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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."

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 great job.

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB B. Volek 28.76 A half-decent QB against the Colts is always a solid start.
RB K. Jones 27.8 196 yards and a score.
RB S. Jackson 14.9 The exact reason I played M. Faulk early this season.
WR B. Stokley 21.3 Nice job this week, not playing him last week cost me.
WR J. McCareins 4.7 Nothing special, but at least he got some points.
WR R. Williams 7.6 Not a bad day for the gimpy rookie.
TE B. Franks 0 Horrible game for the Packers.
K M. Stover 14 As much as I don't like kickers, I sure know how to pick them.
DEF Bills 19 Any defense against the Dolphins' offense is tempting to use.
  Total 138.6  

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…

Would've (From The Who Would Have Known File)

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 Collins.

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.

Could've (From The Who Could Have Known File)

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…

Should've (From The I Knew I Should Have File)

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 tendencies.

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 …