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A couple of insights I want to share with you based on my own entrepreneurial journey
Long story short I turned 30 recently. I am starting over from scratch: emotionally, financially, and yes even spiritually. In the last two years, I have lost pretty much everything that mattered to me. Me and my girlfriend broke up. I lost friends. I lost my house. I lost my savings. I lost my confidence. You name it and I probably lost it. Perhaps the worst is that I have lost my peace of mind. Despite being talented, high IQ, conscientious, with good skills in relevant areas I, unfortunately, have come at a crossroads where I might need to get a 'real' job for the first time in many years for quite a while to build myself back up. I have truly hit rock bottom and hope that I can find the inner strength to still believe my entrepreneurial goals are a real possibility for me - even though it will likely be way later in life than I had hoped. I wanted to share 10 insights with you guys, especially for those of you < 25 years based on my experience. Trust me you really do not want to be me right now. I am optimistic by nature but I have seem to have lost even that side of me. I'm now in a mental prison I have trouble escaping and wonder if I ever will again because I wasted so many years & drag the failures with me. About me: during my 20s I started about 6 businesses. Out of those 3 flopped. One was sold within a year for a low six figure sum. The second did $3 million ARR with $600K profits. The third we raised some VC but had to fold the venture within a year. I am trying to recoup ever since but it's been extremely tough. Focus Being a very curious person by nature I have a wide range of interests. I am also good at learning new things and as a result, spread myself too thin during my 20s often stressed out of my mind. Don't be like me and take the time before you start anything to consider it's implications. Then apply yourself and take relentless action. Insight #1: focus on 1 or 2 things for 5-10 years and then go to the next thing. Courage The one thing nobody can teach you yet is extremely important in my experience is courage. I use to have it but I misdirected it and seem to have lost it. But I have some friends who started very successful companies all because they had the courage to actually pursue it. I would advice anyone < 25yrs to take massive risks. Often they are not as big as you think they are and you only need to be right once. Not to mention people will give you bonus points for trying and help you out. But once you hit 30+ (let alone 40/50) nobody gives a fuck anymore generally speaking. So you go from a courageous young entrepreneurial spirit to just another 30-year-old loser like me right now who 'doesn't have his shit together'. Take swings and go for that homerun with everything you got while you can. Insight #2: courage matters twice, take risks while you can, swing for the fence. Iterate The best way to discover if something works is to try it. Test. Iterate. Test. Iterate. You really don't want to be a perfectionist. I speak from experience - though I have managed to let go of this nasty habit all together. Look at the world as a place that is your laboratory and experiment all the time. Insight #3: the world is your laboratory so play around, test, iterate, and test some more. Anti-fragile Learn how to become anti-fragile (read the book). In retrospect I was too fragile during my teens and too robust during my 20s. Meaning that I was too rigid in my thinking, eating up the whole hustle hard culture and working myself to the bone 'because that is what men do'. It took me years to find out that actually, you want to become anti-fragile meaning: you are highly adaptable, dynamic, thrive in chaos and most importantly; are high in terms of cognitive flexibility. In other words: live your life dynamic instead of superimposing your beliefs onto the world and your routines and becoming rigid. Insight #4: cultivate an anti-fragile attitude towards life Contracts Our business was doing $3 million ARR and we were making good money. I traveled the world and lived in a cool loft. I had been working 18/7 for close to three years. One day I got a phone call. It was my business partner. Long story short I got basically fired from my own company and was out on the street within 4 weeks all because our initial contracts gave him way too much leverage that I did not see coming at the time. I was too naive and paid dearly for it. Insight #5: get business agreements on paper and do it properly or you will regret it Founders The main reason our VC backed company didn't work out was it turned out our founding team just did not vibe well. We could not align ourselves and in retrospect one of us was just too irrelevant for the position in the company. When looking for cofounder(s) look for this: 1) good chemistry 2) proper communication 3) similar life phases 4) mutual trust 5) applicable skills 6) similar vision Insight #6: finding cofounders is not a matter to take lightly Alignment If you are like me you want to make an impact above anything else. I believe wealth and impact go hand on hand but I have noticed over the years some people just want to make money end of story. Both are fine, but if you are like me, make sure that whatever you do it somehow resonates with your core being. Otherwise, you will feel empty inside and you will give up I will guarantee it. Insight #7: if you want to make an impact on the world make sure your project aligns deeply Luck I hate to say it but luck matters a lot more than most will admit. I have seen it many times in my life as well. Most notable is a guy I once met who became the cofounder of a company worth $300 million (I won't mention the company so don't ask). His cofounder was brilliant, and he was his roommate who was lazy as hell and worked in the kitchen of a chinese restaurant. But they enjoyed working together and next thing you know this guy is crushing life. It happens all the time. That being said you can also create your own luck by working smart, becoming a man of value and building your reputation. Insight #8: don't underestimate serendipitous luck, it happens but focus on creating your own luck Skills The 18-year-old me could get drunk, play soccer, crush people in super smash brothers and ejaculate prematurely. The 30 year old me can code (somewhat), build websites, trade options, speak in public, raise investment, negotiate contracts, build financial models, run advanced analytics, build teams and much much more. Make sure you stack up your skills as you go and always keep learning. I really wish someone told me early on in life how important it is to acquire useful skills in your life. Insight #9: acquire relevant skills and always keep learning new things and improving The right IT The reason you want to run a lot of experiments is because you need to find the right IT. Meaning the right fit between what the market wants, what you can build, and what they want to pay you for. Great ideas (very rare) take off like nothing you have ever seen before. Even though it's not likely you'll solve a problem with such demand the thing takes of to the stratosphere, you can at least try! I've also seen and experienced the opposite countless times where founders work years on something that should have been folded after 3 months because it was just not something people wanted. Be aware of this. Insight #10: test to find the right IT, if something doesn't grow or take off quickly, re-evaluate Faith This one to be honest gets me a bit teared up as I am writing this. But here we go: have faith in your adventure, pursue it with faith and plan for even greater journeys. A big reason my 20s have mostly been a shit show filled with failures is because deep down I lacked faith things would turn out well, probably because I come from a very poor and rough background. I am working on it but it seems impossible to change this belief. I often wish I could go back in time, give that young man a hug, tell him I love him, that he is enough, and encourage him to share his gifts with the world instead of doubting himself. That being said, try somehow to find faith in yourself and what you are working on and life will open itself up to you I promise. I have seen it many times. Insight #11: develop faith in yourself and make peace with life, trust things will be fine There were originally about 25 insights but I trimmed it down to these. Please don't underestimate it, they are not set in stone but based on 10+ years of failure (and some successes). Trust me, hitting rock bottom sounds a lot more romantic in a book or a movie. When it happens to your own life, and I have experienced it three times so far, you will go through the heart of darkness. TLDR; I built some companies during my 20s and mostly failed. I am now at rock bottom and these are the insights I derived based on my entrepreneurial thus far. I wish you all the best, hopefully, you will find something useful here you can apply to your own journey. EDIT 1: thank you for all the rewards and comments it means a lot to me right now EDIT 2: part two is up online (because so many of you requested it) you can read ithere EDIT 3: I keep on receiving a TON of DMs with people thanking me which makes me happy, it means you got something out of it. You may also considerbuying me a coffee. EDIT: 4: many of you asked me to keep you posted on my next venture so I will update here again when the time is right, but when that will be I don't know, it could take quite a while
Fellow Command & Conquer fans, Today we’ll be launching our second major update for the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. As I’ve been sharing with you over the past month via our Beta Patch updates, this Patch focuses on the following items:
Balance adjustments to address several key issues
Incorporating community maps as official Quickmatch maps
Dozens of QoL improvements and bug fixes across the board
Upcoming Quickmatch leaderboard reset
Below you will find the full list of Patch Notes for this update. Note: the Quickmatch changes will likely go into effect a few hours after the Patch goes live. But before we get too deep into the detailed list, let me provide context on each of the key items in this patch. LAN Play: As requested by the community over the course of the project, this update includes our official implementation of LAN Play. LAN Play allows players to enjoy Mod content in multiplayer, and should be an evergreen way to enjoy multiplayer far into the future. We did our best to test this feature amongst the Covid situation during development, along with attempting to get feedback from the community via Beta patches. But given the variety of ways people could play over VPN and with Mods, we expect there still to be some quirks in the system. Please continue to provide feedback so we can make any refinements going forward. Balance Adjustments: Over the past several weeks we’ve been collaborating with the community to tackle a few key balance items in the game. To see further context for these adjustments and read the full community discussion, please refer to my previous post here. Community Maps: A few weeks ago we announced the initiative of incorporating community made content into the actual game update so they can be officially utilized in Multiplayer and Quickmatch. We have decided to keep the first batch of Community maps as revealed, but have also made a few adjustments of the previous maps based on community feedback. The full details of these maps can be seen in the patch notes below. Quickmatch Leaderboard Reset: As mentioned in my previous post, we are getting ready to reset the Quickmatch ladder to get a fresh start on all these Quickmatch changes. This reset will likely happen in the next 48 hours if the patch launch here goes smoothly. In addition, one new feature of this patch is the ability to view the Leaderboard results of previous seasons (which should take a snapshot of the final results of this first season). However, on this note I wanted to address a key topic with the leaderboard. We’ve seen reports, evidence, and even people admitting about “boosting” their leaderboard rank with alternate accounts. We feel this breaks the ethics of the Quickmatch landscape and undermines the leaderboard system. Being part of the C&C community should be a positive and fair experience for all players. So here’s the deal, we’re going to give a pass on this previous season, but this behavior will not be acceptable after the leaderboard reset. I respectfully ask everyone to please engage in ethical play behavior going forward, and if you are not sure what that means, I think reading our Positive Play Charter is a good place to start. Mod Compatibility: I’ll then reiterate this message from our previous Patch Notes. Because this patch includes updates to the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll files, it’s likely that some previous mods will no longer be compatible with this updated version of the game. Modders will need to update their mods with the latest code and refresh their mods on the Steam Workshop. Once a mod has been updated on the Steam Workshop, players will need to follow a few steps to update and reactivate their mods:
Disable the mod in the Mods Menu
Unsubscribe from the mod in the in-game Workshop Mods menu
Quit and restart the game
Re-subscribe to the mod via the Workshop Mods menu
Activate the mod and restart the game as prompted
The updated mod should then work as intended
Players may experience some issues if they try to activate mods which are not updated to the patch version. Detailed Patch Notes: With those items in mind, please see below for all the updates made in this patch: New Features:
LAN Play has been added to the game, including the ability to play LAN games with Mods enabled and over certain VPN networks. When browsing LAN games, the UI should display which Mods are required to join each game. LAN Play can be accessed directly from the Main Menu.
Added the ability to change the resource regeneration speed in Skirmish and Multiplayer games. This is now a slider in the Rules section of the game lobby (With value “1” being the legacy default)
Added a shortcut “Download” button to the Join Game and Lobby screens to quickly download a selected Custom Map by the host. This should make it much easier to grab Custom Maps and try them out. Along with this change, we are adjusting the lobby list so games with Custom Maps should appear alongside all other hosted games.
Added the following community maps into the official game:
"Elevation" (TD) by AchromicWhite & Lovehandles
“Quarry” (TD) by AchromicWhite & Lovehandles
"Heavy Metal" (TD) by FeRReT666 & Lovehandles
"Electric Avenue" (TD) by FeRReT666 & Lovehandles
"Canyon Pursuit" (TD) by AchromicWhite
"Tournament Arena" (RA) by [UF] freezy
“Tournament Ore Rift” (RA) by [UF] ^^ZxGanon^^
"(WHT) Canyon" (RA) by AchromicWhite & FeRReT666
Quality of Life Improvements:
Balance adjustment - In Tiberian Dawn the APC now has the Repair Facility as a pre-requisite to build, in order to help mitigate the early APC + Engineer rush
Balance adjustment - The GDI Weapons Factory health has been increased by 30%
Balance adjustment - The Naval structures have been removed the the victory condition
Balance adjustment - The Nod Cargo Plane delivery time has been normalized to 5 sec
Added the ability to Quickload with a Hotkey
Quicksaving should now work in Custom Missions and Skirmishes with Custom Maps
The USSR sub-faction price discount should now display properly in tooltips
Improved the Harvester logic so it will more reliably collect Gems in the adjacent cell
Added a flash back to the Nuke explosion in both games
The Stop and Guard hotkeys can now be held down
Made it so the “Insufficient Funds” dialog will no longer play if you’re not building anything
Increased the priority of the “MAD Tank Deploying” voice over so it can be immediately heard
Made a slight adjustment to how the enemy Airstrike targets in Nod Missions. The A10s should now focus on a single-target instead of splitting to multiple targets. This was a tough issue to track down and still looking for player feedback on how it feels in this new patch.
