Sunday, October 4, 2015

Checking in on my preseason RB rankings

Matthew Berry tells the story of having to defend his preseason rankings to Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, not only in person, but in front of an audience full of Eagles fans. In that spirit, I look back at my preseason running back rankings.

Checking in on my preseason RB rankings

(Mike Groll/AP Photo)
(Mike Groll/AP Photo)

Matthew Berry of ESPN wrote a very interesting Love/Hate column this week that began with his thoughts on DeAngelo Williams' tweet from Sunday night that read:

Berry went on to describe the humble beginnings of fantasy football and how this is a reminder of far it has come. He sympathizes with the athletes that have been trolled by haters on twitter.

But then, something magical appeared. Something I was very upset that I missed, and quite frankly don't know how I did. Berry referenced a column that he wrote back on August 25. In it, he tells the story of having to defend his preseason rankings to a pair players, not only in person, but in front of an audience.

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Those two players were none other than Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy. And it was in front of an audience of mostly Eagles fans at a panel discussion hosted by Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic.

Here is how Berry describes it:

But before we got to that discussion, and the many questions that followed … there was a weird moment. Like, really weird.

And awkward. Sooooo awkward. Like many people, I generally don't like confrontation. I think most people want to be liked, and I'm no different. When I was a boss, I hated having to give bad news to an employee. And now, here I was, in front of 500 or so rabid Eagles fans, with players I liked a lot for fantasy, having to tell them things they didn't want to hear. I had to directly tell Michael Vick, not six inches away from me, that yeah, I think five quarterbacks are better than you this year.

So uncomfortable.

And I had to explain to LeSean McCoy why I had two other running backs ahead of him. Like everyone else, but especially pro athletes, these guys have a lot of pride in what they do, and, whether they admit it publicly or not, they all think they're the best. And here's little ol' me, starting to go bald, never played the game, armed with a bunch of nerdy stats. Me.

But, as the panel continued, I became OK with it. I had no idea what questions were coming at me, and they came fast and furious. I patiently tried to explain each ranking, my thought process behind each, and why I had these two guys and their NFL counterparts ranked where I did.

I cannot imagine being in that situation, but if I was, I like to think I would be able to hold my own. Unfortunately, I would have to explain why I had five running backs ahead of McCoy.

Since Berry was talking about defending his rankings, I thought this was a good time to check back on my running back rankings. Since there have been some injuries and bye weeks, I decided to go by points per games played instead of total points. Here is how they stack up:

1 Arian Foster (HOU) 18.2 1
2 Jamaal Charles (KC) 15.4 9
3 Ray Rice (BAL) 14.6 2

Stevan Ridley (NE) 14.6 30
5 Alfred Morris (WAS) 14.4 NR
6 Trent Richardson (CLE) 14.2 21 +15
7 Andre Brown (NYG) 13.67 NR  NA
8 Frank Gore (SF) 13 15 +7

Reggie Bush (MIA) 13 20 +12
10 Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
12.8 10 E
  C.J. Spiller (BUF) 12.8 29 +19
12 Michael Turner (ATL) 12.2 13 -1
13 Willis McGahee (DEN) 12 22 +9
14 Adrian Peterson (MIN) 11.8 5 -9
15 Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG)  11.75 17
16 Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC)
11.2 3 -13
  LeSean McCoy (PHI) 11.2 6 -10
18 Jackie Battle (SD) 10.75 NR  NA
19 Matt Forte (CHI) 10.5 4 -15
20 Darren Sproles (NO)

PPG = Points per game played1
MM = My preseason rankings
+/- = Difference between actual rank and my projections
Absolute differential = Sum of absolute value of each +/- differential

So there they are, and it isn't pretty. I hit a couple pretty close, but most were way off. The "absolute differential" is the sum of the absolute value of each individual differential, and seems like the best way to take a cumulative look at how I fared in the top 20, no matter how bad it is...

Before you kill me for all the misses, here's a look at how ESPN's and Yahoo!'s preseason projections compare:

1 Arian Foster (HOU) 1 E   1
2 Jamaal Charles (KC) 9 +7   12
3 Ray Rice (BAL) 2 -1   2

Stevan Ridley (NE) 24 +21   40
5 Alfred Morris (WAS) 57 NA   NR
6 Trent Richardson (CLE) 15 +9   7 +1
7 Andre Brown (NYG) NR NA   NR  NA
8 Frank Gore (SF) 17 +9   21 +13

Reggie Bush (MIA) 21 +13   18 +10
10 Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
6 -4   8 -2
  C.J. Spiller (BUF) 33 +23   32 +22
12 Michael Turner (ATL) 16 +4   16  +4
13 Willis McGahee (DEN) 20 +7   26 +13
14 Adrian Peterson (MIN) 10 -4   20 -3
15 Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) 19 +4   17
16 Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC)
5 -11   5 -11
  LeSean McCoy (PHI) 3 -13   3 -13
18 Jackie Battle (SD) NR NA   NR  NA
19 Matt Forte (CHI) 7 -12   10 -9
20 Darren Sproles (NO)
-2   17

So ESPN has me beat by four, but I best Yahoo! by 10. Not bad, but there is still a lot of football left to be played and these standings will change weekly.

1 If a player appeared in a game, but left early with an injury and did not touch the ball or score any points, I did not count that as a game played.

Matt Mullin is a sports producer at You can reach him by e-mail at Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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