I was at a Rite Aid searching for a birthday card for a friend, when I noticed the 2008 ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine, with Adrian Peterson pictured behind a black background, sitting on the magazine stand.
I figured I needed some bathroom reading, and at $7.99, it seemed like a fair price. And while the magazine provided me with weeks of entertainment and more importantly, an idea for an anti-ESPN column, it's pretty ironic that the literature I picked up as toilet reading ended up being a piece of... well, you know.
Now, before you accuse me of criticizing the world's alleged leader in sports because of some ranking dispute, let me assure you that only two of my 28 items in question have to do with player ranking order. Each of the 28 points fall under one of two categories: illogic, or factual errors and omissions.
ESPN Fantasy Football 2008 Magazine: Factual Errors and Omissions
So, what sort of factual errors did ESPN make? Pretty terrible ones. In fact, you may not even believe me, so I'm going to include the page number where each inaccuracy can be found.
Now, before I begin listing them, let me admit that everyone, including myself, is guilty of being factually incorrect at times. No one is infallible. But ESPN is a multi-million dollar corporation, and I'm sure "the Mag" has dozens of editors and managing editors. There's no excuse for having anything wrong, especially...
1. Who the Heck is Greg Smith?
I have no idea why ESPN even ranked Chauncey Washington, a Jaguars rookie running back, but it says the following in his write-up:
"It's possible he could emerge as the inside rushing complement to MJD, but he'd have to bump Greg Smith first."
I searched high and low on NFL.com's Web site, but I couldn't find any player named Greg Smith. The man they were referring to, of course, is Greg Jones.
Now, two things may have happened here:
1. Greg Jones is ranked 102. Washington is 105. Perhaps Jones changed his last name in between ESPN's writing of the Nos. 102 and 105 rankings. We've seen Domanick Davis turn into Domanick Williams, which completely ruined his career.
2. Emmitt Smith wrote this page. I have to credit WF.com Forum user "phenomenal waffles" for coming up with the idea for: "Fullback of the Johnsonville Jaguars Greg J-...J-...Smith will get blowed out of the training camp battle with Chauncey Williamson."
2. Spelling Error No. 1
Taking a look at the first sentence of Jamal Lewis' write-up:
"Dust when you thought he was done, Lewis pulled us all back in."
Perhaps Daffy Duck wrote this. That actually makes more sense than the misuse of the spell checker.
3. Spelling Error No. 2
The first sentence of the Felix Jones analysis:
"Mt the combine, this rookie didn't grade out as big..."
I'm going out on a limb here and stating that there is no mountain named "the combine." Even if there is, the "t" and "c" need to be capitalized. Mount The Combine? Could be in Asia.
4. Quinn Gray, Backup Extraordinaire
According to ESPN, the Texans brought in Quinn Gray to challenge Sage Rosenfels as Matt Schaub's backup, even though, by their own admission, Rosenfels played really well in relief of Schaub in 2007.
Newsflash, guys. Quinn was signed because of the possibility of Rosenfels being traded. Once Houston realized he wasn't going anywhere, it cut Gray. This happened just two-and-a-half months after Quinn was signed. Some competition that was.
5. The Cold Days in Pittsburgh
This won't sound wrong at first. In the Santonio Holmes analysis:
"You do have to discount any Steelers receiver for the harsh December weather in Pittsburgh."
Makes sense, right? Well, I thought so too... until I looked at the schedule. After Thanksgiving, the Steelers have just two home contests, one of which takes place on Week 17, so that doesn't count. So, all of those dreadful December blizzards ESPN has us worrying about is just a Week 14 game against Dallas. Oops!
6. Joe Jurevicius Apparently Has an Evil Twin
It's true. On Page 68, ESPN refers to Cleveland's receiver as "Sid Jurevicius."
Even if Sid is some obscure nickname I don't know about - and Wikipedia said nothing of this - calling Joe Jurevicius "Sid" is just bound to confuse a lot of people. By the way, I Googled "Sid Jurevicius" and came up empty, so I'm thinking it's yet another mistake; not some weird movie reference.
UPDATE: An e-mailer informed me that Sid Jurevicius is likely a reference to Sid Vicious, a member of the Sex Pistols (a punk band in the 80s), who died of an overdose. Frankly, I would have preferred a factual error than some weird, obscure reference that the majority of ESPN's demographic (i.e. 30 and under) wouldn't get.
7. Special News Alert: Steve Smith Has An Is
Sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, doesn't it? At any rate, you can find this grammatical blunder in the Steve Smith analysis:
"He's not a burner but has is savvy enough to make occasional big plays."
