As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Happy holidays everyone. I hope your season was a success. Although
I didn’t win a championship for the first time in three
years I did send three teams to the semis and one to the championship
game. I lost my lone championship game with three bad lineup choices
for my 19-player starting line up in a full IDP dynasty league
(My team is on the right):
| Better Luck Next
||Out To Lunch
|Ryan, Matt ATL QB
||Gutsy start over Eli, so-so pick.
||Garrard, David JAC QB
||I had to hope for the best and I got
|Benson, Cedric CIN RB
||Excellent choice - sickening.
||Smith, Kevin DET RB
||A big reason I lost despite a good game.
|Turner, Michael ATL RB
||Westbrook, Brian PHI RB
||How do I not start him?
|Owens, Terrell DAL WR
||Berrian, Bernard MIN WR
|White, Roddy ATL WR
||The reason I still had a chance.
||Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR
||To think I had Devard Darling for two
|Clark, Dallas IND TE
||This helped him win it.
||Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR
||One of the original members of my team.
|Olsen, Greg CHI TE
||I did this going into Monday Night.
||Keller, Dustin NYJ TE
||Even the Titans No.2 TE was better.
|Graham, Shayne CIN PK
||Kept me in it.
||Kasay, John CAR PK
||I stubbornly refused to believe in Lindell
|Sims, Pat CIN DT
||Brown, Tony TEN DT
|Brown, Alex CHI DE
||See Greg Olsen
||Dockett, Darnell ARI DE
|Burgess, Derrick OAK DE
||Parker, Juqua PHI DE
||Vanden Bosch’s injury has plagued
me all year.
|Bulluck, Keith TEN LB
||Dansby, Karlos ARI LB
||Acquired as rookie in a draft day trade.
|Howard, Thomas OAK LB
||Johnson, Derrick KCC LB
||Same as above, but not as excited about
|Jones, Dhani CIN LB
||Peterson, Julian SEA LB
|Morrison, Kirk OAK LB
||Good player, rough day
||Willis, Patrick SFO LB
||Best defensive draft pick I ever made.
|Winfield, Antoine MIN CB
||Harper, Nick TEN CB
||Not bad, but no Michael Griffin
|Wright, Eric CLE CB
||Jennings, Tim IND CB
|Griffin, Michael TEN S
||Dawkins, Brian PHI S
|Williams, Madieu MIN S
||Mikell, Quintin PHI S
|Manning, Eli NYG QB
||I would have started him.
||Brennan, Colt WAS QB
|McNabb, Donovan PHI QB
||Great #3 QB
||Culpepper, Daunte DET QB
|Jackson, Fred BUF RB
||Nice day for a #2 RB
||Edwards, Trent BUF QB
||Knew I’d bench him.
|Johnson, Rudi DET RB
||Simms, Chris TEN QB
|Washington, Leon NYJ RB
||Give him more time.
||Darby, Kenneth STL RB
|Boldin, Anquan ARI WR
||Was hoping he’d start Boldin.
||Harrison, Jerome CLE RB
|McDonald, Shaun DET WR
||Jacobs, Brandon NYG RB
||Underestimated his health - cost me
|Moss, Sinorice NYG WR
||Omon, Xavier BUF RB
|Simpson, Jerome CIN WR
||Williams, Ricky MIA RB
||Never would have used him, but go figure…
|Utecht, Ben CIN TE
||Young, Selvin DEN RB
|Robbins, Fred NYG DT
||I would have started him.
||Bowman, Adarius FA WR
||Long term roll of the dice.
|Geathers, Robert CIN DE
||Hill, Jason SFO WR
|Groves, Quentin JAC DE
||Jones, Matt JAC WR
|Harris, David NYJ LB
||Schilens, Chaz OAK WR
||Picked up mid-season, intriguing reserve
|Johnson, Landon CAR LB
||Walker, Mike JAC WR
|Thomas, Adalius NEP LB
||Scaife, Bo TEN TE
||Keller had more upside in my mind.
|Lucas, Ken CAR CB
||Lindell, Rian BUF PK
||This pick angered me more than the RB
|Sheppard, Lito PHI CB
||Vanden Bosch, Kyle TEN DE
||Hurt all year. Imagine if he were healthy
|Bullocks, Josh NOS S
||Boley, Michael ATL LB
||Tailspin this year.
