Hunter Renfrow, Ezekiel Elliott, & More Early-Season Duds

Las Vegas Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow
Las Vegas Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 3 - Hunter Renfrow ranks dead last in receiving DYAR? How is that even possible? Renfrow is like the lovechild of Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, raised as his favorite son by Jon Gruden and then adopted by Josh McDaniels, the Slot-Guy Svengali. What on earth could Renfrow possibly be doing wrong?

Oh yeah, the fumbles.

Renfrow's overtime fumble cost the Las Vegas Raiders the game against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. He also fumbled two plays before that fateful touchdown return by Byron Murphy, but teammate Foster Moreau recovered it. Renfrow also fumbled at the end of a Week 1 reception in the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers but recovered it himself. DYAR and DVOA penalize players and offense for the fumbles their team recovers, because while fumble rates are relatively reliable and predictive, recovery "luck" fluctuates wildly and tends to distort results.

Renfrow was also the target of a Derek Carr interception against the Chargers. Is it Renfrow's fault that Bryce Callahan undercut a soft pass into traffic? Not really. It's not CeeDee Lamb's fault (68th in DYAR) that the Cowboys offense was a disaster in Week 1 and Cooper Rush is currently their starter. Receiver DYAR often measures the effectiveness of the passing game when that receiver is targeted, not whether the receiver is "good" or not. Passes to Renfrow have resulted in two turnovers, two near-turnovers, five incomplete passes, and just two gains of over 10 yards in 16 targets. That's very, very bad, and it's a reason the Raiders are 0-2.

Renfrow suffered a concussion at the end of the Cardinals loss. He was not practicing as of midweek. His poor metrics aren't really an issue. but his potential unavailability is baked into the Raiders' -2 line against the sputtering Tennessee Titans. Still, Walkthrough remains comfortable picking the Raiders, because the Titans defense ranks 31st at stopping No. 1 receivers after tossing bouquets at a streaking Stefon Diggs on Monday night. Davante Adams (plus Maxx Crosby versus the poor backup left tackle who draws the short straw after the Taylor Lewan injury) should be sufficient for a Raiders cover.

Moving forward, Renfrow should bounce back: he finished 10th in DYAR last season, Carr is a capable quarterback, and McDaniels knows how to deploy slot receivers. Renfrow's last-place DVOA is an example of a small-sample trend which has had a big impact on the standings early in the 2022 season. The Raiders may not be Super Bowl contenders, but they are better than their record and likely to improve once they get more efficiency from one of their most reliable playmakers.

Hmmm, what other secrets are lying at the bottom of the DVOA tables, and what might they be trying to tell us about Week 3 and beyond?

Dead Last in Passing and Rushing DYAR: Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

As discussed early in the week, the Bengals' problems start with their offensive line, continue with their offensive line, flow briefly through Burrow's idiosyncratic pocket decisions, make a pitstop at Zac Taylor's system, then return to the offensive line just in time to watch La'el Collins get pinwheeled by an edge rusher.

Bengals-Jets Week 3 Play: The Bengals are five-point favorites against a non-embarrassing Jets team, and Walkthrough doesn't wanna touch them. (Neither does the public, apparently, as that line is sliding toward the Jets). If anything, we're leaning toward the Joe Burrow Longest Completion prop at 37.5: Sauce Gardner is the only guy in the Jets secondary equipped to cover Ja'Marr Chase, and Sauce ain't ready to cover Chase just yet. The Bengals line just need to protect Burrow once for that prop to hit. Once.

Dead Last in Receiving DVOA Among RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Here's a fun one! Elliott has been targeted for four passes, two of them incomplete, one for a loss of 3, and one for a loss of 4. That's a DVOA of -139.1% in a tiny, tiny sample, which makes sense: if you leaked into the flat and then curled into the fetal position to avoid being hit before the ball was thrown, you would actually be a more effective receiver than Zeke right now.

Tony Pollard ranks a respectable-but-not-great 27th in receiving DYAR and 24th in DVOA on nine passes right now. Pollard "caught" a 46-yard "pass" for a touchdown against the Bengals which was really just a quick pitch sweep tossed almost perfectly parallel to the line of scrimmage. He also caught a 10-yard pass against the Buccaneers, but on fourth-and-12 at the end of the fourth quarter. Everything else has been bean dip.

A clever coach would work overtime to get Elliott and Pollard heavily involved in the passing game to protect Rush and take pressure off Lamb. Cowboys coaches are neither clever nor work overtime.

Cowboys Week 3 Play: Walkthrough told you to hammer Cooper Rush in his first start last week, and you are very welcome. Now it's time to run screaming from the Cowboys. Our way-too-early lean for Monday night against the Giants is the Over of 39: the points-off-turnovers potential is high, as is the likelihood that either Zeke or Pollard exposes a Giants defense that's operating on pure adrenaline, vibes, and opponent incompetence (admittedly still an issue) for two weeks.

Dead Last in Receiving DVOA Among TEs: Tyler Conklin, New York Jets

Given seven targets in Week 1, Conklin fumbled after a 2-yard reception (the Jets recovered); caught 5- and 6-yard passes on two second-and-longs; and caught a 3-yard touchdown in the final moments of the fourth quarter of a 24-9 loss, plus three incompletions. Conklin fumbled again against the Browns (deep in Jets territory) and caught 1- and 4-yard passes to go with two incompletions and receptions of 9, 9, and 13 yards.

