Monday, August 21, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/19/2017

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I know that the vast majority of you read these reports to the info on catching fish and you aren't terribly interesting in my philosophical thoughts and ideas on bass fishing. So, if you are simply here for the where and how, skip to the bottom. If you want to have a thought provoking conversation (and I hope we will, that's why I have a comments section, so use it), then let's have one.

What's a lesson worth to you? Can you put a dollar amount on getting schooled? I can. $80 dollars. While I am not hurting for $80, donating money to your local club or wildcat hurts, even if it's just your pride. But I try to look at things for more than the dollars and cents. Rather, for dollars to sense.

What do I mean? 

Let's cut to the chase. 

Our club was on Wilson Lake this past weekend. You all know how I feel about Wilson. I have had the vast majority of my success and virtually all of my best bags (for what they are, I know) on Wilson. It's versatile in both techniques presented and what you can catch. The lake may be a ten minute run from end to end but it has some of the best large and smallmouth fishing on the Tennessee river. 

While I have had success for over 5 years on Wilson, I have really just started to learn the intricacies of this lake. Specifically, I am speaking about fishing this time of year. 

So I didn't practice any for this tournament. Why? Mostly because I took one trip 2 weeks before and didn't catch anything of value. Mostly because with the water temps and time of year, I knew that to have a legitimate chance to win, you have to fish the dam. While you MAY be able to catch some large fish elsewhere on the lake, you are essentially just looking for a limit and hoping to hit a hail mary. The dam, on the other hand, has the greatest concentration of big fish, but it means hoping for current and contending with that current as well as any other fishermen up there. 

But, this was a three fish tournament, which is about the number of bites I'd expect at the dam. TVA was predicting a 34,000 CFS average, which is a solid number. However, this time of year, TVA won't turn up the juice until around noon or one. Up until that time, they won't generate any current. I also know that on weekends, if there isn't' a demand on the system, they are just as likely NOT to turn on the turbines at all. I was fairly nervous about committing to the dam because Saturday, we had a mild-ish summer. 

Still, we had a plan. Get shallow early and fish some grass with topwater for a quick limit. Then, starting around 10, we would get in line at the dam and grind. We would commit to winning there, no matter what. 

We blasted off and headed to Shoal Creek which has the greatest concentration of grass. Josh began with a buzzbait and I used a Whopper Plopper because I wanted a hybrid bait that would combine buzzbait action with a top water walking plug.

Josh began getting hits immediately, but the fish refused to commit to it. In all, he had five hits but none made it to the boat. I didn't have a single hit on the Plopper. 

The sun rose and the bites stopped. We headed to a deep water point that Josh had caught several fish over three the previous week. Fishing shakey heads with PTL 7" Ticklers, he caught a two pounder. Meanwhile, I could not get fish to connect and when I did get two bites, but broke off on the hookset.

So let me stop there and say this: this time of year, you cannot miss fish. You just can't do it. You must do whatever you can to ensure success, whether that is triple checking knots, constant worrying over weak spots in your line, or letting fish eat your bait. 

We moved to the dam and found ourselves the sole bass boat there. Number nine and ten generators were running, but current was a paltry 13K. Josh fished a crank and I fished a PTL Swinging Hammer. This resulted in lots of drum, but no bass. 

Eventually, one of the best fishermen (and prob the best one on this lake) in our club came up to the dam. He fished for 30 minutes and left, which made me extremely nervous because he knows what he is doing. Eventually we abandoned the dam and ran to some bluffs. It was 11 now and we decided we needed a limit now. 

While we fished the bluffs (around 1230), we heard the siren begin to wail, signifying another turbine was being spun up. In retrospect, we should have quit what we were doing and gone back to the dam. 

Eventually, we put some intel (thanks, Wyatt. I owe you) I had to work and ran to McCarren Creek where we fished the middle of some pockets. After going hours without bites, we boated a trio of fish in the first five minutes. However, only one measured, though we both lost measuring fish. It's ironic that we lost fish because the other partner was currently fighting a fish, after going hours without a bite. 

With about 10 minutes to go, I finally boated a keeper on a C-rig. So, at least we had a limit. 

Naturally, we didn't win. But, the aforementioned fisherman DID win, but not at the dam. Second place, however, was caught at the dam by a good friend of mine. In talking with him, he informed me that exactly what I said would happen, did happen. 

When the siren went off and the current kicked out of number 11 turbine, the fish started biting. When they heard the siren, they got in position. In a matter of minutes, they put together a 10.5 pound limit with a 5.30 kicker in three fish. A very, very solid sack. It was the first time they had cashed a check in this club and I was very proud and happy to see them do it.

However, it meant that I had shared the winning pattern with someone, who had enough faith in me to stick to it, though I didn't have enough faith in myself. And that hurts, a lot. It was an $80 lesson but I believe it will ultimately prove to be priceless.

