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Love or Hate? Greene, Bowe, Freeman and Holmes

by dave
Aug 9, 2011

Shonn GreeneTwo of my favorite fantasy football advice columns are the “Dissenting Opinions” series at Yahoo’s RotoArcade and the “Faceoffs” done by FootballGuys. Each examines a player or topic and gives their resident experts – with opposing views – a chance to argue. And what would fantasy football be without heated arguments (warning: video includes a few F-bombs)?

One cool thing about the data we collect is that we can show dissenting opinions for every player from the 50+ experts we track. Just go to the player’s page and  you’ll know which experts love or hate a particular player. I took a look at four players that have pretty wide spreads in terms of best and worst rank: Shonn Greene, Dwayne Bowe, Josh Freeman, and Santonio Holmes.


Let’s meet the experts that had the boldest prediction for one or more of these players:
Andy Behrens – Yahoo! Sports

Andy is the editor of the aforementioned RotoArcade, Yahoo’s fantasy football blog. He also happens to be a certified marksman, having won our accuracy competition in 2009 and placing 3rd out of 40 experts in 2010. If he finishes in the top 5 again this year, we may need to ask him to give up his other career as a novelist.


Brad “The Big Noise” Evans – Yahoo! Sports
Brad is a contributor to the Emmy nominated webcast “Fantasy Football Live” and one of the few guys that touted the services of Arian Foster last preseason. This season, he’s a big believer in Mikel Leshoure. . . well, at least he was. Sorry Brad, you’ll have to hunt for a new “follow up to nailing Arian Foster as a sleeper” pick this year.


Sigmund Bloom – FootballGuys
In addition to writing for FootballGuys, Sigmund co-hosts The Audible and owns If that’s not enough, he happens to be a bar certified attorney (we won’t hold that against him), web developer (sig, we could use an extra hand), and Phish devotee (to the tune of 120 concerts in 27 states).


Matt Waldman – FootballGuys
Matt pens one of the most comprehensive publications on rookie prospects each year, The Rookie Scouting Portfolio. He’s also a guest columnist for The Fifth Down, the NFL blog of the NY Times (and unlike me, he deserves it). I personally owe Matt a few beers for helping me with “my” stellar sleeper picks a couple years ago.
Jason Wood – FootballGuys
Jason writes many of the popular player spotlights at FootballGuys and has won his fair share of staff league titles at FBG (the most?). Pretty impressive given their army of experts. His Ivy League education has in no doubt contributed to his successful run at this nerdy game we love.
Yes, coincidentally, it’s a Yahoo and FootballGuys monopoly. I almost thought about calling the post “Yahoo vs. FootballGuys” but I didn’t want to ignite a fight! We did enough of that last year.



Shonn Greene, NYJ (ECR: RB #16)


Loves Him: RB #10 – Brad Evans, Yahoo! Sports
Finally, this will be the year Greene becomes the lean, mean points-racking machine most fanalysts projected prior to last year. Earlier this summer, Triassic-aged LaDainian Tomlinson expressed his desire to “take some handoffs” but stressed he feels comfortable transitioning into a third-down exclusive role. The switch could propel the former Hawkeye into fantasy stardom. It’s well-known Rex Ryan is a conservative smash-mouth coach who hangs his hat on ball control. A season ago the Jets toted the rock 33.4 times per game, second only to Kansas City in the NFL. Greene is a classic early-down grinder. His bruising fall-forward style meshes perfectly with Ryan’s system. Running behind arguably the best offensive line in the AFC, he should swallow the pill at least 20 times per game. According to John Clayton, the Jets are counting on him to be a 300-carry beast of burden, an almost mythical creature in an age dominated by timeshares. Because of his expected heavy workload and numbers nourishing situation, he will likely make the leap from bench back to certified RB1.


