Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore and the Analytics of Playmaking

Successful NFL receivers almost always start out as successful college receivers. They catch a high percentage of their college team’s passes, score a lot of touchdowns, rack up high yards-per-catch rates and run fast and jump high in their predraft workouts.
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Boy, Moneyball sounds more like plain-old common sense with every new header, doesn’t it? But college production can be tricky to interpret because of all of the different systems, levels, calibers of quarterback and other variables.4b3677cadc41934f836633fb4ff59fc3_crop_exact

Calvin Ridley’s raw stats look pretty good—224 career catches, 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons—especially factoring in Alabama’s run-heavy offense and option-style quarterbacking. But for someone touted as a DeSean Jackson-level deep threat, Ridley caught a relatively low percentage of his team’s touchdown passes, cheap custom nfl jerseys and his vertical leap at the combine (just 31″) suggests that he may not be as explosive or capable of hauling in a contested pass as the NFL’s elite receivers.

By contrast, D.J. Moore’s raw numbers in three seasons at Maryland are less impressive than Ridley’s (146-2,027-17), cheap customized nfl jerseys but his career yards-per-catch rate is higher (13.9 to 12.4) and his production came in a Maryland scheme that’s even more run-oriented than the Alabama offense. Throw in a 39.5-inch vertical leap, and there are many reasons to believe Moore will outperform Ridley at the start of his NFL career.

Football Outsiders’ Playmaker Score takes the variables mentioned above, and others, and turns them into projection cheap nfl custom jerseys ratings for all of the top wide receiver prospects. You can read more about the method and find this year’s ratings here.

Keep in mind that variables like the vertical jump weren’t chosen randomly or picked by some Alabama hater who wants to see Ridley fail. They were selected based on years of analysis to determine what variables were true indicators of future success.

That’s analytics in a nutshell: finding useful variables and eliminating meaningless or misleading ones. Often, the results end up sounding a lot like common sense.

Wayne Rooney should be getting into the box more, says Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce has told Wayne Rooney to increase his presence in the opposition penalty area following clear-the-air talks this week with the former England captain.
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Rooney did not disguise his anger at being substituted during the goalless draw with Liverpool last Saturday, when 32-year-old was withdrawn in the 57th minute by Allardyce for the second game in succession. The Everton manager, who insists he has no problem with Rooney’s reaction, explained that he wanted “more legs” in midfield but believes the striker remains better suited to a deeper role. Allardyce, however, also wants Rooney to attack more, with the team’s leading goalscorer having failed to find the target since the defeat of Swansea City on 18 December.
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“With his experience he should be dropping deeper and providing goals but I do think he should get into the box more,” said the Everton manager, whose team travel to Swansea on Saturday. “He hasn’t scored since Swansea and not scored from open play since Newcastle [13 December] and I would like him to get forward a little bit more. Certainly in the games we are controlling more and attacking more I would like him further up the pitch but he is also one of our best passers. I would like that combination to get bigger, certainly from a goalscoring point of view.”cheap customized nfl jerseys

Rooney has scored 11 goals this season – three from the penalty spot – with Oumar Niasse Everton’s second highest scorer with eight.

Allardyce added: “We’ve only got Wayne in double figures and that’s because of penalties.cheap nfl custom jerseys  If you’re going to get into Europe you can’t get there without two players getting into double figures – minimum – so that’s been a massive struggle this year. We haven’t got anyone who has come close to scoring the amount of goals that [Romelu] Lukaku got last year and that’s why our defending has to be so much better. It doesn’t need an experienced manager like me to work that one out.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes tough games bring out the best in Dele Alli

When addressing the subject of Saturday’s fixture with Manchester City, the word most commonly used by Mauricio Pochettino was massive. A massive gap to the top, a massive three points and a massive opportunity. It is also these massive matches, according to the Tottenham manager, that bring out the best in Dele Alli.custom nfl jerseys

The England international turned 22 on Wednesday and celebrated by performing the Floss, a viral dance, on Instagram and attending a Peaky Blinders-themed party. Of greater interest to his coach, and his upcoming opponents, will be the statistics that show Alli has made a greater attacking contribution to his team than Cristiano Ronaldo did at the same age.
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During a season when Alli has been under constant scrutiny, Pochettino called the midfielder “the best 21-year-old in the world”. Now, as a 22-year-old, his manager explained why Alli’s talent was “not something you can buy at the market”.

“For me it’s a massive challenge to play Manchester City,” he said. “[For Alli] he needs a strong opposition to give his best. It’s his character. He is so competitive that when it’s easy he’s not interested. In training sessions, when you do finishing practice without any opposition, sometimes you have to say: ‘Dele, come on.’ But if you put opposition there, he will score an unbelievable goal.