Hey, at least we know Emmitt's not at work here; otherwise, it would have read, "have is."
8. Quinn Sypniewski, Miracle Man
Just a slight contradiction here. In the Quinn Sypniewski write-up, ESPN writes, "He tore his ACL during Ravens minicamp this April and will miss the season."
Yet, for projected stats, they have Sypniewski catching 21 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in 13 games.
How does a man miss the entire season, yet play 13 games and register 21 receptions? It's almost as if Sypniewski is some God-like force that cannot be stopped. Imagine what he could do if he didn't miss the entire year! He'd have like 250 catches and 48,000 yards.
At any rate, maybe ESPN wouldn't make these errors if, I don't know, they didn't rank bums like Sypniewski. Seriously, is there someone out there who is thinking, "Oh man, this Sypniewski guy was a sleeper of mine even though I never heard of him, but now I'm not going to draft him, even though he's going to miss the entire season and still play 13 games."
9. Jerramy Stevens Back From the Dead
Two slots above Miracle Man Quinn Sypniewski, ESPN says the following of Jerramy Stevens: "All you need to know is, he won't be back in Tampa."
Oops. Stevens signed a one-year contract with the Buccaneers on May 30. Perhaps if this magazine didn't come out ridiculously early...
10. Ponce de Leon Was a Moron
That's right... The idiot explorer spent so much time looking for the Fountain of Youth in the South, when all he had to do was travel to the Meadowlands.
Per ESPN, Sammy Knight is 23; not 32. All he had to do to magically decrease his age is ink a contract with the Giants. Sign me up!
Being a former journalism major, I cringe whenever I spot incorrect grammar. Apparently, the writers and editors over at ESPN don't feel the same way.
I have no idea why they ranked D.J. Shockley, but at the end of his analysis, you can find:
"But Shockley is still a developmental player who conjures comparisons to fellow Bulldog Quincy Carter: big arm, athletic, fast, but with poor mechanics and indecisive."
Sounds like something out of my Emmitt Smith Mock Draft.
For you non-grammar freaks, this twice violates parallelism. A proper sentence can't have different parts of speech in the same conjunction. The end of that sentence goes: "noun, adjective, adjective, but with noun and adjective."
If you don't get this, try it this way: You should be able to take out the "poor mechanics" and have the sentence remain grammatically correct. But if you do that, it goes, "Big arm, athletic, fast, but with indecisive." See what I mean? Unless your name is Emmitt Smith, you should be nodding your head right now.
12. Lorenzo Booker - Lost in the Mail
(Pages 45 and 53)
In the Ronnie Brown write-up, ESPN writes:
"Ricky Williams is still hanging around in south Florida, and Lorenzo Booker should be a bigger part of the offense."
OK, so maybe this magazine was released prior to the Booker-to-Philadelphia trade?
Or maybe not - on Page 53, they list: "Lorenzo Booker, PHI."
Whoops. Someone made a doo-doo... unless, in a similar situation as Greg Jones' sudden name change, Booker was traded to the Eagles somewhere around running back ranking No. 40. These mid-magazine deals need to stop happening.
13. If a Man Has Diabetes, and ESPN Doesn't Write About It...
If you compile a write-up about how Jay Cutler is bound to improve this season, don't you have to mention that he struggled with his performance and weight last year because he had Diabetes? It's pretty irresponsible of ESPN to omit this.
Cutler is one of my sleepers because he finally got his Diabetes diagnosed, and unlike last season, his weight and diet are both being closely monitored. He won't balloon up to 245, and he won't shrink down to 205 this time. Yet, all ESPN can mention are Cutler's injury-prone receivers.
14. And Speaking of Cutler...
Some guy named Kansas City Joyner, who has his own section toward the end of the magazine, calls Cutler a bust because "if injury-prone receivers Brandon Stokley and Darrell Jackson go down, Cutler would have only Brandon Marshall to lean on. You never want to be stuck with a QB who has only one reliable target."
I'm willing to bet Tony Scheffler stuffs dog poop into Joyner's mailbox sometime in the near future.
15. Did You Know Alex Barron Was Out for the Year?
Alex Barron, St. Louis' starting right tackle, had to switch to left tackle in the wake of Orlando Pace's season-ending injury last year. Apparently, ESPN didn't get the memo.
In the Steven Jackson write-up: "The Rams were without both of their starting tackles and one of their guards for 2007."
Umm... unless ESPN went back in time and changed history, Barron played all 16 games. He might have sucked a lot, but he was definitely in the lineup.
