Track and Field

Long weekend, didn’t have a chance to post.  I was a the District Championships for Track and Field, the sport I coach.  It was a great meet with perfect weather and other than the sunburns, I couldn’t have asked for a better meet.  All the boys on my team set personal records, most of them in a big way, and we came away with 10 District Medals and 3 school records from just 7 boys.  The girls team was also very successful finishing 5th as a team and had 4 girls qualify for the State Championship meet.  Can’t wait for States this weekend.

I would have to say out of all of the competition over the weekend, my favorite athletes to watch were the Central Dauphin East sprinters.  TJ Elliot came out and ran like a clear favorite in his events, putting away anyone who got near him like they didn’t even matter.  He finished with 3 gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 and put down some ridiculous times (10.75, 21.66, 42.40) in doing so.  He literally looked like a man among boys at times.  Heading into the State meet, TJ ranks 3rd in both the 100 and 200 and anchors the 5th ranked 4×100 team.  After watching him put away the competition at Districts though I would not count him out as a contender for the gold in any event at States.

On the girls side CD East was even more stacked in the sprints, featuring 3 of the top 10 girls in the 100 dash.  Deme’shia Davis came out of the meet with 4 golds, winning the 100 and 200 and anchoring the 4×100 and 4×400.  She showed her speed and presence of mind winning the close races by a lean and then helping dominate the event they were supposed to dominate in the 4×100 and not letting off the gas to set the District record.  In the 200, pushed by super-freshman Angelica Gonzalez, Davis broke the girls District record recording a time of 24.26.  This was a District record set in 2000 by future Olympic Silver Medalist Hyleas Fountain.  Her 100 time has he seeded second at States (Angelica comes in 5th and CD East teammate Courtney Mitchell 9th) and her and Angelica rank 1st and 2nd for the 200 at States after only a lean separated them last time.  The dominating 4×100 team is also ranked 1st in the State.  Deme’shia should definitely be bringing home more hardware before she graduates.

One other girl that amazed me was Central York’s Megan Lundy.  Lundy was ranked 3rd in the girls 400 behind some younger talent, but the senior who has been excelling since she first started came out on a mission and put the talented field away finishing in a time of 55.64.  She heads in the States ranked 2nd in that event.  Only a short while later Lundy ran in the 200 meter finals and finished 4th behind the aforementioned Davis and Gonzalez.  The group there was so fast that Lundy ranks 6th going in to States.

One last team I wanted to mention was Milton Hershey, specifically, Lindell Swinson.  Milton Hershey is always a strong school, especially in the sprints, and this didn’t chance this year.  Senior Andrew Adighibe finished 2nd behind Elliot in the 100 and he and fellow senior Almamy Bangura finished 2-3 behind Elliot in the 200.  Bangura pulled in a 4th place in the 400, their 4×100 was edged out by Elliot at the end, finishing 2nd and their 4×400 finished a close 3rd.  Even with all of that, Lindell Swinson impressed me the most.  Only in 10th grade, Lindell ran the 400 with purpose and put away a very strong field that included teammate and former District Champion Bangura.  His time of 48.27 was incredibly impressive and the sophomore is now the favorite to win States.

 

Like I said it was a great meet both on and off the track and the weather was perfect.  Obviously I love the sprint races (as a sprint coach that is probably a good thing) and cannot wait to see how the District does at the State Championships.

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Injury Talk

Injuries are a part of football, guys get hurt almost every game.  It is a violent sport and that is just a fact of the game.  For me one of the saddest injuries to see, however, is the off-season injury.  Every year a few players get hurt away from the game and end up missing significant time or the entire season.  Last year off season neck surgery ended up costing Peyton Manning his entire season and ultimately his roster spot in Indy.  This year we have already lost one of the premier left tackles in the league and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year to torn Achilles tendons.  Terrell Suggs says he will be back this season, but Jason Peters recently re-torn his and is done for this entire season and his NFL future could potentially be affected.

