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2010 Year In Review – AFC & NFC East
Preseason Schedule Analysis

Divisions: East | North | South | West

It’s never easy for a person to admit their mistakes. It’s even harder to do so in front of a national audience. But admitting – and learning from – one’s mistakes is a vital part to growing and becoming a better person and, for the purposes of this four-part series of articles, a better fantasy prognosticator.

There are many fantasy “experts” that would not dare do what I am about to do, which is look back at their projections from late August or early September of last season and revisit their triumphs as well as their regrets. (And yes, I was as shockingly off on some of my projections just about as often as I was right on the mark.) But I believe this is a useful exercise for all parties involved and perhaps will give even more credence to my belief in the PSAs. At the very least, it should allow each of us to see just how much faith I should have in my ability to “predict the schedule” and how much trust I deserve from each of you when I do so.

After much debate on how I should go about deciding whether or not I projected a player accurately, I finally settled on the system that I explain over the next few paragraphs. It didn’t make much sense to stack up my 15-game forecasts against the player’s actual 16-game numbers and with the number of teams that have essentially taken Week 17 off recently (if not most of December), it seemed prudent to measure each player on their points-per-game average. The next step was deciding how to measure accuracy. Again, a simple hit-miss system was too rigid, so I added two more categories to analyze the accuracy of my projections.

Hit: my projection was within +/- 1 FPPG (fantasy point per game)
On-Target: my projection was within +/- 1.1 and 3 FPPG
Off-Target: my projection was within +/- 3.1 and 5 FPPG
Miss: my projection missed by more than 5 FPPG

Before we dive into the heart of this walk down memory lane, I want to explain two more areas I decided to address: 1) the percentage listed next to the “hit”, “on-target”. “off-target” and “miss” and 2) the names listed after the percentage. The percentage is simply a reflection of how much each of those four standards fit into the accuracy “pie” while the names reflect the players who actually fell into that category. (So, for example, New England ended up with 12 greens out of a possible 22 – 11 PPR and 11 non-PPR projections – so I ended up “hitting” on 54.5% of my projections for the Patriots.) Finally, I will hand myself a grade at the end of each “team report”, with weight on that grade being given to the quality of player. For example, a miss on a player like Tom Brady would send my grade down much more than a miss on Ramses Barden. Conversely, a hit on Brady would skyrocket my grade much more than a hit on Barden.

Explanations of column headers below:

PPR Margin – The difference (plus or minus) between a player’s actual FPPG and the FPPG I projected for him prior to the start of the 2010 season in PPR leagues.

NPPR Margin – The difference (plus or minus) between a player’s actual FPPG and the FPPG I projected for him prior to the start of the 2010 season in non-PPR leagues.

Actual PPR – The amount of FPPG a player scored during the 2010 season in PPR leagues.

Actual NPPR – The amount of FPPG a player scored during the 2010 season in non-PPR leagues.

PPR Avg – The FPPG average I projected for the player prior to the start of the 2010 season in PPR leagues.

NPPR Avg – The FPPG average I projected for the player prior to the start of the 2010 season in non-PPR leagues.

 Color Codes


 Buffalo Bills
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Trent Edwards -0.5 -0.5 10 10 10.5 10.5
RB Fred Jackson 2 1.9 11.5 9.8 9.5 7.9
RB C.J. Spiller -8.2 -5.9 4.9 3.6 13.1 9.5
RB Marshawn Lynch 4.1 4.2 8.6 7.8 4.5 3.6
WR Lee Evans -1.5 -0.8 9 6.3 10.5 7.1
WR Steve Johnson 10.8 7.6 15.5 10.5 4.7 2.9
WR Roscoe Parrish 4.3 2.4 10.9 6.5 6.6 4.1
TE Jonathan Stupar -3 -2.1 1.4 0.7 4.4 2.8

Hits – (18.75%) Edwards; Evans (non-PPR). The good news? I recorded more green this season (three) with the Bills than I did last season (two). Unfortunately, two of those three hits were courtesy of Edwards, who was benched after Week 2 and released shortly thereafter. As any serious fantasy player likely remembers, Ryan Fitzpatrick took the league by storm for the next two months before Buffalo’s offense stalled over the last third of the season. Evans remained the same inconsistent fantasy player he has been for the majority of his career.