Harvesters should now properly respond to a docking queue and override if a manual docking command is given
Improved the readability of the text on the score screen in Tiberian Dawn
Updated the Radar visuals for when its being jammed by a Radar Jammer or Tesla Tank
Enabled the Hell March and Act on Instinct Achievements to be unlocked via the Main Menu Jukebox
Added a download window when subscribing Mods via the in-game Mods browser
Fixed an issue in Tiberian Dawn where aircraft could force fire into the shroud
Fixed an issue where the Transport Helicopter wouldn’t land if the spot was occupied
Fixed an issue where Custom Missions were not loading if the number of sub-folders were greater than the number of custom missions
Fixed an issue where the AI would sell the Temple of Nod in the final GDI mission and prevent the Ion Cannon ending
Fixed an issue where Civilians and Technicians were not being automatically targeted by player units
Fixed and issue where players could not see allied stealthed units, including Submarines and Stealth Tanks
Fixed an underlying issue which may have been causing units to be uncontrollable at the start of a Quickmatch game
Fixed an issue where the signal flare would stop animating after loading a saved game
Fixed an issue where the Aftermath mission “Brothers in Arms” was near impossible to beat on Hard difficulty due to increased speed of Attack Dogs
Fixed a legacy issue where turreted units would perceive their range differently depending on the unit’s facing, sometimes causing units to unnecessarily move into enemy range
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where several ital Red alert options were missing, such as MaxInfantry, MaxVessel, TechLevel, and IQ
Fixed a legacy exploit where units could get stuck in a building if constructed while a unit was pathing through the tile
Fixed a crash when trying to host a Custom Map game when there were subfolders in the custom map directories
Fixed an issue where the User Maps dialog screen was taking an incredibly long time to load previews
Fixed an issue where Harvesters would pause outside the Refinery before unloading upon receiving a docking command
Fixed an issue where enemy units would become invulnerable in Soviet Mission 12
Fixed an issue where a highlighter was seen when hovering over mission briefing text
Fixed an issue where sometimes infantry controlled by the AI wouldn’t play idle animations
Fixed an issue where replays weren’t generated if the AI won certain games
Fixed an issue where the Save Button was getting disabled upon dismissing the overwrite save confirmation pop-up
Fixed a typo in the description of Tiberian Dawn Bonus Gallery #047
Fixed an issue where Sarajevo East and Sarajevo Center were swapped on the map selection screen
Fixed an issue where Quicksaves were being overwritten between Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert
Fixed an issue where the Introduction video button was getting disabled at times
Fixed an issue where players were getting stuck in an error message when joining a full lobby game from the desktop
Fixed an issue where the Badajoz map was incorrectly listed as a Snow climate
Fixed an issue where the Sonar Pulse was only available for one time when infiltrating a Sub Pen with a Spy
Fixed an issue where the Harvester wouldn’t follow orders after being moved off a repair pad
Fixed an issue where aircraft were not getting destroyed once all player structures were destroyed
Fixed a crash when destroying Ant nests in the ant missions
Fixed an issue where Visceroids were dying immediately after spawning
Fixed an issue where Custom Mission Briefings were empty on the Load Game tab
Fixed an issue where the health bar would reveal hidden Submarines in legacy graphics mode
Fixed an issue where reinforcements wouldn’t arrive in Spec Ops mission M1 if the Commando was in a specific location
Fixed a subtitle typo of Mobius in the GDI Mission 12 briefing
Fixed a subtitle typo in the GDI Mission 8 briefing
Fixed an issue where the tech level was set too low in Funpark Mission 2
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where several scorch marks and craters were shown as large cells
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the default setting for Mission units was set to “Sleep”
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the default New Map creation was set to Cancel
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the bottom tile picker was unavailable
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the toolbox would go behind the Windows Taskbar
Fixed an issue where Mission Briefings were getting scrambled text display
Fixed an issue where the Spec Ops missions had inconsistent tech levels
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where Red Alert custom missions couldn’t use the @@ to force line breaks
Fixed an issue where the Chem Warrior was not available at build level 98
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where players couldn’t resize the bottom tile picker
Fixed an issue where the player name would occasionally show up as an AI player name in the player panel
Fixed a crash when sometimes using the Ion Cannon
Fixed an issue where the Player Panel would appear in single player custom missions
Fixed an issue where the voice over for the Repair Facility wasn’t triggering
Fixed an issue where enemy GDI Airstrikes were not disabled upon destroying the Communications Center in Nod Mission 13
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the internal length limits for team types and triggers were not being enforced
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where checkboxes were being re-ticked upon reloading the map
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor with the underlying Player settings
Fixed an issue where right-click on a wall would cause an exception error
Fixed an issue where the host couldn’t launch a match if all players had set their faction to Random
Fixed an incorrect description in the tooltip of Parabombs
Fixed a typo in AIPlayer1 in Observer mode
Fixed an incorrect description in the mission objective of “Don’t Drink the Water”
Fixed an issue where infantry were blocking the Ore Harvester from spawning
Fixed a crash when sometimes loading the next Nod campaign mission
Fixed an issue where the EVA dialog “Our base is under attack” was not playing for all allied players
Fixed an issue where a camera bookmark was moving one cell to the right
Fixed an issue where the Retry Mission dialog box was not appearing for Funpark Missions
Fixed an issue where the Retry Mission dialog box was not appearing for Custom Missions
Fixed a tile display issue on the Badajoz map
Fixed an issue where structure health bars were not showing in Yellow when they should be
Fixed an issue where the Spy was playing boxing animation frames when killed by Grenadiers
Fixed an issue where units were not getting repaired on the Service Depot in Soviet Mission 10
Fixed an issue where Submarines were not submerging after finishing an attack
Fixed an issue where the Nod briefing text was becoming corrupted after Alt-Tabbing
Fixed an issue where an enemy Medic would health the player infantry on certain missions
Fixed an issue where air units would disappear when flying too close to the top map border
Fixed a crash when sometimes opening the Options Menu
Fixed a crash when sometimes opening the Player Panel
Fixed an issue where the Sell and Repair sound FX were heard by other players
Fixed an issue where certain VFX were not showing up in Multiplayer games
Fixed an issue where the scroll bar in the Mods UI menu would pop back to the top
Fixed an issue where a faction icon wasn’t displayed in the replays tab when choosing Random
Fixed a crash when playing Aftermath mission “Harbor Reclamation”
Fixed a crash when using the Quicksave command in rapid succession
Fixed an issue with saved games from Custom Missions not appearing if they were the only save file present
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where some trigger values were seen as “0” after re-opening a saved map
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the active size of the map was not visible when dragging to resize the map boundaries
Fixed a typo in the final Nod Mission Briefing
Fixed an issue where the Custom map list was being improperly indented
Fixed an issue where infantry were automatically coming out of a Barracks without being purchased
Fixed an issue where the Civilians were not revealing the shroud
Fixed an issue where no music was being heard in GDI Mission 15
Fixed an issue where the incorrect starting units were displaying in the Replays / Observer menu for Quickmatch
Fixed an issue where the timer would disappear when loading a saved game on Allied Mission 10
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where tile P15 was not a complete terrain piece
Fixed an issue where no sound FX was playing when activating / deactivating the Radar Map
Fixed an issue where loading a Skirmish game would enable super weapons even if they had been disabled at game start
Fixed a crash when trying to host a Multiplayer game with a Custom Map
Fixed an issue where the “Primary Building Selected” voice over was not being heard in Tiberian Dawn
Fixed an issue where several Red Alert assets had incorrect spaces in their filenames
Fixed a crash when toggling Sell mode on certain missions
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the trigger editor had no buildings listed for the “Built it” event
Fixed an issue where the allied AI team members were not revealing shroud when attacking
Fixed a crash when multiple MiGs attack a target in Soviet Mission 12
Fixed or improved dozens of mismatched terrain tiles in a variety of multiplayer maps across both games
Increased the default resource regeneration rate to value 3 in the new slider
We are then making the following Map Pool adjustments based on community feedback:
Removing “Eye of the Storm” from the pool
Removing “Nowhere to Hide” from the pool
Removing “Tiberium Garden” from the pool
Removing “Four Corners” from the pool
Removing “Red Sands” from the pool
Adjusting “Monkey in the Middle” to be Top Left vs Bottom Right spawns only
Adjusting “One Pass Fits All” to be Top Left vs Bottom Left and Top Right vs. Bottom Right as the only viable spawns
Adding “Elevation” community map to the pool
Adding “Quarry” community map to the pool
Adding “Heavy Metal” community map to the pool (Opposite corner spawns only)
Adding “Electric Avenue” community map to the pool (Opposite location spawns only)
Adding “Canyon Pursuit” community map to the pool
Removing “Things to Come” from the pool
Removing “Shallow Grave” from the pool
Removing “Equal Opportunity” from the pool
Adjusting “Bullseye” to be Top Right vs Bottom Left spawns only
Adding “Path Beyond” to the pool with Top Left vs. Bottom Right spawns only
Adding “Tournament Arena” community map to the pool
Adding “Tournament Ore Rift” community map to the pool
Adding “Canyon (WHT)” community map to the pool
Thanks to everyone who contributed their feedback during our Beta Patch process, and we hope this update improves your experience with the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. Thanks for your ongoing support, and please continue to provide your feedback here on the subreddit, in social channels, and with our support teams. Cheers, Jim Vessella Jimtern * Hi everyone, we’ve noticed some online stability and performance issues since we launched the patch yesterday. Specifically, the game is freezing during certain matches or suffering from slowdown / lag on large scale maps on large scale maps. Over the past 24 hours the team has worked to identify areas which may have been causing these issues, and we just deployed a server hotfix in an attempt to improve these items. We’re going to monitor the game throughout the weekend and see if this hotfix improves the stability and performance. If we feel good after the weekend, then we’ll plan for the ladder reset early next week. Thanks for your patience and ongoing support, and looking forward to hearing everyone’s experience over the weekend. *Hi everyone, we saw increased stability over the weekend and have officially reset the ladders as of Monday at 11:15 PDT. We're then continuing to investigate the input lag / framerate issue, but may have a lead thanks to some videos from the community. In the meantime, good luck in the new Season! This [announcement] [roadmap] may change as we listen to community feedback and continue developing and evolving our Live Service & Content. We will always strive to keep our community as informed as possible.
Offseason Blueprint: it’s time for the young/Young Atlanta Hawks to leave the nest and take flight
The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, have nightmares about getting blocked by Bam, and wait for next season to start. For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Atlanta Hawks. step one: grow up and play D, because you can’t be forever young Two summers ago, the Atlanta Hawks hired coach Lloyd Pierce on the basis of his defensive reputation. So far, that hasn't translated to the court. Last season, the Hawks ranked 27th in defensive rating. After a year in the system to improve their habits and chemistry, that ranking jumped all the way up to... 27th. What's wrong here? A few factors, of course. The one that gets the most attention and the most blame would be the deficiencies of Trae Young. His lack of length and athleticism will always be a problem, but it shouldn't be this bad. ESPN RPM ranks his defensive impact as a -6.2 per 100 possessions, which ranks 520th out of all 520 qualifiers in the NBA. According to that metric, his defense is even worse than Isaiah Thomas (at age 31.) Isaiah Thomas may be a helpful comparison though, because he does illustrate that one bad defender shouldn't be able to sink a team on his own. In IT's great season in Boston, his individual defense was poor, but the Celtics ranked in the top 5 in defense overall. Clearly, some teams are able to overcome liabilities like that. The Hawks may have to consider hiding Trae Young on defense like he's in the witness protection program. Other lead guards like Allen Iverson defended off the ball often, which is an approach that worked for his team defenses in Philadelphia and Denver. So what else is wrong here? The second major factor would be a matter of youth. Yes, we have a "Young" and a "young" problem here. Inexperienced players tend to be bad defensively, and the Hawks were one of the youngest teams in the league. Their top 5 players in minutes played (Young, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, John Collins) were all in their age-22 season or younger. There are some college rosters older than that starting five. That aspect should improve in time, especially because some of those young players like Hunter and Reddish project as good defenders. Although it may sound counterintuitive, another issue with the defense is the offense. The Hawks play fast (top 5 in the NBA in pace), and shoot a bunch of threes (top 10 in three point attempts.) The problem is: they don't make a lot of those threes. As a team, the Hawks shot 33.3% from three, dead last in the NBA. These issues naturally affect their defense. The Hawks are playing fast and missing threes, which tends to lead to transition baskets for their opponents before the Hawks can get back and get set. If the Hawks improve their offense, then their defense should improve by proxy. To do that, they may have to slow down their pace to some degree. Modern teams love to run and gun, but if you're not very good, you're only giving your opponents extra possessions to allow their talent to win out. The fourth potential issue is a matter of coaching. As mentioned, Lloyd Pierce had a good reputation as an assistant coming over to Atlanta, but we haven't seen that manifest so far. It's a tough job assignment coaching up a young team, but it's a talented group of players. If we don't see tangible improvement in Year 3, then I would presume it's time to fire Pierce and look for another answer. There are a lot of good coaches on the market right now, so Pierce needs to step up his game to avoid getting replaced. Rebuilding teams can afford to be patient, but they can't afford to give their coaches tenure. step two: use it before you lose it The 2020 free agent market is going to be quieter than an indoor mall during COVID quarantine. Hardly any teams have cap space... except for Atlanta. In fact, the Hawks have the most cap space in the entire NBA, committed to only $58M on the books for next year. This is going to be a bad free agent class, but that's okay. In a sense, the Hawks are like the best looking guy in a dive bar. There may be slim pickings, but at least he gets his pick of the litter. You don't want to throw your money away foolishly, but you don't want it to burn a hole in your pocket either. Eventually that cap space is going to dry up when you extend your young players, so this may be a great opportunity to "use it before you lose it." The first option should be to throw a big offer at restricted free agent Brandon Ingram. Ingram has great length for a wing player, and his scoring prowess would make for a -- wait, what was that? The Pelicans just matched my offer in mid sentence? Okay then, let's move on to our next options. I'd also consider making sizable offers to free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic and/or Jerami Grant. Bogdanovic is a skilled scorer who averaged 18-4-4 per 36 this past season, and has the potential to thrive as a secondary scorer or 6th man. At 27, he also fits the general timeline here. While Bogdanovic may not be the defensive stopper we're looking for, you can never have too many quality wings in today's NBA. Jerami Grant doesn't have the same shooting ability or skill set, but he's an energetic player and an impact defender. He's 26 now, and should retain his value for the next 3 years. Having Grant as a complementary starter or rotation player would help the team on and off the court; from what I understand, he's a hard worker and a team-first player. On the lower end, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to punch some lottery tickets and hope they pay off. Josh Jackson (former Suns bust) still has potential at age 23. Chicago SG/SF Denzel Valentine has an intriguing skill set. And fellow Bull Kris Dunn is one of the premier defenders at his position. Dunn would make for a great yin/yang backup to Trae Young. step three: have some faith in John the Baptist One of the reasons that the Atlanta Hawks' cap size will dwindle in the future is the potential extension for PF John