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Article 2: Eagle Scout

Note: This article was originally released 1999/2000 and all player references remain intact from those years.

In this lesson we delve into player analysis and uncover the statistics to hang your hat on. The goal is to teach how to decide between two apparently equal players, when evaluating talent during your draft in free agency or via a trade.


Most fantasy leagues award owners with points based on two holy statistics, scoring and yardage. Clearly, the NFL team that scores the most points will win, so in a simulation, points SHOULD be the be all end all. Many leagues award points for yardage to bring the blind luck quotient down another 5%. Yardage points are a good idea, as they reward owners who had players like the retired RB Barry Sanders. Sanders, was always good for yardage and to the Detroit Lions, an integral cog in their offensive machine. He deserved to be drafted early because of it. If you were drafting for TD

s only, Barry Sanders would have been a late round draft pick and that should be a crime in fantasy football.

When evaluating players, many people do it different ways. Some evaluate simply by statistics. I have seen some preach the value of three-year averages which was a popular fantasy baseball evaluation method. Others like to sit down with the final rankings from the season before and start marking up their list with arrows, reorganizing the list based on their beliefs. The majority of you will peruse fantasy web sites and magazines, looking for a list that you think is better than the others. No real science, just a draft list that looks closer to what you believe. That’s all well and good but these cheatsheets you are printing off are based on TD

s and yardage. In fact, the fantasy cheatsheet world is yardage and TD-centric. Progno Rules state TD

s are not a a good statistic to try and predict future success with as the statistic is unpredictable. It makes more sense to evaluate player talent by using means that have more predictable outcomes. In other words, evaluating a player based on past scoring production is a less accurate means of evaluating a player

s potential worth.

That is not to say the cheatsheets found on the net are useless. These sheets could potentially be the best tool you can bring to the draft. You can pretty much guarantee your opposition will draft from them and you

ll know where you can grab your player that according to the Progno Rules, is the one to take. In fact, we use a common draft sheet purposely as our own draft list to increase our ability to predict. I repeat, using a draft cheat sheet from a popular Internet site is probably the most powerful tool you can get. Back in Part 1 – The Golden Rules, a point I made was that you do not want to draft a guy if he would still be there next round. By using a common cheat sheet, you increase your ability to predict what players will and will not be waiting for you while selecting the players you want at the right time.

To get us started, let me toss out what I think is a tough question. Amani Toomer or David Boston?

(Editors Note: This comment and article were originally published in 2000) Who would you take? David Boston is the popular choice and his stock has caught fire this preseason. I like him too but I can

t tell you the number of times I

ve seen this exact wild fire take root in a player in preseason, pushing their stock through the roof, when they should have been a second floor player. Guys like Jake Plummer have been in the sky-high category and where is he on your draft list now? I do think Boston a talent, just not as high as he is projected due to the run first, poor offense he is on. I have been faced with this question twice already and taken Amani Toomer each time. In a little while I

ll tell you why.

Size Matters. In Progno Rules, an integral point to understand is size. A lot of stock is placed on the size of a player. When you go back through the record books and look at the top guys to have played the game, you will find some common elements. The most successful QB

s of all time are big guys. Give me a 6

4″ QB with a little meat on him for protection and he starts high on my list. 6

0″ or better on a WR that is over 190 pounds is all you need to know. A 6

2″ or 6

3″ WR around 215 pounds that runs a 4.5 40, now that would make my pencil snap. Side note, while WR Jerry Porter of the Raiders may still have a lot to learn and doesn

t deserve to be drafted this season, that man has outstanding size and speed.

The mark for a RB is right around 5

10″. One difference between RB and WR is that WR

s start at 6

0″ and go up. RB

s can be around 5

10″, which means a guy 5

8″ to me has the same potential as a guy 6

0″. 6

1″ is my absolute maximum for a RB; anything else is too tall and you should never draft them. RB

s need to also be proportionate. A 5

8″ 235 pound back is no good, nor is a 6

2″ 195 pound guy. The perfect back is about 5

10″, 215 pounds, I usually like to see at least 210 pounds but no more than 225. If you doubt that size matters, simply look at some of the greatest players of all time in recent history. Steve Young, Dan Marino, Warren Moon even Dan Fouts, all fit the mold. Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Marshall Faulk? In the mold. Jerry Rice is the mold, look no further, he is the Wayne Gretzky of football and players his size have had great success at the position. All the great ones are similar in size or define the size of a great player and it is no coincidence.

At TE, the past two TE superstars have been Ben Coates and Tony Gonzalez. It is no coincidence that they are almost identical in size. Ben Coates is 6

5″ 245 pounds and Tony Gonzalez 6

4″ 250 pounds. You getting the picture on what you should be looking for in a TE yet?

Intangibles. When evaluating talent, particularly young talent, you have to be aware of a lot more than how big they are.  The reason I do not like to draft rookies?  Most do not have the intangibles to make it in the NFL.  A running back that has looked poor picking up the blitz in college is a big no-no.  NFL teams will not put a RB on the field in a one back set until he proves he can protect, not kill, the probable highest paid player on the team as that is called seasonal suicide.  Most rookies coming out of school do not even run in a pro-style offense.  There are some exceptions like Florida State but even those guys are going to see things they could never dream up.

Statistics of value when looking at players for this season are actually the 2nd half split numbers.  To project where a player is trending I will often take their 2nd half numbers and multiply by 2 (just to look at full season numbers).  It is an interesting list and a list that will give you an idea of which way people were going after they blew the whistle last season.  You will find some great sleepers on this list by performing this function.  Put a dot next to them on your draft cheatsheet.