On-Target – (37.5%) Jackson, Stupar; Evans (PPR); Parrish (non-PPR). Once Bills management dealt Lynch and Spiller’s hamstring injury forced HC Chan Gailey to turn to Jackson as his feature back, the Coe College product gave his owners a taste of what he could do in more of a full-time role. Buffalo hasn’t had a notable fantasy TE in years, so scoring a couple blues on Stupar (or any other Bills’ TE) isn’t a huge deal.

Off-Target – (18.75%) Lynch; Parrish (PPR). It wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the Bills would trade one of the most talented third-string RBs any 4-12 team ever had. Seattle was always a likely destination for “Beast Mode”, but predicting that eventuality in August 2010 would have taken a crystal ball and some divine intervention. A wrist injury ended Parrish’s season in early November, but prior to that, he was emerging as Fitzpatrick’s second favorite receiver. It’s notable that Fitzpatrick’s numbers spiraled shortly after Parrish was finished for the season in Week 9.

Misses – (25%) Spiller, Johnson. With late preseason injuries to Jackson (hand) and Lynch (ankle) paving the way for Spiller to pick up significant snaps in time for Week 1, the rookie did next to nothing and spent the rest of the season dealing with ball security issues. The talent is there (Gailey suggests Spiller is very similar to Jamaal Charles), but the second-year back is going to need to correct his fumbling issues, learn to run inside and some bad luck to strike Jackson in the near future in order to get another shot at proving Gailey right.

Not included – Fitzpatrick. Much like Johnson, Fitzpatrick wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen entering the season. After all, we were given very little indication that Gailey would pull the plug on Edwards so quickly after declaring him the winner of the Bills’ QB competition.

Grade: D Unlike some of the other players we will get into down the road (Randy Moss, Jerome Harrison, etc.), Lynch seemed to be a good bet to get traded during the season, so I will leave him in this review for grading purposes even though it was obvious his value would increase when the Bills dealt him. Spiller fooled most of us when he did absolutely nothing with his full-time shot early in the season and Johnson came on just about the same time Fitzpatrick emerged. My one saving grace from this team projection was a couple of blues from Jackson but, all things considered, this was a pretty weak forecasting effort on my part.

 Miami Dolphins
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Chad Henne -2.8 -2.8 12.3 12.3 15.1 15.1
RB Ronnie Brown -3.3 -3.9 9.8 8 13.1 11.9
RB Ricky Williams -7.2 -5.9 7.2 6.2 14.4 12.1
WR Brandon Marshall -2.6 -3.1 14.6 8.5 17.2 11.6
WR Davone Bess 1.7 1.4 11.7 7 10 5.6
WR Brian Hartline 0.7 0.3 9.3 5.6 8.6 5.3
TE Anthony Fasano 1.2 0.9 7.7 5.1 6.5 4.2

Hits – (21.43%) Hartline; Fasano (non-PPR). When projecting one-trick deep threats like Hartline, a prognosticator is usually in good shape if he/she can come pretty close on the number of receptions because touchdowns figure to be few and far between (especially when he is the QB’s third option most of the time) and a receiver’s YPC is going to be right around 15. Fasano actually set new career highs in receptions (39) and yards (528), but a lethargic Dolphins’ offense that often settled for field goals didn’t give the TE much opportunity in the red zone.

On-Target – (42.9%) Henne, Bess; Marshall and Fasano (both PPR). Many folks – myself included – figured Henne was bound to explode upon the fantasy scene last season with the acquisition of Marshall. The only problem was that Marshall didn’t free things up for Miami downfield and Henne wasn’t very good the few times he did air it out (going 10-of-40 on passes of 20+ yards). This, combined with the poor running game, turned the Dolphins into a short-to-intermediate passing team. What is clear is that Bess is Henne’s go-to man on third down (his 21 first-down catches on third down led the team and was fifth-best in the league).

Off-Target – (21.43%) Brown; Marshall (non-PPR). I think Brown surprised us all by playing 16 games for just the second time in his career. I forecasted a small falloff from his wonderful 2009 season in which he averaged 15 FPPG through nine contests, but it is fair to say the interior line play did him no favors. While Marshall wasn’t too far behind Bess in terms of moving the chains, he was charged with 11 drops (third-worst in the NFL). A repeat of last year’s three-TD season seems unlikely, but Marshall’s injury history and poor decision-making (to put it mildly) makes him a risky proposition going forward, especially for a 27-year-old who should just be entering his prime. The ex-Bronco figures to remain a target monster for another few years, but Miami will need to get better QB play and a more wide-open passing attack if Marshall is to ever return to his 100-catch, 6-10 TD days.

