we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted to
learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Given, many would doubt a healthy Champ Bailey gets beat by James
Jones, but the DB suited up so he was healthy enough. I don’t
know what impressed me more: beating Champ
Bailey deep, throwing a perfect pass over Drè Bly in overtime
for an even longer bomb, or calling his shot to Ron Jaworski in
the pre-game where he put his toes on the 50-yard line and nailed
the pylon with one throw. Have you ever tried to throw a football
through a tire swing from even 15 yards away? Watching football
from the stand level makes the game look deceivingly easy. Try
imagining it from on the field—Favre basically threw three balls
through the tire swing from 45-50 yards out. How many times has
Brett Favre been money on Monday Night?
Despite week 7 being my worst performance in the FFTOC, I was
still ranked #16 overall heading into the weekend. There were
some huge performances from Brady, Brees, and the Pats defense
and my performance was again, not up to recent standards, so my
in-season ranking could take a tumble. Hopefully, not so far down
the rungs of the ladder that I’m looking up at a qualifying
spot in the finals.
||Nobody seems to listen, but the Steelers
are a balanced offense and Cincy’s putrid pass defense
made this an easy pick.
||A touchdown would have made a big difference,
still and easy choice.
||Better than starting Gore, but I might
has well have gone with Stephen Jackson—it could be
the last time he plays for a while.
||Pitiful…I thought this was a nice sleeper
play. The only thing me and Matthew Berry did agree
||With Bulger and Jackson back in the
lineup against a very porous, Browns secondary made
this all too obvious a pick.
||I’ll take it.
||I thought about using Gates, but hoped
I could squeeze a decent game from Clark before Olsen
took the starting job away for good…
||Culpepper versus the Titans pass rush
was like chumming shark-infested waters.
As I said last week, I can only afford 3-4 of these games and I’ve
had two in a row. If I can stay in the top 20-30 with weeks like
this, I’ll be better off than I anticipated. There are still
plenty of decent players left for me to use, but I’m not sure
I want to take the route of “saving” marquee names for
the finals. It seems to me that trying to pick the best match ups
has been a successful strategy for me and I don’t think I
want to adjust it. Otherwise, I’m going to encounter paralysis
by analysis and that’s never a good in fantasy football.
Let’s move on to the week one files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Anderson Would Make Braylon Edward’s Season: Seriously,
not me. For the entire preseason I picked the likes of Mark Clayton,
Bernard Berrian, and Reggie Brown over Braylon Edwards. It wasn’t
because I thought Edwards lacked talent; I thought Cleveland lacked
a talented quarterback to get him the ball. Can you really blame
me? The Browns opening day starter is the #3 QB in Seattle right
is playing excellent football, but let’s talk about why
this is the case. First, and foremost, he trusts his receivers.
Veteran quarterbacks throw the ball into tight, single coverage
when they have excellent athletes at eh receiver position. Anderson
is playing like a veteran who has years of rapport with Edwards
and Kellen Winslow. Two of his three touchdown passes were well-placed
throws into tight coverage that relied upon his two best skill
position athletes to use their athleticism to win the ball.
Sounds a bit obvious, right? In contrast, check out Vince Young
and Trent Edwards. Both are promising quarterbacks, but they either
pick the wrong situations to put the ball up for grabs (Young)
or avoid doing so because an overly cautious approach (Edwards).
Last week in the 4th quarter, Kerry Collins threw a deep sideline
route to Roydell Williams, who out-leaped the opposing defender
for the ball. This play was a big reason Tennessee won that wild
game in Houston. J.P. Losman, although a bit more reckless, gave
Lee Evans the chance to win the football on a 4th QTR bomb and
it was Evans who indeed came up with the reception and the score.
Check out McNabb or Brady throwing to a superior athlete in single
(and in Brady’s case with Moss, double) coverage. Kevin
Curtis came down with a great grab in exactly this situation on
Sunday. So did Marques Colston on a great rainbow of a flag route
Lesson Learned: Derek Anderson has demonstrated that he makes
good decisions when to throw the ball in tight, single coverage.
It’s probably one of the big reasons why he averages 14.6
yards per completion—highest in the NFL. In just about any
other year, he would be the fantasy QB darling of 2007. Still,
he’s the ultimate, surprise fantasy player in the first
half of the season with 19 total touchdowns. If you added him
(and used him), he likely saved your season.