Hates Him: RB #29 – Matt Waldman, FootballGuys
Greene is my 27th-ranked back and not even in my top-90 overall. It sounds crazy that I would rank Greene so low when he’s on a team with a very good offensive line and a strong defense. Especially when head coach Rex Ryan has told the media that Greene will be the starter this year. Talent-wise, I like what Greene can bring to the table as an interior runner. He’s strong, runs with good balance, and has decent feet to make defenders miss who are reaching for him. However, I didn’t see enough from Greene last year to believe he’s making a smooth transition to the NFL. He was hesitant to the line and tried too often to execute cutbacks that turned potential short gains into losses. His ball security and lack of great third down skills got him benched early. Although I don’t expect Ladainian Tomlinson to repeat last year’s performance, the future Hall of Famer will be a factor. I also suggest fantasy owners to take a late-round flier on Bilal Powell, the rookie from Louisville. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan high-fived each other in the war room when they managed to snare Powell in the fourth round. He’s a hard-nosed, downhill runner with great balance, smarts, and speed who I believe will eventually win the Jets job. Greene might have a good year or two in the league, but I’m not convinced he’s done anything to warrant a high-RB2 ranking this year. He was tabbed as the likely starter last year and failed to impress early, which earned him a quick hook. The scenario seems quite possible once again.



Dwayne Bowe, KC (ECR: WR #12)


Loves Him: WR #6 – Matt Waldman, FootballGuys
I believe Dwayne Bowe has turned a corner as a professional. The talent was always there, but the work ethic was missing until he went to Fitzgerald’s training camp last spring after Todd Haley had previously called out Bowe for his immaturity as a football player. Bowe has stated this publicly. Bowe’s production was more in line with what one would have expected after his strong rookie year. He’s a big receiver with excellent skills after the catch and the ability to adjust to the football. He’s produced without a quality receiving corps around him and I doubt that Steve Breaston provides anything more than solid support that will ease bracket coverage. Rookie Jonathan Baldwin has a ways to go before he becomes a true fantasy factor. Bowe should be considered a solid WR1 in most fantasy leagues. In fact, Bowe is my 11th-ranked player overall. However, you have to understand that I rank my players according to a strategy that I tout called Upside Down Drafting. A short explanation of the strategy is simple: In leagues where the ratio of quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends to running backs in a starting lineup is at least 5:2 I recommend drafting four of those five starting-caliber non-RB positions in the early rounds and then acquire a large block of mid-round running back talent between rounds 5-10. I’ve studied position turnover data that goes as far back as 10 years and there is a significantly more turnover with starting-caliber fantasy runners than other positions from one year to the next. The collective strength of the other positions also more than compensates if you fail to acquire a starting-caliber mid-round RB in the draft.


Hates Him: WR #20 – Andy Behrens, Yahoo! Sports
Dwayne Bowe is going to have a very difficult time repeating last year’s touchdown total. He went on an epic TD binge at mid-season, grabbing 13 scores over seven weeks against a convenient string of miserable defenses. For the year, he finished with 15 touchdowns on 72 catches — that’s a TD/REC rate of nearly 21 percent. Crazy season … and incredibly tough to repeat. The Chiefs led the NFL in rush attempts last year, at 34.8 per game, and head coach Todd Haley has given no indication that he intends to change the mix. When asked recently about his team’s offensive identity, Haley had this to say, “Our identity as an offense is to be a good running team. We want to be a running team first and build from there. That part of it is not going to change.” So let’s not assume that Bowe will get substantially more chances than he had in 2010. It’s also not unreasonable to fret about the departure of last year’s OC, Charlie Weis. As soon as Weis’ departure became public knowledge last season, all the air went out of Kansas City’s attack. The team lost its final two games by a combined score of 61-17, and Bowe was shutout by a double-teaming Baltimore secondary in the home playoff loss.



