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May, 2012 | The DC Times

The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football


Fantasy: How to Project Wide Receivers’ Yards

My first post at FF Today is up and deals with wide receiver projections. A big part of my draft philosophy is implementing regression toward the mean into all rankings, and one of the individual stats that tends to regress most is yards-per-catch. Some players are certainly more explosive than others, but you can use a player’s history to determine whether he over or underachieved the previous season. From the article:

For wide receivers, one of the statistics that is most likely to change from year to year is yards-per-catch. Every year, wide receivers’ YPC are vastly different from previous seasons due to a few big plays, a change in offensive philosophy that results in extra screen passes, and other similar factors. By simply adjusting for YPC in our projections, we can obtain projections that are more accurate than simply mirroring the previous season’s numbers.

For some rate statistics, such as yards-per-carry, we can regress players’ stats to a league average. Yards-per-catch isn’t one of those stats. Certain players (think Mike Wallace) are simply more likely to post explosive plays than others (think Wes Welker).

To regress wide receiver YPC toward the mean, we need to figure out exactly how a player’s stats in the previous season match up with his “true” talent. If we were to simulate 1,000 seasons, for example, how many times would Victor Cruz repeat his 18.7 YPC from 2011?

You can head over to FF Today to read my full methodology. You’ll be surprised to see who I have projected to lead the league in receiving yards.


Running the Numbers: Is Tony Romo Clutch?

Jonathan Bales

This is an article I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There are a lot of ways to define “clutch” as it relates to NFL quarterbacks, and about the only one in which Tony Romo doesn’t thrive is playoff victories. That’s obviously a big category, but one that is really overrated in judging quarterbacks.

In my article “Is Tony Romo Clutch?” at DallasCowboys.com, I break down Romo’s fourth quarter and late-season numbers to see how he plays in pressure situations. The answer is pretty damn well.

Ultimately, however, the public perception of Romo won’t change until he wins multiple playoff games. So, in early 2013.


Fantasy Football for Smart People #1 on Amazon

Jonathan Bales

Fantasy Football for Smart People is now #1 on Amazon. . .kind of. It is #1 in football as a Kindle download. Same thing. You can buy the version for Kindle here, or the PDF here, both for $8.99.


The Essential Smart Football by Chris Brown

Jonathan Bales

For those of you who come here often, you know I’m a big fan of SmartFootball.com. The site is one of the premiere sources for real football Xs and Os, and founder Chris Brown really does an amazing job there. I’ve used a lot of Chris’s analysis here in the past.

Well, Chris just published “The Essential Smart Football.” The book is already the #1 football book on Amazon, and for good reason. If you come here because you like game film and football breakdowns (as opposed to my terribly boring stat analysis), you’ll love the book. And no, I’m not getting paid or anything for this post; this is really just a great book.

And while you’re over at Amazon, pick up a copy of my book Fantasy Football for Smart People. After you read both books, you’ll be a goddamn genius.


2012 NFL Coach Rankings: Belichick Anywhere Other Than No. 1 a Joke

Jonathan Bales

I just saw 2012 NFL coach rankings over at Sporting News, and the list was so ridiculous I had to post about it. Here’s all you need to know: Bill Belichick was second. No. 2. As in not first. The coach with a .724 regular season winning percentage and 17-7 playoff record in New England is not first. Here’s the writer’s explanation:

So why isn’t Belichick in the No. 1 slot? Because he has lost three consecutive games to Coughlin, including two Super Bowls. Lifetime, Belichick is 1-5 against Coughlin.

It should go without saying that basing rankings of any sort off of six head-to-head matchups isn’t exactly the most effective way to go about the task. Lots of coaches near the bottom of the list have great winning percentages against the list’s top coaches. . .so what? It is so obvious that Belichick is the best coach in the NFL that I really can’t imagine how someone could legitimately rank anyone ahead of him.

So here are your real 2012 NFL coach rankings. . .

