Andrew Ferris

Andrew Ferris

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By: Tom Petrillo aka @tpetrillo80

Watching 50 hours a week of game film, watching all the highlight shows on the different platforms, watching all the games every week. Whether from NFL analysts or fantasy analysts this is what you're constantly bombarded with. For the first 32 years of my life, I was like everybody else in America and bought into this concept. But now I know differently. This is my story.
Almost 5 years ago, I went blind due to my poor life choices and not taking care of my diabetes for a decade and a half. I knew many aspects of my life would change. I would never be able to drive again, it would be difficult for me to ever find a job, and the most difficult of all, I would never physically see any of my family and friends again. That is why I sleep a lot. When I sleep, I dream. When I dream I have visions of my family and friends. What they looked like the last time I could see them and it brings me some form of comfort.

One thing I did not immediately realize is how it would drastically change how I follow sports. I can't watch the game film anymore, Neither can I watch the highlights or the games on Sunday. But I can still follow it, and in many ways, I feel like I can follow it better than those who have sight.

Everybody remembers watching some player nobody's ever heard of rip off a 70-yard run, spinning like Barry Sanders and juking the defenders out of their cleats and immediately running out the next week and plucking that guy off waivers. I'm guilty of it just as much as the next guy.

But now, I may have heard about that 70-yard run, but I could not see him make the miraculous moves that want you to go out and get him. I look at the stat line, and I see 26 rushes for 99 yards. I won’t be enamored by the 70-yard run. I will hear the stat line and be unencumbered by the highlights and can focus on the numbers. This has helped me avoid busts like Joseph Randle and C.J. Spiller in the past. I like to call this blind vision. It has not only helped me in fantasy football in which I have one at least one championship every year since I went blind.

It also helps me in life. It helps me talk to people, which I have done a lot more since I went blind. When I could see, I could never give oral reports or stand up in front of anybody and give speeches. Now that I am blind and I can't see who is in front of me I am able to talk to a lot more people, we get to know each other's true selves because I listen to them. I don't make snap judgments based on what they look like or what they're wearing but I get to know the heart of the person by the words they speak.

I truly feel that going blind has not been a hindrance for me but a blessing. I'm still alive, I am still kicking and most importantly I am meeting true human beings. In many ways, these individuals have a truer sight than those who have 20/20 vision. If everybody went blind for six months this world would be a much better place.

Oh! And one public service announcement for all those sports commentators out there, when you go to commercial breaks or especially at the end of the game announce the score. Do your blind sports fans a favor and give us the score, paint us a picture, and announce the game.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 00:00

Perfect Match: Finding The Next Zeke, Pt. 3

Last Year around this time draftniks began floating the idea, “What if Zeke goes to Dallas?” It was a perfect landing spot for him, great OL, veteran QB (or so we thought), and an amazing skill set that would allow him to play 3-downs from the beginning. Sure enough, that is where Zeke found himself and the rest is history.

But how will that affect us in 2017?

It will surely touch off a “search for the next Ezekiel Elliott.”

In the final installment of Perfect Match, I will pair a major piece of shit with one of the games with one of the game’s most storied franchises. I’ll also match one of the most physically gifted TE prospects in years with a team begging for another offensive weapon and I’ll match another TE with an innovative first-time coach.

Joe Mixon- I didn’t exactly bury the lede with my description of Joe Mixon. By now, we have all seen the videos of him doing a despicable act of violence. We live in a society, however, that gives second chances to talented individuals. Fortunately for Mixon, he is one of the most talented RBs in the world. At 6’1 226, Joe Mixon may be the most physically gifted RB in this year’s draft. He can mix speed with power and his catching ability is a legitimate strength. What is most impressive with Mixon are his feet. He has some absolutely amazing footwork when negotiating a hole.

Perfect Match- I think the perfect match for Joe Mixon would be in Green Bay. The Packers will most definitely be looking for an RB in the draft, possibly even two. If you recall, Eddie Lacy was drafted alongside Johnathan Franklin (forced into retirement due to injuries), so Ted Thompson is no stranger to loading up on rookie RBs. Mixon’s dynamic playmaking ability would be a major upgrade for the position and in many ways, Mixon is like a rich man’s Ty Montgomery. With Mixon and Montgomery on the field at the same time, the Packers could get very creative with their packages, almost always getting one of the two lined up across from an LB.