It's one thing if you haven't been practicing and you don't really have a lake pegged to call an audible or punt on a game plan. It's another when you have fished it a lot and you KNOW how the lake acts this time of year. 

We read magazines all the time about "trust your instincts" and "don't be afraid to try something new" or "call audibles." What you never read about (at least I haven't) is "listen and trust your experience and stick with a game plan you believe in."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 8/10/2017

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It took 2 months, but we finally figured something out. No one said we were the smartest guys in the world, but as Josh and I discussed our plans leading up to the Thursday night wildcat, we both came up with the same idea at the same time. The one spot we have both caught fish every time we have fished. What's funny is that each time we have fished this spot, just a few football fields from the mouth of Ditto, has been when we had largely given up. 

Each time we fished it, we gave it a little more time than the last. In fact, after weeks and weeks of being unable to catch a limit, we bagged and weighed our first one off of this spot.

You can read about our last few trips here:

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ingalls+First Creek 7/15/2017

So, when everyone blasted off, heading to the dam or wherever, we dropped the trolling motor and started casting. We weren't the only people who had this thought and just ahead of us was another boat who landed a keeper on the very first cast.

It didn't take us long to get on the board, either. Josh bagged spots off of a Strike King plug, but none measured. I was able to get a keeper in the boat on a PTL Bull Nose Jig with a Craw D trailer. Next cast, another one. Next cast, another fish. The problem was, few of these fish measured and those that did weren't big enough to matter.

Eventually Josh caught a decent fish on a crank and minutes later, I fought a three pound spot to the boat. Then disaster stuck. As Josh dunked the net, the fish made a last second jump and threw the jig, something fairly uncommon. 

All we could do was go back to fishing. That is until I set the hook on a fish and snapped about a foot off of my jig rod. 

After swapping lures for awhile, catching ones and twos on a Strike King crank, I picked the jig back up and went back to catching fish.

The key was an extending point of underwater rip-rap. These fish were right on the break down to 18 feet. 

After catching 20 in the first hour, we had a new issue arise. What looked like a dad and his two sons came down from the parking lot to bank fish. Mind you, the spot we were catching fish upon was tiny, despite fishing a long, long stretch of rip-rap that was accessible to the bank fishermen. Yet, even as Josh fought the 40,000 CFS current, they guys stepped even with the boat and proceeded to cast five different bottom bouncers. Some were behind the boat and some were ahead and even one right at us.

Initially, we asked where they wanted to fish so we could position ourselves to accommodate them. Either they couldn't understand us, or they didn't care. Try as we might, we hung their lines over and over. We politely asked them not to cast at both the front and the back, but to pick one. They didn't comply. 

It became a losing situation and we decided to move. We did find fish at every spot we stopped at that was similar to our initial spot, but nothing like the bite after bite. 

We tried to return to the spot, but the bank fishermen were still on the spot and we left them along.

We were surprised to find that our 6.80 was good enough for 3rd place. Of course, we also found out that the three pounder we lost would have put us in 2nd. And, we had to wonder if we could have beat the 10 pound sack had we been able to fish the spot all night.

It was our best day on the river this summer that resulted in around 20 fish, none of them over two pounds. Still, it was a lot of fun, though it did cost me a rod and Josh 4 Strike King cranks. The water was very stained and this current should make any current break money. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

College Fantasy Football Early Trends: QBs

I know all of you were waiting on me to put on some lists on sleepers, best picks, etc. Turns out, CFF is pretty small and even this seemingly small blog gets a lot of readers and I didn't feel like divulging many secrets.

How selfish of me, right?

Yeah, yeah. But I have a lot of money on the line. I'm playing in six money leagues right now with many of them having steep buy-ins. So, forgive me for selfishness.

Anyways, the first round of drafts are in the books and I thought I would talk a little about them, especially just the Power Five.

The first note that I have for everyone is that most leagues are going to a two QB system. This isn't new. The NFL fantasy world is also going to this en-mass. I think the main reason is that, as we have discussed earlier, there are about five elite QBs and their production is so overwhelming that it is almost impossible to make up the difference with elite players at other positions. With a two QB league, you can make up the ground as their are about 100 QBs that score between 20-25 points per game.

Still, beating an elite QB is possible and, to be honest, isn't that difficult. Yes, I understand that your chances against Lamar Jackson, week to week, was a nearly impossible task. But we are talking about winning a league, not winning a week. If you drafted smart and didn't fall for the mediocre QB in first and second round because everyone else did it mentality, you did well. Honestly, I finished 2nd in our 20-team league and I didn't draft a QB until the 7th round, but I digress.

It's no surprise that Lamar Jackson holds serve as the consensus number one Average Draft Position player in all of CFF. Everything points to him being that player, but I couldn't help but be wary of him, not that I had top pick in any draft, anyway. Was he the best fantasy player last year? Yep. Up until when people needed him the most: the playoffs. Luckily, most owners didn't have to burn first round picks on him last year. They did this year. Can you afford to struggle in week 12? Couple that with the history that literally every player like him has: trying to become something he isn't for the NFL draft. And, he lost some very, very valuable pieces around him. With Jackson, you are one hit away from flushing a season and that is a risk I couldn't take, but I understand.

