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Locker vs. Bradford: A Chemistry Class Debate

Editor’s Note: This article was the winning submission of one of our Writing Contest winners – Dan Hasty. It was chosen for its creativity, humor and obvious creative spin on a debate. It was succinct, to the point and a perfect illustration of originality being important. Team DLF is excited to welcome Dan to the writing group and we know you’ll enjoy much more of his work in the coming months and years.

About a month ago, I was talking to a co-worker who led me to the following realization: I am incredibly lame. Sure, I’ve been accused of this before, but this time it was true.  I believed it because I had never seen an episode of Breaking Bad on AMC. It has been airing since 2008, but I just started watching last month. After only a few episodes, I became hooked on the show. Not only did I learn about the greatest show on television, but I learned something about chemistry – the person in charge has to have the right parts to make things work. Without them, using what’s already there to the best of its ability is the next-best option.

This brings us to the growing debate between which young quarterback should be drafted first in dynasty leagues: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford or Titans quarterback Jake Locker.

In his first two years, Bradford has struggled. In fact, this year should tell us a lot about what Bradford can do at the NFL level. Call it a “put up or shut up” season, if need be. The prevailing opinion is that the Rams never gave Bradfordanything to work with to improve the passing game. Sure, Steven Jackson has been lining up behind him, but Jackson’s ability and presence has not opened up the passing game in a way Bradford can take advantage of.

I’ve watched Bradford for two seasons and have yet to see him “lock-in” with any of his wide receivers. Last season, the Rams traded for Brandon Lloyd, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the president of the Brandon Lloyd Fan Club. This combination, designed to make sweet fantasy love, saw Lloyd average only 60 yards a game during his time with the Rams. This is on Bradford, who needed to get the ball to Lloyd more than he did.

Bradford has hope in the future, as head coach Jeff Fisher rolls into town. In recent years, Fisher has not taken running backs or wide receivers high in the draft. Fisher took just one first-round runner inTennessee, but he would make it count in 2008 by selecting Chris Johnson. Fisher knows offensive skill when he sees it. In two to three years, this offense should be much improved with talents like Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead in the mix, but I question whether Bradford will be around to see it.

This moves us to Locker, who last season had Heisenberg-like chemistry with his team in his short time on the field. His best Bonnie-and-Clyde impression came with wide receiver Nate Washington. Not only were all four of his touchdown passes to Washington, but he made him look like an All-Pro (19/307/4 in their three games together). Locker is fearless in throwing the ball downfield, as two of his four touchdowns last year came from 40 yards out. He also protected the ball extremely well, committing zero turnovers.  Numbers like those are the kinds that will make coaches take the training wheels off remarkably fast. Meanwhile, Bradford threw 15 interceptions and fumbled six times last season.

Locker’s prospects for 2012 improve significantly with a full recovery from Kenny Britt. As embarrassing as he is off-the-field, he can embarrass defenders just as much on Sundays. They also used their first round pick on a wide receiver drawing rave reviews this off-season in Kendall Wright. There’s serious talent there. In the backfield, Chris Johnson represents a bigger threat even if it is only with his sheer presence than Steven Jackson does in St. Louis. This should open up the field for Locker even more, who can even score points with his running ability when Bradford has to live in bubble wrap behind the line of scrimmage.

If we’ve learned anything from Walter White, the fact that he will do anything to protect his own interests should top the list. In this case, Locker has shown he can take care of the people around him. The kid creates chemistry with his receivers, a great sign for future quarterback success. Meanwhile, Bradford has shown over two full seasons that he knows as much about chemistry as Kim Kardashian knows about a happy marriage. Assuming the Titans show a minimal amount of intelligence and hands Locker the keys to the kingdom, make sure Locker is on your roster.

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10 years ago

Love Breaking Bad. One thing I’ll mention about Locker’s stats is that the majority came in the 4th quarter while down by 14+ points (aka prevent defense). When the score was close (aka real defense), Locker struggled.

Orton
10 years ago

I’m a Rams fan, and ask hoping that Bradford does work out… If not we missed out on the chance for a guy like RG3 this year.