1. Bill Belichick, Patriots: See above.

2. Andy Reid, Eagles: Pains me to say it, but Reid is an outstanding coach and one of the best game-planning coaches in the league.

3. Mike McCarty, Packers: The Packers don’t win the Super Bowl without him.

4. Tom Coughlin, Giants: He’s still overrated because he got really lucky twice when his team got hot late in the season. Giants were probably not a top five team both years.

5. Mike Smith, Falcons: One of the most underrated coaches in the NFL; excellent fourth down decisions

6. Mike Tomlin, Steelers: Great coach due to motivation, respect; not as great in-game

7. Jim Schwartz, Lions: Will eventually be top five coach; perhaps most unknown commodity in the league

8. Jason Garrett, Cowboys: I give him flack, but Garrett is on the right track. He’s a better coach than the record indicates. And the Sporting News writer is out of his mind for ranking him 23rd behind Ron Rivera, Norv Turner, Mike Munchak, Romeo Crennel, Mike Shanahan, et al.

9. John Harbaugh, Ravens: Like his brother, a great motivator

10. Jim Harbaugh, 49ers: I personally guarantee the 49ers won’t come close to 13 wins in 2012; they’ll be lucky to win 10.

11. Rex Ryan, Jets: Tough call because he’s an outstanding coordinator, but not necessarily a great coach.

12. Lovie Smith, Bears: I really don’t even know what to think about Lovie.

13: Chan Gailey, Bills: Gailey didn’t get it done in Dallas, but he’s not an awful coach.

14. John Fox, Broncos: Pedigree only; I don’t think he’s a great coach by any means.

15. Jeff Fisher, Rams: Perhaps the biggest di*k on this list

16. Norv Turner, Chargers: Another good play-caller/average coach

17. Mike Shanahan, Redskins: One of the most overrated coaches in the league

18. Gary Kubiak, Texans: Needs to win now.

19. Pete Carroll, Seahawks: Not a college coach ranking

20. Ron Rivera, Panthers: Good job in 2011, but I don’t necessarily agree with his philosophy.

21. Joe Vitt, New Orleans Saints: I’m rating Vitt this high simply because he’s learned from Sean Payton, one of the premiere coaches in the league.

22. Mike Munchak, Titans: Titans overachieved at 9-7 last year

23. Leslie Frazier, Vikings: Hmmm?

24. Greg Schiano, Bucs: A guy I think will be a good coach despite philosophical differences from me, similar to the Harbaugh brothers; could be top 15 in 2013

25. Mike Mularkey, Jaguars: Time will tell.

26. Romeo Crennel, Chiefs: Would be higher as a coordinator

27. Marvin Lewis, Bengals: Lucky to coach in Cincy or he’d be jobless

28. Chuck Pagano, Colts: See Mularkey

29. Joe Philbin, Dolphins: See Mularkey

30. Dennis Allen, Raiders: See Mularkey

31. Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals: Will be fired mid-season

32. Pat Shurmur, Browns: Really didn’t like what Cleveland did in the draft

That’s all, folks!

Buy Fantasy Football for Smart People for only $8.99


Introducing Fantasy Football for Smart People


I’m literally not even kidding when I say that sh***y (shoddy?) image to the left is the best thing I could create. Despite my lack of Photoshop skills, I’m proud to introduce to you Fantasy Football for Smart People. I’ve been writing this book for the past few months and it is finally finished. I’ve set up a landing site to purchase the book for $8.99 at FantasyFootballDrafting.com. You can buy a PDF version of the book there, or you can buy it for Kindle at Amazon.

Here’s a bit more about the book:

“Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft is an in-depth analysis of fantasy football draft strategy.  In writing the book, my goal was to provide advanced material for experienced fantasy football owners and “bottom line” analysis for novices.  You can see that in the sample chapter I posted here.  The book is not a collection of player rankings or projections for 2012, but rather an assessment of various draft strategies and fantasy football tenants.  It is my hope it will provide a solid foundation from which you can improve as an owner to dominate your draft.”

