He was cleared to begin his return back in May. This could be your gem of the draft as many might not think of the player who rushed for just 77 yards and 2 TDs in 2016 before the injury. His 2014 season was magical as he rushed for 1,700 yards and 26 scores while averaging 6 yards per rush. Steamrolling ahead of Conner is four of five returning linemen that still managed to be 40th best in the nation against some quality foes.  Sandwiched in between some tough teams like Penn State and Clemson is light opponents like Villanova, Marshall, Oklahoma State, and Syracuse. Regardless, Conner is a 300 touch player. If Conner does indeed make a return, he is a mid-round steal. Just don't wait too late. 

Mathew Dayes (NC State) - NC State's philosophy is simple: schedule a ridiculously easy non-conference schedule early and beat up on those teams before losing in conference play. That's exactly what happened last year as Dayes ran for 865 yards and 12 TDs before a season-ending injury against Clemson. Extrapolating, Dayes would have rushed for 1,600 yards and 22 TDs. Of course, that probably wouldn't have happened against the better competition that he had yet to face, but the point is that you can get half a season of monster numbers from Daye before trading him. I have the October 15th game against Louisville circled as a trade date. Meanwhile, enjoy a player that has caught 66 balls for 6 TDs on top of his 24 rushing TDs. He managed to be held out of the endzone only once when healthy and found it multiple times in five of his seven games he finished. Along the way were two three TD performances. He didn't record a receiving TD after having five in 2014. That should change this year too. He is a great play as a flyer. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fishing Report for Wilson 7/15 &16/16

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Fresh off another frustrating Ditto Wildcat, I picked up Brad on Friday morning to prefish for our upcoming club tournament on Wilson. Wilson, as many of you know, has been very, very good to me over the years. A lot of that is pure luck. Much of it is that I fish it was much as any lake because we have family that live on the lake. But, for whatever reason, Wilson has kicked out some awesome fish and has really been our bread and butter lake for tournaments. You can read about some of those by clicking the links below.

20 Pound Bag on Wilson 

Fishing Report for Wilson 7/11/2015

We didn't get on the lake until 10, missing the best part of the day. Based upon my experiences and the expectations for the club, I began working some duck weed lines with a Spro poppin' frog. I did this for several reasons, namely that there wouldn't be any current and therefore ledge bites would be difficult. Additionally, while many people might fish the grass, no one would frog it. 

While I hadn't caught many frog fish on Wilson, I had caught enough to know that it MIGHT be a viable option. 

We wanted to make sure that this prefishing didn't follow the usual. That is, me and Brad are really bad about catching big fish the day before and not having enough to catch on tournament day. 

My first hit of the day came on a grass point as I gingerly worked the frog from deep grass onto the fringe. The fish missed it, though I saw it quite clear. It was a decent fish. I threw back in and the frog was swirled and swallowed. This was not the fish that had hit earlier. The "bad luck" continued as I hoisted a very nice fish into the boat. In a three fish tournament, a five pounder is a game changer. 

A few casts and a other 10 yards down the grass line and another fish blew up on the frog. This one was around three pounds. I managed to shake it off and we moved. It seemed this bank was hot and we didn't want to burn it. 

Though I managed to catch a fish here and there, it seemed that not all grass was created equal. No other bank would surrender more than one blow up on the the frog. 

Brad and I put the boat on the trailer and went to Stanfield's Steakhouse for dinner before putting back in at Safety Harbor. We attempted to fish the dam but didn't get a bite.

We moved to Bluewater and attempted to see if the pattern would hold. It was the only other similar area to the first spot. Sure enough, Brad was tossing a topwater plug along the grass line and popped this toad. I followed it minutes later with another three pounder. In all, our three fish would have gone around 13 pounds, which we would be ecstatic about on Saturday. 

We stayed at my aunts that night in her lake house, which saved us at least two hours of sleep. Unfortunately, both of us had drank a Redbull around 7PM and neither could sleep. 4AM came and we headed to Lock 6, paid our dues and sent everyone off, as we drew last in the tournament. So, the other 14 boats headed out and we were surprised to see about half of them in front of us, headed into Shoals creek. 

The sun and sky wasn't the same as it had been the day before and I had worried about the full moon that night. IT was supposed to be cloudy Friday night, which would hide the moon. Yet, the clouds didn't materialize and I worried that the fish might have fed all night. Additionally, the scattered clouds might be good for everyone else, but I was worried it would throw off our pattern. 

Going down our grassline, I did pop a keeper on a chatterbait with a PTL Swinging Hammer. That was the only bite we had all morning. Again, that wasn't a big deal to us, as we didn't start fishing the day before until around 11, anyway. I hoped the sun would come out and the fish would get back in the grass.

It never happened, for whatever reason. The only other bite we had all day came when Brad was clearing a backlash while flipping and a nice fish bit as he speed reeled it in. We even left the pattern for about two hours and looked for ledges, specifically some areas that I had graphed earlier that week. Again, no bites, even though the fish were there. 

A storm rolled in on us and we decided not to risk the weather. Though weigh in was at 2PM, we were on the trailer around 1:15. 

Turns out, that was a mistake. While I can't vouch for the other two boats the placed, Josh and Anthony hadn't had a hit all day until 1:15 when the weather turned nasty. They found a group of fish on docks and caught five fish in the last 45 minutes. The 9 pounds in three fish was good enough for third place. At least one other boat proclaimed to have done the same thing. 

I tell ya, getting stiffed by the fish stinks. Getting beat stinks. But there is nothing that hurts worse than having been on the winning fish and having a killer and unique pattern and seeing it utterly disappear. It pains me. But, at least we had one good day of fishing!