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20/20 Hindsight - Week 2

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."

My first confession for the season: I'm chicken. Heading into week 2, I was ranked 186th out of 600 in the Fantasy Football Tournament of Champions. The top 200 at the end of the season qualify for a chance to play for the $10,000 prize. For those of you not familiar with FFTOC, owners can start any player from an NFL each week, but you cannot use them again for the rest of the season. After a good week one, I looked over the schedule and initially decided on this lineup for week two:

Initial Thoughts...
 Pos  Player  Opp  Initial Thoughts
QB David Carr DET If Rex Grossman can have a good game, why can’t Carr???
RB Onterrio Smith PHI The clear cut starter at least for this week. This allows me to use the Vikings o-line twice this season.
RB Domanick Davis DET Should be a high scoring game and DD looks good on turf--will be involved.
WR Keyshawn Johnson CLE My least favorite NFL player, but might as well get him out of the way early.
WR Andre Johnson DET Dré Bly is out and neither secondary is very good.
WR Roy Williams DET Will be the primary target.
TE Freddie Jones ARI Don't want to start a stud TE yet. Should get some looks.
K Doug Brien SD Jets should score a lot on the Chargers.
DEF Redskins NYG The Giants looked horrible on both sides of the ball last week.

Other than McNabb and Davis, I felt like I was taking some decent chances and saving some of the better players for the stretch run. Then something happened that turned my strategy upside down: Stephen Davis injured his knee.

I've been a big fan of Deshaun Foster ever since the first preseason game he played as a rookie when he burst through the line, knocked over Lavar Arrington, and outran Darrell Green for a 50+-yard touchdown. The Chiefs looked vulnerable to speed backs with shifty moves, which is something Foster has showcased. Although Foster's power is not the most vaunted part of his game, his goal line touchdown run against Philly in the playoffs is a good reason why he's not the scat back I hear some people try to label him.

I immediately put Foster in my lineup over Domanick Davis. Sounds pretty gutsy in hindsight. It's not like Carolina's offensive line looked very good last week—especially when so many television analysts were about to throw a funeral for the Panthers as they headed into Kansas City. True, the Chiefs could have gotten ahead early and Carolina might have been forced to abandon the run.

But real guts would have been to stick with the rest of my lineup once I inserted Foster. Instead, I made some adjustments:

Final Roster...
 Pos  Player  Opp  Comments
QB Daunte Culpepper PHI C-Pep is the most consistent player in FF over the last three seasons. Scored #1QB Fpts 74% of the time.
RB Onterrio Smith PHI No change here.
RB DeShaun Foster KC KC's run defense looked horrible in week one and Vonnie Holliday is out for week 2.
WR Keyshawn Johnson CLE My least favorite NFL player, but might as well get him out of the way early.
WR Isaac Bruce ATL 4 out of my 9 starts were for one game--am I nuts? Bruce is consistent and the ATL secondary is not.
WR Derrick Mason IND Mason is the fifth-most consistent #2 WR (scores like one nearly 58% of the time) from 2000-2003.
TE Freddie Jones ARI Don't want to start a stud TE, yet. Should get some looks.
K Doug Brien SD No Change
DEF Redskins NYG No Change.

Some people might think my adjustments were to play it safe and ultimately a smart decision. Why would I want to base 44% of my lineup choices on one game and use riskier picks like Andre Johnson and Roy Williams in combination with two, second-string RBs playing for their injured teammates? It's a good point, but I'll tell you why they are wrong: because my thinking may have been bold, but it was sound. Unfortunately, I chickened out. Here's how playing it safe compared with being playing to win:

 Playing it Safe  Playing To Win
 Pos  Player  Opp  Pts    Pos  Player  Opp  Pts
QB Daunte Culpepper PHI 23.82   QB David Carr PHI 27.52
RB Onterrio Smith PHI 8.4   RB Onterrio Smith PHI 8.4
RB Deshaun Foster KC 23.4   RB Domanick Davis KC 17.3
WR Keyshawn Johnson CLE 5.7   WR Keyshawn Johnson CLE 5.7
WR Isaac Bruce ATL 10.2   WR Andre Johnson ATL 14.6
WR Derrick Mason IND 10.4   WR Roy Williams IND 19.3
TE Freddie Jones ARI 4.3   TE Freddie Jones ARI 4.3
K Doug Brien SD 10   K Doug Brien SD 10
DEF Redskins NYG 3   DEF Redskins NYG 3
   Total   99.22      Total   110.2

In hindsight, I made a nice choice with Foster but benching Andre Johnson and Roy Williams really hurts. On the surface, it doesn't seem too damaging: these two receivers combined for 13.3 more points than Mason and Bruce but I made nearly half that amount with Foster. But 6.1 points was the difference of over 50 spots in the rankings last week. Establishing a solid point total/ranking with a minimal use of establish stars could be a big edge in this contest—an edge I could have enjoyed after this weekend.

Culpepper maintained his nearly 75% likelihood over the last three years of scoring at least 18.9 points. Considering that Culpepper had a bad game on the football field, but was still this effective as a fantasy quarterback is pretty impressive. Unfortunately Onterrio Smith didn't have quite the game I anticipated from him. I still wound up with nearly 100 points-while this isn't a horrible result, I essentially wasted my most consistent quarterback in week two of the season. I could have gotten more from a middle of the pack signal caller and saved Culpepper for when I really need him. Plus, the differential of eleven points appears to be a lot in the rankings at this point of the season.

Playing to win feels better than playing not to lose. I need to repeat this to myself more often….

