A-11 Offense: The Next Wildcat?

Deadspin’s Rick Chandler exposed this devil-spawn offense to the jaw-dropping masses this summer — the A-11, two quarterbacks in the backfield causing chaos for opposing defenses.

The real debate with A-11 was whether a kicking formation was a legal offense. Should high school teams should be able to “gimmick” their way into the win column? Despite its haphazard ways, A-11 seems to do the job and keeps things interesting.

NCAA rules limit the use of the A-11 formation in college football, but given the popularity of “Wildcat” plays last season after the Miami Dolphins torched the New England Patriots with Ronnie Brown, how long is it going to be before this offensive scheme saves the Detroit Lions? And perhaps your fantasy team?

The A-11 Explained

The A-11 offense is actually a scrimmage-kick formation using two quarterbacks, two tight ends, one center and six potential receivers. As long as one quarterback lines up more than seven yards deep, there’s no need for those fatties on the offensive line to take the field.

From A11Offense.com:

The A-11 Offense (All Eleven Players Potentially Eligible) is an innovative new offense that blends aspects of almost every type of offense in the history of football such as the West Coast, Spread Option, Run and Shoot, Shotgun Zone Fly, Wing-T, Single Wing, Notre Dame Box, Triple Option and Veer just to name a few. Teams can use the A-11 as a “package” to supplement their own offense & feature up to eleven players as potential threats, and even two quarterbacks in the shotgun!

When the ball gets snapped, the quarterback is on his own — except for the other quarterback, of course. The two quarterbacks keep the defense at bay by splitting the field and moving the ball. If you need a visual, Deadspin’s got one for you, and you can read all about the offense and its California-dreamin’ co-creators Piedmont High coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries

Is it the wave of the future? Maybe. But it’s definitely the hottest thing to hit high school sports since Allison Stokke.

NFL Impact

The “Wildcat” was the experimental stepchild of every NFL coach after Miami’s offensive coordinator Dan Herring, who had experimented with the concept in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams in 2006, and quarterbacks coach David Lee, who was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2007 when they were running the “WildHog” formation with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, unleashed it full force against the Patriots with Ronnie Brown.

The A-11 could not only have a similar rise to prominence within the NFL, it could also make fantasy football a much different affair.

As Bryan points out in his blog, the athletes are getting faster and more suited to a wide open, speedy offense. The formation protects athletes and gives smaller schools a chance to compete at the high school level. What if it could save a rebuilding franchise or two?

The biggest danger is leaving highly-paid quarterbacks exposed, but if your offensive line is already doing a lot of that, there’s not much harm in designing a few A-11 plays to see what happens.

Obviously, the Lions come to mind, but teams like the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, who had all kinds of issues at the line of scrimmage this year, might help themselves out by adding some A-11 formations to the playbook.

If teams deep with receiver talent like the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals adopted it, the A-11 could cause devastation for a few plays.

Maybe it’s time the Lions signed Michael Vick and threw Vick and a quarterback of the future from the draft or their roster onto the field in the A-11. Vick would add the run threat to the offense and a veteran presence while a younger quarterback could develop.

Fantasy Impact

While good for struggling NFL franchises, the A-11 is not such a welcome change for fantasy owners.

These wrinkles added into the offense increase the number of players touching the ball even if they do make the offense more explosive. That means fantasy owners will have more wide receivers to track and more options for their roster each week who will only be getting a portion of the stats.

The A-11 could make it practically impossible to know which of six receivers is going to be the most effective on any given Sunday. The offenses could generate more yards and points while also involving more players.

In short, we might all be screwed. The A-11 is offensive chaos, but it’s the good kind of chaos, just like your first Mardi Gras…right?

How scared are you right now?

Combine appearances moving stock for elite players [Combine News]

Darren McFadden cooled worries about his on-the-field game by posting an impressive 40-yard dash.

His official time was recorded as 4.33. (His first run was timed “unofficially” at 4.27). With that show, McFadden proved he was one of the fastest players in Indianapolis. He showed his burst speed, but doubts could still be raised about his ability to run between the tackles. Then, there is always the issue of all his multiple children on the way and off-the-field baggage still to be considered. He still keeps the hype as the first back anyone will take in this year’s draft, but some who don’t desperately need his help might think twice.

The title of fastest running back at the Combine goes to Chris Johnson of East Carolina. Johnson ran a 4.24. Even if a cornerback comes close to those numbers tomorrow, that is one of the top times ever seen at the Combine. His role in an NFL franchise is probably as a returner like Devin Hester or a change up back like Jerious Norwood. He is competing among running backs in the same spot as Jamaal Charles of Texas in my opinion, and his faster time maskes him look more appealing for special teams. His stock definitely rose with that 40-yard time.