Collins. A year or two ago, the team may have thought long and hard about whether or not to commit huge money to Collins. There were some indications that he was a "good stats / bad team" kind of player. He was a tweener who struggled on defense, and didn't stretch the floor reliably on offense. These days, it's harder to hate on Collins. The raw stats are as good as always (20-10 this year), but he's also playing a more desirable brand of basketball as well. He's worked to improve his range and shotmaking. His three-point shooting went up to 35% in year two, and swelled to 40% in year three. His FT% has also gone up each year, from 72% to 76% to 80%. You appreciate when a young player improves his game, as it indicates a lot more potential still in the tank (as he turns 23 next week.) Defense is becoming less of a concern for Collins as well. The trend towards smallball allows him to play about 50% of his minutes at center. In turn, that allows Coach Pierce some flexibility. Depending on the matchup, he can go with the traditional bigs like Clint Capela or Dewayne Dedmon, or he can play a smaller, more dynamic 5 in Collins. Collins will never be Kevin Garnett, but if he's at least average on defense, then he's a net positive player. Going forward, there's no immediate rush or urgency to extend Collins this offseason. The team will have matching rights next summer, so they can wait and see Collins "prove it" over a full regular season before committing to him. Still, if he's willing to sign a reasonable extension this offseason, the Hawks may be able to avoid the headache. Atlanta's a good situation for a young scorer like Collins, so the hope is that he'd be amenable to a reasonable deal that locks him up as part of this core. step four: remember you're playing the long game, not Tetris The Atlanta Hawks will have the # 6 pick in the draft, giving them the chance to add another young prospect to the team. We had been concerned about too much youth on this roster, but it's not worth giving up that pick for a veteran because we're not in "win now" mode yet. The team may as well keep collecting youngsters like they're pokemon. With that top pick, they should keep that mindset, and not fall victim to the desire to find the right "fit" (hence the Tetris analogy.) Best available player. That's a good philosophy when you're drafting in the top 10 regardless, but it applies to this team more than most. The team needs to get a lot better, but there are no glaring issues in terms of positions or rotations. Trae Young will have PG on lockdown. Kevin Huerter will have a role as a wing. Better still, Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter are the types of BIG wings that can fit across several positions. The frontcourt should be fine as well between John Collins and Clint Capela. Given that, almost any position would be fine for the Hawks to select. At PG, the top prospects (according to ESPN) are LaMelo Ball (N.Z.) and Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State). Both players would be fine picks for the team, because both have the size and length to guard 1s or 2s and can play alongside Trae Young in that regard. Offensively, LaMelo and Trae may fight for the ball, but both have dynamic scoring potential that would make a tag-team dangerous. Haliburton would be an even easier fit, as he's had experience playing off the ball. At SG/SF, the top prospect is Anthony Edwards (Georgia), who is likely to be off the board. I'm also a fan of Devin Vassell (Florida State), who projects as a good 3+D player that could soak up minutes at SG and SF for this team. He's one of the safer prospects in the class to me. I also like Deni Avdija (Israel), a ball moving forward with the size to play either SF or PF. The hardest debate may be whether to select a big man that falls to them, be it James Wiseman (Memphis) or Onyeka Okongwu (USC). After acquiring Clint Capela (and potentially ponying up for a John Collins extension), the team may not want to invest much more into the position. Still, I'd hold firm to my "best player available" idea. Wiseman and Okongwu have major potential as defenders, which has been a problem area as discussed. It could be worth bringing them in and seeing how they develop. If they turn out to be the real deal, then it's perfectly fine to trade Capela or even Collins after the fact. I'd have a harder time justifying the selection of two other top prospects: Killian Hayes (France) feels like too much of a pure point guard to me, and Obi Toppin feels like too much of a duplication to John Collins. Still, we've discussed 7 prospects that I've already given the "greenlight" to draft, which means at least 2 of those should be available when the Hawks are on the clock. step five: give the kids some big brothers We've harped a lot on the youth of this team already. Usually, that's seen as a positive. Rebuilding teams are supposed to be young, right? Sure. But there's some danger there of going overboard. If you're too young, and too inexperienced, then it's hard for the young pups to learn from those around them. It's hard to hold them accountable if there's no one else around to play their minutes. We can't have the blind leading the blind here. Oftentimes, teams try to solve this issue by adding older veteran mentors to the locker room. The Hawks found the MOST veteran of them all by adding Vince Carter (age 43.) In theory, that's exactly what we're talking about. Wise old sages like Carter can help the kids grow up and learn to be professionals. Still, I'm not sure that's enough. As respected as an old vet like Vince Carter may be, there's only so much influence he can have on a team if he's not playing. There's only so much influence he can have on a kid's habits if they're not in the same peer group. It's unlikely that 20-21 year olds are hanging out with guys in their mid to late 30s. They're in different stages in life, and probably have different interests and lifestyles. Given that, I believe there should be more of a priority placed on "big brother" teammates in addition to older mentors. What do I mean by big brothers? I mean veterans who have good work ethic and character, but aren't over the hill. Young vets (ages 25-27 or so) who can still contribute on the court, and can still act as friends and peers to the kids. True role models. Consider this: who influenced your behavior more in high school: Your teachers? Or your friends? We need friends / big brothers that will spend more time with our kids, and teach them through osmosis if not outright lectures. Consciously or not, the Memphis Grizzlies showed the value of this principle with their current season. They surrounded their rookies and sophomores with "big brother" vets like Tyus Jones (age 24) and Kyle Anderson (age 26.) Those guys happen to be high-IQ players and high-character teammates, but they're still young and good enough to play 20+ minutes a night. When you're checking all those boxes, you can influence the young players on your roster more effectively than the salty old dog who's basically an assistant coach. It's hard for me to give recommendations for "big brothers" because I don't know these players behind the scenes outside of public reputation, but the idea would be to add smart, hard-working veterans in that 25-27 age range. We want vets who play unselfishly on offense, and play hard and disciplined on defense. Even if they're not great, they can help instill good habits with the team, on and off the court. previous offseason blueprints CHA, CHI, CLE, IND, GS, MIL, MIN, NYK, POR, SA, SAC, UTA
Should the Golden State Warriors gamble on a draft pick? Or cash in their chips for a proven player instead? A look at potential trade packages
Back in 1978, "The Gambler" Kenny Rogers gave all NBA general managers some sage advice. "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." Golden State decision makers Bob Myers and Steve Kerr are clearly fans of Rogers, because they acted quickly and decisively this season. As soon as they saw the writing on the wall that a playoff push wouldn't happen this year, they made sure to rack up as many losses as possible. As a result, they'll enter the offseason with a 15-50 record, in the catbird seat with the # 1 slot in the draft heading into the lottery. When a strong team winds up with a high pick like this, there's a natural reaction: this is the Spurs and Tim Duncan all over again!" Realistically speaking, that's not what's going to happen here. After 4 years in college, Tim Duncan came into the NBA as one of the most pro-ready prospects of our lifetime. As a rookie, he averaged 22-12 with 2.5 blocks and earned All-Star status right out of the gate. He even finished 5th in MVP voting (as a rookie!). Golden State shouldn't expect that. More realistically, you're looking at a top pick that could be an "average" player as a rookie, and hopefully work their way to All-Star status in year 3 or 4. The question for Golden State is: can they afford to wait that long? Steph Curry is 32. Klay Thompson is 30 and coming off a serious injury. Draymond Green is 30 and perhaps on a decline already. Given that, the Warriors have a choice to make. Should they utilize this top 5 pick as a way to supplement their playoff roster now, with the expectation that the prospect could develop into their next franchise player down the road? Or should they cash in their draft assets for a "win now" approach? In order to answer that question, let's take a look at more of the specifics.
What kind of package can they offer?
There's no way the Golden State Warriors will trade Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, especially given how well their skill sets should age over time. In theory, they could debate trading Draymond Green (still owed 4 more years) for younger legs, but I imagine he's too important to the franchise from a culture and historical standpoint. Other than that...? All bets are off. As we peek through the Warriors' cupboard for potential assets, here's what we find: THE LOTTERY PICK. Currently slated at # 1, there's only a 14% chance it stays there. That pick could land anywhere from 1-5, with 3 or 4 being the most likely outcome. While this isn't a very strong draft, there's inherent value to a top 5 pick. I would estimate that the top 3 is especially valuable this year, with three potential bluechip prospects emerging from the pack in SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia), C James Wiseman (Memphis), and PG LaMelo Ball (facebook). Minnesota's 2021 R1 pick. This had been included in the D'Angelo Russell deal. The pick is top 3 protected, but could still be a valuable asset. Under Ryan Saunders, the Timberwolves have gone 36-70 overall. With Karl-Anthony Towns and a full season of D'Angelo Russell (not to mention another top 5 pick), the Wolves may get closer to .500 range, but there's also a good chance the pick lands in the top 10 regardless. Andrew Wiggins. Sadly, Young Mr. Wiggins would be used mostly as contract filler at this stage. He's not a bad player, but he happens to be overpaid on his current contract. He'll get $29.5M next season, $31.5M the following year, and $33.5M in the final year. He'll need to take a massive step up in efficiency to be worth that type of money. Eric Paschall. The forward from Villanova had a solid rookie year, averaging 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. Realistically, there may not be a huge amount of upside left in the tank for the 23 year old, but the price makes him appealing. He's only due $1.5M next season and $1.8M the following year. Kevon Looney. The 2019-20 campaign was a lost season for Looney due to injury, but he's still a potential asset on his current contract ($4.8M + $5.2M player option.) When last healthy in 2018-19, he averaged about 12-10 per 36 minutes of action. He's one of the few "middle class" contracts on the books, so he's going to be a common throw-in to trades. Damion Lee. Steph Curry's brother-in-law is a personal favorite of mine. He's worked his way up through the G-League and 10-day contracts and proven to be a legitimate rotational player. The Warriors locked him up on a team-friendly contract ($1.7M + $1.9M) that makes him a positive asset as well. Marquese Chriss. Amazingly, mega "bust" Marquese Chriss flashed some improved play for the Warriors last year. Teams will still be wary of trusting him, but his salary ($1.8M) makes him a decent throw-in and flier. Alen Smailagic. The 20-year-old Serbian only played 139 total minutes for the big league club this year, but did pretty well (15.2 PPG in 25.9 minutes) in the G-League. He's a decent flier of a prospect who at the very least can be an extra contract ($1.5M) to throw into a deal. other picks. The Warriors also own the # 48 and # 52 picks in this year's draft, and could throw in future R1 picks of their own as well. If we throw in ALL of these players (hard to do with roster constraints), we're talking about a salary package of about $40M. More likely, you can make anywhere from $30-35M work presuming you include Andrew Wiggins as a major component of the trade. Overall, I'd say the Warriors have three levels of trade packages to offer. THE GOLD PACKAGE: Would be this year's lottery pick + Wiggins (for contract purposes) + a solid young player like Pascall THE SILVER PACKAGE: Minnesota's pick next year + Wiggins (for contract purposes). THE BROWN/TURD PACKAGE: Wiggins + minor picks and assets (but no high picks.) With this package, the Warriors would be looking to acquire other "toxic" assets more than anything else.
Potential deals for the THE GOLD PACKAGE (Wiggins + this year's lottery pick)
Bradley Beal (WAS) ($29M + $34.5M + $37M player option) Look, I don't want to do this any more than you do, but the United States Congress just passed legislation (Provision BB-3) that requires every single trade post to mention Bradley Beal. For this to actually happen, a number of events would have to fall in line. The first is that Beal formally demands a trade, forcing Washington's hand. His recent extension makes that unlikely, but not unprecedented given today's NBA climate. Secondly, the Warriors would have to grab a top 3 pick -- likely # 1 or # 2. If they do that, then they would have a legitimate offer to make the Wizards for Beal: that top pick + Wiggins + maybe Eric Pascall as an additional piece. They could even throw in a future R1 pick to sweeten the pot if need be. You may question whether another shooting guard (emphasis on shooting) would even fit on Golden State, but we shouldn't overthink this one. Shooting is like peanut butter -- it goes with everything. Moreover, Klay Thompson could easily slide out to SF if need be. The defense would take a hit, but the offensive firepower would be devastating enough to make up for it. Myles Turner (IND) ($18M + $18M + $18M) + $10M in trade filler If the Warriors' pick lands in the 4-5 range, they may have to set their sights lower in trade talks, and look towards near All-Stars like Myles Turner instead. The Indiana Pacers went into this season with an unconventional two-big lineup, and it actually worked pretty well overall. That said, they've been playing without Domatas Sabonis in the bubble, and it's given scorers like T.J. Warren more room to operate. Looking ahead, perhaps the team decides they need to break up the big guys in order to maximize their spacing and spark their offense (ranked 18th pre-bubble.) And hey, maybe they decide they don't want to pay Victor Oladipo (a FA next summer) big money and lock into a core that may top out as a 4-5 seed no matter what. Acquiring a young starter like Andrew Wiggins and a top 5 pick would give them some more options and potential upside. From the Warriors' perspective, Myles Turner (or Sabonis) would give them a very good center that can play without the confines of their offense. Turner is also particularly stout on defense, and would pair with Draymond Green for a formidable duo inside. Originally, I had listed Jeremy Lamb ($10M + $10M) as the trade filler to make it work, but his ACL injury complicates that math. Presumably, the Warriors would like some healthy bodies to help a team that would be dangerously thin. They'd likely prefer Doug McDermott ($7.5M), but may have to settle for lesser white dudes like T.J. McConnell ($3.5M) and T.J. Leaf ($4.5M) instead.
Potential deals for the THE SILVER PACKAGE (Wiggins + MIN 2021 pick)
Blake Griffin (DET) ($37M + $39M player option) Blake Griffin has been in the NBA for 10+ years now, but he's still one of the more misunderstood players in the league. He still has the rep as an athlete/dunker, despite the fact that he's a highly skilled ball-handler and passer as well. When last healthy in 2018-19, he averaged 24-7-5 and helped push the Pistons into the playoffs. Griffin's (offensive) potential on this Warriors team would be terrifying. From Detroit's perspective, this would represent a reset and rebuild. They'd hand the reins of the PF spot from Griffin (31 years old) to Christian Wood (24) and go with a younger approach. Andrew Wiggins may never be the All-Star we hoped, but he still fits that timeline at 25 years old, and has proven to be more durable than Griffin (who isn't?). With this "silver package," the Pistons would also get that Minnesota draft pick to help their rebuild. There's some uncertainty to that pick, so they may prefer some type of pick swap this season instead. For example, let's say Golden State lands at # 2, and Detroit comes in at # 4. The two teams may negotiate some deal that would allow the Pistons to jump up to 2 and grab their preferred prospect. Aaron Gordon (ORL) ($18M + $16M) + Terrence Ross ($13.5M + $12.5M + $11.5M) After six seasons in the league, it may be time to give up on the idea that Aaron Gordon will develop into a go-to scorer. Instead, he may be best served as a 3rd or 4th starter who's going to be a movable piece on defense and an energy scorer on offense. That doesn't sound like what the doctor ordered in Orlando (with Jon Isaac already there), but it could fit well in Golden State. Gordon and Draymond Green would be a "small" PF-C combination, but it's a mighty switchable tandem. Terrence Ross would be included for salary and depth, although Orlando may try to push for Al-Farouq Aminu instead. Why would Orlando be interested in Andrew Wiggins? They wouldn't, necessarily, but this package would also offer them that extra Minnesota draft pick. Moreover, it would help clear some logjam in their frontcourt. Aside from Jon Isaac, they also have Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba, and this past year's rookie Chuma Okeke. Personally, I'm excited to see what Okeke can offer when healthy next year.
