5-at-10: Friday mailbag on NFL preseason, fantasy implications, should the Braves resign Markakis, Ray Lewis, PGA Championship

5-at-10: Friday mailbag on NFL preseason, fantasy implications, should the Braves resign Markakis, Ray Lewis, PGA Championship

August 10th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota throws during the first half of the team's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

From a slew of you

Why do you watch preseason football? It's meaningless.

Gang —

Baker Mayfield and his hope.

Dudes looking to make a team and their desperation.

The knowledge that there are 100 dudes in helmets and only 53 will make the roster.

Rookies. Veterans. Newcomers. Journeymen.

Simply put, football is back, and as someone who follows college football first and NFL football second (and a closer second than many would think), this may be the only chances to see some of the young dudes we followed on Saturdays do their stuff in the league.

Did you see Antonio Calloway last night, lighting it up with Mayfield for the Browns?

Did you see John Kelly's 40-yard run for the Rams?

Did you see one-handed Shaquem Griffin tackle every thing in sight last night?

Did you see Saquon Barkley do a Barry Sanders impression on his first touch in an NFL game?

Last night was fun.

Was it meaningless for the most part? Sure.

But, sometimes, can't the most fun be had during some meaningless fun?

(Plus, it's football on the TV. Of course we watch. It's the same thing as tuning in for the New Orleans Bowl. And as soon as BWW has a betting window, well, giddy-up.) 

Injured Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck runs off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Seattle. Luck did not play and the Seahawks won 46-18. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

...

Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

From Mike

I know you don't have a whole lot of fantasy football in the 5-at-10 but I play in five leagues. We have our first draft Friday night

Is there anything you use during preseason games to change your draft board?

Mike —

No. Completely and 100 percent no in terms of playing.

If we did Nathan Peterman is the top QB on every draft board as of this morning. (Yes, that Nathan Peterman — the same dude who had the single worst college football half for a quarterback that we can remember — is still fighting for an NFL starting gig is quite staggering. He went 9-for-9 for 119 yards and a TD last night.)

The one thing we do look for is depth charts. And whether rookies are overmatched (especially running backs) in the transition to the next level. 

That said, and last night's action will do nothing for you if your first draft is tonight anyway.

Young guys (read: first- or second-year players) getting a lot of first-team reps at key positions: RB Joe Mixon and wide out John Ross in Cincy; Barkley in New York; Calloway in Cleveland .

Also, injured dudes who missed a lot of time from injury, like Andrew Luck and even Ryan Tannehill, returning are worth watching.

But the stats and the numbers are irrelevant, considering details like the Rams sitting all of their starters but two and quarterbacks like Brees and Rodgers walking around in warm-up suits. 

Gary Woodland acknowledges the crowd after making a birdie putt on the 17th hole at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis during Thursday's opening round of the PGA Championship.

Gary Woodland acknowledges the crowd after making a...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.



From Todd C

Jay, possible mailbag question? Is the PGA championship a forgotten major? Will moving it next year (I think I heard May?) make a difference?

TC —

We talked a little bit about this on Press Row this week.

Yes, it is the forgotten major held at places that are fine courses but not the stature of the universally known names of the British or the U.S. Opens or certainly not to the level of Augusta.

we think the move will be of great benefit. It gets the event out of August, which is a month when we are more worried about who is winning the backfield in Tuscaloosa than what is happening on the back nine in St. Louis. It also will move it from being last in the major rotation, and being second gives it the chance to be a second-step in the Grand Slam. (The U.S. Open does not need that as a boost, anyway.)

But we also think the PGA could experiment and make this the fun major. The Masters is tradition unlike any other major that players have to go out and win. The U.S. Open is the torture test that players have to survive. The Open Championship is the historic major that players have to preserver through the conditions.

What exactly is the PGA Championship?

Make it the fun major. Make sure there are a couple of drivable par 4s. Invite the club champion of the host course. Maybe this is the major to try universal equipment off some shape or style. Figure out way to make the pay out staggeringly top-heavy.

We're not saying go old-school Rock-n-Jock, MTV golf, but there have to be some ways to identify this tournament more than the Daniel Baldwin of the Baldwin brothers version of the major championships.

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis speaks during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night in Canton, Ohio.

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis speaks during...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.



From SportsFan

Forgive the rambling nature of this missive.  I'm a bit conflicted by Ray Lewis' induction into the HOF.  He was convicted of "Obstruction of Justice" involving the murder of 2 men in the ATL in 2000.  He's never really "come clean" regarding missing evidence.  I don't believe the murderer was ever identified and convicted, but my guess is Ray may know as well as anybody who killed the two men.  I'm sure the HOF has others enshrined that weren't saints.  There was an interesting online article in SI that establishes that the NFL, Ray Lewis' teammates, and others in the Ravens organization have acted as enablers to Ray to deflect hard questions from the press related to this matter.  Where do you stand on this issue?  Forgiveness and move on (he paid his debt to society)?  It didn't involve his playing career, so it's a non-issue for the HOF?  He's no saint, but he was so good that he deserves to be in the HOF?  As for me, I think character counts for something, and I would have never voted him in, but I don't get a vote.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get employee of the year at my firm, if I was involved in a similar matter.    

 SportsFan —

Yes there are some absolute bums in every Hall of Fame. 

The stories about Ty Cobb are legendary. Same is true with Lawrence Taylor. Let's start looking at the guys in the basketball hall. Wowser.

But your details on and laments about Lewis are completely fair.

And before we dissect the Hall talk in regard to Ray, think about these two things:

In this day and age of today's technology — everyone with a camera and everyone with a social media platform — think how much different the entire Lewis involvement in those murders would have been less than 20 years forward? We likely would have video of him — and Ray Rice is still running around the league if there was no video of the events in that elevator — and he likely would have been run out of the league.

