Category Archives: fantasy sports

Bishop Sankey

The Money in the Banana Stand Guide to the Draft

Bishop Sankey

“I’m in complete agreement with all those people who say, regarding movies, ‘I just want to be entertained.’ . . . That I am almost never entertained by what entertains other people who just want to be entertained doesn’t make us philosophically incompatible. It just means we shouldn’t go to movies together.”
— Richard Russo, Straight Man

Less than 48 hours remain before the 2014 extravaganza known as the NFL Draft. You may be looking for entertainment as you dig in for the festivities, but what entertains you about the Draft may not be what entertains other people who just want to be entertained by the Draft. If that’s the case, you probably want to visit RotoViz.

In the scant time that remains, you’ll want to cram in as much research as possible. It’s important to know just how devastated to be when your team trades up for Odell Beckham, settles for Kelvin Benjamin, or decides to wait on the quarterback position. If you’re less of a draft-oriented reader and more of a fantasy-phile, draft coverage doesn’t have to be consumed before the big day, but it still might be the most important part of your fantasy preparation.



Is Johnny Manziel the Best Quarterback Prospect Ever? 

The quarterback position is notoriously difficult to project. As a result, I’ve used a variety of screens – efficiency, accuracy, age, multi-season productivity, size, and rushing ability – to see who consistently rises to the top. Manziel comes out looking like Fran Tarkenton, but you might be surprised at some of the supposedly elite passers who struggle. A couple of undervalued gems also emerge.

The RotoViz Composite QB Rankings

Manziel doesn’t finish No. 1 in our staff rankings, but the top choice is also an excellent pick. In addition to sortable rankings from the RotoViz guys and quotes from Jon Moore and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, this piece includes age, weight, hand size, ball velocity, AYA, and Total QBR for all of the top prospects. A one-stop reference.

Running Backs


Andre Williams, Adrian Peterson, and the Three Draftable Profiles

Not all running backs succeed because of the same attributes, and it’s a mistake to grade them the same way. A year ago, I proposed three separate draftable profiles. Profile 1: The Workhorse, Profile 2: The Three-Down Star, and Profile 3: The In-Space Back. These sub-groups are built on my Agility Score and Vision Yards research for Pro Football Focus as well as my experience employing Zero RB in high stakes formats. In this first 2014 RB profile, I explore the lack of buzz surrounding Andre Williams and suggest he’s a discount Adrian Peterson.

Agility Scores and Bishop Sankey’s Ridiculous Comparables

Scouts have been down on Sankey for most of the spring, only for rumors to suddenly emerge that “real scouts” are now likening him to Emmitt Smith. Smith probably isn’t accurate but might he be the best prospect since Jamaal Charles?

The Under the Radar Back with All-Pro Comps

Tyler Gaffney labored in relative obscurity for the Stanford Cardinal, but all that should have changed when he tore up the NFL Combine. His draft slot will be one of the most interesting this weekend. I could see anything from 3rd to 7th round.

Four Explosive Agility Stars Who Will Be Cheap This Summer

Bill Connelly does excellent work for Football Study Hall, and the combination of his highlight yards stat with my Agility Score metric yields an undervalued foursome of potential stars. The Missouri Tigers had to limit Henry Josey this year as he recovered from a catastrophic knee injury, but he might be the most explosive back in the draft. Jerick McKinnon joins him as the class’s best athlete. Don’t forget Dri Archer, a better version of Tavon Austin who’ll be available for a fraction of the price.

Five Guys Who Could Be the Next Priest Holmes

The draft is about finding similar players for a fraction of the cost. Jonathan Bales has shown the value in targeting small school prospects, but how do you determine which deep sleeper to target? The Fantasy Douche provides a running back projection algorithm with uncanny accuracy. Using that information as a starting place, I’ve uncovered five undervalued prospects who might be better prospects than Carlos Hyde, Ka’Deem Carey, Isaiah Crowell, Charles Sims, and Devonta Freeman.

