Mike Wallace: The Underrated #1 Wide Out

I love me some Mike Wallace.

Last year I was big on Mike Wallace. I liked his talent in 2009 with the Steelers but would never draft him for fantasy because Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward (sans DUI and deteriorating ability) were still there and very few #3 receivers on any football team are fantasy relevant. (The only one I can think of is Steve Breaston in 2008 who had over 1000 receiving yards along with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin). But then my lucky day came when Pittsburgh shipped Holmes out to New York for his behavioral problems.

This meant that Mike Wallace would be one of Big Ben’s top two wide out targets and meant I wanted him for fantasy.

The reason I liked Wallace in 2009 was because he ranked 16th in DYAR and 4th in DVOA. Both rankings were better than: Greg Jennings, DeSean Jackson, and Brandon Marshall to name a few. [EDITOR'S NOTE, click here to better understand DVOA and DYAR]. It was no surprise that he ranked 4th in DVOA as it is essentially a metric of value per play. In 2009 Mike Wallace had an average of 19.5 YPC which led all wide receivers. Of course a receiver who, on average, gets the most yards every time he catches the ball would have an extremely high DVOA. DYAR is a metric for total value and he was somewhat hindered in that category because he only caught 39 passes. It was this low catch total that would have made me hesitant to draft him if both Ward and Holmes were on his team. In fantasy, we do not care per se about value per play, we care about total value. And with Holmes now gone I predicted his total value would increase. And I was right.

Wallace only went for $10 in my fantasy league last year and I wanted to pair him with Andre Johnson but sadly, at that point in the draft, $10 was too expensive for my blood. Wallace ended up finishing with 60 catches for 1,257 yards and 10 TDs- good for the fifth best fantasy wide receiver.

Last year, Wallace finished number one in both DVOA and DYAR. He actually increased his YPC to 21.0 which is even more impressive considering he had about a 54% increase in the amount of catches he had from the previous year (39 up to 60). He also increased his catch rate from catching 54% of his targets to catching 61% of his targets. Normally you see high average per play and high catch rates because of the small sample size but Wallace amazingly improved his per play average when given the full time starter job.

Wallace has been amazing for the past few years yet I feel like he gets little love. On a recent Fantasy Focus Football podcast, Nate said Wallace was a low end #1 receiver and Matthew Berry said disagreed and said he was a middle tier wide out. In a recent email to a GOI fan I was trying to convince him about the awesomeness of Mike Wallace in a PPR league. I know he doesn’t catch very many passes and his value is lower in a PPR league, but he’s my #1 in the Game of Inches PPR league and I love it. I think Mike Wallace is a top tiered wide out in fantasy- no matter what the format it. (I think Wallace is a great example of The PPR Fallacy).

Currently, Wallace is 10th among wide outs in ADP according to Mock Draft Central, ranked 8th among wide outs according to Yahoo!, and ranked 7th according to ESPN.com. Sure everyone has him as a number one wide out in all leagues deeper than the one from The League, but to me he's a top five receiver and he think he needs to start getting the respect like a top five wide receiver.

I love me some Mike Wallace.

The PPR Fallacy

"Why would anyone want Michael Turner? He doesn't catch any passes."
This was said to me by David "MVP" Eckstein after Game of Inches held their annual fantasy football draft- this year being a PPR league. In some fairness to DME, he has never played fantasy football in his life and this was his first real draft. However, he is not the only one to share this underlying sentiment. I have gotten questions and emails along the same lines for the same reasons why DME asked his question. The real question is, how do you evaluate players in a PPR league who does not catch any passes?

Last year Michael Turner only caught 12 passes. Clearly, if Michael Tuner is coming out of the backfield, it is to run with the ball. If he steps in front if his line, it is to block, not catch. In a PPR (points per reception) his value is severely hurt.

But here is the fallacy that people get too caught up with: just because a player does not catch many passes does not mean he is a bad player. All that means is you have to adjust the value you assign to a player who does not catch passes accordingly. While it is true that you gain an extra point when a player catches the ball, you still get points for rushing/receiving yards and points for touchdowns. I feel like this concept gets lost when people think of PPR leagues.

Going back specifically to Michael Turner. While DME didn't realize this, I was the one who drafted Michael Turner. The reason for this was two fold: 1) Arian Forster, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, and Steven Jackson were all off the board and I needed a #1 running back and 2) I paid less for Turner in this league than I would have in a non-PPR league. I paid less for Michael Turner in a PPR league and paid for his appropriate market price.

The key to ranking and getting players who do not catch passes in a PPR league is to rank them accordingly. The best way to do this is by creating your own personal ranking in a non-PPR format and then move guys who catch passes up a few spots and use pass catchers as a tie-breaker.

I got both Matt Forte and Michael Turner in this league. Matt Forte is a pass catcher and has a boost in his value in a PPR league because of this. That being said, I paid $51 for Michael Turner and only $33 for Forte. I paid $18 more for a non-pass catcher than a good pass catcher, and I believe that is fair and appropriate. While Forte will catch way more passes than Turner, I think Turner will have far superior rushing yards and touchdowns than Forte.

The point I am trying to make here is that do not overreact when if you are in a PPR league or in any league that uses non-standard/normal scoring. Absolutely look at how your league scores and absolutely factor that into your personal rankings, but don't look at the non-standard scoring in a vacuum. Take ALL the ways a player can get you points, not just the one, non-standard way. So if you are in a PPR league, you absolutely need to factor pass catchers into your rankings, but don't overlook the ways players that said player can get you points.

The Game Of Inches Fantasy Football Teams

These teams are for a 14 team, fantasy football league ($200 auction budgets, PPR scoring) with the starting spots being:
  • 1 QB
  • 2 RB
  • 2 WR
  • 1 RB/WR (choice)
  • 1 TE
  • 1 K
  • 1 DEF
  • 6 BN
Here are the four authors teams for this auction league and the prices paid for each player below.

