Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

The Pittsburgh Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain points out here that we left Antonio Brown off the Top 25 Prospects list. I'm just dumbfounded. Antonio Brown had only three games started last year? Actually, yes, apparently Antonio Brown had only three games started because the Steelers wanted to give Hines Ward a nice veteran pat on the back. I don't know if we want to change rules next year so that a player like Brown who was effectively the starter and made the freakin' Pro Bowl doesn't qualify, but under the current rules he qualifies and we just blew it. If we're going to count a guy like Doug Baldwin with 51 catches, we have to count a guy like Brown with 69. No disrespect meant to Doug Baldwin, but Antonio Brown absolutely, positively should have been the No. 1 prospect based on the current rules of the list. My apologies to Steelers fans.

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38 comments, Last at 23 Jul 2012, 8:48am

1 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

This is a good time as any to ask: How do NFL teams count "starters"? Is it the personnel on the field for the first snap of the game, or is it a standard 2WR-1TE-1RB-1FB thing?

2 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Personnel on the field for the first snap on offense or defense (not special teams), which leads to weirdness like Michael Vick technically having a game started at wide receiver in 2010 (when Kevin Kolb was still the starting quarterback).

16 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Even better is when a team starts with the ball near the other team's goal line, as the Giants-Patriots preseason game did last year. Technically, the Patriots started the game with 3 TE and 2 RB, and the Giants started in a 6-4-1 with no cornerbacks.

This is also how Orlando Brown wound up starting both ways in this game.

3 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

The NFL counts who ever is on the field for the first snap of the game for each team. You can see here, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201109110chi.htm, both teams have two starting TEs, and no starting FBs. For some reason the Bears are missing a starting DE and DT, don't ask me why.

8 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission


Will also show the importance of the 3rd corner in the current game since the Packers came out in the 2-4-5 more than once they had three starting corners several times as well as the 3 starting WR.

So in addition to the other things already mentioned in this thread it also leads to things like Driver being the #1 WR for the Packers based on starts (Jennings 2, Nelson 3) but you had to reverse that if you based it on catches or yards or plays, though Jennings injury had more to do with him not being #1 in snaps played, and actually I could be wrong he may have had the most snaps played, but I know Nelson was #2 there but he wasn't considered a primary starter.

17 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Did you mean to link to the Redskins-Patriots games where the Redskins played with 10 men on defense for the first snap to honor Sean Taylor or were the Redskins involved in 2 games where a team chose to start less than 11 players?

34 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

"I'd rather play with 10 people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else rather than play with 11 when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team." --Mike Singletary

You mean the immortal mooner never actually made good on his threat? I'd like to have seen that team. If they actually made a stop once in a while, it'd make the other team look so pathetic!

5 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Not sure, but I think it's "Neither". I did some research a couple of years back to see if it was possible to use game box stats to infer if someone was playing a "starting role" on a team, whether or not they were counted as a starter (short answer: it was possible, but depending on the position was easier or harder, and took a *lot* of data correlation to figure out). But as part of that, I was looking at specific cases and teams a lot to figure out my baselines.

It certainly wasn't a standard 2WR-1TE-1RB-1FB thing, because some teams officially listed their starting offensive skill players, for example, as 2WR-2TE-1RB, sometimes as 3WR-1TE-1RB, sometimes the above standard, etc. It was even more variable on defense, with teams sometimes listing five DB's on their starters list, and of course the 3-4 versus 4-3 thing caused variation.

On the other hand, it also didn't seem to correlate to personnel on the field for the first snap, although I'm not as sure of that (since the play--by-play doesn't list players on the field unless they touch the ball). But anecdotally, I know there have been games when the Patriots, for example, might list someone (say, BJGE on offense or Brandon Spikes on defense) as a starter (at least, according to the CBS graphics), and then start their first offensive play in a spread 5-wide, or their first defensive play in a nickel. I've never gone back to check if the actual official starting line matched the CBS graphic which was shown, though, but that's just my impression.

The other thing you would see is that the official "starter" might not even play as much as some non-starters. Again, a Patriots example (the team I know best)--sometimes Kevin Faulk would be officially listed as the starting RB, and then Danny Woodhead or Stevan Ridley or BJGE would play the most snaps of the RB's in the game.

I imagine it's even harder to list "starters" on defense, because there the personnell you play in many cases will depend on what the other team does, not who you would prefer to consider your "starting defense".

