As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
This was as wild an extended weekend of football—college
and pro—that I’ve seen in a long time: Arkansas-LSU
had its second great game in as many years (Everyone likes McFadden,
but what about Felix Jones???); Kentucky nearly putting Georgia
into the SEC Title Game and giving them a legitimate chance to
be a top 3 team; and crazy-huge plays between Denver, Chicago,
San Francisco, and Arizona in the span of three hours. And the
nightcaps on Sunday and Monday: A.J. Feeley only doing what Peyton
Manning did—making the match up a contest; and Mother Nature
turning back the clock on modern football in Pittsburgh.
Last week I was incorrect about the number of remaining weeks
before the finals of the FFTOC—this weekend was the last
round of the regular season. Fortunately, I had key “non-finals
material” players come alive for my team and I might have
gotten enough from these guys to actually win my bracket by the
closest of margins—a nice bonus if that indeed happened.
||One of my two “safe” plays. I strongly
considered Matt Schaub, but Brandon Stokley lighting
it up against Detroit after I switched him out for Crap
was a lesson I heeded—your first inclination is best.
||You have to love the fact that Fred
Taylor still has the wheels to break one.
||Lewis was one of those plays where I
felt he was good enough against Houston, but shaky as
a “playoff” back for the final rounds.
||I just got back into town with enough
time to watch his lone catch. I didn’t realize he’d
respond to my constant berating of his game.
||I wanted to save Driver for the playoffs.
Jennings was a great bonus.
||It was between Jones and Williams—completely
||Winslow was the other “safe” play decision
I made for this lineup.
||The way Brown was playing lately, I
thought I’d get more out of him.
||I was actually disappointed by this
game. I thought the Colts would make Atlanta rollover
and play dead early.
||This score should clinch my berth into
With the final rounds ahead I’m feeling pretty good with my
remaining pool of players. It’s comforting to know that I
have some of the more productive fantasy QBs, RBs, and TEs available
to me during this four-week, finals period. It would just be nice
to know which Denver RB I should start versus the Raiders this weekend!
QBs—P. Manning; D. Anderson; J. Kitna; M. Bulger; E. Manning;
J. Cutler; M. Schaub; J. Campbell; J.P. Losman
RBs—B. Westbrook; J. Addai; S. Jackson; F. Gore; A. Peterson;
S. Young/T. Henry/A.Hall; J. Fargas; L. Maroney; J. Chatman; R.
Williams; K. Smith; E. Graham; J. Jones; R. Grant; D. Foster;
D. Williams; M. Morris; R. Droughns; D. Ward
WR—L. Fitzgerald; L. Evans; Roy Williams; H. Ward; A. Johnson;
D. Driver; J. Cotchery; D. Bowe; R. White; A. Gonzalez; A. Davis;
I. Hilliard; B. Marshall; S. Moss; D. Mason; J. Porter; D.J. Hackett;
TE—A. Gates; J. Shockey; G. Olsen; C. Cooley; B. Watson;
L. Pope; D. Lee.
Let’s move on to the week one files of 20/20 Hindsight.
It Would Take A Throwback Player To Win
A Throwback Game: Don’t you think the Dolphins should
have double covered Hines Ward? He was the passing offense with
9 catches for 88 yards, many coming on key plays. Ward at one
point seemed like the only player comfortable on a surface that
was nasty, but the way it used to be in the old days. Eventually
Willie Parker and the offensive line seemed to follow Ward’s
Lesson Learned: Football may
be a tougher game in the present day due to bigger, better athletes
with more speed, game plans with higher complexity, and more games,
but in football in the past played on fields like this on a regular
basis and you didn’t hear about all this whining. It would
only figure that the one player in the league with a smile on
his face no matter the situation would be the deciding factor.
Anthony Gonzalez Would Average 17.5 Yards
A Catch In The Place Of Marvin Harrison: Gonzalez had 6
catches for 106 yards as the #2 WR for the Colts on Thanksgiving
evening. Sure it was the Falcons, but Gonzalez is a rookie coming
off injury and played extremely well in an offense requiring a
high level of processing plays quickly at the line of scrimmage
due to the leeway Tom Moore gives Peyton Manning. The reason the
Colts drafted Gonzalez is the fact he might have been the most
polished route runner in his draft class, which signaled to Indy
that he could assimilate the offense.
