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20/20 Hindsight - Week 13

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.”

It’s the day before Thanksgiving but I know that most of you will be reading this as I’m recovering from a 12-hour road trip to meet the future in-laws in Baltimore. My future father in-law, L.A., is a retired police detective and a Cowboys fan.

Fortunately there’s much more to life than football, but from a football compatibility perspective of childhood Browns fan, current Titans fan, and AFC fan, L.A. and I won’t be cheering from the same sideline too often. Maybe we’ll have some good smack talk.

Since I’ll be getting grilled for Sunday dinner by “Pops” and the rest of the family with ties to law enforcement in the greater Baltimore area, I probably won’t be watching football after Thursday night. With that in mind, now’s a great time to look back upon the regular season that now “was” and name my 2008 All-Fantasy Team. This is your typical 12-team league with an 18-player roster of 2 QBs/6 RBs/6 WRs/2 TEs/1 K /1 DEF with a starting line up of 1 QB/2 RB/3 WR/1TE/1K/1DEF and FFToday scoring.


Starter - Drew Brees: With nearly 64% of his games at elite quality after 11 games according to the Crank Score and thoroughly ripping apart a quality Packers secondary with a receiving corps of lesser that most GMs and coaches wouldn’t have the stones to put on the field over their big contract guys, Drew Brees is threatening to obliterate Dan Marino’s yardage record. My back up may be more consistent as a No. 1 fantasy starter, but Brees is mobile, takes better care of the football, and is the most accurate deep passer in the game. While everyone was drooling over Brady, Manning, and Romo this summer, Brees was a bargain in comparison. At least one owner in every league I was in this year cursed when another drafted Brees somewhere between rounds three and five. I was able to make sure I wasn’t the only “said owner” and managed to win a bid for him in the SOFA Auction League where I’m in good position to make a run for a chance at my second championship in three years.

Back up – Kurt Warner: Warner has the fewest Subpar games of any quarterback and with receivers like Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston, it’s easy to see why. Warner also has a good chance to top Marino’s single season yardage total and is playing as smart as ever. He doesn’t’ manipulate the defense or move in the pocket like Brees, but with those receivers, he can get rid of the ball quicker than anyone in the NFL with the confidence that his corps of pass catchers will win the battle for the football. Congratulations to those of you who had the smarts to nab Warner at the end of your drafts – you rightly had no faith in Matt Leinart’s prowess behind the beer bong and hot tub. I’d argue he didn’t even do that well. If he didn’t we wouldn’t be looking at photographs plastered across the Internet.

Running back

No. 1 – Matt Forte: Looking for a big game? Matt Forte delivers nearly 55% of the time in the Elite category. That’s tied with the Diesel and the Barbarian for tops in fantasy football. What’s all the more impressive is Forte only bombed 9% of the time while Peterson and Barber had subpar efforts 27% and 36% of the time, respectively. That means only once has Forte not performed like a quality fantasy starter in 2008. I would have been the first to tell you that I thought Forte’s talent would be overshadowed by the dearth of surrounding talent and he’d make a solid #2 RB because he was at least used to being the big fish in a small pond. I had no idea in many respects he’d grade out as the best fantasy back in the NFL this year. If you picked Forte in the middle rounds, no one is second guessing your pick now.

No. 2 – Adrian Peterson: All Day isn’t averaging as many points per game as three other backs on this depth chart, but he’s stayed healthy, is tied for the best percentage of Elite performances, and he’s doing it without a quality passing game. In other words, go ahead and stack the line, Peterson will deliver 8 out of 10 times with the bull’s eye on his chest.

No. 3 – Clinton Portis: I wavered several times with placing Portis below Peterson because the worst defense in the Redskins division is better than the Lions. But Portis has better weapons and a semblance of a passing game to prevent defenses from stacking the line as regularly as they do against Peterson. Plus I want a back with more upside even if he’s averaging slightly fewer fantasy points per game. I really couldn’t argue with you if you went with Portis over Peterson. He’s a great back and I enjoy watching him as much as Peterson although for entirely different reasons. Peterson is a force of nature; Portis is the guy who outsmarts the forces of nature.

No. 4 – Michael Turner: No one averages more points per game than Turner and his huge days have done more to help a fantasy team than any other player in fantasy football. You know he’s going to get the ball in goal line situations and he’s nearly a certainty to see 20 touches per contest. The fact he did this with a rookie – albeit a good one – under center is all the more impressive. He’s also been remarkably durable despite such a bruising style. Thomas Jones and Frank Gore may be a bit more consistent, but I think Turner will wind up looking better on the stats sheet by week 17.

No. 5 – Marion Barber: Did you watch him carry the ball at the end of the Redskins-Cowboys game two weeks ago? If you didn’t see it, don’t even try to argue with me that Thomas Jones, Frank Gore, or Brandon Jacobs should be above him. It’s not his fault that Jerry Jones wants Felix Jones in the lineup, Tony Romo hurt his little finger, and T.O. is a whiny baby. When they call upon Barber, he delivers like no other back in football. He may have the best balance of any back in football, which is why he always manages to make big plays despite the fact he lacks the speed of the backs ahead of him. If Jerry Jones weren’t such a pimp, I could be a Cowboys fan just because of Barber.

