Hannah Update, Plus a Request for More Good Vibes

by Jeff Miller

As many of you know, a couple months ago my sister-in-law, Hannah, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The short version of the events since is that surgery went exceptionally well, and after a long road, she is just heading into her final (!!!!) round of chemo. While she still has hormone therapy and some other stuff to look forward to, Hannah is doing great. The docs expect a full recovery and for her to have a long, happy, healthy life.

My brother, their two kids, and especially Hannah herself, have been incredibly grateful for all the well wishes and financial support (via their GodFundMe page) the fantasy football community has provided. And as much as they appreciate it, I appreciate it that much more. There are not words to express how much your outpouring of kindness has meant to me. The generosity has had me in tears on several occasions (including right now).

Unfortunately, my family hasn't been able to entirely escape further strife. Another of my sister-in-laws, this time my brother-in-law's wife, Kelli, has also been diagnosed with breast cancer. As I write this, she is at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester having the same surgical procedure my brother's wife did.

As with Hannah, the outlook is bright, but also like Hannah, Kelli has kids at home. While they are not in need of financial aid, they are in need of good vibes. If you would be so kind as to keep them in your thoughts, I would be indebted.

Any time I am feeling tired of answering start/sit or trade questions or reviewing film at 3am for an article when I have to be up in four hours, I remind myself of everything you all have done for me and my family. You are awesome people and I appreciate the hell out of you. Thanks for being there.


The Case Against Cordarrelle: Postmortem

by Jeff Miller

This article was originally written in April, 2014 to be published on Dynasty League Football. After penning the piece, our excellent publisher (Ken Kelly) and I decided not to beat the issue over the head with another 1111 words (I already dedicated nearly 2000 of them a week prior). The article went in the vault and aside from Ken, the DLF partners, Karl Safchick and myself, it hasn't been read by anybody.

Nearly a year on, I've decided to publish it here. Why? Because I ended up being right and I want to gloat. I'm small, petty, and have a very large (fragile) ego, so this makes me feel pretty good about myself. Having your own website is pretty much an exercise in ego anyway, so why not?

Before reading this follow-up piece, we would suggest you take a look at the original article, “The Case Against Cordarrelle.”

Thanks for reading.

When I penned “The Case Against Cordarrelle”, I knew I’d have to field a number of harsh criticisms and tough questions. As prepared as I was for it, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume and range of the comments. While I did my best to answer each as carefully and concisely as possible, I thought it would be best to write a postmortem piece to address some of the more common refrains.

Missed Message

One of the things that surprised me most was the number of folks who looked past the main point of the article, taking away only that I hate Patterson (which is categorically untrue). In reality, the crux of the column was to relay how egregiously out of whack his price is considering his high risk nature. This brings me to a major point: People seem to be so invested in saying Patterson will either be great or terrible that they lose sight of the fact that no matter what you think of his potential, he is a long way from achieving it. This is a completely inarguable point that even the ardent supporters among the DLF crew all readily admit to. You would do well to follow suit.

The Case Continues

Due to my desire to keep the “Case” article as focused as possible, a number of small bits didn’t make the cut. All of these are criticisms that followed him out of college and throughout 2013:

·         He catches the ball with his body. This leads to more drops than you’d like, especially in traffic or under duress. The actual data from Patterson’s rookie year doesn’t look so bad (three drops on 77 targets), but considering the nature of the vast majority of those targets (bubble screens, etc), that isn’t surprising. This is a clear case where stats do not tell the entire truth.

·         He hasn’t shown the ability to high-point the ball. This is a skill critical to any receiver asked to be a deep threat, which many are suggesting he will be under Norv Turner.

·         Patterson has issues getting a clean release at the line of scrimmage. Some of this is mitigated by the way he is being used, but it is still a significant issue that needs to be addressed.

·         There is a startling lack of big-college/NFL experience. Most successful wide receivers get several years of high level coaching at the FBS level. Patterson had one. It isn’t his fault, but he is starting from well behind the 8 ball.

Another (Unkind) Comparable

The player Patterson reminds me of most from a pure skills standpoint isn’t Percy Harvin. To me, his explosiveness, vision, open field ability, and lack of polish closely resembles Devin Hester. Of course there is a significant size disparity, but Patterson actually plays smaller than he is (see the bullet points above). You can scoff at this comp all you want, but the fact is Hester ran faster and had a higher vertical. He was, and still is, raw and undeveloped as a pass catcher, and as the most prolific return man in history, the former Bear has proven his ability with the ball in his hands. Sounds a lot like Patterson, no?

Despite all of this, Hester never developed into much of a wide receiver. You may point to his offensive coordinators and how Norv Turner trumps them all, and that is a very fair point. On the other hand, as somebody who has seen every game of Hester’s career, I can tell you they force fed him the ball on quick slants, bubble screens, and hand offs to the point of detriment to the offense. Yet he had no fantasy success to show for it.

Can Patterson develop beyond what Hester was able to? Of course. But so many of you continue to beat the drum of his athleticism as though it alone will be enough to make him a fantasy asset. I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.