Right behind him may be the biggest reach in all of CFF: Nick Fitzgerald. He sports a 2.74 ADP that is essentially all speculation and it is 100% due to the player ahead of him. Lamar Jackson. Look, I see what Fitz did last season. But, he caught the vast majority of teams by surprise after State started the year with a loss to South Alabama. He has to go on the road to UGA and Auburn in back to back weeks and that's after hosting LSU. People were just afraid of having him slip through the cracks and took him early. I get it. But, you could have waited on a very, very similar QB much later in the draft.

You know, like Jalen Hurts. Hurts ADP is 20 points behind Fitzgerald. I can understand why Hurts is at 20, just not why Fitz is that much higher. I get that Fitz had a lot more rushing yards and rushing TDs, but that is something that cannot be counted on, year to year. In addition, Bama is as stable as ever, despite losing Lane Kiffin and Bama has better weapons surrounding Hurts. Will that give Fitz an advantage when it comes to rushing yards? Maybe. And that's the risk you take, but a whole round isn't worth the risk to me.

Shea Patterson is another interesting reach. Though he played in only a few games (and played well), he is sitting as a back end first round or early second round pick. Considering the situation in Oxford, I just can't understand the move, other than assuming the Rebels are going to be playing from behind a lot. But, they are going to be playing behind to a lot of very good teams who aren't going to let him get a bunch of garbage time scores. In fact, the Rebels are more likely to pull the young star before letting him get killed. He is their future. Patterson is sitting at a ADP of 23, just under Hurts. Who would you rather have?

Plenty of people are putting their faith in offensive systems. It's interesting that Luke Falk is a known commodity in an Air Raid system (ADP of 7.5) and Nic Shimonek at Texas Tech is not, but the two are separated by about a round and only six places in terms of the position. Shimonek was drafted as a top-tier QB across the land without having done a thing yet.

No QB fell more in the draft that Kansas State's Jesse Ertz. Despite being a top rushing threat (1,000 yards and 12 TDs last season despite modest passing yards), Ertz slipped and slipped again during drafts. It appears that people saw the red flag by his name and turned a blind eye. Surprise, it was a separated shoulder and the senior is going to be ready to go. This is a guy who is projected for an average of 26 PPG but was drafted alongside guys a full touchdown less. He has a ADP of 137 and is a great risk adverse QB, thanks to solid rushing numbers.

Nobody seems to be willing to bite on transfers Blake Barnett or Malik Zaire. I can't say I blame them on that. 100% of leagues are taking a chance on Auburn's own Jarrett Stidham, your's truly included. Stidham sports an ADP around 114, not bad for a guy who hasn't proven anything. The former air raid QB from Baylor is just as likely to be the perfect mix for Auburn's run heavy offense as he is to be a footnote. He's a great flyer. He is not a 4th round pick. But, hey, I have an excuse. I'm a homer.

Best value? There are some guys much higher that you might have gotten for a good deal, but Austin Allen was a guy that you could literally leave until the 10th round and stock up on skill positions. Allen has been super solid at Arkansas. He isn't a game buster, but in leagues where you can have six or so RBs playing at the same time, it is much better to stock up on those guys and wait for a guy like Allen. Is he going to light up the top of the SEC? Probably not. But he is a 250-2TD guy all day long. His ADP is in the 200s. Just think about that.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/5/2017

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I didn't realize it had been so long since I checked it with everyone.  I've been pretty busy lately with softball, both our adult leagues and with our daughter. Now school has started back and since I get the kids on the bus each morning and get them off in the afternoon, there hasn't been much way for me to fish. Additionally, the fishing hasn't been great for me when I have gone.

That being said, it appears that it has been good to many of you that I see on the book of faces. Guntersville, in particular, seems to be doing well. Props to you all. 

Saturday was my wife's birthday and we had initially decided to sleep in. But, when we woke up and I asked her what she wanted to do, she wanted to go fishing. Since my next tournament is on Wilson, we loaded up and put in at Safety Harbor around 9AM. Yes, I know. Not exactly the best time to start rolling in to play. Plus, we would have to leave early for a softball double header. 

But, the current was decent (40,000 CFS out of Wheeler) and it appeared the right turbines were on (10 and 11). So, we headed up to the dam and started out throwing Strike King 5XDs. 

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but here's what I know about fishing Wheeler dam:

While you can catch 20 pounds elsewhere on this lake (and I've done it, as in this report), the dam is the only spot you can CONSISTENTLY do this. 

As a follow on, you can spend your whole day for five bites that can go 25 pounds and you can spend all day there for zero bites (from black bass) as well as any option including getting three bites for 15 pounds, etc. 