I wonder how Bradfords first years compare with others like Ryan, Eli, or Flacco even…

10 years ago

I love Breaking Bad as well but I double-love making “sweet fantasy love.” Haha! That was a great line! I also agree that Locker is the QB I’d rather own between these two but for slightly different reasons. As a Pac-10/12 football fan, I saw Locker in college for four years and he’s never been a great passer (he was around 56% completion percentage in college) but the thing that really separates him from Bradford as a fantasy quarterback is his ability to tuck and run. So in addition to having the superior weapons to Bradford, I think those weapons will also allow him to contribute quite a bit on the ground.

MarkFF
Reply to  Jeff Beran
10 years ago

Agree with this completely.

Louie
Reply to  Jeff Beran
10 years ago

58% his Junior yr which is the yr they say if he would have came out he would have been the number 2 pick behind Cam Newton

Scott
10 years ago

Bradford lack of success can be traced to the following:
1. Poor coaching.
2. Lack of skilled players around him.
3. Poor offensive line.

Bradford had the misfortune of getting drafted onto a team that had poor leadership, from the top down. Hiring Josh McDaniels proved to be a huge mistake, as that team clearly did not have the personnel to support his offensive designs, and it almost got Bradford killed. Jeff Fisher should keep Bradford upright given his conservative offensive approach to football, but then again that’s never been a recipe for success in fantasy football. I don’t see Bradford succeeding as a fantasy asset with the Rams for those reasons.

It would be interesting to know if Bradford’s history of a shoulder injury has anything to do with it. But given Stafford’s recovery, I doubt it. I guess if Bradford had a receiver like Megatron, he wouldn’t look like a bust.

Ken Dogson
10 years ago

“In his first two years, Bradford has struggled.”

Wasn’t Bradford rookie of the year in 2010?

Yes, he was. He beat Peyton Manning’s record for most completed passes by an NFL rookie quarterback (326). He became just the third rookie quarterback to start all 16 regular season games and pass over 3000 passing yards, joining Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.

In 2011 he was sacked 36 times in 10 games, and he lost his best offensive weapon, Amendola, in the first game of the year.

My concern with Bradford is that his ankle is still not 100%.

But to say that he struggled both years is just bizarre.

DLF should be embarrassed.

Admin
Reply to  Ken Dogson
10 years ago

Yikes!

He certainly struggled last season and 2010 was better, but there were also some things in 2010 that weren’t great, either. Sure, he threw for 3,000 yards and had eighteen touchdown passes, but he also had 21 turnovers (15 INTs and six fumbles) and a quarterback rating of 76.5. Some of that is expected for a rookie, but he didn’t exactly set the league on fire, either.

For his career, he has 24 touchdown passes and 33 turnovers in his two seasons combined.

Sure, it would have been more accurate to say he played better in 2010, however it’s not INaccurate to say he’s had his share of struggles in the last two years.

For the record, I’m a much bigger fan of Bradford than Locker and would choose him in a draft, but by no means does that one statement lend itself to any embarrassment on our end. It’s not an inaccurate statement from a career evaluation point of view.

Drew Ortner
Reply to  Ken Dogson
10 years ago

DLF’s got no reason to be embarrassed. Bradford broke those records, but in the year following we saw a pair of rookie QB’s outperform Bradford in his first season. The league is becoming more of a passing league, and that is more evident every season. It was not out of line to say Bradford has struggled in his first two years.

Ray
10 years ago

Bradford had a solid if not good rookie season considering he had no legit targets to throw too. Plus he was one win away from going to the playoffs as a rookie. The high ankle sprain destroyed his sophmore season. It was truly gritty some of the games he started in last season when he couldn’t move because of the ankle. I am a hardcore SEAHAWK fan and want Bradford to fail… But this article is a bit off saying Bradford struggled last 2 years.

Locker … again I am a WASHINGTON guy. Tireless worker with heart grit, a ton of athletic abilty and is a team 1st guy who honestly wants players around him to succeed more than his personal accolades. All that being said he isn’t accurate at all as a passer. If his work ethic and coaching can make him a more accurate passer he could be a legit qb1 in fantasy capable of say … Donovan McNabb stats in his prime.

