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26 Aug 2010

Fantasy Risers And Fallers 2010

by Bill Barnwell

Although we've kept it out of the book over the past couple of years, the Fantasy Risers and Fallers piece that we formerly included in the Pro Football Prospectus days has been an oft-requested feature. As we did last year, we're happy to present it online instead.

As with last year's piece, I'm going to focus on players who have a large gap between their KUBIAK rank and their ADP in fantasy drafts around the Internet, attempt to highlight what KUBIAK sees that the masses are avoiding, and discuss how much faith I have in our friendly algorithm's thinking. KUBIAK rank is based on standard scoring settings, the ones you find as default when you download the application.

Remember that just because KUBIAK ranks a player higher than national ADP, it doesn't mean you draft him in that spot. If KUBIAK ranks a player 20th, and national ADP has him 60th, that's a player you start to consider drafting around pick 40 or so.

If you haven't purchased KUBIAK yet, remember that our Excel application features the ability to customize league rules, updates for the preseason, many more stat categories than are listed in FOA 2010, and individual defensive players. You can buy it for $20 here.

Fantasy Risers 2010

Matt Forte

KUBIAK Rank: 8
National ADP: 41

Forte is discussed at length in the book as perhaps the ideal bounce-back candidate. He spent most of last season with a knee injury, his line was terrible, and he had an extremely fluky level of subpar play near the goal line. One thing not mentioned in the book is that he had 57 catches and didn't score a receiving touchdown. Only 44 players in the past 20 seasons have caught 50 or more passes without taking the ball to the house at least once. The acquisition of Chester Taylor and arrival of Mike Martz could be pushing owners away from Forte, but KUBIAK has him projected for a very reasonable 285 touches. The last guy with this sort of profile was Thomas Jones before the 2008 season, and he went from 66th in fantasy points to ninth. Forte went from eighth in 2008 to 63rd last year. He should be far closer to eighth again this year.

Ronnie Brown

KUBIAK Rank: 16
National ADP: 35

Brown has a remarkably high touchdown total -- for his 215 carries, Brown is expected to score 12 rushing touchdowns. For that, you can thank the work of the offensive line in front of him. The Dolphins were second in the league in power situations a year ago, and two Dolphins backs were 1-2 in power conversions over expectation (although it was Ricky Williams and Lousaka Polite, thanks to Brown's injury). People are inherently hesitant to take Brown because he's an injury risk, but the players around him (LeSean McCoy, Cedric Benson, Beanie Wells) have their own risks.

Donovan McNabb

KUBIAK Rank: 44
National ADP: 107

OK, so McNabb is moving out of a pass-happy system. And he's an injury risk. And he's playing behind an offensive line that's been rebuilt on the fly. And every one of his wide receivers seems to be a bad dream. On the other hand, Jammal Brown and Trent Williams should be a good pair of tackles, he's got an excellent group of receivers at running back and tight end, and the struggles of the other wide receivers tend to blind people to the fact that Santana Moss has nearly 2,000 yards over the last two seasons. I suppose the issue is how frequently Mike Shanahan throws the ball. Jay Cutler threw 616 passes in Shanahan's final year in Denver, but that came during the year of infinite halfback injuries. In the two prior seasons, Denver starters threw an average of 460 passes. KUBIAK essentially splits the difference and has McNabb at 516 attempts, but factor in the built-in expectation for McNabb getting hurt, and it thinks that the Redskins are going to throw the ball at a rate approaching that 2008 rate. Perhaps that's too bold, but should McNabb really be behind Joe Flacco?

Matt Ryan

KUBIAK Rank: 49
National ADP: 94

Not to pick on Flacco, but I also couldn't believe that the Unibrowed One was ahead of Ryan on the ADP charts. Ryan had 232 points in what amounted to a 13-game season; Flacco had 252 points in 16. Yes, Flacco is getting Anquan Boldin this year, but Boldin is just about Flacco's only above-average receiver (we may not share the same opinions about Ray Rice and Todd Heap), while Ryan should benefit from an improved year from Roddy White and the return of Harry Douglas from ACL surgery. Ryan is going off the board as a QB2 when he's really a second-division starter with some upside. (Remember that he gets a boost in KUBIAK rank as the only starting quarterback with "Blue" Risk Factor.) I'm not so sure I wouldn't take Ryan ahead of Matt Schaub (ADP of 38). Certainly, I'd rather flip it and have Ronnie Brown and Ryan than, say, Schaub and Thomas Jones (ADP of 93).

