Category Archive: TOP STORIES

  1. Which NFL Team has the best skill players?

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    A study conducted by a group of Harvard students has been getting a lot of attention for predicting the Dolphins to make the Super Bowl. That study used a statistic called “approximate value” to determine each team’s overall strength. The stat can be flawed, particularly when measuring the effectiveness of offensive linemen, but overall, it’s rather useful. To put it in simple terms, it AV is the NFL’s version of “wins above replacement.” It’s not a perfect comparison, but that’s what AV is trying to judge – how much more valuable is player X than player Y? For more information on AV, click here. 

     

    By using AV, we can compare players within position groups to see who has the most “value” to a team. For some perspective – the top AV scores in 2014 belonged to JJ Watt (22), Aaron Rodgers (21), DeMarco Murray and Russell Wilson (19).

     

    I’ve often wondered who has the best skill position players in the NFL, and after reading more about this stat, I think it gives us a solid baseline. With that in mind, I went through and picked out the top quarterback, running back, wide receiver and “flex” player (RB/WR/TE) for each team based on each players’ 2014 AV. By combining the four players’ approximated values, I came up with the “total added value”. This total value should reflect the overall strength/weakness of the teams’ skill players.

     

    *Note: These rankings do not include rookies for obvious reasons. Free agent players have been placed on their 2015 team – ex: Jeremy Maclin is included on the Chiefs’ total AV, Jimmy Graham is included in the Seahawks’ total AV.

     

    Below is each team’s total approximate value:

    Team Total Added Value
    Packers 71
    Broncos 56
    Steelers 55
    Seahawks 49
    Patriots 43
    Chiefs 43
    Colts 43
    Cowboys 41
    Falcons 41
    Lions 40
    Ravens 39
    Eagles 39
    Giants 39
    Bears 39
    Bengals 38
    Dolphins 37
    Saints 37
    Panthers 34
    Chargers 32
    Texans 32
    49ers 31
    Vikings 28
    Jets 24
    Redskins 24
    Bucs 23
    Bills 22
    Titans 22
    Rams 21
    Cardinals 21
    Browns 21
    Jaguars 18
    Raiders 17

     

    Some interesting tidbits:

    1) The Packers have, by a wide margin, the best skill players in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers had the top AV among all NFL QB’s, Jordy Nelson had the highest AV of all NFL WR’s and Eddie Lacy was third in AV among NFL RB’s in 2014.

     

    2) The Packers and Broncos are the only teams that had a player with a 10+ AV rating at QB, RB, WR and Flex. The Chiefs, Ravens, Patriots and Steelers are the only teams that had three players out of their QB, RB, WR & flex position with an av rating of 10+.

     

    3) The Raiders and Jaguars are the only teams in the NFL that did not have a QB, RB, WR or TE with an AV >5.

     

    4) The Chiefs and Falcons are the only teams ranked in the top 10 that did not make the playoffs in 2014. The Panthers and Cardinals are the only teams that made the playoffs in 2014 that are ranked outside of the top 15.

     

    5) Division winners in 2014: Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys & Panthers. Best QB/RB/WR/Flex teams within each division: Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Packers, Seahawks & Falcons. The Panthers are the only team that won their division that did not have their division’s best group of offensive skill players.

     

    Here are the QB’s, RB’s, WR’s and Flex players that I used for each team.

     

    AFC East:

    1) New England Patriots (43)

    • Tom Brady (16)
    • LeGarrette Blount (3)
    • Rob Gronkowski (12)
    • Julian Edelman (12)

     

    2) Miami Dolphins (37)

    • Ryan Tannehill (14)
    • Lamar Miller (11)
    • Greg Jennings (6)
    • Jarvis Landry (7)

     

    3) New York Jets (24)

    • Ryan Fitzpatrick (9)
    • Chris Ivory (5)
    • Eric Decker (7)
    • Jace Amaro (3)

     

    4) Buffalo Bills (22)

    • EJ Manuel (2)
    • Fred Jackson (7)
    • Sammy Watkins (6)
    • Charles Clay (5)

     

    AFC North:

    1) Pittsburgh Steelers (55)

    • Ben Roethlisberger (15)
    • Le’Veon Bell (17)
    • Antonio Brown (16)
    • Heath Miller (7)