Best Case/Worst Case- I think the Joe Mixon’s best case scenario involves him developing into a Le’Veon Bell-type RB. He has even displayed some of Bell’s trademark patience during his time at Oklahoma. Worst case scenario for Mixon is a who’s who of talented players who have fallen by the wayside due to character concerns. Let’s hope he doesn’t go the way of the Ray McDonalds and Greg Hardys of the world.

David Njoku- David Njoku is an elite athlete for the TE position. In H.S., Njoku was a national high jump champion. At 6’4 245 lbs, he has the prototypical build for a TE in today’s NFL. In his time at Miami, Njoku showed the ability to be a deep threat, as well as, a zone-buster. I think his elite athleticism will be on display at the combine, where he will skyrocket up draft boards.

Perfect Match- The perfect match for Njoku is the New York Giants. The Giants have had a gaping hole at TE for years which has left Eli without a valuable option in the passing game. But even UDFA guys like Will Tye have found success in short periods at TE for the Giants. If Njoku were to be drafted by the Giants, he and OBJ would immediately become one of the most athletic WR-TE tandems in the league. With Sterling Shepard being exclusively a slot guy, the Giants need a TE with the versatility of Njoku to open up the offense and give Manning another homerun threat in the passing game.

Best Case/Worst Case­- David Njoku has all of the tools to become a star in the NFL but he merely lacks experience at the position. Another guy who lacked experience at the position who went on to do great things was Antonio Gates. Did you know he played basketball?! Unfortunately, there are other cautionary tales of elite athletes that do not pan out. Case in point, Matt Jones. At 6’6 237 lbs, Jones ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. That was probably the highlight of his NFL career because a lack of polish at his position combined with enough funds for copious amounts of cocaine was Jones’ undoing.

Evan Engram- Here is a guy who I absolutely love as a football player. Coming into the 2016 season, there were questions as to whether Engram was a WR or a TE. Engram worked at his craft and put on some mass to silence those questions. Evan Engram is a TE and a damn good one at that. He has soft hands and the ability to create separation from defenders. He has the ability to move all over the field and create mismatches.

Perfect Match- One coach who is known for creating mismatches is Kyle Shanahan. Currently, the 49ers are completely devoid of playmakers. Their best TE is the oft-injured Vance McDonald and they have no real weapons at the WR position. Engram would immediately become the best weapon in the passing game for the 49ers.

Best Case/Worst Case- Engram’s best case and worst case play on the same team. I think that with Engram’s RZ ability and versatility, he could grow into a healthier version of Jordan Reed. He could also become a Niles Paul. A talented guy who’s frame just isn’t quite big enough to hold the mass necessary to compete in the NFL.

That concludes the Perfect Match Series, if you missed the first two editions here are the links:

Part Two

Part One

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 00:00

Perfect Match: Finding The Next Zeke, Pt. 2

Last Year around this time draftniks began floating the idea, “What if Zeke goes to Dallas?” It was a perfect landing spot for him, great OL, veteran QB (or so we thought), and an amazing skill set that would allow him to play 3-downs from the beginning. Sure enough, that is where Zeke found himself and the rest is history.

But how will that affect us in 2017?

It will surely touch off a “search for the next Ezekiel Elliott.”

In this week’s addition of Perfect Match, I am going to breakdown the QB that I think has the highest ceiling of any QB in the draft, a RB that has garnered more hype from ESPN than anyone not named Lebron, Steph, or Tiger, and a recently injured WR who fits in perfectly with what a new OC has done in the past. These potential landing spots would significantly increase each rookie’s value, so without further ado let’s dive in.

 Pat Mahomes- Pat Mahomes is looking to do the impossible: make the jump from Air Raid QB to professional QB. For those not familiar with the Air Raid offense, it is the hyper-paced, throw first offense that has been implemented by Mike Leach, Hal Mumme, and their disciples. It has been known to produce gaudy QB stats and has popularized the shallow crossers route combination that has become one of the most effective combos in football. Sadly, this offense has had almost no correlation to NFL success. Mahomes is looking to buck that trend.

How can he do it? For starters, he has great arm strength and also has shown the ability to use touch on passes. His willingness to take a hit has been almost as impressive as his improvisational ability. I believe the main factor in whether or not Mahomes will be a success will be his landing spot. If he is able to sit for a year or two and learn a pro-style offense, he has the highest upside of any QB in the 2017 draft class.

Perfect Match- Mahomes perfect match would have to be Pittsburgh. The chance for him to sit and learn for a year or two behind Ben Roethlisberger would be ideal. At 6’3 230 lbs, Mahomes is a similar build, his arm talent is similar, and his escapability is like that of a Big Ben. Obviously, this is more of a dynasty taek. However, with Big Ben's propensity for getting injured Mahomes could find some early playing time in Pittsburgh.