Promising Saftey prospect, Chad Jones, drafted by the Giants in 2010 was released on Monday because of injuries he suffered in a car accident prior to the start of his first NFL season that have prevented him from ever playing in the league.

We have also seen the worst occur in the off-season, to promising young players such as Sean Taylor and Chris Henry…

 

For these highly trained athletes to lose playing time, their jobs or even their lives from things that happen in their down time, it is absolutely maddening to know that certain players and coaches in the league would intentionally try to hurt other players.  The game is already violent and players will get hurt, please don’t add to it willingly.

That said , we also cannot continually water down the game in the name of protection.  Football has always been violent and this won’t change without making it into a different sport completely.  Chad Ochocinco addressed this recently and I very much agree with him.  Playing in the NFL is a privilege and also a job for which you are very highly compensated.  If you do not want to deal with the consequences of playing, do not play.  Whether you like him or not, Chad has always played the game for what it is meant to be, a game.  He is there to entertain the crowd and do his job.  He has no problem being fined for celebrations because he knows the money goes to a good cause.  My favorite moment of his was when he was still with the Bengals, went across the middle against the Ravens, and got absolutely wrecked by Ray Lewis.  Chad jumped right up and immediately argued that it was a fair and legal play, that Ray was doing his job, and asked the league not to fine him.

 

I hate seeing the injuries, especially costly ones in the off-season but at least we also get stories like this one.  New Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano made one of his former Rutger’s players dream to play in the NFL come true after he was paralyzed in college.  Classy act, we need more of that.

Fantasy Football Rookies – Conclusions and Predictions

Wrapping up my segment on rookie players in the fantasy football game I am just going to summarize what I found and provide my predictions for the upcoming season.

Quarterbacks:  Only about 20% of rookie quarterbacks see significant playing time in their first season and the average stat line of those that do comes out to 2520 yards, 12.7 TD passes and 13.5 interceptions.  Those numbers do not put you anywhere close to being a top 20 fantasy quarterback and therefore, not worth being owned or drafted initially.  The best producers will be similar to Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford in their respective rookie campaigns, and you can expect them to end up in the late teens in the position ranks by the end of the season, making them solid options as a backup/bye-week fill in, but not worth more than a mid to late round fantasy pick.

Predictions:  The first 2 picks in the real NFL draft are the only options as rookie quarterbacks in the fantasy game.  With Luck I expect an Andy Dalton type stat line at the very best, and RGIII could do just a little more, but both of them have serious questions surrounding their offenses.  I would value them as the non-starters in 12 team leagues and only consider drafting them as backup quarterbacks.  As previously mentioned I don’t think Ryan Tannehill should touch the field this season and I can say the same for Brock Osweiler.  Brandon Weeden will very likely earn the starting job in Cleveland but with a lack of options around him, I can’t imagine he cracks the top 20 quarterbacks list on the season, though he could have a few good weeks.

 

Running Backs:  Roughly 25% of rookie running backs tend to see significant playing time, with an average stat line of 762 yards and 5 TDs for those who do.  That stat line would be just inside the top 30 running backs in the fantasy game and worth a draft pick as a top bench player.  Only 6 rookie RBs have cracked 1000 yards over the last 5 seasons, and while it is likely to be an high draft pick, running back can come from anywhere and being a 1st or 2nd round pick doesn’t guarantee anything as situation is everything.

Predictions:  Trent Richardson will be a guy everyone wants to draft in the fantasy game but I would worry about his ceiling being around the average line of 760 and 5.  The Cleveland offense will have a lot of questions and I’m just not convinced Trent can stay healthy.  Of the first rounders, Doug Martin could produce right away as he could at least share carries with Blount in Tampa.  David Wilson might not see the first too much early on unless Ahmad Bradshaw gets hurt.  Isaiah Pead interests me as he has the talent to spell Steven Jackson but will have to earn his playing time.  I don’t think I would draft them but some of the rookies that I can see ending up in the right situation this season include Ronnie Hillman, Bernard Pierce and Vick Ballard.

