Drinen's player comments 2002 - Introduction

Like Joe Bryant, my interest in the analytical study of sports began with some of the baseball writers from the early 80s. In particular, Bill James was, is, and has been a huge influence on the way I view sports. Many of the fantasy football studies I've done over the years are direct applications of Bill's ideas and methods.

I also enjoy the way James organized those early books. In particular, he used to write a comment on every major league player. Sometimes, these comments would contain information or opinion directly related to the player himself. Sometimes they would include studies that addressed more general questions that were only vaguely related to the player. Sometimes they included Bill's opinions on philosophy, politics, or the price of tea in China. Some were short and some were long. Some were objective and some were pure opinion. Some were heavy and some were light. Anyway, I just finished reading Bill's New Historical Baseball Abstract, in which he used the same format for commenting on players, and it made me want to do the same for fantasy football. So that's what I'm going to try to do here.

So for every player, I wrote about whatever popped into my head when I thought about that player. A lot of times, as with Bill James' comments, I think about something that morphs into something else that is only vaguely related to the player himself.

What you won't find in these comments is up-to-the-second fantasy analysis. There are lots places where you can hear that offensive lineman X broke his foot in practice yesterday and that should drop the stock of running back Y just a little. This won't be one of them. Some of these comments were written two months ago and some of them were written yesterday, and I'd like them to be timeless. I want them to be as interesting and as relevant in one or two or five years as they are now. The tradeoff, of course, is that they probably won't be as relevant or interesting to you right now as lots of other stuff you could be reading.

What you will find in these comments are my opinions, some interesting trivia, and hopefully more than anything else, some historical perspective. My database is now complete from 1970 to the present, and I've calculated the VBD values of every QB, RB, WR, and TE during those years. This makes it possible to do empirical studies that I couldn't do before. You'll get a lot of those, including re-visitations of studies I've done before, and some new ones that weren't possible without the bigger data set. You'll also get your fair share of completely stat-free ramblings and opinions. As with all opinions, take them for what they're worth.

I don't know how many players I'm going to be able to get done, but I'm shooting for at least 70 or so (roughly, the top 20 QBs and the top 25 or 30 RBs and WRs -- I doubt I'll have the energy to get to the TEs and I know I won't do kickers or defensive players). If I don't write a comment on your favorite player, that doesn't (necessarily) mean I think he's a bum; it just means I couldn't think of anything to say about him that you couldn't read elsewhere.

I will use the concept of VBD very frequently in these comments. If you don't know what that is, or if you want to look at the specifics of how and why I'm using it, check out this short VBD primer before you dive in.

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