An write up of how this draft went will be posted soon.

Tell us what you think of our teams!

Sexy Rexy

QB- Tom Brady ($23)
QB- Colt McCoy ($2)
RB- Michael Turner ($51)
RB- Matt Forte ($33)
RB- Ryan Grant ($16)
RB- Reggie Bush ($8)
RB- Stevan Ridley ($1)
WR- Mike Wallace ($34)
WR- Santonio Holmes ($21)
WR- Randy Moss ($1)
WR- Danario Alexander ($1)
TE- Aaron Hernandez ($6)
TE- Dustin Keller ($1)
K- Alex Henery ($1)
DEF- San Diego ($1)

David "MVP" Eckstein

QB- Eli Manning ($10)
QB- Kyle Orton ($6)
QB- Tim Tebow ($1)
RB- LeSean McCoy ($68)
RB- Mike Tolbert ($11)
RB- Joseph Addai ($16)
WR- Larry Fitzgerald ($45)
WR- Dez Bryant ($23)
WR- Kenny Britt ($10)
WR- Dezmon Briscoe ($1)
WR- Brandon Gibson ($1)
WR- Eric Decker ($1)
TE- Tony Gonzalez ($5)
K- Josh Brown ($1)
DEF- Dallas ($1)

The 'Bright' One

QB- Drew Brees ($34)
RB- Maurice Jones-Drew ($50)
RB- Rashard Mendenhall ($45)
RB- Ryan Matthews ($17)
RB- Ricky Williams ($1)
WR- Miles Austin ($36)
WR- Robert Meachum ($5)
WR- Lee Evans ($5)
WR- Eddie Royal ($1)
WR- Donald Driver ($1)
WR- Earl Bennett ($1)
RB/WR- Dexter McCluster ($1)
TE- Brent Celek ($1)
K- Rob Bironas ($1)
DEF- Tennessee ($1)


QB- Philip Rivers ($28)
RB- Shonn Greene ($37)
RB- Felix Jones ($24)
RB- Mark Ingram ($13)
RB- Jerome Harrison ($6)
RB- Rashad Jennings ($6)
RB- Montario Hardesty ($1)
RB- Jamie Harper ($1)
WR- Brandon Marshall ($23)
WR- Anquan Boldin ($20)
WR- Julio Jones ($10)
WR- Braylon Edwards ($4)
TE- Jered Cook ($5)
K- Nate Kaeding ($3)
DEF- Pittsburgh ($4)

Cubsfan4evr: Fantasy Football Rankings

A few months ago during the lockout Sexy Rexy, TBO, and myself posted our preliminarily fantasy football rankings. Now with the lockout over, free agency done, and players in camp working out with their new teams I finally got around to updating my rankings so here we go. On Tuesday Sexy Rexy and myself did a two podcast special discussing fantasy football and I talked in detail about my rankings. I tweaked these rankings slightly since that podcast to make them even better. Listen to those two exciting podcasts for the exciting analysis while your at work or between studying for school.

Michael Vick scares me because I can see him getting hurt and missing half the season based on the way he plays the game which earns him so many fantasy points. I can also see him regressing because he only had one great season as this high level. The other top two quarterbacks are proven. Peyton Manning’s neck may make him miss some time this season along with his suspect receiver core drops him outside of my top three for the first time in years.
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Drew Brees
3. Michael Vick
4. Philip Rivers
5. Tom Brady
6. Peyton Manning
7. Tony Romo
8. Matt Schaub
9. Matt Ryan
10. Ben Roethlisberger
11. Josh Freeman
12. Eli Manning
13. Matthew Stafford
14. Jay Cutler
15. Joe Flacco
16. Sam Bradford
17. Kevin Kolb
18. Kyle Orton
19. Ryan Fitzpatrick
20. Matt Cassel
21. David Garrard
22. Mark Sanchez
23. Donovan McNabb
24. Jason Campbell
25. Matt Hasselbeck
26. Tarvaris Jackson
27. Colt McCoy
28. Chad Henne
29. Cam Newton
30. Alex Smith

Running backs
With Chris Johnson holding out I had to drop him a few spots. You will also notice I am really big on Shonn Greene and LeGarrette Blount compared to most people. This goes to my overall feeling on running back this season which you have to listen to the podcast to hear or wait for future posts to read.

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Arian Foster
3. Jamaal Charles
4. Ray Rice
5. LeSean McCoy
6. Chris Johnson
7. Rashard Mendenhall
8. Michael Turner
9. Shonn Greene
10. Darren McFadden
11. Matt Forte
12. LeGarrette Blount
13. Maurice Jones-Drew
14. Frank Gore
15. Peyton Hillis
16. Steven Jackson
17. Daniel Thomas
18. DeAngelo Williams
19. Knowshon Moreno
20. Ahmad Bradshaw
21. Ryan Grant
22. Ryan Mathews
23. Mark Ingram
24. Marshawn Lynch
25. Jahvid Best
26. Felix Jones
27. Cedric Benson
28. Fred Jackson
29. Joseph Addai
30. Jonathan Stewart
31. Mike Tolbert
32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
33. Brandon Jacobs
34. Pierre Thomas
35. Tim Hightower
36. Beanie Wells
37. Montario Hardesty
38. Jerome Harrison
39. Reggie Bush
40. Willis McGahee
41. Rashad Jennings
42. C.J. Spiller
43. LaDainian Tomlinson
44. James Starks
45. Ryan Torain
46. Thomas Jones
47. Marion Barber
48. Ronnie Brown
49. Bernard Scott
50. Ben Tate