Miss – (14.29%) Williams. I’ll admit I took a calculated chance on Williams last season in that I projected Brown would last roughly 11-12 games. Obviously, the final four games would then give the well-rested then-32-year-old a few games at the end of the season to boost his bottom line. Fortunately, very few owners were counting on Ricky as a regular starting option in fantasy – I had him listed as a high-upside RB3 – so this red can be forgiven.

Grade: D+ I was in the ballpark on just about every notable Dolphins’ fantasy player, but Marshall and Brown greatly disappointed and Williams failed to come anywhere close to my projection. So while my six blues and three greens save me a bit, I deserve to take the heat a bit for my optimistic forecasts of the temperamental Marshall, the plodding Brown and the aging Williams.

 New England Patriots
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Tom Brady 0.6 0.6 21.8 21.8 21.2 21.2
RB Laurence Maroney -6.7 -6.3 0 0 6.7 6.3
RB Fred Taylor -0.8 -0.8 2.6 2.3 3.4 3.1
RB Sammy Morris -3.5 -2.5 1.1 0.8 4.6 3.3
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 8.4 7.6 12.5 11.7 4.1 4.1
RB Kevin Faulk -0.8 -0.5 8.4 5.4 9.2 5.9
WR Wes Welker -0.5 -0.3 14.2 8.5 14.7 8.8
WR Julian Edelman -7.8 -4.5 1.1 0.6 8.9 5.1
WR Brandon Tate 0.1 0 5.6 3.8 5.5 3.8
TE Alge Crumpler 0 0.2 1.5 1.1 1.5 0.9
TE Aaron Hernandez 4.2 2.9 10.1 6.6 5.9 3.7

Hits – (54.5%) Brady, Taylor, Faulk, Welker, Tate, Crumpler. Although he did it in a much different way than I expected (high TDs, low INTs as opposed to a huge yardage total) with a much different supporting cast than anyone could have imagined, Brady actually surpassed my high expectations of him in 2010. As long as he is healthy and his team remains committed to keeping him clean and upright in pocket, Brady will continue posting elite fantasy numbers. I’m not going to take a great deal of credit for Taylor, Faulk or Crumpler because it wasn’t hard to see injuries or role was going to play a big part at some point in their final numbers. For someone who preached caution on Welker last summer, I was pleased to discover I scored at least on hit with him. It goes without saying that his quick recovery from his ACL surgery was nothing short of amazing, but I just could not see him repeating his 2007-09 numbers after such a devastating knee injury and he proved me right.

On-Target – (9.1%) Morris, Hernandez (non-PPR). While New England represented a goldmine for my fantasy forecasting skills for the most part, one area I did not foresee was the contributions of the rookie TEs. I was well aware of their talent, but after years of wasting Ben Watson’s athleticism, it seemed odd to me the Pats would utilize Rob Gronkowski or Hernandez properly in the passing game. Beyond that, with Crumpler joining the team as the unquestioned blocking TE and both rookies entering the league as injury risks, the odds seemed long that one or both would experience any degree of consistency in fantasy. Instead, New England may have changed the way teams think about deploying their TEs in that Gronkowski figures to remain the possession receiver who should continue to excel in the end zone while Hernandez may carve out a big-play, deep-threat niche for himself as the years go on.

Off-Target – (13.6%) Morris, Hernandez (both PPR); Edelman (non-PPR). Edelman was slowed by an ankle injury in the preseason, which stymied any chance he had of capturing the WR3 early on and a concussion soon followed his return to the field. By the time injuries were no longer a concern, roster depth and a case of the drops became his biggest roadblocks to playing time.

Misses – (22.7%) Maroney, Green-Ellis; Edelman (PPR). Maroney didn’t play a single game for the Pats last season and bordered on irrelevancy in fantasy drafts as it was last summer. Therefore, my most egregious error was Green-Ellis. I grew tired of waiting for HC Bill Belichick to turn to his most dependable RB as opposed to waiting for Taylor and Morris to break down yet again.

Not included – Randy Moss, Danny Woodhead, Gronkowski. Even though Moss was included in last year’s predictions, I don’t seem to recall a single soul suggesting during the preseason that he would be dealt after just four games, so I chose not to include him in the grading process here. Woodhead wasn’t even on the team to begin the season, so I’d be foolish to include him in the grading process as well. And Gronk was reportedly so far behind to start the season, it didn’t make sense at the time (last summer) to include him in the projections.