Hines Ward

KUBIAK Rank: 20
National ADP: 60

Ward had a season straight out of his peak a year ago, with 95 catches and nearly 1,200 yards. Now, 34-year-old receivers are a scary proposition, but similar guys -- Tim Brown, Rod Smith, and Donald Driver come to mind -- were able to sustain their previous level of performance. These sort of wideouts tend to play at a really high level before suffering a huge, sudden dropoff that they can't recover from. It's very difficult to predict when that dropoff will occur. The absence of Ben Roethlisberger comes into play, but Byron Leftwich wasn't actually all that bad last year after you account for the difficulty of his short schedule. I charted both of those games, and against Dallas, Leftwich was running for his life before he even finished his drop.

Steve Breaston

KUBIAK Rank: 54
National ADP: 99

I'm one of the people who believes that Early Doucet will end up playing the Anquan Boldin role in the Cardinals offense. And losing Kurt Warner is going to hurt the Cardinals passing attack. But Breaston is going to start the season, at least, playing across from Larry Fitzgerald. That means something. He should be healthy after a knee injury cost him time in 2009. I'd certainly take him well ahead of Robert Meachem (ADP of 92).

Fantasy Fallers 2010

Alex Smith

KUBIAK Rank: 174
National ADP: 141

The case for Smith as a viable NFL quarterback rests upon a really easy schedule and a fluky performance inside the red zone last year. The red-zone performance isn't going to stick -- the Niners were second-to-last in the league in red zone performance in 2008, and while that was without Michael Crabtree, it was with Vernon Davis, who did most of the damage a year ago. The schedule is still going to be pretty easy, but the Seahawks and Rams should be better this year (they can't be much worse). In all likelihood, there won't be seven percentage points between his DVOA and VOA.

Carson Palmer

KUBIAK Rank: 202
National ADP: 101

Palmer was a very good quarterback in this league through 2006, but since 2007, he's been disturbingly average. His yards per attempt have gone from 7.4 to 6.8, and while part of that has to do with the aging of Chad Ochocinco and the eventual departure of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ochocinco remains the only NFL-caliber receiver on the roster at any position. He played 16 games last year, but Palmer was clearly injured by the end of the season. Questions about his supporting cast and health make him a player to avoid.

Reggie Bush

KUBIAK Rank: 107
National ADP: 68

Reggie Bush's rank in fantasy points among running backs in each of his four seasons as a pro: 17, 24, 36, 35. His touches have fallen each season. He had 117 touches in 14 games a year ago, less than half of what he was averaging as a rookie, when he had 243 touches in 16 games. He was finally effective as a runner last year, averaging 5.6 yards a carry after failing to go above 3.8 YPC in any other season, but I would suspect that's a fluke of having 70 carries to work with. Maybe he's suddenly going to break out after four seasons. That's a risk you should let someone else take in the fifth round.

Calvin Johnson

KUBIAK Rank: 46
National ADP: 14

This isn't Madden. On merit, Calvin Johnson is arguably the most talented receiver in football. In a vacuum, he could be the best wideout in fantasy football. He doesn't play in a vacuum, though. He plays in Detroit, where his quarterback is Matthew Stafford, and he's limped through two of his three professional seasons. The addition of Tony Scheffler isn't going to take any heat off of him; it's not like defenses are going to worry about Scheffler and stop doubling Johnson. In a better situation, he would deserve to be 14th, but the soft factors are too important.

Miles Austin

KUBIAK Rank: 55
National ADP: 16

I've written at ESPN Insider about how Austin's YAC is unsustainable (although I did not write that headline), and injury is also something to consider here -- one of the reasons Austin didn't break out until midway through the 2009 season is a string of hamstring injuries. Those don't normally go away.

Brandon Marshall

KUBIAK Rank: 67
National ADP: 18

People are underestimating the contextual shift for Marshall. He's playing with the worst quarterback of his career now (although this changes if Chad Pennington ends up with the starting job at some point during the year). He's on a team that runs the ball a large percentage of the time, and he's in a division with the league's toughest group of pass defenses. There just aren't 165 targets in the hopper.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 26 Aug 2010

52 comments, Last at 19 Sep 2010, 5:54am by evenchunkiermonkey


by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:01pm

Is Chad Pennington, at this point, really better than Kyle Orton?