Regardless of whether you catch them or not, you are going to worn out, as is your trolling motor batteries, and you are going to lose lures. Like, lots of them. 

Ok, so we fished the first two hours without a single bite (from black bass, though we caught a couple of stripe and some drum). I noticed that I hadn't remembered to fill the boat up and it was sitting on about 1/4 tank, which meant I wasn't going very far. I had considered Shoal Creek, but it would be iffy if I could get there and back. So, we headed to Bluewater creek and fished some standing grass with a combination of froggin' and flippin'. We had a couple of lazy bites, but no real takers. 

We flipped some docks, getting a few more bites but mostly from bream. 

On the north side of the river, there simply wasn't enough shade so we moved across the river to the southside to find shade. Additionally, the  main channel runs much closer to the bluffs. Instead of it being 6 feet deep a cast length, it is more like 18-24 feet, which has been good for the fish. We also noticed that bait was much more plentiful on this side of the river.  None of this was particularly news, just that I had wanted to flip docks and there are about five total on the south side and 50 or more on the north side.

Anyway, the move paid off almost immediately and we began to get bit, but they weren't thumping our shaky heads with PowerTeam Lures 7" Ticklers. They were picking it up and running directly at the boat. I just couldn't catch up to them.  These are usually your very small smallmouth. Eventually we did get one bigger fish in the boat, but far from the 5-pounder I wanted Alyse to catch. 

Unfortunately, we had a boat roll up on us at the one 10 yard stretch we were getting bites. It was totally ok with me. It was a man and his son and I told them the fish were biting here and I was going to move. So we headed back to the dam where I told Alyse we would finish out for the day. Even if we only got one bite, I was ok with it as long as it was a big one.

Unfortunately, the one black bass bite we had WASN'T a big one. But at least Alyse quasi-boated a bass on a 5XD.

We did, however, get into the drum. And, while it isn't glamorous to catch drum, it was awfully fun. We caught around 10-12 and each one was pushing 20-25 pounds apiece. 

It did costs us around 8-10 Strike King plugs, though. That kind of hurt.

Stinks to grind away without finding them, but that's how it goes. I talked to some others who were fishing and they seemed to find them. I admit that every time I looked up, I was the only one around, so maybe that explains the struggle.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ingalls+First Creek 7/15/2017

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After a month off, our club was set for our July tournament out of Ingall's Harbor on Wheeler. Last year, our club fished this tournament a month later, almost to the day. That day ended up being pretty good to me and Brad as we left Decatur and made the long run to 1st Creek. 

You can read about how Brad and I cashed a check after calling some audibles. Just click the link below. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 8/19/16

So, I haven't written a report over our prefishing, for several reasons. First, the fishing hasn't been good, like, at all. It's been putrid. 

Secondly, because a lot of our competition reads my fishing reports and what we did find (which wasn't much) was really, really specific and we needed the edge. 

So, let's back up a week. A week before our tournament, Brad and I put in at First Creek as Decatur has been the Dead Sea. We fished our typical points and pockets on the main river and found that while we could catch fish, they were really, really sporadic and none of them were big. What we did catch was on Pop-Rs and PTL 7" Ticklers. We moved up river to Mallard and Fox, attempting to find some fish in the grass, but didn't get a single bite.

So, we began working ledges. We found one ditch just down river from the powerlines at Brown's Ferry that was holding fish. Over an hour, Brad caught around five fish with the largest being a 3-pound smallie. With the current being a solid 60,000CFS, I was unable to get my shaky head into the strike zone and relied on a Strike King 6XD, which resulted in a keeper or two. In all, our best three fish would have gone about six pounds. Not enough to win, but perhaps enough to cash a check.

Two days later, I took my wife back to one of our spots on the main river. There has been a large log that has been lodged in the bottom for the last two years. With the heat and sunlight, the bass were grouped tightly to this log and as long as I could get my shaky head to drop vertically on top of it, I caught fish. You can read that report by clicking the link below. Another day, another six pound limit. 

Now, I know a 6-pound limit isn't something to rely on. But at this point, numbers weren't a problem. Size was. We felt like if we kept chipping away, we would eventually find quality.

Josh and I went out together and Brad went out solo on the 14th. Josh and I covered Spring Creek while Brad checked our ledge. The ledge produced seven fish, but no keepers. Josh and I struggled to get bit all day, but did manage three bites for around 7 pounds. That included a nice four pounder on a Pop-R I caught on the Spring Creek bridge. Josh added two fish, one on a swim jig and one on a shaky head. Current was around 16,000 for most of the day but went to 30,000 about the time we started getting bites. Brad verified that as well.

So, Saturday came and it was tough to get out of bed at 3:30 for the second day. Turns out, that heat really takes it out of you. Regardless, we made it to the ramp, dunked the boat, and had to make a decision: do we take a chance on the ledge without current and hope TVA turns it on? Or do we go to where there are always fish, but maybe not MEASURING fish?