Josh Freeman, TB (ECR: QB #11)

Loves Him: QB #8 – Jason Wood, FootballGuys
Josh Freeman’s 2010 was shocking to many, myself included, but it’s impossible for me not to believe at this point. To throw for nearly 3,500 yards, 25 TDs and only 6 INTs in his first full season is astounding, particularly when you consider the Bucs other skill players are also very young. The most impressive part of his breakthrough year was the growth in underlying skills.  I see so many people going crazy for Sam Bradford, yet Bradford really only impressive because of an astounding 590 attempts.  Freeman delivered QB7 numbers with just 474 attempts — thanks to a 61% completion rate, an impressive 7.3 yards per attempt, and 5.3% TD rate.  Those are elite numbers, and history tells us that those kinds of seasons are not flukes when they come from young passers.  He’s the real deal.  But even if you think he’ll have trouble matching last year 25:6 TD:INT ratio, there is upside to Freeman’s fantasy totals because of his mobility.  I’m sure you know that Freeman ran for 364 yards on 68 carries last year.  But did you realize he failed to find the end zone as a runner? That’s HIGHLY unusual for someone with that many carries; in fact, over the last 20 years, there have been 68 instances where a QB had at least 60 carries in a season. Only twice (including Freeman), did the QB go without a rushing TD. And on average those QBs scored TDs on 5% of their rushes.  Freeman will find the end zone 3-5 times this year as a rusher, and that will help him repeat as a Top 10 fantasy QB even if his passing totals regress a bit.


Hates Him: QB #18 – Andy Behrens, Yahoo! Sports
This guy’s sophomore NFL campaign was as impressive as any you’re likely to see at his position. He delivered the sixth-best passer rating in the league (95.9), despite the fact that he was surrounded by castoffs and low-ceiling vets. His top receiver was a rookie, and his team’s leading rusher was an un-drafted rookie. Freeman was incredibly efficient, rarely reckless with the football, and he led a disrespected team to a 10-win season. He’s great. No complaints here about Josh Freeman the real-life quarterback. But Josh Freeman the fantasy asset is another matter. Fantasy is a numbers game, a volume game — and with Freeman, the volume is low. Of the 12 quarterbacks who played a full 16-game season last year, this guy had the fewest total pass attempts (474). Sam Bradford, as a rookie, attempted 116 more throws. Ideally your starting fantasy quarterback will direct a high-volume, high-scoring passing game. The Bucs don’t fit that description. Freeman only exceeded 40 pass attempts twice last season, he never topped 300 passing yards, and he never rushed for 50. Only once did he pass for more than two scores in a game. (In fact, Freeman’s one big game — Week 16 vs. Seattle — produced 20 percent of his total TD passes). He was a terrific story last year, but that fact doesn’t make him a fantasy starter in the season ahead.



Santonio Holmes, NYJ (ECR: WR #18)
Loves Him: WR #11 – Sigmund Bloom, FootballGuys
Holmes projects out to a 75/1000/12 receiver based on last year’s second half of the season splits, but that was with Braylon Edwards still in the mix. If Holmes has to share fewer targets, Mark Sanchez makes progress in year three, and the Jets feature him to the tune of the huge contract he is sure to get, then the Ohio State product will flirt with the top 10 this year and make everyone who takes him as a WR3 or WR3 very, very happy.


Hates Him: WR #28 – Brad Evans, Yahoo! Sports
A former Super Bowl hero, Holmes is an overpriced “name brand” who offers only minimal excitement for the upcoming season. Though reports have surfaced the Jets plan to open up the passing game, this is still a system predicated on ball control. Shonn Greene and the ground game will continue to be the centerpiece. Combine that with the presence of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, and Holmes should only be viewed as a borderline WR2/WR3 in 12-teamers.

Some great arguments here for both loving and hating these players. What do you guys think? I’d push my opinion on you guys, but as Matthew Berry once told me, FantasyPros is the “Switzerland of Fantasy Football.” We’ll let the heavyweights duke it out and just analyze the fight.

I want to thank each of the experts for providing us with their original thoughts and allowing us to share their content found at Yahoo! and FBG. Thanks guys – your support and contributions are always appreciated.

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