They say seeing is believing, but in the case of coach quotables and reporter observations from June minicamps and OTAs , it can also be downright deceiving.
This time each year, those watching or calling the shots often spout off ridiculous claims. This running back is destined for great things. That receiver has the look of an All-Pro. The new system is sure to elevate Player X’s production to stratospheric heights.
Needless to say, others didn't pan out. Last year, fantasy players were seduced by wild declarations regarding David Wilson, Montee Ball and C.J. Spiller, the latter whose offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett boasted would touch the ball “until he throws up.” If 235 grips is the puke-induction level, 18 other rushers called “Earl” a season ago, a full-blown epidemic.
Preseason, those who gazed at the rushing trio’s glowing potential were left completely smitten. Sadly, though, none finished inside the RB top-24. And the threesome wasn't the only horror story …
Based on years of scientific research studying hollow words from politicians, the pundits who cover them, Bigfoot hunters, palm readers, NFL Draft 'insiders,' Mike Shanahan and your drunk Pop Pop, I present to you the BS Scale, a measurement designed to separate the meaningful from the meaningless. On a 1-5 line, one represents unfabricated truth, five 100-percent pure rubbish.
Robert Griffin III, Was, QB (Current ADP: 72.9, QB8)
Buzzy Quote (From USA Today NFL writer Jim Corbett): “RG3 looks like a different QB, effortless in his drops and throwing mechanics without that ball and chain knee brace.”
BS Scale says … 1 ... News of a revitalized RGIII is entirely believable. Unhindered by a bulky knee brace and obvious physical handicaps two seasons ago, he was arguably the most dynamic, multidimensional passer in the game. That year, his 4,044 combined yards (833 rushing) and 27 total touchdowns instantly earned him superstar status in fantasy circles, landing him inside the QB top-five in per game average. Now out from under the Shanahans and unencumbered mechanically this offseason, Griffin is sure to bounce back.
Jay Gruden has made it well known he'll let RGIII be RGIII, permitting him to extend plays and tuck-and-run on his own volition. That allowance along with the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts should unleash his statistical beast. Recall last fall, outside Pierre Garcon and, for eight games, Jordan Reed, he had no reliable receivers, especially deep. Jackson's presence will fix that. Recall in 2013, the QB was a ghastly 12-for-46 on pass attempts beyond 20 yards, awful when compared to his rookie campaign (18-for-36).
Seemingly thrilled with Gruden's system (Sidebar: He should be after what Andy Dalton achieved in it last year) and upgraded receiving corps, RGIII, who still finished tied with Matt Ryan for No. 12 in fantasy points per game last year, is the reason why passing on the QB top tier is a sane strategy. Going on average at No. 73.2 overall according to Fantasy Football Calculator (QB8), he's a steal in the middle rounds. I fully expect him to outproduce Tom Brady, Nick Foles and Ryan this year, flirting with the position's top-five.
Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RB (Current ADP: 7.4, RB6)
Buzzy Quote (From ESPN 'Hawks reporter Terry Blount): "We are going to be running back by committee. We really like what Christine Michael is doing right now." – Seahawks offensive coordinator, Darren Bevell
BS Scale says … 4 ... Prior to football, Bevell must have sold fraudulent stocks alongside Jordan Belfort at Stratton Oakmont. Do not take his words at face value.
Like the OC, Pete Carroll has openly expressed his desire to establish an RBBC, but the exact distribution of carries remain unknown. Based on the smoke, it's safe to assume some sort of backfield split will be implemented, however, downgrading Marshawn Lynch's value significantly in light of the admissions would be a silly move. As 'Hawks insider Bob Condotta recently said, Beast Mode will "continue to be the Chairman of the Board." I completely agree.
Lynch is coming off an impressive 1,573 combined yard, 15-TD, Lombardi-hoisting season, a year in which he averaged 21 touches per game and forced a league-high 86 missed tackles. Though on the backside of his prime, it seems implausible the 'Hawks staff will slice off a large chunk of his workload. Michael, who some have compared to Adrian Peterson, offers intriguing upside, but until he resolves his issues in pass protection, he's nothing more than a change-of-pace 6-8 touch per game rusher. Additionally, Robert Turbin, who's looked fantastic in spurts, could net roughly the same number of touches, functioning as the third-down back. Even if Michael and Turbin totaled the proposed maximum, which is unlikely, Lynch would still compile 15-plus touches per game and presumably all goal-line work. Recall Seattle ran the rock 31.8 times per game last fall. Ball control will continue to be a point of emphasis. For that reason, I'm convinced he'll again receive at least 18-20 touches on a regular basis and be one of the virtual game's true consistency kings.
If anything, the above tidbit may be enough ammunition to sway owners to pass on Lynch when deciding between him or Lacy/Ball/Bell in the bottom half of Round 1 in 12-team leagues, particularly PPR. Still, there's no way he should slip beyond pick No. 10 overall in any format. Another 300 touches, 1,300 total yards with double-digit TDs are practically a foregone conclusion.
