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20/20 Hindsight - Week 5

As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy Football Confessional.”

Can I say again, I thought Trent Edwards was one of the best two rookie QBs in this draft class? Edwards made one bad play, which was a major factor in costing them the game. But if you can only count one bad play from a rookie making his second start then you know how he performed against the Cowboys last night. I’m telling you if you saw Edwards taking a beating against USC in 2005, you’ll see why dealing with the Dallas blitz was no big deal. Little did I know that Bill Walsh raved about Edwards—talk about validation…

I was ranked 27th out of 594 FFTOC entries for the $60 tournament heading into week five. Apparently, it has been my knack for picking receivers and kickers that has vaulted me into the top 5% after the first quarter of the competition. Here’s a list of the teams in the tourney I have outscored by position.

QB - 33%
RB - 46%
WR - 100%
TE - 10%
K - 98%

I have laid back a bit on my choices of runners and quarterbacks thus far. This was not a conscious decision to conserve players as much as I liked their match ups and they didn’t perform (Brees and Young, specifically). Fortunately, it still paid off for me. Here are my results for week five:

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB Tony Romo 24.36 Good thing, I don’t get penalized for picks. At least I got a pitch and catch to Witten.
RB L. White 3.2 I’d rather have this out of White than LJ or Alexander!
RB E. James 9.7 I thought they credited Edge for the score—that’s what the dude on CBS said at halftime.
WR P. Burress 18.4 Much-needed production here.
WR M. Colston 3.1 His woes, and that of the Saints, continue…
WR B. Johnson 8.0 Seriously considered Randle El, but I wanted to save him and use a decent receiver who normally doesn’t start, but faced the woeful Rams.
TE J. Witten 16.3 The Bills secondary is depleted and Witten has been Romo’s guy.
K R. Bironas 8.0 I just seem to have a knack for picking decent kicker performances.
DEF Cardinals 11.0 Gus Frerotte has always been Brett Favre Gone Wild. This was easy.
  Total 102.06 I’ll take this point total as an off week.

Not a great week, but I still have a good standing within my division and I am well within reach of reaching the finals if my next eight weeks come close to matching my first four. The biggest head-scratcher was Lendale White, who had a terrific match up against the Falcons. Although White’s early fumble didn’t help his cause Tennessee inexplicably shied away from pounding the rock and nearly gave the game away. Fortunately for the Titans, their defense repeatedly stopped the Falcons offense in the redzone, including a Joe Greene-like short yardage effort from Albert Haynesworth who leaped over the guard and single handedly turned an easy pitch on 1st and goal for what looked like a tying score, into a busted play and a 2nd and long. If there’s a better defensive line in football right now, I’m not sure I’ve seen them.

Let’s move on to the week one files of 20/20 Hindsight.

Would've (From The Who Would Have Known File)

Vernand Morency Would Jumpstart The Packers Running Game: Admittedly, Deshawn Wynn didn’t look shabby either, but Morency is the best combo of speed, receiving skills, and power of the runners on the Green Bay depth chart. If you’ve been listening, I’ve been talking up Morency for the last three weeks as the best hope for the Packers ground game outside of acquiring a veteran through a trade.

Morency’s five receptions in the first half were more effective than most of what Brandon Jackson did in four weeks. The Bears defense is still on the mend, but Morency looked especially quick. While there is an outside chance the Packers could take a shot at an established veteran like Ricky Williams or even Priest Holmes, I think Morency might give Green Bay enough confidence to stay the course unless these two backs look amazing despite their respective layoffs.

Lesson Learned: The Packers may have lost the game, but the defeat was a result of two plays in the 3rd quarter: Favre’s boneheaded throw across his body landing in Urlacher’s mitts and Charles Woodson’s fumbled punt return. The appearance of a running game is an actual silver lining for the Packers. As you saw with the bomb to Jennings in the second quarter, the threat of Morency on the ground or as a receiver in the threat sucked in linebackers gave Favre the ability to go deep. This should only get better as the season progresses.

Najeh Davenport Would Imitate The Bus: The former Packer—you know Green Bay would be killing to have Davenport right now—is making the most of his attempts when the Steelers call his number. This resulted in a 2-touchdown performance versus Seattle, giving him more fantasy points than Willie Parker. And may I remind you Parker hit the century mark?

Lesson Learned: It appears offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is beginning to make it a habit to dial up Davenport in redzone situations. If you don’t think Pittsburgh is going to continue this tendency then you haven’t been watching football recently. As you can see on the field, there was a reason why the Steelers signed Davenport to decent money for a backup.

