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20/20 Hindsight - Week 15

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 was a great weekend for watching pro football and an even greater season for surprises in the NFL. The unpredictability has made lineup decisions for the playoffs an even more difficult undertaking. I'm still alive in one league: a performance-based, contract keeper league with both individual offensive and defensive players.

Performance Based - Keeper League
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB B. Favre 24.75 3 Ints and 1 Fumble lost cost me big…
RB C. Dillon 26.4 Nice game as usual.
RB B. Westbrook 12.6 Still did better than alternatives: Suggs or T. Jones
WR R. Moss 16.5 That 82-yd TD reception was a sight for sore eyes.
WR C. Johnson 1.2 2 receptions for 10 yards--ouch!
WR J. Smith 20.7 Great example of the right "weather call."
TE J. Shockey 7.3 Those two near-miss TDs really hurt.
K D. Akers -1 His worst game of the year. No FG opps, missed XP.
DL R. Coleman 1.5  Not much this week.
DL A. Brown 4 After some mid-season monster weeks is cooling off.
LB J. Farrior 1 Played hurt this weekend.
LB K. Bulluck 6.5 Not much of a running attack for him to stop.
DB B. Dawkins 1.5 A bit of a letdown vs. “Vinny Int.”
DB A. Wilson 6 Decent game with an INT and FF.

Unfortunately, 128.95 points weren't enough to win it. My opponent wisely started Antwaan Randle El and the former QB from Indiana had a 30.4 point effort-which was the difference maker in a 145.2 point day.

I had to rely on Corey Dillon last night to stay in the hunt, but with two excellent teams ahead of me in our power-rating poll (head to head, breakdown schedule, and cumulative season points to date), I'm going to need some major help with just two weeks left. My season in hindsight came down to two things: two losses by less than three points—one of them by less than .5 of a point—and not shoring up my defense until halfway through the season.

Speaking of "shoring" up a team, 2004's fantasy season was truly the season of the waiver wire. Here are my waiver wire gems in 20/20 Hindsight:

2004 Waiver Wire Gems
 Pos  Player  Comments
QB Drew Brees Un-drafted in many leagues and not expected to finish the season. Now he's finishing off fantasy playoff teams.
QB Billy Volek Maybe the best deep-ball thrower in the NFL this year. Maybe a practice squad player on dynasty squads at best.
RB Mewelde Moore A rookie an 4th on the depth chart. With Vikings' RB situation, maybe a late pick.
RB Reuben Droughns The biggest fantasy surprise of the season.
WR Drew Bennett See this week's files…
WR Brandon Stokley Are you kidding? I actually was in a league with a guy that drafted him early? Dumb, rookie luck…
TE Jermaine Wiggins Tell me anyone thought he'd be the Viking's best receiving threat for a stretch for a stretch of the season.
TE Jason Witten Although his potential was known, he was 2nd on the depth chart to begin the season and seemed a year away.

Honorable Mentions: Derrick Blaylock, Larry Johnson, Nick Goings, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ronald Curry, and Lee Evans.

Onto the penultimate week's files of 20/20 Hindsight …

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

If I had known, I would have started Jamal Lewis despite coming off an injured ankle. Other than receivers, is there any other position that relies more upon healthy ankles than running backs? Lewis averaged over 10 yards per carry with just over a half dozen carries in the first quarter against the Colts. Although this total for a back isn't surprising against the Colts defense, it is for a back of Lewis' dimensions and running style that was questionable to play after a few weeks of inactivity after a sprained ankle.

Lesson Learned: Three to four weeks is more than enough time for a sprained ankle to heal, but until he takes the field, you never really know if a player is trying to gut it out or is fully healthy in that period of time.

I would have started Warrick Dunn against the Panthers. Dunn was a simple choice this weekend with T.J. Duckett out and the Falcons' opponent. If you know anything about the Falcons-Panthers rivalry over the past two years, you'd realize why Dunn was such an obvious start:

  • They share a history of tightly contested games—Saturday was no different.
  • Both teams needed to rely up on the run to slow the opposing defenses' strong pass rush.
  • Dunn rarely has a bad game when he's the sole option of the ground game and actually gets fed the ball.

Dunn's 130+ yard, 1 TD effort is just another game in the RBs career that demonstrates his underrated and under-utilized talent. When you're a 180-pound back that tends to happen, but it's still a shame because Dunn is a terrific inside runner. Even opposing defenders are routinely fooled when Dunn breaks one through the middle. They understandably anticipate Dunn to bounce the play outside, only to watch him keep it inside for large gains. If Warrick Dunn were an inch or two taller and twenty to thirty pounds heavier with the same skill, he'd be an elite back. Even as is, I wish a team gave him the chance to be a 20-25-touch per game back for just a season.

Lesson Learned: It's best to use historical tendencies with divisional rivalries. This was an easy pick.

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

Who could have known Drew Bennett would be fantasy playoffs MVP? Even if Bennett doesn't do anything against the Broncos in week 16, you can't deny that the Titan's secondary option has provided a huge lift to many teams over the last three weeks. We're talking over 500 yards and 8 touchdowns in three games!!! Although I didn't predict Bennett would be this good, I did point out earlier in the season that the Titans made the right choice to chose to keep him over Justin McCareins. But I thought Tyrone Calico was going to be the catalyst for the Titans' passing game….

Lesson Learned: You just never know which player is going to get hot down the stretch. One would think teams would begin double covering Bennett after his Monday Night masterpiece against Kansas City, much less the three touchdowns on three catches effort he had versus Indy.

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

I knew I should've paid attention to the Sunday morning weather report in Green Bay. Actually I did, but I know many that ditched the idea of starting Jimmy Smith due to the sub-freezing temperatures. On the surface this makes sense, but the cold isn't that big of a deal if the wind isn't much of a factor. Week 14's strong winds in Lambeau Field had a greater effect on the game than the cold weather. When I read that the wind was around 11 mph, I knew it made more sense to start Smith over my secondary choice: Anquan Boldin. Although Boldin had much nicer weather and was threatening to breakout in recent weeks, the Packer's secondary is significantly worse against the pass when it comes to receiving touchdowns allowed, receiving yards allowed per game, and 40+ yard catches allowed in 2004.

Lesson Learned: The only two weather conditions that generally have a serious effect on a passing game is strong winds (over 20 mph) and sustained, heavy rain.