RSP Writers Project: Chase Stuart, Footballguys, Football Perspective, and Pro Football Reference

Chase Stuart spent $93.5 million of his $150 million camp on offense. By those standards, Peyton Manning was a bargain. Photo by Jeffrey Beall.

Chase Stuart is probably what my dad envisioned when he had his first son back in 1970: a Manhattan lawyer with a proclivity for stats and history. Well Pops, one out of three ain’t bad – in baseball. Of course, his third try was the charm: my little brother is a Columbia grad student earning his master’s in statistics. But lets’ get back to Stuart and his aggressive offensive mentality you’re about to see below.

At, Stuart writes a popular series called “Player Points,” which I think always has a great takeaway worth remembering about a player. He also blogs for the venerable Pro Football Reference site that has earned kudos from some of the top football journalists around. And recently, Stuart created his own excellent blog, Football Perspective.

Because Stuart has everything going for him, I have to try (note the word “try”) to knock this Jets fan down a peg with the observation that his team philosophically looks a lot like the 2012 New England Patriots or Colts of the Manning era. The offense is scary good (he spent $93.5 million of the $150 million cap on it!) and his defense is…likely playing with a lead. Actually there are some astute choices on the defensive side of the ball and Stuart’s choices are not only logical, but they could pay off handsomely.


Fellow writer Cian Fahey will be happy to see that Chase Stuart also believes McCoy has what it takes to develop into an NFL starter. Details below. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and/or fit within the system)
QB1 Peyton Manning 13.5 Manning will lead the offense. His ability to make pre-snap reads and accurate throws make him extremely difficult for defenses to defend. With the right talent around him, as this team has, Manning’s presence will give you a top-3 offense. The other key with Manning is that he’s so intelligent that you can go cheap on the offensive line and not get burned for it.
QB2 Colt McCoy 3 Manning-lite in some respects, if McCoy can’t get it done learning behind Peyton Manning, he never will. McCoy is smart, accurate and has good intangibles.  He’s been saddled with some horrible weapons in Cleveland, but I think he could develop on the right team behind the right quarterback. I’ll groom him to replace Manning and monitor his progress in a couple of years to determine if I need to draft a new quarterback of the future.
QB3 Nate Davis 0.5 If the Wildman is grading my team, I want to make sure I get an A+. Seriously, Davis does have the talent and upside to be a starter, and this is the perfect environment for him to develop.
Running Back Depth Chart

Stuart is willing to give LaMichael James a shot to earn the starting job with his RSP Writers team. Photo by Neon Tommy.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
RB1 Kendall Hunter 3.5 Hunter is an all-around back, with the versatility and explosiveness to shine in this offense.  Playing alongside Manning, I expect him to be able to average 4.5-plus yards per carry and be a factor in the receiving game.  He’ll compete with LaMichael James for the role of true No.1 running back.
RB2 Pierre Thomas 4 My offense is going to mirror what the Patriots, Saints and Colts have done in recent years.  And the best running back on those teams has been Thomas, a valuable contributor at only $4 million a year. Thomas doesn’t need to be a bell-cow and is used to playing in a committee. He’s averaged 4.8 yards per carry in five years with the Saints.
RB3 Returner LaMichael James 3.5 I believe James can be a legit, No.1 running back. His explosiveness was legendary in college, and he was a much tougher interior runner than most give him credit.  With his speed and vision, he could be the explosive element the offense needs to lead the league in scoring.  Even if his game doesn’t fully translate to the pros, he’s a good change of pace back to team with Hunter.  Will be the punt returner.
John Clay 0.5 A fine end of roster running back who at least showed some skills in college. Could replace Thomas down the road if he develops.
Wide Receiver Depth Chart

One thing I love about Torrey Smith’s game that makes him a better prospect than the stylistically similar Lee Evans, is that Smith makes a lot of plays after contact. Photo by Rob Wiss
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
WR2 Victor Cruz 6.5 Cruz already has a great rapport with one Manning, and I suspect he’ll develop well with the other.  Cruz will line up in the slot and on the outside in this offense, and his fantastic sophomore season makes him a steal at $6.5 million per year.  He’s an explosive receiver but also a good route runner, and his skill set complements the other pieces in this offense.
WR1 Torrey Smith 6 Smith impressed as a rookie and I have faith he’ll continue to grow as a receiver.  He’s an excellent deep threat in the mold of a Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson or Donte’ Stallworth type, and a great No. 2 receiver and No.3 target for Manning.
WR3 Anquan Boldin 4.5 Boldin’s a skilled veteran who is an excellent possession receiver. In three-receiver sets, we can move Cruz to the inside and leave the pair of Ravens on the outside.  Think how good the Ravens offense would be if they replaced Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta with Peyton Manning, Kendall Hunter, Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham?  Boldin will quickly become a Manning favorite and will be counted on for key third-down conversions.
WR4 Returner T.Y. Hilton 2.5 Hilton is a great return man and a good prospect as a developmental, fourth receiver.
WR5 Returner Ted Ginn 2 Along with Hilton, Ginn will help on special teams. Ideally, Ginn would excel as a returner and allow Hilton to develop as a receiver, but alternatively we could cut Ginn in training camp to make room for any key roster acquisitions.
WR6 Wallace Wright 0.5 Good value as a special teams ace.
Fullback and Tight End Depth Chart