Comments and Criticisms

The comments largely fell into one of a few categories. My replies follow.

1.       Route running can be taught: Of course it can. In equal measure, it isn’t always learned. Most of the time a rookie receiver with poor route running performed poorly in his rookie year and ends up with a fair market value as a result. In this case, Patterson had a mixed 2013 but is still being treated as an elite player. The assumption he will learn is already built into his price. It makes zero sense.

2.       Norv Turner will be Patterson’s savior: This shows people chose to either ignore or disregard the statistics I presented. How you could look at Turner’s track record with receivers and come away with such blind optimism is a mystery I cannot solve.

Beyond that, the assumption Turner will use him as the X receiver/deep threat is based on nothing but blind faith. We have zero evidence Patterson can fill this role or that Turner wants him to. Assuming it will happen is a high risk proposition.

3.       You are crazy man, I have Patterson as a WR3 and will keep him there: I said he is my WR28, which puts him smack-dab in WR3 territory. I wouldn’t start him as one this season, but that is what I think he will become. Also, if you have him as your WR3 and somebody will give you a WR1 price for him, why wouldn’t you do that deal? Am I missing something?

4.       His athleticism is so transcendent the Vikings have to build around him: First of all, no it isn’t. Plenty of guys past and present are big, fast, and have quick feet. We all need to stop pretending he is the Viking God of Athleticism. Secondly, Norv is smart enough not to build around a player he no doubt knows isn’t ready for it. If he is half the coach I think he is, Turner will bring Patterson along slowly, not over-investing in the youngster as the focal point of the offense.

The Final Word on CP

It is important to remember that for all the players before Patterson who were called wide receivers without actually being one, none have ever ended up as a top player. Harvin had one season of significant results, but other than that, the cupboard is bare. If you still think his ability in conjunction with his coach is enough to launch him into the stratosphere, then good on ya! Me? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Is Tate Golden in Detroit?

by Jeff Miller

I took five minutes out of my morning to do a quick bit of math on Golden Tate and his prospects for success in Detroit. The main goal of the exercise was to determine an achievable ceiling for Tate. My findings aren't revolutionary by any means, but they are at least worth considering.

I started out by calculating Tate's fantasy points per target for his career. (I excluded his rookie year, as I wanted a representative sample of his current skill.) With that figure in hand, I looked at the box score for every Lion's game in 2013 to get an idea of how many times their WR2 was targeted. What we end up with is 115 targets. At Tate's rate of 1.94 points per, our speculative total is 223 fantasy points, or mid-low end WR2 territory. 

This assumes a lot of things:

  1. That Tate's efficiency, which would rank him among the top 10-12 in the league, doesn't see a fall off in Detroit. 
  2. That the target number doesn't change much despite Detroit having a new coaching regime and Tate being worlds better than anything the Lions had opposite Calvin Johnson last year. 
  3. That Detroit doesn't take another wide receiver early in the May draft. 

But you know what they say about assumptions...

In digging around with target numbers a bit more, 135 seems to be about the high water mark for non-first option receivers. If Detroit continues to throw as much as they have in years past, I could see Tate approaching that. Certainly, the 115 I speculated on earlier is more than reasonable.

What I can't see is him maintaining the level of efficiency he enjoyed with Seattle. There is a lot of talk about how efficient Tate was last year with his targets, etc. and that is all well and good, but Russell Wilson was the fifth most efficient QB in terms of fantasy points per attempt. Matt Stafford ranked 15th.* 

All of this is a long winded way of saying Tate's reasonably achievable upside is likely in the WR 16-18 territory. The good news is that due to the volume of passes he is likely to see, his floor is very high. Tate currently sits as my 31st ranked receiver. I'm not yet sure if I plan to change that, but if I do, it would be to move him up only a handful of spots.


*Sample includes 2013's top 32 quarterbacks as determined by total passing fantasy points (rushing statistics were excluded).



The Bills of Buffalo

by Jeff Miller

While the Chicago Bears have been first in my heart as long as I can recall, it was hard not to be a Buffalo Bills fan growing up. Beyond their prolific offense, and the likes of Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett on defense, they were great in Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB). I can't even tell you how many hours of my youth were spent racking up the stats with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. 

Unfortunately, the last couple weeks have been difficult for those of us who have a soft spot for the Bills. As anybody who pays attention knows, Jim Kelly is once again battling cancer. Even scarier, this morning his wife has been quoted as saying the disease is rather aggressive. The former QB is a personal hero of mine not just for what he did on the field or for the thousands of TD's we threw together on TSB, but because of how he has conducted him self off the field. His charitable efforts in the battle against Krabbe Disease are second to none. 

On top of Kelly's health, news has just come out that the Bill's forever owner, Ralph Wilson has passed away. Chris Berman sums it up rather well here, but Wilson was not only integral to the success of the NFL, but, more importantly, served our country in World War Two. 95 years old at the time of his death, Wilson got to live a long, amazing life, but that doesn't make me any less sad to see him leave us.

Here is to hoping that the Bills remain in Buffalo, that Wilson's family finds strength in this time of grief, and that Jim Kelly beats cancer for good. After all, nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.