Grade: A- The beauty of “spread-the-wealth” teams like the Patriots is they give prognosticators like me more opportunities to apply more green to charts like the one above because more players will be involved. Perhaps I’ve softened my grading from last year, but 12 greens (including important ones like Brady and Welker) greatly outweigh the reds by a large margin.

 N.Y. Jets
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Mark Sanchez 2.4 2.4 16.3 16.3 13.9 13.9
RB Shonn Greene -8.4 -8.5 7.5 6.7 15.9 15.2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 2.5 1.1 14.3 10.9 11.8 9.8
RB Joe McKnight -2.2 -1.4 2.7 2.3 4.9 3.7
WR Jerricho Cotchery -5.6 -4.2 6.9 4 12.5 8.2
WR Santonio Holmes -0.1 -0.1 13.4 9.2 13.5 9.3
WR Braylon Edwards 5.1 3.7 11.5 8.3 6.4 4.6
TE Dustin Keller 0.4 0.6 9.6 6.2 9.2 5.6

Hit – (25%) Holmes, Keller. Through four games, Keller was making me look like an absolute fool, but his fantasy usefulness tanked once Holmes returned from suspension, which was what I expected to happen when I put together my forecast for the TE last summer. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened. After cruising to an 18.6 FPPG after a quarter of the season in PPR leagues, Keller plummeted to 6.6 over the final 12 contests. Interestingly, Holmes took about a month to work himself into his new WR1 role following his four-game suspension to open 2010.

On-Target – (37.5%) Sanchez, McKnight, Tomlinson. With Tomlinson receiving more work than just about anyone could have imagined and Edwards filling in so well for Holmes early on, Sanchez exceeded my most optimistic final projections (even if he was horrifically inconsistent doing so). While it is conceivable that Sanchez can eventually become a low-end QB1 in fantasy, it is quite likely 2010 is about as good as owners can expect from him as long as the running game and defense are the points of emphasis for the Jets. In what figures to be the first of several times I mention this: if you are going to trust plus-30-year-old RBs for any length of time, do it in the first half of the season and sell high after 6-7 games. Whether it is a case of an athlete who has hit his limit in terms of career touches or simply a case of a player losing another half-step in addition to the one he loses after falling from his prime athletic years (27-29), backs like Tomlinson and Thomas Jones could not come close to matching their first-half production as the weather turned cold in 2010. After seeing this same scenario play out with other older RBs in recent years, I’m ready to suggest if owners are going to trust older backs like LT and TJ, do so early and then get out before the roof collapses.

Off-Target – (12.5%) Cotchery and Edwards (both non-PPR). Sometimes, a team comes along and achieves success in a way that defines logic. Last summer, the Jets were destined to be a run-first offense centered on Greene; Edwards would act as the big-play WR while Cotchery and Keller would serve as the possession receivers. Tomlinson’s emergence and Cotchery’s herniated disk made the receiver a non-factor in the short passing game while Edwards enjoyed his best fantasy season since 2007 even though he was one of the AFC’s leaders in passes not caught with 48.

Misses – (25%) Greene; Cotchery and Edwards (both PPR). I was one of the fortunate ones last year. Not only did I sour on Greene as the preseason wore on, but I also did not endure the agony of owning him at any point. Still, it is hard to believe that Greene was insignificant for so much of 2010. Even the one area he should have rewarded his owners – the red zone – was a huge disappointment.

Grade: C The changing of the guard we expected to happen last year (as in Tomlinson accepting a third-down/change-of-pace role while Greene carried the load) figures to take place this year, if we are to believe reports coming out of New York. Regardless, that information doesn’t help fantasy owners who were burned by Greene nor does it help out my final grade. Nailing Keller and Holmes save my grade a bit, but there are still too many yellows and reds on the rest of the offense.