QB Joe Flacco was considered by some to be the best quarterback prospect at the Combine. He might end up being a steal in the second round with his powerful arm, but he hasn’t broken into consideration for the first round yet. Flacco didn’t run as fast as he promised in the 40-yard dash, but the hype around him has been rising ever since scouts got a good look at him in the Senior Bowl. He has a pretty nice highlight reel.

As far as strength goes, Vernon Gholston looked like a superhuman beast in the Combine workouts. His stats surpassed Chris Long, his fellow defensive linemen who currently holds the top spot among DL and the possibility of going first overall to Miami. Gholston ran a 4.64–that’s quite the momentum–and tied Jake Long with 37 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

Some predict Gholston’s stock rising from his stats and times today, but Chris Long still showed better technique and quickness in the skill drills. I expect Long to keep the top spot come draft day.

One player flying under the radar is Josh Johnson. Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom, the hosts of The Audible podcast at Footballguys.com, really love this guy. Other sports writers are still skeptical that anyone will give him a chance to play quarterback. He posted the fastest 40-yard time for any QB at 4.55 and the highest vertical at 33.5. Even though he only played at San Diego, he reminds scouts of Vince Young. That guy hasn’t turned out so bad–overlooking some possible taint on this year due a defeat of the Madden curse.

For the complete results of all the Combine athletes thus far, check out FFToolbox’s Combine Results tables.

Reflection on the 2007 Fantasy Football Season

After collecting my winnings from this fantasy season and posting the requisite trash talk on the message boards, I proceeded to take off for a fantasy football vacation. I used my time off to reflect on how to better develop Fantasy Football Fools as a resource for those of you looking to win your league next season.

After that painful 15 minutes, I caught a flight to Vegas for Wild Card weekend. I wish I would have spent more time at the sports book and less at the craps table, but in the end, despite winning a few bets, I came out minus all my fantasy football winnings.  A very ROUGH weekend. Unfortunately for me and lucky for you, that 15 minutes of planning and the four hours of crying on the flight home that followed my trip to Vegas made me realize how much I still want all of you to succeed in some capacity in your lives–so why not fantasy football?

Tell your friends about our site, and hit up the comments if you haven’t already. If you need inspiration for what to comment about on this post, tell us what you want to see us talk about this offseason. We love feedback whether it is encouraging or just a general hatred of our souls–dirty and stained as they may be.

Look for our upcoming NFL draft coverage and discussions of what positions you want to take first in the 2008 fantasy draft.

Foolish 2007 College Bowl Picks Results: Shame faces

The results are in. After weeks of preparation and stalking football players and coaches, our records–pitiful as they may be–are set in stone. Here’s how the three of us came out in our predictions:

Jacob: 19-13
Robert: 21-11
Cameron: 11-15

I thought at least one of us would make it through the bowl season with less than 10 wrong calls. I was wrong. In fact, I was wrong 13 times. Right about average around these parts, so I consider that better than last place. *cough* Cameron *cough*

I took some chances on some teams that hurt me (Hawaii) and some that rewarded me (Kansas) based upon my beliefs on their quarterbacks. I still have faith in Colt Brennan, but I guess he needs some more development for the NFL. Typical of this season in college football, plenty of teams surprised us in their bowl games (Oklahoma). At least on the surprises part, I was right.

Robert came out on top by 2 games–luck if you asked me–and Cameron missed the early games that would have padded his score. Maybe Robert will stop gloating enough to share some of his insight for next season. Until then, look forward to the draft talk and start prepping your fantasy drafts cheatsheets.

Foolish 2007 College Bowl Picks

Update: Winners updated. Records in future post.

The holidays have put us a little behind getting our college bowl picks up before the first few games, but hopefully, you had a pretty good idea who was going to win the Papajohns.com Bowl.

Check out our picks and see who’s right more often than anyone else–Yup, me. I’ll be facing off against a little known college football aficionado, Robert. Our picks are in chronological order, and if he is right more than me, we may just have to make him contribue to FantasyFootballFools.com a little more.

Cameron weighs in on our post-Christmas games for some insight from a true college football follower.