Doug Martin, TB, RB (Current ADP: 17.7, RB11)
Buzzy Quote (From the Tampa Tribune): When asked about his backfield philosophy, “I think you have to alternate. I don’t believe that one back can carry the load. It’s just too physical. I think you probably need to have two to three guys to bring different things to the table.” – Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford
BS Scale says … 2 ... Tedford isn't packing a shovel here. His track-record while head coach at Cal speaks for itself. The man has never been 100-percent committed to a one-back system. During his 11-year tenure in Berkeley, only Marshawn and J.J. Arrington exceeded 20 touches per game in a season. And they each only did it once. In fact, as his stay in NorCal dragged, he become more and more committed to an RBBC, rotating current and former NFL talents Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen and C.J. Anderson.
Martin is a bit of an enigma. Everyone recalls his utter annihilation of Oakland as a rookie (272 total yards, 4 TDs), but outside that standout performance, he scored multiple TDs in a game only two other times (in 23 games). Most worrisome, prior to succumbing to a shoulder injury, he was in the midst of a sophomore slump last year. According to Pro Football Focus, he experienced dramatic drop-offs in elusive rating ('12: 58.2, '13: 20.2) and breakaway percentage (33.1, 26.1). His YPC also fell off the cliff ('12: 4.56, '13: 3.59). Some of that was a function of the offensive line, Dictator Schiano and changeover at QB, but the declines are still alarming.
Tampa's offense, as a whole, is in a much healthier state. The additions of Josh McCown and Mike Evans along with the return of Vincent Jackson and Tim Wright, should greatly assist the ground game. However, the staff has designs for rookie Charles Sims to contribute often in the pass game. Mike James or Bobby Rainey, who both played brilliantly at times last fall, will also carve out a role, meaning Martin may only tally 14-16 touches per game in what should be a pass-heavy offense. Perceived as a back-end RB1 in initial 12-team drafts, he's more mid-range RB2 material. And that's probably optimistic.
Arian Foster, Hou, RB (Current ADP: 11.1, RB7)
Buzzy Quote (From CSN Houston): “In the past, we’ve had guys like Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead in this offense that have filled those types of roles, Arian will be able to do that and more.” – Texans head coach, Bill O'Brien
BS Scale says … 1 ... O'Brien isn't blowing smoke, folks. Foster, who participated fully in Houston's minicamp a couple weeks ago, is about to go on the warpath. Yes his high odometer reading combined with back/hamstrings issues in the recent past are disconcerting, but the perceived volume is awfully appealing. As O'Brien has stressed this offseason, he envisions Foster as the ultimate multi-purpose machine. The rusher is expected to be a fixture on early downs and in the pass game, only occasionally receiving a breather from back-up Andre Brown.
If, and I realize that's a gigantic IF, his body holds up, the former rush king is a near lock for 325-plus touches, with as many as 50-70 of those coming through the air. One year removed from earning second prize among fantasy RBs, the soon-to-be 28-year-old has reasonable odds of leading the league in touches and mirroring his production from 2010 (326-1614-16, 66-604-2). Keep in mind Houston, despite its disastrous 2013, remained one of the finer run-blocking teams in the league, ranking inside the top-10 in the category per PFF.
Creeping up early draft boards, he's a high-end Round 2 pick in 12-team drafts who's undoubtedly worth the risk.
Andre Ellington, Ari, RB (Current ADP: 31.1, RB17)
Buzzy Quote (From Cards insider Mike Jureki): “Bruce Arians mentioned Andre Ellington is #1 back and expects him to get 25-30 touches per game.”
BS Scale says … 5 ... Baloney. Hogwash. Poppycock. Now matter what adjective one uses, it applies to Arians. The coach's response was a classic step-off-bro response. After Ellington busted out for 154 rushing yards and a TD on 15 carries against Atlanta Week 8, he fielded an incessant line of questions about the young back's light workload, a weekly inquisition which occurred the rest of last season. When the subject was again broached last month, Arians, in a moment of sarcastic acceptance, gave the media and fanbase exactly what they wanted. If you truly believe a 5-foot-9, 199-pound running back is going to shoulder 400-plus touches, I know a wealthy Nigerian prince you should contact.
Make no mistake, Ellington was radiant with the ball in his hands last year. He netted 6.51 yards per touch, totaled 15 runs of 20-plus yards, notched the highest breakaway percentage among eligible RBs (47.9) and caused defenders to whiff nearly 20-percent of the time, almost the same amount as Adrian Peterson. With Rashard Mendenhall now searching for the meaning of life and without much competition for touches, he should see a substantial spike in per game workload. However, 25-30 grips per game is farfetched. Roughly 12-14 carries with 4-6 receptions per game is a more realistic projection. View him as a top-flight RB2 in PPR, similar to Reggie Bush and Giovani Bernard, but don't overpay for the supposed vigorous workload.
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