Monthly Archives: March 2016

Live Fantasy Baseball Draft Podcast

So I decided to record my Yahoo fantasy baseball draft held this past Saturday night. It is a league that I have been in since 2013. I was fortunate to come away winning the championship last year on the heels of drafting Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. I thought it be cool to do a live recording of the  first 10 rounds.

I am drafting with everyone pictured above. I posted a link to the full draft results below, as we don’t have time to dish on every player drafted. A lot of funny comments and also very salty language, so be prepared, not suitable for kids. I’ll post the league format and rules so you can see how and why we drafted. Without further ado, here is my Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball Live Draft 2016:

12 Teams

Snake Draft Order

Scoring: Hitting

R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OPS

Scoring: Pitching

W
L
SV
K
ERA
WHIP

Full Draft Results

***Again, this podcast contains explicit language, not suitable for children***

 

As always you can like and share the podcast. Like us on FB at Between The Lines Sports or visit us at http://www.btl-sports.com

-MikeV87

LA’s New Son – Todd Gurley

It was October of 2008, the opening night of the 08-09 NBA season. I’m sitting in my friend Jason’s room watching the early game of the TNT double-header. The Boston Celtics were defending champions and were receiving their rings before their tilt with LeBron’s Cavs. Us being Lakers fans, we hated what Boston had did to us in the previous NBA Finals, but yet on some level we still respected them enough to watch their game. It was a back and forth and all of Boston’s Big 3 + Rondo were on point. During the 4th quarter, the most tenured member of the Celtics, Paul Pierce, stepped to the line late. With the crowd cheering raucously, you could see Pierce reveling in the moment, he had just given his faithful their first championship in 22 years, through thick and thin, Pierce was always there. He knew he deserved this moment from the fans. And in that moment watching him I told my friend that it was like he was “Boston’s Son”. A player that the fans had watched grow and mature into not only a legendary Celtic but an all-time great in his own right. The discussion quickly grew into who else fit that label in the NBA. He said Kobe, I said LeBron. Both of us were right, both had stayed their entire careers there (until LeBron left and then returned as the prodigal son in 2014). Kobe had more success so far but LeBron wasn’t too far behind (or so we thought).

Fast forward to today, Kobe Bryant is in his last season with the Lakers. Since 1996 he has held the mantle of LA’s most beloved athlete. Who takes it now? Chris Paul? Sorry but he hasn’t spent the majority of his career here. Blake Griffin? Ummmm, no. Mike Trout plays in Anaheim and Dodger fans won’t go for that. Kershaw could be it but he lacks the dominant playoff performance(s) that equate that blinding loyalty, much like Kobe offered. We can scratch out college teams because the longevity just isn’t enough. So we have a vacant spot for LA’s  new son. Who is the number #1 contender then, besides the names I just mentioned……… Let me spell out the case for Todd Gurley II.

August of 1995, it was my first summer playing tackle football. It was also the first time the city of Los Angeles didn’t have an NFL team. As a native of the Southern California area for all of my 28 years, the news that the Rams are coming back to LA has been plastered with eager anticipation. This city is starved for it, we bought all 58,000 preliminary reserve season-ticket spots. And while the quarterback is usually the golden child for any team, so far the Rams have Case Keenum. What we do have, is reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley.

I first heard about Todd Gurley back in late 2013 and most of 2014 as I have family back in Georgia. My cousin Daniel is a UGA alum who has season tickets to the Dawgs. He has followed Gurley’s path from a 5 star recruit on Rivals.com to a heralded UGA freshman to Georgia legend and finally the NFL. He told me to watch out for Todd Gurley in his true freshman season after a game against Alabama as Gurley put up over 100 yards rushing and brought the Dawgs within 5 yards of an SEC championship, all against a Saban coached defense. In the ensuing years, Gurley’s legend only grew. He checked every box; size, speed, vision, return skills. He was the most complete football player he had ever seen.

I myself had seen a little bit of Gurley but it wasn’t until I got a chance to see him go against my team, the Green Bay Packers (what do you want, LA hasn’t had a team since ’95), that I saw the beginnings of a transcendent talent. Watching Gurley that game and in the remainder of the 2015 season reminded me of 2007 when young Adrian Peterson burst onto the scene. Young AP had that “it” factor when you saw him take a simple swing pass all the way to the house. Gurley was the same when you saw him grind and grind for 3 quarters, and then when everybody’s tired from the punishment he delivers, boom, a 50 yard run. Boom, another 40 yard gain. He got stronger as the game went on. I’ve been watching the NFL since 1995. Only 3 running backs stood out like Gurley did in 2015; Barry Sanders, LaDanian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson. That’s rarified air.

Much like USC Reggie Bush took over the So Cal sports scene in the mid 2000s, I envision Gurley doing the same here with the LA Rams. I see a city so starved for greatness, especially in the sport of football and especially at the running back position. This is the city that gave us O.J. in the 60s, Marcus Allen in the 70s and Eric Dickerson in the 80s. And believe me, all the old guard still hold those names in reverence to this day. With the Rams back in LA and Todd Gurley as its main star, he has a chance to be mentioned among those legends. A chance to be king of this town. And he’s all ours, LA’s new son, #30 Todd Gurley II.

