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!
One of the more popular threads on the FFToday message boards
is Bold Predictions. If you haven't read them, the premise is
to forecast an event that seems very unlikely and comes more from
intuition than a set of statistical facts. These are made in fun
and not seriously considered as something to stand behind. The
Gut Check has four bold predictions for the 2004 season. He's
just hoping Mike also sees this in the spirit of fun and considers
this extra credit on Yours Truly's quarterly report card
Mewelde Moore is this year's Domanick
Moore is an example of The Gut Check's Theory of
Scouting Paralysis by Analysis. The true definition of the theory
is still percolating in The Gut Check's mind, and someday soon
he plans to devote an entire column to it, but for now it goes
something like this:
a. Scouts laud a college player's talent based on his year(s)
prior to turning pro.
b. Player lacks some of the premium physical prototypes for the
position or doesn't come from the best school or offensive system.
c. Player has a good, but not great last year in college.
d. Scouts lower said player's value even more after the combine.
e. Player drops to mid-rounds.
The perfect example of a player that fell victim to this theory
is Brandon Lloyd. Two other players The Gut Check believes will
prove his theory are quarterbacks Matt Schaub (3rd round) and
Luke McCown (4th round).
Mewelde Moore is going to get his shot right now because "Medical
Michael" might challenge "Fragile Fred" for the
title of who the fans perceive as the most brittle back in the
NFL, and Onterrio Smith-last year's 4th round surprise-proved
the scouts right in terms of him being a guy with 1st round ability
and free agent maturity. The Gut Check still thinks Smith is a
fine prospect and could grow into a start. But Mewelde Moore,
much like the Brown's Lee Suggs getting drafted the year after
William Green showed some promise, could be a sign that the Vikings
felt their 4th rounder was too good to pass up.
Moore's collegiate career is fairly telling of his talent:
The stats are impressive, especially as a receiver out of the
backfield. Regarded as one of the best receiving backs to come
out of college football in many years, Moore has been inaccurately
pegged as a third-down back. At 5-11, 210 pounds Moore has enough
size to play every down and will likely add more weight to his
frame as he learns to train like a football player. In Moore's
first year he became the first NCAA-division one player to rush
for more than 1200 yards and catch 60 passes in a season! This
is enough to tell you that Moore-with all due respect to J.P.
Losman and Patrick Ramsey-was literally the Tulane offense. Just
ask Tulane coach Chris Scelfo, who in 2002 was quoted by Ken McMillian
of the Times Herald-Record:
"Everything he [Moore] has gotten this year has been on
his own; he hasn't gotten much help. Our offensive line is inconsistent.
A lot of people are stacking the box on him and presenting a numbers
problem for us."
Considering Tulane went 5-7 in 2003 and Moore still averaged
nearly five yards per carry, it's hard to discount Moore's is
toughness and versatility. Much like Drew Henson-another player
that spent time as a professional baseball player-Moore is just
scratching the surface of his potential. Moore's somewhat average
size, average speed, and below average program did not meet the
scouting prototypes and his stock dropped. Terrell Davis had this
So far Moore has proven to be a favorite of the Viking's coaching
staff. In fact, beat reporter Bob Sansevere wrote in the Pioneer
Press on August 31st:
The Vikings like Moore's talent and work ethic, and Tice took
delight in talking about how Moore used to miss lunch during mini-camp
to watch films.
"We'll try to get him a lot of work,'' Tice said. "We'll
see what his workload can be.''
That's a pretty good indication that Moore might get the kind
of break Domanick Davis received last year. It's worth remembering
that scouts labeled Davis as primarily a third down option with
upside. Sound familiar? The Gut Check thinks so. Yours Truly scouted
Moore last year and can attest that the Green Wave was not a good
team, but Moore is a talent. Once The Gut Check hears coaches
rave about a player's desire, preparation, and ability to learn
quickly, he's a great breakout candidate. Here's a list of other
players reported to have this combination during their rookie
- Edgerrin James
- Brian Westbrook
- Brandon Lloyd
- Chad Johnson
- Terrell Davis
- Peyton Manning
Moore serves as Williams' back up for at least two, and possibly
as many as the first four games of the season. Although Moe Williams
had an impressive season as a part-time starter, he turned thirty
years old about a month ago and has never had more than 174 carries
in a season. Enough said.