Lesson Learned: Are you ready
for the waiver wire darling of the stretch run? Even if Harrison
returns to the lineup, Gonzalez could be the AFC South’s
version of Wes Welker…
The Vikings Defense Would Outscore Most
Fantasy Wide Receivers: Nothing like 3 out of 4 interceptions
going for scores. These three plays alone could have beaten the
Giants by one. New York had a decent, yards per carry average
between Rueben Droughns and Ahmad Bradshaw, but they gave away
the game too early.
Lesson Learned: Dwight Smith
and Darren Sharper may not be what they used to be, but they are
still veterans capable of baiting an average quarterback.
The Cardinals Defense Would Be The Team
That Allowed Frank Gore To Have The Type Of Game We Expected At
Least A Few Times This Year: How could Arizona allow 34
points to the 49ers? For starters, it is a divisional rivalry
so the teams know each other better than most. Then there’s
the presence of veteran Trent Dilfer. San Francisco’s backup
is not only a stabilizing influence in the huddle and practice,
but he is also healthy—something Alex Smith was not.
Does Dilfer have a better understanding of when to check to new
plays? Probably, and this only helps Frank Gore, who had a whale
of an effort with 116 yards rushing, 98 yards receiving, and two
scores. I’m sure there’s some truth to the notion
that the Niners are more predictable without Norv Turner at the
controls, but I believe this team snuck up on people last year
where this hasn’t been the case in 2007. One thing is for
certain though, the Niners have an easier schedule ahead and with
Dilfer under center, this should spell good things for the offense.
Lesson Learned: If you gave
up on Frank Gore, I hope you got consistent production in return.
If you kept Gore, I hope you had consistent depth to keep you
in the hunt for Gore to take over. The biggest thing you should
learn about Frank Gore—who was generally regarded as a top-5
pick in most fantasy drafts—is you want to stock up on RBs
with at least 4 picks within the first 7-10 rounds in 2-RB starting
lineups. If you did, chances are you picked a player the caliber
of Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Fred Taylor, or Marshawn Lynch
as your 3rd or 4th back. If you didn’t, you now can see
why it’s a worthwhile strategy for next season.
Brett Favre Is Easy Money On Thanksgiving
Day: 381 yards and 3 scores in Detroit when the Lions knew
Favre would be throwing early, often, and always. This has opened
up the run with their ability to spread the field.
Lesson Learned: Start fantasy
QBs and receivers that face the Lions on Thanksgiving Day until
Gus Frerotte Is Brett Favre Gone Wild:
“4-Rot” had four chances to beat the Seahawks, but
blew three of them.
Lesson Learned: Gus is a yardage
monster much of the time, but he won’t win you games with
even a strong set of skill players around him.
Devin Hester Is The Best Return Specialist
Ever? Just so you know, I was writing this before
his second return for a score today. I know it’s premature,
given it is Hester’s second year as a pro, but have you
seen a better one? Dante Hall? He played on a strong unit with
a great special teams coach. He also did far too much east-west
running. Michael Lewis? The Beer Man was fast, but lacked the
vision of Hester. Billy Johnson? He was an east-west guy who lacked
the blazing speed of Hester. Deion Sanders? Hester’s about
as fast, but breaks more tackles. Mel Gray and Brian Mitchell?
These guys have proven their skills for far longer than Hester
has been around, but Hester has played 196 fewer games and scored
only 3 fewer touchdowns than Mitchell. The numbers don’t
Lesson Learned: Hester may
have already made a case for being one of the best ever, but he’s
still not even the best in the history of his team. Gale Sayers
has the highest career average per return in NFL history and the
highest average per return for a season. But I have to say that
it’s close. Still, I’d rather have Sayers who literally
had eyes on the back of his head.
The Key To Beating The Pats Is Stopping
Randy Moss, Not Brady: The Pats Golden Boy had over 300
yards passing, but the reason the Eagles were competitive had
to do with limiting Randy Moss to an ordinary day for a receiver.
If A.J. Feeley didn’t give away three balls, Philadelphia
wins this game.
Lesson Learned: Moss is the
most valuable player on this team. His presence as a deep threat
opens up the underneath game, sets up the run (when they decide
to do so), and often gives New England’s defense enough
of a lead to play aggressively. I heard Merrill Hoge say Moss
didn’t want to play as much after he got popped a few times,
but that was an irresponsible statement. Moss got popped in other
games, and still came up with big plays. The fact was Brady didn’t
have as much time for Moss to run past double teams like he has
in other contests (the Jets were an example). Timing is everything
with the deep pass—the Eagles did not allow Brady enough
time to hook up with Moss deep. John Madden also made a great
call that Andy Reid and the Eagles were doing an excellent job
of exposing the Patriots pass defense between the hash marks.