Potential deals for the THE BROWN/TURD PACKAGE (Wiggins + minor picks and assets)
Kevin Love (CLE) ($31M + $31M + $29M) Can we possibly go full circle here? Andrew Wiggins started his career by being traded for Kevin Love, so it'd be fitting for the two to swap places once again. From the Cavs' perspective, this move would be all about a rebuild. Kevin Love (31 years old, turning 32 in September) never felt like a great fit for their very young team. While Wiggins isn't an ideal building block, he's younger and easier to slide into a lineup at the wing. They'd also be getting off a contract that's naturally risky given Love's age and injury history. The Warriors had resisted adding Kevin Love before (for Klay Thompson), but his "fit" would be interesting right now. Offensively, his ability to rebound and stretch the court would make their lineup even more potent. Defensively, your hope is that Draymond Green could cover for any potential weakness he may have. Love is also a good team-first player who shouldn't have any problem fitting in and chasing another ring. Al Horford (PHI) ($27.5M + $27M + $26.5M) Another skilled big man in his 30s, Al Horford could be an option if the Warriors want to make a quick push to win now at the expense of their future. Horford is past his prime, but he's still a heady player who would fit into the offensive system and culture well. That said, Horford carries sizable risk to him given the length of his contract. He recently turned 34, so he'll be paid $20M+ into his age 35-36 seasons. It's almost guaranteed to be an albatross contract by the end, but perhaps the Warriors can talk themselves into it if they believe their window is only 1-2 more years anyway. For the Sixers, Andrew Wiggins isn't ideal either (as a mediocre shooter), but he'd at least offer them more depth at the wing. Paying a big man like Al Horford to go along with Joel Embiid never made a ton of sense in the first place. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) ($24M) The San Antonio Spurs haven't embraced a full-on rebuild yet, but they're verging on that territory. That'd be especially easy at center, where Jakob Poeltl is more than ready to man 25-30 minutes. Given that, LaMarcus Aldridge would be an easy piece to push aside. Would the Spurs want a player like Andrew Wiggins back in return? Probably not. Still, they may have the faith that their player development system can get Wiggins to tap into his full potential. From the Warriors' perspective, this would be another push to "win now." Despite being 35 years old, Aldridge can still be an offensive weapon, as illustrated by his 18.9 points per game this season. In some ways, he could be a bootleg version of what Kevin Durant gave the Warriors -- bailing out their offense in half-court possessions when needed. Defensively, he should be able to play alongside Draymond Green as well. While LaMarcus Aldridge may not sound like a needle mover at this stage, this is a good time to remind the reader that these latter packages don't include those valuable draft picks. Julius Randle (NY) ($19M + $20M) + SG Wayne Ellington ($8M) You're not going to find more polarizing players than Julius Randle. The raw stats suggest he's a star (he neared 20-10 again with averages of 19.5 and 9.7 this season.) The advanced stats suggest he's a net negative. Still, you'd like his chances of success playing with this Golden State offense. Randle is an underrated ball-mover himself, so he may fit in well with their lineup. For his part, Wayne Ellington would be a contract filler and a potential depth play. Would the Knicks want Andrew Wiggins? Eh. He's probably a little better than Julius Randle, but he's about the same age (both 25) and would be on a more expensive, longer-term deal. Their decision here may come down to the draft. If they have a chance to take another big (be it James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu) they may want to jettison Julius Randle sooner than later to clear room. Kyle Anderson (MEM) ($9.5M + $10M) + Gorgui Dieng ($17M) This would certainly be the lowest profile trade option, and it would essentially be the Warriors' way of admitting that they never wanted Andrew Wiggins in the first place. I like the idea of "Slo-Mo" Kyle Anderson on the Warriors given his basketball IQ, while Gorgui Dieng may be good enough to give them 20 minutes a night. Still, the only reason the Warriors would make a trade like this would be if they viewed Wiggins as a toxic/negative asset. From the Grizzlies' perspective, this deal would represent some risk as well. This is a young and talented team that doesn't necessarily need more help on the wing. They have a full plate already with Dillon Brooks, Justice Winslow, Grayson Allen, Josh Jackson, etc. Still, it's never easy for a market like Memphis to draw in "big names," so perhaps they view Wiggins as that type of star material.
[OC] CASH ME OUTSIDE: Which future free agents have the most to gain or lose if basketball resumes in the Orlando bubble ?
Back in 2016, young Danielle Bregoli appeared in a Dr. Phil segment eloquently titled: "I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime." She made the most of it, and even gained fame for her instant catchphrase "cash me outside". Usually, that's where a viral moment ends. However, Bregoli (now known as Bhad Bhabie) has actually parlayed that one moment into a legitimate career. She's a rapper signed by Atlantic Records, and her videos have millions and millions of views. We see this happen often in sports and in basketball specifically. The national media and even front offices start paying more attention to high-profile televised games -- the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs, etc. If a player can make the most out of their time in the spotlight, then they can parlay that into huge success themselves. College players who have big tournaments shoot up draft boards. NBA players who have good playoff performances can drive up their prices in free agency. We've seen it time and time again, from Austin Croshere, to Jerome James, to Ian Mahinmi. The continuation of the NBA season (barring a Kyrie Irving led rebellion) means that some players are going to get their time in the spotlight again. That's hugely important for players who are about to reach free agency. Now, there are a lot of big name free agents that are going to cash in regardless. Anthony Davis has a player option; I suspect he'll do all right. Similarly, there are veteran players like Danilo Gallinari or Joe Harris who are more "known commodities." We've seen plenty of them, and we understand their skill sets and values. Their prices are somewhat fixed (aside from concerns about a COVID-infected cap.) Alternatively, there are a group of future free agents that have more volatile stock. They have a lot to gain -- but they have a lot to lose. This is their moment. This is their last impression. They're heading into the Orlando bubble to do business, with the hope that teams will cash them outside.
READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP
C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio If you just glanced at the raw stats, you might not understand why anyone would fuss about Jakob Poeltl. He averages 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Ho hum. He's only started a grand total of 38 games in his four-year career so far. Yawn. He's a true center who can't shoot threes? Yikes, go back to 1973. Can we move on to free agents who actually matter? Not so fast, my friend. Jakob Poeltl is a lot more interesting than those numbers suggest. He may be a 7-foot true center from Austria, but he's hardly a stereotypical "stiff." He's more nimble than you'd expect, and shows good defensive instincts inside. Overall, he's a smart player with a natural feel for the game. Those skills are born out in the advanced stats, which LOVE Poeltl's impact. Over the course of his career (4-year sample size here), teams with Poeltl on the court have scored 126 points per 100 possessions, and only allowed 107 per 100 possessions. That's the type of difference (+19) that ranks up with the elite in the NBA. Now, we have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. On/off figures rely heavily on your teammates, and Poeltl's had the good fortune of being on some great bench units in Toronto and now San Antonio. Still, you'd have to guess that he's contributing to those units in a major way. Fortunately for teams and for Poeltl, we don't have to "guess" much more. LaMarcus Aldridge (who had been playing 95% of his minutes at center) is out for the season, clearing a huge pathway for Poeltl to play 25-30 minutes a game and prove his worth. Or not. This is exactly the type of volatility we're looking for in this exercise. upside/downside: If the season had ended prematurely, the Spurs could have effectively "hidden" Jakob Poeltl and retained him for a modest price. As a restricted free agent, his value may have been depressed even more. He may have returned on his qualifying offer ($5M) or signed a team-friendly extension in the neighborhood of $6-8M a year. However, if he has a monster bubble-bracket showing, then teams are going to look at him as a potential starter and pay him accordingly. Gone are the days when Ian Mahinmi or Timo Mozgov would get $15M a season, but $10-12M isn't unrealistic. Heck, Mason (the good one) and Miles (the bad one) Plumlee both got more than that. PG Shabazz Napier, Washington Shabazz Napier knows all about shining under the spotlight. He helped UConn pull off an upset NCAA title, and consequently boosted his draft stock. LeBron James even publicly praised him as his "favorite player in the draft." The Miami Heat then acquired Napier (perhaps as a way to keep the King happy?) However, James left in free agency that summer anyway, and the Heat never seemed too invested in Napier after that. He'd be in Orlando the next year, and Portland the following year. Napier's kept bouncing around since then. In fact, he's already been traded SIX times in his young career. In his journey around the league, Napier has been up or down. Sometimes he flashes and makes you think he could be a high-end backup or even a low-end stopgap starter. Other times, he disappears or shoots poorly, and you start using his name as a trade filler contract. This bubble in Orlando may represent Napier's best chance at latching on to a role and a landing a decent contract. At the moment, he's soaking up minutes for the Washington Wizards, who have lost John Wall to an Achilles injury and have lost Isaiah Thomas to awful defense-itis. In their wake, Napier and veteran Ish Smith are platooning at PG, and both trying to show their competence. If Napier can take advantage of these 25-30 minutes he's getting, then he will go a long way to securing his future in the league. upside/downside: If Shabazz Napier can outplay Ish Smith and hold the fort well at PG, then teams may start viewing him, as mentioned, as a high-end backup/low-end starter. That may not sound like any great shakes, but that's a lucrative role. Ish Smith himself makes $6M a year -- D.J. Augustin makes $7M. Those figures would represent a major pay raise for Napier, who's never made as much as $2.5M in any season so far. On the other hand, if he flops and the Wizards fold, then he'll be back to looking at 3rd PG spots and fighting to stay in the league.
BREAKOUT STARS WHO CAN'T AFFORD TO BREAK DOWN
PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Fred VanVleet had to work hard to convince NBA teams to buy into him. That's bound to happen any time you're an undrafted player who looks like he should be selling pretzels at a game at not playing point guard. But finally, after several years of proving himself, Fred VanVleet put himself in prime position to cash in this summer (or whenever free agency actually happens.) He carried over his great Finals performance to this regular season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists. He can shoot -- he can defend. Hell, he can even defend across positions despite his limited height thanks to his strength and his basketball IQ. In fact, basketball-reference listed VanVleet at SG for 54% of his minutes this season. Presumably, FVV will be a lead guard going forward, but that versatility only adds to his value. You can make an argument that he offers similar value to a player like Malcolm Brogdon, who got over $20M in salary in Indiana. What's the "volatility" here? Why can't we lock in VanVleet for a fat contract yet? Well, VanVleet needs to finish the job, essentially. We all remember how great he played in the Finals, but we tend to forget how badly he played in the playoffs prior to that. In their seven game war against Philadelphia, VanVleet shot a combined 3-24 from the field (12.9%) and averaged 2.0 points per game. Perhaps he was distracted by issues at home, but he was also rattled by the Sixers' length. He can't have that happen again, or else it'd leave a sour taste in the mouth of the NBA front offices, and scare them from trusting him as a surefire starter going forward. upside/downside: If Fred VanVleet plays well (the same level as he's played throughout the year), then he's looking at a healthy deal. He's 26 right now, so he may land a 4-year deal in excess of $60M ($15M per year). But if he struggles in the playoffs, then that may go down to something like 3 years, $40M ($13M per year) as teams view him as more of a fringe starter instead. C Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers will enter the bubble with genuine and realistic title aspirations. They're loaded from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the field. That said, they may be too deep for their own good. In some ways, it still feels like two teams fused together like the Man with Two Heads. On one shoulder, there's the "old Clippers" from last year -- the plucky overachievers fueled by the chemistry of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. On the other shoulder, the "new Clippers" -- the would-be Super Team featuring two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Because the Clippers have been coasting through the regular season and load managing their stars, they haven't gotten the chance to lock in rotations and nail down their final form as a cohesive group yet. That's especially apparent in terms of the PF/C spot. Like last year, the team starts young center Ivica Zubac, but then cedes major minutes and a bigger role to Harrell off the bench. However, they've also brought in PF Marcus Morris, fresh off a strong half-season for the Knicks. There are contenders here, but no clear plan. When push comes to shove, is the team going to play a traditional lineup with a PF and a C? And if so, which center will close out games? And if the team needs to adjust and go to a "smallball" approach against a team like Houston, who will that lone big be -- Harrell or Marcus Morris? For Harrell, winning that role will be important as a matter of pride, but also important as a matter of market value. He'll be an unrestricted free agent (as will Marcus Morris). But unlike Morris, Harrell hasn't gotten a huge contract in the NBA yet. This summer was supposed to be his year to cash in. However, if Doc Rivers and the Clippers don't feel like he can hang on D at the end of games, then that will give his stock a big hit. upside/downside: If you're a free agent coming off a championship team, you're bound to get paid (and likely overpaid.) Of course, to benefit from that ring, you'd have to be seen as a key member of that team. As a result, Harrell needs to lock down the closing minutes at center. If that happens, then he's in line for a big contract in the range of $15M per year. However, the nightmare scenario for him would be if he gets played off the court due to his defense; if that happens, then he'll be seen as a niche role player and his contract will likely go down to the $10-12M range.
