(ed. note: We’ve added a new contributor to the blog for the upcoming season. tweedybirdd‘s film breakdowns helped us make some of our most accurate forecasts on draft prospects this year. Here he presents his first article for Zone Reads, an analysis of his projected breakout players for this coming season:)
Quick overview: Some years ago as part of his regular column, Sports Guy Bill Simmons wrote an NBA trade value column, where he tried to assess the top 50 assets in the league as measured by expected performance going forward (which includes age and projected improvement, peak, and decline where appropriate) and value of current contract (contracts are guaranteed in the NBA, which makes this more important than the NFL). He liked it so much (and he should, it’s a good idea) that he started doing it yearly, and on his ESPN offshoot Grantland, for the last two years, Bill Barnwell has written a similar column for the NFL. The NFL one is a little stickier for a couple of reasons: contracts aren’t necessarily guaranteed, which takes away a big punishment for poor signings: a bad player on a long, expensive contract is a major negative in the NBA, but in the NFL, he can simply be cut. A good player on a cheap contract, meanwhile, will continue to be underpaid until he is nearing the end of his contract and able to renegotiate or negotiate an extension.
Anyway, while I don’t intend to write a full column of “Best NFL Assets” (I think a more accurate term for the NFL than “Trade Value”), I did want to point out a few points in the list where I disagreed, and why I think differently about those players. My first point regards Adrian Peterson, a phenomenal talent whose value to winning games is often overrated.