16. Steve Who?
So, ESPN spends tons of time patting itself on the back for predicting Ahman Green's injury last year (way to go out on a limb, guys), and then goes on to mention all of the running backs who will be pining for playing time behind Green. This includes Chris Brown, of course. And Darius Walker. And Chris Taylor... And that's it.
I guess third-round rookie Steve Slaton's not much of a factor, huh? Yeah, he's just ahead of Walker and Taylor on the depth chart. No biggie.
I'd let this go, but there's a chance Slaton read this write-up and spent hours locked in his room, crying himself to sleep.
17. Tashard Choice, the Anti-Quinn Sypniewski
For every hero, there's a villain. Batman has the Joker. Mario has Bowser. I have Team Hinkson
. Quinn Sypniewski, Miracle Man, has an arch-nemesis as well. That would be Tashard Choice.
While Sypniewski can play 13 games despite missing the entire year with a torn ACL, Choice won't play any contests despite being completely healthy, and, according to ESPN, "a steal" and a "guy with a knack for breaking loose."
Seriously. ESPN's projections for Choice's 2008 season: "Zero games. Zero rushes. Zero yards. Zero touchdowns. Zero receptions." What a lazy bum!
18. Adrian Wilson is Awesome... and Mediocre
Credit e-mailer Max Hays for noticing this.
For individual defensive backs, ESPN ranks Adrian Wilson No. 3 on Page 100. I can't really argue that, as Wilson is one of the top safeties in the NFL.
However, looking at Page 101, Wilson is also listed at No. 41. ESPN calls him an "upside pick."
So, Wilson is worth taking third and 41st? Is this like Full House
where there appears to be one Michelle Tanner, but there's actually two playing the same role? Does Adrian Wilson have an equally annoying twin behind the scenes?
ESPN Fantasy Football 2008 Magazine: Illogic
So, let's forget the 17 factual errors and omissions I found, and focus on the content. Unfortunately, the 2008 ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine doesn't shine here either. There are tons of illogical comments and opinions, though that's something that should be expected from a corporation that relies on buffoons like Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson for analysis.
1. You Should Select Bums in the Middle of Your Draft!
ESPN ranks Deuce McAllister and Shaun Alexander as their Nos. 36 and 37 running backs, respectively. McAllister is coming off two knee surgeries and a torn ACL, while Alexander is no longer in the league. Yet, they have both ahead of guys like Selvin Young, Rashard Mendenhall and Matt Forte.
OK, Young and Forte I can see because this rag was released prior to Travis Henry and Cedric Benson getting cut. But Mendenhall? ESPN writes of the rookie runner, "And don't be shocked if [Mendenhall] chases down Willie Parker by the time the season is done."
Way to contradict yourselves.
2. Weird QB Rankings
Under quarterbacks, ESPN has Aaron Rodgers 17th and Jason Campbell 18th. I like Rodgers more than that, but whatever; I'm not really going to argue rankings.
But here's the weird part: They gave Rodgers 2,620 passing yards, 45 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 picks. For Campbell, they projected 3,410 yards, 194 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Umm... what the heck does ESPN base its rankings on? Why rank Player B lower than Player A, if you're predicting better stats for Player B? We already knew that ESPN loves to hire people who can't use grammar correctly. Apparently, they've brought in some writers who are mathematically challenged as well.
3. The Ultimate QB Sleeper
When thinking about some sleeper quarterbacks, you can mention Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Aaron Rodgers. Maybe Jason Campbell. But ESPN has come up with its ultimate mega super-duper ultra sleeper quarterback.
Guess who it is.
Come on, you should know.
Yes, ESPN has O'Sullivan listed as a sleeper on Page 38. The same O'Sullivan guy who has 148 passing yards and one touchdown - during his six-year career!
If you break it down, that means O'Sullivan has scored an average of 0.139583 fantasy points per game during his stint in the NFL.
Oh, but wait a second... if you subtract two points each for Sullivan's two picks, and one point for his three fumbles, that dips his average to a measly 0.0667. Psssh, and I thought he was good!
4. Report: Jake Delhomme is 100 Percent
"One [Tommy John] surgery later, the Panthers expect Delhomme to be 100% this summer."
"Delhomme has no one threatening his gig."
Two blunders in one write-up. Nice.
As I've stated many times, Delhomme is not OK. A 33-year-old coming off Tommy John surgery isn't promising the slightest bit. And as Matt McGuire would say, "Matt Moore says hello."