San Diego County Credit Union
WINNER: UTAH

  • Jacob: Utah
  • Robert: Utah

R+L Carriers New Orleans
WINNER: FLORIDA ATLANTIC

  • Jacob: Memphis
  • Robert: Florida Atlantic

Papajohns.com
WINNER: CINCINNATI

  • Jacob: Southern Mississippi
  • Robert: Cincinnati

New Mexico
WINNER: NEW MEXICO

  • Jacob: New Mexico (I mean, it’s there bowl and all)
  • Robert: New Mexico

Pioneer Las Vegas
WINNER: BYU

  • Jacob: BYU
  • Robert: BYU

Sheraton Hawaii
WINNER: EAST CAROLINA (What happened in this close one?)

  • Jacob: Boise State
  • Robert: Boise State

Now Cameron joins in for the rest of the picks…

Motor City
WINNER: PURDUE (That was close)

  • Jacob: Purdue
  • Robert: Purdue
  • Cameron: Purdue (Mainly because they are not a directional Michigan school)

Pacific Life Holiday
WINNER: TEXAS

  • Jacob: Texas (Hook ‘em)
  • Robert: Texas
  • Cameron: Texas (Please God)

(Disclaimer: All three of us are Longhorn alums)

Champs Sports
WINNER: BOSTON COLLEGE

  • Jacob: Boston College
  • Robert: Boston College
  • Cameron: Michigan St. (Goin out on a limb. BC lost 3 of their last 5 games)

Texas
WINNER: TCU

  • Jacob: TCU (They’re from Texas)
  • Robert: Houston
  • Cameron: TCU (Houston has lost 7 straight to TCU and their last 8 bowl games)

Emerald
WINNER: OREGON STATE

  • Jacob: Maryland
  • Robert: Maryland
  • Cameron: Oregon State (Coming off a win against in-state rival Oregon)

Meineke Car Care
WINNER: WAKE FOREST

  • Jacob: Wake Forest (When in doubt, don’t doubt the Wake)
  • Robert: Connecticut
  • Cameron: Connecticut (A team I have been high on all season)

AutoZone Liberty
WINNER: MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Jacob: UCF
  • Robert: Mississippi State
  • Cameron: UCF (With Heisman snub Kevin Smith at the helm, they will run and run)

Valero Alamo
WINNER: PENN STATE

  • Jacob: Penn State
  • Robert: Penn State
  • Cameron: Penn State (After a big win against Texas last year, A&M came out flat. Expect the same)

PetroSun Independence
WINNER: ALABAMA

  • Jacob: Colorado
  • Robert: Alabama
  • Cameron: Colorado (Alabama coming in on a 4-game losing streak)

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
WINNER: CALIFORNIA

  • Jacob: Air Force
  • Robert: Air Force
  • Cameron: Air Force (Cal coming in losing 6 of their last 7)

Roady’s Humanitarian
WINNER: FRESNO STATE

  • Jacob: Georgia Tech
  • Robert: Georgia Tech
  • Cameron: Georgia Tech (Just because)

Brut Sun
WINNER: OREGON (Apparently, Oregon is something without Dixon)

  • Jacob: South Florida
  • Robert: South Florida
  • Cameron: South Florida (Oregon is nothing without Dixon; plus, they have a Leaf brother playing QB)

Gaylord Hotels Music City
WINNER: KENTUCKY

  • Jacob: Kentucky
  • Robert: Kentucky
  • Cameron: Kentucky (Because they don’t cheat and lose half of their team)

Insight
WINNER: OKLAHOMA STATE

  • Jacob: Oklahoma State
  • Robert: Oklahoma State
  • Cameron: Indiana (Never know which OK State team is going to show up)

Chick-fil-A
WINNER: AUBURN

  • Jacob: Clemson
  • Robert: Auburn
  • Cameron: Clemson (Great one two punch at RB with Davis and Spiller)

Outback
WINNER: TENNESSEE

  • Jacob: Tennessee
  • Robert: Wisconsin
  • Cameron: Tennessee (PJ Hill might not play for Wisconsin, which would mean trouble)

AT&T Cotton
WINNER: MISSOURI

  • Jacob: Missouri
  • Robert: Missouri
  • Cameron: Arkansas (Missouri may be a little flat after the Big XII championship loss and may not have the defense to stop McFadden and Jones)

Konica Minolta Gator
WINNER: TEXAS TECH

  • Jacob: Texas Tech (I’m a Big 12 man)
  • Robert: Texas Tech
  • Cameron: Virginia (UV actually has the kind of defense that can hurry up Harrell and knock him down, especially with DE Chris Long)

Capital One
WINNER: MICHIGAN (Never bet against a team devoted to sending a great coach off right)

  • Jacob: Florida
  • Robert: Florida
  • Cameron: Florida (Florida played a way tougher schedule than Michigan, and it will show)

Rose Bowl Presented by Citi–they paid us to say that
WINNER: USC (Illinois should have never been in a bowl game. They certainly weren’t in this one.)

