As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday's "Fantasy
Oh, what could have been... it turns out if I kept either Rudi
Johnson or Brandon Stokley in my FFTOC lineup last week I would
have remained in the top 200. Instead, I missed the cut by a little
less than 15 points. One small consolation was I did well enough
in the last month to win my bracket, and the $100 prize. Still,
I'm playing out the string just to see how I would do in comparison
to the rest of the field that advanced to the final round. Of
course, my planned starters-other than Stokley, whom I inserted
into the lineup after not pulling the trigger last week-did a
||A half-decent QB against the Colts is
always a solid start.
||196 yards and a score.
||The exact reason I played M. Faulk early
||Nice job this week, not playing him
last week cost me.
||Nothing special, but at least he got
||Not a bad day for the gimpy rookie.
||Horrible game for the Packers.
||As much as I don't like kickers, I sure
know how to pick them.
||Any defense against the Dolphins' offense
is tempting to use.
This total would have been a great way to come out of the gate in
the first game of the final rounds, but in this tournament one personnel
decision made all the difference. I'll continue to provide updates
as I play out the string for the next month.
On to the weekly files of 20/20 Hindsight…
Ronald Curry would catch 141 yards worth
of passes and score twice. If you thought Curry benefited
from bad weather conditions last week, then this week should have
dispelled that theory. This is the guy Norv Turner and Tim Brown
were praising in training camp because of his athletic ability,
hands, size, and work ethic. Curry, the equivalent of a second
year wide receiver in the NFL, would have been a hugely popular
"3rd year breakout candidate" in 2005 if he didn't rupture
his Achilles tendon at the end of the game.
Lessons Learned: It's useful
to listen to the commentators during the game when they share
discussions they had with the players and coaches. Prior to the
Raiders-Broncos Sunday Night tilt, Kerry Collins mentioned that
he was just getting comfortable with the offense. This was a good
clue to take a chance on a guy like Curry. I was able to make
the correct call with Curry over Marcus Robinson and Dontè
Stallworth this weekend for just this reason-and could mean the
difference between gaining a tie for the division lead and being
in danger of missing the playoffs in a highly competitive showcase
league. Now it's time to consider Doug Gabriel-the next young,
talented receiver in a stable that is beginning to click with
Brian Westbrook would have 11 catches,
156 yards, and three touchdowns as a receiver. This is
the third consecutive week Westbrook has scored at least one touchdown.
It's also the continuation of a trend where the Eagle's all-purpose
back has had at least 50 yards receiving. The Cowboys game was
a fine indicator that Westbrook was getting more looks in the
passing game. The last few games have been the kind of performances
I've expected out of Westbrook this season.
Lesson Learned: If the player
is producing consistent yardage, but not getting in the end zone
you shouldn't give up on the player. Especially if the player
(as with Westbrook) has had plenty of close calls for scores,
and continues to be on the field in scoring opportunities.
Troy Edwards would have a productive night.
There are a few of possible theories about this one: 1) Edwards
was hyped up for his match up with the team that originally drafted
him. 2) The Jaguars slot receiver benefited from bad tackling.
3) Slot receivers tend to be decent options against defenses that
blitz-especially defenses that use a 3-4 scheme. If the offense
does a good job picking up the blitz, the slot receiver is most
likely going to be running free down the middle of the field.
The problem is I don't believe there's one thing you can hang
your hat on as a fantasy owner to predict this kind of success.
Lesson Learned: Unless you're
in a league where you're only allowed to start players not ranked
in the top twenty in their respective position (could be a really
good way to determine fantasy skills), you're not going to convince
me the decision was astute.
Tatum Bell would score a touchdown.
The Chargers run defense has been stout and they were able to
keep the Broncos ground game in check earlier in the year. This
weekend was no exception, but like Droughns, Tatum Bell was able
to gain 30 yards and a score-decent totals in limited opportunities.
Lesson Learned: Nothing in
terms of starting Bell last week, but the rookie runner finally
showed me enough to know why Denver drafted him. Bell has the
kind of size, speed, and shiftiness that reminds me a bit of Fred
Taylor's running style. The most impressive thing about Bell in
his limited carries was his acceleration through the hole. Reuben
Droughns has been excellent, but I'd pick up Bell as insurance
for the stretch run this year and expect him to take a lot of
carries in 2005.
Desmond Clark would emerge with 58 yards
and a score. Clark was a top-three fantasy option at TE
for the Broncos a few years ago. It seemed natural that he would
have similar production in Chicago. Not only did Clark's numbers
drop, but I his absence from weekly stat lines for the last two
seasons had me wondering if he had dropped off the face of the
earth. Chad Hutchinson did a nice job in his first start and Clark
was actually a beneficiary.
Lesson Learned: Clark wasn't
the problem, but his slew of quarterbacks rotating starts in Chicago
were. The TE is often the best friend of a young QB in the passing
game. Maybe Hutchinson will actually be the one QB the Bears have
used that will resemble this theory
Starting Randy Moss is a high-risk/high
reward option for the rest of the year. Moss' total receiving
yards (31) at Soldier Field confirmed three things: 1) Moss' hamstring
hasn't gotten worse. 2) Moss' hamstring won't be well enough for
him to go deep for the rest of the regular season. 3) Cold weather
games are really going to hamper Moss.
Lesson Learned: Start Moss
in domes, but only if you can afford the risk/reward of him getting
any red zone looks.
Start Brandon Stokley in the RCA Dome.
If you haven't read the memo for the last few weeks, Stokley's
best efforts come on artificial turf, especially at home. Throw
in the fact that Dallas Clark was out this week, and it meant
more 3 wide receiver sets for the Colts. The result: 8 receptions,
153 yards, and a score.
Lesson Learned: Exploit clear
Carson Palmer is becoming a good start
down the stretch. Yes, I thought the Browns game was somewhat
of a fluke, but after Palmer brought the Bengals back from a 17-point
deficit against the Ravens I'm convinced his 300-plus yard, 3
TD effort is the sign of things to come for the rest of the season,
despite the fact the Bengals face the Patriots, Bills, Giants,
and Eagles. In fact, the Giants defense is the only likely candidate
for Rudi Johnson to have a successful day on the ground. Both
the Bills and Patriots are banged up on the outside and Cincinnati
has the receivers to exploit their weaknesses.
Just from watching the Bengals highlights it's clear that Palmer's
rapport with Chad Johnson has grown with each passing week. T.J.
Houshmanzadeh has done a great job filling in for Peter Warrick,
and Kelley Washington has caught touchdown passes in two out of
the last three games. When a team's outside WRs account for 20
receptions in one game against the Ravens, that's a strong statement.
Lesson Learned: Take a chance
on Palmer if you don't have a top five QB on your roster down
the stretch-he could be the difference for you.
For those of you that made the right decisions this week, congratulations.
For those of you that didn't: Hindsight's a