|Ndukwe, Nedu CIN S
||Crowder, Channing MIA LB
|White, Marvin CIN S
||Jones, Sean CLE S
||Coming off injury
|Starter + Non-Starter Total:
||Starter + Non-Starter Total:
Congratulations to my opponent for his victory. I don’t
think either of us fully expected to get to this game, both of
us beating the more favored teams in our first two match ups in
the playoffs. If I had started Rian Lindell and Brandon Jacobs
I would have been up by twelve heading into Monday night, but
I seriously believed Derrick Ward would be more productive and
Kevin Smith was a more likely to have a nice day. I was wrong,
but still somewhat justified in my decision when you consider
Ward had 215 yards and Smith had an 18-point day. I felt my worst
decision was keeping Lindell on the bench against a poor Broncos
defense. For some reason I just fixated on Kasay having more opportunities
and I have been wrong about this down the stretch.
Now’s not the time to dwell on should’ve, could’ve,
would’ve because if you got this far, you should be congratulated
on a successful season regardless of your week 16 outcome. So
we’re going to end the season with a series of connecting
thoughts about the weekend that was and the season as a whole.
Kurt Warner has a rough history with games played in wintry weather.
You wouldn’t think this would be such a problem consider
that Warner’s college career was in Northern Iowa with that
wind whipping across the planes. The problem is the Panthers play
in a dome. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? Stats don’t
always tell the story.
Here’s another example where stats don’t even come
close to telling the story – Going into week 16 here are
the season stats for three quarterbacks whose careers permanently
If I told you at the end of the 2007 season that the QB of the Packers
would have the best stats, the QB of the Jets would be in the middle,
and the QB at the bottom would be the Dolphins starter, you would
have been fine with these numbers as projections – except
you’d probably say the Dolphins QB looked a little too good.
| QBs Through Week
What you would never have guessed is the conference runner-up
Packers would be out of the playoffs despite a strong season debut
from Aaron Rodgers who bumped a retired, then un-retired Brett
Favre. The gunslinger went to the Jets and equal parts great and
terrible, but still has New York in the post-season race. Ironically,
the team with the best shot of the three to make the playoffs
was the QB left for the trash heap. Chad Pennington has the worst
arm, the worst team on paper, and the fewest fantasy points heading
into week 16, but he also has the fewest turnovers, nearly as
many yards as Rodgers, and a better completion percentage. Efficiency
is sometimes the stat you need to consider over raw production.
It was an easy and understandable slip-up for everyone to prefer
Brett Favre to Chad Pennington, but it looks like the former Marshall
QB is making Jets fans wonder if they’re going to be featured
on yet another TV clip cheering the wrong move by their team’s
I think the real answer to the question is the one that anti-Farve
guys will love to hate: I believe Favre would have had a huge
season if he never called it quits in the off-season. Think about
the fact he has 20-plus scores and 3200 yards in a system and
players he had less than a month to learn before the regular season.
That’s exceeding realistic expectations. The additiona of
Alan Faneca cannot be understated, but he also forced defenses
to respect his ability to make the big play, which helped the
offensive line and the running game. Most importantly, the Jets
would likely be contenders with Farve or Pennington but the Packers
couldn’t make it happen defensively. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t
a victim of the Madden Curse, but the Packers organization was
as a whole.
Speaking of slip ups, I loved that Chris Berman called Merrill
Hodge “Myrtle” about 40 minutes before kickoff. Too
funny…and speaking of Myrtle, I was telling a reader the
same things Hodge said Sunday about the Tennessee defense without
Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch. What we neglected to consider is
the physical style of the Titans. This team’s modus operandi
is to make sure you feel that you were in a football game when
the clock strikes 0:00. If there is a team on both sides of the
ball that was capable of standing toe-to-toe with the Steelers
and not back down it was the Titans.
Most people know very little about Tennessee because they are
a small market team that just recovered from a salary cap purge
of big contracts from the late 90s-early 2000s teams that were
consistently in Super Bowl contention. Here’s want you need
to know: this team is in built according to Jeff Fisher. They
will beat you up, they are resilient physically and mentally,
and they take risks.
Remember the 4th down play against the Texans two weeks ago where
Fisher called the pass play and Collins missed it and the media
panned Fisher and we all predicted the demise of the Titans, who
peaked too early now that they’ve gone 2-2 in four weeks?
This weekend, I watched the Titans up by three with home field
advantage on the line call a pass play on 4th and 3 late in the
3rd quarter against the best defense in football and convert.
So much for bad coaching.