Marques Colston Would Make His Fantasy
Season Debut In Week 8: This three-touchdown performance
was what we expected periodically throughout the first half of
the season. Why did it take so long? Are the Niners that bad?
slow start had a lot to do with the lack of an established, #2
wide receiver. Last year, the Saints had the threat of Joe Horn
on the opposite side of Colston. Notice how I said threat, and
not production. Horn had been good enough for long enough as a
Saint that teams had to respect his ability to bust out of his
slump for a longer period of time than some 2nd- or 3rd-year guy
who hasn’t proven anything in this league. As a result,
Colston was allowed to surprise opposing defenses. This is why
he actually got open on deep routes that you don’t see him
running this year. Teams know his strengths and weaknesses, so
they are ready for him.
They aren’t accounting for Joe Horn on the outside and
allowing Colston to run free from the slot. Depending on how long
you’ve been playing fantasy football, you may remember that
Keyshawn Johnson actually had some long receptions as a rookie.
Johnson and Colston are very similar players stylistically speaking.
For most of Johnson’s career, he was regarded as one of
the better possession receivers in football—you get the
point. Notice that Colston’s one long reception was off
a flea flicker? That’s the kind of help Colston needs to
get deep separation.
To begin the year, the Saints didn’t have anyone defenses
seriously had to target. Horn was gone, Devery Henderson was dropping
passes, Lance Moore was an unknown, and David Patten didn’t
begin seeing the field and producing until earlier this month.
It didn’t help that Brees wasn’t playing like his
normal self, but without a consistent, vertical threat in the
passing game, Colston wasn’t going to do much. Now that
Brees has gotten back on track, Patten has emerged as a consistent
player, and Moore and Henderson have proven just dangerous enough,
Colston is seeing more opportunities.
Lesson Learned: We are only half way through of the NFL season.
Teams make adjustments and Colston happens to be the beneficiary
of the Saints’ improvements. Look for a much stronger second
half from Colston.
Mike Vrabel Would Outscore Most Offensive
Players In Fantasy Football: I sure didn’t—though
I’m gladly taking it with my 6-2 Ironman
team, Out To Lunch. Vrabel
had three sacks, each forcing a fumble, and 11 tackles. Then there
was his 10th career touchdown reception—or should I say
10th career reception. He scored nearly 40 points, 17 more than
my opponent’s QB, Peyton Manning. Only QBs Drew Brees and
Tom Brady outscored Vrabel. The former Ohio State stud who floundered
with Pittsburgh, saved my week 6 in a game I had to win, but had
these core players on bye: Fitzgerald, Bowe, McNair, Julian Peterson,
Michael Boley, and Derrick Johnson.
Lesson Learned: This is the great thing about IDP leagues. With
the right scoring system, you can win with defense. It’s
good for fantasy football, because Mike Vrabel was a huge reason
why the Patriots dominated this game and his fantasy points should
be a reflection of it. I have been in this dynasty league with
IDP and 40-man rosters since 2003, and some of my marquee offensive
draft picks have been Onterrio Smith, Brandon Lloyd, Cadillac
Williams, and Matt Jones. As my ex-‘s stepfather would say
in his gravelly, Texas twang: Not so good.
But defensively speaking, I’ve done much better. Here are
players I drafted I’ve managed to keep on my squad: Darnell
Dockett, Michael Boley, Sean Jones, Derrick Johnson, Channing
Crowder, and Karlos Dansby. Throw in some trades that netted me
a 4th round pick to select Brandon Jacobs and then a deal for
Brian Westbrook and Steve McNair where I gave up pick and Tom
Brady (okay, not so good), and I’m kind of like the Titans
of fantasy football—strong running game and a good defense.
It ain’t pretty, but if you haven’t already, it’s
another way to enjoy the season because you learn to appreciate
Vernon Davis Would Have A Good Outing:
Although the Niners had a horrible game, Vernon
Davis was healthy enough to amass 71 yards and a score on
6 receptions. Heading into the game, the Saints were 19th in fantasy
points allowed to tight ends. Not a good sign for Davis—so
much so, ESPN’s Matthew Berry mentioned Davis as a player
to bench for just this reason.
But digging deeper, which teams did the Saints play up to this
point? This of tight ends for their opponents is unimpressive:
Indy (Clark as the #4 receiving option in the opener), Tampa (name
the last time Alex Smith consistently scored TDs—never),
Carolina (Pre-Jeff King), Tennessee (They’re still waiting
for someone to replace Frank Wycheck), Seattle (nope), and Atlanta
(Crumpler was out).
Lesson Learned: Stats railed off in sound bites sound impressive,
but can be dangerous. It’s often worthwhile to do your own
research before you just take someone’s word for it.
