Tuesday, August 30, 2011

michael vick creates jobs

So the news today is Michael Vick became the only player in NFL history to sign a second $100 million contract when he did so with the Eagles. Under the terms of the deal, Vick will receive $40 million guaranteed as part of the six-year contract.

I've always been a fan of Vick. He has made some horrible mistakes but he has also paid dearly for those mistakes. America loves a good redemption story and fell further and faster nor rose higher as quickly as Michael Vick has over the past few years. The Michael Vick experience has truly been a roller coaster ride just as his famous commercial for Nike years ago oddly prophesied.

But I, for one, am glad to see him make good on his massive amounts of talent and realize the potential that an athlete and a quarterback can have for an NFL franchise. I'll be rooting for him to play well this year and lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs. And the only people happier than those named Vick and me are his creditors. It's payday, baby! If there's anything we know about Michael Vick and money, it's that he likes to spend it. He's a job creating machine! Michael Vick for President, anyone?

Check out Dan Graziano's post for ESPN on the marriage between Vick and Eagles for more insight.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Since the previous owner of this column is pretty much a deadbeat ne'er-do-well stuck in a Peter Pan Neverland of grad school where he never actually finishes and therefore never has to grow up to real-life responsibilities (like multi-tasking), I decided to do his column for him this preseason. (Seriously, man, I'm in the middle of complex litigation likely to go to the Supreme Court. You have to read for class. Priorities.) As always, the numbers are unquestionable and the opinions are my own. Enjoy.

40 acres and a mule

Keepers: Arian Foster (3), Matt Ryan (11)
Leftover draft cash: $0.25
Preseason Trades: Traded away 2nd round pick for Foster, flipped picks in rounds 3, 8, 12, and 13/15 with VZ
Preseason grade: D
Odds to win 2011 championship: 50 to 1

A.J. won the Arian Foster sweepstakes but at what cost? He gave away a second round pick to add a third round keeper leaving him with the first pick in draft but not another pick until the #40 selection overall. A lot of talent will come off the board between A.J.’s first two picks and leave his team very shallow for top talent. Although I sympathize with the feeling that having a top RB is the way to start a season, a mananger can only give up so much in the preseason through a trade without crippling their draft. A.J. just hasn’t found the right balance yet. He secured his fate as he can build a decent team around Foster but won’t be able to construct a champion with middle round talent.

black is for sunday

Keeper: Felix Jones (9)
Leftover draft cash: $2.88
Preseason trades: Swapped picks in rounds 3 and 4 with Jeff
Preseason grade: C-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 35 to 1

With $2.88, no manager will have more money headed into 2012 than Brent. And he’ll need it because it looks like this team is already playing for next year. After narrowly missing out on trades for McFadden/Jackson and Foster, Brent was left with few options for keeper picks on his own team. Wisely, he avoided the mistake of keeping a wide receiver at a high price for little round value but Felix Jones is not the kind of back you can build a team around. Not ending up with Foster left him in an odd situation in his trade with Jeff but the talent in rounds 3 and 4 is interchangeable enough to not do damage. If I was to give any advice to this manager, it would be draft with a long term perspective because it could be a while before this team’s Sundays are anything but black.

the icon

Keepers: Michael Turner (4), Philip Rivers (9)
Leftover draft cash: $0
Preseason trades: Swapped a round 6 pick with Umphlett for a round 9 pick to get Rivers
Preseason grade: B
Odds to win 2011 championship: 25 to 1

Overbay didn’t do anything wrong with his preseason. In fact, he obtained a very good QB at a very good value and didn’t have to sell his draft to do it. (A.J. should be taking notes for his next trade moves.) But if you’re going to spend all your money, is Michael Turner going to be the workhorse to pull you through to a championship? I’m just not sure that you can bank on that. So this manager did about the best he could with the options in front of him but he didn’t get very creative. Later this season, that lack of creativity could come back to cost him.