Wide Receivers
I find Wide receivers deep in overall quality and don’t feel the need to get receivers early like I did last year. I am also somewhat low on Greg Jennings compared that he was a sleeper of mine last year.
1. Andre Johnson
2. Roddy White
3. Larry Fitzgerald
4. Calvin Johnson
5. Hakeem Nicks
6. Vincent Jackson
7. Miles Austin
8. Reggie Wayne
9. Mike Wallace
10. Greg Jennings
11. DeSean Jackson
12. Mike Williams (TB)
13. Dwayne Bowe
14. Dez Bryant
15. Jeremy Maclin
16. Anquan Boldin
17. Brandon Marshall
18. Brandon Lloyd
19. Marques Colston
20. Stevie Johnson
21. Mario Manningham
22. Wes Welker
23. Santonio Holmes
24. Chad Ochocinco
25. Percy Harvin
26. Sidney Rice
27. Santana Moss
28. Kenny Britt
29. Austin Collie
30. Mike Sims-Walker (Stl)
31. Braylon Edwards
32. Roy Williams
33. Steve Smith (Carolina)
34. Julio Jones
35. Mike Thomas
36. A.J. Green
37. Pierre Garcon
38. Malcom Floyd
39. Johnny Knox
40. Plaxico Burress
41. Jordy Nelson
42. Michael Crabtree
43. Mike Williams (Seattle)
44. Lance Moore
45. Hines Ward
46. Jacoby Ford
47. Davone Bess
48. Danny Amendola
49. Deion Branch
50. Nate Burleson
51. Emmanuel Sanders
52. Lee Evans
53. Jacoby Jones
54. Steve Breaston
55. Jerome Simpson

Tight Ends
Tight ends is typically the weakest position every year. I am never big on drafting a Tight end early, and there are several tight end sleepers I like this year that you can get later that I think will pay high dividends that you will find out when I come out with my sleeper list or from listening to our Fantasy football podcast from the other night. You can probably tell identify some of these players from being ranked high on my rankings.
1. Antonio Gates
2. Dallas Clark
3. Jason Witten
4. Owen Daniels
5. Jermichael Finley
6. Vernon Davis
7. Jimmy Graham
8. Kellen Winslow
9. Jared Cook
10. Brandon Pettigrew
11. Tony Gonzalez
12. Chris Cooley
13. Greg Olsen
14. Jermaine Gresham
15. Zach Miller
16. Visanthe Shiancoe
17. Rob Gronkowski
18. Dustin Keller
19. Marcedes Lewis
20. Aaron Hernandez
21. Benjamin Watson
22. Tony Moeaki
23. Brent Celek
24. Heath Miller
25. Todd Heap

I hope you enjoyed my fantasy ranking list. I tried to be independent as you can tell of my running back rankings. Next to come will be players to target/avoid and the sleeper list.

New Podcasts Up!

Sexy Rexy and Cubsfan4ever discuss all things fantasy football, including Cubsfan irrational ranking of Shonn Greene in his top 10!

You can listen to Part One here
You can listen to Part Two here

NOTE: If you want to download these or any of GOI's podcast's via iTunes just follow these instructions. Go to the iTunes store and type "Game Of Inches" into it. If you don't see the GOI logo (the one with the fuzzy black background and bright "GOI" lettering on it) then go to the left where it says "Filter By Media Type" and click on "Podcasts". You should see two logos. The second one has the newer podcasts.

Scouting From Bears Training Camp

For all four loyal GOI fans, you know it's been a tradition for the authors to go to Bears training camp. In the past its always been a excursion. Something planned out a month ahead of time that's full of adventure, excitement, and wonderment. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit but it really is a good time. This year The 'Bright' One, Cubsfan, and myself planned to keep the tradition alive. The Bears held a family day special training camp at Soldier Field and we payed ten bucks to go see them. Unfortunately the Bears players were being little bitches on that day and the field was a tad too wet for their taste so an hour before training camp started they all hoped on a bus and drove down to Bourbonnais, Illinois- where they normally hold training camp- to practice. Even though we had already wasted train and taxi fare to get down to Soldier Field and were essentially at Solider when we heard the news, the Bears players were inconsiderate jerks and left all us fans high and dry. When team President/CEO Ted Thompson started address the fans he was rewards with a stadium full of boo's. However, the concession stands at Soldier Field gave us free food and all three of us still had fun in Chicago on a Friday night, but still, we had missed our chance to see our beloved Bears at a training camp.

But I would not be deterred.

A friend of mine from college was going up with her family to see the Bears play in Bourbonnais a few weeks later (it ended up being only her and her sister) and I seized this opportunity so I could say I at least went to *one* training camp and my tradition of going for four straight years is still in tact. While this year was not the same as it was in years past- hanging out with my boys, getting there early, discussing football for hours on end- it was still a good time and I still got some valuable tidbits. However, because this trip was really not the same as years past, my scouting report for this year is a bit limited. I didn't see any defensive players practice until the 11 of 11's at the end of training camp and for the first hour of the two hour training camp I was by myself because my friend was stuck in traffic and the second hour was spent catching up with my friend and not paying that much attention to the practice because I hadn't seen her in a few months.

But here is what I can report:

Wide Receivers

I spent the majority of training camp scouting the receiving corps. Even with the addition of Marion Barber, I still knew how essentially the running backs would be used. Our quarterback is set and I didn't want to focus on offensive lineman in drills because, let's face it, how hard is it to look good when all you're up against is a 50 year old man with pads on his arms? So I focused on the receiving group for two reasons. First, I wanted to see how Johnny Knox and Roy Williams will be used and second, I wanted to see if I could find something to give me an advantage like I had done in years past. Two years ago we discovered Devin Aromashodu and last year I had discovered how much the Bears hated Devin Aromashodu and even though everyone was touting him as a fantasy sleeper, I was the only one screaming from the rooftops that Johnny Knox would have a better season than D.A. I was right.

