Thursday, July 26, 2012

National Friday League: Leslie Frazier gets to prove it

Leslie Frazier
IF Leslie Frazier is the coach of the Vikings in 2013, it will be because he earned the job.  And that should be a good feeling for Viking fans.

If Frazier is fired after 2012, I won't necessarily consider him a bad coach who deserve it (of course that depends on how they fail in 2012). Frazier took over as coach for a team that went all in to win now in 2010 and failed.  He had to deal with an aging, declining roster that needed to be largely replaced, during a lockout season.  And he actually kept the Vikings competitive on a week to week basis in 2011: despite a 3-13 record, they were actually competitive in 12 of their games (in addition to the three wins, they lost nine games by seven or fewer points). Some of those losses may have been a result of bad coaching decisions or poorly prepared players (though I think we all generally agree the Viking secondary had terrible personnel last season), but a lot of it comes down to bad luck. I'm not saying Frazier was a great or even good coach in 2011; I'm just saying his team--a team in rebuilding mode with a lot going against it because of things that happened before Frazier became head coach--played more competitively than you probably think. And the roster isn't transformed  the way it needs to be yet, so Frazier might still have a lousy team in 2012.

But if Frazier is able to keep his job after 2012, it will be because he is a hell of a coach. It will also be about personnel: that Christian Ponder takes major strides, that Matt Kalil is a stud, that the "fix the secondary through quantity rather than quality" approach worked, that enough pass catchers develop into pro quality receivers, that either Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart or both perform at RB. But it will also be because Frazier helped this team improve, he made good strategic decisions, he prepared a roster with more young players and new players at key positions, and he made things work for a team that mostly picked up cheap rather than big name free agents. If the Vikings get to, say, 9-7, it will be an impressive coaching job, and we can have confidence in him as the Viking coach.

But if he doesn't earn that job with his team's performance on the field, the team will be moving on. Zygi Wilf, with his new profitable stadium coming and a commitment to stay in the state, isn't going to go cheap at head coach. And we'll have a completely new approach to the team to think about. Either way, as a fan I can deal with that.

Fantasy Analysis: on hiatus
I had a pretty lengthy section written here with some pretty detailed fantasy analysis. I copied it all, and I'll post it sometime after August 11th. I realized I was saying too much: I've got two drafts coming up, and people in those leagues are readers. If I were a paid fantasy football analyst, I would have to say tough luck and post my analysis. I am not. So the in-depth fantasy analysis picks up in a few weeks.

Revolution in Exile
At some point I resign myself to the reality that most fantasy leagues will continue to use head-to-head format, and wonder why I should care, since I get to be in a league that doesn't and what do I care what you do? But if you're interested in revisiting why fantasy football should use something other than head-to-head competition, here is a manifesto (with links to earlier manifestos).

I do, though, hope that auctions continue to grow in popularity as opposed to snake drafts. Auction drafts are wildly more fun, exciting, and intense, and auction formats give you much more control and flexibility over your team. And with technological advancements like Skype, it is no longer a requirement to have all league members present for a draft. Most professional fantasy football commentary still focuses on snake formats, so as you listen you have to translate into your own terms (and there's not a clean translation between snake and auction, because of that flexibility), and that's annoying. So as auctions grow, there will be market pressure for commentators to cater more to us auction practitioners.

Kick Ass Links
The pass rush was critical to the Vikings' pass defense last year; without it, they were utterly awful (Football Outsiders).

I don't know that it was really a worry, but Matt Kalil signed (

I'll be honest here (for once): I've completely written Adrian Peterson out of my fantasy football considerations. There will always be somebody willing to pay more or draft him earlier than I would draft somebody who will on week one be nine months recovered from a torn ACL. As a Viking fan I hope for the best; as a fantasy football junkie I'm not counting on it. And Toby Gerhart is ready to start (Roto Arcade).

I'll be honest again: is it worth our time to read any of the articles there will be about Christian Ponder before the season? Like this one? I think it is not. What will matter is watching Ponder play, in games, when the season starts. Nothing that happens between now and the real season will make me think much differently of Ponder's chances to be a successful pro QB (though I will watch those preseason games).

Umm...can the Vikings actually forbid independent media members from reporting on players being "admonished" (Star Tribune)? I suppose they can control future access to their team: no constitution guarantees a reporter be allowed in the Minnesota Viking locker room, after all. But something tells me if the friggin' Star Tribune reports on something the Vikings say they are not "allowed" to report on, the friggin' Star Tribune is going to be just fine.

Patrick Reusse gives his theory on why Daunte Culpepper collapsed (Star Tribune).

"The Greening of Professional Sports" (New York Times).

I started following Arian Foster when he announced he was vegan, and he's an interesting, funny fellow (Foster's Twitter).

ESPN's Fantasy Cheat Sheet is really helpful to print (ESPN). I don't really care how publications or websites rank players: I want them to organize information in clear, informative, useful ways. This cheat sheet is handy to cross off names during the draft (I don't know about you, but my league has stiff, stiff penalties for putting a player up for bids who has already been drafted).

Who is the best running back in the league? (Grantland).

Ladanian Tomlinson's fantasy legacy (Grantland).

Matthew Berry's 100 facts (ESPN).


  1. PV:

    I think it's going to be very difficult for Frazier to keep his job, barring an unexpected 8-8 or 9-7 season where the Vikings compete for a Wildcard playoff spot.

    It's conceivable that with this roster that Frazier and his staff could do a great coaching job and the team could still end up 5-11 or 6-10. That would be progress, for sure, compared to last year's 3-13 record. But after going 6-10 in 2010 and 3-13 in 2011, there would be a lot of pressure on the Wilf's to bring in some hotshot candidate rather than sticking with Frazier. I'm also not sure how sold Spielman is on Frazier as a head coach.

  2. I think so too: that's why I think we can feel good if he retains his job, because he'll have earned it. It won't be like most fans during the Childress era ("Oh God, another year of this guy!?!?!").

    1. Chilly was a hotshot candidate back in 2005-2006, too. Beware of hotshot candidates.

  3. My drafts are Aug 19 and Sept 2, so that'll work to wait on the fantasy analysis, I suppose, but please post quickly after your draft! Also, some post-draft commentary on your own league would be interesting.

    I don't know how I feel about Frazier. If MN wins 6 or more games this year and he gets canned, I'll feel bad for the guy, but if the new coach ends up being someone I can get more excited about, then I'll forget him pretty quick.

    Yay! Kalil!

    I'm not considering Peterson in my drafts, either. I've got him as RB16 and Yahoo's ADP has him as RB9. I've got Vikings homers in my league, so there's no way he'll still be on the board when he's finally worth taking.

  4. Damn it PV you should have posted the fantasy report this week!