The Case Against Cordarrelle: Postmortem

by Jeff Miller

This article was originally written in April, 2014 to be published on Dynasty League Football. After penning the piece, our excellent publisher (Ken Kelly) and I decided not to beat the issue over the head with another 1111 words (I already dedicated nearly 2000 of them a week prior). The article went in the vault and aside from Ken, the DLF partners, Karl Safchick and myself, it hasn't been read by anybody.

Nearly a year on, I've decided to publish it here. Why? Because I ended up being right and I want to gloat. I'm small, petty, and have a very large (fragile) ego, so this makes me feel pretty good about myself. Having your own website is pretty much an exercise in ego anyway, so why not?

Before reading this follow-up piece, we would suggest you take a look at the original article, “The Case Against Cordarrelle.”

Thanks for reading.

When I penned “The Case Against Cordarrelle”, I knew I’d have to field a number of harsh criticisms and tough questions. As prepared as I was for it, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume and range of the comments. While I did my best to answer each as carefully and concisely as possible, I thought it would be best to write a postmortem piece to address some of the more common refrains.

Missed Message

One of the things that surprised me most was the number of folks who looked past the main point of the article, taking away only that I hate Patterson (which is categorically untrue). In reality, the crux of the column was to relay how egregiously out of whack his price is considering his high risk nature. This brings me to a major point: People seem to be so invested in saying Patterson will either be great or terrible that they lose sight of the fact that no matter what you think of his potential, he is a long way from achieving it. This is a completely inarguable point that even the ardent supporters among the DLF crew all readily admit to. You would do well to follow suit.

The Case Continues

Due to my desire to keep the “Case” article as focused as possible, a number of small bits didn’t make the cut. All of these are criticisms that followed him out of college and throughout 2013:

·         He catches the ball with his body. This leads to more drops than you’d like, especially in traffic or under duress. The actual data from Patterson’s rookie year doesn’t look so bad (three drops on 77 targets), but considering the nature of the vast majority of those targets (bubble screens, etc), that isn’t surprising. This is a clear case where stats do not tell the entire truth.

·         He hasn’t shown the ability to high-point the ball. This is a skill critical to any receiver asked to be a deep threat, which many are suggesting he will be under Norv Turner.

·         Patterson has issues getting a clean release at the line of scrimmage. Some of this is mitigated by the way he is being used, but it is still a significant issue that needs to be addressed.

·         There is a startling lack of big-college/NFL experience. Most successful wide receivers get several years of high level coaching at the FBS level. Patterson had one. It isn’t his fault, but he is starting from well behind the 8 ball.

Another (Unkind) Comparable

The player Patterson reminds me of most from a pure skills standpoint isn’t Percy Harvin. To me, his explosiveness, vision, open field ability, and lack of polish closely resembles Devin Hester. Of course there is a significant size disparity, but Patterson actually plays smaller than he is (see the bullet points above). You can scoff at this comp all you want, but the fact is Hester ran faster and had a higher vertical. He was, and still is, raw and undeveloped as a pass catcher, and as the most prolific return man in history, the former Bear has proven his ability with the ball in his hands. Sounds a lot like Patterson, no?

Despite all of this, Hester never developed into much of a wide receiver. You may point to his offensive coordinators and how Norv Turner trumps them all, and that is a very fair point. On the other hand, as somebody who has seen every game of Hester’s career, I can tell you they force fed him the ball on quick slants, bubble screens, and hand offs to the point of detriment to the offense. Yet he had no fantasy success to show for it.

Can Patterson develop beyond what Hester was able to? Of course. But so many of you continue to beat the drum of his athleticism as though it alone will be enough to make him a fantasy asset. I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.

Comments and Criticisms

The comments largely fell into one of a few categories. My replies follow.

1.       Route running can be taught: Of course it can. In equal measure, it isn’t always learned. Most of the time a rookie receiver with poor route running performed poorly in his rookie year and ends up with a fair market value as a result. In this case, Patterson had a mixed 2013 but is still being treated as an elite player. The assumption he will learn is already built into his price. It makes zero sense.

2.       Norv Turner will be Patterson’s savior: This shows people chose to either ignore or disregard the statistics I presented. How you could look at Turner’s track record with receivers and come away with such blind optimism is a mystery I cannot solve.

