The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
It’s my nature to be a forward-thinking person, which is why
I enjoy dynasty leagues and studying film to project a college player’s
potential success in the NFL. I believe it also motivates me to
take risks. Combine this with my attraction to stories about perseverance
and redemption and it feeds one of my favorite, and more perverse,
fantasy football pastimes – acquiring players with great talent,
but facing significant obstacles ahead of maximizing their skills.
My coveting of high risk-high reward players has led me to the heights
of success and the depths of fantasy hell and sometimes both with
the same person.
This week, I lead off with a transaction I made in two dynasty
leagues. Consider it my attempt to mimic Al Davis in the 80s when
he acquired the NFL rights to Bo Jackson after the Auburn star
didn’t report to the Bucs after they drafted him. Then,
I’ll give you some moves that I think might pay off despite
what appears on the surface to be high-risk maneuvers.
In two dynasty leagues with deep rosters and 14 teams I added
a player that probably has owners befuddled with my judgment,
but I have seen enough to decide the acquisition is worth the
potential scorn if I am wrong. The player is former Oklahoma State
wide receiver Adarius Bowman, who is currently on the injured
list of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Bowman has virtually no
chance of playing the NFL in 2008, but I believe he will be in
an NFL camp this spring and challenge for playing time with any
team that doesn’t have a great duo of starters.
When I researched the players for my 2008
Rookie Scouting Portfolio, I graded Bowman as my fifth-rated
receiver in this class ahead of Early Doucet, DeSean Jackson,
James Hardy, and Eddie Royal. He’s a 6-3, 233-pound player
in the mold of NFL starters like Larry Fitzgerald, Plaxico Burress,
and Reggie Williams – big, strong receivers with good body
control to adjust to the ball in the air.
Bowman, an All-Big 12 receiver, demonstrated the ability to stretch
the field vertically and make difficult catches with his hands
anywhere: sideline routes, the redzone, and over the middle. When
he was aggressive, he was a very good run blocker and he gains
yardage after contact as a runner. Overall, he’s a fluid
athlete that I believe looked like he belonged in the NFL. Some
online draft publications say that Bowman had inconsistent hands,
but with further research, you learn that Bowman had 20/900 vision
and his subsequent LASIK surgery late in his college career made
a huge difference with his downfield productivity.
The reasons Bowman is a CFL player, instead of an NFL draft pick,
are drugs and injury. Bowman was a top-five recruit from Tennessee
when he enrolled at the University of North Carolina and he looked
like he was on his way to a big college career with 28 catches
for 510 yards and 5 scores before he was busted for being in a
room where pot was present. He allegedly failed a drug test at
UNC and was dismissed from the team.
The most egregious mistakes came in April of this year, failing
a drug test at the combine and getting charged with marijuana
possession. Although Mario Manningham and Aquib Talib failed multiple
drug tests, and in Manningham’s case, arrested for drug
possession (Vicodin), Bowman had the sheer stupidity have these
problems during the period where the NFL’s scrutiny is at
its highest. It’s like lighting up and getting high during
a job interview. This was enough for the league to pass on him.
But don’t be fooled, Bowman has talent. Some have written
him off because he had poor, post-season workouts for scouts.
He was coming off a sprained knee and a second LASIK surgery and
these two issues are excellent reasons why he looked slow and
inconsistent catching the football. If you experience vision correction,
you will eventually improve your hand eye coordination, but there
is an adjustment period getting used one’s newfound vision.
The real issue isn’t his physical skills and acumen to play
receiver in the NFL, but his judgment to not only lie and engage
in illegal activity, but also have his surgery so close to the
evaluation process. What this demonstrates is a lack of maturity.
Even law-abiding, honest prospects find the NFL evaluation process
overwhelming and have difficulties adjusting.
Bowman went to the CFL and immediately made an impact, gaining
112 yards and a score on five receptions. He also had a five-reception,
98-yard effort with a score in his third start before succumbing
to a quadriceps injury a month later. Both scores were long passes
of 73 and 62 yards respectively. Based on what the team says about
Bowman, he’s not the stereotypical wide receiver-diva. In
fact, they point out that he’s doing the things necessary
to rehabilitate his chances to be in the NFL. They also compare
him to a player like Terrell Owens – which I understand,
but I happen classify his skills into a small subset of players
often compared to him. Here’s what Bowman, the Roughriders’
GM, and Roughriders’ offensive coordinator had
to say about their rookie.
As you can see, Bowman appears to be on the right track. At one
time this was a player with ability that was projected to put
him in the first few rounds of the 2008 draft. I fully expect
Bowman to draw interest from NFL teams at the end of this season.
Before you ride the wave of forum posters piling on Bowman’s
potential with witty rejoinders and pass him up, I suggest taking
a chance on Bowman in the off season rather than holding on to
the type of players you can drop and add from the waiver wire
within the first four weeks of the year.
Ravens defenders CB Samari Rolle, S Dawan Landry, and DT Kelly
Gregg are all going to be out this weekend when they face the
Titans. Gregg is a big reason why those Baltimore linebackers
roam free. I know the Ravens stopped Pittsburgh’s attack without
Gregg in the lineup on Monday night, but don’t mistake the Titans
o-line with the one in Pittsburgh. Even when Tennessee had an
up and coming unit that still had a ways to go, the running backs
had success against the Ravens in 2005 (26 carries for 95 yards)
and 2006 (28 carries for 110 yards and a score). Note I didn’t
include Vince Young’s numbers, either.