-MikeV87

BTL Podcast – NFL Wine Cellar Team: FB & WR

Here is the second part to our podcast. We don’t spend too much time on the fullbacks since we only rostered one.

Wide Receivers are a different story. They had the most roster spots of any position group (6). They also had the most players considered (I believe 10).

This position group had a player be considered a record 3 different times for their individual seasons.

Give us a listen to find out who.

 

As always, like our page on Facebook and you can visit us on our site at BTl-Sports.com.

-MikeV87

BTL Podcast – NFL Wine Cellar Team: QB & RB

In addition to doing Part III A of the NFL Wine Cellar Team post, we decided to do a podcast as a group to talk and discuss the our selections for the team.

This is part I of the pod (QB & RB), part II (FB &WR) will be out on Monday. So if you loved the list, give us a listen as we run down the following:

Brief outline of the concept

Quarterbacks

Runningbacks

A Jordan/Kobe side tangent

A  2016 Raiders side tangent and much, much more.

Enjoy

 

As always, like the BTL Sports Page on Facebook. Feel free to comment with an opinion. You can find everything at http://www.btl-sports.com.

 

-MikeV87

The NFL Wine Cellar Team – Part III A. The Offense

The NFL Wine Cellar Team 1995-2015 -Part I : The Concept

The NFL Wine Cellar Team – Part II : In Memoriam 

Part III A. 

The Offense: QB, RB, FB & WR

After a month of research and consideration, we are finally ready to roll out the first part of our offensive side of the ball for The NFL Wine Cellar Team. Going forward I will list the starter(s) first with their selected year stat line and a summary of why they were chosen.

Next I will list the backups. This is a 53-man football team, just like in real life, we need backups in the event that someone goes 2001 Drew Bledsoe on us. Their stat line will be shown and another summary of why they made it.

Finally I will list other players who were considered but ultimately were cut from the Wine Cellar Team so they can get their due, however brief it may be.

So there it is, lets dive into who will go toe to toe against the aliens for the ultimate Super Bowl.

Quarterbacks: (2)

 

  • Starter: 2007 Tom Brady
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
4806 50 117.2 8.3

 

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you. In 2007, Tom Brady was the gold standard when it came to quarterbacking. In my opinion, he is at worst, the 2nd greatest QB ever behind Joe Montana (at worst Pats fans, calm down). He broke Manning’s TD record in a season and he did it all under the specter of going undefeated in the regular season (which he did). There were few quarterbacks considered that matched his overall merit to be the starter. No one had a bigger bullseye on their back than Brady during that season and yet no one was more prolific and yet more efficient than ‘07 Tom. I’m getting a 31-year-old Tom Brady who at this point, is at the height of his powers arm strength wise, mentally and he still has the “eff-you edge” from 2007. I could not find a better deserving player from any other season. Doubters may say he went 18-1 and choked in SB 42. Tom played the game he needed to play with the way his offensive line was protecting. But given that he will be protected by the 5 greatest lineman of the last 20 years in this game, I am not worried. Plus, if Assante Samuel simply just corrals an easy interception on Eli’s final drive or idk, Manning doesn’t pull the luckiest horseshoe of all time out of his ass on the Tyree catch, Tom and the 2007 Pats go down as the G.O.A.T. 2007 Brady is my starting quarterback and one the captain’s for The Wine Cellar Team.

 

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Photo by Tom Lynn/TLYNN@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

  • Backup: 2011 Aaron Rogers
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
4643 45 122.5* 9.2

*NFL Record

The decision to anoint a backup quarterback was not easy. So you ask, why Rodgers? First off, for this quarterback group, statistically he had one of the top 3 seasons of all time. Right up there with Tom’s ’07 campaign and Peyton’s 2004 record breaking year. As you can see that year, Rodgers amassed a 4500/45/6/122 line (in only 15 games, if he had played the last one he’d have at least 49 or 50 tds for the year). The quarterback rating is still an NFL record, and it is important because being efficient at the QB position is one of my most sought after traits. Efficiency for me, not only equals the raw stats but also a yards/attempt of 8.5 or more. It means they are aggressive, no check down Charlies here. That they are willing to attack downfield and yet don’t suffer a drop off in efficiency in attempting more dangerous throws. Historically, no one was better than 2011 Rodgers in that regard. In getting both Rodgers and Brady, I get two of the most statistically efficient years from a QB ever when you take into account their touchdown to interception ratios. I get Rodgers at 28, fresh off a Super Bowl win, his confidence is sky high after winning 20 of his last 21 games. He can make any throw that you want on the football field (maybe we roll out a special Hail Mary package for him). He can escape the pocket when needed and he is one of the few quarterbacks who could handle being a backup to Brady on this team.

