Dynasty Experts Q and A: Offseason Week 6

Each and every week we will ask our dynasty experts several questions regarding fantasy football. Our expert panel will answer anything you throw at them. We’ll look at buy-low and sell-high players along with trade questions we receive during the week from our followers as well as other general dilemmas and draft questions. Here we go:

***This week our expert guest is Ron McCleese of Fakepigskin.com***

1.) Sum Super Bowl LI up in three sentences?

Luke Grilli -That was a tale of two games, and as a die hard Patriots fan, I’m thrilled we won the second half. The first half led me to consume a lot of adult beverages, which made it very challenging to fully comprehend what went on in the second half. The next morning I had to re-watch the game in order to fully grasp the historic comeback. In short, it is AWESOME to be a Patriots fan. (Ya, that was 4 sentences. Deal with it. I’m still on Cloud 9)

Brian Hawkes – Brady will go down as the best ever. That being said, the Falcons completely imploded and did not capitalize on the opportunities Brady (throwing into poor reads; should’ve been intercepted multiple times) and the Patriots (Freeman blitz pickup with Gabriel running wide open deep up the seam) gave them. The Falcons lack of postseason experience was too much to overcome, and it led to their defeat.

Josh Johnson – The Pats experience pierced the biggest Super Bowl deficit ever by deflating the Falcons. Perhaps the Dirty Birds out psyched their own running game by believing too much in their aerial attack. What an epic and record-breaking comeback.

Ron McCleese – Whether you’re a New England Patriots die-hard fan or not Super Bowl LI will go down as one of the most memorable finishes ever. The Falcons held an incredible 28-3 lead with 8:31 left in the 3rd quarter after Tevin Coleman’s 6-yard receiving touchdown. This set the stage for the biggest Super Bowl comeback ever led by arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game. Tom Brady operated as a surgeon under center while cutting the Falcons defense up with precision passes. The Falcons offensive play-calling led by new 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan ultimately would cost them a ring along with some critical penalties down the stretch. When the smoke cleared the Pats were celebrating Tom Brady’s 5th Super Bowl victory in 7 tries. The icing on the cake was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handing the Lombardi Trophy over too Robert Kraft and company. Let’s just say Tom Brady got the last laugh after serving his 4-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

2.) What do you watch for when breaking down college wide receiver tape?

Brian Hawkes – Don’t watch highlights – watch game tape. Look for elite traits (size, speed, strength, hands, ability versus press and zone). Rate each of those traits.  If a player doesn’t possess any elite traits, ask yourself how he will win at the next level. This is only part of the equation (breakout age, production, market share, consistency, performance versus quality opponents, character, work ethic, etc.), but tape is a big factor.

Josh Johnson – With most prospects it’s nearly impossible to not see highlights before you see everything else. With WRs I like to expound on that and watch all the sickest
highlights to get a good feel of what they do well. Then I get to the game tapes. I generally watch the lower level competition first followed by strongest team they have ever faced. I do feel it is important to to watch older tape first then work your way up to their final college season. Thats gives you a basis of how then can potentially mature at the next level. All this gives me plenty of notes. However I still like to go back and watch a few tapes again. This time around I just watch their feet. We always pound home the footwork of QBs (I do recognize its importance) but a wideout’s feet can tell you so much about both their confidence and their level of aggression.

Ron McCleese – When I’m breaking down college wide receivers’ I look for a lot of things. The main points are how good they are at gaining separation off the line and getting open. If a receiver can prove capable of running a full route tree they can make up for some of their deficiencies in other areas in regards to speed and size. If a receiver can win on the inside and outside they’re going to more valuable at the next level. I try not to focus too much on the measurables but everyone knows a taller receiver will have an advantage over smaller defensive backs thus allowing them to win contested balls or high-point. It goes without saying but receivers’ who catch with their hands instead of catching balls in their pads the majority of the time will stand out on tape. I also examine tape on receivers’ and analyze how good their ball skills are when the ball is in the air and if they have that “my ball” mentality. In addition how good is their catch radius? A great example of this would be Odell Beckham Jr. His superhuman ball skills and unbelievable catch radius allow him to make incredible catches look easy in real-time. Lastly I watch closely to see how physical a receiver is and how easily they get bumped off their routes. This is an area that can be improved on with proper conditioning at the next level but it’s still very important when making the transition to the NFL where everyone is bigger and faster.

3.) What do you watch for when breaking down college running back tape?

Brian Hawkes – Again, look for elite, transferrable traits (size, speed, strength, vision, patience, agility). I hate to say it, but talent matters at running back…just not as much. We’ve seen too many late round or undrafted players emerge at the next level for me to overlook. Situation (opportunity) matters a ton at this position in the NFL. 

Josh Johnson – With RBs I take a lot of notes watching their worst games. What were all the contributing factors? How much do they attempt to keep the play alive? Do they fight for yardage when there is not much of a window to do so? How reactionary are they after first contact? I suppose those questions can be ask in any game but I will never forget watching Kenneth Dixon versus Oklahoma back in 2014. He rushed 16 times for 42 yards and caught 3 passes for 14 yards and a TD in a 48 to 16 drubbing. Yet Dixon showed so much on that film. He scratched and clawed for every ounce of those yards. He had one 22-yard run early and he gained just 20 yards the rest of the way but he never stopped fighting for yards or space. I feel this especially important when you consider some top tier RBs will go into some not so great offenses.

Ron McCleese  – Honestly I think I enjoy breaking down college running backs the most since I grew up watching the likes of Barry Sanders and Walter Payton in an era when the running game ruled the NFL. The position has been devalued in recent years with the NFL changing to a pass-heavy scheme. However in college we still get to live in the past with a lot of offenses leaning on power backs. When I turn on the tape to watch running backs in college I look for lots of traits. How good is his vision and awareness? What good does track speed do when you can’t see 5 or 10 yards ahead of play and the back runs into a wall of defenders? I watch to see if a running back is patient in waiting for his blocks to be setup and then once they are, is he able to use his vision to accelerate at the right time through the crease of the defense. Truth be told speed is overrated for running backs and too much stock is put in 40-times nowadays. I focus more on whether or not a running back has good flexibility, burst, and balance. A great example of this would be Arian Foster. He was considered slow by scouts but he made up for his lack of speed with great vision, balance, and timing. I think measurables cannot be ignored when it comes to evaluating running backs. To be a true workhorse back you must have great upper body strength to push the pile and gain extra yards. I want to see a running back initiate contact and run through potential tacklers. This trait allows backs to have a higher yards after contact average. Endurance is a key trait for running backs and without it they will be relegated to a chance of pace role or 3rd down specialist. I also watch to see how elusive a running back is once they get to the 2nd level of defenders. I watch to see how shifty a running back is and if they have a juke step that can leave their defenders in their dust. Lastly I watch for change of direction ability and as some scouts say look for loose or tight hips. This is key trait that allows running backs to be shifty and make cuts in the open field which creates a big run out of nothing.

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