As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
||I originally had Peyton Manning, but
decided you keep testing the bad pass defense until
they show otherwise. Thanks Cincinnati!
||Thanks Cleveland rush defense!
||100 yards…little else. Feels like a
wasted week to use him.
||Labeling this a disappointing game says
it all about Wayne…
||A td would have made this respectable,
||Why I have good karma with kickers is
beyond me…I barely respect them.
||Go figure, KC’s offense was good enough
this week, thanks D. Bowe.
||Enough to keep me in a solid standing
at this stage of the season.
The Chiefs Traded Trent Green They Threw In Larry Johnson’s
Stats: Did you see Ronnie Brown Sunday? If it weren’t
for the fact Cam Cameron started the season with a rotation that
included Jesse Chatman you might have thought the former San Diego
offensive coordinator brought LT’s stats with him, too.
Brown had over 100 rushing and 99 receiving in a loss to the Jets,
displaying good acceleration and a decisive running style all
The problem with Brown in the past has been the fact this decisiveness
has been conspicuously absent at times throughout his career.
You can say Brown’s past problems came from running behind
an immature offensive line or the a journeyman quarterback that
opposing defenses would rather force to beat them. But sometimes
we focus too much on the individual components of an offense and
not how it all works together. Trent Green’s consistent
play has helped the offense click and forced defenses to play
a more balanced scheme against the Dolphins.
In the past two years, Kansas City experienced difficult turnover
to its offensive line with the loss of Willie Roaf and Will Shields
but Green’s presence (at least in 2005) helped keep the
running game on track. In 2006, Damon Huard performed beyond expectation
with Green out and the Chiefs were still able to maintain enough
balance on offense to help Larry Johnson. With Green in Miami,
that balance has also appeared to left the Chiefs for the sunny
environs of South Beach.
Lesson Learned: The presence of a veteran quarterback not only
shores up the passing game, but it also makes running the ball
easier. Just look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the addition
of Jeff Garcia. When a quarterback consistently makes good decisions
that keep the offense in second or third and short situations,
the offense has more success running the football.
Brandon Marshall Would Imitate T.O. Against
A Solid Jacksonville Defense: Is this a coming out party
for the second-year receiver who posted 133 yards on 7 catches,
including a 49-yard reception? While the presence of Javon Walker
mitigates some of the excitement, Marshall has looked good in
the first three games of the ’07 season. Keep in mind he
did it against one of the better defenses in the NFL.
What makes Marshall an exciting, young prospect is his concentration,
toughness after the catch, and his size. He’s not the speediest
receiver, but he can make big plays because he gains separation
with his physical style of play. The former defensive back out
of Central Florida certainly looks like another big-bodied, small
school prospect we saw years ago with the 49ers. Look at the film
clip in the margin on the right and tell
me this doesn't look like what we see from T.O.
Lesson Learned: If you are
trying to upgrade your receiving corps, but don’t have enough
to get a big-name player, take your chances on Marshall. He already
has three more receptions than he did all last year. Here’s
what I wrote about Marshall two years ago (insert link) in
my publication the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio
Kurt Warner Would Jump-Start The Cardinals
Passing Game: Okay, you’re Ken Whisenhunt and you
have a pro bowl caliber runner, two pro bowl caliber receivers,
an improving offensive line, and a defense capable of sustained
excellence. But what you don’t have is a quarterback who
stays calm in the pocket despite the fact you are still in the
game versus an elite football team, a team you happen to know
so well that you have a great shot at beating them with proper
execution of the game plan. Isn’t it obvious what you do
with Matt Leinart after Steelers are forcing the QB to regress?
Kurt Warner may not be what he was, but just two years ago he
was one of the most productive yardage QBs in fantasy football.
He had more 300-yard games than any fantasy starter in 2006 despite
missing games during the year. Last year, Denny Green felt the
pressure to start his prized rookie signal caller. Honestly, I
don’t think he did Matt Leinart many favors, but the Heisman
Trophy winner looked promising enough to make fans forget that
Warner got shafted a bit.
