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» SDA: Early Playoff Elimination Round

TCU-West Virginia and Auburn-Ole Miss might as well be early playoff elimination rounds, with the losers likely knocked out of playoff contention.

19 Aug 2005

FO/PFP Mailbag

by Aaron Schatz

Hello from Chicago, where it is hot and sunny and those f&%#ers from Northwest Airlines have lost my luggage. This is also the first stop on the tour where I am not even remotely optimistic about the local team, which is a bit of a bummer. On the other hand, I'm going to be on WGN 720 tonight, which has been a dream of mine since the age of, I dunno, eight or so. I'm a Cub Fan! Cub Fan! And a Bud Man! Bud Man! Holy Cow! Let's get some runs! Jerry Azumah spelled backwards is Hamuza Yrrej, and I'd like to thank Arnie back in the truck.

(Yes, it is odd that I have always dreamed of appearing on WGN even though I grew up in "The O.C." and then Boston.  Blame cable.)

Here are some more questions and comments about articles on Football Outsiders as well as our book Pro Football Prospectus 2005. (On sale now!) We've put the best ones together in this mailbag -- which can also be used as an open thread to discuss the book.

Don't forget that we have a new contact form which you can use to e-mail any of the writers. We'll be doing a regular weekly mailbag during the season, and to be honest asking a question through the contact form is probably a better way to get your question answered than asking it in a discussion thread.  (Especially this week, where I was lucky if I had any chance between hotel stops to look at the discussion threads.) I also encourage folks to pose their questions to other members of the FO staff based on their various specialties -- Mike and Mike are good for NFL history and all those players at positions that don't have DVOA and DPAR, Russell's the man for college football, Will of course for injuries, Al and Vivek for fantasy football questions, Ryan for economics, Benjy for technical questions about the website, and Jason if you want to suggest where he can hide Randy Moss's afro in next week's cartoon.

Be aware that I reference plenty of our innovative FO stats here, not to mention their unfamiliar terminology, so if you are a recent addition to the readership you might want to read this first.

Zac Hinz: Aaron, I know you mentioned that you guys would be making publicly available all the projections for players that had changed greatly since the book was published. When will you be doing that? Also, is the team projection system from PFP 2005 really saying that 8-8 might be good enough to win the NFC North? (According to the system, all four teams are more likely to be 8-8 or lower than they are to be 9-7 or higher.)

Aaron: Jack, I'd like to take the second part of that question first. Sure, the book predicts that 8-8 might be good enough to win the NFC North, but that's not likely to be the case. The chances are fairly strong that at least one of those four teams will have a winning record. (The chances are even stronger that this team will not be Chicago.)

The other issue is the Vikings defense, and let me explain. People ask me if there are variables in the DVOA projection system for players coming and going.  There are a couple different things in there, but they are pretty hard to do and so they aren't as robust as I might like. But this generally is not a problem. Teams act predictably from year to year, making personnel moves to fill the holes on their team while losing players where they have depth or age.  Going back over the past few years with the DVOA projection system, there are plenty of teams that the system gets wrong, but it is rare that the system gets that team wrong because of the impact of major personnel moves from the off-season. (Usually you either have a major injury issue or a sudden, unpredictable team turnaround.)

However, there is no doubt that every year there are one or two teams that have made such drastic personnel changes that our statistical projections aren't going to be nearly as accurate. Last year, for example, the San Francisco 49ers were that team. (Tennessee had lost some players to salary cap cuts, but their decline was caused for the most part by injuries to McNair, Calico, and two or three sets of defensive backs.) This year there is no question that team is Minnesota, with the experimental defensive transplant. Mike Tanier is working on a piece about similar defensive overhauls but we really have no idea if those players are going to fit together well, driving the Vikings to an 11-5 record, or not fit together at all, dropping the Vikings to 6-10. And the DVOA projection system doesn't really do a good job of guessing at this because it is so rare for a team to add so many new starters on one side of the ball.

(Speaking of the movie Quiz Show, by the way, does John Turturro hold the world record for Italian guys playing Jewish guys on film?  Probably.)

And now, the first part of the question, and the one you are all waiting for.  Yes, I promised I would make available projections that we had changed this pre-season.  I must admit that I am very hesitant to change projections based on camp rumors of "this guy is going to be used more" or "this guy looks good this year" and so forth. But there are injuries, and there are holdouts, and there is the Curse of Mike Shanahan, well known to all fantasy football players who can't figure out who the hell Denver is playing at running back.

I am not going to be sending out the spreadsheet again to people who have already donated, but I will list new projections here.  These won't really make sense if you don't have the book because I am only going to give projections for a handful of players, and this way those who bought the book but not the spreadsheet will not be left out. The Chicago projections are based on the idea that Hutchinson will play 10 games, Orton 8 (Some overlap there, obviously). Grossman may not be out for the year after all, so feel free to adjust accordingly. We also include here the effect of the Todd Pinkston injury -- though we're still going with the idea that the whole T.O. nonsense will have blown over by Week 1 -- the Cedric Benson holdout, Mike Anderson being listed as the starter (for now) in Denver, and Jerry Rice passing Darius Watts on the Denver depth chart.