Here is the first example of T-E-A-M first. Rodgers is just 3 years removed from being a backup to an all-time legend. He gets it when the coach tells him that Tom Brady is the starter, he won’t try to undermine the team by acting like he should be the starter, even though he probably thinks he should be playing (and good, all the greats think that way). But it’s the way they act that sets them apart, Rodgers knows his role and he will have no trouble accepting that, some other players well……..

 

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  • First Cut: 2004 Peyton Manning
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
4557 49 121.1 9.2

 

I’m sorry but I couldn’t put Manning on the team. Not with Tom Brady on it, I didn’t think the two could coexist and I didn’t think Peyton would take well to Brady being the starter over him. Much like we saw 2015 Manning act towards Brock Osweiler. First Peyton was up in the booth, offering no help whatsoever to the unproven youngster. Then Brock had some success, all the sudden Manning was down patrolling the sidelines, always overlooking, possibly trying to get into his head. And listen, this is all just speculation. Peyton did as he always does, he said all the right things relating to Osweiler in 2015 but part of me always thought Manning was trying to undermine him the entire time. And I get it, Favre did the same thing and was 1000x less subtle about it. Other than my point that Manning couldn’t coexist with Brady on the team, let’s look at some other determining factors.

  • Other versions – Record breaking 2013 Manning was considered but he was too old for my taste and that horrible SB 48 blowout left a bad taste in my mouth.
  • Stats – His pure stats are about even with the other two. Only Rodgers was more efficient than ’04 Manning. Brady had the benefit of the 16th game. Both Rodgers and Manning didn’t play in the final one. So stats are a draw.
  • Supporting Cast – 2004 Peyton had a better supporting cast around him than Rodgers and yet the numbers are basically dead even. He had two bonafide HOF WRs in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and the best slot receiver in the game in Brandon Stokley. Not to mention a perennial pro bowler/borderline HOF tight end in Dallas Clark. Oh, and Peyton had a legitimate running game in 1500 yard rusher Edgerrin James that year too. Rodgers, he had weapons but not to the caliber of Peyton. Jordy Nelson is as close to a HOF WR as he had, but even Jordy’s at least 4 more great seasons away from matching either Harrison or Wayne. Greg Jennings was great that year but again, not in either of the Colts WRs class. Donald Driver was a shell of himself and James Jones wasn’t any better than Stokley. Finley couldn’t hold Clarks jock and whatever running game Rodgers had was in the form of oft-injured James Starks and washed up Ryan Grant…… Rodgers simply did more with less.
  • Big Game Experience – 2004 Peyton had yet to win the big one. Can we really go to war with him not having checked that off his bucket list? Brady had won three, Rodgers is coming off his first Super Bowl while winning 20 of his last 21. I can’t trust the fate of humanity or at least the prospect of it should Brady get hurt in the hands of someone who at that point, was beginning to get the choker label.

It’s not personnel Peyton, it’s strictly business.

 

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  • Also Considered: 1999 Kurt Warner
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
4353 41 109.2 8.7

Was considered as the 2nd backup after Rodgers, but I had to add another player to a position group and didn’t have the luxury of 3 QBs. Had a historically underrated MVP 1999 season. Led one of the greatest offensives ever. Put up ridiculous stats B.M.R (Before Manning Rules in 2004 = offensive explosion). Would’ve jelled perfectly as a backup considering ’99 Warner was bagging groceries in ’98. All around, few did what Warner and the Rams did offensively pre-2004.

 

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  • Also Considered: 1996 Brett Favre
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
3899 39 95.8 7.2

The absolute peak of “young Favre”. Coming straight off his SB XXXI win and his second consecutive NFL MVP year. Was at the height of his powers athletically and had not yet made the transition to “throwing interceptions at the absolute worst moment” Brett Favre. Put up almost 40 touchdowns in an era still known for 300-carry running backs as a staple of any NFL offense. ’96 Favre deserves a mention for this team.

 

Drew-Brees

  • Also Considered: 2011 Drew Brees
Yards Touchdowns Passer Rating Yards/Attempt
  5476 46 110.6 8.3

I feel that some version of Drew Brees should get recognized here. If you wanted to substitute 2009 Brees instead of 2011, I’m completely fine with that. ’09 Brees checked all the boxes including the big one, a Super Bowl win. But 2011, Brees was more prolific, 5476 yards – a then NFL record and 46-14 touchdowns/interceptions; plus doing that with a league high 71.2 completion percentage. His yards per/attempt still sat at an 8.3, not in Rodgers/Manning stratosphere but still elite. Brees rounds out the quarterback group here. Only the best of the best were considered and I felt we accomplished that.

Running Backs (4)

adrian-peterson

  • Starter: 2012 Adrian Peterson
Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
2097 12 6.0 131.1

When considering running backs, there were a few that were no doubters. 2012 Peterson was one of them. Being a Packers fan, I have seen firsthand what AP was capable of. His 2007 season was transcendent. But his 2012 effort topped that. After suffering a gruesome ACL tear the season before, no one really knew what 27-year-old AP would look like. He responded with a top three rushing season of all-time (2097/12/6.0/131.1); right up there with 1963 Jim Brown and ’84 Eric Dickerson. In fact, Peterson is the closest thing I have seen to the G.O.A.T. RB Jim Brown. They both boast ideal size, strength and speed. Peterson is the complete package and I cannot think of a better bell cow if needed to throw against the aliens. In fact, he the first member on this team to be in the “Terminator Test” group. When the aliens see 2012 AP film, they’ll want to slice open his skin to make sure he’s not a T-1000 Terminator sent from the future to help save mankind. Even the aliens want to make sure there is a level playing field for this game.