Seriously, consider the fact that Fisher and company understands
Tennessee needs to practice executing in big situations and there’s
no better time to do it than with the game on the line. The Titans
had little to lose – they made the playoffs and had a home
game sewn up. They need to get comfortable executing under pressure
more than they need home field advantage. If they have the confidence
to perform in key situations, it doesn’t matter where they
are playing does it?
Sunday, they also were the first team this season to post 300
yards on the Steelers defense and they caused seven fumbles and
an interception return for a score without Albert
Haynesworth and yet again, Kyle
Vanden Bosch – both Pro Bowl caliber defensive linemen. Justin
Tuck was a player I loved out of college and I compared Lions
DE Cliff Avril to him in some ways last week. This week, let’s
look at the Titans second-round pick, DE Jason
Jones, who many teams saw as a potential LB because he was
high-hipped, very quick, athletic, and good against strong competition.
Sounds a lot to me like LB Justin Tuck out of Notre Dame, who
just needed to add weight/strength. Well, looks like Jones had
his first coming out party yesterday. Remember the depth of the
New York Giants line last year with Kiwanuka, Tuck, Umenyiora,
and Strahan rotating? Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth should be healthy
by the playoffs and with Ball, Kearse, Jones, Hayes, and Brown
all making plays, the Titans with Kerry Collins could be the Giants
Speaking of the Titans, I don’t know where Alge Crumpler
has been all season, but it was nice to see him on Sunday catching
and running with the football.
Another reminder of Titans toughness: Derrick Mason scoring with
a dislocated shoulder in the second half of the Cowboys game.
Gritty. These are the type of players that embody the spirit of
the Titans football teams. Just remember him and McNair. Think
about McNair and Fisher losing that Super Bowl by a yard. It takes
a lot of mental toughness to lead your team back to a few more
conference championships after that kind of loss. These guys could
have imploded, but they didn’t. Mason is a football player
of the highest order: not prototypically big, not prototypically
fast, but off the charts tough. I watched him play on a sprained
kneed at the end of a Monday night football game several years
ago where he was the go-to receiver on the final drive that won
them the game. He made plays after the catch and then would limp
back to the huddle. Gritty.
Speaking of toughness did you hear Tom Jackson list the new additions
to his torso? Artificial right hip, artificial left knee, pin
in shoulder? That segment on playing in pain by ESPN was excellent.
And Jackson also got the gift of introducing the best highlight
of the 2008 season on Monday Night Countdown. Chiefs linemen Damien
McIntosh pancaking consecutive Dolphin defensive backs into an
IHOP short stack on the Jamaal Charles flare pass for 75 yards.
It was the funniest and greatest play I’ve seen all year.
Someone needs to YouTube it for posterity.
And underrated play was one from Eli Manning on Sunday night.
His accuracy was on display with 11:00 in the 1st QTR on the opening
drive when he uncorked a deep pass on the run in double coverage.
Although his form and mechanics weren’t pretty, he knew
exactly where the place the ball so Hixon could turn back to the
ball and make an uncontested catch.
From underrated play to an underrated coach: Cleveland brass,
please bring back Marty Schottenheimer. You have the makings of
a team that he can easily mold into his image. He has an offensive
line that is fundamentally strong that he can make better. He
has a big play receiver in Braylon
Edwards and Josh Cribbs, Jerome Harrison, and Paul Hubbard
- late-round athletes he’ll know how to use like he did with Herman
Fotenot, Earnest Byner, and Brian Brennan in the 80s. He’ll create
a defense that will dominate the Bengals, and make the Ravens
and Steelers match ups into gutter wars. Hire Schottenheimer and
the AFC North will become the best division in football and the
hardest hitting within three seasons. Fans will also give Schottenheimer
a longer honeymoon because they hated to see him go the first
time and they know he’s inherited a mess, a promising mess, but
a mess nonetheless. As long as you let Schottenheimer have a real
say in drafting players along the offensive line and anywhere
on the defensive side of the ball, you’ll be fine.
Speaking of the draft, I’m looking forward to answering
the following questions:
Deciding whether I think Clemson’s C.J. Spiller is more like
Johnson…I know James Davis is a decent college runner, but
don’t waste your time picking him early in dynasty drafts.
Is there a quarterback remotely close to Matt Ryan’s level
of talent and more importantly, is there an NFL team with a good
enough situation to give him a chance to perform at a high level
and not get his psyche bashed in by game six?
Will the linebacker class be better than it was in 2008? I sure
Is Rice’s Jarrett Dillard a Derrick Mason-like receiver
If you’re playing for your championship in week 17 and
not in an all-points league…WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR LEAGUE?
Seriously, good luck and have a great off-season!