Name Team Pos PaYD PaTD INT RuYD RuTD RecYD RecTD XP FG
Greg Lewis PHI WR 0 0 0 0 0 677 5 0 0
Reggie Brown PHI WR 0 0 0 0 0 385 3 0 0
Chad Hutchinson CHI QB 1627 9 10 31 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Orton CHI QB 1316 7 10 56 0 0 0 0 0
Mushin Muhammad CHI WR 0 0 0 0 0 790 6 0 0
Bobby Wade CHI WR 0 0 0 0 0 390 2 0 0
Cedric Benson CHI RB 0 0 0 881 5 152 0 0 0
Thomas Jones CHI RB 0 0 0 880 5 282 1 0 0
Doug Brien CHI K 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 22
Jerry Rice DEN WR 0 0 0 0 0 298 2 0 0
Darius Watts DEN WR 0 0 0 0 0 397 2 0 0
Mike Anderson DEN RB 0 0 0 628 6 140 1 0 0
Tatum Bell DEN RB 0 0 0 776 6 179 0 0 0
Quentin Griffin DEN RB 0 0 0 154 2 79 0 0 0
Maurice Clarett DEN RB 0 0 0 120 0 61 0 0 0

As for players not listed here who are rumored to be moving around the depth chart, you are always welcome to try to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to pre-season news, and adjust our ratings according to your own best judgment.

And yes, since a lot of people are asking, we are still sending out the projections spreadsheet to anyone who makes a $10 donation to the website. It proved so popular that we've kept it available even though the book is in stores. Obviously, we hope that you'll buy the book as well.

(Late note added Sunday: Please see comment 30 below for a revised Tiki Barber projection for those who believe the Brandon Jacobs hype.)

Charles Jake: Is there any way to statistically project whether a No. 2 WR can be a successful No. 1? Reggie Wayne was the best receiver in 2004 according to FO metrics, but I think everybody sees him as Robin to Harrison's Batman. So can we tell if he can make it as a No. 1 or if he'd do a Peerless? I bet Vikings fans would love to know this about Nate Burleson.

Aaron: Damn, interesting question from the winner of this year's Offseason Free Agent Contest.  The answer is that we've never done research of this nature, but it sounds like an excellent idea to consider for next year's book. As far as Burleson goes, remember the following:

Nate Burleson Yd/Rec Rec/Game Yd/Game TD/Game DPAR DVOA Catch%
Weeks 1-6 16.9 3.8 64 0.20 9.2 29.3% 61%
Weeks 7-11 (Moss injured) 10.2 5.8 59 0.80 9.1 15.4% 67%
Weeks 12-17 19.4 3.3 65 0.67 16.8 71.9% 71%

So Burleson had more opportunities without Moss, but he did less with each one.

Peter Quinn: Do you have an RSS feed for your Ramblings?

Benjy: We do have one: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/wordpress/wp-rss2.php is the feel URL. However, it's a bit screwy, as all the links come up as index.php?whatever, instead of ramblings or articles. We're working on fixing that.

Benjamin: Andy sense I have never met you I quess it's fair to say you are a hater of sports. Most of your articles are negative, does that mean you have a low self esteem or you sucked at playing sports? I seems it gives you great players to put players down, and no, stats doesn't always tell the story. I quess if you knew the game (any game) you would know that. Keep your opinions to youself, especially about people you don't know, or suit up yourself and carry the ball just once.

Aaron: That was the Football Outsiders Somewhat Incomprehensible Angry E-Mail of the Week.

Tim Towns: Aaron, I bought your PFP and am enjoying it. Very fresh information and analysis. One question though. I could not ascertain if your 2005 projections included the schedule DVOA as a factor. I got the impression from reading your stat explanations that you guys did the projections and then sorted out the schedule DVOA. I'm wondering if one should start with the projection and then consider the schedule DVOA as another factor on top of the projection when trying to sort out the prospects for a team this year?

Aaron: Thanks for picking up the book, Tim. The reason why schedule is not considered when we project DVOA is that DVOA is, by its very definition, supposed to be schedule-neutral, adjusted for opponent strength. However, schedule is part of the formula that was used for the win projection system, the table of each team's chances to be a Super Bowl Contender, Playoff Contender, and so on.  And the projections for team offensive DVOA, defensive DVOA, and schedule strength are also used in the KUBIAK projection system for fantasy football.  For example, this is part of why Jake Delhomme projects to lose fantasy value this year -- Carolina projects to have a significantly improved defense which in turn drops the number of passes Delhomme will throw.