We decided on the latter and ran down to First Creek. We knew the story: we should get Pop-R hits in the first five casts and we had to make sure they stuck. Problem is, those smallies have trouble with the Pop-R. We missed a couple of hits, moved to the next point, missed a few more. We caught several short fish. Then they quit biting. 

So we moved into the 1A part of fishing that area: fishing the log jams in the back of the cuts and pockets. This quickly resulted in our first keeper of the day, a one pounder on a 7" Tickler in Pumpkin Seed with Purple Flake. Ok, so we are on the board and 1/3rd the way there. 

Hours went by. We ran the points. We ran up to the power lines. Nothing. Now, we knew that TVA wouldn't start generating until noon, if they did at all. So, we had to make a choice: do we sit there and hope? Or do we try and find something else? Do we run back to First Creek? We decided to go back where we had bites, and it was a good thing too because TVA never turned the current on. It stayed at 17,000 all day, which is half of what we needed.

We stopped at a cut I've caught multiple nice smallies on and, wouldn't you know it, there was one there. Boom. Nice two pounders in the boat. 

And then we spent the next few hours trying to find another keeper. We caught fish. Just nothing that kept. The best chance we had came when I flipped a shaky head over a lay down that Brad had just been bitten on. Fish nailed it, then wrapped me up. I tried to get the fish to swim out, but it never would and eventually it broke. 

With only two fish, we headed back to Ingall's. I had just one more trick up my sleeve: a rock pile inside the marina. 

And, wouldn't you know it, both of us caught a measuring fish at 1:58. So, at least we had a limit.

It wasn't enough. We weighed in 4.80 but the winning sack was just over 6 pounds and 3rd was 5 and change. I ain't even mad. It was a terrible day for everyone and anyone could have caught a big one to win it all. Hardly anyone had limits. Everyone struggled to catch anything. I was glad to say I caught 10 fish over the course of the stupidly hard day. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Forgotten Fantasy Gems: QB Transfers

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Out of sight, out of mind, right? So, we covered some of the most impact college fantasy football players returning from injury. You can read that post by clicking the link below.

Now, it's time to move on to the most impact fantasy transfers. Just like injuries, many of these are guys that have had to sit out a year after a promising start elsewhere, or possibly just didn't get a chance to capitalize at their previous destination. 

Obviously, QBs dominate most lists, and for good reason. If your plan was to wait until late in the draft for a QB anyway, waiting until possibly free agency is even better (see Davis Webb from Texas Tech to Cal last season). 

With that said, QB transfers have a list of their own simply because of the value of the position. I am well aware that there are a lot of these guys and it's easy to extrapolate limited success to big-time numbers. So, take your time and follow the logic. 

Breakout Players

Will Grier (West Virginia)- Grier was doing really, really well at Florida before a PED suspension. He is my number one transfer because he has demonstrated superior ability at the SEC level. Now he is with West Virginia and Dana Holgorsen. In terms of systems I trust year in and year out, Holgorsen is up there. His offense has been incredible with elite talent like Geno Smith and very good with just average talent like Clint Trickett and Skyler Howard.  Grier is at least between those two levels. The professionals have him slated as a mid-6th round pick but many people may not think about him.

Damian Williams (Texas State)- This highly touted recruit has been behind two very, very good players at Mississippi State before transferring to Texas State.  In his appearances over the course of three years, Williams was over 60% completion ratio, but it is his rushing ability that is going to be of interest. He ran for almost 300 yards in his short career and averaged better than 5 yards per carry in 2016. Texas State wants a dual-thread guy and former QB Tyler Jones looked to be that guy. However, after running for 1,000 yards and 16 TDs in 2014 and 2015, he posted just 30 yards and 5 TDs while averaging 0.3 YPC. His passing yards declined for two straight years as well. Williams could be the guy that Jones should have been. 

Kyle Allen (Houston)- This is one of my more speculative picks. Tom Herman and Greg Ward, Jr are gone and Major Applewhite steps in. Make no mistake, this will be a down year for Houston. Allen is not the pure athlete that Ward was and Applewhite is no Tom Herman. However, the AAC isn't the SEC and by a wide margin. We saw fellow former Texas A&M Kenny Hill have success at TCU and Allen is probably a better passer. He has a 33:14 TD/INT ratio which should greatly improve agaist the AAC defenses. Now, will his receivers be as talented? No. But, he should still pile up the numbers. Still, Allen's spring performance leaves something to be desired and the presence of Duke Catalon at RB may change the focus of the offense. 