Nagging Feelings—Week 9
Analysts sometimes drive me crazy with their mangling of player
names. Some are understandable—for instance, I’m not
going to blame the poor soul who had to say Houshmandzadeh the
first time the Bengal receiver took the field as a #4 receiver
early in his career. On the other hand, Amani Toomer has been
around for over a decade—pronouncing his first name like
the Italian suit doesn’t work.
Did you see Matt Jones make that sweet, one-headed catch in the
redzone? Can someone tell me why the Jags haven’t used this
play from the moment they saw Jones do this for scouts at the
Senior Bowl practices? I’ll tell you why—their offensive
coaching lacks leadership. The symptoms:
They cut their top-ten draft pick
and franchise quarterback, Byron Leftwich. Whether or
Garrard is a better quarterback is a moot point. Jack Del
Rio made Leftwich his scapegoat despite the fact that when healthy,
Leftwich was a worthwhile starter. There’s a lot of negatives
mentioned with Leftwich—he gets hurt, he lacks mobility, and
his delivery is too deliberate—but he was tough, accurate, and
had a gun for an arm. He also had issues beyond his control
that created just as many problems as the former Jaguar-QB’s
deficiencies. See below.
They are consistently near the top
of the league in dropped passes. That’s right, Reggie
Williams, Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford, and even the Great Jimmy
Smith could not consistently hold onto the football. It didn’t
have to do with Leftwich gunning the ball too hard into coverage,
either. Even if it did, I don’t remember anyone whining about
Marino, Elway, or Favre being the reason for a high number of
drops—that’s because their receivers caught the ball! Reggie
Williams was known as a sure-handed receiver coming out of Washington
and Jimmy Smith was clutch for years prior to Leftwich taking
over. Even Matt Jones has shown some amazing mitts. So why did
they show such great inconsistency holding onto the ball?
They’ve gone through three
offensive coordinators in five years. Young receivers
often drop passes they would never drop in college football
because they are too busy thinking about the offensive system
rather than reacting to what is on the field. For most players,
it takes time for an offense to feel like second nature, especially
a receiver. You have probably noticed that prior to a breakout
season, some of the better receivers in the league dealt with
drops you just don’t see from them anymore. But when you
switch coordinators repeatedly, even vets like Jimmy Smith will
have the untimely drop. I’ve shown in the past that Leftwich
would likely have been a passer with a 60% completion rate if
the Jags had the same amount of drips as the average squad.
In addition, the change of coordinators means a change in play
calling style in down and distance situations. This also messes
with continuity and preparation. Teams like the Cowboys and
Niners of the 90s were great because they refined the same plays
over a span of years. The Colts offense had this opportunity
to refine all that we as fans have come to know as signature
plays for Indy’s offense. The Jags never got this chance.
Certainly injuries were obstacles for creating offensive continuity
but as a frequent observer of this team over the years, I saw
plays that worked whenever Jacksonville used them, but didn’t
use them enough. That pass to Matt Jones in the corner of the
end zone was one of them. This all leads back to the head coach,
Jack Del Rio. He’s been a terrific defensive guy, but the
fact he hasn’t been able to land a solid offensive coordinator
who knew how to exploit the great athleticism of the Jags receiving
corps and make consistent play calls has hurt him.
Quinn Gray is an interesting prospect. If you saw him last year
in Kansas City, you know the guy has potential. He was also good
enough this weekend. So I believe if the Jaguars don’t make
the playoffs, Coach Del Rio is gone—and rightfully so—he’s
run out of excuses.
Here’s an ultimate football fantasy for you: The 6-2 Packers
Williams via trade with the Dolphins and Green Bay goes to
the Super Bowl to face the undefeated, New England Patriots. Who
else could you imagine beating the Pats in a wild and crazy game
other than Manning? Yep, that’s right. But he needs a running
back. I know I’m still on the Ricky tip, but the Pack needs someone.
Trade for Priest
Holmes if he has something left. How can you not want to see
Favre do it one more time?
It would be the ultimate, Hollywood script come to life: Fighting
off the temptation of retirement, Favre comes back despite losing
the opportunity to land Randy Moss to the ultimate, front-running
team. You can even see Bill Belicheck cast as the evil genius
paired with his golden boy quarterback doing anything it takes
to win, including pulling his own version of Richard Nixon. Add
Ricky Williams as the ultra-talented, but misunderstood player
who fell from grace to this ragtag lineup and you’ve got
yourself the potential for the best football movie of all time.
A guy can dream, can’t he?