First Fantasy Football Mock

These past couple of days I have done several mock drafts. I just completed one where I took notes on why I took each player and the situation I was in and what I was thinking. And here we go…

This was a Yahoo! fantasy football mock draft. It was non-PPR with 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 DEF with 6 bench spots. I went into the draft looking for RB/RB in the first two rounds because of the scarcity. I was drafting from the 5th spot in a 12 team league.

1: CJ Spiller – I was looking for one of my top five running backs of Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster and CJ Spiller. I am not too high on Foster that is why I have him at 4. He has averaged over 300 carries the past three years. That is a lot of tread on those tires and he was hurt a bit last year. I would just look somewhere else with the top 3 picks. I ended up with CJ Spiller. The four running backs I have rated ahead of him were gone. I love Spiller. I think he could end up as the number 1 fantasy performer by the end of the year. Doug Marrone wants to speed up the Bills offense and I think Spiller will be the main cog. I am pumped with this first pick even if there is a tad bit of bust potential.

2: Larry Fitzgerald – I wanted a running back here, but I did not like any of the running backs who were available. Maurice Jones-Drew was here and I like him this year as a 3rd rounder, but not late second. He was hurt last year and has been hitting up way too many all you can eat buffets. If Jimmy Graham was available, I would have taken him, but I took Larry Fitzgerald because I thought he was the best receiver available. He has the potential to perform as a top 5 receiver. I think Bruce Arians will look to get Fitzgerald the ball. Carson Palmer will be the first quarterback that can actually throw it to him since Kurt Warner. I think he could have a great year. Happy with him as a WR1.

3: Dwayne Bowe – I was down between Bowe or Reggie Bush. I decided to go with Bowe because I thought I could get a comparable running back in the next round. So, I took Bowe and I am very high on him this year. This will be the best quarterback that he has ever had. Andy Reid loves to throw the ball. Bowe will get a lot of targets from Alex Smith and I think he will get a lot of looks in the red zone. It’s basically Toni Moeaki and Dwayne Bowe in the red zone. I love him as a WR2 and could have a huge year. I will have a lot of Dwayne Bowe stock this year.

4: Montee Ball – I needed a running back here and I love getting Ball this late. Peyton Manning makes every running back look good. Knowshon Moreno looked good last year and he had been awful. Yes, he was a first round pick by the Broncos, but remember Tim Tebow was also a Broncos first round pick. They weren’t the best drafters before Elway joined the front office. Sorry for getting off track, I just can’t turn down a chance to remind the world how bad of an NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is. Ball will be the starter and with the majority of the carries for the Bronces, I believe he will be a good fantasy asset this year. Good RB2, not the best, but good.

Andrew Luck and Roger Goodell at 2012 NFL Draft

Andrew Luck and Roger Goodell at 2012 NFL Draft

5: Hakeem Nicks – I was really tempted to take Andrew Luck here. I love Luck this year like more than I love LeBron James and Mike Trout. Yes, I said it, but back to this pick. If Nicks is healthy, he is a stud wide receiver. With Victor Cruz on the other side, Nicks will not get many double teams because teams will need to be worried about both receivers and Rueben Randle is not someone who should be slept on. The Giants offense should have a bounce back year. Nicks as a WR3 is a huge value for me. I could have taken Torrey Smith, but I am trying not to draft Ravens because I don’t want my fandom to get in the way of my line up selection throughout the year. I do think he could have an amazing year, and he went the pick after me. (Side note: I do like the Ravens a lot this year, don’t sleep on them. I’ll preview them later in the summer). Now I have my starters for RB and WR in the first 5 rounds. That is my goal for every draft I do this year.

6: Andrew Luck – I was getting scared that I wasn’t going to get him, but I got heeeem! I already wrote about why I love him this year.

7: Eddie Lacy – I wanted a tight end here. I was looking at Vernon Davis, but he went 4 spots ahead of me and Dennis Pitta went 2 spots ahead of me. Lacy is a good back up with upside. I like to draft upside because being safe later in drafts does not lead to drafting break out players and winning championships. Lacy will be the best running back Aaron Rodgers has ever had. Johnathan Franklin will probably split carries with him, but if Lacy gets most of the carries, I like him a lot this year. He is a big back that will probably have a lot of goal line carries with a lot of touchdowns in a good offense. I think he is a good back up. Happy with it.

8: Shane Vereen – I LOVE this pick. Someone has to get the ball in that offense. He got 3 touchdowns against Houston in the playoffs with 124 total yards. Tom Brady will get his stats, which means he needs someone to throw to. He has Danny Amendola at wide receiver and that’s about it. Vereen could be the next guy before Gronk gets back, if he ever gets back. Someone has to get the ball; why not Vereen?