  • Jacob: USC
  • Robert: USC
  • Cameron: USC (I will be pulling for Illinois, but their athletes can’t match up to USC)

Allstate Sugar
WINNER: GEORGIA (I guess he is a system QB and/or the Hawaii linemen or worthless sacks of fatty meat.)

  • Jacob: Hawaii (I don’t think he’s just a system QB)
  • Robert: Georgia
  • Cameron: Georgia (I see this being a very close game with Georgia coming out on top because of their running game)

Tostitos Fiesta
WINNER: WEST VIRGINIA (Ouch, Stoops. Has anyone told the OU players lately that the season isn’t over after the Big 12 Championship?)

  • Jacob: Oklahoma
  • Robert: Oklahoma
  • Cameron: Oklahoma (Don’t expect OU to be caught napping again)

FedEx Orange
WINNER: KANSAS ( It was a clutch victory for Kansas and for my predictions!)

  • Jacob: Kansas
  • Robert: Virginia Tech
  • Cameron: Virginia Tech (Their D will hit Kansas in the mouth)

International
WINNER: RUTGERS (Was there any doubt? Ball State?)

  • Jacob: Rutgers
  • Robert: Rutgers
  • Cameron: Rutgers (Who cares?)

GMAC
WINNER: TULSA (I’m sorry if you watched this game. REALLY sorry.)

  • Jacob: Tulsa
  • Robert: Tulsa
  • Cameron: Tulsa (I love their offense, especially with Paul Smith running the show)

Allstate BCS Championship Game
WINNER: LSU (Can we just put OU and OSU in the same boat and say, “Stop trying.”)

  • Jacob: LSU
  • Robert: LSU
  • Cameron: Ohio State (Because the BCS wouldn’t allow a two-loss champion, would it?)

Check future post for a complete summary of how the three of us came out on this bowl season.

Who to watch this bowl season

It seems like I am practically syndicating these guys lately, but The 5 Minute Drill is back again with some good stars to watch during your bowl viewing.

These guys might be standout rookies sometime soon for your fantasy football draft, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to scout their bowl performances.

[Note: Fantasy Football College Bowl Preview episode of “The 5 Minute Drill” removed due to ONnetworks going offline. You can view the podcasts on iTunes or find out more about them at the Footballguys.com link above.]

College now. We’re de-evolving.

I don’t know if any of you noticed while you were painting your ‘Tebow 4 Prez’ signs, but we have now posted up our first contribution to the college sports commentary arena.

Although you probably didn’t listen to our statistical berating, Mr. Heisman voter, you should have. You heard me.

Look for more stuff you should know from the Cam man, Cameron, as he continues to contribute, and I continue to justify to myself in the mirror why I help other people get better at fantasy football.

Who’s that sly mug right there? Oh right, that’s me.

And the Heisman goes to…

This year’s Heisman chase is coming down to what looks like a two-man race. Most pundits have either Tim Tebow of Florida or Darren McFadden of Arkansas as the eventual winner. In their eyes, these are the only two players worthy of such an award. Making use of a trite and overused saying, especially if you have played NCAA ’02 through ’08, “Not so fast my friend.”

I’m not saying that Tebow or McFadden shouldn’t win the award; I’m merely stating that other candidates should be looked at as well. Here is a list of some of the candidates that are or should be up for the award.

THE SHOE-INS

Tim Tebow: The Cannonball

If there is one thing that you can’t ignore about Tim Tebow, it’s the numbers: 29 passing touchdowns, 22 rushing touchdowns. That will grab anyone’s attention, especially the voters. There is just one number I can’t ignore: 3, as in 3 losses. I know this has been a crazy year and all, but it’s hard for me to say that someone is a Heisman winner when his team is 9-3.

Let’s look at those losses:

  • Auburn: 1 rushing TD, 1 passing TD, 1 INT
  • LSU: 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, 1 INT
  • Georgia: 1 passing TD, 2 rushing TDs (-15 yard rushing)

Tebow did not play exceptionally well in any of those games. I know they were tough games, but that is when the Heisman winner is supposed to shine.

Lets take a look at the rushing touchdowns. I know he is being praised for having 22 rushing touchdowns, but let’s look at the numbers. Eighty percent (16/20) of these rushing TDs were distances of 5 yards or less. If Florida used a fullback, he would be getting most of these carries. Only two of his touchdowns were plays of 15 yards. When I see Tebow, I think of a cannonball that was just shot out of the 1st and 2 from the goal cannon.

Heisman-Tim Tebow
Ready…Aim…Touchdown!