 

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  • Backup: 1997 Barry Sanders
Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
2053 11 6.1 128.3

Sometimes on this list you hoped that you could grab an all-time great from the mid to late 1990s. Sometimes it’s not their best year ever but they are simply too good to pass up. 1997 Barry Sanders checks all the boxes. After rushing for a combined 53 yards in the first two games of the ’97 season, Sanders then went on a tear to post 2000 yards over his final 14 games. I remember as a kid sick on the couch, watching Barry rip apart the New York Jets with the season hanging in the balance. Sanders ran for 184 in that final game and his 53-yard scamper sealed both the Wild Card berth for Detroit, Sanders 2000-yard season and his first NFL MVP award.

But we are also building a team that fits. Who better to be the change of pace back from 6’2”/217lb. Adrian Peterson to 5’8”/203lb. Barry Sanders. Barry can carry a drive or two if needed. If AP fumble problems begin to rear their head, I have no problem going to war with 1997 Barry Sanders for the remainder of the game. He is the perfect complement to AP in both style and attitude.

 

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  • 3rd Down Back: 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson
Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
1815 28 5.2 113.4

This is the trifecta I had envisioned when I first started thinking about this team. AP/Sanders/Tomlinson, they fit perfectly together. Any one of them can bell a bell-cow back if needed. All of the bring a different style to the table. 2006 LT was one of the most complete backs we’ve ever seen in NFL history. LT has a nose for the end zone that is unmatched and he provides the perfect skill set to be a 3rd down back. He is an elite receiver out of the backfield, he’s an even better blitz-recognizer/pickup back and you can split him out wide if need be. In 2006 we get LT at the absolute apex of his career, he is 27 no injuries, hasn’t even started a decline yet and he just got off posting the greatest “Approximate Value” season of any player in NFL history. I don’t think this backfield could get any better, I think we’re done here…….but

 

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  • All-Purpose Back: 1999 Marshall Faulk
Rush Yards Total Touchdowns Rec/Yards Total Yards
1381 12 87/1048 2429

Originally I was just going to go with 3 running backs. That would’ve have been more than enough but I couldn’t find a way to leave out the greatest all-purpose season next to LT’s 2006 campaign. While Marshall doesn’t blow you away with eye popping rush yards or touchdowns, keep in mind that the ’99 Rams were more of a pass oriented team. The 87 receptions for just over 1000 yards was unheard of in those days, and still consider that he put up over 1300 rushing yards and very respectable 5.5 yrd/carry clip. Marshall on the Wine Cellar Team is the ultimate luxury. We could have him and another RB in the backfield, then run Faulk in motion and split him out wide. We could do screens, wheel routes or just hand him the rock. We he get a lot of playing time? That remains to be seen but given that 1999 Marshall Faulk posted the 2nd greatest “AV” score ever, I’m cool if we roll with 4 running backs. We’re allowed to have some luxuries on this team and ’99 Faulk is one of them.

 

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  • First Cut: 1995 Emmitt Smith
Rush Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
1773 25 4.7 110.8

His best year statically. He set the then NFL record for most touchdowns scored in a year with 25 (LT broke it in 2006). He had career highs in rushing yards and yards/game. He was in his absolute prime at age 26, was the backbone of the Dallas 1995 SB run. In ’95 he also experienced the most volume in his career. A whopping 377 rush attempts and a combined 439 total touches. Nothing against 1995 Emmitt but some of the other back were just a tad bit more efficient in their selected years. Nevertheless, he deserves to be mentioned for consideration.

 

Brnx 22 - AC

Mile High Stadium, Monday, 9/7/98. Photographer: Andy Cross

  • Also Considered: 1998 Terrell Davis
Rush Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
2008 21 5.1 125.5

Here is the last of our running backs to be considered. It is no coincidence that 4 of the 6 backs evaluated are from the 1990s. It was the golden age of running backs back then, bell-cow RBs were the cornerstone of any successful NFL offense. Terrell Davis looked to be the next Emmitt Smith or Barry Sanders. In his 4th year (age 26), he posted a 2000-yard season, just the 4th ever to date at that point. He was just into his second year as the backbone of the back-to-back Super Bowl champions Denver Broncos. In 1998 no one was better than Terrell Davis. His volume was out of this world, 392 rushing attempts to go along with 417 total touches. He was never the same after that ’98 season, not even close, but the 1998 year deserves to be mention for this Wine Cellar Team.