 Dallas Cowboys
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Tony Romo -4 -4 20 20 24 24
RB Marion Barber -6.8 -6 5.9 5.1 12.7 11.1
RB Felix Jones -0.9 -1.6 11.4 8.6 12.3 10.2
RB Tashard Choice -1.5 -1.4 4.3 3.3 5.8 4.7
WR Miles Austin -3.4 -2.8 14.3 9.1 17.7 11.9
WR Roy Williams 0.4 0.7 7.7 5.5 7.3 4.8
WR Dez Bryant 0.8 0.9 11.3 7.7 10.5 6.8
TE Jason Witten -0.4 -0.4 15.4 9.6 15.8 10
TE Martellus Bennett 1.7 0.4 3.7 1.6 2 1.2

Hits – (44.4%) Williams, Bryant, Witten; Jones (PPR); Bennett (non-PPR). Most fantasy pundits knew Jones was in for a bigger piece of the Cowboys’ backfield pie entering 2010. Still, with the threat of a three-man RB committee, it is never easy to determine just how much one runner will get, so coming so close on Jones was a feather in my cap. It wasn’t all that shocking Bryant burst on the scene, but more that he became so dominant so quickly. Of course, his emergence basically coincided with Romo’s season-ending injury and Jon Kitna’s insertion under center. Witten was another proud double-dip for me because many fantasy owners were not nearly as optimistic as I was about his ability to have a huge year in the red zone.

On-Target – (27.8%) Choice; Bennett (PPR); Austin and Jones (non-PPR). One day, Choice will eventually get his shot to make the Cowboys pay for letting his talents go to waste as long as they have. He may not be an elite talent, but he has been Dallas’ best all-around (and most durable) RB since he joined the team in 2008.

Off-Target – (16.7%) Romo; Austin (PPR). To be fair, Romo was coasting at 22.5 FPPG before getting injured early in Week 7 vs. the Giants, so my forecast was more on-target than off-target. The biggest surprise was that Romo achieved his numbers in large part because the running game was so pathetic (which led to a high number of dropbacks and attempts) and not because it was freeing up Austin, Bryant and Witten to go up against single coverage. With Kitna at QB, Austin became an afterthought at times in the Dallas offense. Considering Austin averaged 18.8 FPPG in PPR in the five games Romo finished, I feel justified in giving myself a pass for all three yellows.

Miss – (11.1%) Barber. Owners knew last summer that Barber was walking a thin line given his competition for touches with Jones and Choice. However, he did so little with the chances he was given that Jones ended up carrying his load more often than not. Ultimately, the offense that some had pegged as potentially one of the greatest entering the season fell woefully short in part because Barber gave the team nothing in short-yardage all season.

Not included – Kitna, Patrick Crayton.

Grade: A- I pretty much spelled out my defense for Romo above, which directly ties in to my rationale as to why half of Austin’s projection was yellow. In short, Romo got hurt because a FB missed a block and Austin suffered the most because of it in fantasy. Barber’s reds notwithstanding, this team forecast was a very good one as I registered eight greens. So while I’m not apt to reward myself with a high grade when there are reds involved, it’s hard to not feel good about nailing the majority of my projections on Dallas’ RBs, WRs and TEs.

 N.Y. Giants
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Eli Manning 1 1 18.3 18.3 17.3 17.3
RB Brandon Jacobs -3.1 -2.1 9.1 8.9 12.2 11
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 1.7 1.3 14.9 12.7 13.2 11.4
RB Danny Ware -0.6 -0.3 1.5 1 2.1 1.3
WR Steve Smith -2.4 -1.8 13.2 7.9 15.6 9.7
WR Hakeem Nicks 5 3.7 19.2 13.2 14.2 9.5
WR Mario Manningham 6 4.3 12.9 9.3 6.9 5
WR Ramses Barden -1.4 -1.3 1.9 1.1 3.3 2.4
TE Kevin Boss 1.4 1.7 7.7 5.5 6.3 3.8
TE Travis Beckum 1.2 0.9 2.3 1.5 1.1 0.6

Hits – (25%) Manning, Ware; Beckum (non-PPR). With the lone exception being the 2009 season, Manning has often impressed and disappointed in the same season for most of his career. For example, while his 2010 FPPG and passing TDs were a career-high 18.3 and 31, respectively, and his passing yardage surpassed the 4,000-yard mark for the second straight season, the younger Manning threw a league-high 25 INTs. However, Manning has yet to miss a start since taking over for Kurt Warner midway through the 2004 season and has finished as a low-end QB1 or top QB2 in 12-team leagues every year since 2006. The point is that while Manning may be consistently inconsistent as a fantasy player over the course of the season, he is dependable and durable.