As I've noted before, we will be running the mean projected DVOA for each team as well as mean projected wins in the week before the season starts, just like we did last year.

Ryan Restivo: I read the link of the professors' report on the draft and I want to ask you guys: why do teams pick quarterbacks in the first round if they know it's such a gamble? Also, what other football books would you recommend other than The Hidden Game of Football?

Aaron: I recently put together a piece for the Wall Street Journal listing a recommended reading list for the intelligent NFL fan so it turns out I've got an answer to your second question quite handy:

  • Pro Football Prospectus 2005, by Aaron Schatz and the staff of FootballOutsiders.com (duh)
  • The Hidden Game of Football, by John Thorn, Pete Palmer, and Bob Carroll (the first great NFL stat book)
  • New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football, by Paul Zimmerman (still the best overall introduction to the game, though dated)
  • Scientific Football 2005, by K.C. Joyner (scouting analysis of passing game for hardcore fans)
  • America's Game, by Michael MacCambridge (history of the NFL)
  • Going Long, by Jeff Miller (history of the AFL)
  • When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss (biography of Vince Lombardi)
  • Dominance, by Eddie Epstein (the best teams of all time, more prose and fewer stats than you might expect from a baseball stats guy)

Hmmm, maybe I should put together an Amazon page with all these good football books linked so our readers can buy them and kick some of the money back to us. Of course, Joyner's book is self-published and both Hidden Game and Thinking Man's Guide are out of print. I left Epstein's book off the WSJ list by accident, so I apologize to Eddie and encourage folks to pick up a copy.

Your first question refers to this article by Michael David Smith but the right person to answer it is Ned Macey, who has done some preliminary research regarding the drafting of quarterbacks. Take it away, Ned.

Ned: Speaking only in terms of the draft, I found that teams should only draft quarterbacks in the first or second round. I looked at every QB drafted between 1990 and 2002. I then termed a QB a success if he he had a career passer rating over 70 and 1000 attempts, not exactly high benchmarks. At that standard, 52% of first rounders and 46% of second rounders were "successes." Only 6 out of 51 players drafted in rounds 3-5 were successes, and only 7 out of 44 players drafted in round 6-7 were successes. If we raise the threshold to either 80 passer rating or at least one selection to the Pro Bowl, we are at 36% of first rounders, 23% of second rounders, and 10% of rounds 3-7. (As an aside, Brad Johnson and Trent Green were eighth round picks before the draft shrunk, but not much else came from those later rounds when they existed.)

To me the clincher was that of players drafted after the second round in this period, only two went on to win playoff games with the team that drafted them: Neil O'Donnell and some guy in New England who isn't too bad. That's two quarterbacks out of 122 draft picks. Among first-round quarterbacks, 8 out of 25 have won playoff games for the team that drafted them.

Their are hundreds of people with the skill set to be almost-NFL quarterbacks, your Jim Sorgis or Sage Rosenfelses or all the guys in NFL Europe. Out of those with questionable physical attributes, some have that special something to be great NFL QBs, like Brady, Bulger, etc. A first round quarterback is not a guarantee, but he is much more likely to become a good or great player than a late-round pick.

Of course, a handful of undrafted quarterbacks have become stars, like Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, and Jeff Garcia. Why do teams draft first round quarterbacks instead of just looking for the next Delhomme? That is a question that I mean to investigate. With the amount of money invested in high first round picks, you would want a slightly safer investment. Someday I intend to look at how successful teams are based on how they acquired their quarterback (free agency, draft, trade, etc.). I also intend to read War and Peace, remodel one of my bathrooms, and end world hunger, so I'm not sure what my time table on that one is.

To sum up this slightly disjointed response, teams continue to select quarterbacks in the first round because they are most likely to be the best quarterbacks. It is hard to think that the Colts, Eagles, Vikings, Jets, Falcons, or Steelers are unhappy with that strategy. Whether or not this is the most efficient use of resources is yet to be seen, but it is not like the Cardinals, 49ers, or Dolphins have necessarily found a better way, and holding out hope that you'll find the next Tom Brady is like spending your rent money on scratch tickets because you just know that one of them will win you a million bucks.

Baxter: Any advice on getting PFP 2005 in the UK other than Amazon?

Aaron: Hmmm, not a clue.  I doubt you'll find it in stores over there so online is probably the way to go. If any of our other UK readers have ideas for Baxter, stick those in the discussion thread.

Richie Wohlers: Does there exist a listing of cumulative opponents DVOA for 2005 broken down into offensive and defensive? For example, what is the Colts' cumulative opponents' defensive DVOA for 2005?