Thomas Sirk (ECU)- When healthy, Sirk was fantasy gold, especially early on in daily leagues. His ability to run the ball gave him an immediate 2:1 edge in fantasy points. He rushed for 1,000 yards and 16 TDs in his first two years. His passing wasn't too shabby either, posting 2,600-16-8 stat line in 2015. 5 of those INTs came in the last four games he played, but he passed for 190+ yards in 9 of his games. ECU has had tremendous success on offense in the past and second year coach Scott Montgomery furthered that mark last season with 467 yards per game. However, the team just couldn't get it in the endzone with two different QBs posting a 24:12 TD/INT ratio. RB James Summers led the Pirates and now he is with the Cardinals. This is the perfect mixture for Sirk, if only he can stay healthy. 

De'Andre Johnson (FAU)- Another speculative pick, here. He never saw the field at FSU after punching a woman at a bar. At EMCC, he went for over 2600-26 in the air and 800-5 on the ground. It's not as much about Johnson's ability or what he did at Last Chance U nearly as much as it is for respect for Lane Kiffin and Kendall Briles. I just don't see how this could go wrong. 

Risky Transfers
Any Alabama Transfer- Blake Barnett, David Cornwell
Max Browne (Pitt)- If OC Canada hadn't moved to LSU, Browne would be on this list 
Anu Soloman (Baylor)- Couldn't do it at Arizona. Baylor isn't what it was
Shane Morris (Central Michigan)- Just too much risk here
Tanner Lee (Nebraska)- Sure, he was decent at Tulsa, but Tulsa was playing from behind a lot. Lee isn't what Tommy Armstrong was, and that isn't saying too terribly much. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Forgotten Fantasy Gems: Players Returning From Injury

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You say the same thing every year: "I wish I would have dug deeper."

What happens in every league, every year, is that after five rounds, people really start struggling, and for good reason. With the turnover in fantasy football, it's awfully hard to dig deeper than the first 100 or so players because the stats just aren't there from the previous year. Are they going to assume a larger role? Is this what should be expected of them? Or could their stats diminish? 

As you are looking at last year's trends, it becomes almost impossible to decided who will take the next step and who won't. Far too often, players use late round picks on flyers, few of which ever pan out. 

What if I told you that sometimes there are gems that have given you all the data you need, it just may not have shown up last year? Maybe they missed the entire year due to an off-season injury? In some cases, they may have been off to a hot start before a mid-season injury ended their production, stranding them in the noise? Let's take a look at some.

Marcell Ateman (Jr) WR Oklahoma State- There may not be a better offense in college football than Oklahoma State. QB Mason Rudolph is a Top 10 QB and will go in the first or second round. Fellow receiver James Washington is a later first or early second rounder and may have more value. Ateman missed all of last season after posting a 45-760-5 season in 2015. Defenses will key on Washington, making Ateman (6ft 4in) a very, very good WR2/3 pick that you may get as a free agent. 

Chris Warren (So) RB Texas- Gone is Foreman and his 2,000 yard, 15 TD campaign from 2016. In comes Warren who, before injury, had 366 yards and 3 TDs while averaging 6 yards per carry in the first four games before missing the entire rest of the 2016 season. He still ended the year as Texas' second leading rusher. Warren is 6-2, 250 pounds. The Longhorns need to protect Shane Buechele, who has run a lot in his career already. Swoopes and Beuchele combined for 9 rushing TDs. Expect Warren to get that work, especially in the red zone. 

D.K. Metcalf (RFr) WR Ole Miss-The 6-4 monster that was D.K. Metcalf didn't get a lot of work in the two games he was well enough in which to play, but he made the most of them. He caught just two passes in two games, but both were in the redzone and both were TDs. Gone, now, is the Rebel's other redzone man, Evan Engram as well as several talented other WRs (Stringfellow/Adeboyejo). Truly, only A.J Brown and Van Jetfferson are threats to soak up targets. You won't have to burn anything on this guy, but he may have the most upside of any one not drafted. 

KaVontae Turpin (So) WR TCU- Turpin could not stay on the field in 2016 and never played more than three consecutive games. In the meantime, he posted a 30-295-1 line that wouldn't warrant a second look. However, when he was healthy in 2015, he posted a 75-944-9 line while adding another 116 yards on the ground. TCU would seem to spread the ball around with six WRs with 20 more more catches, but Turpin was a focal point when healthy having six or more catches in half of his games while also adding at least one rush in five games. The 5-9 speedster takes mostly short passes, so keep that in mind. 

A.J Oullette (Jr) RB Ohio- This isn't the first time this exact conversation has been had. As a freshman, Oullette went 785-7 on the ground and added 21-133-3 receiving. He has spent the last two years injured though his 2015 686-6 line wasn't terrible, he wasn't right for the middle of the season. Ohio may not be a great program, they do play a soft schedule. Purdue is the largest hurdle they face, so just think about that. Oullette is a great late round stash that could be a solid RB2 and certainly a FLEX in PPR leagues. He ended the year with eight straight games with a reception.

Make sure to check back for more Fantasy College Football articles! Here is last week's.