Jerry’s Belt Buckle

Keepers: Adrian Peterson (1), Matt Forte (6)
Leftover draft cash: $0.88
Preseason trades: Picked up a round 6 pick and Forte in the Rivers trade with Overbay, gave up a 3rd rounder to get Peterson, went mad scientist to pick up 4 consecutive picks at the round 7/8 turn
Preseason grade: B-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 20 to 1

Umphlett spent a lot of money this preseason. I’m just not sure he got enough bang for his buck. Peterson and Forte are good building blocks to a contender, however giving up every pick between pick #11 and pick #50 is not a recipe for success. It’s like this manager wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to spend big, get all of his top talent, then find steals in the middle rounds to build toward next year. If you’re going to sell out to win now then focus on one thing: winning now. Like George W. Bush in the 2000s, all that spending may have fed a booming trade economy today, but what will he have to show for it tomorrow? By the time we get to his four consecutive picks, Umphlett will be looking for the fantasy equivalent of a stimulus package but his team will already be shovel ready.

Phoenix Rises

Keepers: Jamaal Charles (2), Austin Collie (15)
Leftover draft cash: $1.62
Preseason trades: None
Preseason grade: B
Odds to win 2011 championship: 15 to 1

Brandon was able to keep his favorite player from last year’s team (albeit not at the greatest round value) and his greatest steal from last year’s draft. Unfortunately, while Charles’ star seems to be on the rise (with everyone other than Todd Haley, that is), Collie is a little worse for the wear from last year. Even if Manning comes back and the Colts offense kicks it into high gear again, Collie is one concussion away from missing serious time. After his problems last year, the Colts and the NFL will be monitoring him closely. (BTW, between Addai, Dallas Clark, and Collie, what is the over/under side bet on Colts offensive concussions this year? I think I will set it at 4 and take the over.) I like Brandon’s patience sticking with his players and not trying to get too cute and screw up his draft. Certainly, he would have liked to trade Roddy White but he didn’t get the offer he wanted so he threw him back in the pool. Now he has a chance to build his first champion since 2005. His championship clock is ticking louder than Norris’ biological one at this point.


Keepers: Ray Rice (4)
Leftover draft cash: $1.75
Preseason trades: Swapped round 3 and 4 with Brent, swapped with Umphlett to get back into round 4
Preseason grade: B+
Odds to win 2011 championship: 12 to 1

I liked Jeff’s moves this preseason. He improved his stock in rounds that mattered. He cut ties with dead weight (*cough* DeAngelo Williams) He didn’t overreach. He built around a solid player and he trusted his ability to identify talent on draft day as he did last year with Hakeem Nicks and others. He also saved some money for Ray Rice’s last keeper eligible year next year. Last season, I said that Jeff had more pressure than anyone to build a good team on draft day. This year, he may have less pressure than anyone and that could work to his advantage. If he can avoid the injuries that plagued his team last year, Jeff’s year may still be arriving… just one year late.


Keepers: Darren McFadden (9), Vincent Jackson (10)
Leftover draft cash: $2.13
Preseason trades: Traded picks in round 5 and 6 to get McFadden and Jackson
Preseason grade: A-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 11 to 1

Billy came out swinging early and often in the preseason trading period and it worked for him. Not only did he grab a RB and WR with massive upsides but he got a steal before the market priced him out of it. An argument can be made that no one is getting more value for his keeper picks than this manager. He won’t realize the full value this year but giving up two middle round picks is the next best thing. He also saved enough money to add another player to his keeper list for next year. showmedamoney! May not bring back the plaque this December but with these keeper picks, he could very well be a factor for many Decembers to come.