Doug Gabriel takes Jerry Rice's job before
the end of the season
Gabriel is a Gut Check
favorite since he picked him in a keeper league in 2003. What
really has The Gut Check thinking that Gabriel will arrive sooner
than later is his desire
to improve. Yours Truly read this week that Gabriel sought
out Fred Biletnikoff's advice when he had a case of the drops
early in camp and the praise he had earned in mini-camps as player
that could compete with Rice for a starting job had faded into
the background. Since that time, Gabriel has been highly productive
in the preseason. Even last year when Gabriel was a rookie just
trying to make the roster, The Gut Check noticed how he wanted
the ball in pressure situations. A lot of fantasy owners are talking
up Tyrone Calico (if healthy)-The Gut Check is one of them-but
Gabriel could wind up becoming just as valuable.
If Gabriel continues his progress into the regular season, The
Gut Check thinks it's possible Norv Turner could relegate Jerry
Rice to a situational role. The all-time great no longer has the
deep speed to consistently stretch the field and if Gabriel demonstrates
he can consistently hold onto the ball Norv Turn might decide
Rice would make an excellent slot receiver in this offense. It
may not seem likely, but it's an insane thought, either.
Brian Westbrook wins the NFC offensive
player of the year award
Andy Talley, Westbrook's coach at Villanova, told the Philadelphia
Inquirer in October of 2003 that he thought The Eagle's third
year running back becomes a dominant player in the NFL:
"He's an explosion waiting to happen." Talley also said
Westbrook was "an Adonis," a "rare bird" and,
if you can believe it, "the next Marshall Faulk."
"I really believe that you are seeing the metamorphosis of
a great one coming up," Talley said. "No one's seen
him more than me. I had him for five years. He's full speed on
the fourth step, fifth step. He can run away from pro guys. Just
because we're I-AA guys, people laugh. The football on this level
has improved, and he dominated it. And he would've dominated I-A."
With Buckhalter out for the year, there is no doubt that Westbrook
gets his shot to be the man. The Gut Check has long believed that
Westbrook is big enough to be an effective, inside runner. The
most important factors contributing to Westbrook's every down
success will be the Eagle's off-season improvements. Terrell Owens
presence will open up Westbrook's game. Rookie lineman Shawn Andrews
has the media raving about his ability and some even suggesting
he could play on a pro bowl level. Plus, Westbrook should get
an increased chance to get into a rhythm as the undisputed starter.
The Gut Check already had Westbrook rated as a top-15 back, but
one could reasonably project the back's performance in a manner
that could vault him into the top five. Most don't want to go
there, but the fact it's even becoming a thought is interesting
Duce Staley is a top ten fantasy back in
Staley has always been a power runner with nifty feet and good
hands. He's a great fit in Pittsburgh where Bill Cowher wants
to return to his roots and emphasize the ground game. Jerome Bettis
still has some gas in the tank, but he no longer has the wiggle
after 8-10 carries that Staley will display well into the fourth
quarter. Bettis and Eddie George are about on the same level at
this point. The difference is that the Steelers front office is
very loyal, they aren't cap-strapped, and Cowher needs The Bus'
Staley's receiving skills will pose a lot of problems for opposing
defenses. Rather than making predictable lineup changes according
to down and distance, Pittsburgh will be able to keep Staley on
the field regardless of the situation. Most of the passing game
production came from wide receivers-Ward, Burress, and Randle
El had a combined 192 receptions. Starting TE Jay Riemersma only
caught 10 balls last year! Amos Zereoue was supposed to provide
that receiving dimension out of the backfield caught 40 balls,
but his 3.3 yards per carry average was too sub par to make him
an every down threat. As a result the Steelers couldn't maintain
balance on offense.
Staley only caught 36 passes last year, but he was also sharing
time with two other backs for the last two seasons. During his
career, Duce has been a prolific receiver out of the backfield:
It's conceivable Staley gets 50+ catches in 2004 and what's more
promising is his ability to gain yards after the catch. For three
consecutive seasons, at least 10% of Staley's receptions resulted
in gains of 20-39 yards, and he's had at least 1 gain of 40+ yards.
Todd Pinkston, James Thrash, and Freddie Mitchell were not great
blocking receivers, but Hines Ward may be the most physical blocking
receiver in the game. This should only benefit Staley.
A healthy Duce Staley getting 20 carries a game could have a 1300-yard
season. Keep in mind Staley gained over 1200 yards on the ground
in 1999-Donovan McNabb's rookie year. The Eagles were one of the
weaker offensive units in the league that year. Pittsburgh's 2004
unit compares more favorably than the Eagles of 1999, so much of
this production will depend on how much Staley has left in the tank.
The Gut Check thinks if Lamar Smith with the 2000 Dolphins can have
a big year after spending much of his career splitting time with
backs in Seattle and New Orleans, then Staley should have enough
for an excellent year.