This year, the Cardinals have a coach who recognizes he has a
player in Warner who can keep the chains moving and who stands
tough in the pocket. I know that sounds funny to say, because
Warner has a history of dropping his eyes a bit and looking at
the offensive line, but the analysis is overblown. The real deal
has been that Warner was the lame duck in front of 1st round picks
both in Arizona and New York.
Lesson Learned: ESPN’s
Chris Mortenson reported on Monday Night Countdown that
Warner is going to be rotated into the starting offense, but I
think that means the veteran has a chance to take the job and
run with it if the Cardinals go on a winning streak under Warner’s
production. The lesson to learn here isn’t about Warner
or Leinart, but that there will always be a capable fantasy starter
who will become a waiver wire commodity during the season due
to injury or poor play. Last year it was Jeff Garcia. This year
it could be Warner. If so, Fitzgerald and Boldin will make the
most of their opportunities because the ball will actually be
in their general vicinity.
Earnest Graham Could Have 2 Scores And
9 Yards Per Carry With Cadillac Still Available: Are you
kidding me, Earnest Graham? The commentators easily mistook him
for Cadillac Williams with the way he was breaking through the
line and finishing runs, but it was indeed the former Fun N’
Gun RB at Florida who seemed at best a career back up. Jon Gruden
has said after the game he’ll continue to incorporate Graham
into the rotation of backs in the coming weeks. Does this spell
the beginning of an RBBC in Tampa?
In Oakland Gruden had Charlie Garner, Tyrone Wheatley, and Zack
Crockett. As the offensive coordinator in Philly, he gave Ricky
Watters fits because he tried to incorporate a younger Garner
into the mix while Watters was still at the top of his game. Still
I’m more inclined to view what Gruden said as a move to
give Cadillac a bit more of a break to keep him fresh. Graham
doesn’t have Williams’ speed and vision, but his ability
to finish runs will help him get positive yardage.
Lesson Learned: What I saw from Graham’s big runs were
defenders who gave up too early or missed tackles. Think of Graham
as an east coast version of Marcel Shipp—a player who could
produce if Williams winds up in the training room, but won’t
beat out Cadillac otherwise. That means I’d consider adding
Graham to your team if desperate for a bye week starter who will
get some looks in the coming weeks. Otherwise, don’t get
Arena League Team In Philly Not Owned By Jaws And Bon Jovi Would
Light Up The Lions: No folks, that wasn’t the Philadelphia
Soul it was the 1930s version of the Eagles uniforms bombing the
Lions back to The Great Depression. Like I said last week, Philly’s
receivers were not catching the ball but they would be fine once
that was corrected.
On another note, Keith Olbermann’s The Worst Man In
The NFL segment is the worst football-related segment on
network television. Doesn’t Olbermann have something better
to discuss than the Eagles’ uniforms? I want hard-hitting
news, not fashion advice from a guy who is probably dressed by
a staff of production assistants. And that red telephone prop
was straight out of the 50s.
Lesson One: When a quarterback
hits his receivers more times than not and they drop the ball
don’t blame it on his knee.
Lesson Two: Donovan McNabb
thrives with his back against the wall. We first saw this when
the fans booed him on draft day because the Eagles didn’t
pick Ricky Williams, but he proceeded to shut them up for a few
seasons. Then he played out of his mind on a broken foot. Rush
Limbaugh mouths off about McNabb and next thing you know, Limbaugh’s
career is almost gets flushed down the toilet along with his illegal
prescription medication while McNabb thrives. Then there’s
last week’s HBO interview. The way I look at it, don’t
back McNabb into a corner.
Stephen Jackson Would Miss Time This Year:
darling. Orlando Pace out for the year. Linehan gets desperate
and pounds Jackson into the Bucs for a beating. Torn Groin. Brian
Leonard? What did I tell you all off-season?
Lesson Learned: Take the 370-f/carries
seriously and read what I
wrote about Brian Leonard, you might want to pick him off
the waiver wire if you didn’t draft him as I advised all
preseason. I don’t see him ripping up the Cowboys, but Derrick
Ward wasn’t bad against them so stranger things could happen.