LAST CHANCE FOR A BIG CONTRACT
SF Jae Crowder, Miami Veteran Jae Crowder is a great addition to any contending team. He's a strong, dogged defender. He can hit threes. In a world that craves 3+D players, he fits the bill to a T. At least, that's his reputation. In reality, Crowder has never reached the heights that he did back in Boston (a familiar trend among former Celtics, it appears.) The most obvious issue is the inconsistent shooting. He had never been seen as a shooter originally, but he worked on that aspect of his game. In 2016-17, Crowder hit on 39.8% of his three-point attempts. The presumption is that he'd finally clicked into another gear, and could only get better from there. He became a valuable trade piece (and ended up going to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving deal.) More and more, it's starting to look like that one season was an outlier. Crowder's three-point percentage has fallen back down to Earth, registering 32%, 33%, and 32% over the next three seasons. His defense also may have been overrated. At 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan, he has only average size for a SF and only registered an average impact in terms of advanced stats. He's bounced around lately, from Cleveland to Utah to Memphis and now to Miami. Interestingly enough, Crowder got off to a hot start in Miami, and may have started to resurrect his stock. The Heat had been playing him more as a smallball four (basketball reference listed him at PF for 60% of his minutes), and he looked rejuvenated by that change. He hit on 39.3% of his threes (13 game sample size) and also looked better defensively as well. The question now is... can that continue? Miami will be healthier coming back from the break, and may not envision heavy minutes for Crowder in this playoffs. Are they going to rely on him? Or bury him? TBD. These next few months will be crucial for Crowder's stock as he heads into unrestricted free agency. upside/downside: If Jae Crowder can continue to play well as a smallball PF (and also soak up minutes at SF), then it'd give credence to the idea that he's a legitimate starter. And as a result, he'd be looking at salaries in the $10M+ range. However, there's also a lot of potential downside here. If his shooting stumbles again, it's difficult to imagine smart teams viewing him as anything more than a depth player at this stage (29, turning 30 in July.) He may have trouble matching his current salary of $7.5M. C Derrick Favors, New Orleans We're trying to focus on players with "volatile" stock and some unknown elements to their game. I'm not sure that describes New Orleans big man Derrick Favors right now. After some very high expectations as the # 3 pick, he appears to have settled into a known commodity right now at age 28. He's never going to be an All-Star, but he's developed into a capable starter (9.2 points, 9.9 rebounds this year) who is particularly sturdy on the defensive end. So what's the lingering question here? For Favors, it's more about a matter about whether he's a long-term "fit" with this New Orleans team. After rotating between PF and C in Utah, Favors has been locked in as a true center with the Pelicans, playing 100% of his minutes as a 5. That certainly feels like his best position moving forward. But the question is... do the Pelicans need a center? They just invested the # 8 overall pick in Jaxson Hayes, a naturally springy 7-footer. Moreover, there's still the lingering question about whether Zion Williamson may be best served as a smallball center himself. Between the two, there may not be loads of minutes at the 5 in New Orleans. Realistically, the team could retain Favors on a 1 or 2 year deal and utilize him as a placeholder until Hayes fills out and develops into a viable starter. At the same time, Favors is likely looking for a longer-term deal than that; this may be his last big contract. The Pelicans haven't had their full roster together all season, so they still need to work out their rotations. Will coach Alvin Gentry want to lock Favors in at the 5 (with Zion Williamson at the 4)? If push comes to shove, will Favors be squeezed out? Those decisions may go a long way to determining his free agency future. upside/downside: As mentioned, Derrick Favors' "value" may be more locked into place than his peers on the list. He's likely worth around a 3 year, $40M contract ($13.3M per year.) But for him, the question will be where that money will come from. A lot of the playoff teams that could use him (say Boston, for instance) don't have the cap space to offer those prices. If he wants to get bowled over with money, it'll likely come from a young team with cap room (like an Atlanta or Charlotte). But for them to justify paying big money to a big man, he'll have to keep playing heavy minutes and keep putting up solid numbers.
THE COMPLETE WILD CARD
SG Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Remember him? There are younger fans out there (the babies and toddlers among us) who may not even recall the extreme strengths of weaknesses of Andre Roberson. It's not an exaggeration to say that, at his peak, Andre Roberson was the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Armed with length (6'11" wingspan), nimble feet, and a tenacious style of play, he could slow down anyone from 1-4. In 2017-18, ESPN's real plus minus metric graded his defensive impact as a +4.3 per 100 possessions, second best in the league behind Rudy Gobert. Alas, Roberson only checked one box on the 3+D prototype. He's a career 25.7% shooter from beyond the arc, and a particularly ugly 46.7% at the free throw line. That free throw percentage even dipped as low as 31.6% in that 2017-18 season. So why do I keep citing the 2017-18 season? Because that's the last time we actually saw Andre Roberson play. He ruptured a patellar tendon, then had setbacks in rehab. All in all, he missed the entire 2018-19 season, and he's missed the entire 2019-20 season so far as well. Allegedly, Roberson is ready to come back now. If that's true, that would be a huge boon to his stock as he approaches unrestricted free agency. If any team is going to pay Roberson, they want to see that he's healthy and that he can keep up his defensive impact. And hey, if his shooting form looks like it's improved, then that'd be a major bonus. The mystery is likely to continue though, because we're not sure if Roberson is healthy, and we're not sure if he'd actually play even if he is healthy. Oklahoma City has found a good rhythm right now, and has had success combining their guards in lineups together. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can serviceably guard SGs and SFs, then there's not a huge need for Roberson in the starting lineup. At the same time, the wing depth is still pretty thin, so a healthy Roberson could help on the margins. upside/downside: It's difficult to imagine Billy Donovan throwing Andre Roberson out there for 20+ minutes a night after such a long layoff. Given that, the most likely scenario is that we see faint glimpses of Roberson this season, which forces him to take a modest one-year "prove it" deal in 2020-21 to rehab his stock. However, IF Oklahoma City finds itself struggling to contain a player like James Harden in the playoffs, then you'd figure they'd break the glass in case of emergency and call in Roberson. If Roberson can prove that he's back to his old stopper ways, then he's a valuable piece for a team. He'll never get HUGE money if his shooting continues to suck, but he can be a $8-10M role player. And if he ever learns to shoot at a modest clip (even 33% from three) then his stock will balloon.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’re on the brink of a new season, albeit a strange one. Stadiums with no fans, the Raiders in Vegas, 14 playoff spots, and no Tom Brady in New England are just a few of the things that will feel strange this year – but football will go on. Of course, there’s always the looming threat of a Covid-19 outbreak derailing things, but I’m going to operate from the optimistic point of view that things will go on as scheduled. If you’re new to the Rookie Report, each week I’ll be breaking down the matchups that the rookie class will be facing and letting you know which ones are good fantasy options and which ones should be avoided. I’ll throw in some sleepers and guys to stash on the bench as well, and I try to cover all of the fantasy relevant rookies each week (kickers excluded). Make sure to read the details on each player and not just what header they’re under since some of these may be format specific. Any players under the same header that play the same position are listed in the order that I would play them this week. The rookies are always a tough group to predict for fantasy production, but week 1 is always tough since we don’t have any on field production to go off of when making decisions. This year we don’t even have preseason games. For some of these predictions you have to read the tea leaves a bit and read between the lines of the coachspeak, and sometimes you just have to trust the talent of the player to win out. With all that in mind, let’s dive in and talk about week 1…
Rookies to Start:
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC (Wk. 1: vs. Hou.): If you have CEH, you likely took him in the first round, so you don’t need me to tell you that you’re starting him every week unless he gives you a reason not to. The Chiefs have the highest projected point total in the league this week at 31.75, and the Texans were in the bottom-6 in the league last year at limiting RB fantasy points. They were especially vulnerable to receiving backs, allowing more receptions per game to backs than every team other than the Colts. There’s no reason to shy away from CEH in DFS lineups despite a $7,000 price tag in DraftKings. Editor's Note: this article was posted here on/fantasyfootballafter TNF aired, although it was composed earlier. Sheesh. :) RB Jonathan Taylor, IND (Wk. 1: @ Jax.): Taylor will be in a prime spot to make a splash in his NFL debut. You likely drafted him as your RB2 unless you started with 3 straight running backs, so you’re probably going to play him regardless of what I write here. I won’t try to stop you. He’ll likely be splitting the backfield work with Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines this week, but the Jaguars were one of the worst defenses in the league against opposing running backs last year and lost Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and AJ Bouye from that defense in the offseason. They’re projected to be one of the worst teams in the league and are an 8-point home underdog in week one. The Colts should be able to run plenty in this one, and I expect Taylor’s talent to show through even if his opportunities are limited. He’s a solid RB2 option this week. WR CeeDee Lamb, DAL (Wk. 1: @ LAR): Lamb is the best of the rookie receiver crop in my opinion, and he gets a great opportunity to start proving me right in week 1. The Rams consistently use Jalen Ramsey to shadow the opposing team’s #1 receiver, and with Dallas that means Ramsey will be chasing around Amari Cooper. This will be good news for both Lamb and Michael Gallup who get to face off with Troy Hill and Darious Williams instead. Advantage Cowboys. Despite Zeke Elliott racking up plenty of carries last season, the Cowboys ranked 10th in pass attempts, 2nd in passing yards and 5th in passing TDs in 2019, so there is plenty of volume to go around, and this week that volume should be finding Lamb and Gallup. The Cowboys also have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the week at 27.5. You may not have drafted Lamb as one of your top 3 wide receivers this season, but this could be a week to get him in the lineup over someone you drafted before him. At just $4,100 in DraftKings, he’s a screaming value for tournaments.
RB Cam Akers, LAR (Wk. 1: vs. Dal.): Akers enters week 1 listed as the number 3 running back on the depth chart with Malcolm Brown as the starter and Darrell Henderson at #2, but I see ‘starter’ as a nominal title for Brown. He’s a guy the team trusts to do the job if the others don’t step up, but he’s not a feature back that you build around. Darrell Henderson is playing catch-up a little bit after being banged up in camp, and I think Akers has a real chance to take over the lead role in week 1. I expect the team will ride whoever gets the hot hand this week, but this is an offense that creates plenty of fantasy production for the running back position. We know that Todd Gurley was an otherworldly talent at his peak, but McVay has also gotten productive fantasy seasons from Alfred Morris and Rob Kelley when he was in Washington, and an incredible 3-game stretch from a seemingly washed up CJ Anderson in LA. Dallas was a middling run defense last season, so if Akers is able to get the bulk of the work this week, he’s got obvious RB2 upside. RB Zack Moss, BUF (Wk. 1: vs. NYJ): The Jets boasted one of the best run defenses in the league a year ago, but in the offseason they lost two of the guys that were big reasons why they were so effective. CJ Mosley opted out of 2020, and Jamal Adams was dealt to Seattle. Even if the Jets are able to be a solid run defense again without those guys, they’re likely going to be playing from behind so much that the RB counting stats are still going to add up. Moss enters the season expected to be the Bills’ early down running back. The Bills had the 7th-highest rushing percentage in the league last year, running on 47.5% of their offensive snaps, and they figure to be run-heavy again. I’d expect Moss to finish week 1 around 15 touches, and he’d be first in line for any goal line carries. That puts him firmly on the flex radar in 12-team leagues and is a better play in non-PPR formats. WR Henry Ruggs, LVR (Wk. 1: @ Car.): Ruggs was the first receiver off the board in April, and he’ll open the season as the team’s WR1 with Tyrell Williams out for the year. Ruggs has the speed to be a dangerous deep threat, but with Derek Carr at QB he’ll likely have to make his living on schemed touches in the short part of the field where he creates yards after the catch. As the WR1, I’m sure Jon Gruden will make sure Carr is getting the ball to Ruggs, but the group of pass catchers that thrives in the short part of the field is crowded in Vegas. Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Jalen Richard are all good receivers in that area, so I don’t see Ruggs being a target hog early on. His road to being a fantasy standout will be through creating big plays. He’ll get a chance to do that against a Carolina defense that isn’t terrible against the pass but isn’t imposing either. Ruggs is a boom-or-bust option who is capable of a Marquise Brown style week 1 breakout (Brown went 4-147-2 in week 1 last year), but is also capable of falling short of 40 yards. WR Jerry Jeudy, DEN (Wk. 1: vs. Ten.): Jeudy is an outstanding talent and landed on a team where he’ll walk right into the WR2 role in the offense, but it’s not a high volume passing offense and he’ll likely start the year behind both Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant in the pecking order. That outlook may have changed on Thursday with Sutton suffering a shoulder injury in practice. If Sutton sits, Jeudy could be the WR1 in week 1. No cornerback on the Titans should be capable of stopping Sutton, but they probably won’t be quite as overmatched by Jeudy. Fant should be in line for a nice day as the Titans struggled to contain tight ends last year, allowing the 6th-most points per game to the position. Keep an eye on the Sutton updates. If Sutton sits or is going to be limited, Jeudy should see enough volume to be a playable WR3 option. If it seems like Sutton is going to be fine, I would probably keep Jeudy benched until we see what his target share looks like as the WR2. WR Brandon Aiyuk, SF (Wk. 1: vs. Ari.): Aiyuk’s status is still up in the air this week, as is Deebo Samuel’s. If Aiyuk plays and Deebo doesn’t, there should be some consideration for getting Aiyuk in your lineup as a flex option. He may be facing off with Patrick Peterson in that scenario, but Peterson was anything but his typical self after returning from a 6-game suspension to open the 2019 season. He rounded into form late in the year, but Peterson is on the wrong side of 30 and Aiyuk is the type of receiver that can win at all levels of the field. The 49ers’ offense is going to run through George Kittle and their running backs, but they do have an implied point total of 27.25, so it’s likely that *some* receiver puts up a nice fantasy game Sunday. If he plays, Aiyuk is likely to lead the wide receiver group in targets, giving him the best shot of being that guy.