Conklin has a decent track record as an outlet/checkdown receiver, and Joe Flacco (starting for another week) adores outlet/checkdown receivers. The Jets offense is moderately functional, and fellow tight end C.J. Uzomah is dealing with a hamstring injury. Conklin will get plenty of targets and should work his way towards the lower middle of the DVOA/DYAR pack.

Tyler Conklin Play for Week 3: His over/under on receiving yards in Week 3 stands at 27.5. Unless Uzomah trends toward playing late in the week, bang the over and hope he can crack the three-yard barrier on play-action rollouts.

Week 3 News 'n' Notes

More DVOA splits and trends in a moment! But first: BREAKING NEWS and hard-hitting analysis.

Mike Evans' One-Game Suspension Upheld

His appeal was going well until NFL suspension czar Jon Runyan held up Marshon Lattimore like a matador's cape next to a 30th-floor window and Evans nearly leapt to his death.

New Buccaneers WR Cole Beasley Slid Into Tom Brady's Instagram DMs in Order to Get Brady's Attention Last Week.

You and about 500,000 hopeful women, Cole.

Jameis Winston Now Has an Ankle Injury as Well as a Back Injury

Taysom Hill has a voodoo doll that looks like a pin cushion.

Eagles Return Man Britain Covey Parked in the Fan Lot on Monday Night Because the Security at Lincoln Financial Field did not Recognize Him

Smart move. The player's lot is so close that Covey's windshield could have been cracked by one of Kirk Cousins' throwaways. Also: never mess with security at the Linc.

Robert Saleh Affirms That Zach Wilson Will be the Jets' Starting Quarterback Once Healthy, Despite Joe Flacco's Success

Wilson has now stumbled into quarterback controversies with Flacco and Mike White, plus all the Cougartown stuff, through 13 NFL starts. He's starting to make Sam Darnold's early career look like Justin Herbert's early career.

Justin Fields Angers Chicago Bears Fans with Out-of-Context Postgame Comments

Let's see:

  • No receivers? Check.
  • No drainage on the field? Check.
  • No one in PR/media relations to get ahead of relatively benign comments before they go viral? Check.

Heh. I take back what I wrote about the Bears lazily hanging Fields out to dry. They're aggressively hanging Fields out to dry.

Aaron Rodgers Explains that Ayahuasca Tea is "Not a Drug" Because it's Just a Plant

Rodgers is every ninth-grader in a general-level English class in 2002, starting the second paragraph of his standardized-test mandated persuasive essay on Should Marijuana Be Legalized? with, "First and foremost, marajuana is just a plant. It's natural, and anything natural should be legal." Rodgers turns in the essay, gets four points out of six from the teacher who has skimmed over 4,000 similar arguments, then asks his mom to call the teacher to demand seven points and a formal apology. Mom refuses (It's September, dear. Let's not get off on the wrong foot), and she gets a page in Rodgers' burn book right next to the teacher.

Also, those thousands of essays resulted in adult-use marijuana legalization in many states, so shout-out to all those 14-year-old know-it-alls. But please, let's not adopt any of their other ideas.

Dead Last DVOA Plays, Continued

Let's go back to the DVOA tables and see what we can learn from some of the team splits.

Dead Last Against Passes to Tight Ends and Running Backs: Arizona Cardinals

You probably recall that Travis Kelce went 8-121-1 against the Cardinals defense in Week 1. You may have noticed that Darren Waller went 6-50-1, with a touchdown on a goal-line fade when covered on the boundary by some linebacker named Ezekiel Turner. Two touchdown catches by Clyde Edwards-Helaire may also have caught your attention, and another by Jody Fortson, plus productive receptions on screens and other short concepts by Jerrick McKinnon, Ameer Abdullah, and Josh Jacobs.

The Cardinals also rank 25th at stopping "other" wide receivers (Mack Hollins is the definition of an "other wide receiver"), 30th at stopping passes over the middle of the field, and 31st at stopping short passes. Bottom line: Byron Murphy does a great job with his assignments (WR1, typically), but it's open season on everyone else who drops into coverage for the Cardinals.

Anti-Cardinals Week 3 Play: The only factor that should give fantasy gamers pause before assembling huge RB/TE DFS stacks against the Cardinals is that both the Chiefs and Raiders spread lots of wealth around to TE2/RB3 types. Opponents REALLY want linebackers such as Turner, Nick Vigil, and Tanner Vallejo on the field (Isaiah Simmons' current position appears to be "doghouse"), and they will use two-tight end sets and two-back formations to get the mismatches they crave. Most Tyler Higbee props look a little too rich for Sunday, but Higbee Longest Reception OVER +17.5 yards is just a blown assignment or missed tackle on a routine pass over the middle away.

Speaking of the Rams…

Dead Last in Special Teams DVOA: Los Angeles Rams

Here's a fine example of how small sample sizes can be both distorting and illuminating. The Rams suffered a blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons, only have one punt return this season (for a loss of 1), and have only allowed one punt return (for 20 yards). The Rams special teams bear monitoring, because they're where much of the cost-cutting can be seen, but their current DVOA is a blip, and that blocked punt made the Falcons game look a lot closer than it really was.

Los Angeles Rams Play for Week 3: Walkthrough's Twelve Quadrillion Star Play of the Week is Rams (-3.5) AND Bills (-5.5) in a two-team parlay at +264. If that's a little risky for you, try parlaying both teams straight up at (as of Thursday afternoon) +120. Or just play Rams-Cardinals: the Rams are undervalued because of their wobbly start, the Cardinals overvalued because they sucker-punched the Raiders.