Best Case/Worst Case- I think that a good player comp for Mahomes is Ben Roethlisberger but since I’m in the business of firing off hot taeks I’m going to take words of advice from my man Jameis Winston and “do it big.” While Big Ben is a decent comp, I think that Mahomes could be similar to another QB that sat behind an all-time great for a couple years named Aaron Rodgers. His footwork and quick release resemble Rodgers. Maybe he will even turn into a pretentious douchebag that bangs unbelievably hot women, too. Worst case is pretty fucking bad, though. Should he not buck the trend of Air Raid QBs failing in the NFL he will join such QBs as his coach Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons, Graham Harrell, Sonny Cumbie, and Tim Couch.

Leonard Fournette- Who can forget the highlight of Leonard Fournette bucking the Auburn defender off him like a horned-up mustang on the way to a brood mare? (What was no. 28 doing?!) Fournette possesses rare power and speed with the ability to redirect and accelerate much better than last year’s power/speed guy Derrick Henry. He shows an affinity for bulldozing players but also has the agility to make defenders miss.

Perfect Match- Fournette has been mocked to Carolina on many occasions and I think that this is a perfect spot for him to flourish. The Panthers run a power scheme and have a seasoned fullback in Mike Tolbert to put in front of Fournette on power runs. The read option between Cam Newton and Fournette is interesting as the that would make an extra defender account for the QB and allow Fournette to operate against less defender.

Best Case/Worst Case- Leonard Fournette was a 5-star prospect in high school that lived up to the hype. Another player that fit that same billing was Adrian Peterson. AP had the same power/speed combination that Fournette possesses. If he lands in Carolina, look out for a huge year! Worst case scenario, Fournette bulks up and turns into a Greg Jones. Jones was a power/speed guy in college who didn’t translate it to the NFL.

Corey Davis- Corey Davis will look to continue the long line of successful MAC WRs. Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman (QB), Lance Moore, Greg Jennings and Randy Moss were all stand-outs in the MAC, but it is Corey Davis who owns career records in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He also has the chance to be picked in the top-10. At 6’3 213lbs, Davis is an impressive athlete. He is also a polished route-runner and great after the catch. His stiff arm is one of the best I have seen from a WR.

Perfect Match- The perfect match for Corey Davis is the Buffalo Bills. Davis and Sammy Watkins would team up to form one of the most formidable WR duos in the league. In fact, they would be incredibly similar to new OC, Rick Dennison’s previous WR duo, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Davis would have the opportunity to take over the Demaryius Thomas role in Dennison’s offense. This match is contingent on Tyrod Taylor being the Bills QB if they decide to blow up the team, all bets are off.

Best Case/Worst Case- I tipped my hand in the previous paragraph as to who I believe is a great player comp for Davis and that is Demaryius Thomas. He might not be quite as fast as Thomas but I believe he makes up for it with better hands. I think that Davis is a relatively safe pick with a high chance of success. The only thing that could hurt him would be landing on a team that has a shitty QB. I think worst case scenario he develops into a Rueben Randle-type WR.

Don't forget to check back next week for another installment of Perfect Match!

If you missed the first installment, click here!

Friday, 27 January 2017 00:00

Perfect Match: Finding The Next Zeke

Last Year around this time draftniks began floating the idea, “What if Zeke goes to Dallas?” It was a perfect landing spot for him, great
OL, veteran QB (or so we thought), and an amazing skill set that would allow him to play 3-downs from the beginning. Sure enough, that
is where Zeke found himself and the rest is history.

But how will that affect us in 2017? It will surely touch off a “search for the next Ezekiel Elliott.”

In this first edition of Perfect Landing Spots, I’m going to be like Chris Hardwick on Singled out.

I will look at the teams and prospects that match-up perfectly. Will I find a player so perfectly matched that it will be like “Cash me ousside” girl and a trailer park, or Nic Cage in a movie that requires no acting ability? Maybe, maybe not. But I will find you the next Zeke. How bout dat?

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook is #drafttwitters darling. His rare combination of speed and elusiveness has been on display for three years at Florida State. After his abysmal showing in the college football playoff his freshman year, Cook showed up on the biggest of stages. He also has great hands that allowed Jimbo Fisher to get him the ball in space when the OL was floundering.

