Ultimately, this article is for anyone interested in a "deeper dive" on Brandon Saine, but the catalyst for the extra research has been from a flood of questions that have been coming concerning him. The first part of this is written for the A-typical scenario why the questions have been pouring in...
RBs have been crazy this Fantasy Football season.
Every week is like a slot machine...pull the handle, and anxiously wait to see if three-cherries will line up. You're rolling along with Forte, McFadden, Peterson...and then the rug gets pulled out from under you at a certain point. You've snatched up, and/or subsequently folded on, Jackie Battle, Kendall Hunter, Montario Hardesty, Isaac Redman, etc. in recent weeks. You have one solid (for now) RB, but your other RB is a Maalox moment every time you think about it. It has been a turbulent Fantasy Football season at RB.
You have another problem -- you're good! Your team has been solid-to-great this season, and you've made the playoffs (or win now, and "in" next week)...and with that joy, comes a crappy waiver priority. So you've missed out on Marion Barber, and you're kicking yourself for not going C.J. Spiller or Toby Gerhart when we guided to...but you wanted a week to wait and see, now you're scrambling.
However it is that you have all arrived here...you're here. You are suddenly facing the possibility of rolling-the-dice on Brandon Saine this week. Let's take a look at what our computer scouting sees in Saine, and then we will project what his Week-14 might look like.
Brandon Saine, the High School years...
Saine was a top-50 overall High School prospect in 2006-07, a top-5 among RBs, and arguably, the top prospect in the state of Ohio. Not only, a football star, but a track star too...and still holder of the Ohio High School record for fastest 100-Meter Dash recorded (10.38). When you think of a traditional "track star," you think small and wiry. However, Saine was 5'11, and approximately 200 pounds when he pulled off that feat. Saine is a power runner, with track speed...the resume' for a future Heisman winner out of Ohio State. However, no one has much cared (outside of OSU fans) about Saine's football prowess the past four years...until about a week ago. How did this happen?
Brandon Saine, the College years...
Saine hits the college scene, and plays right away in 2007. A respectable Freshman year behind Beanie Wells (and Maurice Wells), posting 267 rushing and 160 receiving yards, with 3 TDs.
Saine plays even less in 2008 (Beanie Wells is still "the man"). Saine misses some games, but mostly he just did not touch the ball that often. His best game of the season was a 5-carry, 20-rushing yard effort versus Youngstown State.
Saine springs to life in 2009. Beanie is now gone, but Saine splits carries with RB Daniel Herron...with an additional wrinkle of much Saine's opportunity being taken by Terrelle Pryor (the team's leader in carries and rushing yards). Saine actually finishes a close second to Pryor for rushing yards in 2009 with 739 yards. Saine, a great receiver, produces another 224 yards receiving. Saine also has 100+ yard rushing days against Indiana and Iowa (two of the the only three 100+ yard rushing games he will have at OSU). A much better season, but still nothing spectacular.
Saine has a wildly disappointing 2010. He has knee problems, and Daniel Herron's production winds up blowing Saine out of the water...reducing Saine to just 70 carries in 13 games. Saine becomes a forgotten man at Ohio State, a disappointment if you will.
Saine catches enough attention for an NFL Combine invite, and posted measureables that on their own (knowing nothing else)...should have garnered Saine 1st/2nd-Round NFL Draft attention. Saine ran a 4.40 40-time, he has a well-above average bench-press, and he measures with above average agility...all that from a 5'11 and (now) 220-pound RB. You would figure he would catch a huge draft-buzz of attention with these elite-level measureables, but no excitement occurs.
We are left to wonder if there is some kind of issue behind the scenes, but we have seen none...and Saine reportedly scored well on his Wonderlic test (but unsubstantiated). From what we've seen from camp, interviews...he seems pretty normal; for whatever that is worth. We really liked some of Saine's metrics in our system, but ultimately were semi-scared off by his under-whelming college output. We had rated Saine as our 19th best RB prospect coming out of the 2011 NFL Draft (despite the fact that he wasn't drafted).
Only the dumb ole' Green Bay Packers gives Saine an NFL undrafted free agent tryout.
Brandon Saine for Week-14...
Had Packers rookie Alex Green not been injured, we likely aren't talking about Saine right now...we are talking about Green (the Packers have simply become better at this NFL/college scouting than any other franchise). Green is an equal to/better than version of Saine (all the measureables, but Green had a solid/very good statistical performance in college). However, Green was lost for the season with injury...and now James Starks is likely to miss this week with injury as well.
Saine had 6 carries and 6 targets this past week with Starks missing time...and being on the highly-watched Packers, everyone is claiming Saine as their "sleeper" RB this week. Many of you reading this have followed our website for awhile, so you either grabbed Saine a week or two ago when we started discussing Saine again, or you jumped on this waiver period...ahead of the mild media awakening. Now suddenly, via attrition...you are considering him as a Fantasy Football start this week.
From everything that we see with Saine; we are highly intrigued...a prototypical size that you want in an NFL RB, matched with the great speed/agility/power that he has measured in at. If we knew that Saine was getting 15+ carries this week, we would be "all in." However, none of us can be sure what the workload will be with Saine. Only one-time this season, has a Green Bay RB had more than 13 carries (Week-3, Ryan Grant with 17). This is an offense built on the heavy-pass, and rush-attempt sharing. The chance that Saine, a rookie, suddenly sees 10+ carries...is far-fetched (but not impossible).
Saine is a much better PPR play then a traditional league one. We could see Saine with 5-8 targets in this game, more pass-targets than carries. Last week, Saine had Packers season high (6) pass-targets for a RB (Starks had 6 once too). Saine could become a "super-sized" Darren Sproles for Aaron Rodgers this week, and as we go forward.
Saine is physically huge, but if the Packers get near the goal-line...here comes the "physically-huge'r" John Kuhn to take that TD. The bet for Week-14, is Saine with 5 carries and 5 catches...which isn't bad...but comes with a lower likelihood of a TD (due to Kuhn). However, the light at the end of tunnel might be -- the Packers drop-kick the Raiders quickly this week, providing a great opportunity to get Saine additional playing time (keep Grant healthy)...and maybe even get the kid his first TD. It's not wise to assume that scenario to be the case...but the possibility of it is on the table.
The smart-money says Saine will get 5 catches for 40-70 total yards with 0 TDs this week. The high-stakes gambler in me, could see a 100+ total yard game with a TD. If you need lightning-in-a-bottle this week, Saine may be your man. If you need guaranteed points, and can't risk a game with 0-2 points, stay away.
*Saine only works as a possibility for Week-14, if James Starks is ruled out with injury...which we think he will.
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