K Rabbits

Keepers: Aaron Rodgers (1)
Leftover draft cash: $1
Preseason trades: Traded keeper players for picks in round 3, 5, and 6
Preseason grade: C
Odds to win 2011 championship: 10 to 1

Well, he finally did it. Kris Norris finally consummated his man crush on Aaron Rodgers this preseason. Eat your heart out, Rex Grossman. Like a jealous lover, Kris abolished all of his other suitors in favor of his one true love. And I would argue it was not his shrewdest move. I would have kept McFadden and Jackson for myself. No one could have gotten more value for them or set themselves up for greater success going forward. Not to mention the fact, Kris could have picked higher in the first round and hoped that Rodgers fell to him anyway. That would have been a solid start to a great team. As it stands, Norris now relies on his drafting prowess to pick up the value he needs in rounds 3-6 to build a champion around his prized QB. Yeah, he’ll crumble faster than a lawn chair during last week’s earthquake.

The Institute

Keepers: LeSean McCoy (9), Rashard Mendenhall (11), Percy Harvin (12)
Leftover draft cash: $0.25
Preseason trades: Hoodwinked A.J. into a better 3rd round pick for God only knows the reason
Preseason grade: A
Odds to win 2011 championship: 13 to 2

New rule proposal for next year: A.J. can only make 2 trades per preseason and each move must be approved by a nonpartisan panel of experts. Someone has to step in to be the nanny state government and protect this guy from himself. Most of VZ’s good preseason work happened not this year but last as he grabbed the players he wanted and even got an exception written into the rules so he could continue to keep them where he wanted to. Now the pressure is on to capitalize as McCoy and Mendenhall are in their primes, the focal point of their respective team’s running games, and their keeper contracts are quickly dwindling. If not now then when for VZ? Now manager has a higher bar to clear to be considered successful this year. The Eagles of this fantasy league. Anything less than a championship is a failure for this squad.

The Commish

Keepers: Chris Johnson (7), Santonio Holmes (11)
Leftover draft cash: $1.00
Preseason trades: Traded Foster for a 2nd round pick
Preseason grade: A+
Odds to win 2011 championship: 5 to 1

How would the two-time defending champion be anything other than here? Much emotional turmoil surrounded this squad in the preseason as Jimmy really struggled with his decision about Chris Johnson in light of his holdout. But like a saavy veteran, The Commish held his ground, didn’t let an arbitrary keeper deadline freak him out, and didn’t reach for the panic button. Jimmy knows his best advantage is the value he gets for CJ…SignToday in the 7th round. He drafted the guy to get him three championships, not two and if he gets the job done this year, nothing will ever have been as impressive. Still, even if The Commish finds himself in a better position than he did last year, he’ll need to be. The rest of the league is nipping at his heels even more than it has been before.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

i have maryland pride

Some people are touting Torrey Smith as a potential sleeper WR out of Baltimore this year. A hometown boy (Smith went to college at the University of Maryland) trying to make good always makes for a good story. What also makes for a good story is a grown man freaking out over a sudden earthquake.

I'm with you, Torrey. Us East Coasters aren't prepared for this nonsense. But, hey, he's on my sleeper list after showing that speed. That dude skiddadled.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

btn #502

The conclusion of my conversation with the icon includes discussion of our favorite players from a fantasy standpoint as well as speculation on preseason trades and keeper implications in this part 2 of 2 podcasts.

btn #501

The icon joins me to discuss nfl news of the day, preseason college and nfl story lines, and sports team ownership both fantasy and real in this part 1 of 2 podcasts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

dollars and sense

Two interesting articles I came across today regarding sports team ownership as business. I'll post some quotes from them here as I will probably touch on the idea in this week's podcast.

First, Malcolm Gladwell's introductory piece from Grantland discusses the value of sports ownership beyond what can be measured on paper in the context of the NBA lockout.

...Forbes magazine annually estimates the value of every professional franchise, based on standard financial metrics like operating expenses, ticket sales, revenue, and physical assets like stadiums. When sports teams change hands, however, the actual sales price is invariably higher. Forbes valued the Detroit Pistons at $360 million. They just sold for $420 million. Forbes valued the Wizards at $322 million. They just sold for $551 million. Forbes said that the Warriors were worth $363 million. They just sold for $450 million. There are a number of reasons why the Forbes number is consistently too low. The simplest is that Forbes is evaluating franchises strictly as businesses. But they are being bought by people who care passionately about sports — and the $90 million premium that the Warriors' new owners were willing to pay represents the psychic benefit of owning a sports team. If that seems like a lot, it shouldn't. There aren't many NBA franchises out there, and they are very beautiful.

