Fantasy Football Metrics

Cleveland Browns

2014 Preseason Week-2 Dynasty-Fantasy Recap: Browns vs. Redskins (8/18/2014)

Twitter @FFMetrics

 – Can you believe that Jonathan Manziel Esquire (7-16 for 65 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) flipped ‘the bird’ on national TV? I, for one, was shocked. It was right out there in public for everyone to see, and now you know ‘the truth’ that had been kept from some of you (not FFM-CFM’ers)…

I’m not talking about the middle finger to the Redskins’ bench. Actually, that was kind of funny. Those guys call each other the most vile things on the field (and off)…and we get taken aback by a raised digit response. I could have cared less about that. The player that knocked-out his (now) wife got a standing ‘O’ at his first practice…but this is egregious?

I don’t care about the bird signal, as much as I mean the figurative middle finger Jonathan Football gave to the entire ‘system’ of NFL talent evaluation, media promotion machines, and some of the ridiculous owners of football teams (including his own) in this single, meaningless preseason game.

A player bursts onto the college scene as a dazzling freshman QB, a shiny new toy, and we all go berserk. I’m not sure if we fans are to blame, or the media. Hot, fresh player hits the scene, and a buzz is generated. ESPN, et al goes into publicity mode (as they should)…they desperately want you to watch the upcoming Texas A&M vs. Rice contest, so Manziel highlights are featured more on SportsCenter leading into the game. He is the topic of sports radio chatter…of course the hosts are given a nudge to talk it up. It’s their own game/product…integrated marketing across the bull horn they have. It’s smart. The more you buy in…the more widgets they will produce.

First, we (the fans) kinda like it (a fresh player)…and then the machine comes in to capitalize on all lemmings…with a blood-thirst to create more fans/eyeballs/pocketbooks. The people not in on the ‘new thing’ before it ‘became a thing’, are now sucked into this ‘new thing’ they had little/no idea was ‘a thing’ until the machine started raging about it non stop.

It’s like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What started out as a fresh, neat idea is now everywhere…and usurped by celebrities beating it to death. You can’t go five minutes searching the news or watching television without a breathless report out on ‘who has done it next’. I really don’t know about the disease. I don’t know anyone with it. But it’s a disease, so I don’t wish it on anyone, and I hope they cure it…and all diseases. I do know people battling cancer. I do know warriors who are wounded. I know people within in my own church who have a need/crisis now. I know those specific organizations I am giving money or time to that will help…and I know the high percentages of every dollar donated that goes to battle said issue. I don’t know anything about where the ALS money is going, and how effectively it will be used. It may be great…I really don’t know.

I realize that’s the point…to raise awareness.

But that’s also my point. Do you think the high profile (or low profile) people doing this ALS challenge are suddenly evaluating all the charities in the world they could give to, and doing some simple background work to see the collecting organization’s rating on how much of donated money actually reaches the ‘battlefield’ versus goes to administrative costs (i.e. someone’s pockets, and or friends/families pockets, and/or to political organizations)? Do you think once people have all their research, they then carefully choose where they want their precious dollars and time to go towards..and thus chose ALS? I say, “No, they don’t do any of that.”

On this charity issue, I suspect we’ve become (mostly) a collective of people not asking any questions, but rather using raw ‘feel-good’ emotion combined with a ‘me-too’ follow the crowd desire, combined with “this is good for my brand, and I don’t want to look bad” peer pressure…and thus we film ourselves dumping water on ourselves.  

Many of you have been unquestionably dumping ice water on your heads with the crowd on Johnny Manziel for months/years. You bought into it because he was everywhere. Everyone said he was ‘special’…you saw that play against Duke, right? He was the star of the NFL Combine coverage…every coach was asked about J. Football, as was every prospect there. The NFL Draft TV show? Forget it…it was all about “Where’s he gonna go? How’s he going to fit in? Will he start right away?” Biggest story of the NFL preseason, “Manziel or Hoyer?”

The highest rated preseason game ever…Johnny’s NFL debut.

It worked. The whole diabolical plan worked.

However, this past Monday night, in a solo/featured preseason game, as you sat there watching…dripping cold water on your couch or at the local sports bar…Johnny Manziel flipped all of football the bird. The whole charade was exposed. George Whitfield is laughing like Vincent Price (timely) right now. You saw a glimpse of what will happen when first string NFL defenses get after Manziel. He looks (and is) tiny next to NFL defenders, and he’s not that fast (we know this from the NFL Combine), and he is not a great pocket Quarterback…a borderline awful pocket QB (we know this with scouting eyeballs). These are all things you should have known on him coming out of college. You weren’t told. You we’re too busy dumping ice water over your head with everyone else on college gameday to ask questions.

