There isn’t a good time to search for logic and calm among those who deliver the hot sprots takes to the various screens you consume football through daily. The cycle generally goes something like this: event is witnessed, lowest-hanging fruit is forced fed to you, repeat.
With the exception of the few good men on their respective panels (you’re alright, Steve Young), this is what ESPN and NFL Network have generally been reduced to immediately after a game. It’s why last night during halftime of their eventual loss to Carolina, we heard Keyshawn Johnson speculate about a Super Bowl hangover for the Ravens. During the third preseason game. On August 22nd.
And it’s why panic has spread throughout the land about the Patriots, and their imminent demise following a 40-9 loss to Detroit. Yes, we know the stat well now: on nine series, New England’s first-team offense scored three points. They also had four turnovers during their first five drives, three of which came through fumbles. What you’re not hearing quite as much is that one of those fumbles came from Zach Sudfeld, an undrafted rookie who may be leaned on heavily for only a short time, with Rob Gronkowski still targeting a Week 3 return. The other two came from Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, who combined for just one fumble last year on 127 carries.
It was indeed a poor night, but viewing it through some prism of forthcoming doom is the sort of thing that allows the worst among the sprots takes deliverers to exist and yell at us (especially when we consider the sheer randomness and luck of fumble recovery).
So instead, let’s discuss something that does matter a lot, especially for the vast population of fake football fiends. The awesome power of Kenbrell Thompkins.
With Danny Amendola out because risking that time bomb explosion in the preseason isn’t intelligent at all, Thompkins sealed the No. 2 wideout job with 116 receiving yards on eight catches, highlighted by a 37-yard grab. He was well ahead of the second best Patriots receiver last night, as rookie Aaron Dobson finished with a modest 50 yards on four catches.
Thompkins was able to gain separation with ease, and what’s especially encouraging for his ceiling — beyond the fact that Amendola will bust eventually — is how often Tom Brady looked in his direction. Thompkins was targeted 12 times, even though veteran Julian Edelman was on the field for all but one of the Patriots’ first-team offensive snaps (46 in total).
Sadly, much like Jordan Cameron last week, your days of Thompkins bargain hunting in fantasy drafts came to an end last night. I suppose I’m not helping either (sorry?).
According to the charted ADP data at Fantasy Football Calculator, Thompkins was a 13th-round pick at the beginning of last week, a fine steal on a receiver who’s set to start opposite Amendola. Now, he’s risen by two rounds, a skyrocket which will continue. Thompkins is currently inside the 10th round, coming off the board on average at 110.6 overall.
That still sounds like fine value until you see that Emmanuel Sanders is sitting only a few spots ahead of Thompkins. Same with Mike Williams and Golden Tate, all of whom will likely be targeted much more than Thompkins once Gronk returns.
But there’s still a good chance Thompkins will remain in that 10th or 11th round territory among a group of similar receivers who have equal amounts of high upside sleeper potential, and uncertainty. We’re talking about fellow breakout darlings like Michael Floyd, Vincent Brown, and Alshon Jeffery.
If that scenario unfolds, take the guy who’s receiving passes from Tom Brady every time.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Redman is ahead of Dwyer…for now
Yesterday after I wrote many words of warning and advised you to stay the hell away from Le’Veon Bell in fantasy drafts, we heard what seemed like wonderful news: he won’t need surgery on his Lisfranc/mid-foot injury, and he therefore won’t be out for the entire season. There was much rejoicing, but it seems there wasn’t much looking at the calendar.
While these injuries are highly unpredictable and Bell could come back either sooner or much later than planned (Maurice Jones-Drew repeatedly attempted to return from his Lisfranc injury last year and failed), the widespread initial timetable being batted around by those in the know is six-to-eight weeks. If we’re thinking optimistically then on the low end of that, Bell will most likely be out until after the Steelers’ Week 4 bye, making his first appearance in Week 5.
That still gives him some value if we operate under the risky assumption that he’ll appear in at least 12 games. So if you’re willing to be the guy who takes a sweet discount on Bell of at least three rounds or so, go nuts. A lot of moving parts have to fall just right for that investment to be cashed in.