     

    2) Baltimore Ravens (39)

    • Joe Flacco (14)
    • Justin Forsett (12)
    • Steve Smith (10)
    • Bernard Pierce (3)

     

    3) Cincinnati Bengals (38)

    • Andy Dalton (11)
    • Jeremy Hill (10)
    • AJ Green (9)
    • Mohamed Sanu (8)

     

    4) Cleveland Browns (21)

    • Josh McCown (4)
    • Terrance West (4)
    • Dwayne Bowe (8)
    • Lavelle Hawkins (5)

     

    AFC South:

    1) Indianapolis Colts (43)

    • Andrew Luck (16)
    • Frank Gore (7)
    • TY Hilton (12)
    • Andre Johnson (8)

     

    2) Houston Texans (32)

    • Brian Hoyer (8)
    • Arian Foster (10)
    • DeAndre Hopkins (10)
    • Alfred Blue (4)

     

    3) Tennessee Titans (22)

    • Charlie Whitehurst (4)
    • Bishop Sankey (4)
    • Harry Douglas (8)
    • Delanie Walker (6)

     

    4) Jacksonville Jaguars (18)

    • Blake Bortles (5)
    • Denard Robinson (4)
    • Allen Hurns (4)
    • Julius Thomas (5)

     

    AFC West:

    1) Denver Broncos (56)

    • Peyton Manning (16)
    • CJ Anderson (10)
    • Demaryius Thomas (16)
    • Emmanuel Sanders (14)

     

    2) Kansas City Chiefs (43)

    • Alex Smith (13)
    • Jamaal Charles (11)
    • Jeremy Maclin (10)
    • Travis Kelce (9)

     

    3) San Diego Chargers (32)

    • Phillip Rivers (12)
    • Brandon Oliver (6)
    • Michael Floyd (7)
    • Antonio Gates (7)

     

    4) Oakland Raiders (17)

    • Derek Carr (5)
    • Roy Helu (4)
    • Michael Crabtree (5)
    • Andre Holmes (4)

     

    NFC East:

    1) Dallas Cowboys (41)

    • Tony Romo (15)
    • Darren McFadden (4)
    • Dez Bryant (14)
    • Jason Witten (8)

     

    2) Philadelphia Eagles (39)

    • Mark Sanchez (7)
    • DeMarco Murray (19)
    • Jordan Matthews (6)
    • Darren Sproles (7)

     

    3) New York Giants (39)

    • Eli Manning (12)
    • Shane Vereen (8)
    • Odell Beckham, Jr. (11)
    • Rueben Randle (8)

     

    4) Washington Redskins (24)

    • Robert Griffin III (5)
    • Albert Morris (6)
    • DeSean Jackson (8)
    • Pierre Garcon (5)

     

    NFC North:

    1) Green Bay Packers (71)

    • Aaron Rodgers (21)
    • Eddie Lacy (16)
    • Jordy Nelson (18)
    • Randall Cobb (16)

     

    2) Detroit Lions (40)

    • Matt Stafford (12)
    • Joique Bell (8)
    • Calvin Johnson (9)
    • Golden Tate (11)

     

    3) Chicago Bears (39)

    • Jay Cutler (11)
    • Matt Forte (12)
    • Alshon Jeffery (9)
    • Martellus Bennett (7)

     

    4) Minnesota Vikings (28)

    • Teddy Bridgewater (9)
    • Matt Asiata (6)
    • Mike Wallace (8)
    • Jarius Wright (5)

     

    NFC South:

    1) Atlanta Falcons (41)

    • Matt Ryan (15)
    • Devonta Freeman (4)
    • Julio Jones (14)
    • Roddy White (8)

     

    2) New Orleans Saints (37)

    • Drew Brees (16)
    • Mark Ingram (8)
    • Marques Colston (8)
    • Brandin Cooks (5)

     

    3) Carolina Panthers (34)

    • Cam Newton (12)
    • Jonathan Stewart (6)
    • Kelvin Benjamin (8)
    • Greg Olsen (8)

     

    4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)

    • Mike Glennon (4)
    • Bobby Rainey (5)
    • Vincent Jackson (7)
    • Mike Evans (7)

     

    NFC West:

    1) Seattle Seahawks (49)

    • Russell Wilson (19)
    • Marshawn Lynch (13)
    • Doug Baldwin (9)
    • Jimmy Graham (8)

     

    2) San Francisco 49ers (31)

    • Colin Kaepernick (12)
    • Reggie Bush (4)
    • Anquan Boldin (8)
    • Torrey Smith (7)

     

    3) St. Louis Rams (21)

    • Nick Foles (5)
    • Tre Mason (5)
    • Kenny Britt (6)
    • Jared Cook (5)

     

    4) Arizona Cardinals (21)

    • Drew Stanton (5)
    • Andre Ellington (5)
    • Michael Floyd (6)
    • Larry Fitzgerald (5)
  2. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: DEFENSIVE LINE

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive tackles & interior offensive line. We’ll continue today with the defensive line.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Right End:

    1. Charles Harris, RS Soph.
    2. Spencer Williams, RS FR.
    3. Rocell McWilliams, RS FR.

    Defensive Tackle:

    1. Rickey Hatley, RS Jr.
    2. Terry Beckner, Jr., FR.
    3. Tyler Hanneke, RS Jr.

    Noseguard:

    1. Josh Augusta, JR.
    2. A.J. Logan, RS Soph.
    3. Evan Winston, RS Jr.

    Left End:

    1. Marcell Frazier, JR.
    2. Walter Brady, RS FR.
    3. Justin Grava, RS Jr.

     

    Mizzou returns one start (total) along the defensive line; Charles Harris started against Indiana in place of an injured Markus Golden. With that said, it would be unfair to classify Charles Harris, Rickey Hatley and Josh Augusta as newcomers. All three had important roles in 2014, with Hatley and Augusta involved in the rotation at defensive tackle, and Harris serving as the primary backup to Golden.

    The Good:

    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

     

    There is a ton of potential along Missouri’s defensive line. Charles Harris is a hugely athletic defensive end that showed flashes of greatness in 2014. Josh Augusta is a crazy talented defensive tackle (did I mention that he was a 330 pound wide receiver in high school?). Rickey Hatley was quietly productive in his limited playing time last year. After that, there are a plethora of newcomers that could step up including JuCo transfer Marcell Frazier, and a trio of redshirt freshmen defensive ends.

    The other thing that Mizzou has going for it is that the Tigers have one of the best defensive line coaches in the country in Craig Kuligowski. Coach Kool groomed Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson, Aldon Smith, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden and Shane Ray into elite level college players. If there is elite potential in any of Mizzou’s current players, Kool will get it out of them.

    The Bad:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s pretty simple. Mizzou lost a lot. Shane Ray, Markus Golden, Lucas Vincent, Matt Hoch, Marcus Loud and Harold Brantley combined for 291 tackles, 67.5 tackles-for-loss and 34.5 sacks. Those five, alone, had more tackles for loss than Kentucky or South Carolina, and they would have ranked 5th in the SEC in total sacks in 2014.

    The Tigers return none of their regular starters from 2014. Charles Harris, Ricky Hatley and Josh Augusta are the only returning players that were part of Missouri’s defensive line rotation in 2014.

    Fans will point to the resolve of Missouri’s defensive line under Coach Kool, rightly so, but he’s never had to thrust first-year players into the starting lineup the way he will in 2015.

    Here’s some perspective from the past:

    2014, Markus Golden & Shane Ray: Golden backed up Michael Sam the year prior, racking up 6.5 sacks. Ray backed up Kony Ealy in the previous year, adding 4.5 sacks to his resume.

    2013, Michael Sam & Kony Ealy: Sam & Ealy split time with one another the year prior, seeing time in 12 games. Sam was the team’s sack leader (4.5), Ealy added 3.5 of his own.

    2012, Brad Madison & Michael Sam: Madison was a junior and started for the Tigers in the year prior. Sam was a rotational player in 2011, and was splitting time with Ealy in 2012.

    2011, Jacquies Smith & Brad Madison: Madison entered his junior season after spending a year splitting time with Aldon Smith. Jacquies Smith was entering his 2nd year as a starter.

    2010, Jacquies Smith & Aldon Smith: The Smiths entered the season as the starters, but Madison also played a lot due to Aldon’s injuries. Jacquies’ experience heading into the season was as Aldon’s primary backup in 2009.