Beyond that, the assumption Turner will use him as the X receiver/deep threat is based on nothing but blind faith. We have zero evidence Patterson can fill this role or that Turner wants him to. Assuming it will happen is a high risk proposition.

3.       You are crazy man, I have Patterson as a WR3 and will keep him there: I said he is my WR28, which puts him smack-dab in WR3 territory. I wouldn’t start him as one this season, but that is what I think he will become. Also, if you have him as your WR3 and somebody will give you a WR1 price for him, why wouldn’t you do that deal? Am I missing something?

4.       His athleticism is so transcendent the Vikings have to build around him: First of all, no it isn’t. Plenty of guys past and present are big, fast, and have quick feet. We all need to stop pretending he is the Viking God of Athleticism. Secondly, Norv is smart enough not to build around a player he no doubt knows isn’t ready for it. If he is half the coach I think he is, Turner will bring Patterson along slowly, not over-investing in the youngster as the focal point of the offense.

The Final Word on CP

It is important to remember that for all the players before Patterson who were called wide receivers without actually being one, none have ever ended up as a top player. Harvin had one season of significant results, but other than that, the cupboard is bare. If you still think his ability in conjunction with his coach is enough to launch him into the stratosphere, then good on ya! Me? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Is Tate Golden in Detroit?

by Jeff Miller

I took five minutes out of my morning to do a quick bit of math on Golden Tate and his prospects for success in Detroit. The main goal of the exercise was to determine an achievable ceiling for Tate. My findings aren't revolutionary by any means, but they are at least worth considering.

I started out by calculating Tate's fantasy points per target for his career. (I excluded his rookie year, as I wanted a representative sample of his current skill.) With that figure in hand, I looked at the box score for every Lion's game in 2013 to get an idea of how many times their WR2 was targeted. What we end up with is 115 targets. At Tate's rate of 1.94 points per, our speculative total is 223 fantasy points, or mid-low end WR2 territory. 

This assumes a lot of things:

  1. That Tate's efficiency, which would rank him among the top 10-12 in the league, doesn't see a fall off in Detroit. 
  2. That the target number doesn't change much despite Detroit having a new coaching regime and Tate being worlds better than anything the Lions had opposite Calvin Johnson last year. 
  3. That Detroit doesn't take another wide receiver early in the May draft. 

But you know what they say about assumptions...

In digging around with target numbers a bit more, 135 seems to be about the high water mark for non-first option receivers. If Detroit continues to throw as much as they have in years past, I could see Tate approaching that. Certainly, the 115 I speculated on earlier is more than reasonable.

What I can't see is him maintaining the level of efficiency he enjoyed with Seattle. There is a lot of talk about how efficient Tate was last year with his targets, etc. and that is all well and good, but Russell Wilson was the fifth most efficient QB in terms of fantasy points per attempt. Matt Stafford ranked 15th.* 

All of this is a long winded way of saying Tate's reasonably achievable upside is likely in the WR 16-18 territory. The good news is that due to the volume of passes he is likely to see, his floor is very high. Tate currently sits as my 31st ranked receiver. I'm not yet sure if I plan to change that, but if I do, it would be to move him up only a handful of spots.


*Sample includes 2013's top 32 quarterbacks as determined by total passing fantasy points (rushing statistics were excluded).



The Bills of Buffalo

by Jeff Miller

While the Chicago Bears have been first in my heart as long as I can recall, it was hard not to be a Buffalo Bills fan growing up. Beyond their prolific offense, and the likes of Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett on defense, they were great in Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB). I can't even tell you how many hours of my youth were spent racking up the stats with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. 

Unfortunately, the last couple weeks have been difficult for those of us who have a soft spot for the Bills. As anybody who pays attention knows, Jim Kelly is once again battling cancer. Even scarier, this morning his wife has been quoted as saying the disease is rather aggressive. The former QB is a personal hero of mine not just for what he did on the field or for the thousands of TD's we threw together on TSB, but because of how he has conducted him self off the field. His charitable efforts in the battle against Krabbe Disease are second to none. 