- This year, I noticed that Roy Williams looks awesome. Granted, I know it's only practice and a two hour one at that, but the Bears seem to like Roy Williams and R.W. looked really good at practice.
- I think the target split between Williams and Johnny Knox will be split about evenly with Williams probably getting a little bit more. I'd say a 55/45 split. The only difference is that Knox still doesn't have the greatest hands (which was evident in practice) and which means I think Williams is going to get many more catches than Knox.
- Devin Hester didn't practice as a wide out and I hope he's getting phased out as a receiver because I think he best helps the team as a returner. But Hester didn't practice at all last year and he still was our starting wide receiver so I'm not putting too much stock in the fact he didn't work out. Plus, Johnny Knox and Khalil Bell (4th string running back) took essentially all of the kick returns. (We'll get to kick returns later)
- Earl Bennett looked good for the limited amount of time he was on the field but he's going to be a 4th receiver at best. It's a shame because I still love him as a slot guy.
- The one no name receiver that looked good was also a number 19- like Devin Aromashodu. He's a 6'1" rookie receiver from TCU by the name of Jimmy Young. But he's not going to make the team. Just saying though I thought he looked good.

Red Zone Offense

- The Bears ran about four red zone plays so take what I report with a grain of salt.
- Three of the plays were to tight ends. The first one was a fade to Kellen Davis (whom the Bears seems enamored with), the second was a designed play to Davis, and the third was a pass up the middle to tight end Matt Spaeth.
- Matt Spaeth is 6'7" and looks like a men among boys compared to the other players on the team. This dude is huge but he doesn't look that fit and the Bears seem to like Davis more than him (based upon press releases I've seen) but it wouldn't shock me if he got like 5 touchdowns.
- The fourth red zone play was a designed running play for running back Marion Barber. Any Bears fan can tell you how awesome Matt Forte is but he's terrible at getting 3rd and short and 4th and short. I don't have the exact statistics in front of me but I know Matt Forte the past few years has been really high up there (I wanna say top 5) in red zone carries but he's only average to below average in the total rushing touchdowns he gets. He's terrible at converting what he should and I think the addition on Marion Barber will help the Bears convert what they couldn't before. Marion Barber looks good and I could see him getting 10 rushing touchdowns this year. Kind of like the Brandon Jacobs role for the Giants last year (or his role a few years ago with Julius Jones in Dallas). Look to see Matt Forte come out of the game when the Bears get close.

Extra Notes

- This offense line still looks terrible and might be worse than it was last year. I saw this line struggle versus the Bears second team defense and Jay Cutler hurried a lot.
- Speaking of Jay Cutler, in practice he looks amazing and we all got to see his cannon of an arm in action. The Bears receivers were running drills on either end of the sidelines. The receiver would run out 40-50 yards and the quarterback would throw them a bomb. Jay Cutler threw three of these passes. The first to Roy Williams, the second to Johnny Knox, and the third to Earl Bennett and all three were beauties. All three were in the exact same spot and got there with precision and accuracy. Then you saw Caleb Hanie and third stringer Nathan Enderle try to do the same thing on the other sideline and you realized why these guys aren't starters and Jay Cutler is.
- A group of young high school or junior high kids were standing next to me during some of the practice and were looking through a program they had. This program had a list of every player and their number. These kids got to Ricky Henry whose number is "69" and giggled like little school girls. I didn't laugh once. God, I'm getting senile and hardened in my old age.
- While the receivers and quarterbacks were doing these drills, the running backs were doing some catching drills on their own. Running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor went first, caught their balls with ease (hahahaha) and then turned their backs to me and my side of the field to watch the other running backs in action. First, Marion Barber is not nearly as good of a pass catcher as the first two and second, both Taylor and Forte look exactly alike from the back.
- I texted TBO that Forte and Taylor looked exatly alike and he texted back "#racist"
- The Bears ran about twenty minutes of kick off return drills. As mentioned earlier, Khalil Bell, Johnny Knox, and I believe CB D.J. Moore took a majority of the returns while Robbie Gould kicked off. This new rule where kickers get to kick off from the 35 pisses me off as a Bears fan because most, if not all, of Robbie's kicks went past the endzone and this hurts a strength the Bears have had in recent years. However, when that happened a guy on the sideline threw an extra ball to the returner and then the team ran a kickoff drill as if the returner had caught the ball. This blocking team looks awesome as always but the Bears are going to be severely hurt by this stupid kick off rule.

TMZ-style Interviews

I went to a 7:00 pm practice so training camp didn't end until nine which means these guys were tired after a long day. Luckily I was able to get a few interviews and autographs. Players came my way thanks to this kid standing in front of me. He couldn't have been more than 13 or 14 years old and was calling every player under the sun to give him an autograph. Now after going for four years now I realized that you only care about getting the starters autograph and not about the back ups. But this kid was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and didn't care if you were the fifth string safety, he wanted your autograph. Now while the back ups always make for the best interviews (see: Caleb Hanie blasting Jay Cutler) I didn't have a program so I could tell who these back ups actually were and I really didn't want their autograph.

One way this kid tried to get some of these players autographs was to say that they were on his fantasy team. When old timer TE Desmond Clark walked by he used this tactic. At first, I thought he was just saying that to lure the players over, but it turns out he actually did draft all Bears players (except for some reason Jay Cutler) and did actually draft Desmond Clark.

There was this dick behind me (believe me, after two seconds of talking to this guy you’d say to yourself, “Wow, what a dick”) who added his two cents. He said, “Really? Dez Clark is your tight end? You should go for someone solid like Brent Celek.” I turned to the Dick and said, “Really? Brent Celek? You could have done better than someone like Celek. Michael Vick didn’t look to him at all last year.” He tried to convince me that he was in a PPR league so Celek got him like 9 points every week. 1) A tight end who’s good in a PPR format is not necessarily going to help this 13 year old out 2) There were much better TE’s than Celek last year (although I wouldn’t have faulted you for drafting him high) and 3) I wasn’t going to sit there and argue with the Dick. I had better things to do. Like getting backups autographs. Moral of the story: I want to go to training camp just to start a fantasy football league with these guys. I haven’t won in a while. [Eds note: Celek was 18th among tight ends last year- and this was in a year where essentially every TE got injured]

Anyways, on with the interviews!