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Joe Burrow, CIN (Wk. 1: vs. LAC): I like Burrow’s upside over the course of the year as a QB2, but I think there will be some growing pains in the early part of the season. The Chargers are not an inviting matchup for an NFL debut. They’ve got a solid pass rush anchored by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. No team blitzed less than the Chargers in 2019, and yet they ranked 13th in the league in QB pressure percentage. It didn’t translate into a lot of sacks, but the addition of Linval Joseph to the middle of the line should help free up the edge rushers to be more disruptive this season. The team will be hurt by the loss of Derwin James to injury, but they still boast one of the best starting pairs of corners in the league in Casey Heyward and Chris Harris. I think there is a good chance the Chargers make Burrow look like a rookie in his debut and would be hesitant to play him in 2 QB leagues if I didn’t have to. RB JK Dobbins, BAL (Wk. 1: vs. Cle.): If I drafted Dobbins as my RB3 this season, I’d be tempted to play him this week. The Browns ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat last year, and the Ravens are favored by 8 in the opener. There could be some garbage time for Dobbins once the Ravens get out in front, but Baltimore may still try and keep Gus Edwards and/or Justice Hill involved in the run game as well. The official team depth chart listed Dobbins as the 4th-string back. I expect he’ll work as the number 2 guy behind Mark Ingram but would like to see how the rotation plays out before putting Dobbins in my lineups. I RB Antonio Gibson, WAS (Wk. 1: vs. Phi.): Gibson has had a ton of buzz around him during camp after Washington cut Adrian Peterson. He’s a versatile player who has drawn comparisons from the coaching staff to Christian McCaffrey. That’s obviously a pretty big stretch, but the head coach and offensive coordinator making the comparison were both in Carolina last year. I think Gibson will be the best fantasy back on the team this year, but I don’t love him for week 1. The Eagles ranked third in run defense DVOA last season, and I expect we’ll see Peyton Barber handle most of the early down work early in the season for Washington. Gibson will also be competing with JD McKissic and Bryce Love for 3rd-down work. The team is thin at wide receiver, so you could even see Gibson line up in the slot a bit since he played a lot of wide receiver in college. All in all, there’s just too much uncertainty about what his week 1 role will look like to trust him in fantasy lineups. RB D’Andre Swift, DET (Wk. 1: vs. Chi.): Swift has been working through a couple injuries in camp but should be able to suit up on Sunday. The problem is that with the signing of Adrian Peterson this backfield figures to be a three-headed monster, and that’ll be a headache for fantasy players. Swift may get the valuable 3rd down passing work, but I’d like to see how the workload is divided before relying on any Lions running back in my fantasy lineups. I’d take a wait and see approach with Swift. RB AJ Dillon, GB (Wk. 1: @ Min): Dillon enters week 1 listed as the 3rd running back on the depth chart in Green Bay, and while I would normally tell you to ignore the official team depth charts at this point, this one feels like how it’ll actually play out on the field. I’d expect Aaron Jones to be the clear lead back with a mix of Jamaal Williams and Dillon spelling him for some early down work. The best bet for Dillon getting a healthy workload would be garbage time in a blowout win, but that seems unlikely with the Vikings favored by 3. I’d keep Dillon away from your lineups. RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB (Wk. 1: @ NO): In case you drafted Vaughn early and have been living under a rock in recent weeks, the signings of Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy will make Vaughn mostly useless for now in fantasy leagues. He’ll likely be limited to special teams early in the season and won’t have much value without injuries in front of him. Feel free to drop him outside of dynasty leagues. WR Michael Pittman Jr., IND (Wk. 1: @ Jax): Pittman should see the field quite a bit in week 1, but I don’t expect it to translate into fantasy production just yet. The Colts played 61% of their snaps last season in 11 personnel (3 WR), and their 3-WR sets to open the year should feature Pittman, TY Hilton and Parris Campbell, but the bulk of the passing volume should go through Hilton and Campbell (along with Jack Doyle and Nyheim Hines). The Colts are an 8-point road favorite this week, and I’d expect them to lean heavily on the running game which will limit how many targets there are to go around. If Pittman makes it to even 5 targets, I’d consider his week 1 to be a successful one. WR Chase Claypool, PIT (Wk. 1: @ NYG): The Steelers have spent much of the summer talking up Claypool, but this is an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. The return of Ben Roethlisberger should make this a much more fantasy-friendly offense than it was last year, but Claypool enters the season as no higher than 4th in the target pecking order. The Steelers do have a favorable matchup this week and have the 5th-highest implied total of the week, and Big Ben hasn’t really played much with James Washington or Diontae Johnson, so if you want to roll the dice on Claypool in a DFS tournament (just a $3,000 price tag in DraftKings) I wouldn’t fault you for it. For season-long leagues you should have safer options for week 1. WR Denzel Mims, NYJ (Wk. 1: @ BUF): It sounds like Mims is going to play this week, but after missing much of camp with a hamstring injury, I wouldn’t count on him getting a full workload in this one. It also remains to be seen which outside receiver will tangle with standout corner Tre’Davious White. Breshad Perriman is coming off an injury of his own, and both players make for poor options against a tough Bills defense with the Jets having an implied point total of just 16.5 points. WR Justin Jefferson, MIN (Wk. 1: vs. GB): Jefferson is a very talented receiver, and the Vikings obviously believe in him after drafting him in the first round in April, but he’ll likely open the season splitting WR2 snaps with Bisi Johnson. The Vikings play with 3 WRs less often than any other team in the league. They consistently operate out of a 2 tight end base set with Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. Jefferson will eventually work his way past Bisi, but I’d want to see what kind of opportunities he gets early on before trusting him in my fantasy lineup. His week one matchup isn’t all that appealing either. Green Bay is one of just 2 teams in the league that allowed less than 10 receptions per game to opposing wide receivers last year. WR Tee Higgins, CIN (Wk. 1: vs. LAC): With AJ Green expected to play week 1, it’ll be hard for Higgins to get on the field much. It looks like Green, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate will be the trio on the field in 3 wide receiver sets, and Higgins will be competing with John Ross for any leftover reps. There’s no reason to consider Higgins for week 1. TE Cole Kmet, CHI (Wk. 1: @ DET: Kmet was the first tight end drafted in April, but he doesn’t figure to play a large role early in his rookie season. He’ll open the season behind at least Jimmy Graham on the depth chart, and possibly Demetrius Harris as well. The Lions were a middle of the pack defense against tight ends a year ago, but Kmet shouldn’t be a consideration in any formats this week.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (Wk. 1: @ NE): I don’t list Tua here with any thoughts of you using him in week 1. I mention him in case you’re in a 2-QB league where he’s sitting on the waiver wire. He’s going to take over for Fitzpatrick at some point this season, and when he does he’s going to have big-time upside. He’s worth stashing if you have the roster spot in superflex and 2-QB leagues. I would rather have Tua than fellow rookie Justin Herbert. RB Josh Kelley, LAC (Wk. 1: @ CIN): Kelley enters week 1 as the likely backup to Austin Ekeler, but that role will probably come with 10-12 touches and possibly more if the Chargers pull away. Ekeler isn’t built to be a 20+ touch per game kind of back and the Chargers are shifting to a more run-heavy approach this season with Philip Rivers gone. Kelley looks like the back who will pick up the slack the Melvin Gordon left behind. Only 4 teams allowed more rushing yards last season than the Bengals, and while Cincy could be improved with the addition of DJ Reader to their D-line, I expect they’ll still find themselves in a lot of negative game scripts. For week 1, Ekeler has RB1 upside, but Kelley isn’t a terrible option as a flex in deep leagues. He’s someone you should be picking up everywhere if he’s on the waiver wire. I expect his role will grow as the season progresses. RB James Robinson, JAX (Wk. 1: vs. Ind.): What a difference a week makes for Robinson. A week ago Robinson looked like he was going the be the number 4 or 5 running back on the depth chart, but since then Leonard Fournette was cut, Ryquell Armstead went back on the Covid-reserve list, and Devine Ozigbo landed on IR. Robinson is suddenly the projected starter this week. Chris Thompson will handle most of the 3rd down work, but Robinson is going to be on the field a lot. The Colts didn’t give up many running back touchdowns last season (6), but they gave up plenty of yards to them, both on the ground and through the air. The Jaguars project to be playing from behind in this one, so Chris Thompson is probably the guy that will lead this backfield in fantasy scoring this week, but in deep leagues a starting running back is hard to ignore. Robinson certainly shouldn’t be on your waiver wire and he has 10+ point upside this week. WR Bryan Edwards, LVR (Wk. 1: @ Car): Ruggs is the guy with the draft capital, but Bryan Edwards may emerge as the alpha receiver on this Vegas team. He excels in the intermediate part of the field where few other receivers on the team do, and he’s easily the most physical of their receivers, which will serve him well in the red zone. His QB has compared him to former teammates Davante Adams and James Jones, both of whom excel at getting in the end zone. The Raiders have a reasonable implied point total of 25.25 this week, and if I had to bet on any Vegas pass catcher getting in the end zone it would be Edwards. He costs just $4,200 in DraftKings and is very likely to outperform that price tag. He may not get as many targets as Ruggs, but don’t be surprised if he outscores the first rounder in week 1. WR Laviska Shenault, JAX (Wk. 1: vs. Ind.): After all of the changes and injuries that have come up for the Jaguars over the last week or 2, about the only thing that seems clear with this offense is that DJ Chark is going to be targeted a lot. I’ll add a second thing here – Laviska Shenault is going to be very involved in this offense. Reports out of camp this week are that the Jaguars are getting VERY creative with the ways they’re using him. He’s a versatile player that lined up all over the field in college and is dynamic with the ball in the open field. I expect Jacksonville to make it a point to get the ball into his hands any way they can, even if it means handing it to him out of the backfield. Viska has a higher DraftKings price tag than some of the other rookies at $4,400, but he could be a really interesting option in limited slate contests. 10 touches isn’t out of the question in week 1. WR Van Jefferson, LAR (Wk. 1: vs. GB): I wasn’t high on Jefferson coming into camp, but he’s been impressive. He’s not an explosive athlete, but his football IQ and feel for the game are off the charts. He’s a route running technician who was a tough cover for Jalen Ramsey in camp. It remains to be seen if he’s fully overtaken Josh Reynolds for the WR3 role in the offense, but if he has he’ll be on the field a lot. The Rams like to line up with 3 wide receivers on the field as much as anyone. Dallas was stingy against wide receivers a year ago, but they said goodbye to their number one corner Byron Jones in the offseason. Jefferson is more of a stash right now, but if he’s on the field as the WR3 a 4-60 kind of game wouldn’t be that crazy for him this week. WR John Hightower, PHI (Wk. 1: @ Was): Hightower has a chance to benefit from a couple of injuries ahead of him this week, and also from the extra attention the Washington secondary will give to DeSean Jackson. D-Jax burned them in the opener last year with 2 TDs of 50+ yards. They’re going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That means less attention for JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, and Hightower. Of that trio, Hightower is the only one with the burner speed to hurt Washington deep. He’s a DFS tournament dart throw who will cost the minimum in DraftKings, and can have a nice NFL debut with just one or two deep balls. That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you as you try to figure out what to do with the rookies on your team for week 1. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week to make sure you don’t end up playing anyone inactive. Feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) if you have any questions or want to yell at me about anything written above. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game. Original article from drinkfive.com
RAV4 Prime SE: One month of driving, impressions, data, and one issue. AMA?
(EDIT: Got distracted, didn't finish a thought about electric rates and total costs. Fixed it!) (EDIT 2: BIG wow on the gold! Thank you, kind redditors!) (EDIT 3: Don't edit on mobile, you'll break your post. Just logged back onto my computer to fix it.) (EDIT 4: Thanks for all the support, folks. I've edited my awful data representation because I added new data, and I'm adding to the Fuel Economy and "Why on earth..." sections with some stuff I've learned.) (EDIT 5: This guy does a great job talking about suggested maintenance and what not to do with a Prius/RAV4 Prime.I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS. He talks about a lot of good things like actually using the ICE, good charging habits [which are also in the Prime's manual], tires, proper use of charge mode, etc, and there's some good discourse in the comment section about battery health.) (EDIT 6: I swear, the amount of edits I'm doing will be as long as the original post soon. Maybe I'll make a resources section. Anyway, this guy did what I wanted to do to test the fuel system. I say watch the whole video, but I've linked to the end where he goes through the numbers. He drove in HV mode (with a full battery backup) with the car telling him to refuel, implying it was nearly out of gas. He drove for about 70-80 miles, and when he filled up he still had just over a gallon of gas left in the tank. This lines up with my experience of the one visit to a gas station. This car is insane.) Howdy all! I'm new to the club, and this will belong. On July 31 (a day before his birthday), I retired my grandfather's 1999 Ford Explorer (RIP, 3/6/99-7/31/20) after driving it for 5 years after his passing, and traded it in for a shiny new 2021 RAV4 Prime SE. In this thread I'll talk about my buying experience (context: USA, East Coast), present a little bit of data I had collected, and the only glaring issue I have with this car. I've driven over 1000 miles already (had to drive for a work trip, which was a great way to refine the HV fuel economy). Feel free to ask questions, and I'll answer as best I can! I'm not gonna talk too much about the specs and overly technical stuff, because plenty of great videos exist that explain it better than I could. I want to bring this a little more down to earth for us normal folks and our normal people concerns. Disclaimer: My only experience driving a "new" car was in 2017, doing a short drive in my mom's new Jeep. I have a sense of awe and wonder at some of the features modern cars have, because I haven't had them. Also, many people in my family have had Toyotas over the years (many RAV4s both ICE and Hybrids, some Corollas, an early Highlander Hybrid come to mind), so I knew I was pretty partial going into this ordeal. Most of the pictures I've used to collect my data can be found in this Imgur album (which I made before making a proper Imgur account, so I can't edit it. Sigh.)
The dealership I bought from had one (1) SE delivered earlier than planned. Another dealership in the area also only had one (1) SE, but with different upgrade packages. There was less than $1.5k difference between the models (IIRC). The one I bought included weather and moonroof package, all-weather floor liners (good because winter), roof rack crossbars (not necessary, but always nice to have), frameless homelink mirror (basically buttons for garage door openers on a snazzy mirror), and the protection package (includes edge guards on doors, mudguards on the fenders, etc). The dealership experience was mostly good. The staff was courteous and friendly, and even the finance officer was honest and blunt with me about stuff I could get cheaper elsewhere, or stuff I could sign up for later if I want it. The big downside came with the rarity of the car: There was very little negotiation available in any aspect, and the dealership included an "Adjusted market price" increase of $5000. Yes, you read that correctly. According to them (and I had also heard of this through a few sources), many other dealerships had a much higher markup which would put an SE with comparable upgrade packages over $50k before any taxes/fees. With limited availability, I didn't really have a choice. I tried to play the game, but the three different people I talked to at the dealership (salesman, manager, and finance) basically all said "yeah, no." It was pretty frustrating when they were like "what can we do to make this sale for you?" and I replied at least three times "you can make the price what was on your website, for a start." (The website showed the MSRP, plus upgrade packages, with a line through it. When you clicked on the button to get a deal/more details, it said that you already had the best price. They claimed it was bad website design, I told them straight up it was a nice case of false advertising and they should get their act together.) I used my trade-in value (not much, but I was able to negotiate it up a bit) toward an extended warranty (jumps from 3-year to 10-year, I think, which I felt was worth it given how much driving I do), and put down a healthy down payment with reasonable financing through a local credit union to cover the rest. I know that the situation will change once I receive the tax rebates (The Prime qualifies for the full $7500 federal rebate, and my state offers a $1000 rebate). Am I a fool for going through with this ordeal? From most points of view, absolutely. But when you drive a 21-year old car and have to fill it up 2-3 times per week (pre-COVID) at the tune of $40-50 per fill up, it's time for change. But I mean, she's so pretty. The actual email I got from the dealership. It here, indeed. And there she is, safely at home.