Bryce Brown

Bryce Brown

9: Bryce Brown – First of all, people started drafting defenses and this is dumb in my opinion, but to each his own. I wanted TY Hilton here. Andrew Luck could make him really valuable. I’ll have a lot of shares of Luck and Colts this year. Love them. However, Hilton was gone. I took Bryce Brown. The reason is simple. If Chip Kelly‘s offense is anything like it was at Oregon, the back-up running back will get his share of carries; and LeSean McCoy did get hurt last year so maybe he can’t stay healthy this year.

10: Zac Stacy – Rams’ running back situation is very much up in the air. Zac Stacy could emerge and have an Alfred Morris-esque year. That’s what I am hoping for here. I am continuing to draft high risk/reward players late and hoping at least one of them hits. Otherwise, I could just dump one of them for the breakout player that is still on the waiver wire because he will always be there.

11: Justin Blackmon – I had been eyeing up Brandon Myers for the past couple rounds. He ended up going right after my Zac Stacy pick and I was not happy about this. I realized I had not drafted a back up wide receiver at this point. I took Blackmon. I did this because he was drafted in the top ten last year in the NFL Draft. He has a lot of talent. He is falling because of his suspension. I already have my starters so I might as well take a shot that he is great once he returns because I do not need him the first four games anyway.

12: Vincent Brown – I was thinking about going tight end. Mid-draft, I checked to see if everyone had a tight end already. Everyone else had one so I decided to take a “post hype sleeper” for this year. This means that everyone was talking them up last year, and he fell flat on his face. This year, everyone has forgotten about him because of an injury or poor performance. With Brown, his broken leg kept him off the field last year. San Diego may not have a good offense, but Philip Rivers has to throw the ball to someone besides Antonio Gates. Why not Vincent Brown? Again, I just need one guy that I have drafted to hit it big and I am golden.

Jordan Cameron

Jordan Cameron

13: Jordan Cameron – So I need a tight end here. I was looking Jordan Cameron all the way after Brandon Myers. I have a couple of reasons for taking Cameron. 1. I think he had the most upside of all the tight ends left and if he busts, I’ll just play the match ups each week. 2. Antonio Gates thrived in a Norv Turner offense. I think Cameron is athletic enough to do this same. He ran a 4.59 at the NFL Combine in 2011 and had a vertical leap of 37.5 inches.  3. I trust Ron Jaworski’s evaluation of quarterbacks. He has said that Brandon Weeden has the ability to thrive in Norv Turner’s offense. I think these three factors make this a good pick and the last two give me a good chance to get a break out player at tight end.

14: Tamba Bay Buccaneers Defense/Special teams – Revis Island. Period. Also, they play the Jets Week 1 and I can just dump them after they dominate that awful offense if I want a different defense.

15: Sebastian Janikowski – Biggest leg in the league. period. Not best but biggest. And they are kickers… so useless. If he busts, I’ll just pick someone else up in free agency.

Overall, if this was a real league, I would love this draft and be very happy with this team. It is really early so values will continue to fluctuate as the season approaches. I wouldn’t suggest doing an actual draft now, but I am getting excited about fantasy football so I did a mock and decided to write it up. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.

Greg Danchik

Dojo Sparring- 6/17-6/21

Greg to Joe

Game 6 of the NBA Finals was easily the best NBA game I have ever watched, but I have not watched a lot of NBA basketball before this year. I just thought LeBron took off in the 4th quarter and Twitter BLEW UP over the lost headband.

LeBron James with and without the headband

LeBron James with and without the headband

Then, after his ridiculous turnover, everyone was calling for LeBron’s head. He was easily the main reason the Heat do not lose that game. I don’t really think you can question it. The Spurs did, however, blow the last ten seconds of the game by not calling a timeout. My only reasoning for that is that Parker tore his hammy or hurt it significantly more. Popovich is too smart to not call a timeout there. What were your thoughts, and how do you think Game 7 goes?

Quick fantasy note, how do you think your team is looking the rest of the way? We made a good deal, I think, of Dom Brown and Tom Wilhelmsen for James Shields and Norichika Aoki. Do you think your team has a good chance to win this thing? I really think my team is by far the best if Tulo and Harper aren’t hurt the rest of the way. But there is a long way to go and we are playing each other this week by the way.

Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown

Joe to Greg

The Heat live and die by the play of LeBron, there’s no doubting that. My problem with the Heat’s strategy was too many consecutive iso’s for James. More than five times Lebron was guarded by Kawhi Leonard and Mario Chalmers, being guarded by Tony Parker, would come set a pick and cause a switch that resulted in Parker guarding James one-on-one. In the NBA, its all about matchups but James didn’t take advantage of the smaller Parker, or maybe he took advantage of him but not as much as he could. The reason the Spurs lost this game falls back on the blown timeout call with ten seconds left in OT with Parker on the bench and also FREE THROWS. Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Leonard all went to the charity stripe with under three minutes to play. Each of them went 1 for 2 on their free throws, essentially giving up 3 free points that could have sealed the deal. I think Parker was pulled from the game because of the hammy issues and also because Popovich didn’t like when Parker had to switch and defend James. The other HUGE play was as the time ran down, I believe it was James who took the shot to tie the game, misses it, Chris Bosh comes up with the biggest play he’s made in a Heat uniform and grabs the rebound, who dishes it to Ray Allen and the rest is history. My question is, why isn’t Tim Duncan on the floor? You trust Boris Diaw in the last ten seconds of the game to guard Bosh when Duncan finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds? I think the momentum carries the Heat to Game 7 win. My heart says the Heat win but my pick is the Spurs 95, Heat 91. Your prediction?

On the flip side, I really like my fantasy team. I think one of the biggest factors in a successful fantasy team is balance across the board, but more specifically balance between power hitters (such as Prince Fielder/Nelson Cruz for me and Robinson Cano/Tulo for you) and your strong role players (someone like a Daniel Nava/Carlos Gomez for me and Omar Infante/Norichika Aoki for you). Also balance between your starting pitchers and closers. Too many starters may result in higher ERA and WHIP, too many closers and you don’t have enough wins and K’s. Since you and I have been 1-2 in our division the whole way, I think whoever wins the league comes from our division, between either your team, my team, or Grant’s team.

Greg to Joe

You’re right, the Spurs were ONE rebound or ONE free throw from an NBA Title. Duncan not being in at the end of the 4th quarter was a bit confusing too. I have no explanation for that. I really don’t understand the no timeout and then no Parker, in the last 10 seconds, on offense at least. I really think the only explanation for this is a hurt hamstring. I really do not see any other reason. Pop is honestly way too smart for that. I can’t question Pop, he is a genius and if he does something, he definitely has a reason for it. Much smarter basketball mind than both of us. With regards to Miami’s offense revolving around LeBron, its just how the team is designed. The team is not designed to beat a top NBA team without a LeBron scoring 30 points and getting 10 boards and 10 assists. And yes, LeBron missed the game tying shot, but he willed his team back into the game after being down 10 points going into the 4th quarter.

For Game 7, I wrote this yesterday… Game 6 winner will be the NBA champion. So, I’m sticking to it.

Jay Pharoah impression of Stephen A. Smith

Jay Pharoah impression of Stephen A. Smith

There is NO WAY (Stephen A. Smith voice) the Heat lose this game. LeBron finally had a good quarter and he is going to carry that into a MONSTER game 7. I’m talking 40 points, 15 assists and at least 10 boards. I also think Parker is done. He might have a good 1st half in Game 7, but he won’t be able to have a good 2nd half. His hamstring is bothering him too much; he has not had 2 good halves in a game since Game 1. Heat will be repeat champions with a 98-89 win. And I think when everyone looks back at this series, people will think Game 6 decided the series and that’s the game everyone remembers.

So I think you’re wrong about the ERA and WHIP thing. I agree that with too many closers, you don’t win K’s for the week. But closers, and relievers in general, can DESTROY an ERA. If they give up 5 runs in 2 innings pitched for the week, you get tattooed with a 22.50 ERA from them for the week. Also, this is why I think our league format is dumb. Head to Head leagues for fantasy baseball is the dumbest thing in fantasy sports. I can’t say that enough. EXAMPLE: Say you had Mike Trout and Stephen Strasburg last year. They carry your team all year. Then come playoff time, Trout cools down, and Strasburg is shut down. ALL OF THEIR STATS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR JUST GO OUT THE WINDOW!!!! 140 or so games… GONE! Next year, it should be a roto league. Count stats from all year and be ranked based on those stats. Baseball and football are totally different sports. Baseball is a marathon and football is a sprint. Baseball should count stats for all year and football can be week to week because it is such a matchup league and that’s part of fantasy football, exploiting the matchups.

But this year, I might be able to take advantage of our league format. My team will make the playoffs regardless and come playoff time, I think Harper and Tulo will be back to form and it should help carry me through the postseason. I really think it is going to come down to us 3. Thats about it. Sorry Chris…

Joe to Greg

It pains me to say that my gut says the Heat win Game 7 even though I really really really really don’t want them to. Talk about some legacy’s at stake for this game now:

Scenario 1: Spurs win…Tim Duncan goes 5-0 in NBA Finals series and 2-0 versus LeBron, for some bragging rights. He wins 3 championships in 3… 3 different decades, which is one of the biggest achievements you can hope for as a professional athlete. Duncan gets a bump into the conversation of top five players EVER with his 5th ring and easily regarded as either the number 1 or 2 power-forward to ever play the game. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each get their 4th ring, essentially locking up Hall of Fame honors for them. The flip side, Lebron drops to 1-3 in NBA Finals series (Losing 1 with Cleveland and 2 with Miami). The Heat Big 3 are going to receive loads of criticism for their performance. Mainly Wade for pulling a Houdini and showing up every other game and Bosh for doing “Bosh-like things”.