Great to see the underrated Delanie Walker on an RSP Writers Team. Chase Stuart gets it – Walker could start for a number of teams, but does a great job as a No.2 tight end. Photo by 49ersparadise.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
TE1 Jimmy Graham 7 What is there to say about Jimmy Graham? He’s impossible to cover one-on-one, and difficult to cover even with multiple defenders.  At $7 million per year, he’s actually a value pick.  The great offenses in NO, NE and IND have had excellent tight ends, and we’ll be sure to have that here, too.  Graham will fit in well with Cruz and Smith, and defenses will be unable to figure out how to cover all of Manning’s weapons.
TE2 Delanie Walker 2 A great No.2 tight end, and one already comfortable in that role.  Walker is capable of playing wide receiver but also is a strong blocker.  On most teams, he’d be a starting tight end, but he’s a great No.2 tight end that Manning can target in key situations.  He’ll play a significant role in this offense, as obviously Graham won’t be expected to stay in and block all that frequently.
TE3 Matthew Mulligan 0.5 A blocking tight end who can be useful in obvious running situations.
FB Charles Clay 0.5 So versatile that he might be able to convince Manning that he’s not a fullback.
Tackle Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
LT1 Jonathan Martin 5 Martin played left tackle in college and will do so here as well.  Some question his ability to play left tackle in the pros, but Manning’s pre-snap reads and quick release mitigate the need for a star left tackle. The Colts went 14-0 and made the Super Bowl with Charlie Johnson protecting Manning’s blind side. I believe the key to a successful offensive line is making your weakest link as strong as possible, rather than having a couple of elite individuals.
RT1 Todd Herremans 5 Herremans is a developing right tackle who had his best season of his career in 2011 with the Eagles.  While far from a star, he’s a capable right tackle that won’t prevent the offense from reaching its heights.  He’s a strong run blocker but continues to improve in the passing game.
LT2 Levy Adcock 2.5 Adcock went undrafted in April, but has familiarity with a spread offense after spending three years with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. He was first-team All-Big XII in 2010 and 2011, and will be a good backup tackle in the pros.
RT2 Vlad Ducasse 3 Ducasse is a monster of a man with immense physical skills but has struggled to transition at the professional level.  Still, he’s a young and inexperienced player, one worth taking a risk on because of his potential as a right tackle.
Guard Depth Chart
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
LG1 Charlie Johnson 4.5 Johnson and Manning have played together before, and should help the offensive line transition to a Manning offense.  He has extensive experience at left tackle and can take over if Martin struggles, but should be even better as a left guard, which is where he’ll be playing in real life and on my team this season.
RG1 Chad Rinehart 4.5 Rinehart is one of the up-and-coming guards in the league, and was part of a Buffalo offensive line that helped the Bills running game excel and Ryan Fitzpatrick rank third in the NFL in sack rate. Pressure up the middle is one of the only ways to counter Manning’s quick-strike offense, and Rinehart’s a great value at $4.5 million per year to prevent that from happening.
LG2 Robert T Griffin 2 The other Robert Griffin is an athletic backup guard who impressed at his pro day and was a late round pick by the Jets. “Not RGIII” is a good gamble as a backup guard.
RG2 Robert Turner 0.5 Turner is capable of playing multiple positions along the line and plays with a mean streak. He’s a competitive guy who is what you look for in a backup lineman.
Center Depth Chart