Agree 100% Locker is qb to own in fantasy.

Douglas Dischler
10 years ago

To start, this isn’t a case of sour grapes. I love the site, and also entered the writing contest, but I’m having a hard time understanding the point of this article. I’m also not saying my article was better than this one. It is well written, with some analysis thrown in.

However, to debate Bradford or Locker going first seems kind of odd. Most of the people that visit this site (I’m guessing a very large percentage) are already involved in dynasty football. Sam Bradford was a rookie in 2010, and Jake Locker in 2011. Therefore, there is no debate. Bradford would already have been rostered before Locker hit a dynasty draft. Although there would be some value in such an article in a startup draft, I again would argue that most people which visit this site are already owners of teams in existing leagues. Therefore, setting up this debate is like putting an advertisement for retirement annuities on MTV….you’ve got to know your audience.

While I appreciate the effort the owners/mgrs of the site put in grading all the entries, I’d have thrown this one out on content grounds alone. Its rather tough to have a debate about which player would be drafted first when they would have been drafted in different drafts to begin with.

Admin
Reply to  Douglas Dischler
10 years ago

Well, in defense of all the people who wrote about this topic, it was actually one we suggested.

Many of the debate articles are essentially penned as “Who would you rather have,” regardless. For some, that could be a new draft, for others that could mean trades or even trying to assess accurate value. True, both could have been drafted in different years in rookie drafts for existing leagues, but we tried to have some debate topics in there so we could see if writers could produce a coherent argument between two players more than anything else.

Really, this could have been McNabb vs. Luck and it wouldn’t have been tossed out. True, that argument is totally ridiculous, but we would have read it to gauge the writer’s creativity, quality, grammar, format, etc.

Relevancy was one criteria for judging, but nobody was penalized for it on this subject because we had probably ten different submissions on this particular debate.

captainzach1
10 years ago

I come to this dynasty site to read relevant factual articles. I’m come to get information, not to try to read a humorous article that should be in the sports section of rolling stone. I’ve got to say I’m disappointed in what I’ve read so far from your winning submissions, I hope you’re not getting away from what made this such a great site.

MarkFF
Reply to  captainzach1
10 years ago

Remember the veteran writers aren’t going anywhere. There is plenty of “that” statistical type of info here. I’ll be writing in the future member’s corner section when it gets up in running and I tend to have a more analytically approach than the first two winning articles published. If you want to see the kinds of stuff I write PM me your email. I’d like some proof readers/opinions prior to it being published.

Robert Scibetta
Reply to  captainzach1
10 years ago

blah, blah.

Robert Scibetta
Reply to  Robert Scibetta
10 years ago

(That was for Zach’s comment)

Jason Sandhage
10 years ago

“Any article must be at least 1,000 words in length to be accepted.”

This article is 737 and about 150 of those words focus on chemistry and Breaking Bad. It might be impressive if this article adequately compared and contrasted the chemistry that each QB had/has with their skill positions, but this is where it falls short.

Other than simply mentioning new draft picks and/or a quick stat line that can easily be found on any website, it would be nice to really take a stand and support it with enough insight that the reader can be swayed to understand the point of view that writer is trying to make. In this case, I wasn’t swayed at all one way or another. A good point is made by displaying supporting evidence. Not simply stating that one would draft one person over another in the final paragraph.

Yes, the writing may be somewhat creative, but when you ask for creativity I was hoping those who entered would not just be creative in their writing, but creative in their actual football insight. Talk to me about injury history of each player (not mentioned), tell me how Brian Quick and Chris Givens can help Bradford (not mentioned), tell me that Bradford ran away with the rookie of the year award in 2010 (not mentioned), tell me why the health of Steve Smith and Amendola (who he has established chemistry with) could be beneficial (not mentioned). When it comes to Locker, talk to me about his running ability (not mentioned), how if he falters Matt Hasselbeck is waiting in the wings (not mentioned).