Now to the week 2 files of 20/20 Hindsight

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

Daniel Graham would keep scoring like the best TE in fantasy football: Since week 9 of 2003, Graham has been scoring a touchdown every other game. For the last two weeks, Graham has had two, 2-touchdown games despite the fact that Brady likes to spread the wealth and the Patriots drafted the highly touted Ben Watson. Many felt it was only a matter of time for Watson to displace Graham in the lineup, but it looks like Graham-a first round pick in his own right-is coming into his own. Play Graham until Watson clearly overtakes him.

Lesson Learned: Ride the player if the trend is clear.

Roy Williams would light up the Texans for two touchdowns: Anyone would have seen the likelihood of this happening if they just watched both teams in week one. Williams demonstrated the athletic grace of Randy Moss with his one-handed grab against the Bears on one play and then on another he flashed the running skills of Terrell Owens where he refused to go down until half the defense had piled on top of him. Combine this with the fact that Drew Brees accumulated a 125 QB rating against a Texans' defense and suddenly Roy Williams' performance looks like the kind of result that has you slapping yourself in the head and shouting, "McFly!" And I started Derrick Mason over him…I'm going to have bad dreams about Nick Harper all week.

Lesson Learned: Exploit passing match ups against the Texans.

Jim Kleinsasser's absence would impact Onterrio Smith's performance: Onterrio Smith seem poised to have a big game against a suspect Eagle's run defense, but Kleinsasser's injury forced the Vikings to put a rookie tight end into the game. Not only was the rookie ineffective as a blocker, but he also accumulated at least three false start penalties-forcing the Vikings to throw. The injury to starting right tackle Mike Rosenthal just added fuel to the fire. The shaky line played coupled with the Eagles blitzing seemed to make Culpepper indecisive at the goal line. One of these plays looked like a run pass option with Smith as the primary receiver. Culpepper's indecision resulted in neither player getting the score. This completely took the Vikings out of their game. Fortunately, Smith is a decent receiver and was able to earn some points for me.

Lesson Learned: Although most of us already know offensive lines make the runner, it's worth considering that even in the era of the receiving tight end, the position is still an integral part of the line and the ground game.

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

Ronald Curry would be a great fantasy start in week 2: Curry had 89 yards against the Bills, including a 43-yard touchdown reception in the opening quarter. As an owner that just spent his week rounding out my depth chart with Doug Gabriel, I'm scratching my head on this one. True, Curry has looked good in camp but if this carousel continues in week three the only safe play in the Raiders' passing game might be Rich Gannon!

Chester Taylor would out-gain a healthy Jamal Lewis? "The Rocket," gained 76 yards on 9 carries-including a 35-yard. Even without this play, Taylor would have averaged 5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Lewis had to log it 26 times just to amass his 62 yards. Lewis did have two touchdowns deep in the red zone. Nonetheless, Lewis is off to somewhat of a lackluster start for fantasy owners.

Lessons Learned: The Raiders are going to surprise this year and has an offense filled with fantasy spoilers. The Ravens offensive starters are spoiling many owners' shot at a good start to a fantasy season.

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

Benched Quentin Griffin against the Jaguars stiff run defense: Griffin is going to have a good year, but no running back has had a good game against the Jaguars defense for seventeen consecutive games. This list includes backs like Tomlinson, James, Lewis, and Henry. I was fortunate to make the right choice here, but it was tempting to ride the Griffin hype from last week. Instead I decided to ride the Chiefs defense like a two-bit pony-and I'll continue to do so after I…

Started Deshaun Foster against the Chiefs Defense: Who does their work in a stadium, wears tights, and flashes red prominently in front an on-rushing opponent just before getting out of the way? If you guessed either a matador or the Kansas City Defense you'd be right. On second thought, don't the Spainards that run with (or from this writer's perspective-"run from") the bulls have uniforms that look more like the Chiefs? Either way you look at it, Kansas City hasn't gotten the job done against the run even prior to Foster and Griffin:

Chiefs Against The Run...
Last  First  Opp  Team Year  Wk  Rush  Att  Rush  Yd  Rec  Rec  Yd  Total  TDs FF Pts
Lewis Jamal kan rav 2003 4 26 115 4 44 1 21.9
Portis Clinton kan den 2003 5 23 141 5 79 1 28
Green Ahman kan gnb 2003 6 26 139 6 51 2 31
Garner Charlie kan rai 2003 7 10 32 8 71 0 10.3
Henry Travis kan buf 2003 8 22 124 2 0 0 12.4
Jackson James kan cle 2003 10 17 66 1 18 1 14.4
Johnson Rudi kan cin 2003 11 22 165 2 12 0 17.7
Wheatley Tyrone kan rai 2003 12 19 77 0 0 1 13.7
Tomlinson LaDainian kan sdg 2003 13 19 106 5 17 1 18.3
Portis Clinton kan den 2003 14 22 218 2 36 5 55.4
Bryson Shawn kan det 2003 15 18 105 1 7 1 17.2
Smith Onterrio kan min 2003 16 21 146 4 37 3 36.3
Thomas Anthony kan chi 2003 17 16 61 2 7 0 6.8
          Avg 20.1 115 3.2 29.2 1.2 21.8

According to The Gut Check's Consistency Ratings, the Chiefs have allowed backs to average 21.8 fantasy points per game since week four of 2003-that's 2 points over the baseline rating for an elite back's average performance.

Lesson Learned: Riding the opposing defense's performance can be as beneficial as riding a player's.

For those of you that made the right decisions this week, congratulations. For those of you that didn't: Hindsight's a...