Dead Last in Offensive Goal-to-Go DVOA: Minnesota Vikings

How on earth did the Vikings limbo under the Denver Broncos? One issue is that they have not faced many goal-to-go situations. When they have faced them, the Vikings ran three plays for 0 yards twice before settling for field goals against the Packers in Week 1, then produced a fourth-quarter Kirk Cousins special from the 9-yard line against the Eagles on Monday night: incomplete pass, near-interception, interception. No, "near-interceptions" aren't counted by DVOA, but we cannot deny Cousins his flair.

For their part, the Broncos have already fumbled twice from the 1-yard line and settled for 20- and 24-yard field goals in goal-to-go situations. Both teams are testing the low-end tolerances of DVOA with low sample sizes. The difference is that the Broncos will eventually figure things out.

Broncos Week 3 Play: Yeah, screw the Vikings. The Broncos are undervalued at +1.5 on Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers. The "backup quarterback starting first game" factor does not apply to Jimmy Garoppolo: the house, public, and Broncos are all aware of what he is and isn't capable of as the 49ers starter. Heck, Garoppolo might make the 49ers over-valued! Take the Broncos.

Dead Last in Rushing Stuffed Rate: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens' running backs have been stopped for no gain or a loss on 33% of running plays, which is rather suboptimal. Kenyan Drake has been stuffed six times in 17 carries (he's dead last in rushing DVOA), Justice Hill once in five carries, and Mike Davis three times in just seven carries. Quarterback runs are not accounted for in stuff rate, but Lamar Jackson has also been stuffed three times, including twice on fourth down, once on a botched snap at the goal line. The slick surface in Week 1 was partially to blame, but Drake and Hill each got stuffed for losses on first downs when the Ravens were failing to run out the clock against the Dolphins, leading to a punt and a long field goal. So this is a split that illustrates a major Ravens early-season problem.

The great news here is that J.K. Dobbins was listed as a full participant on the Ravens Wednesday injury report. This is not a "running backs don't matter" situation: the Ravens are using lots of replacement-level rushers right now (Drake was literally pulled from the waiver wire after the Raiders released him), so Dobbins is a legit upgrade. The not-so-great news is that the Ravens have a habit of letting Dobbins warm up on Sunday morning and then saying "Eh, we're just not sure he's 100.000% ready yet."

Ravens Week 3 Play: There were no Dobbins props on the board as of Thursday, and the -2.5 line against the New England Patriots is right where the Football Outsiders DVOA picks (available to FO+ subscribers!) also land. The only wager Walkthrough is even considering is Lamar Jackson as an anytime scorer at +135, because it's fun to root for Jackson tuddies.

Dead Last in First-Quarter Offensive DVOA: Carolina Panthers (-106.6%)

The Panthers squeezed two offensive fumbles (plus a special teams fumble) into the first quarter against the Giants, with Christian McCaffrey getting stuffed on fourth-and-short on the final play. Week 1 featured two Baker Mayfield fumbles (both recovered by the Panthers), two three-and-outs, and a sack. The Panthers look terrible, but they would look even worse if not for some decent fumble luck.

Incidentally, the Dolphins are a surprising 31st in offensive first-quarter DVOA. The Dolphins have only had two first-quarter possessions so far: one against the New England Patriots that ended with a strip-sack (recovered by the Dolphins) and a field goal, and one against the Baltimore Ravens which ended in an interception. Three guesses where the Dolphins rank in fourth-quarter offensive DVOA. Still, their slow starts have Walkthrough feeling comfortable about the Bills-Rams parlay we discussed earlier.

Panthers Week 3 Play: Jameis Winston's litany of injuries has us wary of the Saints -2.5. All those Mayfield fumbles and Winston's Winston-ness has us leaning toward a points-off-turnovers fueled Over at 40.5. Is it same-game parlay time? It's same-game parlay time. Saints moneyline AND Over at +210.

When Mayfield and Winston are involved, it's best to go big or go home.


96 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2022, 10:46am

1 I love the "it's a plant, it…

love the "it's a plant, it's okay, that's safer than a drug" arguments. They're so much fun. It's like they haven't read any 19th century history.

7 It's like they haven't read…

It's like they haven't read any 19th century history.

Which applies to most US Citizens, and the percentage gets higher when you remove Civil War buffs from the mix. (I don't think there are any War of 1812 buffs, but you'd need to remove them too.)

9 If I was more generous (or…

If I was more generous (or less generous?) I'd actually say it's more like they don't remember any 19th century history. I know with absolute certainty that a decent portion of people in the area I grew up in definitely read 19th century history that would've covered the Opium Wars, because it was high school curriculum. But considering many of those people barely remember stuff I know they were taught in friggin' elementary school, high school stuff is just asking way too much.

Covered it twice, in fact, because it was in both history and via The Good Earth in lit (although I guess you could read that without knowing any of what happened earlier).

15 This is a completely…

This is a completely tangential point, But a lot of sociology departments have studied retention of knowledge in classrooms. You can control for whatever you want and basically the answer is almost nothing is ever retained by people of all stripes.

Thus, it's not shocking that most people don't remember or internalize things they learned or were forced to regurgitate in a more appropriate description.

It's sort of why I feel like college is mostly a game of signaling.

21 It's not an axiomatic all or…

It's not an axiomatic all or nothing claim.

But those studies do indeed show that knowledge retention is extremely poor. I include myself in that example by the way. I took a lot more courses than math, economics, statistics and history. I remember practically none of them outside of things I am interested in personally




32 Well, you can't be…

Well, you can't be interested in everything because, y'know, logic ("are you interested in something you're not interested in?" "damnit!"). But being interested in learning is totally feasible.