Nice work, though--I always enjoy this article.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:54pm

Henne's not that bad.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 2:06pm

However, I think it's at least a reasonable proposition (though admittedly not a slam dunk) that he is, right now, worse than Kyle Orton, who is also not bad.

The idea that Chad Pennington, at 34 and with an injury history that rivals War & Peace, is better than Orton is, however, seems to be the stretch.

Even worse is that he actually just said that Jake Plummer was better than Henne. Jake Plummer! Plummer had a -8.1% DVOA and 66 DYAR (over 336 passes) in 2006 (when he played with Marshall). Henne last year had a 7.9% DVOA and 586 DYAR (over 479 passes) in 2009.

by RickD :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:16pm

The idea that Pennington is better than _Henne_ at this point is more than a stretch. It's simply false.

Henne has not had impressive passing numbers compared to a lot of QBs, but he's been without any good receivers during those years. He's good enough to complete passes to Brandon Marshall.

Personally, I would rather have Henne behind QB than Orton. I'd certainly rather have him than Plummer.

by Bobman :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:54pm

Tomatoes/tomah-toes. I've always seen Pennington's medical chart as more Anna Karenina, maybe Brothers K or Martin Chuzzlewit, rather than War and Peace. Maybe, just maybe, it's more Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--long, complicated, harrowing, grim, but exciting and with an upbeat ending!

You may have hit upon a fun game here...

by evenchunkiermonkey (not verified) :: Sun, 09/19/2010 - 5:54am

Its closer to Infinite Jest. There's no plot and you can use to hold the back door open while you're moving a couch.

by Theo :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:10pm

"Ochocinco remains the only NFL-caliber receiver on the roster at any position."
ehhhhhh, isn't that an odd sentence?

And they added some receiving options in the offseason.

by jtduffin :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:02pm

I think he meant to suggest that the pass-catching ability of the Bengals TEs and RBs is sub-NFL-caliber, in addition to that of the other WRs. (At this date, I suspect that including T.O. in that is intentional.)

by Dave51 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:35pm

"Ochocinco remains the only NFL-caliber receiver on the roster" - TO has absolutely dominated 85 so far in preseason in terms of catches and yardage, are you saying that's just a fluke?

And McNabb is already hurt after playing less than 4 quarters behind that O-line.

by John Connors (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 2:58pm

Dude, its preseason.

by Bobman :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:56pm

The 4-0 Lions and 0-4 Colts (from recent seasons) want to know what the hell your point is.

by M :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:38pm

This will be a good "check in after the season" piece to review. As good as the team-level projections tend to be, KUBIAK is not psychic and cannot predict usage patterns and the underlying cause which is really coaching bias.

Forte is probably being dragged down by fears that Taylor will eat into his carries.

Ryan may pass less in 2010 than 2009 on a per-game basis.

Smith's biggest detriment will probably be fewer passes per game due to Mike Singletary's desire for a "smashmouth" team - that, and SF has what looks like the easiest opposing schedule for running backs.

Ward - this seems like the single most likely projection to occur. Mike Wallace will be a deep threat, but I don't see him "stealing" from Ward so much replacing most of what was lost with Holmes' exit.

I have no idea what to expect from Johnson, Austin, or Marshall. This year might have quite a few new names at the top of the WR Fantasy Points list, which means the payoff is identifying the sleepers.

by edswood (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:47pm

Ouch, Henne worse than Orton? Really? Marshall might not have as many catches, but I think he could equal his yardage. Fear the power of the neckbeard and screen passes I guess. Cause I am Josh Fu*king McDaniels, and I can do whatever the fu*k I want.

by FunDonny :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:59pm

Donny Vantage

Chad Henne is going to be amazing. I'll personally choose to ignore your Brandon Marshall recommendation. Hope I can say I told you so. I love this site!

by bigt (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:04am

Chad Henne is the next Favre.

by lionsbob :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:01pm

The Lions also added Nate Burleson. And more Matthew Stafford knocks! I am looking forward to his good play this season.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:16pm

Yeah, I don't understand what's the point of being so decisive and dismissive with the controversial assertions. T.O. could possible be more washed up than Ochocinco at this point... but, um, how about a tiny shred of evidence or a reasoned that his acquisition doesn't actually help Palmer because they guy he replaced was just as good?