We all knew this day would come
All these years, the Lions have had a lion as a mascot. Makes sense, right? Yeah, until it starts to EAT PEOPLE…
The more you know
Lisfranc injuries are the new hotness, according to cool cat Maurice Jones-Drew. Seriously, this weekend go tell some bar vixen about your long fight with the Lisfranc demon. If you’re doing that, just starting planning the wedding now too.
But take a few minutes for some Lisfranc education first with ESPN’s Stephania Bell. Turns out it’s named after an evil French doctor, or something:
Why Lisfranc? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon’s army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also a story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. Thankfully, with modern medicine, these injuries don’t typically require amputation, and surgery can preserve the joint.
Much anger in August
Y’know, Willie Young, if there’s a time to get all up in Brady’s grill and remind him that you are the man and he is not the man, it’s definitely two weeks before meaningful football happens. Young was benched shortly after this, showing that even Jim Schwartz — master of the post-game profanity pump — has an idiocy intolerance before September.
Brady educates tomorrow’s youth
Long before the Patriots’ first-team offense was going about the business of looking horrendous, Brady went back to the place where he was first under-appreciated as a quarterback early in his career: the University of Michigan.
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) August 22, 2013
He spoke to the current Michigan Wolverines, and it wasn’t just your generic rah-rah, go get’em you powerhouse Division I college football team X speech. It was an interesting reflection, with Brady discussing a time when he was less than a nobody, and not even able to start on his college team. Seeing a quarterback who’s accomplish so much now be genuinely humbled is rare.
You can watch the highlights here, because evidently the University of Michigan hasn’t discovered the technology to provide embeddable videos yet. But the most interesting takeaway is this: despite his titles and the NFL glory he’s achieved, Brady still says his proudest moment in football is being named Michigan’s captain in his senior year.
Antonio Cromartie supports playing ball, not crying
I think we can all understand that be an effective football team when such a thing matters during games, practices have to be conducted with a certain level of intensity. Thus, injuries will happen, but if you’re a veteran in late August who isn’t at all worried about his roster spot, maybe you should be a little more selective when dishing out hits which could cause serious injury. In practice.
Antonio Cromartie doesn’t comprehend this logic. As chronicled by Shutdown Corner, in a Jets practice the cornerback delivered a hit on Stephen Hill which was so hard it left him gasping for air. In practice.
Cromartie’s response? “Don’t cry, play ball”
I will now remind you that Hill struggled through injuries in his rookie year, and more importantly, he’s on a thin wide receiver depth chart that will most likely begin the year without Santonio Holmes. Seriously, the Jets are starting Braylon Edwards.
Chill a little, Antonio.
And about Holmes…
He could be a dirty faker:
An organizational source said many people around the team believe the mercurial wide receiver is just trying to avoid training camp and he is healthier than he is letting on. In fact, a source said Dr. Robert Anderson, the foot specialist in North Carolina who operated on Holmes, has cleared Holmes to begin football activities, but Holmes has resisted.
Greg Jennings, and value
There’s gold in them there Greg Jennings hills, maybe. Repeatedly I’ve maintained that although we should obviously expect a fantasy drop off with Jennings because that’s what happens when a receiver goes from Green bay to Minnesota and from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder, the latter is ideally suited to Jennings’ skillset. Jennings is versatile and can line up both in the slot and out wide, and he excels on intermediate routes. Ponder, meanwhile, throws a poor deep ball, and needs a consistent connection on short routes.
J.J. Zachariason at NumberFire did his own exploring, and like most, found that Jennings’ production and value as currently a seventh-round pick is primarily tied to targets, and how many he receives alongside Cordarrelle Patterson, and in a run-based offense.
He stumbled upon a magic number Jennings can easily meet to retain his value:
Let’s assume he sees 140 targets this year. That would more than likely rank him in the top 12 amongst receivers in the category. Last year, the only receiver who had 140 targets who didn’t finish in the top 20 at wide receiver was Stevie Johnson. He finished as the 23rd-ranked wideout. And guess what? His quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, finished almost identically to Christian Ponder in terms of passing net expected points per attempt.
Christian Ponder’s problem right now is that he’s Christian Ponder. But he’s still not Ryan Fitzpatrick.