Is Charles Sims the Next DeMarco Murray?

A big receiving back with speed, Charles Sims could be in the RB2 conversation as a rookie. Do his comps suggest players like Maurice Jones-Drew and the aforementioned Murray, or are there some red flags that serve to water down his projection?

Is Jeremy Hill a Better Prospect than Carlos Hyde?

NFL teams desiring a big back are forced to choose between two bruisers with “football speed” if not actual speed. Fantasy leaguers in search of a high volume RB1 face the same decision. Hyde has been getting more publicity, but Hill projects better on almost all of my screens.

Devonta Freeman, Ka’Deem Carey, and the High Profile Red Flags

The Banana Stand comp machine doesn’t support the “tape don’t lie” thesis. Very few athletically-challenged runners emerge as fantasy forces. A closer look at the similar players will probably make you reconsider as well.

Contrarian Running Back Rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft

A PFF Fantasy profile looking at my Top 10 backs from this class.

If you’d like to support the Banana Stand and simultaneously purchase the service that helped us win the 2013 NFFC Primetime Championship, please subscribe to RotoViz through our site.

Wide Receivers Continue reading

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions

Martin Mayhew Thinks Matthew Stafford Was the Problem (and other absurdities)

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions

Recently I was able to interview embattled Detroit GM Martin Mayhew. Here’s what he had to say.

Me: Thanks for meeting with me.

Martin: Always happy to talk with Lions fans and explain some of our baffling decisions.

Me: Good hire with Jim Caldwell.

Martin: Thanks, Tony Dungy recommended him highly.

Me: You didn’t vet him yourself?

Martin: Well, there’s only so much you can learn from a person’s track record when they got to coach Peyton Manning.

Me: You could learn that when he wasn’t coaching Manning his team earned the No. 1 overall pick.

Martin: Yeah, but that team Bill Polian put together wasn’t much without Peyton. Hardly his fault.

Me: Kind of like your team without Megatron.

Martin: Pardon?

Me: Calvin Johnson.

Martin: I know who you’re referring to.

Me: Oh, I thought the other part was obvious. You were humiliated in the two games last year where he didn’t play.

Martin: One of those games was close.

Me: It was against the Vikings.

Martin: Any given Sunday.

Me: Without Adrian Peterson.

Martin: There’s no such thing as an easy NFL game.

Me: A day before they fired everybody.

Martin: I know who the Vikings are.

Me: Sorry, didn’t mean to digress. Who drafted Megatron by the way?

Martin: We did.

Me: You mean Matt Millen.

Martin: It was a group decision. Millen wanted Jamarcus but he was already gone.

Me: That’s a good response. I’d go with that next year when you’re interviewing with the Dolphins. Okay, so I read a piece on MLive recently where you say Matthew Stafford was the problem.

Martin: Not exactly. Just that he needs to be better.

Me: You said, and I quote, “There has to be some work done.” I take it you’re not a Harry Truman fan.

Martin: We always want to get better. There’s always more work to do.

Me: And then you say, “But it’s not all on Matthew. There are a lot of moving pieces in that. I’ve been in contact with him several times since the end of the season and he seems pretty confident to me.” As a Lions fan, it’s a relief to know it’s not all on our franchise quarterback who threw for 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns at the age of 23.

Continue reading

eli cash

Winning $250K and Riding Off Into the Friscalating Dusklight


Richie T

“Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight. – Eli Cash, The Royal Tenenbaums. 

At the end of the regular season, I brought you a recap of our performance in the NFFC Main Events. We placed two of our four teams in the Classic’s regular season Top 10. Unfortunately, both of those teams were led by Calvin Johnson. They faded in the playoffs.

On the bright side, we also placed seven of our Primetime teams in the Top 30. That gave us quite a few shots at the $150,000 Grand Prize. If you’ve been following along on RotoViz, you probably know Banana Stand co-owner Tyson Siegele and I were lucky enough to finish first overall. Due to great good fortune, we also ended up in second place by a mere 0.9 points. Including the various regular season prizes, we crested the $200,000 level and now have pushed our career winnings in the NFFC over the quarter million dollar mark.