The big difference between art and sports, of course, is that art collectors are honest about psychic benefits. They do not wake up one day, pretend that looking at a Van Gogh leaves them cold, and demand a $27 million refund from their art dealer. But that is exactly what the NBA owners are doing. They are indulging in the fantasy that what they run are ordinary businesses — when they never were. And they are asking us to believe that these "businesses" lose money. But of course an owner is only losing money if he values the psychic benefits of owning an NBA franchise at zero — and if you value psychic benefits at zero, then you shouldn't own an NBA franchise in the first place. You should sell your "business" — at which is sure to be a healthy premium — to someone who actually likes basketball. ...

Next, Gregg Easterbrook of writes that sometimes making the best business decision as a team owner leads to bad outcomes for players and fans.

...According to a financial officer for an NFL team, after ticket price, concessions and parking are added up, and then the visitor's share, overhead and taxes are deducted, each sold home seat represents around $30 in profit. This jibes with the numbers reported by Green Bay, the sole NFL club that discloses financial data. For 2010, the Packers sold 566,362 tickets and reported an operating profit of $10 million -- about $18 per occupied seat. The Packers' expenses were high in 2010, as they appeared in four road playoff games. Had they not, the profit per seat would have risen to $25 or $30.

The $30 estimate is a simplified number, but suppose it's roughly accurate. That suggests the 2010 attendance leader, Dallas, had a $21 million profit on seat sales, while 2010's worst-drawing team, Oakland, had a ticket profit of $11 million. That's a $10 million swing between the best case and the worst case for filling the stadium. Because most teams are in the middle of that calculation, going all-out to win with player and coaching salaries will add considerably less than $10 million in profit on packing the stadium. Contrast that with not spending up to the cap, which can add $20 million to $30 million to the bottom line. If your first goal is financial results, losing cheap can look a lot sweeter than winning expensive.

When this is taken into account, seeming nonsense suddenly makes sense. The Bengals, a low-spending team, are refusing to trade Carson Palmer, who says he retired but actually wants out of the Queen City. What's the point of getting nothing for Palmer? The point is to shed Palmer's large salary while creating an excuse for another bad season. When in this situation, teams with winning mindsets shrug and trade the unhappy star for whatever they can get -- think Green Bay with Brett Favre or Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb. Cincinnati management does not make winning its first priority. Losing cheap is fine, and getting nothing for Palmer generates a nifty excuse for a weak 2011 season. ...

Check out the full stories at the links above, feel free to offer your comments below, and tune into the podcast this week for a discussion of the unmeasurable benefits of team ownership in real life and fantasy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

butch davis firing by the numbers

A fairly prominent, North Carolina-based political polling company I follow and respect did a survey of Carolina fans this week to gauge the level of support for Butch Davis and Holden Thorp after the ugly recent episode at UNC. Judge for yourselves what you think of the poll's accuracy and methodology but it has left me to conclude one thing. I and most other fans I know are among the "hardcore" set and we are the definite outliers when it comes to UNC football.

In the two weeks since Butch Davis' firing as UNC football coach there's been endless debate about what Tar Heel nation really thinks about the decision and the direction of the program. Here are the results of our scientific poll conducted over the weekend of self described UNC fans:

-UNC fans think that Butch Davis did a good job as coach, but they still support his firing. There's no doubt that Davis got the team headed in the right direction on the field after the dark days of the Carl Torbush and John Bunting years and Tar Heel partisans appreciate him for it. 41% approve of the job he did as coach to only 21% disapproving, with 39% not taking a side. Those describing themselves as 'hardcore' UNC fans are particularly supportive of the job Davis did with 65% approving and only 19% disapproving.