5. Merril Hoge's Obscure Fantasy Scoring System
At the beginning of each section, Merril Hoge argues with Matt Berry in a short column. While most of these were entertaining, I couldn't help but notice something odd Hoge said prior to the receiver rankings.
When asked if Randy Moss will live up to his billing as the No. 1 receiver, Hoge answered, "Nope. The receiver you should take first is Braylon Edwards ... he's like [Terrell] Owens without the drama."
That's great, Hoge. You can have your high-character Edwards, and I'll take Moss.
Apparently, fantasy-guru Hoge downgrades players who bring drama into the locker room. I guess Hoge's league deducts two or three points per drama situation.
6. More From Fantasy Guru Merril Hoge
This time, Hoge tackles tight ends:
"[Dallas Clark] is the top tight end in my book."
There it is. Apparently, Clark is projected to have only one drama situation this year, whereas Antonio Gates and Jason Witten are slated for at least half a dozen.
Excluding every player's rookie year, Witten has averaged 909 yards and five touchdowns per season. Gates stands at 993 yards and 10 scores. Clark, meanwhile, has 474 yards and six touchdowns a year. I'm just saying...
7. Kris Wilson: Biggest Bust Ever
ESPN sure loves its sleepers. First J.T. O'Sullivan. Now, Kris Wilson.
But ESPN doesn't love Wilson this year. No, he broke their hearts with a poor performance in 2005. Just read...
"Remember when this guy was a fantasy darling? Yeah, us too. The year was 2005, and we all thought we were so clever, forecasting a big role for Wilson in the Chiefs' conservative offense. Then Wilson kind of stank and converted to fullback."
First of all, no one else on this entire planet projected Wilson to have a big role while Tony Gonzalez was still in the lineup. Secondly, maybe ESPN wouldn't have so many failed sleepers, if, I don't know, they didn't rank bums like Wilson, John Gilmore, Jerame Tuman, Dominique Byrd, Quinn Sypniewski and Kyle Brady (all on the same page).
Something tells me when ESPN's 2011 fantasy issue comes out, they'll comment on how 2008 sleeper J.T. O'Sullivan didn't work out.
8. Kellen Winslow Jr. - Fantasy Murderer
Did you know that Kellen Winslow Jr. is single-handedly destroying Steve Heiden's fantasy value? Yeah, I didn't either, but that's what ESPN says:
"The healthier Kellen Winslow stays, the less Steve Heiden is worth."
I'm surprised ESPN doesn't list Heiden as a sleeper. After all, Winslow is injury-prone. If he goes down, Heiden's value will soar! That could mean like, 250 receiving yards and two touchdowns!!!
9. Dan Morgan
As an added bonus, ESPN included season previews of every team (with no projected records) that actually include some pretty neat stats. I didn't find any factual errors or omissions here, but I manage to locate a very odd comment.
In the "Run D" portion of the Saints' defensive outlook, they write, "The range of anticipation skills of newbie LBs Jonathan Vilma and Dan Morgan help address a weakness."
Did they really believe Morgan was going to be a factor this year? Morgan, who played just four games since 2005, decided to retire a few months ago. No one was surprised; the Panthers jettisoned him because he was way too injury-prone. Most media publications, including this site, projected Morgan to have a limited role with New Orleans, if any. Apparently, ESPN didn't have the same foresight.
10. More From Kansas City Joyner
I enjoyed Kansas City Joyner's cornerback statistics throughout the season previews, but he needs to be criticized for his receiver sleepers. Let's go through all three, one at a time:
1. Andre Johnson:
I really like Andre Johnson this year. But Joyner said the following of the Texans wideout: "Because he missed almost half the season with injury, you'll get him several rounds later than the other elites."
So, let's see... You'll get Randy Moss in the first round, and Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston and Braylon Edwards in Round 2. So, several rounds later would be Rounds 4 or 5, right? Yeah, good luck finding Johnson all the way down there.
2. Roddy White:
He's a Joyner sleeper because, "He ranked ninth in overall YPA last season despite having Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich as his QBs."
Yeah, and guess who will be throwing White the ball this year? Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and rookie Matt Ryan, who may not get any playing time until mid-season.
3. Justin Gage:
Justin Gage!??!? Joyner explains: "Now the Titans are turning to a more vertically oriented passing attack."
You obviously can't see it, but I'm sporting a very confused look right now - the same confused look I had while reading this entire fantasy guide.
More ESPN Bashing:
The Emmitt Smith Anthology
Emmitt Smith's 2008 NFL Mock Draft
2008 Fantasy Football - Home Page
2008 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
2009 NFL Mock Draft
2008 Fantasy Football Rankings