Features I like
I didn't know you could have heated seats that aren't leather or leather alternative. I've also never heard of a car having rear heated seats. Color me surprised when I found out that it's got it all! The weather package also included a heated steering wheel, which is great because I don't mind bundling up for the cold, but my fingers typically are colder than the rest of my body. I'm a musician, specifically a bass player, and if there's one thing I'll splurge on it's good sound. Because I got the SE, I didn't have the option of upgrading the audio system. Honestly: I didn't need to. The stock system sounds great to me, and I don't think the extra inch on the infotainment display would make a huge difference. Also, the big reason that this vehicle stood out to me is because there aren't a ton of options for hybrid/PHEV SUVs that get good mileage. I need the cargo area to haul music equipment from time-to-time The ability to switch between Normal, Eco, Sport, and Trail modes satisfies my need to control the AWD of the car. My Explorer let me choose between 2WD and 4WD. Before the Explorer, I drove a Mitsubishi Montero which let you choose 2WD, 4WDH, 4WDL, and 4WDL with locked center differential, and that car had literally saved my skin in some nasty winter weather, as well as some infrequent off-road usage. Obviously this is different than that, but the absolute shift in the feeling of driving in the different modes is awesome (Note: I haven't needed to use Trail mode yet, and I'm not doing that on a paved road). I've only used Sport mode a few times while driving on the interstate back from work, and I absolutely love it. I primarily use Eco mode (the whole point of me getting this car was to save money on gas). Sport mode, to me anyway, is just for fun. With those two options, normal mode is just kind of "whatever" and I'll probably never use it. If I have a need to use Trail mode, I'll update the post. I was literally ecstatic when I saw a traditional style shifter in here, and not just a twist knob to go between gears. Also, having the manual shifting option is always a huge plus to force yourself into lower gears during winter weather. Ignore the AM radio stations listed, I've just had that piece of paper forever.
Things I Wish Were Different
The 6.6kW onboard charger as a standard (only available as an upgrade option on the XSE), and Level 3 charging capabilities (DC fast charging). The SE is limited to a 3.3kW onboard charger. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has all 3 levels of charging for a base price comparable to the SE (yes, I know it gets less EV miles). I get that this is Toyota's second foray into PHEVs recently, so I genuinely hope that they add it as an option in future model years, but it's a shame it wasn't available this time. I feel like it will really restrict the practicality of using public charging stations, since even at a 240V station it would still take 4.5 hours for a full charge. Realistically, I suppose if you're at one all day at your place of employment then it's good regardless. But if you're going to just be at a parking lot/garage for an hour, or if lower power charging is the only option, it's almost not even worth it and you may as well drive home in HV mode. (Note: I don't have the option of charging at work, and there aren't many options for public charging stations near me. The nearest one is a highway rest-stop that has a bunch of Tesla chargers on one side of a huge lot near the building, and a single 240V charger far away near the tractor-trailer parking. Even with an adapter the Tesla chargers, if I understand it correctly, would literally blow up my car because I don't have DC fast charging. No thanks.) The "Auto EV/HV" button is very self-explanatory: If you press that button, you drive as an EV until the car decides it needs some extra oomph and switches to HV mode. And then when it doesn't, it'll switch back. That's how I normally drive. Excellent work, Toyota, 10/10. The "EV<->HV, Chg Hold" button is not as intuitive because it FORCES the car between the two modes and holds it there. My big gripe is the second function, which makes it sound like you switch to HV mode just to hold the charge of the EV mode. In reality, if you hold the button it tells the car to use the motor as a generator to charge the batteries. This was explained very poorly at the dealership to me, so I had to figure it out for myself. If you want to burn the extra gas while you're driving to try and charge the batteries back up, go for it? Otherwise, I'd just drive in normal HV mode. No fog lights? Seriously? Is that still considered a "premium" feature? A better way of capturing driving/fuel economy data would be grand. See the next two sections.
Typical Driving, Fuel Economy Data
As far as money spent, electric rates in my area are around $0.12/kWh (including all fees, charges, etc.). With the 18.1kWh battery pack, that equates to about $2.17 for a full charge. Less than the cost of a gallon of gas ($2.30-2.50/gal near me) to go 45 miles, or whatever. And that's such an insignificant part of my electric bill, especially considering that I don't empty and recharge it every single day (thanks, COVID?). Unfortunately I live in a rental, and can't have too many nice things. But if you have solar panels, wind power, or an absolutely electric connection with Zeus, well, it's basically free miles. And if you can recharge at work, it is literallyfree miles (for you, sort of). Also, imagine the money you're saving on not having engine wear. When do I get an oil change, anyway? (EDIT: Please get regularly scheduled service and maintenance. Watch the video I linked at the top.) Anyway, for those not familiar, the dashboard looks something like this. Super intuitive, gives you great information, please ignore the EV battery being depleted. Dashboard when the car is on. Dashboard when you turn the car off. So from that screen, I compiled a bunch of information (not consistently, mind you), and wanted to share that performance data. EDIT: Something important to note with EV mode is that by having the fan/air conditioning on, even with ECO heat/cool is that it will reduce your estimated EV miles on the counter by one or two. If you just turn the A/C off, the fan icon disappears and you'll typically get an extra mile. It's not much, but if your goal is to maximize EV driving, every bit helps. My running average, as you can see from some pictures, is 2.9mi/kWh. With an ~18kWh battery, that math works out to a suggested 52.2 miles of EV driving, but I'm sure I really am losing a few miles between climate control and idle time while driving. Context: My typical commute to work is about 39-40 miles one way, and the coffee shop is in the path of my normal commute so it doesn't add anything substantial, maybe like 200 feet of driving. Because of this commute, I pretty much burn through my battery on my way down, maybe I have a little left to start my drive home. EDITED 10 Sept, 2020 to include new data/better charts. Sorry that this is a chart for ants. Added a few more lines of data. Don't ask why the EV ratio bar is so big, I have no idea what's happening in Excel. Changed this so that EV ratio is a bar associated with each drive (as it should have been) and total economy is a set of lines.
Why on God's Green Earth Would I Represent Data This Way?
Because the the infotainment display doesn't save the information in a helpful/useful way. You've probably noticed that absolutely enormousjump in the last two data points. That's because in trying to use this awful system during my a recent drive, I basically erased my MPG and reset the counter. What this did was save the total economy for a "trip" and then start tracking it from scratch. At the time, I was driving in HV mode, and when I parked at home it was at something like 53MPG (jumping from 0 all the way up into the 60s and then back down). What was interesting was when I did a short, all EV drive the next day, which meant I got "99MPG" (I wasn't using gas, so...) which just brought the average way up across so few miles. I'm sure this will start to drop once I do a few longer drives that drain the battery or switch into HV mode. I'm not sure if there's a recommended frequency at which you "update" your fuel economy history, but maybe I'll play around with it more in the future. Well that isn't helpful. What the heck am I even looking at? What does the placement of those E's mean?? I rest my case. But I'll try to do better next time. Having EV Ratio as another bar made it feel really cluttered, but I realize now that having it the way I do is objectively worse. I was tired when I made it and probably meant to have Total Economy be that kind of chart. FTFY. Whatever. You get the idea. The car is awesome.
Let them work out manufacturing kinks, fix the gas tank issue (if that's a huge deal to you), and finalize the charging to at least have the bigger charger on both models (ideally add Level 3), and GET ONE. If you need me, I'll be driving around silently. EDIT: Here's a neat thing. When I bought the car and charged it for the first time, I had 33 EV miles. It crept up to 40 after a week, and has slowly crept up even more, and I was recently greeted with this when starting up. (Edited again because it GOT BETTER.) Not too shabby, considering the battery is rated for 42 EV miles. Also, my mi/kWh finally bumped from 2.9 to 3.
2020 Offseason Review Series Day 26: The New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Division: AFC East 2019: 12-4, Division Win Before I dive in, I want to give a massive, massive thanks to timnog - who is a national treasure and the resident .gif queen of the Patriots - and arbrown83 - who provides excellent high-quality OC and manages patriotsdynasty.info, a definitive repository for content complete with data and .gifs spanning the past 20 years. Basically everything in this piece that isn't sourced in the click (twitter, youtube etc.) came from one of them and I don't want to imagine what this would look like without them.
Joe Judge: After eight seasons with the team, five as our Special Teams coordinator, Joe Judge has left New England to take on a head coaching job with the New York Giants. New England's special teams units have been consistently good to great during Judge's tenure with the team and particularly played a massive part in the 2018 Super Bowl victory against the LA Rams. With Judge's departure the team faces special teams uncertainty for the first time in nearly a decade
Dante Scarnecchia: One of the few dedicated position coaches in the NFL with broad name recognition among many fans, Dante Scarnecchia has been one of the best position coaches in the league and a franchise legend. Scar has survived 5 General Manager transitions, 4 different head coaches, 3 decades of coaching, 2 sales of the franchise and a partridge in a pear tree return to work after a two year hiatus in retirement. Scar has been pivotal in the franchise's ability to continually identify and develop raw physical talent into serviceable or better starting linemen over the past 20 years. He heads off into retirement (part 2) and will be sorely missed
Bret Bielema: After two years with the team as a consultant and defensive line coach, Bret Bielema has departed with Judge to take on a defensive advisory role with the Giants
Jedd Fisch: Added to the offensive staff as the Quarterback's coach, Jedd Fisch has spent the better part of 20 years bouncing around between college and the NFL with the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, Seahawks and Jaguars before landing most recently with the LA Rams as a senior offensive assistant and assistant offensive coordinator in 2018/2019. Fisch brings a broad scope of experience to the table as an offensive mind. The linked article goes into some schematic possibilities that his addition may foretell, but we'll look closer at that in a later section
Troy Brown: After stepping in last August to try his hand coaching, team Hall of Famer, fan favorite, RecevieReturneCornerback Troy Brown has been officially added to the coaching staff. While he spent much of last season working with the receivers, recent news says Brown will be working with the running backs as we go into camp. Whatever the case, if the man can impart even a fraction of his work ethic and selfless attitude onto the players he will be a welcome addition to the staff
After last year's mass coaching exodus there are relatively few losses among the coaching staff this season, but two of them are major losses that will certainly be felt. The team has remained true to form this year in handling coaching turnover - losses have been addressed by promotions from within and the team has brought in one mid-priority, experienced outsider to supplement.
2 yrs, $50M
Kyle Van Noy
4 yrs, $51M
3 yrs, $30M
2 yrs, $8M
1 yr, $3M
1 yr, $2M
1 yr, $2M
1 yr, $1M
Tom Brady gets his own dedicated posts. It's simply impossible to talk about Tom Brady's Patriot tenure and legacy or what he has meant to the team, fan base and the sport of football inside a larger body post like this. The reddit limit for text posts is 40k characters and I could easily eclipse that talking about Brady and his career. I wouldn't be doing anybody justice by trying to shoehorn that commentary in here next to comments about Kyle Van Noy and Danny Shelton. It's simply a different universe of impact and significance from both objective and emotional angles. Suffice it to say in this section that he leaves a Lovecraftian void in his wake
Kyle Van Noy received a well-deserved payday after delivering above and beyond expectation on his opportunity in New England. Acquired in a trade-deadline deal in 2016, Van Noy worked his way through backup duties into a significant role as a hybrid edge defender. In 2017 after Dont'a Hightower went down for the season injured, Van Noy stepped into the #1 LB role, playing starter's snap share as a valuable run stuffer and pass rusher, from the interior or from the edge, standup or hand in the dirt, even in coverage or blowing up screens, sometimes doing multiple in the same play. KVN became Mr. Utility in the front 7 and spent the past few years making plays in any way a front 7 player can. Van Noy leverages a well rounded skill set to impact games in any manner possible, and he's helped the team to three super bowl appearances and two wins doing it while being one of the best players on the field in SB53. He leaves for Miami to rejoin the man who helped unlock that skill set and I will not be happy seeing him on the other side of the field twice a year in the immediate future
Jamie Collins leaves the Patriots for a second time after an excellent 2019 and a major bounce back from his poor showing in Cleveland. Initially drafted by New England in 2013, Collins rose quickly to become a key defensive force early on, capitalizing on explosive athleticism and a well rounded skill set (I know it's repetitive but it's the truth. I suggest you get used to the terms "well-rounded" and "versatile" now) to create a major impact in the 2014 playoffs, to earn 2nd team All Pro honors in 2015, and to get himself traded away to the gulag Cleveland in a surprise move in the middle of 2016. Collins came back home on a one-year deal in 2019 to try and show the world he deserved one more big pay day. He delivered with gusto. Through the first half of the season Collins was performing at an all pro level for a nightmarish New England Linebacking corps, primarily contributing exceptional coverage and explosive pass rushing skills but also playing a key role against the run. Contrasting with Van Noy, who is much more of a by-the-book type player without any outstanding athletic traits for the position, Collins has made his career largely on his absurd athletic potential and instincts, which were still on full display at age 30 this season. He leaves for Detroit to rejoin the man who helped unlock his skill set and it's nice that the Patriots won't need to see him across the field twice a season
Danny Shelton heads to Detroit as a big man who delivered in a big way on his 2019 one-year prove-it deal. Shelton is not the kind of name that turns heads, but he brought a significant physical presence to the interior of a defense that had been fairly vulnerable to the ground game when opponents could lean into it. He wasn't much of a pass rusher - though he did have his moments - but he was a stout run-stuffer and anchor in the middle of the D, playing the second most snaps of all of Patriot DL on the season. He leaves some large shoes to fill and his loss significantly weakens the Patriot hair game
Ted Karras also heads to Miami after taking on a starter's role at Center with less than one month's notice on the heels of David Andrews' season-ending blood clot situation. Karras, a 6th round pick in 2016, played just 430 snaps over three seasons as a reserve OL before responsibility was thrust upon him this season. Karras played admirably on over 1000 snaps and while he wasn't blowing any doors off the center position - particularly early on when he was still hammering out some snap-issues that had also flared up in 2017 - the fact that he was able to play 90% of New England's offensive snaps from a reserve role without creating glaring issues was nothing short of a godsend. Karras took home the 2nd highest paycheck league-wide from the NFL's Performance Based Pay program for his efforts, and frankly the $3M contract he received from Miami was surprisingly low given how hard it is for some teams to find a competent starting center
Nate Ebner follows Special Teams coordinator Joe Judge to New York after carving out an 8 year career as a dedicated special-teamer. Did you know he also played rugby?