Perfect Match — The Indianapolis Colts. With a franchise QB in place, a playmaking WR, and no more Ryan Grigson, the Colts would be a perfect fit for Dalvin Cook. Unlike some other RBs, Cook has shown the ability to flourish regardless of OL play. Learning how to be a professional/not fumble from fellow Miami-native Frank Gore would be a positive as well.

Best Case/Worst Case — We always see player comps but those are stupid. Every person on Earth has a range of outcomes that is affected by countless variables. I’m going to give you the best case and worst case scenarios. Edgerrin James body-type, skillset, and even area of birth are so similar to Dalvin Cook. Cook could also turn into CJ Spiller. A big-play college player that didn’t quite translate to the NFL that we will waste fantasy draft capital on for at least 6 years.

Ryan Switzer — I have loved Ryan Switzer since he was returning punt after punt for touchdowns as a freshman at North Carolina. He is undersized at 5’8 ½ 180 but his route-running and quick feet make him the ideal slot receiver. He is also a terror returning punts. In his career, he finished 1 TD short of Wes Welker’s NCAA record but he did so on 53 fewer returns. This past year, Switzer caught 96 passes for 1112 yards and was a huge part of Mitch Trubisky’s success.

Perfect Match — The Baltimore Ravens. What better team to draft the premier slot WR in the 2017 draft than the one who is losing one to retirement? As Steve Smith aged, he refined his route-running and prolonged his career by becoming an amazing slot receiver. Now that he is gone, the Ravens have often injured Michael Campanaro (RFA) as their only viable option in the slot. If Switzer lands in Baltimore, expect him to be one of the most consistent PPR producers in the NFL.

Best Case/Worst Case — It would be incredibly lazy of me to compare Ryan Switzer to Wes Welker. Maybe call him a grinder or a gym rat or a field general, so instead, I will compare him to Doug Baldwin. I envision Switzer running routes from all over the field and separating from defenders regardless. Worst case Ryan Switzer gets his head knocked off too many times like Austin Collie and retires at a young age.

Next Edition — Next week I will discuss the perfect landing spot for the next Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, and Demariyus Thomas.

Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:00

Lessons learned from 2016: Wide Receivers

 Editor's note: This is Part 3 in a several part series where we dissect each offensive fantasy position and tell you what happened this season (2016) and how you can apply those lessons into your draft for next season (2017). You can check out all the lessons learned from quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends throughout the offseason.


The start of 2016’s fantasy football season was ushered in by countless twitter arguments over the validity of Zero RB. Week after week, our timelines would be cluttered with statistics in support or against the strategy, even worse, there were tons of unsubstantiated opinions on either side of the argument. While pure Zero RB didn’t filter into home league draft strategy, it is clear by looking at the first-round ADP that fantasy owners put an emphasis on drafting an elite WR. With five WRs in the Top-6 picks, 2016 was destined to be the year of the WR.

Except it wasn’t.

WR4 DeAndre Hopkins was plagued by Brock Osweiler.

WR5 A.J. Green was injured just late enough to completely wreck your season.

WR2 Julio Jones only played 14 games, as he suffered an injury just in time for fantasy playoffs.

But should we have seen this coming? The answer is yes.

Year Number of WR in Top 12
2006 4
2007 10
2008 3
2009 7
2010 5
2011 5
2012 7
2013 7
2014 8
2015 11
2016 6
Average 6.636363636
Mean 7
STDEV 2.419616799
 

As you can see over the past 10 years, the mean finish of WRs in the Top-12 is seven players. But 2015 was the most extreme outlier year since 2007. With 11 players in the Top-12 in scoring, fantasy owners who went WR heavy were awarded at unusually high rates. This WR success bled into draft strategy and created a run on WRs from 1.01.

How can we learn from this? Well, first, we can see that 2016 wasn’t exactly a down year for WRs. Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr were all drafted in the first two rounds. They may not have had historically great seasons but they were all valuable players. The six WRs that finished in the Top-12, were just a tick below the average number of WRs in the Top-12 in the past 10 years. I wouldn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel in terms of draft strategy.

The most important lesson we must take from 2016 will be to fight the hysteria that will ensue when David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot come flying off the board in the first three picks of your 2017 drafts. It is a very rare occurrence for players to go back-to-back Top-3 years. In fact, no RB has done it since LaDanian Tomlinson in 2006 and 2007.

History will be on your side in 2017. So hop back on the WR bandwagon and draft Odell Beckham Jr. at 1.04 in your 2017 fantasy drafts.

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