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Beside The Points For Thursday, April 26, 2018

Things That Caught My Eye

Draft Day!

It’s the first day of the NFL draft, meaning that enormous financial concerns are about to publicly gamble in prime time television, which is always pretty cool. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the top running back prospect in this year’s draft and will likely go very early in the evening. But a team betting on a workhorse running back isn’t always the sure bet it was once considered. From 2006 to 2015, there were only three running backs drafted in the top five, and to some extent they never really panned out for their teams. Since then, we’ve had the phenomenal Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott going each at 4th. Barkley could join them if he joins the Giants at No. 2 or Browns at No. 4. [FiveThirtyEight]

‘The Blind Side’ is over

In the aftermath of “The Blind Side,” which extolled the virtues of the left tackle position and lead to a commensurate skyrocketing to the value of those players, teams appeared to undervalue guards compared to tackles. In the 32-team era, 62 tackles were drafted in the first round of the draft compared to 14 guards. That may be changing, since 2013 the total value of draft picks for left tackles has been essentially in free fall since the post-2006 highs. [FiveThirtyEight]

Oldest sport adapts to new realities

The International Association of Athletics Federations, which governs the world of track and field, will implement new regulations regarding testosterone levels for elite female athletes. Most women have testosterone levels ranging from 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter, while most men have 7.7 to 29.4 nanomoles per liter. The regulations — which will undoubtably fuel controversy from literally every angle, and that’s okay — will impact women who have testosterone levels above 5.0 nanomoles per liter, and would require them to choose between hormone therapy, not competing internationally, or competing against men. [The New York Times]

Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?

Winnipeg, city of misery

A new calculation for the quantified metropolitan sports misery score that counts not only the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL but also the MLS and Canadian Football League puts the Canadian city of Winnipeg over perennial sports drought cities like Cincinnati and Buffalo to have the most yearning-for-a-win fans. [The 10 and 3]

Tsunami of corruption

A draft report published Wednesday by the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis follows up on earlier investigations from the BBC and BuzzFeed to find evidence of match-fixing in the sport, particularly at lower levels. The report found 20 unnamed high-level players who lost at least one suspicious match from 2005 to 2008. [BuzzFeed]

World Cup getting called from stateside

Fox Sports is rolling out details about its play calling teams for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia. Given the lack of an American presence at the cup — the United States failed to qualify — Fox elected to pare back its footprint in Russia proper and will have only one of five announced crews actually in Russia. [World Soccer Talk, The Associated Press]

Big Number(s)

161.4

Looking at a stat called five-year approximate value, the hoarde of valuable draft picks held by the Cleveland Browns is truly formidable. Overall, the Browns have a total draft expected value of 161.4, which is head and shoulders above their nearest competitors, the Bills (124.3), Colts (122.1) and Broncos (116.4). The Browns are poised for a guaranteed consequential couple of days, for better or for worse. [The Washington Post]

Leaks from Slack:

neil:

MLB Now talking about 8 teams currently being on pace for 100+ losses…. wonder how that compares to other seasons via something more rigorous like Elo?

natesilver:

we have two teams projected for 100+, and 2 more for 99

plus one at 97 and one at 95
seems like a lot for this early in the season

neil:

TankFest ’18

Predictions

Oh, and don’t forget
The past few weeks of the Overwatch League have been outstanding

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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