34 I took English where we had…

I took English where we had to read, too much in my opinion, Shakespear and classical English. I "learned" it because I was being a paid a grade. But the only play I can even remember many of the words from was Othello. 12th night. Hamlet. Romeo and Juliet. Midsummer Nights Dream, etc etc I have almost no retention of.

I also took Chemistry and Biology. I cannot remember how to do stoichiometry. I barely remember much of the Krebbes cylce.

41 But the only play I can even…

But the only play I can even remember many of the words from

...Why would you grade your retention of a play by whether or not you can remember the words? The author's not trying to teach you vocabulary.

I don't grade my ability to remember things based on facts. Your brain sucks at remembering facts.

59 I'm actually not. I'm trying…

I'm actually not. I'm trying to point out that you're referencing lack of facts. There's a difference between remembering facts and learning. Whenever Einstein was approached at Princeton with a question, he didn't give them the answer, he told them what book it was in. By now I don't even think about certain topics as anything other than that.

Your brain sucks at remembering facts. That's not how it's built. It's built on relations. If you're in a class and you can form associations to things you use frequently - if you convert it into other things you know - you'll remember it. I remember arguments on friggin' tax policy because I was like "oh, it's like bandpass filtering, it's either high-frequency or low-frequency smoothing."

Can I try to learn about everything? No, obviously not. But I can try to relate to everything I learn. Yes, I totally agree there's no Magic Bullet way to get all people to remember things. They have to want to do it themselves.

39 But everything is interesting

I mean, if some things are not interesting, then there must be something that's the least interesting thing there is.

And that's interesting, so therefore it's not uninteresting.  Which means that the next-least-interesting thing is the least interesting thing there is.

Which makes it interesting.

So by a combination of induction and reductio ad absurdum, everything is interesting.

71 Be good at everything

Life is too short to get good at even one thing. 

Y'know what's funny?  Is to think about how we are not THAT far removed –  maybe 200 years? –  from a time when one could be a scientist / natural philosopher and basically know ALL of “science”.  Obvi it helped to be one of humanity's all-time geniuses like say Gauss or Euler.  But the sum of human science knowledge was pretty much holdable in a single (genius) head.

Nowadays it's not even possible to know all of (say) your own Math discipline, unless it's hyper-duper narrowly defined.  Wild.

40 It's in there somewhere. The…

It's in there somewhere.

The statement that you never forget how to ride a bike is both true and untrue -- you remember the basics of how to do it, but if you pick it up again after a long period of disuse, you kind of suck at it. You've nowhere near as good as when you did it frequently. Skills erode. It's not really different with statistics.

72 Riding a bike

The statement that you never forget how to ride a bike is both true and untrue -- you remember the basics of how to do it, but if you pick it up again after a long period of disuse,

Ha.  When my son was 8 or 9 we went on a long-ish bike ride together; and it was my first time on a bike in like 20 years, maybe more.  We got home, and I was gushing to my wife & stepdaughter about how much fun it was, and how I was surprised how easy it was, I had thought that I might have trouble but it was, it was –

And my 21yo stepdaughter asked, “Was it like riding a bike?”
I was devastated. 

14 There's a great lecture by…

There's a great lecture by Tom Sargent on YouTube about the founding of the United States and it touches briefly on the war of 1812.

I would venture a guess that 99.9% of Americans don't really understand the economic dynamics of the founding of the United States and it's factors in the war of 1812, including me until I saw that video and then started reading further about it.

The TLDR is thank God for alexander Hamilton, who is probably the single most important historical figure in explaining why the United States is where it is.


for those curious. Warning, it is very very terse and I would be shocked if anyone here actually watched more than 5 minutes of it.

20 You should also be thankful…

You should also be thankful Hamilton never got his hands on any real power.

The war in Ukraine lends some interesting context to the War of 1812, and the timeline when for a former colonial overlord would try to recapture their growingly-independent former statelet, and why.

\We also tend to overlook the Iroquois, who were still a nation of influence to Proto-Canada, the expanding US, and the messy territories that used to be French.

51 My opinion of Hamilton is…

My opinion of Hamilton is through the lens of economics. Per the grumpy economist,

"Alexander Hamilton faced a similar issue with revolutionary war debt. A lot of this debt had been bought by soldiers, but as the chances of the debt being repaid declined, its value declined. Many soldiers sold their debt for pennies on the dollar to "speculators." By proposing to pay back the debt at face value, restoring the previous value of the debt, Hamilton did something that primarily benefitted these "speculators." Assuming the state debts was surely a "handout to the rich," bondholders then being like stockholders now plausibly better off than the average citizen. The bonds were a sunk cost, as Larry views today's capital.  But Hamilton did it, for reasons that now seem wise. Fortunately, not every decision revolved around redistribution then."

Just why the decision was wise is why I regard Hamilton so well. After the war, the US government had a ton of debt outstanding and there was an internal battle about who should pay it and if it should be paid. Hamilton, in words that eerily explain how stochastic discount factors and reputation works, understood that by paying the debt, the US would gain a reputation and thus be a place to invest. That was how the country was able to afford the Louisiana Purchase.

The idea of paying debt sounds so facile, but its probably THE reason the US dollar is the reserve currency it is today. 

61 The $ became the semi…

The $ became the semi-official reserve currency as a result of Bretton Woods agreement which came 150 years after the event you discuss, so it seems hard to draw a straight line from one to the other. Non-default is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for why the $ dominated. It was due mostly to the relative prosperity of the US and the pauperization of the old European powers from WWI & WWII

68 "Non-default is a necessary…

"Non-default is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for why the $ dominated"

This is true but it takes away the weightiness of just how hard it is to establish a non-default culture/policy. Jefferson and Madison were very much against paying back the debt. They sort of wanted to wipe the slate clean as if this was a costless gesture. Something that is eerly familiar with student debt debates and MMT proponents. 

