ZWK

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  1. Mason Rudolph. For more standard formats, I think the best players not-yet-included are James Washington, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, and Rashaad Penny. You could also use this list.
  2. Some more QB stats. First, sack rate by season: 1.6% Sam Darnold 2016 3.0% Josh Rosen 2015 4.7% Mason Rudolph 2017 4.8% Baker Mayfield 2016 5.3% Josh Rosen 2016 5.4% Josh Rosen 2017 5.7% Sam Darnold 2017 5.8% league avg 6.0% Baker Mayfield 2017 6.3% Lamar Jackson 2017 6.5% Mason Rudolph 2016 6.6% Mason Rudolph 2015 6.8% Josh Allen 2016 7.5% Josh Allen 2017 9.0% Baker Mayfield 2015 9.5% Lamar Jackson 2015 10.1% Lamar Jackson 2016 Taking a lot of sacks might be an issue for Allen and Jackson, though they do both scramble a lot and that leads to more sacks (since that how it goes in the books when the attempted scramble gets stopped short of the line of scrimmage). Jackson also improved a lot in 2017. The others look to be average or better on the whole (and especially over the past year or two). Next, passer rating vs. teammates (2010-2017). I took the career passer rating of each of the big 6 QBs, and subtracted the average passer rating for all of the other passing attempts by their team from 2010-2017 (which is each other player's passer rating, weighted by number of attempts). +35.0 Baker Mayfield (175.4) - other Oklahoma/Texas Tech QBs (140.4) +11.1 Mason Rudolph (159.7) - other Oklahoma State QBs (148.6) +5.7 Josh Allen (137.7) - other Wyoming QBs (132.0) +4.4 Josh Rosen (140.1) - other UCLA QBs (135.7) +3.5 Sam Darnold (153.7) - other USC QBs (150.2) -2.8 Lamar Jackson (142.9) - other Louisville QBs (145.7) Mayfield produced way ahead of other Oklahoma QBs, and Rudolph has a decent lead on the OK St. competition, while the others don't stand out from their teammates. Mayfield breaks down into 77% Oklahoma +50.9 (189.4 - 138.5) and 23% Texas Tech -18.9 (127.7 - 146.6), since 77% of his career pass attempts came at Oklahoma. Who are those teammates? Some of them are in the NFL while others are guys you've never heard of. Here is the list of all of them with 200+ attempts, sorted by passer rating: 175.4 on 1497 att Baker Mayfield Oklahoma/Texas Tech 2013-2017 159.7 on 1447 att Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State 2014-2017 157.2 on 1142 att Teddy Bridgewater Louisville 2011-2013 157.1 on 1075 att Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State 2010-2011 156.4 on 1261 att Cody Kessler USC 2012-2015 153.8 on 1210 att Matt Barkley USC 2010-2012 153.7 on 846 att Sam Darnold USC 2016-2017 153.3 on 474 att J.W. Walsh Oklahoma State 2012-2015 153.2 on 553 att Nic Shimonek Texas Tech 2015-2017 152.0 on 1349 att Patrick Mahomes Texas Tech 2014-2016 150.8 on 1241 att Brett Hundley UCLA 2012-2014 147.0 on 241 att Cameron Coffman Wyoming 2015 146.1 on 1126 att Seth Doege Texas Tech 2010-2012 144.2 on 1734 att Landry Jones Oklahoma 2010-2012 143.1 on 537 att Clint Chelf Oklahoma State 2010-2013 142.9 on 1086 att Lamar Jackson Louisville 2015-2017 141.1 on 551 att Taylor Potts Texas Tech 2010 140.8 on 242 att Kyle Bolin Louisville 2013-2016 140.1 on 1170 att Josh Rosen UCLA 2015-2017 139.4 on 233 att Will Gardner Louisville 2013-2015 139.3 on 1212 att Brett Smith Wyoming 2011-2013 138.4 on 747 att Davis Webb Texas Tech 2013-2015 137.7 on 649 att Josh Allen Wyoming 2015-2017 136.5 on 218 att Adam Froman Louisville 2010 128.7 on 253 att Blake Bell Oklahoma 2011-2014 124.9 on 490 att Trevor Knight Oklahoma 2013-2015 123.3 on 252 att Austyn Carta-Samuels Wyoming 2010 122.4 on 395 att Colby Kirkegaard Wyoming 2011-2014 122.4 on 277 att Daxx Garman Oklahoma State 2014 120.2 on 342 att Richard Brehaut UCLA 2010-2012 118.2 on 322 att Kevin Prince UCLA 2010-2012 112.6 on 265 att Mike Fafaul UCLA 2013-2016 Mayfield and Rudolph top the list (with a huge gap between them), and they're also the only 2 of the 6 who are their school's leader. Rosen is down near Allen (the raw tools guy) and Jackson (who is exciting because of his running).