 

Wide Receivers:  The NFL is a passing league and more and more wide receivers are able to take advantage.  Of the pass catchers in the last 5 years to see significant playing time, their average stat line comes out to 50 catches, 680 yards and 4.5 TD catches.  This would be a solid WR#3 in the Fantasy game.  The absolute upside is a season like AJ Green had last year, but even he finished as the 16th ranked WR.  Don’t overvalue rookie receivers, no matter how good they are, they won’t be worth more than a WR#3 spot draft-wise.  Also consider that with pass catchers, the ones drafted highly are the ones who are capable of producing right away and rarely does the production come from later round picks, don’t get cute.  Being a high round pick doesn’t guarantee production however, just ask Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Predictions:  I love Justin Blackmon as an NFL prospect and as a long term option at wide receiver.  That said I don’t trust him forthisseason.  That Jacksonville offense was just too disorganized last season.  I think he has a solid but not great rookie season and has value as a bench player you can use on a matchup basis.  I’ve mentioned that I think Michael Floyd is in the perfect situation, should start early on and has all the benefits of having Larry Fitzgerald opposite him.  Quarterback play is the only thing that will limit him but I think he could easily match or outdo the average stat line from above and finish in the high teens or low 20s positionally.  The rest of the wide outs to me will be like playing with fire and while several have the upside of being a strong #3 receiver this season I wouldn’t draft them as more than a late round, fill out my bench type player.

Tight Ends:  Rookie tight ends rarely produce significant numbers, with about 500-600 yards and 5 touchdowns being the absolute upside.  Again the ones who can produce right away are usually high draft picks, and this year only saw 1 tight end go in the first 2 rounds.  Outside of a bye-week plug and play, stay away this season.

Fantasy Football Rookies – Wide Receivers

Finishing up my look across rookies in the fantasy football game, I look at Wide Receivers tonight.  I will also throw out the numbers on some recent tight ends too.  With the new focus on and uptick in passing numbers, this group has gone from traditionally, one of the riskiest, to having a very strong impact right away.  Last season, AJ Green became the first rookie wide receiver to break the 1000 yard mark since Marques Colston in 2006, but several have come close.  Over the past 5 seasons, 7 rookie WRs have had over 800 yards, 3 of them coming last season from AJ Green, Julio Jones and Torrey Smith.

Over these 5 seasons, 37 wide receivers or tight ends have finished their first pro season with at least 40 receptions or at least 500 yards.  That comes out to about 7 usable rookies per season.  The average stat line for these 37 players comes out to a very fantasy relevant 50.6 receptions, 680.6 yards and 4.5 TD catches.  The draft position of these 37 players was also very high as 15 of them were 1st round picks and 9 were 2nd round picks.  4 came from each the 3rd and 4th rounds, 2 from the 5th and 1 from the 6th.  Doug Baldwin and Davone Bess were both undrafted.  While most of the production came from higher round picks, the first round has also been known to have such busts as Craig ‘Buster’ Davis and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Last season, using my league as a reference again, AJ Green finished as the 16th ranked WR, Julio Jones finished 21st, Torrey Smith 28th, Doug Baldwin came in as the 32nd ranked WR and Denarius Moore finished 35th.  All of these rookies were very useable in the fantasy game but even with one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, AJ Green was still no more than a solid #2 WR at best.

The tight end position is much harder to predict.  Of those 37 previously mentioned pass catchers, 8 of them were tight ends and 4 of them did it in 2010.  John Carlson is the only TE to have more than 600 yards over the past 5 years and Carlson, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are the only ones to catch 5 or more TD passes.  The duo of Gronkowski and Hernandez in New England have revitalized the position and they were productive right off the bat, but even they were at best low-end starters or bye-week/match-up plays in their first year.  Also of note, of the 8 tight ends to make the list, 6 were picked in the first two rounds of the draft.  Tony Moeaki was a 3rd round pick and Aaron Hernandez was a 4th round pick.