A Look at Last Year's CFF Scores in Predicting Value for This Year

Monday, July 10, 2017

Fishing Report for Guntersville/South Pittsburg

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During the summer, my sister takes the kids for a few days. Now, here's the catch: first, she can't take all three of them. Second: she lives in Chattanooga. Neither are a problem because the solution works out in my favor. To meet her or my brother in law halfway means somewhere along Guntersville twice in the same week. 

They wanted to meet in South Pittsburgh (which is quite a bit further than halfway, but since I've only fished that section once, I was willing to give it a try). Of course, that trip was in January of 2015. But there were smallies of course I was down. You can read about it by clicking the link below.

Fishing Report for Guntersville 1/17/15

So, after a two hour ride, we dumped the boys off my my brother in law and dunked the Bullet. Now, there were some surprises, here. First, the water was high. So high the dock was completely under water. Ok, that isn't the worst thing in the world. Also, the current was RIPPING. According the the TVA App, it was 60,000 CFS from Nickajack. Of course, with the lake being so narrow at that point, 60K is stout. 

So, we headed up river and fished behind an island that would allow us to have a fighting chance at the current. Throwing a PTL 7" Tickler, we were able to catch some very small spots. That was good for my wife and daughter, the latter of which is really trying to learn to fish. 

Alas, I grew really tired of standing on the trolling motor. 

So, we ran down river in search of other current breaks. Unfortunately, there are almost none. I tried to hide behind several cuts and islands, but the current was so strong that the typically slack water areas were actually back flow eddies. They weren't any easier to navigate so we continued to move down river. 

We fished several rip-rap banks and I was surprised to find grass along the 8 foot line, even that far up river. My wife and daughter weren't very comfortable fishing the grass and I was devoting equal parts of my time running the trolling motor, getting people unstuck and dodging my daughters hooks. 

Eventually we made it to the first turn in the river, just downriver from a set of powerlines. Against this bank, the current was reduced and I was actually able to position the boat. 

We were able to consistently get bit on shaky heads, but all of the fish were very small. The lone bit of good action came on a Strike King popping bait. I had a solid hit and hooked up with the fish. A second two pounder attacked the lure and I had both of them on for a few seconds before one shook loose. Either the same fish or a different one followed the bait all the way to the boat and I was able to figure out the lure right by the boat and get multiple strikes from another fish.

By the time I had unhooked the fish, we had been blown down river a 100 yards and I couldn't figure out exactly where I was.

We only spent about an hour on the water and I saw enough to know that I won't be going back any time soon. I'll just meet my sister in Scottsboro. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler Lake/Ditto Landing 7/6/2017

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Everybody has seen the movie Happy Gilmore, correct?

As I loaded my stuff into my car around 8:45 last night, a scene from that movie popped into my head, stemming from a conversation that Josh and I had. 

There is a scene where Happy's golf coach, Chubbs, takes him to a mini-golf establishment to get better at putting. Happy, as you may know, could drive the ball 400 yards, but couldn't putt. Gilmore throws a fit and says "This is embarrassing, I am a professional golfer!"

And, of course, he proceeds to struggled to the point of futility. 

Fishing Ditto landing has become my mini-golf course. The stretch of river from 65 to Guntersville dam has been the clown that spits Happy's ball back at him, even after he FINALLY figures things out.

See, I feel the most confident fishing for 15+ plus pounds on huge bodies of water against a big club of fishermen. But put me up against 7-10 boats of local fishermen on a small body of water with even smaller fish, and I freakin' struggle. 

Don't really understand 'cause catching limits and winning checks in this tournament was never an issue until the last few years. I know we are INFINITELY better fishermen. Anyway, yall have heard this story before so I won't reiterate the same shtick

Two tournaments ago, there was good current. We went to the dam, caught two nice fish. Couldn't catch any more. Last week,  the water was high, so we went flipping. We caught two good fish doing that before relapsing into some junk fishing holes. But, we found fish. Just didn't have enough time. Go read that report here:

This week, same story. Good current. High water. We decided to do a combination of what had worked. In other words, hit a lot of eddys created by current breaks, start at the dam, and work back fairly quickly to cover water.

First spots, both on each side of the river within 300 yards of the dam were busts, though I did catch one measuring spot and one short spot on a Spro Little John DD. 

After scratching our heads a bit, we moved down to the painted bluffs, for no other reason than we suck and we should probably avoid doing anything we would normally do. Fishing bluffs facing into the current qualified. 

Wouldn't you know it, the fish started biting. 

Just one problem: they were all tiny spots. 

We caught five or so within 5 minutes on a combination of cranks such as the Spro Little John DD, the Hookset medium diver, and a Norman. All had a slight hint of Chartreuse. 

After finishing the stretch, we had to make a decision: spend some time there and hope to get some bigger ones to bite or to move on. 

Considering our experience has been that a collection of babies like that typically yields more babies, we moved on.

Would we have found bigger ones? We will never know. But outside of a few more short fish caught on a PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler and a Pea Head, we caught just one more measuring fish: a nice keeper with about 2 minutes to go, right outside of Ditto Landing. 