1,000 words is enough to compare two players. 600 is not. Plus, if you say you penalize those entries that exceeded the 1,000 word mark (when it simply stated “AT LEAST” 1,000), that doesn’t sound right. In reality, an article that stretches to the 2,500 word mark may be what you need – especially when greater depth and insight is what your pride yourself on at DLF.

Admin
Reply to  Jason Sandhage
10 years ago

Your points are well taken for sure here Jason. As I said last night, some of the requirements created some challenges.

We had a bunch of articles that weren’t formatted correctly or sent in Word format as we asked. We had others that were 400 words instead of closer to 1,000. We even had one close to 10,000. In the end, if an article didn’t meet the written criteria, we penalized it as we saw accordingly, but didn’t throw it out. We actually had a couple send in revisions late and we accepted them, too.

We also didn’t penalize the debate articles too awful much if they seemed to drag on – it really is a topic that shouldn’t drag on forever, though.

Again, if it was 2,500 (actually likely more in the 3,000+ range) or 400 words, those received a pretty harsh penalty because that’s a little extreme. Even then, it was maybe 4 points out of 25, so maybe harsh is too strong of a word. However, if it was in the ballpark, we were OK with it and didn’t penalize it too severely. Like I said last night, we wanted to find good writers, not create a strict environment that didn’t give people a chance. Those who met the criteria certainly stood a better chance, though.

More than anything, we wanted to set some general guidelines to at least get enough to accurately judge if someone could move on to the interview stage – that was a huge part of the selection process.

One thing that was obvious with the Locker vs. Bradford debate articles is that many of them simply sounded the same. There are lots of different metrics, stats and data you can use, but they can be overused as well and make the article very dry – there’s a balance that needs to be achieved because readers tend to spend less than a minute on an article before making up their minds if they want to bail on it.

It simply has to be interesting in some way, whether that’s some unusual statistic, idea or approach. That’s what made this one stand out to us to begin with and it was in the top group, regardless. We had probably 15 of those debate articles and this was the one that stood out to the panel.

That doesn’t mean the others weren’t well done, because they were. We needed to find the best fit for the team and feel like we did that. You’ll find some of the other winning articles are not nearly as creative, but they have other distinct strengths that complement the team as well.

Again, I also want to reiterate to people that we were really overwhelmed by the response and wish we could have an outlet for even more people to share their work right now, but we just couldn’t take everyone at this point. We made the decision to add six and the only reason we decided to make that significant financial commitment was to round out the team the best way we saw fit – we feel the readers deserve that.

After talking to each of the new guys, we’re very confident we’ve done just that.

One other thing to keep in mind in regards to word count is that each of these articles were edited to match our writing standards (bolded names, overuse of the word that or and, overuse of first names or complete names, etc.) You’d be surprised at how fast an article can go from 1,100 words to 800 words when we have them match our writing standards. Just because the final product may seem shorter, the submitted one may not have been.

Now, we went very easy on these ones because we wanted to basically publish them as they were, but it’s something to realize.

Reply to  Jason Sandhage
10 years ago

I agree with Jason’s comments. There is nothing said in this article that added to my thoughts on Bradford and Locker. I enjoy reading content that gives me insight into a player or strategy that I might not have considered or been so obvious to me. Most content on DLF is interesting, informative and helpful. Maybe this author’s future work will be different, but I found this article average at best in content value and entertainment.

A side note concerns the Breaking Bad reference. I have seen a few episodes, and it is a good show. But, I think I’m correct in saying the majority of visitors to DLF probably don’t watch Breaking Bad and won’t get the references mentioned in this article. Knowing your audience is key, and it is risky to tie in a theme to an article that a large part of an audience might not understand.

Chad O
Reply to  Scott Peak
10 years ago

Hmm. Scott Peak, where are you getting the facts that “the majority of visitors to DLF probably don’t watch Breaking Bad…”?
Funny that almost everyone I know that plays fantasy football does, in fact, watch Breaking Bad. Sorry to be a jerk but I don’t think you necessarily know the audience either. Although, I guess I may be wrong as well.