Chris Bosh & Dinosaur

Chris Bosh & Dinosaur

Scenario 2: Heat win…Tim Duncan still has an incredible resume, but this one will be remembered as the one that got away from him. Ginobili regardless of winning a title probably retires since he isn’t the same Manu anymore. James grabs his 2nd ring, Wade his 3rd, and Bosh his 2nd. The LeBron train keeps on chugging as more people question whether or not the Heat can be stopped even though after every Heat loss, the media act as though the Heat have hit rock bottom.

Lets put it this way, If the Heat win, then the media goes crazy covering them and their success. If the Spurs win, then the media goes crazy covering the Heat as James, Bosh, and Wade enter the final years of their contracts for the upcoming season. Meaning that next summer, we will have another “Decision” to worry about.

I’m siding with you on the baseball aspect in terms of the proper format to use. While its hard for me to comment on the varying styles of the format, I can see flaws using Head-to-Head. The case with any fantasy team, whether that be baseball, football, basketball, or hockey, is whose team is hot come playoff time and whose team has less injuries. Two prime examples, Sidney Crosby getting hurt and missing the last 13 games of the regular season ended up costing someone’s team a chance to advance to the championship. The other example is football, when Adrian Peterson, who always performs well, started going off towards the tail end of the season, the person who had him on their team rode his performances straight to a championship. Baseball is very interesting though because of what you mentioned about Strasburg. When a pitcher of his caliber gets shut down, it hurts your team more than you think. In your opinion is it more detrimental to your team to have a pitcher get shut down/hurt or a batter shut down/hurt?

Greg to Joe

I can’t wait for the summer of 2014 for the next LeBron decision. I hope he goes back to Cleveland, but I am not so sure he does. I also think legacy talk is ridiculous. Championships are won by teams. If people are measuring players about the amount of championships they win, they are basically saying that basketball is an individual’s sport. And you can tell, if your watching these NBA Finals, it is clearly a team sport. The better team wins the game. LeBron carried his team, but if Bosh doesn’t get that rebound and Allen doesn’t hit that three, LeBron’s effort does not matter.

It depends on the make-up of your team for the most part when it comes to players getting hurt at the end of the year on your fantasy team. If all things being equal, I would say pitcher if we are talking top 5 pitcher, but otherwise hitter. With a top pitcher, like Clayton Kershaw, you are almost guaranteed to win 3 categories (ERA, WHIP, & K’s) in a two start week. You are pretty much always given at least one win as well. So if you lose a two start week in the postseason, you’re done. You cannot make that up, unless you stream starters insanely well in his place. Otherwise, a hitter hurts more because they play everyday and it costs valuable counting stats (RBI’s, runs, home runs, stolen bases).

Joe to Greg

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James

For the fun of it, I say LeBron joins Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee, and their #1 pick this year (side note: It must SUCK to be a Charlotte Bobcats fan since they missed out on the #1 pick in back to back years). D-Wade and Bosh stay with the Heat. Other noticeable free agents for the summer of 2014: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Zach Randolph, and John Wall. I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be in for a treat next summer. One of these names won’t be with their team come the 2014-2015 season.

I think losing an ace on your fantasy staff hurts you in the long run because pitchers are harder to come by once the draft goes by. Especially in a 10 team league, you really have find the diamond in the rough among the free agents. Like any fantasy team, you have to draft well in the later rounds; luckily for me, I picked R.A. Dickey extremely late last year and I think that was a good pick to say the least. On a week-to-week basis, missing a hitter, like you missing Bryce Harper, hurts you because of his power and his ability to get on base.

Greg quick Bobcats response:

Maybe it’s a good thing because they will suck again and get the # 1 pick next year and get to draft Andrew Wiggins (the next NBA superstar).

Greg Danchik & Joe Meola

 

Top Prospect Tuesday

Wil Myers

Wil Myers

Today, two top prospects will be called up in Major League Baseball, Wil Myers and Zack Wheeler.

Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler

They are the number 4 and number 11 best prospects in baseball prior to 2013, according to Baseball America. Oddly enough, both of these prospects have been involved in big time trades. The Kansas City Royals had been grooming Myers since 2009. They decided that they could contend in 2013 and had enough bats. Therefore, they dealt Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. Myers was a huge pick up for Tampa because they save money and get another big bat in the line up to join Evan Longoria for the future. Zack Wheeler was dealt to the New York Mets from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. The Giants made this deal because they thought they could get to the playoffs in 2011, but they were unable to and did not defend their World Series title. The Mets, a team that has been struggling for a long time, got a big time starter for their future rotation. For each of these teams and players, the future is now.

Wil Myers will be a nice bat for the Rays. They need another power bat in that line up. Hopefully, their pitching can hold up after a couple of Matt Moore blow ups, and David Price and Alex Cobb injuries. Personally, I hope it doesn’t work out, but that is only in an actual baseball sense because I am an Orioles fan. However, I believe he will be a force to be reckoned with. Not at the level of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig but pretty damn close. He has .300 batting average and a .389 on base percentage. He also has 78 home runs in 5 seasons in the minors. Baseball America has him rated at a 60 bat and 70 power on the 20-80 scale. That should lead to a batting average around .300 over the course of his career and, in his peak years, about 35 homers. Now for this season, I expect good power. He will probably hit home runs on a 25 homer pace for the rest of the season. That should be about 14 homers over the remaining 93 games. As for his average, I am not expecting much. He will probably have a .260 batting average or so. I say this because he struck out in 21% of his plate appearances in the minors. He will probably strike out at a higher rate as he adjusts to MLB pitching. For fantasy purposes, he is definitely worth a pick up. Of course, I drafted him and dropped him in a league that I am in with the two guest writers I have had, Joe Meola and Chris Turner. But I have him in 2 other leagues, and I am very happy to see the Rays call him up. Look for a good half season MLB debut.

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler

Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler looks to be a great number 2, behind Matt Harvey, in the Mets’ rotation for years to come. Baseball America has his fastball at a 70 and his slider and control at a 60. This means that his fastball runs from 93-97mph and he has an above-average slider. Also, he has above-average command. He is debuting against the Atlanta Braves tonight and I have no idea what to expect. On the one hand, he could dominate the Braves and strike out 7-10 guys in 7 or so innings. On the other hand, the Braves could hit 4 homers off of him and chase him out in 3 innings. I have no idea what to expect. In terms of fantasy, he is definitely worth a speculative add in all leagues. I probably wouldn’t start him on Tuesday. If he pitches well, ride him. If he pitches poorly, drop him. Pitchers are much more volatile than hitting prospects in baseball. Baseball prospects, in general, are extremely volatile, so projections are really hard to make. Hopefully he turns into the good player that he has the potential to be and plays a big part in the Mets’ rotation for years to come.

For today specifically, I don’t know what to expect for Myers and Wheeler. They should be forces to be reckoned with. Maybe, we have the next Trout and Strasburg (injury-free Stras of course). Today, we’ll see the beginning.

Greg Danchik

Andrew Luck: 2013 NFL MVP?

Andrew Luck was one of the top rated quarterbacks EVER out of college. The only player Mel Kiper Jr, ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, has ranked higher is John Elway. That’s pretty good company in my opinion. He had been rated that high for two years. If he had come out after his redshirt sophomore year (third year in college), he would have been drafted number 1 overall to the Panthers. They said that before he made his decision to stay in school. Luck decided to stay in school and finish his degree even though his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, bolted for the NFL to join the San Francisco 49ers.

Andrew Luck and Roger Goodell at 2012 NFL Draft

Andrew Luck and Roger Goodell at 2012 NFL Draft

This decision did not change Luck’s draft position. He went to the Indianapolis Colts at number 1 overall.

Luck had a great first season considering the team he came into. The Colts in 2011 were by far the worst team in the NFL. They really had no talent and I was personally surprised that they ended up with even 1 win. They had very little talent at all the positions on the field. Their best player was probably Reggie Wayne, but he wasn’t utilized well because he did not have a quarterback that could throw to him. The organization made a coaching change from Jim Caldwell to Chuck Pagano. However, they did not make any really big signings to help the team either. They traded for Vontae Davis and Winston Justice. They also resigned Reggie Wayne, but decided to let Peyton Manning go after a great 14 years and a Super Bowl victory. This left them with the ability to draft Luck with their 1st overall pick. Throughout the rest of the draft, they did not worry about their torrid defense (5th most points allowed and 8th most yards allowed in 2011), and they focused on getting Andrew Luck more weapons. They drafted two tight ends in Coby Fleener (Luck’s college roommate at Stanford) and Dwayne Allen. Then they added TY Hilton and LaVon Brazill. Finally, they also added a running back in the 5th round in Vick Ballard. These were the only weapons and upgrades the Colts had going into the 2012 season.