It was a bizarre playoff stretch with many elite players disappearing and a few monstrous performances whittling down the types of rosters that could theoretically win the title. The teams that finished 1-2 were our third and seventh best during the regular season. The key ingredient, not surprisingly, was the best running back in the NFL: Jamaal Charles.

Here’s a look at the drafts for these two teams. Terms of Enrampagement won most points and best record during the regular season and finished No. 1 overall.

Friscalating Dusklight won most points. By virtue of finishing No. 2 overall, it was also able to win its league playoff against the team that posted the best regular season record. Playoff starters are in bold. Continue reading

Pai Mei, Zero RB, and the NFFC – A 2013 Report Card


Editor’s Note: This looks at the Banana Stand results through the regular season and isn’t updated for the Gronk injury, for example.

I write a lot of stuff for RotoViz and Pro Football Focus that’s pretty far out of the mainstream. When someone sounds like a crackpot, the most likely explanation is that they are, in fact, a crackpot. I hope that isn’t the case.

Ideas are valuable in their own right – even if they prove unfounded. Most innovations begin with a trial-and-error process that is heavy on the error. But the value of ideas passed off as fact should be judged by whether or not those ideas work. In order to test my ideas, I like to play high stakes fantasy football. If the value of things like the Agility Score, Vision Yards, Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and Zero RB can be found in their application to reality and fantasy pursuits, then the proof should be in the pudding. If the Sim Scores developed by RotoViz creator Frank DuPont provide a competitive advantage and the advanced stats generated by PFF’s game charters hold a special insight, then someone using those tools ought to be able to produce some decent results.

This is my report card.

The Contest

I play high stakes with my brother and Banana Stand co-owner, Tyson Siegele. Our format of choice is the National Fantasy Football Championship, a contest run by Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrose. NFFC innovations include Third Round Reversal, KDS draft positions, and the strongest playoff format in the industry. Because of the strength of the format, it’s populated by many of the best fantasy football players in the world, including guys like Chad Schroeder, Jared Danielson, Tom Yates, Glenn Schroter, Michael Edelman, David Hughes, and many, many more.

This season we entered 14 Main Events, four in the Classic (the world’s premier 14-team format) and 10 in the Primetime. In each individual league, the top three teams advance to the playoffs. If a team finishes with the best record and most points through 13 weeks, that team finishes first and the next two teams in points finish second and third. If two teams split record and points, those teams face a three-week playoff for the title that runs concurrently to the Grand Prize portion of the contest.

The Classic has 280 total teams and a $100,000 grand prize. The Primetime sports 432 teams and a $150,000 grand prize. It seems vanishingly unlikely that anyone could win both, but, if accomplished, that triggers a $75,000 bonus for a cool $325,000.

This is how our teams performed.

NFFC Classic

5 Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique – Most Points/Best Record, No. 3 Finish Overall

QB: Jay Cutler/Josh McCown, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pierre Thomas

WR: Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson

TE: Jimmy Graham, Charles Clay

This is one of the two teams I wrote about for RotoViz in Zero RB, Antifragility, and the Myth of Value-Based Drafting. The three top-rated players on my board this season were Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jimmy Graham. My preferred strategy was to pair Megatron and Graham every time that opportunity presented itself.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Le’Veon Bell, especially since he was injured when I drafted him, but I have great faith in my Agility Score model and he finished as far and away the top runner in  Ryan Rouillard’s breakthrough running back evaluation model. I felt he represented a steal in the reality draft and a good value once his injury knocked him into the sixth round of fantasy formats.

Alshon Jeffery was the one player I tried to target for every team. It’s worth repeating again. Jeffery was the best SEC receiver in 2010 despite the presence of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. I’d challenge anyone to check out his stats, watch the video of his second touchdown catch against Minnesota, and not admit it’s possible he ends up as the best NFL receiver of the three. Continue reading