  3. Not a fan of the decision to cut Sitton. The Bears spent $6M each last year on Dion Sims, Markus Wheaton, and Marcus Cooper, and now they aren't willing to pay $8M for one more season from one of the top 10 guards in the league.
  4. After looking some more at the 6 QBs that everyone's talking about, here is how I'd rank them for the NFL draft: Tier 1: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold Tier 2: Josh Rosen, Mason Rudolph, Lamar Jackson Tier 3: Josh Allen (This is taking into account things like scouting reports and other people's rankings, in addition to my own numbers and analyses.) Starting with Tier 1: My numbers have QB1 Baker Mayfield with 2 of the top 3 college QB seasons of the past decade (Russell Wilson 2011 is still #1). PFF has him with similarly elite numbers, including in breakdowns like passing under pressure and difficult "NFL throws". [Edited to add:] Football Outsiders loves him too, and reports that he has elite numbers across various breakdowns in Sports Info Solutions charting. Pass velocity tracking at the Senior Bowl has him with good arm strength (though I wish they'd broken it down into more bins). Consensus first round pick. Scouting reports praise him for what I see as key QB traits like accuracy and progressing quickly through his reads. The main negatives are his size (just a shade bigger than Drew Brees), inconsistent mechanics, concerns about Oklahoma's QB-friendly offense, and character questions. Those all matter somewhat, and the fact that most experts don't have him among their top 2 QBs is a negative, but it's not enough to knock him out of the #1 spot. Size: see Drew Brees. Mechanics: not clear if they're worse than Darnold's. QB-friendly offense: Mayfield's lead on the #2 quarterback this year was larger than the gap between Rosen and the average QB; he'd still have very impressive production even if you took a substantial discount for his situation. And Oklahoma doesn't seem to have off-the-charts levels of QB-friendliness; Landry Jones's production in Oklahoma was in the same ballpark as what Cody Kessler, Matt Barkley, and Brett Hundley did at USC and UCLA (and Trevor Knight & Blake Bell did significantly worse), and Mayfield's receiving corps has been pretty good but not close to Beckham+Landry level. Character: the main question is whether he puts in the work to be good at his job, and I haven't heard negatives about that. QB2 Sam Darnold is the other obvious candidate for the #1 slot. He is neck-and-neck with Rosen for the top spot in most rankings, and he had great numbers in 2016. So he checks both the "reputation" and "production" boxes, and he has good size. But he doesn't check either box resoundingly. In expert rankings he is neck-and-neck with Rosen, and often ranked about 5th overall, rather than being an obvious #1. And his 2016 production was still well behind what Mayfield did in both 2016 and 2017, and his numbers slid to merely "above average" in 2017. So I have him slotted in behind Mayfield on the top tier. Taking things out of order, let's jump to Tier 3: QB6 Josh Allen had terrible 2017 season - my numbers have him ranked 86th out of the 100 QBs with the most attempts. In his favor his 2016 production was above average, so he has a better track record than Hackenberg, but his 2016 season still involved a 56% completion percentage and a worse-than-average sack rate. On the whole, it's a pretty bad track record. Evaluators tend to see him as a 1st round pick, but the strengths they talk about are mostly things like arm talent, having all the tools, protypical frame, can make all the throws. Nice traits to have if you're making a highlight video, but not what it takes to consistently drive your team down the field. If I try to force myself to be optimistic about Allen's future, I feel like I'd also have to tear into Wyoming's coaching staff who somehow managed to run such a horrible offense (105th in scoring) with a first round NFL talent at the helm; apparently they failed to surround him with talent, failed to design good plays to get guys open, and failed to coach him up to help Allen develop from a raw kid with a big arm into someone who was actually good at quarterbacking. But Craig Bohl seems to be pretty well-respected, and it seems more likely that Allen just isn't a first or second round talent. So I have Allen down here on tier 3; I'd be very unlikely to wind up taking him at his market value but I wouldn't give up on him entirely just yet because I'm far from perfect and this and evaluators might be seeing something that I'm missing. Back to Tier 2: QB3 Josh Rosen is neck-and-neck with Darnold for the top QB spot, in the expert rankings I've seen. I have him at the top of tier 2 in deference to those rankings. But his track record is surprisingly