Aaron: In the book we list strength of schedule based on cumulative projected total DVOA of opponents, but that's not separated into offensive and defensive. That's easy enough to do, however, so let's do it here. Some notes for your edification:

  • Each number is average projected DVOA for all 16 opponents, ranked from 1 (hardest schedule) to 32 (easiest schedule).
  • A positive DVOA means harder offensive opponents but easier defensive opponents.
  • Home/road impact not included.
  • No special teams included.
  • These are based on the same projections used in PFP 2005, except I changed the "quarterback experience" variable for Chicago to drop them slightly.
  • No projections are manually adjusted, which means these include the weirdly positive Tampa Bay projection, the somewhat optimistic Tennessee projection that doesn't completely consider the extensive depth of the salary cap cuts, and the Minnesota projection which, as I note above, doesn't quite know how to handle all the new defensive players.

Team Defenses vs.
This Team's Offense
Offenses vs.
This Team's Defense 
Team Defenses vs.
This Team's Offense
Offenses vs.
This Team's Defense 
ARI 1.2% 20 2.2% 13 MIA -0.6% 6 4.3% 5
ATL -2.4% 2 1.4% 14 MIN 2.9% 29 -3.6% 29
BAL 3.0% 30 0.2% 21 NE -0.6% 5 3.3% 8
BUF 1.3% 23 4.4% 4 NO -0.1% 9 -1.4% 22
CAR 1.4% 24 -2.2% 25 NYG -0.2% 8 2.6% 12
CHI 1.2% 22 -5.1% 31 NYJ -2.5% 1 0.4% 18
CIN -1.0% 3 -2.8% 28 OAK 0.1% 11 4.8% 3
CLE 0.2% 12 -2.2% 26 PHI 4.2% 32 1.1% 15
DAL 1.1% 19 3.2% 10 PIT 1.5% 25 -1.9% 24
DEN -0.3% 7 3.8% 7 SD -0.1% 10 5.6% 2
DET 0.6% 14 -5.1% 32 SEA 3.1% 31 -1.8% 23
GB -0.7% 4 -2.6% 27 SF 1.2% 21 3.2% 9
HOU 0.5% 13 0.3% 20 STL 1.6% 27 0.4% 19
IND 0.9% 17 0.5% 17 TB 1.1% 18 -4.3% 30
JAC 1.6% 26 3.2% 11 TEN 2.1% 28 0.7% 16
KC 0.9% 16 5.7% 1 WAS 0.7% 15 4.2% 6

This is part of why we think Michael Vick and Curtis Martin are a little screwed, and Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck are not. I'm a little surprised that Cincinnati faces the third-hardest schedule of defenses, but I think that's still the effect of playing Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each despite exchanging the AFC East for the AFC South on the schedule.

More mailbag next week.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Aug 2005

53 comments, Last at 24 Aug 2005, 11:29pm by Sid

Comments

1
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 2:40pm

Why do teams draft first round quarterbacks instead of just looking for the next Delhomme?

Think of the way that a bunch of late-round QBs started: Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger. Brady was some backup to Drew Bledsoe, who according to some weird DPAR stat, wasn't too bad. Warner was the backup to Trent Green, who also was pretty darned good. Ditto for Bulger.

Now consider the way that first-round QBs started - say, Manning, McNabb, Culpepper. Manning started after a disastrous 1997 season for the Colts. It's not that Harbaugh was bad. But the Colts in 1997 were bad. So they were starting anew. Ditto for McNabb, although the Eagles really needed a QB. For the Vikings, Cunningham was quite old - it was his second coming as a QB, and so the Vikings were really living on borrowed time with him.

Note a pattern? So I think the answer to the question of "why do teams pick up first round QBs?" is "because they're desparate."

You might suggest that it's better to churn through a bunch of late-round QBs until you find a gem, but I don't think many teams trust the Chicago and Arizona model.

Here's a question worth looking into: have there been any late round QB successes that didn't backup an already-successful QB?

2
by Ian (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 2:43pm

Hi.

I live in the UK and both me and a friend got PFP from Amazon.co.uk just fine. What's the guy's problem with Amazon.co.uk?

Ian

3
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 2:48pm

From what Mike said about the relative success of 1st & 2nd rounders vs outher rounds and what the "Loser's curse" article taught us about 1stround picks, I think the best time to pick a QB is in the 2nd round. You can sign him to a 4-5 year contract, giving him time to develop, not a lot of money is invested in him, so it doesn't hurt to hold onto him longer, and if he screws up, nobody cares that much.
Also, I just want to give Jason a shout out, and say we need more "Love is" parodies.

4
by peachy (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 3:43pm

I agree with #1 - how many GMs would have the incredible self-confidence to wait until the sixth round to address a gaping hole at QB? (Unless they were absolutely sure they had a gem; and then they would be well-advised to grab him early before someone else wises up.) A GM who tried that route might be a former GM by the end of the draft... (in line with the rule that you can survive mistakes that accord with conventional wisdom, but bucking the trend AND being wrong is always fatal.)