There is a ton of wisdom about paying back debt - something that has been formalized in economic theory and research relatively recently. As Sargent said above, to understand how debt and reputation works from the lens of macroeconomics, you need an advanced degree with a ton of mathematics and empirics. Hamilton wrote as if he understood the equations somehow; which is simply brilliant and way ahead of its time.

Yes, I skipped over a lot of history on the way to the US becoming the reserve currency and of course, the US has had histories of bad monetary policy post Hamilton. But since the US' earliest data points starts with its founding and this decision was the first of its kind, it to me is the crucial decision in history that set the US on the path that its on. 

73 Understand vs Prove

to understand how debt and reputation works from the lens of macroeconomics, you need an advanced degree with a ton of mathematics and empirics. Hamilton wrote as if he understood the equations somehow; which is simply brilliant and way ahead of its time.

I feel like you're downplaying the difference between “understand” and “prove”.

To prove the theory about how debt & reputation works in macroeconomics, you need a ton of math knowledge.  To have a grasp or insight into how debt & reputation would interact in macroeconomics, you just need to have a good intuition and a theory of the case.


76 They sort of wanted to wipe…

They sort of wanted to wipe the slate clean as if this was a costless gesture. Something that is eerly familiar with student debt debates and MMT proponents. 

Except it's the opposite.

Forgiving a debt is the opposite of defaulting on a debt. Both wipe a debt clean, but the dynamic is completely different.

It's basically like arguing that theft and donation are identical. Both involve an asset transferring from one party to a second party with no charged cost. Everything other than that is totally dissimilar.

81 Yes, they aren't exactly the…

Yes, they aren't exactly the same though I would argue they are both plagued by the same thorny issue.

For revolutionary war debts, they(Jefferson and Madison) wanted to default on the debt but with the stated implication that only this time and from now on all future debts would be honored.

In the case of student loan forgiveness; the federal government is giving the option of default so it doesn't hurt any of the student's reputations.

However, the problem is one of moral hazard. If the US government defaults and then promises, "Just this once" , then they are hoping the default is costless. In the same way, forgiving student loan debt amounts to increasing moral hazards on future student loan borrowers who plan not to pay back future debt. 

62 There's an interesting…

There's an interesting alternate history where the US simply ignores the French claim and takes it by manifest destiny without having to purchase anything. That grants its successor the same natural and economic resources necessary to win WWII and displace Britain as the world's banker.

Hamilton's method worked out, but it was not necessarily the only or the best solution.

\Perhaps the French become saltier about this and openly side with the Confederacy during the Civil War. Granted, the South was sitting on old French claims, too, and the US was ahead of Europe in terms of industrial war tactics and shipbuilding in this era, even if no one realized it yet

69 "Hamilton's method worked…

"Hamilton's method worked out, but it was not necessarily the only or the best solution."

That's true from a territorial conquest point of view. But the key hallmark of Hamilton's decision is about building a reputation for investors and creditors. The kind of thing that grows an economy long term.

Hitler also had creditors willing to lend him money, but he could only pay those back with plunder. And of course, to sustain the plunder, he needed a strong military which ony necessitated further plunder.  Contrary to a lot of the views especially during Hamilton's time; a country can grow without extracting resources from slaves / plundering its neighbors. 

77 There's a school of thought…

There's a school of thought that the Nazis accidentally created the European Common Market in western Europe when Hitler wasn't looking because they wanted the conquered nations to make them stuff but didn't want to be bothered with too much day-to-day management of that.

\Hitler had no actual plan and was as surprised as anyone else at his early success

31 War of 1812

Back in 1963 my HS history teacher stated that her several-greats grandfather, General William Hull, blundered so badly that a chance to annex Canada was lost.  She was somewhat proud of that factoid, though it oversimplifies history.  Hull did make enough mistakes, like surrendering Detroit when he probably had the superior forces, to be court-marshalled and sentenced to be shot (President Monroe commuted that to merely cashiering Hull from the army).  However, he was a tired 60-year-old who was heavily pressured to take command of the Army of the Northwest and was let down several times by those higher on the food chain.

56 The most notorious war crime…

In reply to by SandyRiver

The most notorious war crime of the War of 1812 occurred in my home town subsequent to that, when Winchester got crushed during a counter-attack at Frenchtown. The Potawatomi massacred the POWs after the battle.

I grew up about half a mile from there. Where my house was may have been on the battlefield. (It was not my house at the time. =) )

12 Not sure why you would need…

Not sure why you would need 19th century history but that is one way to get the knowledge. 

Pretty much all drugs are taking a compound found in nature (usually a plant) and producing it via chemistry(with a few exceptions like lithium). 

13 Not sure why you would need…

Not sure why you would need 19th century history

Because it's the same argument the Europeans used to defend opium worldwide. Although, ironically, there it was often because synthetic drugs were too expensive, not because they didn't know they were less problematic.


Pretty much all drugs are taking a compound found in nature (usually a plant) and producing it via chemistry

That's... actually not that accurate. I mean, it's true for a lot of antibiotics, but of the major pain killers, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and naproxen were all pure chemistry derivatives. Friggin' Tylenol basically originated because someone was like "let's feed naphthalene to sick people" and they literally got the wrong stuff from the pharmacy. Laughing gas became a medical treatment because it was used as a circus trick and a doctor was like "hmm, maybe I can cut people with this stuff." Barbiturates in some ways started because a guy fed urethane to dogs and was like "holy cow, it's like they're drunk."