Dwayne Bowe Would Make Me Eat My Words
Last Week: Since I just wrote a big “I told you so,”
to all the irate Stephen Jackson owners who called me ignorant
(I only had one—and honestly, like I really could predict
he’d get hurt) for saying he’d get hurt, here’s
me eating my words last week about Dwayne Bowe, the rookie receiver
who took over a 4th QTR drive to win the game for the Chiefs.
I loved Bowe coming out of school—he’s a terror in
the open field—but I thought his late start in camp would
put him behind for the rest of the year. With Kennison out, I
think Bowe has a real shot to stick in the lineup even when Eddie
returns in a few weeks.
Lesson Learned: You never really know how a rookie will respond
in his first year. It’s a big roll of the dice. Funny enough
after I said Bowe probably wouldn’t make a huge impact,
I started him last week! In my defense, my 3rd option at receiver
was Jerry Porter, Dennis Northcutt, and Matt Jones….
Nagging Feelings—Week 4
Bob Costas using the words homeboy or calling 30 Rockefeller
Center, 30 Rock after bragging about contributing large
sums of money to his alma mater is just a small reason this guy
is out of touch with the fan base watching his show. He hates
fantasy football folks. While I respect anyone who doesn’t
like or get fantasy football his on-air disdain for the hobby
is foolish. He was once such a respected sports host, but he’s
riding the wave of his career and has been reduced to a puppet
hawking corporate products every two minutes. I see why David
Letterman and Howard Stern hated working for NBC, and Don Imus
was right at home. Don’t you get the feeling Bob Costas
will be our father’s version of Lorne Green, Andy Rooney,
and Alex Trebek selling predatory insurance policies on television
commercials 15 years from now? If we all stop watching, maybe
we can hasten this career opportunity.
Two weeks ago I wrote about Vince
Young’s skills and how the NFL scouting/personnel community
regarded him with extreme caution because they were more concerned
with the individual components of his game and not accepting the
fact that the sum of its parts are terrific. I’ve also long-talked
about NFL management and personnel evaluators covering their behinds
with player evaluation. Although I study hundreds of hours of
film a year without the need to justify spending millions on a
player, it may seem reasonable to discount my take. But consider
the fact Bill Parcells just said the exact same thing about Vince
Young last night…this is also the same guy who took Marion
Barber in the 4th round and knew right away he had a player.
Another thing about Young and my tongue-in-cheek bold prediction
about being immune Madden Curse, I have another factor supporting
this point, LaDainian Tomlinson. It was the Chargers RB whom EA
Sports wanted for the cover of Madden 2007, but he turned it down.
Look at LT’s season thus far—maybe it is not who is on the cover,
but who is first selected for the cover. Yes, a subtle difference.
Let’s see how it plays out…
With three weeks in the books, here are my playoff teams by Division:
AFC North: Steelers, Ravens
AFC East: Patriots
AFC West: Broncos
AFC South: Colts, Titans
NFC North: Packers, Bears
NFC South: Bucs
NFC East: Cowboys, Eagles
NFC West: Cardinals
The Steelers are obvious. Mike Tomlin in my opinion did the smartest
thing a new head coach of an established team could do, which
is follow the axiom if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Tomlin
kept Dick LeBeau and let him run the 3-4 defense, and brought
in Bruce Arians to add a bit more octane to the offense while
retaining its roots on the ground. The Ravens defense and Kyle
Boller’s improvement will allow Baltimore to at least back into
a playoff spot.
The Patriots are dominant with a big-play passing game and the
odds-on favorite to return to the Super Bowl Champion Coronation
game, otherwise known as the AFC Conference Championship. This
team is loaded on offense and this takes an unbelievable amount
of pressure off a good defense. The Jets are well coached, and
I think even if Kellen Clemens has to sub for Pennington they
will be dangerous, but not good enough.