5
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 3:52pm

Who is better, Brady or Manning?

6
by El Angelo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 3:56pm

The early/late QB question seems to be a bit self-answering: of course more players picked in the first or second round for *any* position are going to be more successful, otherwise, scouts wouldn't have jobs. A better question, I think, is what positions are late-round picks better for? The QB success rate may be very low, but is it any better for TEs? WRs? CBs? My instinct is yes, but that's just instinct, of course.

7
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 4:00pm

Here’s a question worth looking into: have there been any late round QB successes that didn’t backup an already-successful QB?

Trent Green?

He was drafted by San Diego in 1993. John Friesz and Stan Humphries were the QB's in 1993. Not sure how to rate Humphries. He did take the team to the Super Bowl in 1994.

When he went to Washington, the 2 QB's were Gus Frerotte and Heath Shuler.

8
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 4:03pm

In general, the players drafted in the earlier rounds are going to be better than the players drafted later. However, they will also be more expensive. So the best players to draft later are the ones in positions that are at the low end of the pay scale, like kickers and special teams guys.

9
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 4:05pm

Luke McCown.

10
by Domer (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 4:44pm

I would add one book to your great list:

Football Clock Management by John T. Reed

I may have learned about the book on this site; it is a very sound and thorough analysis of clock issues.

I remember reading Dr. Z's book as a kid - I need to go back and re-read it.

By the way, PFP 2k5 is fantastic - I went to Border's to take a look at it and was sold within 30 seconds.

11
by ElAngelo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 5:02pm

re #8:

Totally agree with you. However, once you exclude the obvious players (kickers, punters, special teams runners, maybe even fullbacks), what's next? At some point it becomes valuable, I guess to figure out what positions are more "valuable" to your team's success, no?

12
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 5:29pm

A few years ago, I would have said Tight End, but that's no longer really the case. Usually the guard on the QB's non-blind side is considered easily replacable, although different teams have different strategys for creating good O-lines. On defense, depending on whether or not it's a 3-4 or a 4-3 or one or two gap defneses, different linebacker and lineman positions are low-value. Very rarely do you see a saftey drafed in the first round. Of course, in any position, if there is an extrodinary talent, he'd be taken in the 1st round.

13
by MDS (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 5:45pm

Speaking of John Turturro, his sister plays Janice on The Sopranos. He's skinny and she's fat, but if you ever just look at their faces, they look very much alike.

14
by MarkB (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 6:12pm

When people question the wisdom of drafting QBs high, it's generally taking into consideration the cost of signing them. A better analysis than simple success percentages would be success, given the cost of paying them. That way, the first round busts would count more against their high draft postiion.

15
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 6:19pm

Do QBs drafted in the 1st round make more than positions drafted near them? I was always under the impression that rookie salaries were determined by when they're drafted. IE 1st pick gets dollars, 2nd pick gets a little less, 3rd a little less, etc.

16
by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 7:27pm

Regards getting Pro Football Prospectus in the UK other than by Amazon there are a couple of Sports bookstores in London that MAY have it - if that's any good reply here and I'll dig out the names for you.

Personally I got it, and virtually every book I have bought in the last 3 years, from Amazon. I guess if you don't have a credit card that would be one reason why that wasn't an option.....

17
by Theo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 7:29pm

Gus Frerotte is one of the best QBs in the league. Loved him on the Lions team.
He didn't do that bad on the Vikes either.

18
by Theo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 7:39pm

uhm... question:
Did anyone ever investigate HOW THE HELL everyone missed out on Brady's skills before he became a superstar?
(or isn't he a superstar... or did he only became that good AFTER he got drafted.)

19
by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 08/19/2005 - 7:53pm

regarding the DVOA strength of schedule breakdown into offense and defense, could it be further broken down into rushing and passing ? For fantasy purposes it would be fascinating to know if say Seattle is facing teams with particularly weak rushing defenses, passing defenses, or teams that are equally inept at both. Likewise, it would be good to know that a team weak against the rush last year faces a schedule full of teams not expexted to run the ball well.

I'm struck by the large gap between Philadelphia and Seattle for easiest schedule for the offense. Who needs TO ? Even FredEx could have delivered against the chumps the Birds will be facing.

Also, it looks like the Eagles could face some competition for home field advantage looking at the stength of the teams Seattle, Minnesota and Carolina will be facing.

7 of the 10 easiest defensive schedules are in the NFC. What's the over/under on number of weeks until we start hearing about the resurgent NFC and it's tough defenses ?

20
by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 1:34am

Is the updated version (1998) of Hidden Game of Football out of print? I know the original one was and took me a while to get a copy when it was recommended to me in '96. The newer version's basically the same with some renamed chapter titles and a chapter on fantasy football.