Luck’s 2012 was very impressive because of what he was asked to do for his team. He was asked to put the offense on his back and carry them to victory. He threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 54.1%, but he also had 18 interceptions. He was top 5 in the NFL in attempts per game as a rookie with 39.2 attempts per game.

Left to Right: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson

Left to Right: Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson

This is very different from what Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson were asked to do. They ranked 39th and 40th in pass attempts per game with 26.2 and 24.6 attempts per game respectively. Now, if you compare Luck’s efficiency rating with Wilson and RGIII, you would think that he did not have a season as good as them. I, on the other hand, disagree. I believe Luck should have won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) in 2012 rather than Griffin. Now he definitely was not as efficient as them, but he had about 14 more attempts per game than those other two quarterbacks and that just leaves a lot of opportunities for rookie mistakes.

Considering how many attempts he had, he did not make a ton of mistakes. 18 interceptions on 627 attempts, or an interception percentage of 2.9%, is an incredible feat for a rookie especially considering the game situations. Luck’s defense was not good by any standard. They were ranked 26th in yards allowed per game with 374.2 and ranking 21st in points allowed per game with 24.2. So he was usually playing from behind in the fourth quarter trying to catch up as evidenced by his 4 fourth quarter comebacks and 7 game winning drives late in the fourth quarter or overtime. Even when he had a lead, he was asked to throw because of his awful rushing attack. The Colts only had 104.4 rushing yards per game as a team, which gave them a ranking of 22nd in the NFL. Luck literally had to do everything for this Colts team. AND he still managed to carry them to the postseason with 7 more wins than the previous season! They didn’t win their 1st game, but at least they lost to the Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens (any chance I get to say that, I will).

After looking at RGIII and Wilson, it is easy to tell that they definitely had better supporting casts, which allowed them to have much more efficient stats and less interceptions. First, RGIII, whom actually won the OROY in 2012, had the best running game in the NFL. His team led the NFL in rushing yards per game with 169.3 yards per game. With a rushing attack like that, you can keep defenses off balance and it opens up the play-action passing game. For RGIII, this opened up the secondary and gave him very good passing lanes and open receivers. This alone limits mistakes because it doesn’t take a superstar to play catch with a receiver when there isn’t a tight window to fit the ball through. The Redskins did have 10 wins in 2012, but that was only a 5 win difference from 2011 to 2012.

Now some people may say, “Well, Russell Wilson led his team to 11 wins and if they didn’t get screwed with an early afternoon game on the east coast, they would have been in the NFC Title Game.” First of all, only one of those things is true. A west coast team playing a 1 pm game on the east coast is very unfair. It’s basically 10 am for those players. And the Seahawks did not WIN 11 games. They, themselves, won 10 games. The replacement refs gave them that 11th win against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. Also, Wilson’s supporting cast was far more superior than RGIII’s and especially Luck’s. He had the third best rushing team, besides RGIII’s Redskins and Adrian Peterson‘s Vikings, with 161.2 rushing yards a game. It was already discussed how that helps out the quarterback. Now, Wilson also had a top 5 defense. His defense was number 4 in yards allowed and 1st in points allowed. They only gave up 15.3 points a game! On average, Wilson only needed to lead his offense down the field for 2 touchdowns and a field goal from a kicker who only missed 3 field goals all year and all those field goals were over 50 yards. I think these stats clearly show that Luck had an inferior supporting cast and his 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns were deserving of an OROY award with all factors considered.

Luck’s 2013 could surprise some people with how good he is going to be. He has a slightly improved supporting cast. In the draft, they acquired talent in places of need. They drafted DE Bjoern Werner from Florida State to help out their torrid defense. Their next 2 picks were used on the offensive line. This was a huge need for the Colts as Luck took 41 sacks last year, which was the 4th most in the NFL. They were also ranked as the 2nd worst offensive line in the entire NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. I don’t expect Luck to be running for his life as much as he had to last year. In free agency, they have signed, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw, so far.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Heyward-Bey adds another dimension to the offense with his speed. He can stretch defenses deep. People will say he was a bust at the 7th overall pick for the Raiders, and he was. However, I think with a new organization that isn’t as dysfunctional as the Oakland Raiders, he can be a productive wide receiver with a stud quarterback throwing to him. I mean, any improvement at quarterback would be good for Heyward-Bey. He’s had to deal with JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, and a poorly playing Carson Palmer throwing him the ball. I think Heyward-Bey will be a nice addition for Luck. I talked about Bradshaw in this Daily Dojo. The players that were drafted with Luck in the 2012 draft have a year of experience under their belts. They should hopefully be improved and help Luck out even more.