unremarkable, given his reputation, and is closer to Allen's than to Darnold's. He was an above average quarterback in each of his three seasons, with production (in my numbers) similar to Allen's peak year in 2016 and a bit behind Darnold's down year in 2017. In Rosen's favor, his scouting report praises him for things like his footwork in the pocket and his accuracy, which are the sorts of skills that seem important at the NFL level. And PFF's grading system seems to like his production a bit more than my numbers do; they have him as the #5 pick (and 3rd QB) in their latest mock. On the whole, Rosen checks the "reputation" box but he doesn't check the "production" box well enough to be on tier 1, but his production has been decent enough to still lead this tier. One more negative which is more relevant for fantasy than for NFL (though it matters for NFL too): Rosen has negative rushing yards (with sacks counting as rushes), with just one 15+ yard run during his college career. That will put him in a fpt hole relative to most QBs under age 33, with Carr & Goff as exceptions, and Football Outsiders has also found that negative rushing yards is a predictor of lack of NFL success. QB4 Mason Rudolph checks the production box as well as Darnold, but he is generally seen as a rd 2 prospect. And OK St. has been pretty QB-friendly - probably even moreso than OK - just look at J.W. Walsh's career stats, plus Washington & Ateman are a nice WR duo. I'll be relatively optimistic about Rudolph if he's a top 40 pick, but he could be another Bryce Petty. QB5 Lamar Jackson has obvious limitations as a passer but he's electric as a runner and seems to have improved this year as a passer. His overall production rating this year was similar to what Watson & Mahomes did in 2016; if we just look at that bottom-line number and ignore how he got it then he slots in right behind Rudolph. Skill as a passer seems more important than skill as a runner, which is a reason to discount Jackson a bit relative to his bottom-line production rating, but Rudolph is also getting discounted some due to his offense. And Watson's early success in Houston seems like a good sign for Jackson's NFL potential. It'll help if Jackson gets a coaching staff that will play to his strengths and a good go-up-and-get-it WR1; from what I've seen he likes to throw sideline passes that give his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball. For fantasy rankings I'd move Jackson up to QB3, and to tier 1.5, because of the fantasy value of rushing production.
  5. James Washington has a really weird build according to his Senior Bowl measurements: 5'10.9", 210 lbs., 29.4 BMI, 33.9" arms. Basically he's built like a RB with freakishly long arms. Height: 5'10.9" is on the short side for a WR; at last year's combine 81% of WRs were taller than that. Arms: 33.9" is unusually long for WR arms; at last year's combine no WR had arms that long (the longest were Jamari Staples' 33.5" arms). Long arms are more common among successful WRs; out of the 53 successful NFL WRs with known arm lengths, 6 were at least that long (Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, AJ Green, Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant, and Kenny Britt). Which is weird for Washington, because all of those guys are tall - arm length is correlated with height. Length: Washington's length (height plus arm length) of 104.75" is close to the average at last year's combine. That is probably the more important number; my sense is that an inch of arm length is about as useful as an inch of height (or maybe slightly more useful) - arm length improves catch radius by a little more, but doesn't help as much with boxing out defenders. Weight: 210 pounds is heavier than average for a WR; only 30% of WRs at last year's combine weighed that much. BMI: 29.4 is near the top of the WR BMI charts. Out of the 146 WRs who have been drafted in the first 3 rounds since 2007, only 2 had a BMI over 29: Ty Montgomery (30.1) and Greg Little (29.3). And both of them actually played some RB (Little in college, Montogmery in the pros). My sense is that a low BMI is a bad sign for a WR but a high BMI doesn't matter much, although it's hard to know because there haven't been many WR prospects with a BMI near there. On the whole, I think it's good when a player has a prototypical build for his position and somewhat bad when his build is closer to an average adult male. In this case we aren't looking at either of those - we're looking at a prospect with a really weird build for a WR or for anyone. I guess that increases the chances that he'll be a bust and also increases the chances that he'll be a star. My formulas just see Washington as someone with averageish length and above-threshold BMI, and so give him an averageish size rating.