I seriously considered center Max Unger for my RSP Writers Squad. Chase Stuart gets an A on his offense from me because of Unger, not Nate Davis.Max, I’d be licking my chops to play with Peyton Manning. Photo by Bernie Zimmerman.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
C1 Max Unger 5 Unger was a top-50 pick in the draft three years ago and hasn’t disappointed so far in Seattle.  He’s a smart, quick center who excels as a pass blocker, making him a capable Jeff Saturday in this offense.
C2 Kris O’Dowd 1 O’Dowd hasn’t been able to stick to an NFL roster after being a star at USC.  But he’s a developmental pick who would do well to learn behind Unger.
Cornerback and Safety Depth Chart

Ike Taylor provides a veteran presence to a defense that should be playing with a lot of leads. Photo by Firebrandal.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and/or fit within the system)
LCB1 Morris Claiborne 6.5 Claiborne is the sort of cornerback you can build a team around. He’s not cheap, but he’s going to be an instant starter and has the potential to be an All-Pro cornerback. Considering his age and talent, Claiborne was too good to pass up as one of the cornerstones of my defense.
RCB1  Ike Taylor 5.5 Taylor is a great complement to Claiborne and adds a veteran presence to the defensive backfield.  Taylor has been a starter for seven years in Pittsburgh, and will still be able to contribute for a few more seasons.  A good choice for a win-now team.
LCB2  Kyle Wilson 0.5 Wilson has quickly become one of the game’s best nickel backs, and will transition into a starting role once Taylor’s skills decline.  Wilson had a rocky rookie season but was taken under his wing by Darrelle Revis two off-seasons ago, and had a breakout year in 2011.
SS1  Eric Berry 6 Berry is the game’s next great safety, assuming he can recover from his torn ACL. The Kansas City Chief is a true impact player at safety, and will be valuable for a team that expects to be playing with a lead.  He’s a playmaker that this team will expect big things from in the playoffs.
FS1  Ryan Clark 3 Clark and Taylor have good chemistry from playing together for years in Pittsburgh, and he’ll complement Berry well after playing for years alongside Polamalu.
RCB2  Will D. Allen 0.5 Will D. Allen, the cornerback from Syracuse, spent five years with the Giants and then the last five with Miami.  He brings veteran depth and is fine pick as a dime corner for the minimum salary.
FS2  Dwight Lowery 0.5 Lowery can play both nickel back and safety, and has a strong season in 2011.  He’ll be a contributor for a secondary that will likely have many defensive backs on the field at times, if this offense is as good as it appears to be.
 James Ihedigbo 0.5 Ihedigbo ended up starting 12 games for the Patriots last year, which if nothing else, gave him valuable experience.  But he’s on this team for his special teams skills.
SS2  James Butler 0.5 Nothing special, but solid in run support for the minimum salary. A strong safety with over 100 games in the NFL will bring good experience to the team.
Linebacker Depth Chart

Eric Berry could provide a linebacker-like presence for Stuart’s team, which is strong on the defensive backfield. Photo by Wade Rackley.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
MLB1  A.J. Hawk 3 Hawk hasn’t played much as a 4-3 middle linebacker in the pros, but that’s where he excelled in college.  He hasn’t developed as you would expect, but Hawk is a value pick.  For $3 million per year, you get one of the game’s better inside linebackers in pass coverage, a key for a Peyton Manning-led team.
WLB1  Jameel McClain 1 McClain had a breakout season for the Ravens in 2011.  He may not be a star, but he’s a well-rounded linebacker that gets the job done.  By spending so much money on the offense, this team needs value plays at defense, especially at the outside linebacker spots.
SLB1  Leroy Hill 2 Hill, like McClain, is a competent starter who had a good season on Seattle’s emerging defense last season.  He’s above average and a good value for $2 million.
SLB2  Aaron Maybin 3.5 This is how today’s NFL works: my most expensive linebacker is actually a backup.  Bruce Irvin costs $6.5 million, and Maybin brings 90 percent of those skills for almost half the price.  Maybin will be a situational pass rusher for the team, like he was for the Jets in 2011.  According to Pro Football Focus, Maybin had 24 pressures and 6 sacks on 195 passing snaps last season. Maybin could get 10-plus sacks for this team.
WLB2  Clark Haggans 0.5 Haggans, like Maybin, will be a situational pass rusher and can play defensive end in obvious passing situations. He probably only has one season left, but for the vet minimum, he can add a few sacks. A player with 16 starts last year at outside linebacker, Haggans can help mentor Maybin.
MLB2  Nick Roach 0.5 Roach is a starting linebacker for the Bears.  For $500K, that’s about as good value in our backup linebacker as we can find.
MLB3  Greg Jones 0.5 Jones was a first-team All-Big Ten choice at Michigan State in ’08, ’09 and ’10, and then started five games for the Giants last season. A good special teams player.
Defensive End and Tackle Depth Chart