Fullbacks (1)

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  • Starter: 1999 Mike Alstott
Rush Yards Total Touchdowns Yards/Carry Total Yards
979 9 3.9 1188

There were not a whole lot of prospects to consider here but one of the names that jumped out was ’99 Mike Alstott. Fullbacks is a forgotten position in today’s NFL, some teams don’t even carry a single one. But given that Alstott was a rare breed who could both handle the blocking duties and tote the rock when called upon, he offers the right kind of skill set we need. Warrick Dunn was a perennial 1000 yard back for those late 90s Bucs, it was Alstott who paved the way for him time and again. Alstott won’t have a huge role but he’ll do his job (cough*cough*hint*hint*)

 

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  • First Cut: 2006 Lorenzo Neal

I didn’t put a stat line up because a lot of the fullback’s hard work goes unnoticed and unrewarded by most fans, commentators and metrics. We put him in here because he was the lead blocker for LaDainian Tomlinson’s historic 2006 season. And Neal is a long tenured veteran who played at a high level well into his late 30s. Given that FB is not that valued of a position on the Wine Cellar Team, he deserves a mention. That will wrap up our fullback position.

Wide Receivers: (6)

 

  • 1998 Randy Moss vs 2007 Randy Moss

1998 Stats (16 games played/11 games started)

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
69 1313 17 19.0

2007 Stats (16 games played and started)

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
98 1493 23 15.2

I have flipped flopped on this about 37 different times. I was positive I wanted 2007 Moss, even after considering both 1998 and 2003 versions. Moss is the only player to be considered 3x for this list, which is a testament to what kind of receiver he was. The 2003 version was the first one to get the boot because of personality. Moss was well into his phase of playing when he wanted to, sometimes not giving his full effort, I can’t have that on the Wine Cellar Team. I also can’t have the off the field problems that 2003 Moss brought into the locker room.

So now we are down to two versions to be one of our starting wide receivers. Let’s run down the pros and cons of each one and hopefully I’ll reach a decision at the end of this post!

1998 Moss – Pros: Absolutely the most freakish athlete at the wide receiver position that the NFL had ever seen. Was rumored to run a 4.2 40 yard dash at age 21, some say it was as low as the 4.19s. Make no mistake, no one and I mean no one was faster at the WR position and had his combination of elite ball skills for going up and grabbing 50/50 balls……ever. We get him at age 21 and sometimes, you just need the most freakish athletic version of a player possible if you’re facing the aliens. Hell, the aliens might take one look at the tall lanky WR and assume he’s one of them, they’ll definitely be checking his birth certificate closely.

1998 Moss – Cons: He’s just a bright eyed rookie with no real big game experience. Still holds a legitimate head case problem, there is a reason he dropped in the ’98 draft (although still not to his 2003 level yet). His production pales in comparison across the board to 2007 Moss. Are we really ready to hand our #1 WR spot to a rookie greener than grass he’s about to play on?

2007 Moss – Pros: No head case problems anymore. His experience of being sent to the NFL version of Siberia (Oakland) has humbled him and he is more than willing to be a team player. Has just spent an entire season playing with the captain of our Wine Cellar Team (07 Brady). Just got done breaking the all-time TD record for a WR in a single season (a record that stood for 20 years). He has the experience of the last 10 years to fall back on him and has some big game experience too.

2007 Moss – Cons: Nowhere near the athlete he was in 1998. He still has gas left in the tank but that mythical speed has diminished some. Despite grabbing a 160 targets he wasn’t nearly as explosive on a per catch basis as his younger years. If you take out his 23 touchdown catches, I know, a big if, the rest of his stats are just only “very good”. At this point I know I’m nit-picking, time for me to make a decision.

 

Starter: 1998 Randy Moss

As I said, originally I was locked into 2007 Moss because of the attitude adjustment. What made me change? Well just take a look at this highlight reel and part of you will understand.

As a rookie, ’98 Moss didn’t get the volume that ’07 Moss did. ’98 Moss had a respectable but aging Randall Cunningham as his QB. ’07 Randy had the closest thing to God at the QB level we have ever seen. So I did a little math. What if I extrapolated ’98 Moss’s stats with the targets he received in 2007? Making no additional adjustments for the quarterback skill, because you know 2007 Brady would’ve been a hell of an upgrade over ’98 Cunningham. I just want to show what Moss’s 1998 stats would have looked like if he had the same number of targets (160) as 2007 Moss did.

2007 Stats (160 targets over 16 games played and started) w/Brady

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
98 1493 23 15.2

1998 Stats (160 targets extrapolated over 16 games played and started) w/Cunningham

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
90 1710 22 19.0

Throw in the possibility of 2007 Brady throwing to ’98 Moss and we’re probably looking at the greatest receiving line ever; 105/2000/28. Yeah dumb. The math sealed it for me but just re-watching old highlights of young Moss made me question myself and I am glad I did. There is no one in the history of the NFL more feared than ’98 Moss on a go route. There’s only one more con to 1998 Moss left to answer.

What about the possible looming head case problem?