21
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 3:18am

I just wanted to say that tonight I finally bought Pro Football Prospectus 2005 - For the second time. My first copy vanished at my place of employment a couple weeks ago; tonight (not coincidentally with a big fantasy draft on Sunday) I finally gave up on finding it and bought another copy. Hey, it's all for a good cause, right? And if whoever took my first copy learns something about new school sports analysis, all the better.

So enjoy my $37.90, fellas. Actually, I used a coupon tonight. Enjoy my $32.21.

22
by andy (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 8:40am

"I live in the UK and both me and a friend got PFP from Amazon.co.uk just fine. What’s the guy’s problem with Amazon.co.uk?"

i pre-ordered on there months ago and they still haven't sent my copy, they estimate the despatch date as october. maybe Baxter has the same problem. its frustrating either way.

23
by James, London (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 11:50am

RE #2;

Ian, you might be able to order a copy from any major bookshop. You will need to give them the correct title; "Pro Fotbal Prospectus 2005", the Publisher, Workman Publishing, and most importantly, the ISBN. There are two in the book:

ISBN-13: 978-0-7611-4019-1
ISBN-10: 0-7611-4019-0

With these details, any bookshop should be able to order you one. I got mine through Amazon. It took them 3 weeks to get it here, but it was definitely worth the wait.

24
by James, London (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 11:52am

Sorry Ian, my post wasn't aimed at you, but at Baxter, who asked the question.

25
by ElJefe (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 12:02pm

Re. #18:

I can think of a few reasons why Brady was drafted so low.

His physical attributes don't really jump out at you, he's not the strongest-armed QB or the most nimble. I would say his primary attributes are accuracy and "football smarts". The latter can't be gauged and the former might have been de-emphasized by the Michigan offense. If Michigan had run more of a WCO/timing offense, maybe Brady would have stood out more.

Secondly he was fighting the perception of Michigan QBs. A number had made the pros, but none were really outstanding players. (Brian Griese, Harbaugh, Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins, ... ) He might also have been penalized by some scouts because of the amount of talent Michigan had around him. When he did look good, was it because of him or the other 8 NFL players on the Michigan offense?

But I'd say the biggest factor was having to split time with Drew Henson. My recollection is that it reached the point where Brady was only playing because Henson got hurt. Living in Big 10 country I'm sure I saw a lot of Michigan games, and have almost no memory of Brady as a college QB. But I do remember thinking that Henson was the closest thing I'd seen to John Elway. So maybe Brady's biggest problem was that scouts felt like he wasn't even the best QB on his own team.

26
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 12:27pm

7 of the 10 easiest defensive schedules are in the NFC. What’s the over/under on number of weeks until we start hearing about the resurgent NFC and it’s tough defenses ?

Nope. The easiest schedules are in the NFC because the NFC plays the NFC most.

Last season, the main reason people noticed a huge disparity between the NFC and the AFC is because the AFC dramatically won the interconference matchups.

That won't get missed again.

27
by Glenn (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 2:22pm

Re: The Henson Myth
Please, oh pretty please, can we bury the idea that scouts overlooked Tom Brady because he was giving up so much field time to Drew Henson? That's what casual fans conclude when they hear about the "sharing" of time. Did they really share that much?

Here's from Brady's senior year:

PASSING G Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TD Lng Avg/G
----------------------------------------------------------------
Brady, Tom 12 142.29 341-214-6 62.8 2586 20 57 215.5
Henson, Drew 10 109.74 90-47-2 52.2 546 3 81 54.6

Now, Brady's junior year:

PASSING G Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TD Lng Avg/G
----------------------------------------------------------------
Tom Brady 13 131.69 350-214-12 61.1 2636 15 76 202.8
Drew Henson 8 106.89 47-21-1 44.7 254 3 32 31.8

Apologies if this is not posting cleanly, but the yardage (2636 to 254, 2586 to 546) and TD (15 to 3, 20 to 3) differences clearly show that Brady was in control.

As a junior at Michigan, Brady led the Wolverines to two touchdowns in the final six minutes and a 45-31 Citrus Bowl victory over Arkansas.

In Brady’s senior year he led Michigan to a 35-34 win over Alabama in the Orange Bowl. He threw four touchdowns and set Orange Bowl records with 34 completions (on 46 attempts) and 369 passing yards.

Yes, Henson had a sexier reputation and did get playing time, but whether it was in place of Brady injuries or simply to groom Drew for Life After Brady At Michigan, there was no equality of performance here. My point is that there's a myth that Brady was so underwhelming at Michigan that he ceded lots of playing time and stats to the #2.

So why was Brady undervalued? ElJefe's "football smarts" point is a good one, and while Brady had physical "limitations" compared to others, everyone (and to some extent Belichick too, because the Pats weren't completely sold on him and were really taking a flyer) severely undervalued his drive to succeed and improve upon those physical limitations. In an indirect way, the fact that the more-hyped Henson was looking over Brady's shoulder probably did contribute to this drive to prove and improve himself.