Despite the on field success though 36% of fans support Davis' firing with 27% opposed and 37% having no opinion. UNC alumni are particularly supportive of the decision, agreeing with it by a 50/32 margin. There is a significant divide though based on respondents' level of fandom. Those describing themselves as 'hardcore' fans disagree with Davis' firing by a 44/40 margin. They only account for 22% of the fan base though and those describing themselves as moderately big UNC fans (42/27) and casual ones (26/18) both support the firing.

-UNC fans think that Holden Thorp is doing a good job as Chancellor and should stay in the job...but they also think he's done a poor job handling the football team. The voices calling for Thorp's ouster are more loud than they are numerous. 31% of UNC fans think Thorp is doing a good overall to 19% who dissent with 50% offering no opinion. And 32% think he should continue as Chancellor to 23% who think he should resign or be fired with 45% unsure. Alumni are particularly supportive of Thorp. They give him good marks for the job he's doing by a 53/24 margin and believe he should stay on by a 55/20 spread. Even though they disagree with the decision to fire
Davis, even 'hardcore' fans give Thorp a 40/29 overall approval and think he should keep his position 40/34.

Despite the overall support make no mistake though- UNC backers think Thorp has handled the football situation very poorly. Only 20% give positive marks on that front to 35% who think he's done a bad job. Alumni (31/37) and non-Alumni (17/35) alike are unhappy with his football related leadership and 'hardcore' fans (24/56) are particularly displeased. The Athletic Director hire is going to be huge for Thorp given these numbers- he has to hire someone who has credibility in the football arena because right now folks don't trust South Building on that front. ...
Click here for the full post...

Monday, August 8, 2011

nihilism and dog ownership

Mostly just because it happens so infrequently, I had to share a diamond in the rough found by one Kris Norris. This weekend, he pointed toward a new FX comedy series named Wilfred. The first episode is embedded below and you can catch up on them via Hulu. I recommend you do. Telling you the premise will likely only lessen the possiblity you will actually watch it, but basically, it starts with a guy who feels trapped in his corporate existence but finds meaning in nihilism and dog ownership. And it's kind of a love story. So while A.J. is DVRing Jersey Shore, you can be watching Wilfred and realizing that Kris can't be wrong about everything.

Friday, August 5, 2011

making it: is the hall of fame good or bad for a player's post-career legend?

There is no living writer I read, study, or emulate more than Chuck Klosterman. His contrarian-type thoughts and clever writing style make him the crown jewel of Bill Simmons' new Grantland project. (And, seriously, if you don't have that site bookmarked by now, what are you doing with your life.) Klosterman is the best kind of sports writer because he's not really a sports writer. He's a guy with an interesting perspective on just about every topic who happens to enjoy sports and has opinions on their importance to our culture as a whole. (Plus, he uses footnotes incredibly well.) In his latest piece for Grantland, he discusses the importance of Halls of Fame and what making or not making it means for the post-career relevance of an athlete's accomplishments. It's very much worth reading in its entirety. I've only excerpted the set-up of the discussion below.

(Un)Reality and the Football Hall of Fame
Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe, and the true meaning of a "snub"
By Chuck Klosterman

Here's the most important thing to realize about the Pro Football Hall of Fame: It does not exist.

The pro Basketball Hall of Fame doesn't exist, either. The Baseball Hall of Fame is equally unreal, in the same way that all Halls of Fame are unreal. There are certainly buildings that house these fabricated facilities in Ohio and Massachusetts and New York, and you can drive to them and buy a ticket and walk inside, and the various rooms are filled with statues and arcane uniforms and officially licensed shot glasses available for purchase in the various gift shops. You can see these things and you can tap your fingers on the glass display cases and you can buy a cup of coffee that will taste and smell and burn like coffee, but this experience is no different than living in The Matrix: It's a construction of the mind. It's multiple layers of symbols and simulation that are meaningless unless we decide a meaning must exist. But because this is what we do (and because we all do it, without even wondering why), the Pro Football Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle achievement within a life in football. Players and coaches love to insist that the most important goal in their professional lives is the winning of championships, but they are all lying when they say that. Either they are lying consciously or they're so socialized by the omnipresence of that childish falsehood that they've actually convinced themselves Jeff Hostetler's career was more fulfilling than Dan Marino's, simply because Scott Norwood missed a field goal in 1991. The Hall of Fame does not exist, so it's unaffected by reality; it matters more than reality, because ideas are more important than actions. ...