DE Vernon Gholston

Me: How many sacks are you going to have this season?
VG: I don’t know as many as I can
Me: Are you going to have over 15?
VG: *laughs* I dunno

I probably should have asked him his role in the system because Peppers is obviously starting and right now Israel Idonije is the other starter on the Bears website.

University of Florida alum safety Major Wright

Me: Who is that guy? (he wasn’t wearing his pads)
13 year old kid in front of me: That’s Major Wright
Me: Ooh, he’s a starter, I want his autograph

Me: How many interceptions are you going to get next year?
MW: haha Good question
Me: Are you happy you choose the correct Florida school?
MW: (angrily) Sure * quickly walks as far away from me as possible *

Again, I missed another golden opportunity. I should have asked him about how awesome his name is. His name is Major Wright! Come on, I'm jealous. Also, for those of you who don't know, that last question was a reference to the recent major allegations against the University of Miami.

C Roberto Garza

Me: I have your face from last year
[Eds Note: This is actually true. Every year for training camp they give out these cheap paper masks of a certain player with a long popsicle-esque wooden pick to hold it up. The purpose of them is to hold the stick so the cheap, paper face covers your face but everyone just uses them as fans. Last year when I went they gave out Roberto Garza masks.]
RG: * laughs *
Me: Do you have one?
RG: Yeah, I got one last year
Me: Was that your Halloween costume last year?
RG: haha no, * something inaudible *
Me: Are you sad to see Olin Kruetz go?
RG: Yeah man, absolutely.
Me: But you’re the better block than him, right?
RG: Nah, man

Garza seemed completely sincere and saddened by the departure of Kruetz. While Kruetz couldn’t block ME to save his life a lot of what it takes to be a good offensive line is chemistry and, this pains me to say this, intangibles. Maybe we shouldn’t have let him go? Wait, what am I saying? Players on the field don’t think. ALL STATS BABY!

Punter Spencer Lanning

I actually didn’t know who this guy was but he had a jersey with the number 1 on it with him and he was a small, skinny white guy, so he had to be a kicker.

Me: Who’s the better kicker, you or Robbie Gould?
SL: haha, Robbie Gould for sure
Me: What!? I don’t believe that. It’s definitely you!
SL: * laughs again * I mean this seriously, Robbie Gould is the best kicker I have ever seen. The best.

One Last Note Before I Go

You can stop reading now if you want to, I understand. It's been a long article and your boss is probably pissed at you for not working for the past 20 minutes. But if you would like to stick around, I thank you.

Also, I'm about to step on my pedastal

As I mentioned earlier, the guys who tend to sign autographs are the back ups or guys who who don't immediately recognize. Now me personally, I always cross reference the player's number on their jersey with a list I print out of everyone on the team and their number so I know which player is which so I know which player's autograph I'm getting (versus this year because my printer ran out of ink I asked the kid ahead of me of who's autograph he was getting in which he replied back to me with no sense of subtlety the guys name). But there was this old dude next to this kid who asked a few players what their name was before asking for their autograph. He had some program with every player listed and would ask, "Now, who are you again?" If I was a player I would walk away because that seems rude, but I guess I'm pety like that. But these players would kindly tell this dude their name, sign their autograph next to their picture, and move on. But for future reference, if you go to any training camp, have a way to figue out who you are talking to before you ask for their autograph, not during or after. What this old guy did seemed really rude and disrespectful.

Anyways, I'm done. Off my pedestal.

That is all. And we... aRE... OUT!

Jim Thome Hits 600 HR #HOF

Yesterday, on August 15, 2011, Jim Thome hit 2 home runs for the Minnesota Twins to make them 599 and 600 career home runs for the Southpaw Slugger.

You can read an old post I write about here or read what I wrote below:

Today, on July 31, 2011, Minnesota Twins DH Jim Thome hit his 597th home run. It is likely that he will hit his 600th career home run later this year. Maybe this post is more appropriate when Thome does end up getting three more dingers, but I'm bored right now and I want to make sure this post gets written as opposed to me wanting to write it but then claim I am too busy when that 600th hit comes.

Even though I am a White Sox fan and Thome only played four seasons on The South Side as opposed to 12 with a ChiSox inter division rival (the Indians), I will always love Jim Thome as a baseball fan. It also helps that I really only started getting into baseball in 2005.

The reason for this post is because I feel Thome gets no love. It doesn't help that he played the vast majority of his career in small markets. Cleveland will never get the kind of love on ESPN that Boston or New York gets. He played four seasons on the less covered Chicago team and is currently on his second season for the Twinkies in Minnesota. That is 18 out of his 21 year career on a non-major market team.

Everyone makes the biggest stink in the world about A-Rod's 600th home run and the overrated Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit but when a guy like Jim Thome has a countdown to a monumental feat, nobody (and by nobody I mean ESPN) seems to care.

However, Thome is one of the greatest offensive players of his generation. He played for that great Indians line up in the 90's that included greats like Albert Belle, Manny, Kenny Lofton, and Omar Vizquel. That line up was like the modern day Big Red Machine or the precursor to this 2011 Boston Beast.

For right now, I would like to take a look at Thome's career stats and just stare at awe and wonder at them and hope he gets your respect (if he hasn't already) that he deserves. Thome has a career .277 batting average to go along with his career .403 on base and .960 career OPS (for those of you who can not or do not want to do the math, that is a career .557 SLG).

Thome's 597 home runs are good for 8th best all time and is the 5th best player in history with a 13.8 at-bat per home run.

And Jim Thome did all of this in the steroid era without any whiff or hint that he ever took performance-enhancing drugs.