I didn't stick around to see what won, but it was the best bags I've seen weighed in at Ditto this year, including some nice 5-pounders. 

I keep telling myself that getting my rear kicked is good for me. I mean, I know it is. Any time you can take a nice dose of humility, it's a good thing. I just thing I've had my fill.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I caught my first Saugar last night! Too bad I was kinda mad and threw it back.....

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Look at Last Year's CFF Scores in Predicting Value for This Year

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While it isn't quite time to start breaking down some individual position rankings, I think it is the right time to discuss some trends from last season and how it should affect your preparation going forward. First things first: last year wasn't a banner year in terms of fantasy football for me. Now, I did make the playoffs of every league I played in, but I only cashed a check in one of those leagues. To be fair, of course, I was in only three money leagues and was second in the biggest of those leagues. 

Anyway, that's enough about me. 

Two weeks ago, we began our preparation talking about teammate double ups. You can check out some of the very best double ups and some great sleepers for this year by reading the post below.

Today I want to discuss a few things and I really hope to get your feedback. 

Because I don't believe in downloading people's rankings (or buying them), I began to build spreadsheets (just like last year) based upon the statistics of returning players. From there, I will begin to rank. Until then, let's take a look at some trends.

First, let's define our scoring system used last year: 
The positions were QB, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, WR3, TE, FLEX, K, DST. 
1 point for every 20 passing yards, 4 points for a passing touchdown, -3 for any turnover.
1 point for every 10 passing yards, 6 points for a rushing or receiving touchdown. Return yards and touchdowns were scored as rushing yards. 
3 points for a field-goal, 1 point for an extra point.
For the DST, you began with 30 points and lost 5 points per touchdown but gained 3 points for a turnover and 6 for a defensive touchdown.

Ok, so it was fairly standard. Here is what you really came to see. In our 20 team league, the average winning score was 152. Simple enough. Now, obviously, there are some blowouts. There are some freak low and high scoring weeks. Obviously, there are also some really good and bad teams that skew numbers. Right? 

Not so. In fact, if you took the top 8 teams (only those who made the playoffs), you find that the average winning total was still 152

How does this affect your draft preparation? Well, let's take a look. 

I crunched the numbers for all returning players from last season (I needed to do that anyway and I felt that using only this year's players would help more than it hurt). 

The PPG average for the top 50 QBs is 20 
The PPG average for the top 100 RBs (PPR) is 13
The PPG average for the top 300 WRs (PPR) is 12
The PPG average for the top 30 TEs (PPR) is 11
The PPG average for the top 20 Ks is 9
The PPG average for the top 20 DSTs is 25

Ok. so I know that last one has thrown you a bit. Again, consider that I am only using data for returning players, meaning that about a third of last year's elite players are gone at each position. But, I will make an argument (in another post) at why it doesn't matter. 

If you add all of that up, you come up with an average of 140 PPG. That's not woefully behind the 152 point average, but it's basically playing a position down each and every week. While a great player (a Lamar Jackson) can make up a lot of ground, not everyone is so fortunate. This comes down to point differential per position, something we discussed in depth last year. Click the link below and read about it.

Assessing Value to Position for Your 2016 Fantasy College Football Draft

So, you need to find 12 points more than your opponet each week. Most people's first thought is that a great QB is the easiest way to get over the hump. The issue is, there are typically five QBs who beat the standard deviation per year. In terms of returning QBs, there are are just two: Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers. Both of these beat the 5.8 Standard Deviation between the other top QBs. 

In other words, they are the only two who don't have a value-based ranking (where you can decide to draft or not draft based upon value of other positions). Is your luck that good? Well, unfortunately, if you are in an odd spot in the draft, you are just out of luck. 

The Standard Deviation at RB is a paltry 3.5. So, while there there isn't a great amount of point differential from one to the next, there is a plethora of running backs over the average. This means that there is inherent value in taking three above average RBs over a QB, especially the elites, provided you can get one. However, there around 3-5 of these guys.  But, used together, 3 (assuming the use of FLEX) such RBs can make up 10.5 points. 

The same can be said with receivers. While the position scores a modest 12 PPG (based on the top 300, of course), the top 30 score over 20 points per game. With a Standard Deviation of 4.6 points, there is a drastic step from one to the next, especially at the top. There are around ten WRs out there that will beat the Standard Deviation, making them a priority. Taking 3 of these players equates to almost 14 points per week.

Tight end has a deviation of just 2.8, meaning that there is virtually no way to make up a major point differential. There are only two TEs per year that typically beat the model, though it is worth mentioning that they, alone, can make up the point differential. There is obviously a ton of risk with using the TE to make up points. 

In summation, there are a couple of ways to ensure that you can draft a team capable of hitting 150+ points each week, even if you don't get a premier QB. Even with an average QB, understanding the standard deviation and average scores of each position can help you find that winning formula.