28
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 3:49pm

You often see the 'other 30 teams' criticized for not seeing the superstar future of Tom Brady, but if the Patriots thought the immortal Antwan Harris, Jeff Marriot, and Dave Stachelski were all better NFL prospects, should they really get that much credit?

29
by Dennis (not verified) :: Sat, 08/20/2005 - 4:06pm

Football Clock Management by John T. Reed

I hope Herm Edwards picked up a copy of this.

30
by Aaron (not verified) :: Sun, 08/21/2005 - 10:53pm

Hi everyone. OK, I give up, I finally believe the camp talk and I have produced a new projection for Tiki Barber that drops his expected role from "4 out of 4" to "3.5 out of 4" and gives those carries to Brandon Jacobs.

Tiki Barber now projects to have 1341 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs, 456 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs.

Brandon Jacobs now projects to have 305 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 100 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD.

Note that if you want to use this new projection, if you really believe the camp hype that Barber will lose carries to Jacobs, Barber drops down to rank seventh in our top ten instead of second.

Of course, the gap between Tomlinson and everyone else is still bigger than the drop in Barber's projected fantasy points, so it isn't as big a deal as you might think.

31
by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 08/21/2005 - 11:00pm

I got a question answered. That's good, I guess.

Speaking of updated projections, I'm guessing you don't list Travis Henry because backing up McGahee and backing up Chris Brown lead to about the same yardage.

I'd be interested to see, however, what you are projecting for Shaud Williams now that Henry is gone. Especially since in the book you said he'd blow those projections out of the water if Henry got traded.

32
by Aaron (not verified) :: Sun, 08/21/2005 - 11:09pm

Henry's projection was updated in a previous mailbag, wasn't it?

33
by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 08/21/2005 - 11:16pm

Sure, Aaron, you post updated projections for Tiki AFTER I pay big bucks for him in an auction league.

Ah, that's okay. I still don't think Tiki's workload will be reduced all that much once the games count. And even if he matches your projections, it just means that instead of getting three of my top six rated backs, I got three of my top seven rated backs. (auction drafts rule)

34
by Al (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:02am

Aaron, how could you?

Jacobs is going to get his share of 3rd and 1 carries, but inside the 20 I'd be very surprised if Jacobs replaced Barber that often. Last year, Coughlin seemed to go with Dayne and Cloud in short yardage more in the middle of the field than near the goal line.

35
by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 1:01am

Well, I think of it this way. The expected role variable is subjective. So I'll let people make the Barber projection subjective. If you believe Jacobs will take carries, use this new one. If you don't, use the old one. The way people are talking about Jacobs, I'm surprised nobody has asked me to split the job between Barber and Jacobs evenly in the projections. Slow down the hype train! But I'm taking a lot of grief for the Barber projection so I figured I should offer freedom of choice. The reason it changes Barber's ranking is less about the change and more about how closely packed the RB projections are (with the exception of Tomlinson).

36
by carl s (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:21am

I'd be interested in a new Shaud Williams projection too, especially since McGahee has had one or two minor injuries this preseason.

37
by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 11:07am

The professor's report on the draft was short-sighted, because it only looked at one position (QBs), then concluded "teams have a low success rate when drafting QBs early". Low success rate relative to what? I think people would be surprised how many high round busts there are in the NFL draft, regardless of position. If you look at the success of first round QBs, you will see they really aren't any different than the success first round RBs have.

http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/positions/RB

38
by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 11:38am

Why don't more teams establish the run early? I can't see how teams can win without rushing early and often. You've got to be physical and establish that run!

Also, I think Brady sucks and Manning is the best, except that Manning can't win the big one against Brady. Why can't Manning beat Brady?

I think New England had the greatest team of all time last year, even if they lost to Miami. By the way, Miami would have gone 13-3 and won the Super Bowl last year if they had Ricky Williams with them to establish the run!

I think teams should draft running backs first, then quarterbacks. Works for fantasy football, why not the NFL?

I think the Giants' tight ends are the most underrated in the NFL.

39
by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 11:54am

Senser81, what professor's report are you referring to?

40
by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 12:53pm

I've come up with a new super-secret drafting strategy. Draft ONLY players who don't suck and won't get injured in the first few rounds. On the next day's action, draft ONLY players who still don't suck but aren't as good as the others you've already taken. Make sure they don't get injured.

There. Problem solved.

41
by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 1:48pm

re: post #39

I was incorrectly referring to Professor Boulier's report "Evaluating NFL Draft Choices: The Passing Game". I thought you did an article on that, and I assumed that is the article the mailbag question was referring to.

42
by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 2:01pm

We did a draft survey for the NHL that looked at success over a 20 year period. This was helped by the fact that the basic underlying foundations of professional hockey finances had not changed much during that span, unlike the NFL.