I re-watched this game, and my favorite moment still has to be: The several cutaways to the Browns’ owner’s box. Camera on Jimmy Haslam looking stoic…as if he had seen a ghost watching his team perform. He did. The ‘ghost of Browns’ football future’…and it is not pretty. Haslam followed the Manziel-hype crowd more than anyone, including the homeless, and poured an ocean of ice water on his own head hoping you’d love him for it. This is not going to end well.

Dallas, you got lucky. You better thank God, that Jerry Jones’s son knocked the bucket out of Jerry’s arms as he was about to lift it over his head.

Will there be any apology or introspection by football analysts pushing this hype? Are you kidding? They are in meetings right now designing a new bucket called ‘Jameis Winston‘.

 – As I saw the box score before I saw the game, I also caught that Connor Shaw (8-9 for 123 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) was the best statistical QB in this game…and you know my heart was delighted. I couldn’t wait to watch the Shaw highlights.

I wasn’t bowled over on this glimpse as much as I thought I might be from the numbers. He’s solid for sure, but needs more time. It’s a shame that he likely won’t ever get the reps or attention Manziel does. I’ve said dozens of time in print: Connor Shaw is the ‘good’ Manziel…the better human, and is as mobile, is also a so-so thrower, and a far better leader…and the better overall NFL QB prospect. Instead, coaches will be hired and fired to ‘handle’ Manziel…but Connor Shaw will probably bounce around the NFL for years.

Not only do football fans dump things on their head without asking more questions…so to do NFL coaches and coordinators. They are human too. Because of their busy schedules, they may buy into hysteria more than any level of football…they don’t have time to watch all the college tape and run statistical analysis. They tend to go by their gut, and think player analysis via data is ‘for nerds’. Thus Johnny Manziel is a rock star, and Connor Shaw isn’t a blip on the radar. Go back and look at their SEC stats from last season…OR…

**Read our 1,200+ word scouting reports on Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw, and see the 2014 Dynasty Rookie Draft like never before with our Moneyball-style scouting reports and rankings CFM website **


 – For the second time in two weeks, I am watching Lache Seastrunk (7 carries for 35 yards) enter the game after half the entire Redskins roster gets carries at RB. I am also noting for the second time in two weeks…there is something different about Seastrunk’s acceleration and agility, in a good way. I was not a huge fan of his coming out of college. I know he is an NFL-worthy athlete, but probably not a star, we felt going into the NFL Draft. What I see with my eyes tells me something might be a bit different…as a runner. In the passing game = trouble. Off the field = trouble, I think. Pure running the ball? Not bad. Very natural instincts.

 – Ben Tate (10 carries for 51 yards) seemed to be definitively running as #1 ahead of Terrance West (8 carries for 31 yards), judging by this game. Tate looked semi-explosive at times. West runs like a solid NFL vet…you wouldn’t know he’s a rookie. I suspect the plan is for Tate to get 10-14 touches per game, and West 5-8…unless someone gets ‘hot’ in a particular contest.

**Our ever-evolving, ever-updating to kick-off, Moneyball scouted, 2014 Fantasy Football e-Draft Guide and Cheat Sheets are on sale now. FFM website **


 – Perhaps the ‘ghost of football future’ that Jimmy Haslam saw included Josh Gordon (1 rec. for 8 yards on 5 targets) dropping most of his passes, as he did in this game. When Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon are your team’s key players…what do you expect will happen with the team? You think any free agent, etc. wants to go play with that clubhouse? Poor Mike Pettine.

 – Speaking of poor…poor Jordan Cameron (0 rec. on 3 targets). If the QB play is going to be this bad, and Josh Gordon is going to be gone…the lofty ratings for Cameron are potentially a problem ahead. If you start marking down Cameron, and you assume Rob Gronkowski is sketchy to start the season…and a health risk thereafter, if all that is true: How valuable are Jimmy Graham or Julius Thomas in this game of Fantasy we play? You can see how we statistically evaluated their FF-value in our 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide. We’ve been clear all along…

Fantasy Pro’s ‘Speed’ Mock Draft Tool (link) : Complete a Mock Draft in minutes against rankings from national experts


 – Washington CB Bashaud Breeland (5 tackles, 3 solo, 2 PDs) was all over in this game. He lists as a CB, but he has Safety instincts as a hitter. He’s a player.

– What about the other big-name QB in this game? Robert Griffin (6-8 for 112 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) looked Ok-ish. His passes lacked the deep-ball zip I’ve been accustomed to with him. There were a lot of floaters thrown. However, he still has the instinct to run…and that’s a good FF-thing. I think this offense is built for RG3′s strength: Fast WRs he can play deep-ball with, and/or allow him space to take off running.

Teammates may not like him (reportedly), but I don’t care…if he runs for 30-50+ yards a game, and is plausible with his passing numbers. He’s not my favorite Fantasy QB, but not bad as an early QB2, before someone else takes their QB1. 


– R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football, and a football projections analyst for Fantasy Football His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.” See “The Machine” hereThe Machine via FFM

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