Brad Morgan

Red Zone Report

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Red Zone Report Wrapup

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nothing lasts forever, but if one thing could, this little game we play would definitely be in the running. There's something about fantasy football that seems so important, while at the same time fun and competitive. For all the former athletes-turned-unreasonably-intense-weekend warriors (including yours truly) it gives us a chance to compete for that elusive prideful feeling once again. Although the goal is to "win", the real fun is chasing that win against your buddies, trash talking, and occasionally rooting for Brandon Jacobs but against Eli Manning, in the same game. Now, of course, the NFL season isn't over; but the part that you can take any personal pride in has ended.

While I'll be watching intently on Sunday, hoping that Marvin Lewis gives the Jets another gift and benches his starters, it's a different feeling than rooting for something covered in your finger prints.

Speaking of things covered in my fingerprints, I'd figure it would be fun to look back at a few of the good calls, some of the bad, and the one truly awful call that beats them all from this years' Red Zone Report. And I'll look at some new ideas to improve the Red Zone Report for next year (If you any, send them in, I'd love to hear em).

The Good

Dump Steve Slaton

After seeing Slaton lose more and more important carries (in scoring situations), I felt it was only a matter of time before his fantasy value took a huge hit. Within a few weeks, Slaton's value had completely plummeted, and gave way to one of the most annoying RB by committees in recent memory. (the ole' guess who Gary Kubiak wants to give the ball to this week game).

Tight Ends

For some reason, I really nailed a bunch of TE calls. I called Brent Celek a top 5 TE after Week 3, then added Vernon Davis to my top 5 after Week 4. I also found myself alone behind the wheel of the Fred Davis bandwagon for too long.

Buy Low on LT

After being hurt and ineffective for the first 6 weeks of the season, LT was proclaimed all but dead. However, I saw a guy on an explosive offensive still getting the majority of Goal Line carries, which meant that it was only a matter of time before it started raining touchdowns. Before I told you to buy low: 1 TD and fantasy doom; After: 11 TDs and Top 7 RB value…I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

The Bad

Brandon Jacobs' Touchdowns will come

I addressed this somewhat in the Airing of Grievances column, but truly Brandon Jacobs: you made a fool of me. He taunted me with his ridiculous power/speed combo, and ran like a fairy. His career 5.0 yards per carry went down to 3.7 in 2009, that's pitiful. He barely finished as a top 25 back, despite having better scoring opportunities than nearly everyone else.

Larry Johnson is worth waiting for

In all fairness, this was correct if you were in the jerks on the Bengals fantasy league. Never heard of this? (points for misdemeanors, felonies, awesome celebrations, and of course homophobic slurs against your head coach). Seriously, I saw the schedule LJ was poised to face the rest of the season (the same one Jamaal Charles built his name on), and thought he could have some real value. Silly me I didn't factor in LJ trying to get kicked off the team.

The Absolutely, Ridiculously, Awful, Are you on Meth Horrible

This was put under: Things that might be true

Chris Johnson will finish outside of the Top 10 RBs

Wow. It's one thing to feel stupid looking back, it's another to have been seriously down on a running back who ended up turning in one of the most spectacular season's we've ever seen. And while there really aren't many other words I can use to further bemoan this appalling prediction (there's another one), there is a silver lining.

The light at the end of this dark tunnel is the creation of the Chris Johnson Rule. Which was one of the many things I learned this season, that will be used to improved next season's analysis.

The Chris Johnson Rule, and other stuff I learned for next season

The idea of the Chris Johnson Rule is simple: RBs with explosive big play ability (which was operationalized by looking at how often they broke of 10+ yard runs and 25+ yard runs) can overcome not being their team's clear cut Goal Line back. If we look at RZ stats and running explosiveness together, we can get a much better idea of which running backs will produce the most fantasy value. Next season these stats will be tracked, and used frequently in analysis.

Tracking GL targets in addition to RZ targets

I toyed with the idea of tracking Goal Line targets for WRs and TEs (in addition to Red Zone targets), and started taking it seriously too late. But it would assist in giving us an idea of which players are getting chances to actually catch the ball in the end zone (which are the easiest scoring chances), as opposed to just when they are thrown the ball in the Red Zone (inside the 20) which represents many different types of targets- ranging from screen passes to fade routes. Next season this will be added to the bevy on RZ Report tools.

Three Week trends in RZ+GL targets

Lastly, and perhaps the best improvement that you'll see next year is the introduction of Weekly RZ+GL target trends. In addition to seeing how many targets players have gotten, and what percentage of their teams RZ targets they get, we will be able to evaluate the relevancy of those stats by looking at their targets over their last 3 games. This will give us insight into how these players are currently being used, as opposed to only looking at season totals which can be skewed by a few big weeks.

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