Secondly, and we have said this before, but T.O. needed to wait a couple of years because he needed a lesson from the high and mighty voters but a dude who either was part of a murder or at the very least helped cover it up gets in with a near-unanimous vote on his first appearance on the ballot? Yeah that makes sense.

As for teammates and the league helping deflect attention after the fact, that's an interesting angle. And it makes you wonder before the age of universal video coverage everywhere — even something as recent as the 2000s — how many of these things did the various leagues slide out of the public view for popular superstars?

We know baseball was complicit in the PED scandal. (Yet another reason why keeping those guys out does not make sense to me.)

In baseball and football, the league's have specific halls of fame and control the rules. (Hoops is a universal hall, meaning Pat Summitt and Larry Bird are in the same place.)

As for where I stand on that, well professionally, I think there should have been more done by the journalists, either in the ATL or on the Ravens beat at the time, to uncover what really happened.

Now if I was a voter, and he was not disciplined by the league and allowed to return to work, I would have voted for him because he was a Hall of Fame player.

But I would have voted for T.O. too. (And Cobb and L.T.)

If the league let's you play, the Hall of Fame is reserved for the best players to ever play. Not the best dudes.

After all, isn't O.J. still in Canton?   

The Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis looks toward home plate from the third-base line during Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves' Nick Markakis looks toward home...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.



From Joe Don

If you're the Atlanta Braves' GM, do you re-sign Nick Markakis? He's leading the NL in batting average and hits, tied for second in doubles and 10th in RBI's. Obviously, a main cog in the Braves' 2018 machine.


 But he's 34 years old and would be 35 by the time next spring training rolls around.


 Does the decision change should the Braves make the playoffs?


 Keep on Choppin'!

Joe Don —

Such a great question, and one that has to have been asked multiple times in the Braves front office.

Let's be clear: There's very little way to believe the Braves are contending right now without the season Markakis is having. Dude is among the leading contenders for the NL MVP. Leads the league in average (.323), is top 10 in RBIs (ninth with 70) and has provided protection for Freddie Freeman in the order.

We can remember there being some backlash for Markakis' contract — four years, $44 million — at the time because the Braves were in rebuilding mode. Mar kakis' value has been even greater considering his leadership skills and example for the young players.

And before we get much further, now seems to be a good time to re-examine just how much baseball players make. Markakis is a good major leaguer. You could make a claim he's very good — 12 career years, a .290 career hitter with all of one all-star appearance — but not much higher than that. 

Markakis has made more than $110 million playing baseball. Read that again.

And he's having the best year of his career in what will be his final big contract opportunity.

So let's get back to Joe Don's question: Will that contract come from the Braves? Maybe.

Would he be willing to take a hometown discount? Markakis grew up in Woodstock, about 15 miles north of Sun Trust Park.

The Braves have a ton of payroll flexibility heading into the offseason. And a corner outfielder with pop is a monster need. (We still say a bona fide No. 1 starting pitcher is what is keeping this bunch from contending for the NL pennant and not just getting to the playoffs.)

If I am the GM, and Markakis is willing to take three years at $45 million total, we'd seriously consider it. Yes that would take him to being 37, but the other outfield options coming up on the free agent market are also into their 30s, other than Bryce Harper.

Yes we love Harper's skill set, but we'd rather have Markakis at $15 million and a $20 million a year top-of-the-line starter than Harper at $30 million (or close to it considering his 2018 stats are going to cost him some coin) and a band-aim, No. 5 starting pitcher for $6 million per.

There are a couple of 32-year-old outfielders — Cleveland's Michael Brantley and San Fran's Andrew McCutchen — that will be out there this offseason, but if their price tags are around $20 million, again it becomes about value, right? (And if you are wondering, the top two outfield prospects in the Braves system — Drew Waters and Cristian Pache — are 20 or younger.)

We know this, it's not the playoffs that make Markakis now an option to return, its his amazing 2018 season. Seriously before this season did you even think this was close to an option? Of course not. Neither did we. Heck, with the young guys around him, it's likely Markakis did not think so either.

So the exact opposite of a Reader's Digest-type answer is yes. We'd look for ways to keep Markakis.

___

Today is national s'mores day. We go foe on s'mores. Yes they are fun to make, but we'd greatly prefer to get our calories in other ways around the campfire.

It's also national Duran Duran appreciation day, national spoil your dog day, national Kool-Aid day and world lion day.

Rushmore of ball-handlers: Curley Neal, Pistol Pete, Bob Cousy and Allen Iverson. (There were several — Jason Williams, Kenny Anderson, Isiah Thomas to name but three — that were really close.)

Rushmore of best movie side-story characters that deserve their own movie: Barbershop guys from "Coming to America," Cotton and Pepper and the Ocho crew from "Dodgeball," Chaz (Will Ferrell's character) from "Wedding Crashers," (Inspired call right there from Hangtime, and who would not want to see how Chaz got the whole Wedding Crashing thing started and how the rules were crafted) and Brick Tambland's rise to super weatherman from "Anchorman."

Rushmore of signature celebrity hairstyles: Mr. T, Alfalfa, Fabio, Farrah Fawcett's blow-dry fluffy bangs.

Rushmore of all-time sports radio (and this the talk version in honor Mike Greenberg): We'll go Mike and the Mad Dog, who kind of started the genre; Mike and Mike, who together kind of set the standard model for what people do today; Jim Rome, who is really the Godfather of the Hot Take and who's show created a galvanizing schtick that banded the audience (The Jungle) as part of the show; and  Stephen A., narrowly over Colin Cowherd. (Personal favorite is the LeBatard crew, but we know that they are not everyone's cup of tea.)

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