    2009, Brian Coulter & Aldon Smith: Coulter was a senior, and backed up Tommy Chavis the year prior. Smith was a sophomore, after having played extensively in his redshirt freshman season.

    2008, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: Chavis and Sulak were both starters the year before.

    2007, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: 2007 was Sulak’s 2nd year as a starter, and Chavis came into the year as the starter after splitting time inside & outside in 2006.

    2006, Brian Smith & Stryker Sulak: Smith started the year prior, Sulak split time with Xzavie Jackson in 2005.

    Add it all up, and the Tigers have not had a defensive end start in the past decade without at least being involved in the D-Line rotation the year prior. That’s exactly what will take place this season, regardless of the name on the back of the jersey. I’m not saying they can’t be good, it’s just difficult to project exactly what “good” will look like. Would that be six sacks for Missouri’s starting left end? Or 12? Because that’s obviously a massive difference.

    Realistic Expectations:

    It’s hugely difficult to project this Missouri defensive line. It was going to be difficult even before Marcus Loud was dismissed, or before Harold Brantley’s car accident that resulted in injuries that will keep him out for the entirety of the 2015 season. Without Loud or Brantley, it becomes damn near impossible.

    Charles Harris should be good. I wouldn’t even be all that shocked if he finished the year with double-digit sacks. A Mizzou defensive tackle has not finished the year with more than five sacks in the past decade – not even Sheldon Richardson or Ziggy Hood. So I think it’s fair to assume that will remain true for Josh Augusta, Rickey Hatley or Terry Beckner, Jr.

    With all of that said, I think it’s fair to say the Tigers will not match their sack total (44) from 2014. To be fair, no SEC team has out-performed Missouri’s 44 sacks since Tennessee back in 2000. Instead, I could see the Tigers finishing with somewhere around 30 sacks in 2015.

    I could see Charles Harris finishing the season with 10-11 sacks, the starter at left end could finish with 5-7 sacks and another 10-15 sacks could come from some combination of the Tigers’ defensive tackles (Augusta, Beckner, Hatley) and linebackers (Brothers, Scherer & Newsom).

  3. High School Football is Back on KTGR!

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    Class 5 State Champion Battle High School is joined by Hickman and Rock Bridge in a full season of award-winning Columbia Public Schools Football on KTGR. (more…)

  4. The Big Show: Steve Stewart

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    Steve Stewart of the Royals Radio Network joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss what the additions of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist mean for the Royals in their pursuit for a return-trip to the World Series.

    PODCAST: 

  5. The Big Show: Jerry Crasnick

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    Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com joined Matt and BK to discuss the latest on the trade market, including the Royals’ trades for Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, plus – are the Cardinals in on Adam Lind? Find out in our conversation with Jerry Crasnick.

    PODCAST:

  6. The Big Show: Dennis Dodd

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    Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wrote a Mizzou football preview in which he argues that it’s hard to pick against Mizzou to win the SEC East once again in 2015. He joined Matt and BK to discuss the Tigers on Monday on The Big Show.

    PODCAST: 

  7. Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Kansas

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    Mizzou’s membership in the SEC would have been a fantasy if the Tigers’ old rivals had jumped ship first… and it may have had a chance of happening. (more…)

  8. The Sports Wire: Craig Brown

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    Craig Brown joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss the Royals’ need for a starting pitcher, the concern level for Mike Moustakas & Salvador Perez, and Craig ranks the Royals’ potential playoff matchups from most favorable to least favorable. All of that and more in today’s conversation.

  9. 27th Annual Columbia Wing Ding

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    It’s great wings for a great cause at the 27th Annual Columbia Wing Ding, benefiting UCP Heartland‘s Child Development Center! (more…)

  10. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backswide receiverstight ends & offensive tackles. We’ll continue today with the offensive guards.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

    Left Guard:

    1. Taylor Chappell, RS Sr.
    2. Brad McNulty, RS Sr.
    3. Andy Bauer, RS Fr.

    Center:

    1. Evan Boehm, Sr.
    2. Alec Abeln, RS Soph.
    3. Sam Bailey, RS Fr.

    Right Guard:

    1. Mitch Hall, RS Sr.
    2. Kevin Pendleton, RS Fr.
    3. Adam Ploudre, RS Soph.

    There is nothing if not experience at both offensive guard positions. Mitch Hall started the first four games of last season at right guard, Taylor Chappell started the final 10 games at right tackle, and Brad McNulty performed admirably in his 10 starts at left guard. All three make an appearance in the two-deep this year. That’s a unit that I will be following closely at fall camp.