Phil Taylor is a War Daddy. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.
Starting Position Role (optional) Name Value Commentary (Why you picked the player: specific skills and talents you like, potential upside, and fit within the system)
DT1  Phil Taylor 7 My highest paid defensive player? Why? I plan to have a great offense and am building the defense with the  theory that my team will be playing with a lead.  Considering most of my money has been spent with that in mind, Taylor’s the cog that can help shut down the running game. He’s currently rehabbing from a torn chest muscle, but will anchor the line for years. Even if the rush defense struggles, in 2012 we only need to him to pull a Bob Sanders and come back at the end of the season and dominate in the playoffs.
DT2 Jared Crick 2.5 Crick played alongside Ndamukong Suh in college and the two were an unstoppable tandem.  Lined up next to Taylor, I expect to see similar results.  He slid in the draft, but can be a starting defensive tackle in the NFL.
LDE1 Shea McClellin 4.5 McClellin, Curry and Maybin will be expected to provide the pass rush for this team.  Hopefully as a group they can provide some of what Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis did for years in Indianapolis.  McClellin is a natural fit as an edge rusher on my team and is a high-motor player. New Orleans and New England, despite having great offenses, have struggled at times due to the lack of a good pass rush. The hope is we won’t have that here.
RDE1 Vinny Curry 4.5 Curry is a pass rushing defensive end who will ideally be the Mathis to McClellin’s Freeney.  The hope being that Taylor and Crick provide enough of a presence up front that we can get by with two pass rushing ends.
LDE2  Cameron Heyward 0.5 As a rookie, Heyward didn’t make much of an impact with the Steelers.  But it’s hard not to get excited about a first-round talent for $500K, and he could start for this team if McClellin or Curry struggle as rookies.
DT4  Martin Tevaseu 0.5 “MTV” adds beef to the line and is a young player whom the Jets have added to the defensive rotation. He’s a good contributor as a fourth defensive tackle.
DT3  Terrence Cody 1 In obvious rushing situations, Cody will replace Crick.  With Taylor banged up, Cody will be a solid two-down interior starter in the beginning of the season who can bottle up the run.
RDE2  Adam Carriker 0.5 Carriker is a run-stuffing defensive end who can replace McClellin and/or Curry when necessary.
Final Special Teams Roster
Kicker and Punter Depth Chart
Starters Name Value Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
K1 Ryan Longwell 0.5 He’s the cheapest kicker out there.  But Longwell is certainly serviceable, ranking second in field goal percentage in 2009 and 2010.
P1 Kevin Huber 0.5 He’s the cheapest punter out there.  Huber was fine for the Bengals last year, and on fourth downs, I plan to have Peyton Manning on the field about as often as Huber.
Kick Coverage Team
Name Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
Kyle Wilson
James Ihedigbo
Wallace Wright
T.Y. Hilton
Aaron Maybin
Nick Roach
Greg JonesNick Roach
Greg Jones
James Butler
Will D. Allen
Delanie Walker
Punt Coverage Team
Role (optional) Name Commentary (Why did you choose the player for special teams and what Role (optional) will he play?)
LS Kris O’Dowd
RG Robert T Griffin
LG Robert Turner
Gunner(SE1) Wallace Wright
Gunner(SE2) James Ihedigbo
SB1 James Butler
SB2 Clark Haggans
PP Charles Clay
RT Levy Adcock
LT Vlad Ducasse

One response to “RSP Writers Project: Chase Stuart, Footballguys, Football Perspective, and Pro Football Reference”

  1. It’s interesting to me the way things overlap or don’t in this project. I built a team on my own for amusement, and I was interested to see Chase’s team in large part because I already know that Chase and I would be essentially matches philosophically. Even if I hadn’t already known that, it’s obvious from looking at the rosters that we approached it the same way. Yet, the only players we have in common are Peyton Manning, Kyle Wilson, Dwight Lowery, and Nick Roach, two of whom are backups. It’s just interesting to me that even with such philosophical overlap, the teams can so easily be so radically different.

    I rather wonder about the quarterback situation behind Manning. At 0.5, it doesn’t matter that much and clearly it’s fine to risk that little to swing for the fences, but Davis has been cut within two months of signing twice in the last two years and he’s now a 25-year-old who’s been in the league three years–how long before it’s time to give up on him? McCoy should be a well above-average backup, but is Chase banking on him improving or on his performance so far being better than it appears because of the awful team around him?

    I’m enjoying this project even more as it goes along.

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