Well “the Randy being a locker room cancer” didn’t start in full force till respected WR veteran Cris Carter had left the Vikings after the 2001 season. 1998 Moss was able to be corralled by a well-respected locker room presence, if Carter could keep him under control in 1998, I have no doubts that 2007 Brady, 1997 Sanders and well let’s just get into his other running mates…

Jerry Rice #80

  • Starter: 1995 Jerry Rice
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
122 1848 15 15.1

He’s already shown up on the “In Memoriam Team” with the transcendent 1987 year. ‘95 is arguably one of his top 5 individual seasons ever and really his last great one ever too. 1995 Jerry Rice set career highs in targets (176), receptions (122) and yards (1848); all at the age of 33. Only once over his final 9 years would he eclipse the 100 reception mark, and he never broke 1300 yards receiving or 10 touchdowns again. ’95 was Rice’s last stand of greatness. Which in fact I’m glad this list starts at 1995, even at 33 years old he’s got the savvy of a wily vet and hasn’t lost his elite athleticism completely. Given that we already have 1998 Moss as our deep threat to take the top off of defenses, are the aliens going to double Rice? Shouldn’t they be shading a safety over Moss. It doesn’t matter because with Rice, he can play anywhere; the X, Y or Z (Split End, Slot or Flanker). I imagined Rice being a jack of all trades for this team, the human receiving Swiss army knife. I envisioned him doing most of his damage in the slot, but when you have arguably the greatest NFL player who ever lived on your team, just let him do his thing and Brady will find him.

 

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  • Starter: 2011 Calvin Johnson
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
96 1681 16 17.5

Megatron, the ultimate prototype for the current version of the NFL wide receiver and the second member of the team to get the “Terminator Test” (with a nickname like that, can you blame the aliens). 6’5” – 235lbs – 4.35 speed and the body control and ball skills of Randy Moss. I was all set to throw 2012 Calvin Johnson in here; 122 rec. / 1964 yards (broke Rice’s ’95 record) / 16.1 yrd/rec. blah, blah, blah……….So why did I leave off 2012 Megatron? 5 touchdowns, 5 freaking touchdowns!! I’m sorry but I cannot have my Wine Cellar Team with that version of Calvin getting tackled at the 1-yard line 6x in one season!! I can’t have the game on the line and CJ gets tackled at the one as time expires (petty I know but it’s my list). So I went with 2011 Calvin. In 2011 I get Calvin a year younger (aka a year more athletically freakish). The only player that put up better numbers in a single season across the board was 2003 Randy Moss. He’s perfect on the outside opposite Moss, endless possibilities are abound at the goal line. Who are the aliens going to double when I split both Moss and CJ on opposite sides on fades? I’ll wait for their answer…….I’m waiting……..still waiting…….

And that doesn’t account for any of the 4 RBs/FB who could tote the rock with either receiver out there. Or the most unstoppable one yard play ever, a Tom Brady QB sneak. And I haven’t even gotten to who my tight ends are! Okay, Okay, I’ll stop rambling. In short, I’m going to war with ’98 Moss, ’95 Rice and ’11 Calvin as my main 3-WR set. Try and stop me.

 

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  • Backup: 2015 Antonio Brown
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
136 1834 10 13.5

Here is our first current version of a player on the Wine Cellar Team. In 2015 Brown got an absurd amount of volume, 193 targets which was only 13 less than the most ever (’95 Herman Moore – 206). He also put up this historic year with his Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for 4 games with injuries. If Brown had a healthy Ben for 16 games this year, he would’ve done the following; broken the reception record (143), broken the yardage record (1964), the targets record (206) and quite possibly put up one of the greatest receiving lines ever. Probably in the neighborhood 150/2000/14/14.0. Pound for pound it could have been the best receiving season ever. But there is also logistical reason why I wanted 2015 Antonio Brown on this team. Believe me he has the talent, no question about that, but he also has the ideal size that I wanted. At 5’10” and 186lbs, he offers the perfect complement in style and stature to my two behemoths, Moss (6’4”) and Calvin (6’5”). Not to mention that Rice (6’2”) is a big receiver as well. Antonio can play on the outside and he will excel in the slot. As I said earlier, talent is no problem and he can play anywhere on this team.

 

welker-4_3

  • Backup: 2011 Wes Welker
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
122 1569 9 12.9

While doing this cut down list, I got into a debate on why Wes Welker should be considered for this team. Putting his obvious merits on the statistical production aside, we needed a slot receiver. We need a small guy in the middle of the field to be our safety valve. We needed Welker! The other guy’s argument was that it didn’t matter because going 6’3” or taller across the board was fine, they’d figure it out (and he was probably right, but it’s my team so he got overruled). If you wanted to consider breakout 2007 Wes Welker here, I would blame you. You could even throw in ’09 Welker too. I went with 2011 Welker because his efficiency (see there’s that word again) was simply better across the board. He was one catch off his career high (123). He scored his most touchdowns as a Patriot in 2011 (9). And he was more explosive on a per-catch basis. His 12.9 yards/reception is nearly a full yard and a half higher than his second best effort (11.5). In 2011 Welker I get a tough as nails competitor who knows how to get open, has big game experience and has a rapport with 2007 Brady. Were there more talented players that got the axe instead of Welker? Sure, but he fits exactly what I want.