While as a whole I have been discouraging rookies as a fantasy football investment, the one place you can expect a decent return is from a wide receiver.  At least 4 or 5 wide receivers make a fantasy contribution each season as passing numbers continue to inflate.  Usually these players are high draft picks but could come from anywhere.  Just keep in mind that the upside is no better than a solid to low-end WR#2.  If a rookie tight end is going to produce, it won’t be as more than a deep league starter or good bench option, and it will almost definitely be from a high draft pick.

Fantasy Football Rookies – Running Backs

Continuing with the focus on rookie players in fantasy, I move on to running back.  Jimmy Kempski at Blogging the bEast did a post on Giants fans and their expectations for rookie running back David Wilson, and it helps illustrate  my point here.  Please check out his site if you are a football fan, specifically if you cheer for any of the NFC East teams.

The biggest factor in figuring out rookie running backs is their situation.  Are they a true starter or part of a committee?  Which part of the committee are they?  Will they get goal line carries?  Injuries play a big part too.  Ryan Williams and Mikel Leshoure never made it on the field last season after being drafted in nearly every fantasy league.  The other rookies primarily got their play time because the veteran back ahead of them got hurt.  Its a crap shoot at best.

The rookie rushing leaders last season were DeMarco Murray and Roy Helu.  They rushed for 897 yards, 2 TDs and 640 yards, 2 TDs respectively.  Going back to my league’s position rankings, they finished 29th and 30th, making them low-end RB3/Flex options.

The first thing to take into account with these two players is consistency.  Murray barely saw the field until week 7 when he had about 30% of his total output for the season.  Over a 4 week span, Murray had 601 (67%) of his yards and both of his TDs, and then got hurt in week 14 and missed the rest of the season.  Helu had a similar season, playing inconsistently for the first 11 weeks, never having more than 10 carries.  Then in weeks 12-14 he had 334 yards (over 50%) and both of his TDs, followed that with an ok game, then missed week 16 and managed only 4 carries for 5 yards in the season finale.  These players probably went undrafted or much later on in the fantasy draft, then won you some weeks if you managed to add them, and then cost you some as well.

Over the last 5 seasons, only 26 rookie running backs (there were 19 RBs drafted this year alone) have received 100+ carries, and only 6 have topped the 1000 yard rushing mark.  (noteworthy, 8 of those 100 carry rookie backs came from 2008 and 3 of the 6 1000 yard rookie backs from that same season)  The average stat line for these 26 rookie running backs comes out to 762 yards and 5 TDs.  That doesn’t sound too bad, and that matches up pretty well with last seasons top guys in Murray and Helu.

The other thing to consider is who is getting these numbers and where they are coming from.  Last year saw 5 running backs go in the first 2 rounds of the NFL Draft but the leaders fantasy-wise were DeMarco Murray(3rd) and Roy Helu(4th).  Looking back over those same 26 backs to receive at least 100+ carries over the last 5 seasons, the break down is as follows:  10 1st rounders, 4 2nd rounders, 4 3rd rounders, 3 4th rounders , 2 5th rounders, and 3 of them were undrafted players.  This list of 26 players has guys like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte on it, but is also includes names such as Delone Carter, Chris Ivory, Selvin Young and Kolby Smith.

Based on the numbers you could find a rookie running back good enough to be your #3 or 4 fantasy back, but the odds of if being who you think it will be are slim.  The 1st round draft picks are the best bet to produce but it is by no means a guarantee that they will even play, and its just as likely you will be dropping them in week 4 to pick up the mid-round or undrafted rookie who is suddenly a starter, only to have them fizzle out a few weeks later as well.