On-Target – (50%) Bradshaw, Smith, Barden, Boss; Beckum (PPR); Jacobs (non-PPR). The hardest part of the Giants’ projections last summer was deciding how durable Bradshaw would be. But with two missed games over the past three seasons, it may be time to project 275-300 touches for the foreseeable future (he recorded 323 last season). One has to wonder if the knee injury Smith suffered late last season will only decrease his meager 10-11 YPC. If the reports of his recovery continue to remain positive, then consider him the NFC version of Wes Welker. Like the Pats’ mighty mite, Smith is a hot commodity in PPR but usually a bit overdrafted in non-PPR formats.

Off-Target – (20%) Nicks; Jacobs (PPR); Manningham (non-PPR). Most of my hesitation in predicting huge things for Nicks last summer had everything to do with the presence of Smith and nothing to do with his talent. After all, Smith had just recorded the first 100-catch season in team history. But alas, Nicks’ ability to create mismatches was apparent from Week 1 on. It would have taken a bold fantasy owner to put the second-year WR in his/her preseason top 10 at the position, but it goes to show that while talent doesn’t always win the day, it sure doesn’t hurt to gamble on it if everything else is in order (QB, scheme, supporting cast, etc.).

Miss – (5%) Manningham (PPR). An occasional explosion from a top deep threat like Manningham should be expected (as should a missed game or two from Nicks or Smith). What is clear is that while the Michigan alum is a reserve for the Giants, he is certainly able to perform like a starter in fantasy when given the chances.

Grade: B While I managed three blues and a yellow for my work on Jacobs and Bradshaw, a closer look reveals that I was only -1.4 FPPG off on their combined production in PPR and -0.8 off in non-PPR. And to be fair, Manningham’s final FPPG skyrocketed in the final three games of the season after Smith was lost for the season. Entering Week 15, the third-year wideout was working at a 10.3 FPPG clip in PPR and 6.9 in non-PPR, which makes my projections look much better than they actually turned out. All things considered, I feel my work with Manning, Bradshaw and Smith should mostly outweigh the off-targets and misses I scored on Nicks and Manningham.

 Philadelphia Eagles
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Kevin Kolb -8.5 -8.5 9.6 9.6 18.1 18.1
QB Michael Vick 24.6 24.6 29.2 29.2 4.6 4.6
RB LeSean McCoy 4.8 3.3 19.8 14.7 15 11.4
WR DeSean Jackson -0.4 0.1 14.5 10.1 14.9 10
WR Jeremy Maclin 1.2 0.9 14.3 9.8 13.1 8.9
WR Jason Avant -0.4 -0.5 7.1 4 7.5 4.5
WR Riley Cooper -0.2 -0.1 1.9 1.4 2.1 1.5
TE Brent Celek -8.8 -5.5 7.3 4.7 16.1 10.2

Hits – (43.8%) Jackson, Avant, Cooper; Maclin (non-PPR). While I tend to believe possession receivers are a bit easier to forecast than deep threats (primarily due to consistent catches and sometimes unpredictable YPC), Jackson is a tough cat to peg even by deep threat standards. I went against most of the fantasy world by ranking Jackson as mid-to-upper WR2 in 12-team leagues (as opposed to a clear WR1), but that is exactly how he performed in terms of consistency in 2010. Considering his tough-to-predict mood swings and inconsistency as a fantasy property, I don’t expect much to change anytime soon regarding my outlook for him.

On-Target – (6.2%) Maclin (PPR). Much like Hakeem Nicks above, there was little doubt Maclin was a good breakout candidate even though he had a wonderfully-talented receiver opposite him in the starting lineup. What didn’t seem as likely, however, was that Kolb would get injured so early and that Celek would fall out of favor so quickly. With Jackson showing hesitation over running routes over the middle, McCoy and Maclin quickly became fast on-field friends with Vick in the passing game.

Off-Target – (12.5%) McCoy. One of the biggest aggravations I endured last season was the unheralded improvements McCoy made physically during the 2010 offseason. While he was reported to be in the best shape of his life (a common phrase uttered by all beat writers every preseason) and was the team’s standout during preseason practice, it wasn’t until 2-3 weeks into the season that I heard any mention of the 12 pounds of muscle he added to his frame. Along with the threat of Vick running on every play, it was the offseason work McCoy put in that made him such a fantasy revelation last year. Not only did he run fearlessly, he also was more elusive than he was in college (which is saying something).