On top of Kelly's health, news has just come out that the Bill's forever owner, Ralph Wilson has passed away. Chris Berman sums it up rather well here, but Wilson was not only integral to the success of the NFL, but, more importantly, served our country in World War Two. 95 years old at the time of his death, Wilson got to live a long, amazing life, but that doesn't make me any less sad to see him leave us.

Here is to hoping that the Bills remain in Buffalo, that Wilson's family finds strength in this time of grief, and that Jim Kelly beats cancer for good. After all, nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

How to Be a Better Person, Win Twitter, and Make Friends

by Jeff Miller

Eight months ago I had about 175 followers. They were mostly comprised of poker people, friends, and the occasional porn bot. After spending the past 250 or so days writing about fantasy football on the reg, my followership has grown exponentially. As somebody fairly new to being kinda mildly popularish (but not really) on Twitter, I have made one major observation: People sure can suck. 

Fortunately for all of you, I am going to put my college education (BA in Intrapersonal Communications) to work for the first time in a long time and lay out 25 steps to being a better person, winning Twitter, and making friends.

  1. If you ask somebody for advice/their opinion, you forfeit your right to argue with what they say. If you don't agree, hey, no worries. Say thank you and move on. 
  2. The best way to win a Twitter argument is not to have one.
  3. Having a large number of followers does not give you the right to be a douchebag.
  4. Having more followers than somebody doesn't make you better, smarter, or more successful than them. Twitter is not a dick size contest. Treating it like one makes you a shitty person. Don't be a shitty person. 
  5. Nobody wants to be continually pounded on by those who disagree. You don't, I don't, nobody does. Remember this before you click the Tweet button.
  6. It is perfectly acceptable, healthy even, to disagree with somebody. Just do it nicely, make your point, and let it go. Not every disagreement needs to be an argument.
  7. Unless you are willing to wait months/years for the result, It is almost always impossible to tell who is right when it comes to anything in fantasy football. This is something everybody would do well to keep in mind.
  8. It is OK to be wrong.
  9. It is OK to admit you are wrong.
  10. If you don't admit it when you are wrong, you look like an asshole.
  11. Nobody likes assholes.
  12. If somebody says something you don't agree with, it doesn't make them stupid or wrong. Don't treat them like it does.
  13. If somebody actually turns out to be stupid and wrong, don't treat them like crap. Doing so won't make them smarter, but it will make you a bully.
  14. It is OK to not be part of group-think. Remember, Tom Brady was a sixth round pick. Also remember most sixth round picks are not Tom Brady.
  15. No matter how good you are (or think you are) at writing, breaking down film, or analyzing stats, you are not right often enough to be condescending or arrogant. The batting average of the best fantasy football analyst is much closer to Ty Cobb's than John Paciorek's
  16. If you judge a fantasy writer/analyst on who they were right or wrong about, you are going about it the wrong way. Judge us on our method, on how we come to our conclusions. There is way too much variance, way too many variables, and not a big enough sample to do it any other way.
  17. Be honest with your followers, those who you follow, and yourself. 
  18. If you follow somebody and they don't follow you back, that's OK. 
  19. If somebody unfollows you, it is because they didn't like what you had to say, not because they are a jerk. Instead of being upset, just tweet better/care who follows you less. 
  20. No matter how good your feed is, some people won't like it. That's OK. Don't take it personally.
  21. Do your best to acknowledge your followers. They are taking time out of their lives to give a damn what you have to say. That's really awesome. Appreciate it.
  22. Do your best to be respectful to the people you follow. They are taking time out of their day to help/reply to you. That's really awesome. Appreciate it.
  23. Don't feed trolls.
  24. Every time you tweet, even if it ends up being wrong or offensive or anything of the sort, you need to own it. Your words represent you. They are you. Own them.
  25. Fantasy Football is fun. Most of us either don't get paid or get paid very little. We do it because we love it. Remember that at all times.

I am not perfect. Just last week I called a well known scribe a rather unflattering name. It doesn't matter what he said or what rule(s) he broke. I should have done better. I should have just followed rule 23 and blocked him. Please, learn from my mistake. Learn from your mistakes. Be a better person, win Twitter, and make friends.

If you want to chat about this blog, my rankings, or anything else, follow me @FFJeffM on Twitter.