 

James+Harrison+Larry+Fitzgerald+Super+Bowl+94oFth9xfzml

  • Backup: 2008 Larry Fitzgerald

2008 Regular Season Stats

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
96 1431 12 14.9

2008 Playoffs (4 games)

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
30 564 7 18.2

Just like with Marshall Faulk and the 4th running back slot, getting 2008 Larry Fitzgerald on this team is a luxury. I went back to the prototype wide receiver well and given his complete 2008 production, I just couldn’t leave him off. Back in 2008, Fitzgerald had just wrestled away the “best receiver in the game” championship belt from Randy Moss. The run that Fitzgerald and the ’08 Cardinals went on that year is legendary. As great as his 2008 regular season was, I’ve never seen a wide receiver single-handily try to carry his team to a Super Bowl, and goddamit he nearly did. He holds every single meaningful playoff receiving record and it was probably the single greatest playoff performance by a skill player in one postseason that I have ever seen. In 2008 Fitzgerald I don’t think there is a more reliable set of hands and a receiver ready for the big moment other than ’95 Rice. He is a luxury but that doesn’t mean he will not see playing time. It’d be a crime not to use peak Larry Fitzgerald.

 

HARRISON

  • First Cut: 2002 Marvin Harrison
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
143* 1722 11 12.0

*NFL Record

It was very tough to leave off ’02 Harrison. Initially I thought he was a lock to make this team. Then I delved into the numbers a little bit deeper. His historic season was more base on volume then anything. Yes, he broke and still holds the single-season reception record. He got that on 205 targets, which is 2nd most all-time (206). And yes, his receiving yards are north of 1700, that is rarified air right there. But his touchdowns are just very good at (11). And his yards/rec. are down, even for him (13.2 career avg.) and compared to the rest of this list so far (15.48). And that’s why I went with 2015 Antonio Brown over ’02 Harrison. Brown put up nearly the same stats but was far more explosive in doing so. Take into account that he didn’t have Ben for nearly 5 full games; what would Harrison’s numbers look like if Manning went down for 5 games in 2002?

 

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  • Also Considered: 2015 Julio Jones
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
136 1871 8 13.8

The physique and the raw athletic ability say yes. Even some of the stats saw yes. Ultimately I passed on him because I didn’t want too much recency bias with this list, I already have 2015 Brown on here and I always thought he was the better of the two this year. But Julio looks to be just starting to scrape the ceiling of what he can be if he can stay fully healthy. Maybe in the future Julio.

 

Cris Carter

  • Also Considered: 1995 Cris Carter
Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
122 1371 17 11.2

Almost done with the wide receivers. I left a spot for Cris Carter on here because of the quality of numbers across the board but also in the year he accomplished them. In 1995 we were still use to quarterbacks winning passer rating titles with scores under 100, touchdowns under 40 and running backs were still king. To put up 122/1371/17 in 1995 deserves to be recognized. I have never seen anything close to that pre-2004 besides ’95 Rice. Bravo Carter.

 

  • Also Considered: 2003 and 2007 Moss

2003 Randy Moss

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
111 1632 17 14.7

 

2007 Randy Moss

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec.
98 1493 23 15.2

 

As I stated in Part I, we can only have one version of each player. Behind Rice, Randy Moss is the 2nd greatest receiver who ever played. He is the most talented receiver who ever lived. It is a shame that for most of Moss’s career, he played when Randy wanted to play. Nevertheless, he deserves credit where credit is due. This concludes our receiver group. And this post! High fives all around to the 4 of you the stuck it out till the end. Hope you enjoyed this first part, we have a lot more to cover. Till next time.

 

Part III B. The Offense Continued: Tight End and Offensive Line

 

Coming Soon

 

 

-Mikev87

The NFL Wine Cellar Team – Part II : In Memoriam 

It is fitting that this comes out a couple days after the Oscars. Just like Sunday night, we are going to honor those that can’t be with us. These players would’ve been no doubters on the greatest team ever assembled but because of the rules constraints spelled out in Part I, I have to leave them off.

I am not going to assemble an entire team, but I picked 8 players who deserved to be mentioned for their transcendent years.

 

1987 Jerry Rice

Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yards/Rec Yards/Game
65 1078 22 16.6 89.8

*12 games

22 touchdowns in 12 games…. Let that line sink in for a little bit. 22 freaking touchdowns in 12 FREAKING GAMES! I knew Rice had held the record before 2007 Randy Moss broke it but I never knew it was in 12 games. Why is 12 games such a sticking point? Wasn’t the NFL well into their 16 game schedule era? You are right, but the NFL strike happened in the first month of the 1987 season. So Rice played the first two games then sat out the next 4 till the strike ended and then got back to playing. And yes, the usual level of play was a little bit down, but it was down in 2011 as well for lack of an off-season/training camp during their work stoppage. If I’m fine with considering players in that year, I’m fine with considering the ‘87 season as well.

Scabs or not, in 1987 I get the best version of arguably the greatest football player ever. I get him in his 3rd year at age 25, he is just beginning to get to the height of his powers. If you disagree with me, 22 touchdowns in 12 games.