Could've (From The Who Could Have Known File)

Devery Henderson Would Return To His Late 2006 Form: Henderson returned to the expected form of big-play threat and gained 100 yards versus the Panthers, bringing some much needed life to the Saints passing game. Unfortunately, Henderson alone wasn’t enough for any sustainable offensive life.

Lesson Learned: Henderson is clearly a talent, but he has always been an up and down player because he doesn’t consistently catch the football with his hands. Henderson is the type of player who will drive you crazy as a fantasy owner, because he’ll have incredible games followed by frustrating stretches. Think of Darnay Scott—the classic 800-yard and 6-7 touchdown Bengal with great speed but suspect hands—or Chris Sanders, the Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan who averaged an incredible 21 yards per catch early in McNair’s career, but couldn’t hold onto the ball enough to build on his incredible athleticism. Or course there are players who tamed the drop monster to become decent receivers. Amani Toomer and Eddie Kennison come to mind here, although they never became top tier fantasy producers many hoped. Henderson has a shot to be a Toomer or Kennison, but you’ll have to ride the ups and downs along the way—and that’s not a fantasy-friendly prospect.

Santonio Holmes Would Be Out This Week: Did anyone known that Holmes would be out prior to kickoff? He was actually in uniform, but he tweaked his hammy prior to kickoff. With Hines Ward out, most fantasy owners with Holmes were licking their chops for this match up that not only never materialized, but also put a goose egg in their box scores.

Lesson Learned: I’m not sure what one can constructively learn from this last-minute deactivation other than the fact that anything can happen on Sunday and that’s what makes the hobby so entertaining.

Should've (From The I Knew I Should’ve File)

Maurice Jones-DrewMaurice Jones Drew Would Get Back On Track: The Jags back returned to fantasy prominence this week with basically one long run. The UCLA-alum averaged over 9 yards per carry in the Jags victory over Kansas City. In fact his scoring play where he turned around Ty Law in the open field prompted Fred Taylor to compare Drew to Barry Sanders.

Lesson Learned: Although Drew only had 9 carries this week his performance should be an indicator of things to come for the second-year back. Jacksonville is a team that was still getting its bearings at the beginning of the season. The Jags make a surprise change with their starting QB just prior to week one and their receiving corps depth chart was about as stable as a tabloid queen. This was a team lacking rhythm and cohesiveness and the bye week helped them take some time to review the tape and figure out what they do best. One of those things is getting the rock to Maurice Jones Drew.

Dallas Clark Would Have A Nice Day With Harrison And Addai Out: Did I tell you Clark would be one of the more productive tight ends in football if he played for a team without great receivers? This week, Clark posted 49 yards and a score against the Tampa 2 en route to a Colts victory.

Lesson Learned: A great quarterback will find his best options on the field. And it wasn’t as if Clark was alone, with Reggie Wayne and a young, but talented Tony Gonzalez also on the field. Although not a stellar game, it was a productive effort you could count on.

Nagging Feelings—Week 6

I keep talking about Ricky Williams, but with Michael Pittman carted off with a leg injury after Tampa inquired about Mewelde Moore and Corey Dillon, you have to believe Williams could have a great shot at joining Gruden. If not Williams, why not Priest Holmes? The Chiefs great should be ready to join an active roster this month and GM Carl Peterson could possibly get greater value out of Holmes through a trade than fuel fan and media generated controversy about how much to use him in tandem with Larry Johnson. If Tampa doesn’t go either of these routes, keep an eye on Ken Darby. Of the two runners in this draft who I thought were rated far lower than their actual abilities, Darby was one and Selvin Young the other.

Although the Chargers played an excellent game, don’t you think the prospect of Travis Henry’s season potentially going up in a cloud of smoke distracted the Broncos from putting forth their A-game? I know these guys are professionals and they would never admit to bringing this into their mind, but let’s play Devil’s Advocate:

Say your department has a big project due at the office and your co-worker who is responsible for crunching the numbers for the presentation gets arrested for marijuana possession three days before and there is a possibility he may not be able to finish the research because of length of issues with bail. Are you going to tell me that the rest of the team isn’t freaking out? Especially if the person who will have to do the research will have to start from scratch with limited time at his disposal?

Back to the Broncos—or any football time for that matter… If you think the same guys who have never held down a day job where their asses weren’t kissed each day and were still expected to remain professional aren’t feeling the impact of Henry potentially being lost for the season for something he’s repeated had issues with, then you’re buying way too much into the professional sports heroism/over idealism thing. How do you lose at home by 38 to a division rival?