Basically, a heck of a lot of drugs/treatments were found purely by stupidity.

85 Coca leaves are a plant…

Coca is a plant.

Opium poppies are a plant. 

Psilocybin comes from a mushroom.

Nicotine comes from the tobacco plant.

Nightshade is a plant.

Belladonna is a plant.

Hemlock is a plant.

Poison ivy is a plant. 

It's what we don't or choose not to know about plants that is a problem. 


88 Poison

"The dose makes the poison."  Or why one of the planet's most virulent toxins is being used for cosmetic (and other) applications.

2 Conklin

Given seven targets in Week 1, Conklin fumbled after a 2-yard reception (the Jets recovered)

It was actually worse than than the stats; Conklin caught a 6-yard pass on 3rd and 5 and then fumbled behind the sticks.

3 Receiver DYAR often measures…

Receiver DYAR often measures the effectiveness of the passing game when that receiver is targeted, not whether the receiver is "good" or not

Useful reminder, especially when evaluating receivers who are the safety valve for their QB.

if you leaked into the flat and then curled into the fetal position to avoid being hit before the ball was thrown, you would actually be a more effective receiver than Zeke right now.

This exact thing!

If I were an RB who wanted to keep a higher DYAR than the Dumpoff Guy, I'd either scoot out of bounds or behind the QB, so that efficiency-murdering dumpoff wouldn't register as a pass target. Efficiency != helping the team win the game.

4 "First and foremost,…

"First and foremost, marajuana is just a plant. It's natural, and anything natural should be legal."

Things such as radon, arsenic, lead, and asbestos, or the Amanita or Galerina genus, or Atropa or Ricinus if you want to strictly enforce "plant".

All natural! Many are quite virtuous to take, too, ensuring a swift audience with your maker.

\It didn't get the name "Destroying Angel" by accident.

6 The other issue is calling…

The other issue is calling anything cultivated "natural." Most of what we eat isn't natural. We made most of them. In some sense, the drugs themselves are more "natural" than the plants.

66 On the other other hand, I…

On the other other hand, I watch all matter in the Universe be synthesized in an instant and say "yeah, we got nothin'."

Cultivation's natural (because everything is natural), but the cut that most people put for "natural" is "man made," and cultivated/farmed things are absolutely man-made.

5 The great news here is that…

The great news here is that J.K. Dobbins was listed as a full participant on the Ravens Wednesday injury report. This is not a "running backs don't matter" situation: the Ravens are using lots of replacement-level rushers right now (Drake was literally pulled from the waiver wire after the Raiders released him), so Dobbins is a legit upgrade. 

This itself is something of a departure from the received analytics wisdom that all RBs are replacement-level.

I agree with your argument that said argument is wrong, but that's certainly the majority view.

11  This itself is something…

This itself is something of a departure from the received analytics wisdom that all RBs are replacement-level.

There's a bit of a history issue with that idea, though. Take the NFL in 2002, for instance. There were 28 RBs with more than 200 carries (which is roughly half the average carries of a team, which surprisingly hasn't changed much). But in 2021, there were only 18 RBs with more than 200 carries. Obviously, if the number of carries stays the same and the average number of carries drops... more RBs are carrying.

Saying "all RBs are replacement level" in 2002 is saying something different than now, because a lot of those replacement RBs in the 2000s aren't replacement anymore. They're active players.

16 One of my offseason articles…

One of my offseason articles that I never got around to because it was too statistically jargony was doing some survival analysis on running backs over time. The TLDR is it's never been harder to last as a running back in the NFL in spite of the fact that the number of carries you are getting is far lower than it was in the past. That either suggest that teams have wised up to the fact that running backs are replaceable Or I guess linebackers are hitting extra hard today and it's wearing their effectiveness down faster?

24 I don't really have an…

I don't really have an explanation for why the durability of RBs has plummeted. 

Having come up in the 80s and 90s, when guys with 2500+ (Emmitt Smith had 4400 career rush attempts!) career rushes weren't rare, the dearth of long-lasting running backs is weird to me. Russell Wilson is 9th in career rush attempts for active players! Only AP is even halfway to Smith's career attempts.

I'm not sure what happened.

28 I don't think it's…

I don't think it's durability at all, I think it's just cost/benefit. If the difference between a top 5-10 RB and somebody you can find in the draft/off the street is production that's worth, say, 2 million a year, but you have to pay the top 5-10 guy 7 million a year... that's just not really worth it. You can take 2 or 3 shots at the more fungible guys in hopes you get a good one and still save plenty of cap space to use on other positions.

(Yes, there's certainly an argument to be made about where the line is drawn between "worth the money" and "not worth the money", and it's much harder to put a dollar amount on production in football vs baseball, but the point remains.)

63 If the difference between a…

If the difference between a top 5-10 RB and somebody you can find in the draft/off the street is production

It's not even that! It's not the difference between a top RB and a draft pick/guy off the street. It's the difference between Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard, a guy who is currently on the team. Or Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams. Or Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon.

Whenever you have more guys running the ball, that means you've got a replacement for the guy who's aging right there for you. He's already been playing. You don't need to find someone else. You've already got them.

75 The thing with RB's is you…

The thing with RB's is you pretty much need the O-Line to help them. (I'll call it 50-50).

Johnathan Taylor vs Jax is a pretty good example. 54 yards on 9 carries, but I think he had 2 around 20 yards and got stuffed 3 times bc he wasn't getting any help.  