    Will Taylor Chappell hold off Brad McNulty for the starting left guard position? Will Connor McGovern kick back inside and take one of the starting spots at guard? Will the coaches ask junior college transfer Malik Cuellar to kick inside? All of these questions will be answered in the coming weeks.

    As for center, the Tigers have Evan Boehm. Anything behind him is icing on the cake. Boehm is an All SEC-caliber player, and having him as the anchor of the Tigers offensive line can be seen as nothing but a positive.

    The Good:

    Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

    The positive about Mizzou’s offensive guards is that most of them have starting experience. Hall, McNulty and Chappell have a combined 29 career starts. And there is flexibility within the position, too. After the coaches have determined who the starting left tackle will be for 2015, the backup left tackle may receive some cross-training at offensive guard. If Cuellar wins the job at left tackle, McGovern would kick back inside. If McGovenr wins the left tackle job, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cuellar kick inside.

    At center, the Tigers have one of the best players in the SEC in Evan Boehm. He was named to the third team All SEC, but it would come as no surprise if he ends the season on the firs team. He’s a four-year starter that has been the rock of the Missouri Tigers in their SEC turnaround. There’s really not much more to say about Boehm. There’s nothing not to like about him as your  starting center.

    The Bad:

    Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

    The problem at offensive guard is that, despite starting experience, we haven’t seen this group perform at an extremely high level. Now, that changes if Connor McGovern gets kicked back inside – McGovern was an All SEC-caliber player when he was starting at offensive guard. But Mitch Hall, Taylor Chappell and Brad McNulty all experienced their fair share of lumps in 2014. So, despite their starting experience, there are still questions on what this offensive line’s ceiling is.

    Realistic Expectations:

    It’s really hard to tell. There are so many different possibilities along the offensive line in 2015. Here’s an illustration of the potential combinations:

    Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Jordan Williams

    Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Malik Cuellar

    Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Tyler Howell

    Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Clay Rhodes

    Connor McGovern – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Jordan Williams

    Connor McGovern – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Malik Cuellar

    Connor McGovern – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Tyler Howell

    Connor McGovern – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Mitch Hall – Clay Rhodes

    Malik Cuellar – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Malik Cuellar – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Tyler Howell

    Malik Cuellar – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    Malik Cuellar – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Malik Cuellar – Mitch Hall – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Tyler Howell

    Malik Cuellar – Mitch Hall – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    Malik Cuellar – Mitch Hall – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Malik Cuellar – Mitch Hall – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell

    Malik Cuellar – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Tyler Howell

    Malik Cuellar – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    Malik Cuellar – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Malik Cuellar – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Taylor Chappell

    Tyler Howell – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Tyler Howell – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Malik Cuellar

    Tyler Howell – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    Tyler Howell – Mitch Hall – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Jordan Williams

    Tyler Howell – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Malik Cuellar

    Tyler Howell – Taylor Chappell – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    Tyler Howell – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern -Jordan Williams

    Tyler Howell – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Malik Cuellar

    Tyler Howell – Brad McNulty – Evan Boehm – Connor McGovern – Clay Rhodes

    You get the point. I believe Connor McGovern, Malik Cuellar and Tyler Howell are all options to start at left tackle. Taylor Chappell, Mitch Hall, Brad McNulty and Connor McGovern are options at offensive guard. And Malik Cuellar, Jordan Williams, Clay Rhodes, Taylor Chappell and Tyler Howell are all options at right tackle. If I had to guess – and this is nothing more than a guess – what the end result will be, I’ll go with this lineup:

    Left Tackle: Connor McGovern

    Left Guard: Taylor Chappell

    Center: Evan Boehm

    Right Guard: Mitch Hall

    Right Tackle: Tyler Howell

    At least we know Evan Boehm will start at center.