One last thing / anecdote before I leave. I was watching a White Sox game in 2006 when the camera panned to a young male fan in the stands holding up a sign. The sign read: "My mom thinks Scottie's [Scott Podsednik] a hottie but Thome's my homey" I feel like that's the kind of guy Thome was. He was a guy everyone loved. When Sox GM Kenny Williams shipped Thome off to the Dodgers in 2009, he convinced everyone in Chicago that this was best for the guy and we all seemed to like the move, even though it hurt the team in the long run. Thome had a much better chance at winning a title with playoff bound L.A. as opposed to the struggling White Sox. Even though Thome could and still can produce, we all just wanted what was best for Jim Thome and we didn't care about our silly ol' team.

*double chest pound with right fist* Props to you Jim Thome. May you get the respect you deserve.

Tyson Chandler Finally Sells Mansion from 2006

Tyson Chandler was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and played for them untill they traded him in 2006 to the New Orleans Hornets. In 2004 he built a 20 room, 11,000 square feet, six-bedroom manison that also has

"has six full baths, two half baths, three fireplaces, a two-story great room, custom travertine and walnut floors, chef's kitchen with a large breakfast room, wine cellar, a home theater, an exercise room, spa, mudroom, four-car garage, and a first-floor master suite with a large onyx bath. The mansion is on a 0.91-acre parcel" according to the Chicago Tribune.

A few weeks before he was traded he actually moved into this mansion which he paid 4 million for! The house has been on the market for the last few years and he was frustrated not being able to sell it he kept lowering his asking price and finally settled for 2.1 million. Talk about a bargain!

San Diego Chargers #FTW

I believe the San Diego Chargers will win it all this year.

I'm sure you are saying what every one whom I told this to has said "What!? Really!? You're picking the Chargers? Why?"

Yes I really and honestly believe the Chargers will win it all this year. As a Bears and Patriots fan I will be rooting for those teams to win it all, but as a football fan I believe San Diego, or Whale's Vagina, will win it all. And no, I am not writing this post just to write Anchorman jokes. Although I'm sure they will be dispersed throughout this post. But that will be just a bonus.

Before I explain my reasoning, let me first say that we here at GOI do not, and have never believed in full out predictions. Although we enjoy to say what our predictions are and you the fans seem to enjoy them, don't believe in them any more than you can throw them. (NOTE: We here at GOI do not endorse throwing your computer). But now, my reasoning that you can pick apart for various of reasons- the main one being is that you're a hater- for why I think the Chargers will win the Superbowl.

Were you aware that the Chargers were first in defense and offense last year? If you were not it's a fact you'll here often whenever you here the mainstream media (i.e. ESPN) talk about the Chargers. Even being #1 the main reason the Chargers missed the playoffs was because of their sub-par special teams. Any book you've ever read from smart people who know football (Some really good ones are The Hidden Game of Football and The Blueprint) will tell you how important special teams are and hopefully the Chargers organization should also know how important it is considering that was the main reason they did not even win their division.

Now granted, the way people rank the Chargers #1 in offense and defense was by yards and not points scored / allowed. But my counter to that is 1) if you can move the ball / prevent your opponent from moving the ball then you're in great shape 2) the Chargers were #2 last year in points scored per game 3) the Chargers were 11th in points allowed per game. While not #1 in both offense and defense that is still really damn good.

I think the Chargers will still have a good offense and defense in 2011, but let me address their special team- their bane of existence from last season. First, NFL's new kickoff rules will help prevent any sort of kick returns which really helps the Chargers because teams will score less on Chargers than they have from last season. Next, special teams is the easiest thing to fix. It is not like the offense or defense where you need to draft lineman and implement schemes. A team's special team consists of back up players anyways- guys who never start no matter what. Third, the Chargers have realized they needed to make some change and that is why they have hired a new special teams coach who realizes the Chargers special team sucks and is working to improve it.

Another problem the Chargers had last year, besides their special teams, was that they had a bad takeaway/giveaway ratio last season. This is also easy fixable and not predictive from season to season.

Next let's move on to their offense. I think the Chargers will have the best offense in football next year. It is no secret that I have a man crush on Philip Rivers. I was down on him in fantasy football last year because he didn't have any receivers to throw to. And then those no-nothing receivers got hurt and then he absolutely had no receivers to throw to him. Sam Bradford was looking at the Chargers receiving corps and laughed at how bad they were. But what did Rivers do? He stepped up his game and became one of the best quarterbacks in the game. In fact, in November, I thought Rivers was the runner up to be NFL MVP. Now this year, Rivers will have top 10 receiver Vincent Jackson for the entire year and hopefully a full year of Malcolm Floyd (I'm not going to predict anyone besides Frank Gore and Reggie Bush to be injured in 2011).

I don't live at the alter of the theory that you need to an elite quarterback to win a Superbowl. While it certainly helps (see: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees) there have been some great quarterbacks who have never won one (Dan Marino) and some mediocre and bad quarterbacks who have won one (Eli Manning, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer). With that being said, Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback. He will win at least one Superbowl and I believe his time will come this year.

While I think this offense will be better than the defense, the team still took steps to help improve its defense like drafting DT Corey Luiget, signing LB Takeo Spikes and another year with some young guys like LB Larry English, CB Antoine Cason, and LB James Holt.

One point I have heard against the Chargers winning the Superbowl is that Norv Turner tends to lose in the playoffs and that is why, no matter how good the Chargers are, they will never win it. My retort to that is 1) That is a terrible reason and has no predictive value for the future 2) The real coach you are thinking about is Turner's predecessor Marty Schottenheimer 3) In 2007 the Chargers won 2 playoffs games and lost in the AFC Championship Game, in 2008 the Charges beat the Colts in a playoff game, in 2009 the Chargers had a first round bye but did lose their playoff game that they played. 4) That comment was retarded.

I like the Chargers this year to come out of the AFC. I understand the Patriots won 14 games last season and still have a better team than they did last season and that the Colts and Jets are still very good teams, but I am predicting San Diego to win it all. I'm sure I'll be wrong, but this is my point and I'm sticking to it.

Is David Wright Overrated?