Basically, it makes sense to invest in your lines and get fungible running backs rather than the reverse. And if you invest in an elite O-Line and RB, running is inherently less efficient than passing so you lose to passing offences. 




79 And if you invest in an…

And if you invest in an elite O-Line and RB, running is inherently less efficient than passing so you lose to passing offences. 

Except this isn't true.

Market efficiency reacts to constraints placed upon the market, and the rules governing the game have systematically and intentionally shifted towards making passing easier for 100 years now. There have been eras where rushing was more efficient. There could be again, with the right rule shifts.

\in football's direct antecedent, passing has a negative efficiency

84 What is true now was not always, true, yes.

Exactly. Well, I probably should explicitly stated "under the current rules" rather than implying it. 

In previous eras, under different rule sets, RB's were much more highly valued for that reason. Frex: Herschel Walker. 

Although I suspect economics will keep passing on top bc people like watching explosive plays more and there is less wear and tear on your stars so they tend to last longer and bring more recognition to the sport. 

92 The economics of RBs are bad

Saquon was drafted 4 years ago and still has the most guaranteed money a signing. And he wasn't even the number one pick.

At the end of the day the average yards per pass is still higher than per rush. You could even include sacks (and blame entirely on the QB even not if 100% true). And it's been like that for decades. 04 rules just emphasized passing. Which in turn also helped rushing but the gap remains. 

It's 2022. Running simply has a lower a floor and ceiling.

25 it's never been harder to…

it's never been harder to last as a running back in the NFL in spite of the fact that the number of carries you are getting is far lower than it was in the pas

I don't understand why this is surprising: if the number of carries is staying roughly the same (which it is, within like 5-10%) and the typical number of carries an individual back is getting is lower (which it is)... then obviously the pool of players who are getting significant carries is larger. So obviously it's going to be harder to keep your job, because there are more people doing it.

33 What other positions have…

What other positions have had the same changes running backs have? Wide receiver usage has increased, it should be easier to stay a wide receiver. Ditto for tight end receiving. And there's still only 32 QBs out there.

36 cribbing from another sport

I think baseball relievers is the better illustration. Relieving has gotten more effective as you laid fewer innings on your best guy. They found out he and everyone else could throw harder given fewer innings to throw in.

With runners, once they tried it they discovered specialization was the way to go. Especially as passing became increasingly important. Catching the ball and picking up the blitz are pretty different from running with the ball.

And now everyone is fresher, too.

47 I think baseball starters…

I think baseball starters are the better illustration. As in, as they started to use relievers more, the value of a guy who could start like, a billion games a year has gone way down. There's just no point to it.

90 Starters

MLB has had a huge shift in starter use over the past several decades.  Thru yesterday, all 30 MLB teams have a total of 31 complete games pitched.  47 years ago, Catfish Hunter had 30 all by himself.  The last 20 CG season was in 1986 and except for James Shields' 11 in 2011, there's been no double-digit CG seasons this century.  In contrast, on 7/2/1963 42 y.o. Warren Spahn lost a 1-0 game to Juan Marichal when Willie Mays homered in the 16th, both pitchers with CGs (and Spahnnie had a double for his team's only EBH).  Spahn threw 230 pitches that day, and you can count on your fingers the number of starters who had half that many this year.  Back in Spahn's day 90 mph was a real fastball.  Now most teams have a bullpen full of relievers who hit 95-100.  When one is only asked to throw 15 pitches, there's nothing held back.

37 I think durability *has*…

I think durability *has* gone down.

We talk about Derrick Henry being washed. Emmitt Smith ran for 3000 more attempts after reaching the same point in his career that Henry is in his, and Smith reached 370 carries three times -- twice by the time Henry did, and once after. Ditto Payton.

Those guys were outliers, but they didn't use to be wild outliers. And they tend to be above-average at efficiency until late in their careers. Sanders hit 2000 yards in his 9th full season. Payton last hit 1500 yards in his 11th season.

\I didn't realize until just now that Sanders was an All-Pro in every year of his career.

45  We talk about Derrick…

We talk about Derrick Henry being washed. Emmitt Smith ran for 3000 more attempts after reaching the same point in his career that Henry is in his,

Yeah, but Dallas kept using Emmitt Smith even though he was bad. We might've said Smith was washed up in 96 or 97, the same age Henry is! Definitely by 2000.

I just don't think the carry count has much to do with it. I think it's just age.

48 Smith was ok in 96/97 (a few…

Smith was ok in 96/97 (a few slots worse in DVOA than volume, but not awful in either one), bounced back to good in 98/99, and then declined to be washed by 2001. Which is another thing - there's a world in which Henry is hurt last year, bad this year, and then bounces back to be solid or good for a couple more years before declining. It's just that even if that is possible, I'd argue it's much less likely in today's NFL than it was in the 80s/90s, because a team will just move on with a cheaper option rather than gambling that he'll turn it around.

54 Smith was so ludicrously…

Smith was so ludicrously good in 92-95 that even the "bounce back" in 98/99 is actually bad, comparatively.

 I'd argue it's much less likely in today's NFL than it was in the 80s/90s, because a team will just move on with a cheaper option

Yup, this is what I'm saying. I don't think the players are declining faster, it's just teams have no interest in clinging to them. Which is what you would expect when you already have a better option with significant carries.