What we found was that the single best predictor of a team's success wasn't free agent acquisitions, coaching or even the capacity to pay for higher salaried talent, but rather how well teams scouted minor league and college players before picking them.

The best drafting teams correlated almost perfectly with their wins, both playoff and regular season, several years after various drafts.

The best drafting team in the 1990s was NJ, with Detroit not far behind.

This doesn't extrapolate well to the NFL, of course, because of the advent of earlier free agency, a salary cap and the reality that teams increasingly pay players in the first round (and slightly beyond) the equivalent of free agent money for unproven value. Plus the high injury rate, which can turn even the best drafting decisions into "failures."

In the NHL, we also found that you should NEVER draft a Big 10 center. It's best to take centers and goalies from the hockey-rich SEC.

43
by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 4:02pm

Click on my name for a fascinating WAPO story on Snyder's empire. He doubled concession sales at RFK!

Remember, in the NFL it's not the football, stupid. It's the money.

44
by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 4:58pm

#43, that just goes to show that there is no justice in this world. What else explains that his strategy of 'run football team into ground' leads to 'make gobs and gobs of cash'.

Maybe that's his strategy with the big FA signings. So long as fans think there's hope for next year, they'll keep coming to the games. Big FA moves really excite the fans, and get them to buy new jerseys and game tickets. Who cares if the players actually perform? All the players have to do is sell merchandise.

45
by Steven Cummings (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 5:39pm
46
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 6:13pm

#45

Nice.

47
by Carl (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2005 - 8:02pm

Cool! I put my name in and kicked Aaron's butt!

As for Six Flags, I envision Snyder dropping the deal with Warner Brothers and parading Artrell Hawkins, Walt Harris, Ade Jimoh, Carlos Rogers and Garnell Wilds around the rides.

Joe Gibbs: "What, you can't play nickel back? Fine! Make happy with the kids. Smile, damn it! Wave! I said, 'WAVE!' Get out their Bugel and show 'em how it's done! Musgrave, you're not doing a damned thing with those %&^&^$$* quarterbacks. Man the Whack a Mole!"

Coy Gibbs: "Men, you looked like crap against Dallas. But you sure can police the grease shack at Six Flags of Tempe! Spotless!"

Lawrence Phillips can be hired for the bumper cars. In lieu of a merry-go-round Six Flags over FedEx can trot out Bryson Spinner, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell and Patrick Ramsey.

Brass ring goes to any kid who can pick a QB with more TDs than INTs this season.

48
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 12:59am

Carl #47 "Brass ring goes to any kid who can pick a QB with more TDs than INTs this season."

Aw Carl, don't cheat the poor kids at a game they can't win.

49
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:06am

Aaron... I don't know if you realize this or not, but you're predicting that there won't be a 1,000 yard rusher in Denver. I think that's sort of... I don't know... counterintuitive...

For all of the things that are said about Shanahan, I think he's always been very clear about the running game. He always is clear about what he wants done, how he wants it done, who he wants to do it, and what will happen if they don't. He might dissemble about injuries or whatever, but he likes having one back and running him for all he's worth. Right now he says that back is Anderson, and I tend to believe him because Anderson fits a lot better with his preferred move-the-chains, sustained drive style of offense. Even if the back isn't Anderson, it'll in all likelihood be Bell. I think one will have 1200+ yards, and the other will have around 300-500, and you can guess which will be which, but I would be extremely shocked if they wound up with anywhere near similar production.

Yes, I'm aware that it has happened once before during Shanahan's tenure, but that's because Terrell Davis was trying to make more comebacks than Cher. I see nothing that would lead me to suspect at all that there would be any reason for him to platoon his guys barring a devastating injury in week 8 to one or the other- and even then, I wouldn't be surprised to see a 1,000 yard rusher, since Denver backs have a strong history of averaging over 100 yards a start.

50
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:52am

Re: #45

Cool stuff. Tom Brady beats Jenna Jameson, but Angelina Jolie kicks Brady ass. So Tony Dungy, you know who your next MLB is.

I think the locker room would approve...

51
by George E (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:53pm

I just wanted to chime in and say that I found you guys this year through your affiliation with the good folks at Baseball Prospectus. Nice job on your Pro Football Prospectus annual. You guys have done a real real solid job.

look forward to following you guys this season.

52
by D\'Nabb (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:54am

I've noticed in the PFP projections and in the subsequent adjustments, that you've bumped up the Philly WRs due to Pinkston's injury, but have not addressed LJ Smith's value at all shouldn't LJ get some of that love? Also, given that you projected Chad Lewis for 3 TDs (and he's gone, yes?)... should LJ get a least a couple of those looks by default?

D'Nabb in the HOUSE!

53
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 11:29pm

I finally ordered the book from Amazon yesterday, along with a college book that I need. :D