Recently, someone in one of my fantasy leagues proclaimed that he felt David Wright was overrated*. His claim was that Wright never returned his draft day value, that he never lived up to expectations, that he is a perpetual injury risk, and that he was not worthy of a top 10, let alone first round, pick.

*This statement was made amidst trade talks, so perhaps the comments need to be taken with a grain of salt in light of the inevitable "all my players are awesome, while all of yours have some marked flaw" back-and-forth that predicates trading.

Naturally, I dismissed these claims as outrageous, but in trying to trade Wright at various points this season, I have perpetually encountered concern about his production potential and value as a real life and fantasy asset. It leads to me wonder whether Wright is being undervalued, or whether I have put the man who has been on each of my squads since I began playing fantasy on a nostalgic pedestal.

The first thing one might notice upon glancing at Wright's player stats page is his 162-game average pace numbers: 27 home runs, 22 stolen bases (to six caught stealing, for a 78.6 percent success rate), 103 runs, 107 RBI, .303/.382/.513 (.895 OPS, .386 wOBA, 137 wRC+).

While Wright has never played 162 games in a season, he did average 155.8 games between 2005 (his first full season as the Mets' starting third basemen) and 2010, including his concussion-shortened 2009 season (144 games played). From 2005 to 2010, Wright thrice played 160 games, appearing in 154 of the Mets' contests in each season other than 2009. In fact, Wright's first disabled list stint came in 2009, after he was beaned in the head by a 94 mph Matt Cain fastball—something you can hardly call a "chronic" health issue. Back problems are always a worry, but this is the first time Wright has had one, and his disabled list stint this year was only the second of his career.

So much for being a perpetual injury risk.

And what about his production? Is it overrated? Wright has exceeded the 162-game pace noted above only once in his career, in his 2007 30/30 campaign, but has produced at an elite level each season of his career.

Between 2005 and 2010, Wright hit fewer than 26 home runs only once—in 2009—and he stole 15 or more bases each of those six seasons. His career low batting average entering this season was .283, while it was only once under .300 before 2010, when he posted a .293 batting average in his inaugural season (2004).

In terms of Wright's relative value, among the 128 players to accrue enough plate appearances between 2005 and 2010 to qualify for at least one batting title, Wright's value over the average player value ranks fifth overall, with a 5.70 Z-Score. Only six players had a Z-Score of five or higher, and the four guys ranked ahead of Wright—Albert Pujols (8.91), Alex Rodriguez (6.72), Miguel Cabrera (6.23), Matt Holliday (5.73)—were undeniably better from 2005-2010 (though position was not considered for these crude Z-Scores). Furthermore, If you combine his partial 2004 season with his 2011 partial season (125 games played), Wright's composite line would be 23 home runs, 14 stolen bases, and a .283 batting average.

Perhaps it is unfair to combine Wright's first and last seasons, as he has been a different hitter since his injury, striking out more frequently and hitting for a little less power. Nonetheless, Wright's composite 2010 and 2011 numbers (212 games) are still quite strong. Since the beginning of 2010, Wright has hit .280/.354/.491 with 38 home runs and 28 stolen bases. That prorates to a 27.5 home run, 20.5 stolen base rate per 155 games played. Furthermore, Wright's walk rate of 10.7 percent in this span is not too far off his career 11.2 percent mark (11.8 percent 2011 mark).

Thus, even with "diminished" batting average and slightly down power (Wright averaged 29 home runs a season between 2005 and 2008, hitting 30-plus in 2007 and 2008), Wright's level of production has not diminished so far as to call his present production disappointing. Citi Field's effects must also be considered, as the park robbed Wright of at least six home runs in 2009.

Let's be realistic/pessimistic for a moment, and presume that Wright's present pace represents most of his true talent line going forward, and that his "true talent" line was "only" a .280/25/15 pace. Let's also ignore positional value, despite the scarcity of production at third base this season. How do those numbers stack up in fantasy?

From 2005 to 2010, only four players averaged 25-plus home runs and 15-plus stolen bases per season: Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley and Wright. That is exclusive company.

More specifically, from 2005 to 2010, there were 57 individual seasons of 25 home runs and 15 steals, or just under 10 per season (some seasons had a couple more, some a couple less, but no season had more than 12 players hit 25/15). Of these 57, only 12 players owned more than one, while only three players (A-Rod, Soriano and Wright) could lay claim to three or more. Wright is the only player to post five 25/15 campaigns over that six-year span.

Even more interestingly, only 24 of those 57 25/15 campaigns involved a player posting a batting average of or above .300. Of those 24, four were turned in by Wright. If we try to stack "present Wright" batting average in the mix, he would still have a better batting average than 16 percent of our sample. You can investigate more 25/15 trends from 2005 to 2010 by clicking here (Excel file).

Balance is an underrated asset in fantasy baseball. Diversification, rather than absolution, mitigates risk by reducing the effect of disappointment by any single player. A squad of fantasy players that average 15+/15+ is just as capable of competing for a fantasy title as a team built with one- and two-trick ponies like Juan Pierre and Ichiro Suzuki. Brad Johnson's fantasy squad in The Hardball Times Fantasy League this year, and my various teams in other leagues, are living, present day testaments to this. The real difference between the two constructs is that the 15+/15+ team's first place dreams are probably not sunk when any single player goes down. Compare the effects of losing, and problems with replacing, a dud like Pierre (50-60 expected stolen bases) to replacing a random 15+/15+ player when the average major league hitter averages something like 12 home runs and nine stolen bases.

So what does this all mean? It means that Wright is not overrated. He is routinely one of only 10 players a season that you can bank on hitting 25 home runs and stealing 15 or more bases, while hitting .280 with batting average upside. In addition to elite production, Wright plays at one of baseball's increasingly premium fantasy positions—third base.