46 I mean, Smith is for sure an…

I mean, Smith is for sure an outlier. But to counter-cherry pick two examples - Earl Campbell had 5 good years of his first 6, and then was basically done. Erick Dickerson started off with 6 good years, then one ok year, then full decline. (Good here meaning anything from good to great, just for the record. Only looking at longevity here). Henry is at 2 ok, 3 good, 1 ok, and then this year. That doesn't seem all that far off from Campbell to me. And have we forgotten Frank Gore so quickly?

50 Smith's not even really an…

Smith's not even really an outlier. By DYAR he went 16, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 14, 17, 4, 3, 18 (and not worth mentioning). That 4-year streak was from age 23-26 (Smith started young). 

The only way Smith's really an outlier is because his peak was psycho high, but, y'know. Hall of Fame and all that. Pretty much every running back declines in their late 20s. Smith's peak was just so crazy high that even in his decline he was good.

Henry's 28. Plenty of running backs go poof at 28.

55 The list of rushers above…

The list of rushers above 200 was far bigger in the past than it is today. But measuring effectiveness is complicated because stats like DVOA are normalized by year. If everyone is doing the same things inefficiently, it won't look inefficieny by the era. 

Of course, you cant just compare yards per rush in 2022 vs 1978 and make declarations either. I just made the very strict observation that a career length for running backs IS objectively shorter than it was in the past. 

58 I took a look and it's kind…

I took a look and it's kind of fascinating.

There are clearly epochs. 1920-1945 is one. WR stats stabilize from 1945 to 1978. There's a jump from 1979 to 2006 or so where things level out at ~200 YPG. Then there's a jump to around 230 YPG that peaked in 2017 or so and has started to slide as running YPA has gone up. I wonder if that shift isn't defenses getting so light in the box as they commit to stopping the pass that it's becoming advantageous to run again.

70 I probably will try to do an…

I probably will try to do an article on this for next year, but I have a suspicion that if we removed QB runs and just looked at rushing stats in general, we will see a steady decline in rush efficiency over time. 

89 Removing scrambles, sure…

Removing scrambles, sure. But why would you remove QB runs? Designed QB runs and Wildcat plays both are just natural evolutions of the game.

Even then I'd still expect running efficiency to be declining as pass frequency increases, since running plays get polluted with "failed pass" plays.

27 The rookie wage scale could…

The rookie wage scale could also be a factor? If the position has already been significantly devalued, they're probably more willing to churn UDFAs and late round picks at the backup slots over spending marginally more money on a vet

I'd also guess part of it is that, with teams handing out fewer big money second contracts to RBs and less committed to RBs generally, they're more willing to cut loose veteran RBs on second contracts who otherwise would've continued to start into their late 20s/early 30s 

60 It's a weird competition…

It's a weird competition. RBs are absolutely in demand at the NCAA level and are essential to high school success. So right up until that last step, being a RB is in high demand. It's sort of like a Peter Principle, where that last stage doesn't value any of the skills that got you there, but you couldn't have gotten there without those skills.

65 I'm not sure it makes sense…

I'm not sure it makes sense to think of running backs as being a bad choice to go into, though. I mean, yeah, you're not going to get a 10-year $100M contract or anything. But you've got more guys at the low end overall.

Think of it in comparison to quarterback. Yeah, the upside's higher, but why bother even thinking about it? You're not going to get it.

80 Because the guy I really…

Because the guy I really want to be is Chase Daniel.

He has earned $65,000 for every snap taken over the course of his career. Tom Brady is down around $15,000. Daniel has maximized the earnings vs risk trade-off. He's basically the safest, most popular guy in the game, and has gotten wealthy doing it. It's a great gig being the 64th best QB in the league.

38 There is no great news for the Ravens that Dobbins is back

First off, Belichick will make sure that the Ravens have some success running the ball early so that they stay committed to doing something at which they are vastly inept.  Every play that is an RB run is a play that does not involve Lamar Jackson.

Once the Ravens think that they can run, they will return to their 32nd DVOA ranked running game which consists of handing off to a RB who will quickly get smashed by two defenders, Dobbins will have no more luck than any of the other 3 trash bags (Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis, and Justice Hill if you insist on names) that the Ravens have used to date.

Dobbins should remain inactive until both Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle return, at which point, if you can not run, you can not run.

The main difference right now between the Ravens offense and that of Buffalo's is that Buffalo knows that their offense is Josh Allen and does not waste time with too many plays that do not involve Josh Allen.

This is a battle of two hall of fame coaches, and my concern for Belichick tricking the Ravens by using absurd defenses like a two man front like he did as the Giants defensive coordinator vs Buffalo in the Super Bowl are high.



8 Who Are You?

“Carr is a capable quarterback”

Who are you and what have done with Tanier?

17 I am Dutch and have wondered…

I am Dutch and have wondered why the USA  has always taken such a hostile stand against marijuana.

Yet you take opioids like they are candy.

18 Yet you take opioids like…

Yet you take opioids like they are candy.

The $8.3 billion court decision that literally blew up a pharmaceutical company might explain that one. With striking similarity to the 19th century issues referred to in comments above!

87 The Netherlands really gets…

The Netherlands really gets a pass for what they did in Indonesia. The US had to threaten the withdrawal of Marshall Plan funds because they were trying recolonize the country.

They used Japanese soldiers to keep the locals from declaring independence in 1945. It was a weird time.

91 Wow

It’s intensely weird you’d bag on Rodgers for promoting natural psychedelics, yet you’ve clearly never done them if that’s your stance, & his new “peace & love” edicts wouldn't jibe with a snarky writing career, I guess. But maybe steer clear of things you don’t understand…you’re like a 70 year special teams coach wandering into the FO offices wondering WTF is up with all these formulas.

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