I’m thinking Chris
Johnson will have a better than expected week, which should
include a few big play rushes of over 10 yards with the secondary
banged up. The kind of numbers I would project on the low side
will be 15 attempts, 66 yards, and a touchdown and 3 catches 25
yards. Not bad fantasy outing from a guy many will be benching.
is a natural, and being a natural has obviously been a blessing
and a curse for the on-again, off-again Bengal. The good is Henry
can ‘play’ in the same way Will Hunting could always ‘play’ at
organic chemistry or high end mathematics as he described to his
girlfriend Skyler outside a Cambridge café in Good Will Hunting.
But as naturally as playing wide receiver comes to Henry, the
game of adult life remains inordinately difficult for him to master.
Remember the NFL Rookie Symposium skit I linked in an article
this summer that involved Tashard Choice role-playing a scenario
where a hometown friend tried to use him for perks? Read
this article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and you’ll
learn that either the NFL used Chris Henry’s misfortunes as stock
material or Henry ignored the warning signs and became a victim
of Hurricane Katrina in a way many wouldn’t expect.
If Henry has finally learned to always look out for himself first,
the results on the field will consistently be there. Dallas’ secondary
is their downfall. I like rookie Mike
Jenkins as a nickel back and his future as a shutdown corner
is bright, but Chris Henry has a chance to school him or Terence
Newman this weekend. If Carson Palmer can play, Cincinnati
is going to be able to move the ball on Dallas. I expect strong
performances from T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry this weekend
with Palmer in the lineup. Other than the Browns, each team that
faced the Cowboys had a receiver go over 100 yards.
And a side-note on the Browns’ front, I just watched Braylon
Edwards tout the 5-Hour Energy drink in a television commercial.
Maybe this is his problem. He explained in the commercial that
he would hit a wall during games with previous energy drinks that
lasted less than five hours. Maybe he should ditch the energy
drinks all together, because the drops he’s experiencing
this season indicate he’s a bit jittery – even if
5-Hour Energy drink says their formula doesn’t create this
Expect Tomlinson's toe injury to linger
the rest of the season.
Have you ever experienced turf toe? I haven’t, but yesterday
afternoon my left big toe stiffened from sitting for a prolonged
period of time with my foot placed in an awkward spot against
my desk. Just walking around was difficult because the foot didn’t
feel stable when I pushed off it. The pain wasn’t severe, but
it was surprisingly intense. The instability was the real issue.
For the heck of it, I tried to run. Now, I understand more than
anyone that the athletic gap between me and LaDainian
Tomlinson or Darren
McFadden is wider than a transcontinental journey from New
York to LA, but I can tell you that maintaining balance was literally
something I had to think about so I didn’t fall over.
If you’ve ever had an abscessed tooth, you vividly understand
the intense, debilitating pain a small part of your body can have
and how it can affect something as simple as eating, drinking,
or sleeping. In fact, scientific
studies demonstrate that women who have experienced a tooth
ache requiring a root canal rate this type of pain as worse than
childbirth. Turf toe isn’t up there on the pain scale, but
the impact on one’s balance is dramatic. Darren McFadden
is in for a long season if his turf toe is worse than LT’s.
I did notice that Tomlinson was cutting a little better at full
speed last weekend, but he still noticeably stumbled out of the
same cuts where he normally would be in the secondary. He’s
gutting out his injury like Eddie George did during the season
that marked the beginning of the end for his days as a starter.
Did They or Didn’t They …
… Blow the T.O. comments in the post game press conference out
of proportion on ESPN? Personally, if I never hear T.O. speak
again it would be too soon. But this week’s focus on the Redskins
game seemed like nitpicky analysis designed to elicit controversy.
One of the routes ESPN studied on film, the double move T.O. attempted
on Springs that resulted in Owens cutting to the inside of the
CB along the sideline, had Keyshawn Johnson saying that the move
was too obvious for a pro defensive back to fall for and Owens
then made the wrong choice to cut inside. On the other hand, James
Hasty explained how Springs defended it well and forced Owens
to the inside. Who is right? More importantly, why does it matter?
Springs played T.O. well. I’m not missing that point that Owens
had a ton of opportunities and still complained – I just don’t
care. The Cowboys signed him, so I’d say neither do they.
…Did Lane Kiffin really say and do the things Al Davis
claims? Probably some of the story is true. I’m sure coaches
tell owners all the time which players they like or dislike in
the pre-draft process. The difference is most organizations keep
their collective mouths shut and these differences of opinion
stay in house.
…Make the right move when Cincinnati acquired Cedric
Benson over Shaun Alexander? Shaun Alexander on his best day
is light years ahead of Cedric Benson, but when you have former
pros with good reputations describing the former Seahawks’ recent
play as ‘soft’, taking the chance on a young Benson who understands
he has a lot to prove and he’ll have to start from scratch makes
him the best fit.
Well I lost last week...I listened to your advice
then I changed my roster 5 minutes before game time. I lost by
4 points. If I would have just stayed with your advice I would
have won by 10!!!!! UGH! I have to drop one of my RB's...I am
allowed 4 on my roster. McClain, Westbrook, Hightower, Chester
Taylor and Felix Jones. Who would you drop? We get 1 point per
It has to be Hightower or Taylor. Although Taylor may be the
less productive player of the two, he's the more desirable handcuff
if the starter goes down. Unless you can trade one of the two
to the owners with the respective starter, I'd drop Hightower.
Too bad about the loss, it's the most common reason I lose games
- last minute decisions. I once lost a chance at a lot of money
because I benched Brandon Stokely on Turkey day a few years ago.
He only went off for three scores against Detroit when Peyton
threw for 6 TDs...Obviously, it still stings because I can remember
it like yesterday.
I was just about to drop Chester Taylor but I sent
one last offer to the guy who has Peterson. I offered Chad Johnson
and Chester for Holt [and] he took it!!!! I REALLY hope Bulger
and Holt take off after their bye this week!!!!
A little pricey because Johnson could get better, but I like
the deal and you certain turned a player you were giving up on
into something you can use.