No. 6 – Frank Gore: Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs each have a quarterback capable of consistent, elite level play and an excellent defense to keep them in any game. Frank Gore’s QB corps amounts to a bust as a #1 overall pick in the draft and two undrafted guys who got most of their experience in alternate leagues. Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs have two of the best offensive lines in football. Frank Gore plays behind an offensive line that hasn’t lived up to its draft day billing. Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs play in the I-formation and get to read blocks as they develop. Frank Gore frequently gets put close to the line – about as close as a fullback – and has to opt for quick-hitters. Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs aren’t the best weapons on their team. Frank Gore is by far the best weapon on the Niners offense. Thomas Jones and Brandon Jacobs have more Sub par games than Frank Gore in the consistency scale. Put Frank Gore in New York with either of these teams and he’d lead the league in rushing and would be a legitimate MVP candidate.

Wide Receivers

No. 1 – Anquan Boldin: Boldin has been a beast. Especially for a receiver most were able to take as their fantasy No. 2 WR. You just have to hate that guy who was lucky enough to nab him there and hate yourself for letting him get past you where he did. He hasn’t performed below No. 3 receiver status all year, unless you count those two weeks dealing with facial reconstruction. I can’t even imagine having 18 plates put in my face after taking a hit so vicious that my QB consider his mortality only to return two weeks later to dominate the fantasy position at an incredible 17.76 fpts/game and Elite percentage of 77.8%. That figure is so ridiculously good - Santana Moss is a distance second with 50%. Oh yeah, he’s letting his play do the talking despite the team not giving him a new contract and requesting a trade in the preseason. That’s what happens when you’re a former college QB. You and Hines Ward are my football heroes at the WR position. Every time you play like the men you are you make Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens look like middle school kids and my apologies to kids that actually behave well.

No. 2 – Larry Fitzgerald: Although Fitz loses out to Boldin in the red area and his Elite percentage is 45%, he’s nearly as consistent as his teammate everywhere else. Not many teams can support having two excellent receivers, but this duo and Kurt Warner are like the perfect storm of aerial talent.

No. 3 – Calvin Johnson: Let’s see here…run-oriented offense? Check. Lackluster offensive line? Check. Mike Martz? Gone. Jon Kitna? Gone. Roy Williams? Gone. We like to joke about Randy Moss’ ridiculous skills, but when he was with the Raiders it wasn’t even this ridiculous. Johnson is literally scoring like a No. 1 fantasy receiver on less than five catches per game and at least one catch per game is a schoolyard, go long, throw it up for grabs play drawn in the dirt against double coverage. He’s averaging a ridiculous, 18.9 yards per catch with the retread, get your roll on, Culpepper and my buddy, Drew-Precht Stanton. He does more with less than any receiver in football; maybe any player. If you’re reading this column and were able to draft Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Johnson in this order, e-mail me so I can congratulate you.

No. 4 – Greg Jennings: Johnson may be superhuman, but no one looks better making a reception off a bomb than Jennings. Like Johnson he’s only had two sub par games and 81% of the time he’s performed at least like a No. 3 receiver in a fantasy receiving corps. Other than Boldin, he also might be the best yards after the catch receiver in football. You know Brett Favre misses Jennings as much as any player he left in Green Bay.

No. 5 – Roddy White: The only move I am really going to question in regard to the Falcons this year – and I’ll probably be proven wrong in hindsight – is their decision to sign Michael Jenkins to a contract extension. He’s playing pretty well, but I think they could have gotten better with Matt Ryan in the fold. Seriously, Jenkins isn’t the reason Roddy White is one of the best receivers in the game. White is acrobatic, a deep threat, and capable of taking a short pass a long way. He’s versatile and expects to be great. He has as many elite games than Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall and didn’t miss time for punching (or allegedly punching) anyone.

No. 6 – Lance Moore: Yeah, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, and Lee Evans are all probably deserving but Moore gets the nod. This Toledo product who was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns in 2005 and waived five months later before signed to the Saints practice squad a month later, has been nothing short of amazing for a Saints team that was desperate for a consistent presence at receiver. At 5-9 and 190 pounds, the Saints have compared him to Marvin Harrison. He’s on his way to producing like Harrison this year. He makes catches all over the field and has great rapport with the best QB in the game.

Tight End

No. 1 – Kevin Boss: He’s only started seven games, but it’s no wonder the Giants were happy to rid themselves of Shockey and could care less about getting Gonzalez. Boss is averaging 8 points per game and only 29% of his games are Subpar; the rest are actually Elite level. It’s not like the Giants receivers are world beaters. A good ground game is actually the best friend of most teams that have productive receivers at this position. This is no exception.

No. 2 – Tony Gonzalez: The guy is the Father Time of the Tight End world and he’s still averaging more points per game than any of them. He’s done it with a QB carousel, too.


John Carney: He’s hitting 96% of his attempts and made it difficult for Lawrence Tynes to get his job back. He’s also old as dirt for a kicker, so he’s paid his dues.


Baltimore Ravens: The Packers score more per game. The Jets do too and they have the second-most sacks in football. The Bucs are perennially tough as are the Eagles, but for my money I’m sticking with the Ravens. Jim Schwartz, the Titans defensive coordinator, was quoted in an article last week that fumbles aren’t an important stat – its luck; interceptions are the true turnover worthy of tracking. The Ravens lead the league with 19 of interceptions and 3 safeties, and are second in the NFL in defensive scores. Only the Giants and Steelers really put it to them offensively and they have allowed 13 points or less in 7 of 11 games.