Elandon Roberts wraps up an impressive Patriot tenure that was largely spent wanting to run through mother fuckers' faces. I've given Roberts some shit in the past for being the one player I've seen with a unique ability to fill the right hole at the right time but manage to not even touch the ball carrier, but the guy is an awesome locker room presence, willing special teamer, named team captain and just all around up for anything. Recently seen filling a need at receiver, Roberts heads out to join Patriots south where he'll go do whatever the hell they need him to
Phillip Dorsett heads to Seattle on a minimal 1-year deal. He leaves New England much the same way he came, as a former 1st round pick with a ton of speed and not much production. He has flashed for the team at times in a 3rd/4th/5th target role but struggled when asked to do more. He'll haul in a few long bombs when things go just right though, and that's always a treat
2 yrs, $7M
2 yrs, $6M
1 yr, $1.6M
1 yr, $1.3M
1 yr, $1M
1 yr, $1M
1 yr, $1M
New England entered the 2020 Free Agency period without much cap space to speak of. After placing a franchise tag on Left Guard Joe Thuney and re-signing Free Safety Devin McCourty, the team was left without much of anything to work with. Trading away Duron Harmon turned out to be a necessary move solely for the cap ramifications.
Beau Allen is a very large man who plays in the middle of defensive lines. He's worked as a depth IDL for the Eagles and Bucs, and would seemingly be the replacement for Shelton. Certainly not a disruptive pass rusher with just 2.5 sacks to his name across 6 seasons, he's done some good work against the run in limited snaps and appears to have an open path to a more significant role. He'll even attempt to replace Shelton in the hair game, just with his face
Adrian Phillips has been a depth/rotational safety for the Chargers for 6 years while contributing on special teams at an all-pro level. He's the exact kind of guy Belichick loves to pick up for versatility and depth purposes, but he's also done enough on the field as a true safety to believe he can function in that capacity as well. Phillips is my favorite addition this season and given the age of the other safeties on the roster he'll have an opportunity to break into the lineup with significant snaps
Damiere Byrd is a very fast receiver. He hasn't been able to really break out in the pros, but he's shown up with brief flashes as a returner and deep threat. He'll have an open opportunity to seize that role without many major challenges in his way
Dan Vitale is a Fullback who has opted out of the 2020 season to put in even more work on his biceps due to conerns over COVID-19
Marquise Lee was brought in as a veteran option to compete for a receiver role. He's a talented player who has struggled significantly with injuries in recent years. He has recently opted out of the season due to concerns over COVID-19
Brandon Copeland is a versatile linebacker who has performed mainly in a rotational role for the Jets over the past few years. He's shown an ability to play the deep hole zone coverage, which was a Jamie Collins special, and to put a hand on the ground and rush a passer or run a stunt. He's an unheralded name but those qualities might allow him to step into the giant chasm of opportunity left at linebacker in the wake of Collins and Van Noy's departures
Not much in the way of splashy names. Those signings left New England without even enough money to sign a draft class. Without even enough cap space to fit a veteran minimum contract, the team couldn't have possibly added any more players..... Wait. What?
1 yr, $1.75M
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Kyle Dugger became the 6th defensive back in a decade to be taken by the Patriots in round 2 of the NFL draft. I'm going to take a minute to address this elephant in the room because the track record there is, frankly, abysmal. The most successful second round DB taken by the Patriots in the last decade is Tavon Wilson, and the gap between Wilson and the second best DB the team has taken in round 2 is incomprehensibly large considering Wilson started a grand total of 4 games in New England. Ras-I Dowling was healthy for 9 games in 3 years. Jordan Richards stuck around as a special teamer while inducing panic any time he played in an actual safety role. Cyrus Jones muffed approximately one million 4 punts and fumbled another on just 14 return opportunities before being sent to Baltimore as a sleeper agent. Duke Dawson was traded for a 6th/7th round swap 1 year after being drafted, having played exactly 0 snaps. Joejuan Williams murdered twelve puppies can't be faulted for not breaking into the starting lineup in a ridiculously strong cornerback room in year 1 and isn't a lost cause yet, thankfully. This is what comes to mind when Patriot fans think about drafting DBs in the second round. It's not any player's fault that the Patriots draft them when they do, but it's such a well-known string of failures that it became a talking point when the team traded a 2nd round pick for Mo Sanu. Enter Kyle Dugger. Dugger played for Lenoir-Rhyne, a D-II school with a sports-reference page that looks like this, boasting 6 whole names of NFL players who combined to produce 16 AV. Dugger is the highest draft pick to come out of Lenoir-Rhyne by over 100 slots, and for good reason. He arguably only ended up playing D-II because of a very late growth spurt, and by the time he had it his combination of explosive athleticism and pro-size physique left him looking a man among boys. Film on Dugger is scant, and much of what exists looks like the Zapruder tape, but even in the blurry mess you simply can't miss the guy being disruptive in coverage, flying around like a missile, decleating ball carriers and running circles around - or straight through - punt coverage. Dugger is pretty raw. A few seasons flexing on physically outmatched competition in D-II is not the best way to prepare for sophisticated NFL defenses and opponents with more similar athletic profiles. That said, the physical tools are elite even when measured by NFL standards. He's a 99th percentile SPARQ athlete who reportedly smothered TEs and receivers in senior bowl week. It's hard to say too much about Dugger until we see more but he seems to have every tool he needs to become an impact safety, a box roamer, even play some nickel/dime slot coverage in the NFL. I specifically see a Tight End eraser and eventual Pat Chung replacement if he develops well. I'm more optimistic about him than I've been about any of the other 2nd round DBs since Dowling. The age in the safety group, Chung's opt out and Harmon being traded away have opened things up for someone to take over a large chunk of the snaps and whether it happens sooner or later Dugger looks like he can be the one to break a series of sadness a decade old. I'm ready to either get hurt again or watch him become the next Brian Dawkins. At least he wasn't a projected 6th rounder
Josh Uche became the second Michigan defender drafted to New England in two years. While he played primarily on the edge he was deployed in off-ball alignment and crowding A gaps over guards, displaying the versatility New England loves in its front 7. An excellent quick-twitch athlete, Uche produced a pressure on over 22% of his pass rush snaps in 2018 and 2019, 1st in the nation per PFF and displays explosive ability as a pass rusher off the ball to blow past OTs and as a run defender with a blazing fast closing speed. The major knocks against Uche in the draft process were a general lack of reps - as he did not break out until his junior year and was still ceding snaps to Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich - a slightly undersized frame and a lack of drill numbers owing to a hamstring tweak suffered in the senior bowl then a canceled pro day due to COVID-19. He's shown great bend and reasonably polished hand fighting technique to complement the athletic gifts, and whether he ends up primarily in a pass rushing role or moving around the front, he's a welcome addition to a severely depleted front-7. Find an excellent OC film breakdown by Memokerobi in this thread
Anfernee JenningsAnfernee Jennings mainly filled an edge role in Alabama's hybrid defense. In contrast the quick-twitch and bend we saw in Uche, Jennings provided a stout, strong, physical presence for one of the country's best defenses. Jennings was a productive pass rusher and a particularly dominant run stuffer, at times manhandling some of the best blocking TEs in college to get there. Despite playing a majority of his snaps at the edge last season, Jennings has the physical tools to line up off-ball as a downhill thumper as well. He has experience lining up everywhere from the 4-tech to wide 9, stand-up or hand in the dirt, and he's displayed a sophisticated game IQ in play diagnosis. While his game is markedly different from Uche's, he finds himself facing the same opportunity to make an immediate mark in the linebacking corps. To this point if you think I've been repetitive while talking about the draft picks, it's because I have been. The first three picks in the 2020 draft have all been versatile defensive pieces that should be able to move around the formation fluidly. As the league evolves and offenses adapt to answer the recently-popularized "big nickel" personnel grouping, the need for defenders who can fill a variety of needs has only increased. That factor and the loss of versatile defenders Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins creates a pretty clear picture of what the Patriots were working towards early in the draft
Devin Asiasi became the first TE drafted by the Patriots inside the top 200 picks since 2010. Asiasi is a well-rounded player who has shown the ability to play in-line or split wide, albeit in limited time as he's only had one season of significant usage and production. In that year, he displayed very reliable hands and solid route-running ability while making impacts at all three levels of the passing game. He was also a competent, if raw, blocker with the frame to match many edge defenders. He's a tough runner with the ball in his hands, though he's not going to outrun most defenders and with a bit of development he should be able to fill the all-around TE role the Patriots desperately need filled
Dalton Keene became the second TE drafted by the Patriots inside the top 200 picks since 2010. Keene is a versatile guy, the proverbial H-back type who spent a significant amount of time moving all around the formation at Virginia Tech last year. He's a tenacious blocker and is described by basically everybody as having relentless effort. The main drawbacks with Keene are his production - with just 748 yards receiving across 3 college seasons - and the fact that his route tree is more a shrub. He's a player who has predominantly gotten open by leaking out of a blocking assignment or against motion on play action. That said, George Kittle makes a significant amount of his hay running leak or counter motion routes too so it's not as if that role doesn't have value. Keene is extremely unpolished, but he's shown the skills necessary to become an impactful TE if he can prove himself with a major increase in responsibilities, volume and overall refinement
Michael Onwenu (#50) is a strong, stocky interior lineman who simply bullies people in tight spaces, but he doesn't move very well and can be stiff in his stances and footwork. New England has had success in the past with coaching up stiff or awkward movers into useful offensive linemen - Marcus Cannon is a prime example - and Onwenu should have time to work on his weaknesses as he was drafted into a very strong IOL group with established starters. With some coaching up he could end up a great value for a 6th round investment
Justin Herron is a long Tackle with decent hands and mobility who's main criticisms are a lack of any particular strength or control in the run game. After bouncing back nicely from an ACL tear in 2018, Herron played well enough at Wake Forest to earn a late round draft selection. With the uncertainty around New England's Tackle situation, he could have a good chance to stick as a depth piece for future development
Cassh Maluia was a solid three year starter for Wyoming with good athleticism for the position and notable closing speed. Physically he's similar in build to Elandon Roberts. The gaping void that opened up at linebacker this offseason and the loss of a few dedicated special teamers should give him a chance to make the roster and leave his mark
Dustin Woodard was a long-time starter at Memphis. He moves pretty well but he's on the small, stocky side and will need to add strength and refine his technique if he's going to contribute in the NFL. He'll have some stiff competition for a depth role as an interior lineman
It's never easy to talk about Patriots drafts. In 2020 the team clearly wanted to add versatility on multiple levels, and they did something we've seen them do multiple times before and double dipped at positions of significant need. A number of pundits have panned the Pats 2020 draft class because it didn't include a Quarterback or receiver, while others have praised it because the team moved around a number of picks and that must be a good sign. If forced to give a grade I'd throw out a B/B-. Dugger has a ridiculous potential ceiling but his rawness is scary. I absolutely love the Uche pick. He was a favorite of mine through the process with nice tape who seemed generally undervalued due to lack of volume. He could return major upside. Jennings is a classic Patriots prototype pick who could be great for the team, and he was selected at about "expected" range. Asiasi is someone I liked in the scouting process as a competent receiver but I would have preferred Adam Trautman as the more complete package. I liked Dalton Keene for fit but I didn't expect him before the middle of day 3. Trading 2 4ths to the Jets to move up for Keene there just doesn't sit right. The Rohrwasser pick is another Belichick staple on the current rookie wage scale. Once the 5th round rolls around he starts taking his "reach" shots on special teamers or long-shot projects e.g. Punter Jake Bailey, Long Snapper Joe Cardona, Punter Zoltan Mesko or reclamation projects Byron Cowart and Marcus Cannon. Most of those picks have turned out pretty good for the team. Given that track record and the need, I expected and don't hate taking the kicker there. I know nothing about Rohrwasser except he apparently went 100% from 50+ yards and had a handful of impressive kicks in bad weather, but Belichick has been on point with specialists and the team hasn't brought in any competition so I believe in his ability. The rest of the selections are just prospective depth, which is hard to get excited about but is also something the team desperately needed. I'm glad the team didn't try to take a QB and instead focused on addressing a lack of roster depth, an aging safety group, an eviscerated LB corps and the worst TE room in the league. For the oldest roster in the NFL and for how many contributing bodies the team lost in free agency, this draft class isn't exactly sexy, but it is a necessity and very on-brand for the Patriots.
James Develin, long time fullback, has retired from the NFL and will be sorely missed. That .gif is basically his Patriot tenure and his personality in a nutshell. He gives a relentless effort, displaying hard-nosed tenacity, and you can feel the sheer joy emanating from Legarrette Blount. Develin was a positive personality in the locker room, a versatile utility knife on the field and an all around great guy.
The world is in the middle of a pandemic. This is very obviously affecting every team and the league as a whole. Specific to New England, the Patriots have had eight players opt out of the 2020 season. In order of 2019 snap count, the team has lost RT Marcus Cannon, LB Dont'a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden and TE Matt LaCosse. On top of this, Free Agent signings Marquise Lee and Danny Vitale have opted out, as well as Guard Najee Toran, who was signed to a futures contract this past December. This is the highest number of opt-outs in the NFL. When combined with the free agent losses and the trade of Duron Harmon, the New England defense has lost 4,141 high-quality snaps and another 598 role-player snaps from 2019. That represents an absolutely staggering 45% of all defensive snaps lost from year to year. The important takeaway here isn't about football though.
Thanks for reading if indeed you have. If not, thanks for at least scrolling to the bottom. I hope it's been enjoyable and informative. Stay safe and be good to each other. E: Of course within hours of posting this the Patriots finalized multiple roster moves. Lamar Miller was signed to a 1 year deal. While the terms are unknown at the moment, he'll be a strong candidate to come in and carry a significant workload. The signing suggests that the team is unsure of Sony Michel's availability after the foot surgery that currently has him on the PUP list and does not feel comfortable leaning on Burkhead or Harris in the event that Sony misses time. Jordan Leggett has also been signed and could push Ryan Izzo for a roster spot.
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