Reply to  Chad O
10 years ago

I’ve watched one episode of Breaking Bad, but then again I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV. Given this site is obviously global, to say most DLF members watch Breaking Bad is a huge stretch. Plus, how many people even have AMC on their TV package? I don’t want this to dissolve into a discussion on cable packages, as that would be bizarre. Heck, look at the ratings. Breaking Bad may be a good show, but it’s not close to a blockbuster show based on ratings.

My point isn’t to blast Breaking Bad or those who like that show. But, assuming your audience all watches that show, and will get such references, is a big leap, IMO.

Josh Gans
Reply to  Scott Peak
10 years ago

Thats a silly thing to say (people who play FF and/or come to DLF likely dont watch Breaking Bad).
I’d like to see your justification to that.
I think its likely the opposite.
The target audience for Breaking Bad is likely 25-49 yr old males who have cable/satellite tv.
I would GUESS most people who play FF are likely in the same basic demographic.

ANYWAY..the article was most definitely incomplete as Jason Sandhage pointed out well..but regardless, love DLF and most of the content it puts out.

Eric MacKenzie
10 years ago

Fisher has never shown an inclination towards developing wide receivers. I could argue he’s only had one successful wideout over his entire career in Derrick Mason. His running backs have always produced, but Eddie George never struck me as all that talented, he was just incredibly durable. Actually, Chris Johnson is really the only talented back I can remember under Fisher. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Bradford is going to fail. I just think it has a lot more to do with poor talent around him and three playbooks in three seasons than his skillset.

I don’t hold out much hope for Locker either. His accuracy is brutal and Chris Palmer has already been on staff for two massive busts (Couch & Carr). However, any hope is more than no hope, so I’d go with Locker by default and try and trade him as soon as I could.

Jason Sandhage
10 years ago

As a publisher myself, and having seen a few of these writing contests take place across a variety of fantasy sites, the one thing that I can say is that they provide the staff with an easy and cost-effective way to increase their content, even if the actual substance of the content suffers.

By adding 6 new writers, instead of 1, and then choosing even more to submit info in something called a “member’s corner,” DLF has just found a way to greatly increase their content on the cheap. I doubt the winners will receive much more than a friendly pat on the back and a place to get published, but hey, we’re getting more content. Yay!

Sensei John Kreese
10 years ago

A bad writer uses statistics much the same way a drunk uses a lamppost:

For support….not to provide illumination.

Dan, You certainly don’t seem to be a bad writer, like the first sentence might have implied…but, I didn’t learn anything. That being said, let’s not be too (wait for it)…..HASTY in our criticism. 😀

Its’s funny cause his last name is Hasty.

Rex
Reply to  Sensei John Kreese
10 years ago

Best comment in a long time, SJK!

Sensei John Kreese
Reply to  Rex
10 years ago

Thanks Rex, I’m already in mid-season form.

Good luck everybody in week 1.

captainzach1
10 years ago

Dlf is trying to grow too quick too fast, quality over quality.

Admin
Reply to  captainzach1
10 years ago

I can assure you that’s not the case.

Every move we’ve made has been carefully calculated to make sure it fits with the growing demands of our readers. We posted 361 articles since the end of the Super Bowl between just eight writers – to keep up that kind of pace is just impossible, especially since some of their future projects for them are going to take some serious time to complete.

Adding more to the mix ensures a constant content flow for the site and allows us the flexibility to spend as much time as we each need to in order to provide quality content. It’s our expectation that the growing core of writers simply allows us to keep up with the expectations we’ve created.

captainzach1
10 years ago

Or quantity

Tom Grden
10 years ago

Outstanding piece, Dan. Two of my favorite articles on this site were the Pawn Stars and American Pickers themed articles written by FFGhost, and this has a very similar feel. This was an entertaining read, and I found the section detailing Jeff Fisher’s history of drafting skill position players helpful and insightful. Good luck in the future, can’t wait to read your next work!

Jesse
10 years ago

Just a note: Brandon Lloyd averaged 4.8 catches for 70.2 yards and .6 TDs per game in the 5 games he and Bradford played together. That would be good for WR14 overall with 15.4 ppg (in ppr scoring).

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