And Henne after one season as a starter being decisively worse than the Whiskey kid or injury-plagued Chad Pennington? Let's see some stats to back that up and then stats suggesting Pennington can rebound from injury and age and that Henne most likely won't improve. Because even then, it's arguable. And I yield to no one in my love of Pennington.

The Stafford and Rice digs are just mindless bullshit. There's no way to even take them into account because the points are so incoherent and aren't argued one way or the other - just "hey, these guys suck, so listen to my other points. case closed." I believe in Kubiak, but some of the arguments put forth make its projections LESS convincing. But then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer, so what do I know.

by RickD :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:21pm

Ripping on second-tier players is a way to feel cool.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:34pm

Since when is Ray Rice a second-tier player? First-tier but unproven he can stay there maybe...

by John Connors (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:16pm

I'm sorry, Henne is quickly becoming one of the most overrated players in the league...even from looking at some of these comments, which is surprising.

He threw for 12 TDs and 14 Ints last year in 14 games.

He threw for under 200 yards 7 times. He threw for over 300 yards 3 times, all against bad pass defenses - Pats, Titans and Texans.

People forgot he had alot of BAD interceptions in the 4th quarters when the Fins had chances to win games and make the playoffs.

Is he promising? Yes, of course. Do I think he could be good, I do. But people are making the assumption that he's already good way too fast.

by RickD :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:33pm

The Dolphins had terrible receivers last season. I'm not saying Henne is great, or even that he will be great, but last season was essentially Henne's rookie season, and he was passably OK. He should do much better with Brandon Marshall to throw to.

NE had the 16th best pass defense and Hou had the 18th best. Seems a bit harsh to call that "bad". I would save that label for the lower third of the league. (Ten at 25 would qualify.)

I don't know anybody who is bullish on Henne, so I don't see how he could be overrated.

Mark Sanchez: now he's overrated! His numbers are worse than Henne's and he's still the toast of New York.

by Matt R (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:25pm

How is Henne becoming overrated? Are you assuming that since most knowledgable people think he is better than an aged and beaten up Pennington or Kyle Orton, who can't accurately hit someone 20 yards downfield, they have crowned him a fantasy king? No one is saying that he should be taken in the 4th round....he's got very good upside value at his ADP. Bad pass defenses or not, they're still NFL defenses and he has played with a definitive swagger since then, which is tantamount to the success of an NFL QB.

by Key19 :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:19pm

Id like some clarification on why Flacco is such a bad idea. I think of him as a very solid QB this year, and better than both McNabb and Ryan. Why am I crazy?

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:20pm

Yes, you are crazy. Case closed. No facts allowed.

by Matt R (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:26pm

That appears to be the running theme of this article and the comments that follow.

by RickD :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:42pm

It's part of Barnwell's shtick. Make overly strong assertions without supporting argument.

I had Ryan on my FF team last season and I wouldn't touch him again. I don't see any reason 2010 should be significantly better than 2009 for him.

McNabb is injury-prone and plays on a team thin at WR (not to mention offensive line!)

OTOH, the Ravens have added Bolquin and Flacco has been reasonably consistent for two seasons.

I wouldn't want any of the three as my primary QB, but I'd be much happier with Flacco as my back-up than either of the other two.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:46pm

I know its his shtick and it blows. Especially on what's otherwise the most reasonable football site on the internet. Seriously, Aaron can't get him in line? I'm just glad MDS doesn't write for these guys anymore...

by Theo :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 4:31pm

When you do your 'thing' over the top... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0331906/ , http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000881/ ... you'll get more attention then when you do it more thorough and understandable.

by Benjamin Light (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 1:44pm

Every time FO writes something about the 49ers, it feels like they've never watched a single 49er game.

"The red-zone performance isn't going to stick -- the Niners were second-to-last in the league in red zone performance in 2008, and while that was without Michael Crabtree, it was with Vernon Davis, who did most of the damage a year ago."

