The Vision Test

When I was a kid, I loved pro wrestling. I’m not talking about like when I was 13 or 14, I mean when I was 4 I loved pro wrestling. I still have a very vivid memory of my brother teaching me how to do the Sharpshooter, the signature move of my favorite wrestler Bret Hart. As fun as it was to watch on TV I really enjoyed my wrestling action figures as well. The stable at the Jordan household included to the best of my memory Bret and Owen Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, The British Bulldogs, and a tag team I swear I googled for 20 minutes to find just to include them, The Bushwhackers. Even had a little blue ring with the ropes for them to wrestle in and everything.

This must have made it odd when I was 5 and asked my mother if she could buy me a dollhouse. Dolls weren’t of any previous interest to me, it was all Legos and wrestlers.

There were no questions, no, “boys don’t play with dollhouses” discussions to be had. I asked for it, and when she could my mother purchased me a dollhouse and waited to see what plans I had in store for it.

Dollhouse

It’s weird how our memories work, right now I can’t tell you how I had my coffee earlier today, but I can absolutely remember that dollhouse. It’s not like the one in the picture here, because it’s that exact type. The blue roof and white banisters were crystal clear in my head when I first had the idea to write all this. I’m not a huge nostalgia fiend, but when I searched 90s dollhouses and saw it pop up the feeling was indescribable. The closest I can come is to saying that it was like seeing an old friend I had almost forgotten. A rush of childhood memories consumed me after.

It even came with furniture and a little dollhouse family, which would have been perfect if I had wanted dolls. From what my mother told me, when we started playing with it I removed the family almost immediately and handed them to her. I got all my wrestlers out and started playing with them in the house instead. I didn’t want a dollhouse for dolls, I wanted a place for my wrestlers to live.

The point of the story here, and I promise there is one, is that my mother took the time to see what I was going to do. Asking for a dollhouse probably came out of nowhere, but watching me move the Hart’s in with Ric Flair and the rest of the gang, albeit peculiar, must have made sense when she saw it.

Sometimes you just need to see what happens.

To this day seeing things is still really important to me. When I read other fantasy writers I’m overwhelmingly drawn to those who reference thing they’ve seen watching film. I respect all the metrics people out there and realize its worth but I’m just more captured by mentions of a wide receiver’s body lean or a quarterback’s quick feet in the pocket.

Seeing things is also incredibly important to running backs. In fact a running back’s vision is either praised or trashed in scouting write-ups. I never found there to be a middle ground, or for that matter any further analysis on what seems to be a crucial factor of a running back’s job performance.

All of this is exactly why I created what I’m calling: The Vision Test. Going through game film, taking a 6 game sample through the season where a RB had varying degrees of success I analyze and score a running back’s performance by each individual carry. First off, I select 2 games where the RB performed well, 2 mediocre showings, and 2 low-end outings. High yardage games that were boosted by a very long run aren’t used. To me, if a back had 15 carries for 125 and an 80 yard TD run he really went 14 for 45 with either 1 good, or 1 very lucky play as well.

As far as what I’m looking for? Well I measure things like what hole the running back went through on the play, as well as if his linemen opened up a running lane; you can’t display good vision if a defensive player is in you face behind the line of scrimmage. I also account for things like whether the lane was forming or closing, doing my best to see things as the back on the field would.

After doing this I score how the back performed on the play in different aspects. The cut a back takes into the hole, the burst they show at the LOS, jukes, spins, stiff arms, lowered shoulders, and more is measured and scored per play. Vision really does play a key asset in a RBs success on game day. See the hole and run right to it? An intelligent linebacker will flow downhill and clean things up for a 1 yard gain. But, show patience, cut off your lineman’s hip, sink down into the hole and burst forward as a backside lineman works to the second level? You have a 15 yard gain and 5 energized lineman all racing to help you to your feet so you can huddle up.

I come away with the Run Score for the game made up of three scores for the back: their vision, finesse, and strength scores. The separate scores help tell me which backs can put things all together, and which ones might not be great at finding the crease, but slam into or spin around defenders for their gains instead. Additionally, thanks to the help from my buddy Vincenzo, my sheet also gives me the scores for a game broken down into how they performed when running through specific gaps, and how productive a back depending on running lane he is presented on a play.

This is all just the introduction to and explanation of this concept. The first player article will be out Wednesday and after that I’ll be covering some of fantasy football’s more hotly debated RBs just in time for redraft season. I’m excited to be doing this and hope it brings more than a few championship trophies to readers.

Before I’m out I also want to that 3 writers I brought this to a while ago as I was still working out the kinks. Chris Cheung, Joe Redemann, and Leo Paciga all gave me incredible advice when I presented this to them. Their reactions and suggestions were invaluable and I’m entirely too lucky to know them. Everyone should be following them on Twitter @FFDynasty101, @JayArrNFL, and @Ciga_FF respectively. And of course if you have any questions about The Vision Test or and requests on specific running backs you’d like covered you can find me @The_ATJ.

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