Overall, I think Luck’s trajectory is only looking up. He could have an unbelievable season and shock people. My conservative prediction is that he has a stat line of 4,600 passing yards, 28 passing TD’s, 11 interceptions, 2 lost fumbles, 200 rushing yards and 3 rushing TD’s. This stat line equates to 308 total fantasy points using ESPN standard scoring for fantasy football. That would put him in the top 5 of all quarterbacks according to last year’s fantasy football scoring leaders. If he exceeds those numbers, he will definitely be in the running for NFL MVP. However, to go along with my stat prediction, I believe he leads the Colts to 11 wins and an NFC South crown over the Houston Texans (I don’t think Matt Schaub is good enough and Arian Foster is running out of tread on his tires). This would give him an incredible case for MVP and I think he really has a shot in his sophomore campaign.

 Greg Danchik

Greatest Car Ride Part 2

Now I am not exactly sure how I got to this next point of arbitration and draft picks in the MLB. It must have come from the talk about Gausman and Bundy because they were early round draft picks in the MLB. This got me into the change in the balance of trades when the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was created before the 2012 MLB season and draft. My mind just went crazy trying to explain the value of trades created by baseball’s crazy rules to Heather and yes I researched some of these facts after the fact because I didn’t know all of this off the top of my head… just most of it.

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

Albert Pujols signing with the LA Angels

The CBA prior to 2012 had definitions for free agents. The players that were considered type A free agents by Elias Sports Bureau were in the top 20 percent of players at their position over the past two years. Type B free agents were players who were not in the top 20 percent, but were in the top 40. The MLB uses the Elias Sports Bureau’s designations to determine the type A and B free agents. The free agent definitions gave the teams that lost them some compensation. I’ll use an actual example to explain the compensation. In the offseason prior to the 2012 season, the Los Angeles Angels signed Albert Pujols, a type A free agent, to a ridiculous contract. Pujols had previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Because the Angels signed Pujols as a type A players, they had to give the Cardinals their top pick in the upcoming MLB draft. The Cardinals also received a compensation pick in the “sandwich round” between the first and second round. If a team loses a type B free agent, they are given the compensation pick in the “sandwich round” but they do not get the first pick of the team that sign them. The only exception to this rule was if a team had a first round pick in the top half of the first round when they signed a type A free agent. The team that signed the type A player would only have to give up a second round pick. The MLB put this in place to try and increase competitive balance of some kind. How this relates to the balance of trades is that prior to 2012 when a team traded for a player that was to be considered a type A free agent for just half the year, they would still get the first round draft pick of the team that signed them. An example of this would be the Mark Teixeira trade in 2008. Teixeira was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Los Angeles Angels for two young players including Casey Kotchman. The Angels made this trade in an effort to push themselves over the top to win a World Series. They ended up winning 100 games but lost in the ALDS to the Red Sox. The following off season, the New York Yankees signed Teixeira as a type A free agent. The Angels still received compensation of a first round pick from the Yankees and a “sandwich round” pick even though he was only on the Angels for less than half a season.

Now starting in 2012, the rules changed some. Free agents no longer had designations of how good they were. The way a team earns compensation for free agents being lost was by offering a contract that was the average of the 125 richest contracts in the game. An example of this would be the Kyle Lohse situation. The Cardinals offered Kyle Lohse a contract that was equal to the average of the 125 richest contracts. This meant the Cardinals would receive compensation of a first round pick if Lohse signed anywhere else. This left a lot of teams in a pickle. They did not want to have to sign Lohse to a big contract and lose their first round pick because he isn’t a front of the rotation starter and does not get a lot of strikeouts and actually… he’s just not a good pitcher most of the time. He just had a good contract year. This would be why I was happy the Orioles did not sign him. Fortunately for Lohse, the Milwaukee Brewers signed him to a 3 year 33 million dollar contract and gave up their first round pick to the Cardinals for him. This turned out to really screw the Brewers because they are an organization that should be going into rebuilding mode, but it’s kind of hard to do that when you do not have talent in the majors to acquire prospects and you don’t have a first round pick to get a top one. However, an exception to this rule is that you must have the player under contract for a full season to receive compensation for him leaving the club. An example of this is Zack Greinke being traded to the Los Angeles Angels right before the trade deadline in the 2012 season. He was traded to the Angels from the Brewers in exchange for a bundle of prospects with Jean Segura headlining them. During the offseason prior to 2013, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers instead of resigning with the Angels.  The Angels did not receive the Dodgers first round pick even though they offered him a contract richer than the average of the top 125 players because Greinke had not been with the team for more than a year.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels

Now how have these rules changed the outlook of the Los Angeles Angels? The Angels trades for Teixeira in 2008 and Greinke in 2012 can show these differences. The Teixeira trade in 2008 sent Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher to the Braves for Teixeira. Kotchman was a first round pick in 2001 and had a great year in 2007 and was regarded as the Angels first baseman of the future. In 2008, the Angels risked losing their first baseman of the future and Teixeira in the off season because he was only signed through the rest of the season to try and win a World Series. They failed, but when Teixeira bolted for a ton of money being offered by the New York Yankees, the Angels got their first round pick and a “sandwich round” pick. And guess who the Angels turned the Yankees first round pick into? Yes that’s right, my boy, Mike Trout and he is the best player now for the Angels and will be for many years in the future. Now the Angels didn’t have the same luck when they traded for Zack Greinke in 2012. They traded two minor league pitchers along with their second best prospect Jean Segura to the Milwaukee Brewers as stated above. Segura was considered a middle infielder because the Angels didn’t know if they were going to play him at 2nd base or shortstop. The Brewers decided to play him at shortstop and he has been a top hitter in their line up this year with a .340 batting average, 9 home runs, 29 runs batted in (RBI), and 17 stolen bases. This kind of production would be extremely useful to the Angels. However, the Angels were unable to make the playoffs in 2012 and as I said earlier, lost Greinke to the Dodgers without getting any compensation. The Angels can’t seem to buy a win this year even with their massive payroll. They have no minor league talent to start rebuilding the team with. Since they lost their first round pick to the Texas Rangers when the Angels signed Josh Hamilton, they had no picks to help rebuild their team this year. So the outlook does not look good for the Angels unless Hamilton and Pujols suddenly figure out how to get back to their old great form and can hold it for the next two-three years while the Angels try to draft well and rebuild the farm system.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

After all of this trade talk, I was able to get back to the Baltimore Orioles and talk about a potential trade with the Philadelphia Phillies that could possibly put the Orioles over the top this year. The Orioles have production from almost every position except second base. They cannot get any production from that position this season for some reason. Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla have not produced, with batting averages of .172 and .203 respectively. They also have had inconsistent pitching. Some outings a pitcher will only give up a run or two and the next outing they’ll give up 8 runs. It’s ridiculous and hard to watch as a fan. Now the Phillies have been struggling this year. They do not look like contenders and may barely finish above .500. They probably need to start their rebuilding process now. They have a lot of old players with huge contracts that make up their ridiculous payroll of 170,760,689 dollars… that’s a lot of money for a team to barely finish above .500. The  Phillies have been rumored to trade two players. Cliff Lee has been rumored because he has been good and could bring back the Phillies some prospects and it would get his contract that still has 77.5 million dollars on it over 3 years. The other player is Chase Utley because before he got hurt, he had been playing great and he becomes a free agent next year anyway. And what do you know, those are the Orioles needs. Could there be a possible deal there? Maybe. It all depends on how each team values the players. The Orioles wouldn’t part ways with Dylan Bundy, but maybe they would part ways with Kevin Gausman. To get Utley as well, they would probably have to throw in their top hitting prospect in Jonathan Schoop, who is on the DL now with a stress fracture in his back. Would this deal work? The Orioles give up Gausman, projected number 2 starter with a floor of a number 4 starter, and Schoop, who is a projected starter at either 3rd base, 2nd base, or shortstop. All of these positions are needed by the Phillies in their farm system. They could use an infielder for the future in Schoop and they could decide what position they want him to play. Gausman would be valuable because you can never have enough pitching. The Phillies give up Lee and Utley. This leaves the Orioles with the number 1 starter that they have needed to help push them over the top. Utley would give them the 2nd baseman for this year that would be the final piece in their order to make it dangerous 1 through 9. There are three things that would make this trade not work. The first hurdle would be the Orioles willingness to take on a contract that big for a pitcher. A contract that is fully guaranteed, that’s how all baseball contracts are, for a pitcher that is 34 and will be 35 by the end of this season. Pitchers tend to break down fast as they age so the Orioles would be worried about that. The second hurdle would be the Orioles’ front office’s goals of winning now and in the future. Which one do they value more? If they want to win now, they would pull the trigger on this trade most likely. However, if they want to be in contention with Gausman and Schoop for the next 5-6 years, they’ll probably hold off on making this trade and hope they steal a wild card spot again. The third hurdle would be the Phillies evaluation of these prospects. Do they think they are valuable enough for two players who have been fan favorites in Philadelphia? This would be an interesting trade scenario. It probably won’t happen in real life, but I believe it is a good hypothetical trade for both teams depending on their goals for now and the future.

We then arrived at Bucknell and I was shocked at how fast the ride went. Driving for about 3 hours just talking about baseball made this the greatest drive ever. I thanked Heather then and I’ll thank her now for listening to me just talk the whole way. It was an awesome trip back to school that I’ll never forget.

Greg Danchik