I think Denver gets in because I don’t believe San Diego will
climb out of their hole in enough time. The Colts are still the
class of the AFC South, but I think Tennessee’s defensive line
could cause problems for Manning. You can tell after week two
they got confidence beating up on Peyton
Manning, which Tennessee did more of in previous years. Look
what they did to Drew
Brees last night. Plus did you see the stat on Monday
Night Football? Jeff Fisher is 43-2 in road games with a
4th quarter lead—only Lombardi is better. If there’s a team that
could upset Indy in the playoffs, Vince Young’s playmaking skills,
Tennessee’s strong running game, and the Titans defense have a
is playing as good as ever and their defense is excellent. If
they can get a running back, they’re my dark horse candidates
for the Super Bowl. I think Lovie Smith comes to his senses and
Griese to lead the Bears offense. If this happens, I think
the Bears make the playoffs once again. If you’re a Bernard Berrian
and Muhsin Muhammad owner, rejoice—they will have some decent
The Cowboys are the class of the conference, but the Eagles have
a shot if Donovan McNabb stays healthy and keeps putting coats
of glue on his wide receivers’ hands prior to each game.
Both are balanced teams on each side of the ball, but Dallas is
the one team that could stay on pace in a scoring contest with
the AFC’s elite.
Warner plays like he did against Baltimore, I think Ken Whisenhunt
puts enough of an “AFC mentality” into this squad to win the division.
The Cardinals defense has the players to wreak havoc if the offense
can get an early lead, control the clock, and allow Darnell Dockett,
Karlos Dansby, Bertrand Berry, and Adrian Wilson blitz at will.
And I like the Bucs because Jeff Garcia does enough to keep them
in the game and the defense is still capable of big plays. I’m
waiting for Carolina to beat a decent NFL team before I make them
the team to beat in this division.
Well, another 200-plus, point week in the league I mentioned
last week. This time I faced
the owner of a team who inspired the idea of the Crank Score.
He actually scored the third-highest weekly total in our league’s
6-year history. The highest two scores were my totals last week
and now this week. Of course, he beat me for the championship
four years ago by the slimmest of margins and I’ve never won one
with my squad. But I’m off to a good start…
||Out To Lunch
|D. McNabb QB
||B. Favre QB
|L. Jordan RB
||F. Gore RB
|C. Portis RB
||B. Westbrook RB
|T. Holt WR
||B. Berrian WR
|R. Wayne WR
||C. Johnson WR
|R. Williams WR
||R. Moss WR
|K. Winslow TE
||J. Shockey TE
|M. Crosby K
||J. Feely K
|N. Barnett LB
||K. Bulluck LB
|C. Greenway LB
||P. Willis LB
|A. Kampman DL
||P. Kerney DL
|L. Little DL
||O. Umenyiora DL
|C. Hope DB
||S. Jones DB
|G. Wilson DB
||A. Wilson DB
Then there was a heartbreaker for the FFToday team owned by Mike
MacGregor and with me buying the groceries for our head coach.
Nothing like losing by 13 yards:
|Garcia, Jeff TBB QB
||Young, Vince TEN QB
|Brown, Chris TEN RB
||Jackson, Steven STL RB
|Portis, Clinton WAS RB
||Jordan, Lamont OAK RB
|Branch, Deion SEA WR
||Bruce, Isaac STL WR
|Driver, Donald GBP WR
||Houshmandzadeh, T.J. CIN WR
|Gates, Antonio SDC TE
||Miller, Heath PIT TE
|Nedney, Joe SFO PK
||Stover, Matt BAL PK
|Turk, Matt HOU PN
||Larson, Kyle CIN PN
|Dockett, Darnell ARI DT
||Holliday, Vonnie MIA DT
|Young, Bryant SFO DE
||Taylor, Jason MIA DE
|Fujita, Scott NOS LB
||Brackett, Gary IND LB
|Morgan, Dan CAR LB
||Peterson, Julian SEA LB
|Williams, DJ DEN LB
||Peterson, Mike JAC LB
|Huff, Michael OAK S
||Harper, Roman NOS S
|Wilson, Adrian ARI S
||Williams, Roy DAL S
Now at 0-3, we may be playing for a right to Darren McFadden,
Ray Rice, or Brian Brohm. Too bad my acquisition of Bryant Young
cost us our first victory. It might be a long season here in this
Good luck this week and see you in week 4!