While his declining defense may be a concern for Mets fans, most fantasy formats do not consider defense, and there are no signs that Wright is ticketed to move off the hot corner. He is currently on pace for 25 homers and 25 steals per 155 games this season, and has been red hot since returning from the disabled list. All this after a bounce-back power season last year (29 home runs) after a disappointing longball output in 2009, which was arguably deflated by both park effects (Citi Field has since undergone substantial changes) and a fluke concussion caused by a man whose skill eludes sabermetricians.

So next time someone in your league tries to tell you David Wright is overrated, tell them they are wrong. Heck, try and trade for him if this myth is that permeating.

The Worst Divisions In Sports

I'm bored, I'm watching "Hung" On Demand because I'm taking advantage of free Show Time Comcast gave me and I do have plenty of time to come up with a witty opener and make a great sports / pop culture reference Bill Simmons style. However I will not. Let's just jump right in.

Although a quick disclaimer (it wouldn't be a Sexy Rexy post without at least ONE disclaimer) this list is solely for the big conferences in major sports. I could comment on the worst division in Division 3A in football, but that's too easy. Also, this list is not historic, just within the last year on the sport.

OK, now let's jump right in.

5) Northwest Division, Western Conference (NHL)

Admittedly, I don't watch hockey. I'm glad the NFL is back because if both football and basketball were locked out I would watch hockey (because I am reading The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons and everyone I know watches basketball I figured if there was no NFL but an NBA, I'd start watching basketball. Also, inspired by the Bill Simmons book, I really wish I could add a footnote here).

But anyways, I thought this post would be a really lame list with only four divisions (really though, I only like my top three) and I did not want any repeat sports- although the NL West (MLB) and AFC South (NFL) would be good contenders, so I went with hockey.

This division did have the Vancouver Canucks in it who represented the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup and were a #1 seed- but after them it was brutal. The Northwest Conference was the only division in the NHL last year to only have one representative make it to the playoffs. And with a playoff format like the NHL where eight teams make the playoffs, it is pretty pathetic to only have one rep.

The Calgary Flames, who finished second to the Canucks, would be third place (according to points) in every other division- and in the vast majority of them 4th. Every team in the Pacific division had more points than the Flames.

This is the quintessential sign of a bad division. We're talking about the division as a whole, not just one team in the division here. Keep up folks!

4) Central Division, Eastern Conference (NBA)

This division follows along the same lines as the Northwest Division in the NHL. It had one great team (here my beloved Chicago Bulls) and the rest were pitiful. My other choice was the Pacific Division in the West because only the Lakers from that division went to the playoffs versus two went from the Central. However, the second team from the Central was the Indiana Pacers who ended up being the 8th seed in the East and who only won 37 games (.451 winning percentage) versus the Phoenix Suns who won 40 games and came second to the Lakers. Plus, even *I* know the East is the crappier division.

The Central Division had the worst team in the East and the second worst team in the NBA last year- the Cleveland Cavaliers who only won 19 games. The Central Division was the only other division besides the Pacific to not have at least two teams go over .500 and the only division that only had one team get over 40 wins.

I love ya Bulls, but your division sucked.

3) Big East (NCAA Football)

There are six majors divisions in college sports: Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big-12, Pac-10, and Big East. Last year, the SEC had two teams, the Big Ten had three teams, the Pac-10 had two teams, and the Big-12 had one team in the top 10. While the ACC only had one representative in the top 25 (Big East had two) at least the winner of the ACC (Virginia Tech) was ranked a respectable 12th. The top team from the Big East last year (West Virginia) ranked a whopping 22 and Connecticut barely held in there at 25.

Part of what makes this situation so frustrating and added to my contempt of the Big East is that there are only a select few major bowl games in college football and because the Big East is considered a major conference, they stole a spot from a team that actually deserved to play in a major Bowl game. A few years back when Ohio State played in that Championship Game against LSU, Illinois (ranked #13 at the time) went to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative and college football fans were in an uproar. But that selection was made by Rose Bowl representatives. They could have chosen not to take Illinois and taken a more deserving team. The Fiesta Bowl was forced to take Connecticut who were then handly destroyed by Oklahoma (Big-12). West Virginia went to the Champs Bowl were they were handly destroyed by NC State (ACC).

At least the Big East made up for their mistake and sent 11 representative to dance in March Madness. 10 went out early like they always do but UConn made up for their football blunder by winning the whole she-bang.

2) AL Central (MLB)

As of the writing of this post, about 105 games into the season, the AL Central is the only division to not have any team with a positive run differential. That means that every team in the division has allowed more runs scored than they have scored themselves. It happens because when a team wins they win by a little but when they lose, they lose big. But when you've gone this many games into the season, to be over .500 and/or lead your division and you still have a negative run differential then it's just pitiful. All that means is that whoever wins the AL Central (it looks like it will be the Detroit Tigers who are currently in first place in the AL Central) will get swept in the first round of the playoffs.

The Tigers, who have only won 61 games, would be third place in every other division with the record they currently hold. THIRD! This team is winning their division and they would be THIRD in every other division. Not just second place, but middle of the pack in the other five divisions.

Say it in your best Charles Barkley impersonation: "Turrible, just turrible."

1) NFC West (NFL)

Was there really any doubt in your mind the NFC West is the worst division in sports? The Seattle Seahawks made it to the playoffs and won their division with a losing record! I'm pretty sure this is the first time ever a professional team in the Big Four in sports won their division with a losing record. Seattle didn't go .500 but they actually lost more games than they won. I saw the Seattle/St. Louis game in Week 17 where Sam Bradford could have taken his team to the promise land and a somewhat respectable 8-8. But noooooope! His receivers had to be d-bags and drop great passes and allow Seattle to win. Seattle was 6-8 going into Week 17 and still made it to the playoffs! What's even worse is that they got home field advantage. I understand it's hard to win a playoff game on the road but the Saints were a far superior team than the Seahawks and that talent and skill should have paid off for them.

Un-freaking-believable this division was.