“He is a bit special. Not just a special talent but a special character. That is why we are talking a lot during the whole season about Dele Alli because he is a special talent with special energy. He needs to feel the competition.”
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Alli elaborated on his manager’s thoughts, explaining why he benefits from playing against the top teams. Alli has scored nine of his 36 league goals for Spurs against the other top-six clubs, five of those in matches with Chelsea, including two at Stamford Bridge last month. His current tally against Manchester City is two.cheap custom nfl jerseys

“When you play in the Premier League against the top six, as opposed to bottom-half teams, the game is always a lot different,” Alli said after last Saturday’s fixture with Stoke. “The top six really go at it with you. Both teams want to win and there’s a lot more space. Both teams are looking to attack.cheap customized nfl jerseys

Golden State Warriors: Health, Health, Health

Stephen Curry suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his first game back from nursing an ankle injury that will sideline him through at least the first round of the playoffs. And head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t seem too concerned about it. custom nfl jerseys cheap

“Regular season or playoffs,” he said, per the Bay Area News Group’s Melissa Rohlin, “we can beat anybody in the league without Steph.”

Good point. Probably. Maybe. But what about beating a first-round opponent without Curry and another All-Star? Or two?customized nfl jerseys cheap

Golden State’s daily injury reports have recently read like a nightmare scenario come to life. Kevin Durant is recovering from a rib cartilage fracture. Draymond Green is on the shelf with a hip injury and illness; he’s now unlocked the “variety of issues” truancy designation.hi-res-b8be81f7296c754469718a0271334bc5_crop_exact

Klay Thompson is expected to return from a broken right thumb at the beginning of April, but any sort of fracture on the shooting hand can hardly be considered an afterthought. Omri Casspi is coping with a sprained ankle. On the semi-bright side: Patrick McCaw is back from his broken wrist. Woo-hoo!

Maybe everyone not named Wardell will be ready to rock by the start of the postseason. That doesn’t entirely immunize the Warriors against concern. Their first-round opponent won’t be a pushover, and as Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey pointed out, they’re a net minus when playing without Curry against the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.custom nfl jerseys

Potentially telltale still: Since Jan. 1, the Warriors are getting outscored by nearly two points per 100 possessions when Durant, Green and Thompson wage battle minus their megastar floor general.

That tide can easily turn. These three were a plus-6.5 per 100 possessions on their own beforehand, and Golden State’s playoff switch is real. Plus, this isn’t 2016. The Warriors have a workaround if Curry is less than himself upon return. His name is Kevin Durant.customized nfl jerseys

Except, what happens if he’s not right? What if Thompson’s form and accuracy is impacted ever so slightly by his thumb? What if Green’s hip problems flare up later on, or if his annual postseason shooting uptick breaks tradition?

The Warriors already face a genuine threat to their throne at full strength. nfl custom jerseys cheap The Rockets have earned that much respect. Facing off against them in the Western Conference Finals with their own nucleus compromised in any capacity opens the door for disaster. And that’s assuming a could-be shorthanded or could-be underperforming Warriors squad doesn’t get thrown by the surging Blazers, Kawhi-clad Spurs or forever-feisty Jazz before then.

Jordy Nelson Cut by Packers After Team Signs Jimmy Graham

Longtime Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson will be released, the team announced Tuesday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the Packers were cutting customized nfl jerseys cheap Nelson after nine seasons. Schefter also added Nelson would like to continue playing. Jason Wilde of ESPN reported the Packers wanted Nelson back, but offered him a significantly reduced deal, not much better than the veteran minimum.
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The move comes after Schefter noted Green Bay plans to sign tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year deal after free agency begins Wednesday at 4 p.m custom nfl jerseys . ET.

Nelson is coming off his least productive season on a per-game basis since 2010. He tallied 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns across 15 games with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers limited to seven appearances because of a broken collarbone.

He posted career-high totals in catches (98) and receiving yards (1,519) to go along with 13 touchdowns during a 2014 campaign in which he made the Pro Bowl. After missing 2015 with a torn ACL, he bounced back in 2016 with 97 grabs for 1,257 yards and 14 scores.

In August, Nelson told former Packers teammate A.J. Hawk on customized nfl jerseys the HawkCast podcast he could see the end of his playing career on the horizon.

“I would say anywhere between two to four more years.nfl custom jerseys cheap  I think four more—so this one and three more—would be my max,” he said. “That would put me at 13 years. I’d be happy with that, obviously. At some point, I feel I got to get my family back to Kansas.”

Nelson, who had one season left on his deal, cheap custom nfl jerseys became expendable with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on the roster and Graham reportedly joining the group. Adams inked a four-year, $58 million extension with the organization in late December.