If you play fantasy football, I really think you’ll enjoy the book. This isn’t another generic fantasy football guide for beginners. I use the same sort of stats and analysis as I do here to provide an overarching fantasy football draft strategy. It is the method I use each fantasy football season, and it should be useful to you as well.

Even if you don’t play fantasy football, you might want to check out the book anyway. I’m giving away a number of prizes to those who buy the book, including season tickets to the NFL team of your choice.

Support The DC Times

Purchasing the e-book is a great way to support this site. I haven’t sold much over the years and I try not to litter the site with ads because my primary concern is simply writing about the Cowboys and NFL. The more books I sell, the more time I will have free to publish unique content here (I’m really going to do it either way, but you can still show your support). Plus, I’m confident the book is worth the nine bucks, and you can win some cool stuff.

Again, Fantasy Football for Smart People is currently an e-book. It will come to you as a PDF unless you buy it on Amazon. I will have paperbacks available for sell within a week or so. If you buy the book and enjoy it, feel free to give it a review on Amazon.

Here’s what you’ll read about in the book. . .

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Most In-Depth Introduction You’ll Ever Read

This is an introduction, but I dive right into complex draft strategy, explaining how position scarcity, consistency, game theory, and league requirements are the four pillars of fantasy football draft strategy.

  • How to use scarcity at a position to acquire maximum value
  • How to use your opponents’ beliefs to get the best players
  • Why predictability is more important than projected points

Chapter 2: Why Week-to-Week Consistency is (Almost) Worthless

An explanation of why weekly projections are of little value, why season-to-season consistency is invaluable, and how to implement risk

  • Why you should start a nearly identical lineup each week
  • How to create tiered rankings that implement players’ risk
  • When and how to take gambles during your draft

Chapter 3: Season-to-Season Consistency: Why It Matters and How to Use it

The strength of correlation of fantasy football statistics from one year to the next

  • How stats like rushing, receiving, and passing yards/touchdowns translate  from one season to another
  • Why defenses and kickers are almost entirely unpredictable
  • Why a quarterback or top-tier running back should be your first-round selection
  • Why tight ends are the most consistent players in fantasy football and drafting one early in 2012 might not be a poor idea
  • How to use “hidden” stats like quarterback rushing yards to gain a draft advantage

Chapter 4: Tier-ing Up: How to Create Basic Projections and Tiered Rankings

Basic projection philosophy, including how to use consistency, risk, and average draft position to create rankings

  • A basic formula to create projections
  • How to make tiers in your rankings
  • Why you should almost never take the best player available on your board (for real)
  • Why drafting near the end of a round is advantageous

Chapter 5:  More on Position Scarcity

A short chapter on scarcity and VORP draft strategy

  • Why Aaron Rodgers and Rob Gronkowski might be the perfect 1-2 combination in 2012
  • Why you can grab quality wide receivers late

Chapter 6: Identifying Value: Regression, Randomness, and Running Backs

Using stats to identify breakout players and dispel fantasy football “trusisms”

  • How to identify undervalued players
  • Why running backs with lots of carries aren’t really being overworked or overvalued
  • How to predict running backs’ yards-per-carry

Chapter 7: Getting Bullish: What the Stock Market Can Teach Us About Fantasy Football

How fantasy football is incredibly similar to the stock market (and what we can learn from the latter)

  • Why a player’s value can be different for different teams
  • How to “buy low” and “sell high” during your draft
  • How to utilize public perception
  • Why your focus shouldn’t be securing the most projected points with each pick, but rather “losing” the least

Chapter 8: The Ultimate Draft Plan: From Projections to Selections

Creating an overarching draft plan to dominate your draft

  • Specific formulas to project player stats
  • How to factor league requirements into your rankings
  • Sample breakdowns of Matt Ryan and Steve Smith
  • How to create player power ratings and turn them into the ultimate big board

Chapter 9: Don’t Mock Me: Oh, now wait. Go ahead.