Misses – (37.5%) Kolb, Vick, Celek. Obviously, I completely missed on Vick (just like the rest of the world did) because Andy Reid was convinced Kolb was his franchise QB for the entire preseason and about one half of the first game. Vick’s emergence naturally led to the whiff on Kolb and both players’ fortunes dramatically altered Celek’s bottom line, although a heavy reliance on McCoy and Avant as well as injuries also went a long way into turning the TE into a fantasy disappointment.

Not included – Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison.

Grade: C+ I’m not sure if luck was on my side with the Eagles’ WRs or if I just assumed that Kolb and Vick would target their receivers in the same manner no matter who was under center at the time, but there’s little doubt I did a good job forecasting how many points the receivers would score (off by a total of 0.2 FPPG in PPR on the four receivers and 0.4 in non-PPR). I have to dock myself at least one grade for Vick as I didn’t trust my instinct on him, but my Celek projection was the most disappointing. Despite the presence of so much green on the chart above, I have to take into account the amount I was off on my misses.

 Washington Redskins
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Donovan McNabb -2.5 -2.5 15.6 15.6 18.1 18.1
RB Clinton Portis -2.1 -1.1 9 8 11.1 9.1
RB Larry Johnson -8.3 -7.3 0.1 0.1 8.4 7.4
WR Santana Moss 1.6 0.8 14.7 9.2 13.1 8.4
WR Joey Galloway -1.6 -1.2 2.9 1.7 4.5 2.9
WR Devin Thomas -6.5 -4.1 0 0 6.5 4.1
TE Chris Cooley -3.5 -2.5 11.1 6.4 14.6 8.9
TE Fred Davis -2 -1 4.4 3.1 6.4 4.1

Hits – (12.5%) Moss, Davis (both non-PPR). Unfortunately, much like the Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith, we’ll probably never get a truly good idea on how great Moss could have been. Like Smith, Moss has usually been his team’s best possession and big-play WR (which is uncommon for players of their stature) because of mediocre QB play for a large part of their careers. Moss has spoken highly of HC Mike Shanahan and has stated his desire to return to Washington – he is a free agent – so perhaps this will end up being a case where he will mentor the incoming rookie crop of receivers, namely Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul, while slowly transitioning into a regular slot role as his career begins to wind down.

On-Target – (56.25%) McNabb, Portis, Galloway; Moss and Davis (both PPR); Cooley (non-PPR). While I’ll take my blues and be happy with it on McNabb, I don’t think anyone could have imagined how quickly a rift grew between the QB and Team Shanahan (HC Mike and OC Kyle). Moss performed about like I expected in the end, although he had to carry the passing game more often than he should have. Thankfully, Portis’ five-game run left me in good standing with my prediction for him. Looking back, the only part I would have changed is my forecast of him lasting for 16 weeks, although to be fair, I thought the fact he would be sharing the load would help him in the durability department.

Off-Target – (12.5%) Cooley (PPR), Thomas (non-PPR). Because Moss’ size has often made him a poor bet to score in the red zone, it would make sense that responsibility would likely fall on a player like Cooley. However, Cooley continued his three-year trend of posting small TD numbers, even though his catch and yardage numbers were solid once again. Help appears to be on the way courtesy of this year’s draft, but with one, two and three receiving scores, respectively, in the last three seasons, it may not be wise to expect anything more than a high-catch, four-score season for the tight end in 2011.

Misses – (18.75%) Johnson; Thomas (PPR). HC Mike Shanahan’s reputation for having a quick hook at the RB position grew more legendary early in the season when LJ lost 10 yards on a single run in Week 2; he was cut shortly thereafter. The new coaching staff could not inspire Thomas to work any harder in practice than the previous coaching staff could, so he followed Johnson out the door about a month later after it became clear Anthony Armstrong had emerged as the best receiver on this team not named Santana Moss.

Not included – Ryan Torain and Armstrong.

Grade: B- Trying to predict this backfield was a messy proposition in 2010, even by the standards Shanahan has established as the coach most hated by fantasy owners. Portis was destined for injury given the tread left on his tires while Johnson seemed unlikely to last the season as did Torain, which left forecasters trying to decide if we should really include 4-5 Washington RBs in our preseason predictions. Thomas and Johnson went undrafted in most leagues so, once again, I’m willing to walk away from this team forecast with a positive vibe.

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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006, appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in each of the last two seasons and served as a weekly fantasy football analyst for 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. this past season. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can also follow him on Twitter.