Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shame On The Debunkers

The long-awaited (since last week, anyway) fourth episode of "The Debunkers," the fantasy-football podcast featuring myself and Brad Rutta, is now available at

You'll find out why it's titled "Shame on the Debunkers" fast enough. And sorry about the coughing. It's that time of year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bad, Bad Lomas Brown

Many years ago, when one of the authors was editing one of the very first fantasy-sports magazines to grace the planet, he made the seemingly insane proposal that offensive linemen should be drafted onto fantasy teams. Yes, offensive linemen, and linebackers, and while we're at it, why not punters?

The sticking point in such a marvelous idea, of course, is how you measure the effectiveness of an offensive lineman. If a running back can turn nothing into 20, a la Barry Sanders, then the offensive line, in the words of the ol' Duke, bastes in the glory of the running back. If the running back makes three yards out of five, like Darryl Thompson, the line could run Munoz to Mix, tackle to tackle, and those five yards still come out three.

The answer is to look at the averages of all the players who run the ball for a team in a given season, not just the star running back. If you average Barry Sanders' five yards per carry with Touchdown Tommy Vardell's four yards and Cory Schlesinger's 1.8, you get an average of around 3 yards, which isn't that great in the panoply of great rushing years -- even for the Lions, who have had their years rushing and then not.

This approach has its problems, notably this: One of the reasons the Lions ran Barry Sanders 40 times a game was because the alternatives were Schlesinger and Vardell, who posed not quite the breakaway threat of a Dairy Queen. But even so, taking this approach points out an interesting truth about the Barry Sanders-era Lions: They were a team that ran the ball a lot but were not a good running team because they did not have a very good line. 

And that leads us to Lomas Brown. Brown was Barry Sanders' best blocker and made the Pro Bowl enough times for Brown to qualify as a borderline HOFer. But was he really? Sanders was renowned for making something out of nothing, and for there to be nothing there had to be an absence of something, namely holes to run through. The lack of holes to run through is the line's fault, and that means Lomas Brown.

So what we ultimately have with Lomas Brown is someone who was perceived as a very good lineman yet who was not good enough to consistently create the semblance of holes for the best running back in football history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tell Me More, Tell Me More

If the thrill of seeing "Football With 1 Stick Gum" on the printed ... uh, screen is not enough stimulation for your cerebral cortex, check out the fantasy-football podcast featuring F1SG creator Kit Kiefer and his colleague Brad Rutta. The latest installment is available here:

If you play fantasy football this may be the most important 35 minutes you spend all week. Of course, if you play fantasy football that's not saying much.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Faulk + Manning < James + Manning

You look at the one-year teamup of the dynamic talents Marshall Faulk and Peyton Manning and wonder: So how much better would the Colts have been if they had hung on to No. 6 all-time in all-purpose yards instead of dealing him to the Rams for the Draft Picks Known As Mike Peterson and Brad Scioli and parlaying their 3-13 record into Edgerrin James, a/k/a No. 19 all-time in all-purpose yards? Uh, how about not any better?

When Faulk was dealt, he was done with the Colts and vice versa. The team was evolving from Marshall Faulk's Team With Jim Harbaugh, a play-the-plan, improvise-in-open-space, run-first kind of team, to Peyton Manning's Team, a change-it-at-the-line, throw-it-around kind of team, and that just wasn't Faulk's deal. It wasn't that he went all Oprah; his just weren't the right set of talents, so there was nothing to be gained on either side by Faulk sticking it out in Indy.

James came in and caught swing passes and ran one-cut stuff, and that was what Manning needed to complement the slants and quick outs that are the meat of his game. Look at the backs who have filled the halfback chair since Faulk left: James, Dominic Rhodes, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown. It's not like they're Faulk-esque at all. The best you can say about their speed and elusiveness is they have a little wiggle. Otherwise they run like a diesel locomotive: plenty of torque, but if the tracks don't go there they ain't going there. No. 19 was simply a better fit than No. 6 for P-Man's Colts -- and it turned out okay for Faulk, too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Debunk The One You're With

It's with great pleasure that fantasy-football expert Brad Rutta and I announce the birth of our second fantasy-football podcast, available here: You want to know what's so bad about good NFL offenses? You'll find out here. Check it out.