You do realize that the QBs in 08 were JT O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill? And that there was a different offensive system in place? One that practically ignored the Tight End? And a head coaching change mid-year? etc. I mean it's not like this is even close to the same team as 2008. I'm not saying Alex Smith will be great this year, but basing this prediction on year-to-year variance seems very short-sighted. Especially when the player in question didn't even play in 2008. Would not a better analysis have been to compare 2009 Smith to 2006 Smith, his last full, uninjured year in the league?

by sicks tea nein (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 5:03pm

Alex Smith is the weak link in that offense and that will catch up with him. 49ers will be OK overall but as a fantasy QB, Smith is gonna be less than mediocre.

With an elite TE, RB and a solid WR1 and DEF, he should be better than he's shown.

I'll take Henne and Moore over him this year.

by Eli (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 2:08pm

If Ray Rice is a below average receiver, I'd like to see who's average. Chris Johnson?

by chemical burn :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:34pm

Wes Welker.

by Bobman :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:59pm


by Independent George :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:34pm

I charted both of those games, and against Dallas, Leftwich was running for his life before he even finished his drop.

And how is that expected to be different this season?

by RickD :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 3:43pm

Pittsburgh won't play Dallas this year?

Sorry, that's all I've got.

by Bobman :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 4:00pm

I was thinking they call 100% runs, but your's is good, too.

by Independent George :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 4:14pm

What about, 'Leftwich can't run anymore'?

by M :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 4:58pm

Apparently it was possible for Leftwich to have played against Dallas in 2008 (for Pittsburgh) and 2009 (for Tampa). Which team did he play for that Bill is referencing?

by Theo :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 5:30pm

I guess the 2009 season...

"The absence of Ben Roethlisberger comes into play, but Byron Leftwich wasn't actually all that bad last year after you account for the difficulty of his short schedule. I charted both of those games, and against Dallas, Leftwich was running for his life before he even finished his drop."

Bill thinks that Byron didn't have a fair chance because he was running for his life vs the 2009 cowboys.
Steelers oline > buccaneers oline = better leftwich.

by Jerry :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 5:43pm

He didn't play in the 2008 game.

by crazyforbeinghere (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 9:51pm

I am here for one reason only. I followed this link from the espn afc blog to see exactly what sources I need to avoid in the future. In one paragraph Bill Barnwell convinced me he had no idea what he was talking about and is merely using shock journalism to rev up his readership. It may work once but now I know he is clueless.

Marshall made Ortin and Cutler without Marshall they both would probably be nearing the end of their professional careers soon. Henne is more accurate, has a higher ceiling than either.

I would call anyone a true imbicile that thought a trade straght up- henne for ortin or cutler a good trade.

Time to move on and never- EVER read what this guy has to say again

by Gian (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 10:01pm

To suggest that Henne is the worst quarterback that Marshall has ever played with is just wrong. ORTON?? C'mon man! ha. Let the season begin. Whoever this writer is, simply doesn't follow all teams in the NFL but rather night highlights on ESPN. Jets fan maybe? Get your facts straight writer.

by erikwb21 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 11:27pm

Barnwell has to be a J.E.T.S fan!!fcbchkdsbgfvsdigvbik!
all J.E.T.S fans love C.Pen.

by bigt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/26/2010 - 11:57pm

This guy is calling Henne the worst qb of Marshall's career? I want to hear from this joker at the end of the season ;)

by Kibbles :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:25am

You put a gun to my head and tell me to pick 1 QB to play 1 game and if they lose you'll shoot me, I'm going to take both Kyle Orton and a healthy Chad Pennington over Henne at this stage. Now, I think 2 years from now Henne will definitely be the best of the bunch but... he ain't there yet, people.

Also, yes, I realize that a healthy Chad Pennington would turn down my request to QB my team because he's too busy playing cards with Santa Claus and Bigfoot.

by Jefferson (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 8:01am

Orton better than Henne? Pennington better than Henne? This will be one of those predictions that will truly underscore why this joker is on a Fantasy Football website rather than, well, you know, actually working for an NFL team.

by Eddo :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 9:14am

Did this article get posted on a Chad Henne fansite? I'm not sure I agree with Bill than 2010 Chad Henne is worse than 2009 Kyle Orton, but it's weird to see so much passionate defense of a QB without much of a track record all of the sudden.