I’m not trying to take away from the fact that he put up amazing TD numbers because he did. I just think that the voters need to recognize that they all weren’t amazingly difficult touchdowns. All in all, Tebow will either be first or second in the voting, and deservedly so, but other candidates should not be brushed aside because of it.

Darren McFadden: The Quarterback?

Next, there is Darren McFadden. The Pro. The Prospect. The Future. These are all things I hear about McFadden. He is being touted as the most NFL-ready running back this year and rightfully so. I believe he can be as productive as Adrian Peterson at the next level.

All that behind us, the Heisman should go to the best college player of the year. McFadden had an outstanding year, but lead his team to an 8-4 record. Usually, the quarterback is the leader of the team, but hell, McFadden played quarterback half of the time, so he should shoulder some of the blame.

During Arkansas’ four losses, McFadden scored 3 times. Two of the losses he was held scoreless. For someone to be considered the best, I believe he should perform on the biggest stage and perform well. Not scoring when it is absolutely crucial is a big no no. I do give props to McFadden for playing some quarterback during the LSU victory. I also give props to McFadden for living in Arkansas for three years–that is worthy of a Heisman in its self. While McFadden was an outstanding back and will be an excellent pro, I do not believe that he was the best college back this year. We’ll talk about that back later.

Heisman-Darren McFadden
Arkansas, home of Heisman hopefuls…and pigs, that’s about it

THE REST OF THE PACK

Now these guys in the rest of the pack won’t be scrutinized as hard seeing as they are not being actively considered as the front runners in the race. These are players that I feel should get some recognition for having good years.

Graham Harrell, Paul Smith, Colt Brennan: The Three Headed Scoring Machine

What do most fans of college football want to see? The answer isn’t a foot race between Mark Mangino and his chins; the answer is touchdowns. Where else are you going to find touchdown than the high-octane offenses featuring Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan and Paul Smith. Let’s take a look at the stats of these guys.

  • Graham Harrell [QB Texas Tech]:
    45 TD (Rank:1), 5,298 yds (Rank:1)
  • Paul Smith [QB Tulsa]:
    42 TD (Rank:2), 4,753 yds (Rank:2), 12 Rushing TDs
  • Colt Brennan [QB Hawaii]:
    38 TD (Rank:3), 4,174 yds (Rank:4)

Heisman-Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan, Paul Smith
And to the right, you will see ZERO Heisman votes

I know you can’t go off of numbers alone, but these numbers are incredible. All of these quarterbacks have also put up similar or better records to the two main contenders. Because of these high-flying offenses, these players are labeled as system quarterback and always will be labeled that way. It’s an easy way for the Heisman voters to dismiss their successful seasons without feeling bad about it. Maybe one of these quarterbacks will just have to go undefeated…Oh wait, sorry Colt.

Chase Daniel: The Mighty Midget

Oh Chase Daniel, how mighty you were two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, you were in the drivers seat for the Heisman, and all you needed was a victory over Oklahoma. How soon everyone forgets about that.

Chase Daniel had a magnificent season throwing for 33 TDs and leading his team to the Big XII championship game, something neither Tebow nor McFadden did. Too bad he had to run into OU and Sam Bradford, who will be in the Heisman discussion soon enough. While Daniel didn’t put up in-your-face numbers, he still led his team to victory week after week while being the best quarterback on the best team (for one week). Daniel did all of this while barely being able to see over the offensive line and standing in at 5 foot 3 inches.

Heisman-Chase Daniels
I can see your ass from here

While he will no doubt get an invite because of the late season hype, he will not come close to sniffing the jocks of the big two. I say to Chase, “maybe next year.” But then again, Tebow may win his second Heisman, so good luck with that.

Kevin Smith: Barry Who?

Now let’s take a look at my choice for the 2007 Heisman award.

  • Most rushing yards in the NCAA, check.
  • Leads nation in scoring and touchdowns scored, check.
  • Led team to 10 wins and conference championship, check.

What else do you want from a Heisman winner? What most people don’t realize is that Kevin Smith has rushed for 2,448 yards. What most people also don’t realize is that 2, 448 yards is the SECOND most all time for yards in a season, behind the elusive one-year-wonder Barry Sanders. In fact, Kevin Smith is 181 yards away from breaking Sander’s single season mark. One big bowl game for Kevin Smith, and he breaks it.

He will not be invited to the ceremony, and that is a shame. The best college football player this year has to wait until next year, but I doubt he will stick around to get snubbed again.

Heisman-Kevin Smith
Hey Barry, if you sell your Heisman like OJ, let me know.