My guess is that teams list an "official" starting lineup before the game, but it's probably a source of gamesmanship the same way the injury report it.

33 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Logical fallacy :

Someone is heavily utilized in fantasy football <-> Someone making a significant statistical contribution in real football

Someone making a significant statistical contribution in real football -> Someone matters in real football

Therefore, Someone is heavily utilized in fantasy football -> Someone matters in real football

for some, but not all, definitions of "matters".

36 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

I don't think, given the above, that this assertion is ever wrong :

Someone who is a starter in fantasy football for the majority of leagues should no longer be considered a "prospect" the next season for the typical definition of "prospect". Obviously that makes it meaningful in this case for everyone, regardless of feelings about fantasy football.

Of course, the FO definition of "prospect" is not typical as mentioned above.

6 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

OK, other people think it's the first snap personnel. That may be true, but then I'm quite sure that the "official" starters probably do not correspond to who the CBS or FOX broadcasts list as the "starters" at the start of the game.

This could especially lead, on defense, to having weird starters. If you play 3/4 of your games versus teams that love the spread offense, you're probably going to be listing five DB's and only two LB's as starters in 75% of your games, even if you're in a base defense the majority of the time.

9 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Just so we're clear here: did you apologize to Steelers fans? Is this what it's come to? Is this really some sort of personal injury inflicted on Steelers FANS?

26 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

On an internet where some people get offended by any suggestion that someone might disagree with them, it's easier to apologize than to defend the omission.

As a Steeler fan, the only apology I want is from the team for selling ad space on the front of this year's tickets.

10 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

It seems like the whole concept of a "starter" is becoming somewhat obsolete, at least for eligible receivers (including running backs, but not, of course, the quarterback). My gut tells me that the football played a few decades ago features much less variation in terms of player packages-- most teams were a 1 RB, 1 FB, a TE, and 2 WR sort of team; 2 TE sets were rare, and 3 WR sets were common on 2nd or 3rd and long, but not something you saw on 1st down. When this is the case, then the concept of being a starter makes sense.

(Though, in the pre-earpiece days, how did QBs get their plays? In high school, we just rotated WRs with the one coming in having the new play that he fed to the QB before huddle. Thus, our player personnel was almost never the same between the first play of the game (i.e. the start) and the second. I don't recall at all how it happened in the NFL.)

It seems to me now, however, that the modern NFL boasts a wide array of formations and player packages-- even among more conservative teams. What do we say about a WR who "starts" only because a coach began the game using a 4 WR set, but thereafter only plays sparingly one the team goes back a more conventional package with just 2 or 3 WRs?

13 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Agreed that "starter" doesn't mean what it once did. I can remember a couple years where Jim Finn was a nominal starter for the Colts, but barely played.

I'm sure this phenomenon is why contract incentives are often written in terms of % of total snaps played, rather than starts. Anyone aware of a player contract with a bonus tied to starting?

14 Oh, sure *now* it's Brown

In FOA 2011 you had Emmanuel Sanders in the top 25 ;) My keeper league team is sad.

21 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

"Starter" still means a lot for QB, O-line, and for the top two or three DB's and LB's on the roster, and sometimes for WR and RB, and D-linemen.

It gets very nebulous with DB's outside of the twp 3, LB's outside of the top two, WR's and TE's beyond #1, and FB's.

22 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

I think you could just add an asterisk in your pdf this year, and any other subsequent printed copies that haven't been ordered yet (if it won't mess up Createspace any more). If you want to change the qualifications, that's your call.

"*We are sorry that this list didn't include Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We made this list to include PROSPECTS, not guys who already made the PRO BOWL. Even though he qualifies, we wanted to include 25 guys who are up-and-coming, not already-arrived who don't happen to get starts because Hines Ward must be listed as a starter for whatever reason."

23 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

I don't want to make further changes, especially in the printed version, as that would take the book down off the market for a couple days while they reviewed the files.

37 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Aaron--understand about being fed up with the printers. Is there any way to have Createspace keep printing the first version as necessary, and then giving them a minor edited version (like spelling corrections) to substitute in its place, without taking the book off the market?

24 Re: Our Big Top 25 Prospects Omission

Apologies accepted.
I think "starters" should just be submitted by the team and to prevent Bilichick from being a moron, it should be 5 linemen, a QB, 1 or 2 FB/RBs, 1 or 2 TE and 1 to 4 WRs. Max 11.

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