(For the record, I'd say Henne and Orton have about equal chances of being the best of that duo this season, and that Chad Pennington, while extremely under-appreciated when he was healthy and good, would not be an improvement over either one at this time.)

by JasonK :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:51pm

Agreed on all points.

by roguerouge :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 10:58am

For the purposes of argumentation, perhaps people should at least look up the advanced stats to argue about the QBs? We are, after all, on an advanced stats site.

Orton: 12th in DYAR and 17th in DVOA last year.
Henne: 17th in DYAR and 21st in DVOA last year.
Cutler: 36th in DYAR and 30th in DVOA last year.

Let's see how important Marshall was:
Marshall: 24th in DYAR and 38th in DVOA last year.

Now do we understand where Barnwell's coming from? Marshall: star ego with below-average on the field results. Great in fantasy, certainly, but that greatness does depend on opportunity, which he's going to have a tough time getting in that run-heavy offense in a very tough D division. He's not facing the Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs 6 times a year any more, either. The Bills can't stop the run, but they do well against the pass, and the Pats and Jets are certainly better on D than the Chargers and Chiefs.

Ryan: 13th in DYAR and 15th in DVOA last year.
Flacco: 14th in DYAR and 19th in DVOA last year.

They are essentially even, which is pretty close to fantasy rankings. I'm not convinced by Barnwell's ire on this one.

The Boldin factor: 38th in DYAR, 45th in DVOA. Hm. Mason 2.0, although 1.0 version was 23rd and 36th last year, some decline should be predicted.

Rice: 6th in DYAR and 24th in DVOA. I think Barnwell's forgetting the value of a target muncher who maintains average rates at a high usage. That's a valuable commodity. Verdict: above-average.

Todd Heap: 7th in DYAR and 4th in DVOA. Again, Barnwell's opinion is not supported by the evidence of advanced stats. Certainly, Heap's barely a TE1 due to ongoing durability concerns in fantasy. But that's not his claim either.

All in all, I'd rather have Flacco... except for the fact that the Ravens have a tougher schedule of Ds this year.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 7:08am

Thing is, the advanced stats aren't really measures of an individual player's performance - they're measures of the team's performance on plays where that player touched the ball. The QB numbers are better than the rest, because the QB has more impact on the outcome of a play than other "skill" players, but it is still definitely not the case that "V(x)V(y)(x has a higher DVOA than y --> x played better than y)", nor that "V(x)V(y)(x has a higher DYAR than y --> x had more aggregate value than y)". The receiving stats are especially worthless as indicators of individual play, as evidenced by Marshall's 24/38 ranking. It's not that they don't tell you anything, but they definitely don't tell you how good a given receiver is. Subjectively, I would say Marshall is about the fifth best receiver in (real) football, clearly behind Johnson and Fitzgerald and in the mix with Moss, Wayne, Vincent Jackson, Megatron, White and perhaps one or two others for the next several spots. Which order you rank that group in probably depends quite a lot on the system and QB you want to use them with - Wayne might be better at catching passes from Peyton Manning in the Colts offense than any of those others would be, but he would also be by far the worst of the group if he was having to catch aimless jump balls into double coverage from some scrub (welcome to the Wonderful World of Derek Anderson, Larry).

Cutler was horrible last year, and not solely thanks to the lousy supporting talent, but it's pretty hard to deny that when Marshall was catching passes from him in Denver he was better than Henne is likely to be this year. Long term, we still really don't fully know how good a player either man is, though Cutler pretty clearly has more pure "talent" - which doesn't necessarily mean he'll be the better quarterback. Orton very probably was better than Henne in 2009, but not by all that much, and it's far from clear that 2009 Orton was a better passer than 2010 Henne will be. No one has any real idea of how Pennington would play if he took the field for live, regular season action tomorrow. He might still be quite effective, but I really wouldn't be surprised if he was 2006 Brad Johnson-esque. For a long time, Pennington was better when healthy than most people gave him credit for. That doesn't mean he still is.

Please note that I love this site, much of its analysis, and team and unit DVOA. I just have very serious reservations about the individual player stats, and occasionally worry that too much weight is given to them in discursive evaluation of players around here.

by PeteyZ (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 12:24pm

What about Michael Turner? Why does FO rank him so, so low?

by Dolfan5.0 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/27/2010 - 4:12pm

Now I know why I'd never heard of Bill Barnwell before.