Tuesday - Apr 23, 2019

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The Fire Sale: A New Beginning

Some things in this world just will not go away. No matter how much we wish they would, they just keep coming back to annoy us over and over again.
The Fire Sale is one of those things.

The Fire Sale has now found its fourth home in fourteen years. I suppose you can look at it a couple of ways. One is to say
The Fire Sale is so popular and in-demand that multiple fantasy sites want to publish it. On the other hand you can say that sites don’t seem to give a darn whether the column runs there or not. I prefer to look on the bright side.
 
If you are not familiar with my column I like to use my unique (some would replace “unique” with “ridiculous”) way of looking at which players are going up and coming down each week during the NFL season. I try to look at things not every other site on the planet is regurgitating so you are getting something out of my column. I also try and have a little fun along the way. In other words, I want you to have a reason to click on my column every week, not just to read, “Hey, Andrew Luck looks like he may have a breakout year.”

I am also known in some circles for my extensive following of college players. Some people believe DirecTV gets a majority of their revenue from the NFL. That’s not true. They get most of it from me. I have three TVs and four DVR boxes. I not only haven’t missed a college Saturday in 17 years, I tape a ton of college games and watch them over before the draft and in the summer. So what does that all mean? Nothing really, besides that I’m a little off my nut and I have to work 50 hours a week just to pay my DirecTV bill.
 
This is the dawn of a new era for
The Fire Sale. The first column at Fantasy Sharks is my pre-draft edition. I will be identifying four players I like and four players I am not really high on in this year’s class. I will have another Fire Sale the week after the draft. Then I will write one every two weeks from May until late July, before it turns into a weekly column in August.
The Fire Sale will be rolling along all summer for you football junkies and trust me, there is always something to talk about.
 
So whether you are a long-time follower or a new reader, thanks for stopping by and let’s have a great season. Remember, as I have said since the first Fire Sale, I only write this column to help people win fantasy football titles.

Now, on with
The Fire Sale


Going Up

Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin – If you have been following me on Twitter over the last few years, Ball’s name being on this list comes as no surprise. I first became enamored with Ball when he got some spot duty late in his freshman season and throughout his college career he did nothing but improve in all aspects of his game.
 
One thing to note about Ball is that he was actually the third best back on Wisconsin as a sophomore early in the year behind John Clay and James White. The Badgers almost became the first team in FBS history to have three 1,000 yard rushers that year but Ball came up four yards short.
 
The reason Ball fell behind White on the depth chart early in 2010 is because he showed up to spring ball with a poor attitude and a little out of shape. The demotion to third string was the push Ball needed to get his head on straight and since the last five games of his sophomore season (33 games), Ball has rushed for 4,530 yards and 69 touchdowns. That comes out to 137 yards and over two scores every time Ball suits up. That is pretty darn impressive, especially when you consider Ball played in a major conference like the Big 10 or 12 or whatever they are calling it by the time you read this column.
 
The first thing I look at with running backs is vision. You can’t teach vision and Ball has some of the best vision I have seen from a college back in years. He has the uncanny ability to see a hole opening up before it actually opens. The best I have ever seen at this was Emmitt Smith. Emmitt was not blessed with the greatest measurable but his amazing vision helped make him one of the greatest runners of all-time.
 
Now, I am not saying Ball is Emmitt Smith but they do remind me a lot of each other. Ball does not have great straight line speed but he is a guy who will always find the hole and get positive yards. Ball is also much quicker than he is fast, another important trait I look for in running backs. If you get to see any Wisconsin games watch how quickly Ball makes a cut in the backfield and gets through a hole untouched. The last guy who did what Ball does that well at the college level in my opinion was Ray Rice and I was told he was too small to play in the NFL. I was told he was nothing more than a third down back. People don’t tell me that anymore.
 
I love Trent Richardson but I would have had Ball rated right there with him if he came out last year. This season it is a slam dunk for me. I believe Eddie Lacey is going to be a decent – not great – NFL running back. I was talking to a guy I know in the NFL and he told me a lot more people love Ball than do not love him. They say he does everything great but run fast. Here is my response: What is Rice’s 40 time? What is LeSean McCoy’s 40 time? How about Maurice Jones-Drew? See my point? Long speed for running backs doesn’t matter if they are great at everything else. There is only one Adrian Peterson. If you find another one, go get him.

I think a team is going to steal Ball in this draft. The days of the every down back are coming to an end. However, when I look at guys currently in the NFL I think Ball can be one of the few backs that can handle the majority of carries for a team if he is given the chance. Watch closely where Ball lands in this draft, especially if you play in a dynasty league.
 
Johnathan Franklin, RB UCLA – Franklin was my favorite player in the country to watch last season. Some people think Franklin is on the small size but with most teams now using two backs and Franklin running with much more power than his size suggests, I think he is going to be a dangerous weapon if he goes to a team that uses him correctly.
 
Franklin’s college coach – Jim Mora, Jr. – compares him to Warrick Dunn. While I don’t mind that comparison I think Franklin runs with more power than Dunn did when he played. I believe a more accurate comparison is DeAngelo Williams, back when he was in his prime with Carolina.
 
The thing I like most about Franklin is he has the ability to either make a move and get by a defender in the open field or break tackles. I like backs with that kind of versatility because it makes them so much tougher to stop in the NFL. Think of a guy like Jones-Drew. He can either run by a defender or over them. I see Franklin being a runner similar to a Williams or a Jones-Drew in the NFL. Will he ever put up their kind of production? That I don’t know but he does have that kind of playmaking ability.
 
The other thing that will make Franklin valuable to both NFL teams and fantasy owners is he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Franklin caught 32 balls last season when the new coaching staff finally started using him as a receiver. I think if he goes to the right team Franklin will help immediately as a rotational back and receiver on passing downs with the chance to move into an every-down role in the future. I believe Franklin offers the most versatility of any back in this class, both in his running style and the skill set he brings to the table.
 
I think a team like the Jets, that badly needs a playmaker in the backfield, could really use Franklin. Again, Franklin may not come in and start right away for a team but he should make an immediate contribution to an NFL offense.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.