I know I can’t be the only one to express this sentiment, but don’t you want to see the Bears try Devin Hester at running back? The guy is so amazing hitting the seam on kick returns you just wonder how that might translate to plays between the tackles. Add Hester to the list of players I most frequently hit the rewind button on the TIVO and admire their skills when watching a game.

Are the Cardinals about to get a whole lot better on offense? I think so. The job is now Kurt Warner’s to lose this year. He has it by default for at least 6-8 weeks and if the Cardinals keep winning and contend for a playoff spot Matt Leinart isn’t even sniffing this job until next season.

On the other hand, Matt Schaub has looked decent but I’m skeptical Houston is for real. If they can get Andre Johnson back and still have Andre Davis produce like he has, they really have a shot to surprise. The problem is the running game. Ron Dayne only averaged 2 yards per carry and there aren’t many teams you beat when you have to kick—and make—five field goals. I would not rely on Schaub much longer if he is your starter. He’s strictly a bye week guy until Johnson and Green return to the lineup.

It was a second straight win for the FFToday team in the HAFAX-II dynasty league thanks to Antwaan Randle El (who a team tried to pry from us this week), Antonio Gates, and Michael Boley. It would have been by a greater margin if we started Najeh Davenport and Dennis Northcutt, but suddenly this roster is looking pretty dangerous.

FFToday NFLFreaks
 Player  Pts  Player  Pts
Garcia, Jeff TBB QB 19.85 Rivers, Philip SDC QB 31.5
Portis, Clinton WAS RB 11.1 Lewis, Jamal CLE RB 1.1
Branch, Deion SEA WR 3.4 Engram, Bobby SEA WR 6.5
Driver, Donald GBP WR 9.1 Jackson, Darrell SFO WR 2.6
Randle El, Antwaan WAS WR 22.2 Wayne, Reggie IND WR 19.6
Gates, Antonio SDC TE 29.3 Johnson, Eric NOS TE 10.0
Nedney, Joe SFO PK 1.0 Brown, Josh SEA PK 0.0
Turk, Matt HOU PN 21.0 Plackemeier, Ryan SEA PN 16.89
Dockett, Darnell ARI DT 2.0 Suggs, Terrell BAL DE 5.0
Umenyiora, Osi NYG DE 17.0 Williams, Mario HOU DE 8.0
Boley, Michael ATL LB 35.0 James, Bradie DAL LB 17.0
Fujita, Scott NOS LB 0.0 Pierce, Antonio NYG LB 17.0
Williams, DJ DEN LB 7.0 Thornton, David TEN LB 16.0
Huff, Michael OAK S 0.0 Ross, Aaron NYG CB 28.0
Wilson, Adrian ARI S 10.0 Polamalu, Troy PIT S 0.0
Total 187.95 Total: 179.2

But the performance of the week for my fantasy teams comes from the SOFA Experts Auction League. As the reigning champ, I got off to a 1-3 start with two teams in my division sporting a 4-0 record. But this week my team posted the week’s best point total for a much-needed victory to have any hope of staying in contention for a chance to defend my title.

FFToday Fox Sports
 Player  Pts  Player  Pts
Young, Vince TEN QB 8.98 Huard, Damon KCC QB 7.84
Bush, Reggie NOS RB 20.9 Graham, Earnest TBB RB 4.9
Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC RB 20.2 Young, Selvin DEN RB 6.0
Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 28.6 Davis, Andre HOU WR 11.9
Jackson, Darrell SFO WR 2.6 Marshall, Brandon DEN WR 14.2
Mason, Derrick BAL WR 19.5 Williams, Demetrius BAL WR 7.9
Miller, Heath PIT TE 14.4 Lee, Donald GBP TE 5.3
Crosby, Mason GBP PK 8.0 Stover, Matt BAL PK 9.0
Cardinals, Arizona ARI Def 14.0 Packers, Green Bay GBP Def 4.0
Total: 137.18 Total: 71.04

I was actually pretty fortunate FOX Sports had McNabb, Ocho Cinco, Harrison, and Rudi Johnson out this week. Still, my squad finally played well from top to bottom and there appears to be hope for this team yet. The Cardinals were a bye week pick up—notice I was consistent in my thoughts about them facing Frerotte. I also added Ike Hilliard, but thought I would give Darrell Jackson one more chance before he sees my bench.