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Fantasy Football and Julie The Cat Gaffney

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What was Coach Bombay thinking when he started Goldberg in net?

I’m not afraid to say it: Gordon Bombay was a bad coach. If not for the leadership on the teams he managed, I’m confident that Bombay may have never led a championship team.

Charlie Conway was the true team leader. He brought them together. When Adam Banks came back from his wrist injury, it wasn’t replacement Russ Tyler who gave up his jersey. No, it was the real leader of the Ducks, Number 96.

Bombay’s up-and-down attitude led to multiple defeats throughout his coaching tenure. If not for Jan, the brother of Bombay's mentor, bringing him back to Earth multiple times, we may have never even seen a USA versus Iceland match in the Junior Goodwill Games finals.

But do you know why – more than any other reason – I know Coach Bombay was terrible? He played Greg Goldberg over Julie “The Cat” Gaffney for the entirety of the Junior Goodwill Games! That’s like Leslie Frazier deciding to play Toby Gerhart instead of Adrian Peterson. Or Mike McCarthy giving Graham Harrell the nod over Aaron Rodgers.

The Cat was clearly the better talent, and it showed when she gloved Gunnar Stahl's slapper in the Goodwill Games’ championship. Whether you believe in the theory that Bombay was sexist or not, there’s no denying that Team USA had a better chance of winning with Gaffney in net.

That got me thinking: Can we learn from Bombay’s glaring mistake? In fantasy football terms, are there teammates playing the same position being completely undervalued or overvalued? Are there running back peers, for instance, where the lesser-known, potential backup commodity is actually a better draft day value?

There are. And I’ve dubbed them the Julie “The Cat” Gaffneys of 2013 fantasy football.

Jordy Nelson is “The Cat” to Randall Cobb

This isn’t to say Jordy Nelson is Randall Cobb’s backup, but Cobb is certainly going for a pricier rate than Nelson in fantasy drafts. And we do like Cobb more than Jordy; just not at their current costs. Cobb’s ADP is listed at 3.07 according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, which is more than two rounds higher than Nelson’s. Much of this has to do with Nelson’s out-of-nowhere knee surgery, but even before he went under the knife, Nelson’s cost was a round later than Cobb’s.

Jordy is expecting and hopeful to be back Week 1, so the injury may end up being nothing. If he’s healthy, he’s capable of being a sound WR2 in 12-team leagues. Cobb’s being selected as a WR1 (the eighth wideout selected), which is completely inflated considering our projections. We’ve got Cobb down for 85 receptions, 1,175 yards and nine scores, while we see Jordy hauling in 77 catches for 1,083 yards and almost 10 touchdowns.

Nelson’s health will play a major role, but Jordy’s knee is independent of Cobb’s overblown value. It’s not as though you have to trust Nelson during your draft, but feeling good about making a third-round selection on Cobb would be like having confidence in Goldberg to stop Iceland’s Gunnar Stahl.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is “The Cat” to Giovani Bernard

I know, I know, Gio Bernard has been lighting up the stat sheet in the preseason for the Bengals. He’s been the Adam Banks of Cincinnati’s team. But don’t overlook the plodding BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who will still see touches himself in the Bengals' offense.

Bernard hasn’t exactly been the inside runner that Green-Ellis is, giving The Law Firm a nice advantage on early downs. Green-Ellis is also the starter on the team, making this an interesting "Cat" situation. According to ADP data, Gio is being drafted at 5.07 versus Green-Ellis at 7.12. I understand the upside appeal, but it seems like BJGE may be the better value, considering players like Ronnie Hillman are leaving the draft board less than half a round later than him.

The projections and algorithms here at numberFire actually like Green-Ellis flat out more than Bernard this season. Keep in mind: We may see Green-Ellis as a boring runner (which he kind of is), but he ranked in the top 50 percent in rushing efficiency last season.

Now, if Bernard’s projected attempts increase by the start of the season, this could change a bit. However, given the type of talent available in Round 5, Bernard doesn’t seem like the kind of back to take there unless it’s a deep, PPR-heavy league.

Pierre Thomas is “The Cat” to Mark Ingram

I’ve already put my thoughts together on why I think Thomas is the better value when compared to his counterpart, but let me hit on some of the highlights. Mark Ingram has yet to finish in the top quarter in terms of rushing efficiency, something Pierre Thomas (and Chris Ivory) has done consistently over the last two seasons. To determine this, I looked at the players’ rushing net expected points per attempt, which analyzes how many points these runners were adding towards their team’s point total on a per carry basis. Thomas’ number blew Ingram out of the water.

Oh, and PT is the superior pass catcher, too.

It’s a no brainer for me: Pierre Thomas, even if he finishes with a worse rank than Ingram, is the better value during your draft considering their difference in average draft positions (2.5 rounds).

For more on Thomas and Ingram, click here.

Andre Brown is “The Cat” to David Wilson

Giants running back David Wilson impressed in his second preseason game, showing signs that he should be able to be a nice threat catching the ball out of the backfield this season. Teammate Andre Brown matched Wilson with eight attempts against Indianapolis, rushing for just a few more yards, and entered the game on third downs. As beat writers, analysts and head coach Tom Coughlin have been saying, the running back situation in New York could be a full blown running back-by-committee system this year.

At the end of the season, we should expect to see David Wilson come out with more opportunity and fantasy points, but that doesn’t mean he’s the better value pick in your draft. He’s leaving drafts in the third round, the 22nd runner off the board, while Andre Brown is typically joining teams in the seventh, as the 34th running back selection. Interestingly enough, that’s almost precisely where we have them ranked here at numberFire.

So why view Brown as the better value?

Upside. Of the relevant running backs last season, Andre Brown was best running the ball. He had a rushing net expected points total of 19.14, which equated to .26 on a per attempt basis. That was much better than Wilson’s -.03. This means that Andre Brown was adding points to the Giants offensive score at a rapid pace, while Wilson was actually below average.

Aside from that, the biggest reason to view Brown as the one with more worth is because of opportunity cost. When you select David Wilson, you’re forgoing an opportunity to have the potential elite talent at wide receiver. And remember: you still may be able to find sound, comparable running back options in the fourth round of your draft, and if that’s the case, drafting Wilson won’t do you much good.

Comparing Andre Brown to his ADP competition, the upside doesn’t appear nearly as close. The aforementioned BenJarvus Green-Ellis is present around Brown’s ADP, but outside of him, you’re looking at players like Ben Tate. Give me Brown all day.

I’ve continuously said that there’s a chance both David Wilson and Andre Brown reach their ADP potential this season. However, because there’s less room for error for Wilson, I believe Brown’s the one who could come in win the championship for you this year.

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In This Article

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Jordy Nelson
WR, Green Bay Packers

Mark Ingram
RB, New Orleans Saints

Pierre Thomas
RB, New Orleans Saints

Randall Cobb
WR, Green Bay Packers

Andre Brown
RB, New York Giants

David Wilson
RB, New York Giants

Giovani Bernard
RB, Cincinnati Bengals

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