Taking you through three mock drafts I completed in May

  • Notes on all 60 draft picks
  • Tips on strategy from specific draft slots



Running the Numbers: Importance of Passing

Jonathan Bales

I just published an article at the team site detailing the importance of a strong passing game in the NFL. The stats I collected were some of the most stunning I’ve analyzed this year. To give you a preview, check out some of these numbers:

  • When the Cowboys pass the ball over 57% of the time in a game, they have a .276 winning percentage over the last four seasons.
  • When they pass the ball under 57% of the time, they have a winning percentage of .743 over that time.

Looks like pretty good evidence that running the football is important huh? Not so fast.

  • The team actually wins over 63% of games when they pass the ball over 57% of the time in the first three quarters.
  • They have a .419 winning percentage when they pass the ball under 57% of the time in the first three quarters.

For the past three years, you’ve heard me argue the importance of rushing (at least in terms of attempts) is minimal. Numbers like these back me up. Teams pass the football effectively to get a lead, then run it to milk away the clock. Yes, running the football can have effects that show up in passing statistics, but it is running efficiently, not in abundance, that matters.


4th Annual Ballin’ With the ‘Boys

The 4th Annual Ballin With The Boys charity basketball tournament is right around the corner.

Don’t miss your chance to hang out with Amber Leigh and her gorgeous girls for a night star studded with your favorite current and retired NFL and NBA players. Check out this list:

Confirmed Players: Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant, Demarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Lawrence Vickers, Tyron Smith, Jason Hatcher, John Phillips, Dewayne Harris & Anthony Spencer, Former Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrell Owens, NFL Hall of fame member Michael Irvin and Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member Drew Pearson, San Francisco 49er’s Cornerback Parrish Cox, 3x Super Bowl champion Leon Lett, Delonte West of the Dallas Mavericks, NBA Star Josh Howard, 3x Super Bowl Champion Kevin Smith, former Dallas Cowboy Patrick Crayton, celebrity music recording artist “Dorrough”, more to come weekly!

Here’s your chance to win authentic memorabilia, get autographs, and take pictures with your favorite players . . .ALL in the true spirit of giving back!




Adult General Admission: $20

Kids General Admission: $10 – ages 12 & under.  (Babies held in arms admitted for free.)

VIP Pass – $100.00 per person


Date: Thursday, May 31, 2012


R.L. Turner High School

1600 S. Josey Lane

Carrolton, TX 75006


Interested in Sponsorship Packages for Ballin With The Boys? …

Click here for more information: http://ballinwiththeboys.com/2012-sponsorship-information/


Follow “Amber Leigh” on Facebook or Twitter (@TheBlondeSide) for more info.



Tony Romo Playing Hoops This Summer

Jonathan Bales

No stats or analysis here. . .just a funny ass photo of Tony Romo in a Celctics jersey.


Running the Numbers: Predicting 2012 Sack Totals

Jonathan Bales

I just posted an article on 2012 sack projections over at DallasCowboys.com. To obtain the projections, I simply took last year’s team pressure totals and multiplied them by the average sack rate of 25.7%. Certainly some players and teams bring down the quarterback at a higher rate than others (even in regards to their pressure totals), but over the long run, NFL teams have generally brought down the quarterback about one in every four snaps that they pressure him.

The numbers work out in the Cowboys favor. Ninth in total sacks in 2011, the ‘Boys are due to finish fifth this season. Obviously there is a lot more that goes into sack totals than pressures and sack rate. Nonetheless, I did similar calculations for the past five seasons, and using pressures/sack rate to predict future sacks was far more accurate than using the prior season’s sack totals.

One of the reasons the Cowboys are likely to improve this season is the probable improvement of Anthony Spencer. Even if Spencer garners the same number of pressures this season as last, he’ll acquire three extra sacks even at a league average sack rate.

Other good news for the ‘Boys. . .the Giants will almost certainly see a steep decline in sacks in 2012. They were one of the luckiest teams in the NFL last year, sacking the quarterback on 29.4% of pressures. At a league average sack rate, they’ll drop from fourth in sacks to the bottom half of the league.