  6. 2017 didn't have many great WR seasons by my numbers, and the WRs with good numbers don't overlap that much with the WRs who have good reputations, and a lot of the WRs who have good numbers have chosen to return to school (Toledo's Cody Thompson, Stanford's JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Buffalo's Anthony Johnson, etc.). So the 2018 WR class is looking weak right now. Here are the top 26 WR prospects by numbers, with the 14 who are entering the draft in bold: James Washington Okla St A.J. Brown Miss * Jordan Lasley UCLA Cedrick Wilson Boise St Cody Thompson Toledo * JJ Arcega-Whiteside Stanford * Denzel Mims Baylor * Anthony Johnson Buffalo * Courtland Sutton SMU Darren Carrington II Utah Tyler Johnson Minnesota * DJ Chark LSU Tre'Quan Smith UCF DJ Moore Maryland Anthony Miller Memphis Stanley Morgan Jr. Nebraska * Marcell Ateman Okla St Keke Coutee Texas Tech Greg Dortch Wk Forest * Equanimeous St. Brown Notre Dame Nick Westbrook Indiana * Michael Gallup CSU David Sills V WVU * Diontae Johnson Toledo * Chris Platt Baylor * Thomas Owens FIU * not entering the 2018 draft The numbers are basically saying "yes" to Washington and Lasley, "no" to the guys not listed here (Ridley, Kirk, Tate, Pettis, Cain, etc.), and "we'll see what happens at the combine" to the other 12 guys listed here. (And Lasley of course has question marks about off-the-field issues and, relatedly, small sample size.)
  7. Allen took more sacks than average - he had 22 sacks on 292 dropbacks, when the average FBS quarterback would've had only 17 with that many dropbacks. It's possible that he was pressured a lot more than average which led to more throwaways as well as more sacks, but it at least looks like wasn't the sort of QB who reliably threw it away instead of taking the sack.
  8. Jordy Nelson is going to be 33 years old this season, and he was on pace for only 688 yards in the 7 games that Rodgers played last year. He seems unlikely to bounce back to his age 31 form.
  9. It seems weird that the McCarron free agency ruling is happening now, rather than years ago. The relevant events all happened in 2014, and I'd think that the NFL would want these sorts of things to be settled then so that McCarron, the Bengals, and potential trade partners all know in advance how many years are left on his contract. It would've been pretty nuts if the Browns had traded for him and then learned a few months later that actually he didn't have the contract they thought he did; he's an unrestricted free agent.
  10. The Bears are desperately thin at WR and CB (unless/until they re-sign Fuller & Amukamara). Beyond that, they basically just need to add talent. I could see them using a first round pick (perhaps after a trade-down) at pretty much any position besides QB and RB. I'd like to see them address WR and CB with vets so that they can go after talent in the draft rather than reaching to try to fill a need.
  11. who were the first 3? I tried to find the stats after I posted that and couldn't find them, BUT there was an article in late Nov where Hopkins lead the league in both. Football Outsiders has pass interference stats. Here's everyone with 100+ pass interference yards (regular season only): 7 for 159 yds Marvin Jones 11 for 155 yds DeAndre Hopkins 6 for 155 yds Antonio Brown 5 for 141 yds Brandin Cooks 5 for 126 yds Rob Gronkowski 8 for 116 yds Keenan Allen 5 for 115 yds Adam Thielen 6 for 111 yds DeMaryius Thomas 5 for 105 yds Stefon Diggs 5 for 101 yds Martavis Bryant
  12. I like the Bears' trade-down but I don't like their pick - I'm not excited about Ridley, even at pick 15. I'd rather see them trade down again, or go OT (McGlinchey), or take any of the next several defenders to come off the board (Vea, James, Hurst, Landry, Jackson).
  13. On 1st & 10, in the first 3 quarters, between the 20s, when the game was within 8 points, the average NFL team ran on 53.6% of plays. Cleveland ran on 61.6% of those plays, the 5th most in the NFL. (Although if you count QB runs as passing plays, then those numbers get closer: 54.2% for CLE vs. 50.4% for the average team.)
  14. Kizer's scrambling was responsible for a lot of their rushing success. Cleveland's QBs accounted for about 35% of their rushing first downs. Cleveland's RBs averaged 4.14 yards per carry.
  15. Because of games like this one against Auburn.