And that's what's so weird about the whole Hall of Fame process: The public sees it as an argument, but — within the mind of the elite athlete — it must be one of the most confusing, painfully personal scenarios they'll ever experience. Being inducted into a Hall of Fame is both the greatest thing that can happen to an athlete and the effective end to his or her cultural import; being rejected by a Hall of Fame is a major blow to one's self-image and the single-best thing that can happen to a retired player's legacy. The process is a lose-lose: It's either good (and then bad) or bad (and then good).

Click here for the full article...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

is peyton manning done?

Even the title of this post may send shivers down the spines of many Colts fans and fantasy owners. However, the truth is the fact that Peyton Manning just signed a new contract and has historically been an iron man when it comes to the regular season does not detract from his current residence on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Normally, if a star starts camp on the PUP list everyone will be speculating about his chances to play in regular season games once they begin. (See Gates, Antonio.) But since Manning just signed a new deal and never allows his backups to take snaps in meaningful situations, no one is openly wondering about the chances Manning starts the season anywhere other than under center.

As Adam Schefter of ESPN reported this morning on Mike and Mike, a history neck injuries actually runs in the Manning family. The reason that Cooper Manning didn't follow in the footsteps of his father and brothers to become an NFL player was a condition that led to a career-ending neck injury. Is it possible that there is a chink in the armor of the iron man? Is the injury Manning is nursing back to health now more serious than the Colts have let on? We may not know the answers to those questions for several weeks, but make no mistake, fantasy owners should be tracking this situation closely.

From Rotoworld...
NFL Network's Mike Lombardi believes the Colts will wait until right before the regular season to decide whether to activate Peyton Manning (neck) from the PUP list.

Manning opened camp on active/PUP, making him a tentative candidate to stay on reserve/PUP into the season. "I think that neck injury is severe," said Lombardi. "They really don't know (when Manning will return)." ...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

is randy moss pulling a keyser soze on the nfl?

If you think about it, Randy Moss' decision to retire rather than accept one of the presumably mediocre contract offers he was fielding was genius. He totally changed the conversation about where he was in his career and where he was heading.

Before the last few days, all anyone was focused on was whether or not any team would be willing to take Moss after a disatrous 2010 campaign. All anyone could remember was the mere 80 yards he accumulated as a member of the Tennessee Titans.

Now all people are talking about is where he stands on the list of all-time great receivers. They are replaying his 1998 and 2007 highlights constantly on ESPN and debating his legacy. No we once again see his hand-up calling for the ball against Darrell Revis and remember, "You know what? That wasn't that long ago."

An additional benefit that was now instead of the conversation being what team would be willing to take Moss and his baggage, it has switched to what team can lure Randy and his talent out of retirement. Does he still have the top end speed to be a playmaker in the NFL? Maybe only Moss himself knows that. What he does still have are the brains Bill Belichek raved about during his time in New England and a lot more GMs with their interests suddenly piqued about his ability to change the dynamics of an offense.

From Rotoworld...
The Eagles made a contract offer to Randy Moss after the receiver filed his official retirement papers with the league, according to the Boston Herald.

The Eagles just won't stop. Moss' filing of his retirement papers isn't significant as he can unretire any time he wants. If he is truly intrigued by the Eagles' offer, there's a good chance it will still happen. And based on the way veterans are flocking to Philly to play with Mike Vick, we would no longer be surprised.

Click here to