The Pats are still an elite team without Moss, but more like they
were in 2006—beatable.
Nagging Feelings—Week 13
Subway missed the boat with its commercial where Brady
Quinn was featured, throwing subs from a parade float. Although
he aptly responded to the crowd that “he was kind of busy on Sundays,”
it would have been funnier if Derek
Anderson handed him a sub and responded “that’s alright, I’ll
cover for you.”
And don’t even get me started on Citizen and it’s use
of Eli Manning…Unstoppable.
Yeah, unstoppable alright—he can’t stop throwing pics…
Is there a player who misses more tackles or gets posterized
by opposing skill players more often than Adam
Archuleta? Not only did he allow Andre Hall run through his
tackle on a touchdown off the option, but it seems like he’s getting
run over, run through, or faked out week after week. I’d like
to say Achuleta was thrown off by the quarterback option that
Cutler and Hall ran, but he was in perfect position as he hit
the Denver RB only to slide off his waist onto the ground. He
also got outran on a route by Tony Scheffler and still let the
TE catch a 41-yard pass after interfering with the guy. Is there
a worse, well-known defender in the NFL?
Berrian’s 4th down, diving grab the best clutch-catch of the
season? I think so. Just look at the situation and the fact Champ
Bailey was playing him man to man. Speaking of this game, why
can’t the Bears recognize that their best back is Adrian
Peterson, the star runner from Georgia Southern? This guy
has terrific balance and power and runs with the toughness that
Cedric Benson has yet to show.
have no problem supporting Ricky
Williams. The guy spent 8 months in a treatment facility getting
therapy. Obviously, Leigh Steinberg is going to do his spin control
through the media on Monday Night Football, but the fact the Ricky
has been out of the media’s scope for this long despite his desire
to remain in the league lends some credibility to what his agent
is saying. I believe his issue was psychological in nature and
unlike a great many players who had psychological issues, but
probably had to cope with them without the same support that Williams
is finally receiving, the mercurial runner is ready to get back
It’s really not hard to imagine his mindset: He reacted
immaturely due to a fairly debilitating condition that no one
understood and tried to self-medicate. When this medicating got
him in hot water, he got cornered into making stupid choices to
try to save face and deny how difficult his psychological problem
was for him. As a result, he threw away his career. Now that he’s
getting yet another chance, he’s probably thinking there’s
nothing he can say, actions and time will be the only way he can
show he’s moved past his issues. He’s also got to
be sick of talking about this problem. Seriously, look at the
stigma of mental health issues in America today. We still have
a fair number of people in our population who believe people dealing
with these issues are weak-willed, making excuses, or being enabled
by a bunch of quacks who make up stuff as they go along.
Keyshawn Johnson and Emmitt Smith will wonder aloud why Williams
is even allowed on the team for walking out on his teammates,
but Johnson was so disruptive he was kicked off the Bucs at mid-season
and Smith staunchly supported a teammate who was quite aware that
his coke habit and threatening another player with a pair of scissors
could have earned him a bus out of Dallas but did it anyhow. What
is responsible about this behavior? Aren’t these ways these players
let down their teams? The “let down his team” party line by these
former players illustrates the ignorance of Williams’ issues.
This doesn’t mean Williams isn’t accountable, but if Emmitt Smith
is going to call Michael Irvin the ultimate leader when in today’s
NFL he would have been treated like Tank Williams and Pac Man
Jones, is hypocrisy. Michael Pittman is considered a good teammate,
but if you saw him treating your sister, mother, wife, daughter,
or girlfriend like he repeatedly has treated his wife and child,
you’d probably be in jail and hoping for a plea bargain from 1st
degree murder down to manslaughter. So when you hear the media
ask former players about Ricky Williams, remember these guys lack
the education and/or sense to approach what he’s been dealing
with. I’m not berating them, because none of us have if the 8-months
in a psychiatric facility coping with what must have been a debilitating
issue is true. Unless it’s a Barrett Robbins-like issue, something
like social anxiety disorder seems tame and possibly fabricated.
No one really knew, and there’s a lot more to the story we’re
going to find out in the coming months-years. I can see a book
in the works—maybe years from now—about his coping with mental
illness. How else do you explain a player who is described as
one of the most intelligent in the league with all-world ability
and a great personality that won over some of the most old-school
players and coaches who seemed to veer off course in the strangest
ways no one could have predicted for him?