Wisdom of Crowds 2011: The Leftovers

Wisdom of Crowds 2011: The Leftovers
Wisdom of Crowds 2011: The Leftovers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Danny Tuccitto

Alright folks, this is the last Wisdom of Crowds feature this preseason. Up until now, we had one week of quarterbacks, one week of running backs, and two weeks of wide receivers, so I chose to make the final week a smorgasbord of the three positions. Judging by the number of responses, you either weren't impressed by the group, your power was out all week thanks to Hurricane Irene, or you've come down with an acute case of Wisdom of Crowds fatigue.

For the final time this year, let me remind you how our little game works. We use Football Outsiders' Twitter account to crowdsource fantasy football projections for the upcoming season. Then, I calculate the average, best-case, and worst-case-scenario projections from everyone's responses, and write a few paragraphs about them. Because this is the last piece, I've included a table at the end that shows the average Wisdom of Crowds projections for all 25 players we tweeted this August. If you haven't had your draft yet, hope the list helps.

Here are links to the previous installments in the series:

Monday: Mike Sims-Walker
Average: 61 ± 6 receptions, 853 ± 110 yards, 7 ± 2 TD
Best-case scenario: 85 receptions, 1,300 yards, 10 TDs
Worst-case scenario: 42 receptions, 570 yards, 4 TDs

If Josh McDaniels' past formation tendencies are any indication, the Rams will be using three-receiver sets on about 60 percent of pass plays. In that case, Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson will see the field plenty no matter who actually starts.

Over the past couple of seasons, Sims-Walker has ranked as a low-end No. 1 receiver according to DYAR. Last season, he was top 20 in wide receiver DVOA despite being injured and falling out of favor with the Jaguars' coaching staff. The crowd's average projection is almost identical to the 63-870-7 stat line he posted in 2009 in a much more run-oriented offense. KUBIAK's is even worse than that. If my life depended on it, I'd guess he beats them both, finishing somewhere between the average and best-case-scenario projections: something like 75-1,000-9.

Tuesday: Plaxico Burress
Average: 51 ± 8 receptions, 716 ± 100 yards, 6 ± 2 TDs
Best-case scenario: 75 receptions, 955 yards, 10 TDs
Worst-case scenario: 25 receptions, 310 yards, 4 TDs

Burress is a perfect candidate for Wisdom of Crowds. Honestly, how do you project a wide receiver coming off of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and subsequent 20-month stint in the pokey? How do you account for Burress going from the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in a good passing offense with an above-average quarterback to being a kind-of No. 1A in a bad passing offense with a below-average quarterback? Finally, as we mentioned in Football Outsiders Almanac 2011 (buy it!), how do you incorporate the typical decline for a wide receiver between their age-30 and age-34 seasons?

Looking back at Burress' last season before he mistook the phrase "shoot yourself in the foot" for "shoot yourself in the leg," he was on pace for about a 55-725-6 stat line, which is basically the crowd's average projection. Like Sims-Walker, that's a bit better than what KUBIAK thinks. I think our twitter followers have it about right, except for Burress maybe having a few more yards and touchdowns given his dual roles in the Jets' offense as deep threat and big red-zone target.

Wednesday: Tim Hightower
Average: 245 ± 26 carries, 1,010 ± 100 yards, 9 ± 2 TDs
Best-case scenario: 325 carries, 1,200 yards, 12 TDs
Worst-case scenario: 200 carries, 850 yards, 5 TDs

Over the course of the preseason, perhaps no player has shot up fantasy draft boards as much as Hightower. From a fantasy perspective, there's certainly a lot to like, not the least of which is that Mike Shanahan could probably turn me into a 1,000-yard rusher. Aside from that, Hightower's combination of size, running ability, receiving ability, and blocking ability gives him a good chance to be proverbial every-down back. As I've said before, opportunity goes a long way. The crowd seems to agree.

Thursday: Marshawn Lynch
Average: 246 ± 36 carries, 900 ± 118 yards, 7 ± 2 TDs
Best-case scenario: 320 carries, 1150 yards, 9 TDs
Worst-case scenario: 200 carries, 730 yards, 5 TDs

Here at Football Outsiders, we enjoy a highly intelligent, statistically savvy readership. It's no surprise, then, that the crowd doesn't seem to have been blinded by Lynch's beast-mode run in the playoffs last season (note: sample size equals one). What's more, your projection of 3.7 yards per carry this season matches up nicely with Lynch's past two years, and is identical to what KUBIAK predicts.

One thing I'll add, though, is that there's a ton of downward pressure on Lynch's prospects. First, the Seahawks are shaping up to be a really bad team this season, so second-half carries are likely to be few and far between. Second, Seattle's offensive line has been borderline-abysmal this preseason.

Friday: Colt McCoy
Average: 3,359 ± 162 passing yards, 19 ± 2 TDs, 13 ± 2 INTs
Best-case scenario: 3,600 passing yards, 22 TDs, 15 INTs
Worst-case scenario: 2,950 passing yards, 15 TDs, 10 INTs

As I mentioned last week, McCoy is a KUBIAK darling when compared to his ADP. Except for the most optimistic among you, the crowd seems to disagree: KUBIAK's projection for McCoy is almost identical to the crowd's best-case projection.

Rather than rehashing what I already said last week, I'll just add one extra point. In FOA11, we mentioned how McCoy -- not surprisingly -- had major problems throwing the deep ball last season. With Pat Shurmur running the offense this season, there will be a lot more underneath passing. If you don't believe us, just ask any Rams fan.

Dalton 2,740 14 19
Freeman 3,708 25 13
Jackson, T. 2,937 17 18
Kolb 3,358 21 17
McCoy 3,359 19 13
McNabb 3,305 20 14
RB Runs RuYds RuTDs
Hightower 245 1,010 9
Ingram 209 903 8
Jones, F. 233 1,005 7
Lynch 246 900 7
Mathews 220 901 7
Moreno 249 985 7
Wells 223 901 7
WR Recs ReYds ReTDs
Bryant 73 980 8
Burress 51 716 6
Green 49 651 4
Harvin 73 953 7
Johnson, S. 73 969 7
Jones, J. 56 746 5
Lloyd 69 991 8
Ochocinco 67 897 6
Rice, S. 64 908 7
Roberts, A. 63 793 6
Sims-Walker 61 853 7
Williams, M. (TB) 76 1,101 10


1 comment, Last at 06 Sep 2011, 3:05pm

1 Re: Wisdom of Crowds 2011: The Leftovers

I have no idea how to predict which Rams receivers will do anything aside from Amendola getting a load of catches for a relatively low YPC. Sims-Walker seems the most likely of the others to do something but I find it completely plausible that a health Alexander usurps him, or a healthy Clayton, or the lot of them being pretty ineffective and splitting the receptions.