When you look at Trent Richardson in your fantasy draft this fall, remember, even though the great A.P. went for 1341 yards and 12 TDs as a rookie, Darren McFadden was also widely considered a can’t miss player only had 499 yards and 4 touchdowns his first year in the league.  Temper your expectations.

Fantasy Football Rookies – Quaterbacks

Since it is almost that time already, I wanted to talk about fantasy football, particularly rookies.  Every year people get overly excited about big name rookies and subsequently overdraft them.  In standard, one season leagues, rookie players always end up getting over-valued and even in a basic keeper league where you keep 3 or 4 players, getting a star rookie isn’t a great idea, you want to get the best current players who are going to produce now because in fantasy football you need to win now.  Now if you are in a Dynasty league where you will be building large, long term rosters, where you keep most of all of your players from season to season then you absolutely need rookies, and probably have a rookie draft.  In that case this information is not directed towards you (though I will make some comments on it) and hopefully you are doing your own homework.

Lets start with Quarterbacks.  First off, Cam Newton is the exception, not the rule.  Rookies do not throw for 4000 yards and 21 touchdown and run for 700 and 14 touchdowns.  That was a ridiculous season for any quarterback, much less a rookie.

Looking at least season, Andy Dalton, a 2nd round pick, threw for all but 3400 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  He had a great season for a rookie signal caller but from a fantasy perspective, he was well outside starting consideration in even 12 team leagues.  In a league I ran last season, (slightly modified ESPN rules but fairly standard, nothing crazy) Dalton finished as the 17th ranked quarterback.  He was a solid match-up play/bye week quarterback.  Of the other 4 quarterbacks taken in the first 2 rounds of last seasons draft, not one of them was worth drafting.  The season before, Sam Bradford had a stat line very similar to Dalton’s and this was from a #1 overall pick.

Over the last 5 seasons, there have been 60 quarterbacks drafted, or an average of 12 per season.  Over that same period, only 13 rookie quarter backs have had more than 1000 passing yards and only 9 had more than 10 TD passes, with 4 of them coming last season.  Only Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan have eclipsed the 3000 yard mark and the same group are the only ones to toss more than 15 TDs.

The average stat line of the 13 quarterbacks to break 1000 passing yards comes out to an ugly 2520 yards, 12.7 TD passes and 13.5 interceptions.  To put that in perspective, Blaine Gabbert threw for 2214 yards, 12, and 11 last season, and finished as the 28th ranked quarterback in my league last season.

 

The moral of the story, a lot of you are going to be tempted to use a high pick on Andrew Luck or RGIII but at least take the time to stop and think about your decision.  You are banking on getting Cam Newton production but the odds are stacked against you even getting a top 12 QB.

Random Thoughts

First off, it is very comforting to see all of the first round picks already starting to sign.  I hate those long holdouts and this new rookie pay scale seems like it will cut back on those.  You can check the first round signing here.

 

The 76ers knocked of the very injured #1 seed Bulls last night.  Despite the fact that the Bulls were missing their best 2 players, this was not a series many people thought Philly had a chance in after their late season collapse and the fact that they barely backed into the #8 seed in the playoffs.  To the Sixers and coach Doug Collins credit, however, they had their first winning season since the 04-05 season, Iguodala’s rookie season, and their first winning playoff series since 02-03.  They have been to the playoffs a few times along the way but always ending in 4-1 or 4-2 defeats.  They also became only the 5th 8 seed to knock out a 1 seed.  Its been almost 10 years since the Sixers saw round 2 of the playoffs and since AI’s ‘practice’ rant.  I don’t how they got there or who they beat to do it, the fact is there are there and playing a very beatable Celtics team.  The Sixers fans, team and coaches have to be happy about that.

 

In other sports news, the Phillies suck.  1-2 vs the Nationals then swept by the Mets.  19th in runs scored and only 15th in ERA with the best pitching staff in the majors.  Last place in the division.  Philadelphia fans better not be planning for the post season this year, as strange as that must feel.  Cheer for your Sixers now and then get ready for football season.