Perhaps the most confusing, but best statistic in football, is the QB Rating.  I wish there was a RB rating and WR Rating as well.  QB Rating is a dream statistic for fantasy owners as it truly boils down the QB

s strengths and weaknesses into a number.  How great is that?  So why don

t we just make a list by QB Rating?  The one flaw is that a QB that has made 5 completions can have the same QB Rating as one that has made 500.  Nevertheless, it is a truly great statistic provided for free and we take advantage of it.

QB Rating Scale

100+ = Superstud QB.

90+ = Top notch slinger

80+ = Serviceable

70+ = Tough Season

60+ = Unemployed

To demonstrate, let us take a peek at the top QB

s like Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper and Kurt Warner.

Peyton Manning



Daunte Culpepper


Kurt Warner



All in the proper category for last season

s performance. Steve Young routinely was over 100 and Kurt Warner two season

s ago, when the Rams steam rolled everyone, had a 109.2 QB Rating. I think Warner was approaching theoretical maximum! When evaluating QB

s always look at QB ratings over the past few years, as well as which direction they are trending, that will help you find a quality QB.

One important note, stay away from QB

s that are on a team for the first time. Guys like Jon Kitna, Brad Johnson even Elvis Grbac I would stay away from. I know it sounds nuts but any QB that moves in the off season to another team, no matter who they are, doesn’t even need to be on your list on draft day. A place to find a good QB late, is to draft the guys you passed up on the year before because they were in a system for the first time and stunk up the joint. The second year in the same system those QB’s are going to be a steal late for you and a great place to draft from as no one will want to touch them with a 10ft. pole.

One QB I

ve been taking a chance on is Rob Johnson of the Bills. There is the injury question but his QB Rating for the past 4 seasons has been 111.9, 102.9, 119.5 and 82.2. The first three numbers were partial seasons at best, and the last in his Flutie plagued years was tougher although, 82.2 is still serviceable. It will be interesting to see what this guy can do if healthy and given a chance. Another dark horse is Steve McNair, everyone has written this guy off as a dud and I mean everybody. I’m the lone voice in the crowd that says McNair is far from done.

Running Back

All hail the RB that can catch and is always handed the ball, first and goal on the 3. It is simple really, just give me that for all my RB

s. A RB that can catch, to me, is what this game is all about. Give me a team of those and I

ll drop you where you stand. Every team wants a multi-faceted back to give their offense options. A RB that can catch, doubles the backs ability to be involved in the play and I like things that increase my player

s touches.

I am going to be boring with this one but total yardage, TD

s and a generous amount of receiving yards are the three statistics that define a sweet back for me.

After the Marshall Faulk

s and Edgerrin James players of the world, who else is left to take a stab at? I know everyone is calling him a one-year wonder but Tiki Barber quietly put together a very impressive season last year. A little known statistic is that Tiki Barber finished 8th on the total yardage list of all RB

s and WR

s combined. That deserves some attention and I’ll be one of the few that gets in his camp as a future star at the position because of his receiving.

Wide Receiver

Do not even bother looking in the TD column when looking at WR. WR

s and consistency in the TD

s column is rare. Instead, the three statistics to consider when evaluating WR

s are Receptions, Yardage and Target. You really like to see a high Target (number of times thrown to) coupled with a solid reception percentage. A WR that is thrown to more than 6 times a game is good but 9 or 10 (or more) is preferred. You want to see at least half as many receptions as target. Up around 80% is getting close to greatness.

Using this you will find guys like Mushin Muhammad, not a crowd favorite this season, but worthy of consideration. Muhammad had an impressive close to last season and is a place to look for a WR sleeper:

Muhsin Muhammad

Week 13

11 receptions/17 Targets

Week 14

10 receptions/11 Targets

Week 15

8 receptions/13 Targets

Week 16

9 receptions/17 Targets

Week 17

10 receptions/14 Targets

67% completion rate

According to the Progno Rule Book, Muhammad is an attractive prospect this season. Another, as mentioned earlier, is Amani Toomer. Let me contrast Amani Toomer and David Boston

s finish to the 2000 season.

David Boston

Week 13

1 reception/6 Targets

Week 14

9 receptions/15 Targets

Week 15

2 receptions/8 Targets

Week 16

5 receptions/10 Targets

Week 17

1 reception/6 Targets

40% completion rate.

Amani Toomer

Week 12

8 receptions/12 Targets

Week 13

4 receptions/7 Targets

Week 14

3 receptions/6 Targets

Week 15

9 receptions/13 Targets

Week 16

3 receptions/3 Targets

Week 17

8 receptions/8 Targets

71% completion rate

Who would you rather throw to in the endzone? The guy that catches the ball 71% of the time, or the guy that catches it 40% of the time?

The Rest

A good TE is one that catches the ball (obviously) and fits into the Tony Gonzalez/Ben Coates size template. Same WR evaluation methods should be applied to a TE. As far as Kickers go? Whatever.

(Note from Tony: 2005 – I no longer believe “whatever” and have employed a successful kicker draft strategy the past few years, I will cover it in Part 5 of this series.)

As always, thanks for sticking through this diatribe till the bitter end. I hope you enjoyed Part 2 – Eagle Scout in this 5 Part Learning Series. Keep an eye out for these upcoming releases:

Part 3

Pressure Cooker (The Draft)

Part 4

Art of War (Focus on Trading and Free Agency)

Part 5

Up in Smoke (Weekly Lineup)

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