 

1986 Lawrence Taylor


20.5 sacks on one of the greatest defenses of all time.

Unfortunately my main research site pro-football-reference.com, didn’t have any hard stats for LT other than sacks. If we’re looking for a dominant pass-rusher and ultimate disrupter of stuff, ’86 LT is on the short list. He anchored one of the best defenses of all-time in the 1986 Giants. He the first prototype for the 3-4 outside rush-backer. He also was one of the few defensive players to win the NFL MVP in ’86. He brought an edge and an attitude that became the hallmark of those late 80s/early 90s Giants. Plus, what do you think the aliens would think when they see LT doing this non-stop for four quarters.

 

1963 Jim Brown

Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry
1863 12 6.4

*14 games

I might be a millennial but I’m not a prisoner of the moment when it comes to the greatest running back of all-time. The discussion starts and ends with Jim Brown. In 1963 I get the G.O.A.T RB in his finest season ever. And by the way, those 1863 yards was in 14 games too. Give Brown those extra two games and he would probably hold the single-season record to this very day. His size and speed would translate into any era. Jim Brown on the Memoriam Wine Cellar Team? As easy a call as there is to make.

1984 Dan Marino

Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards/Attempt
5084 48 17 64.2 9.0

Before the passing rules changed back in 2004, the holy grail of any quarterbacking season was always Marino’s 1984 effort. Those numbers are stupid even by today’s standard, easily MVP numbers. Back in ’84, unfathomable. It would be a very interesting debate over who would start quarterback for this team. But I felt that Marino’s year should be recognized no matter what. In ’84 I would get absolute prime Dan Marino in his second year and at age 23. This year really started his 3 year run at setting the league ablaze with his passing. No one was more prolific in the passing game than 1984 Marino.

1989 Joe Montana


1989 Regular Season:

Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards/Attempt
3521 26 8 70.2 9.1

*13 games

1989 Postseason:

Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards/Attempt
800 11 0 78.3 9.6

You know I had to find a way to get Montana on this list. In my opinion he is the G.O.A.T QB, with Brady nipping right at his heels. Montana is similar to Brady in the sense that their team success came early but their statistical success finally caught up in their 30s. Montana finest job ever in my opinion was his ’89 season. At 33, maybe he wasn’t athletically gifted as he was earlier but the mental part of the game was completely mastered. He had seen everything and done everything. He combined efficiency with the ability to attack downfield, as we see with his completion % but also his Y/A over 9.0. His demolition of the 1989 playoffs and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl XXIV is Montana’s pinnacle. ’89 Joe Montana is as good as it gets for the Memoriam team, and perhaps ever.

1990 Derrick Thomas

Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles Fumble Recoveries
63 20 6 2

*15 games

The second defensive player to make this list. Very much in the mold of Lawrence Taylor. Derrick Thomas was the ultimate terror as a pass rusher. As we saw with the 2015 Denver Broncos, 2011 and 2007 Giants; an elite pass rush can neutralize even the best of offenses. Having Derrick Thomas opposite LT and the aliens would shit themselves (if they didn’t already from LT’s trash talk). In 1990 Thomas, we get him at 23 and at the “absolute height of his athletic powers” (get use to the phrase, it will be used a lot). I can’t think of a better talent pre-1995 that lived up to the billing so fast.

1987 Reggie White

Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles Defensive Touchdowns
76 21 4 1

*12 games

“The Minister of Defense”. Here is another 1987 freak season and the last of our defensive players for our In Memoriam team. Ask anybody about young Reggie White and they will tell you he was the most feared defensive linemen of his time and perhaps ever. He combined strength, size, speed and quickness into a lethal combination that I don’t think has been matched since (maybe, guess you’ll have to read Part IV). Again, in 1987 we get prime Reggie at only 26 years old and he is just coming off posting a ridiculous 21 sacks in 12 games. I’m not sure whose stat line is more transcendent, ’87 Rice or ’87 White’s? It doesn’t matter because both get spots on the Memoriam team.

1975 O.J. Simpson

Yards Touchdowns Yards/Carry Yards/Game
2003 12 6.0 143.1

*14 games

“The Juice”. Before he was the Hertz spokesman, the Naked Gun movie star and the center piece in the trial of the century, he was “The Juice”. He was the first ever to break the 2,000 yard rushing mark, a hallowed number when it came to running backs in the NFL. Perhaps even more so now with the advantage the passing game gets. And O.J. did it in 14 games too. I wasn’t sure about putting him on this list, but he posted the second best pro-football-reference “approximate value” score of all-time. He average 6.0 yards/carry and a ludicrous 143.1 yards/game. All for an average Buffalo Bills team in 1975. Dickerson was considered here but 1975 O.J. was as good as it got running the football pre-1995. And you wonder why so many characters in The People vs O.J. Simpson gushed about this guy to Marcia Clark. 1975 is among the top reasons why.

 

The NFL Wine Cellar Team – Part III : The Offense

Coming Soon…

 

-Mikev87