As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday's "Fantasy
The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books and it's
time to pay a little visit to the optometrist. Is Hindsight truly
20/20? Time to exam the results thus far.
1. Playing to win feels better than playing
not to loseNot only does it feel better, but it's
also a more successful strategy. Unfortunately, I haven't followed
my own advice. Going into week 4, I decided to put some heavy
hitters into my FFTOC lineup as an attempt to jump-start my season.
Before I made this decision, I originally had Byron Leftwich as
my starting quarterback. Although I used Leftwich in two other
leagues, I played it safe and went with Donovan McNabb in FFTOC.
This turned into a 3-point mistake, minor but with 599 opponents,
2. Ride the player if the trend is clearThere
are several players that have been worth riding thus far.
- Isaac Bruce has had four consecutive 100-yard games
- Chris Brown had three consecutive 100-yard games until
- Daniel Graham has four touchdowns in three games and
at least one score in each.
- Roy Williams has two consecutive games with two touchdowns.
- Terrell Owens has four consecutive games with a touchdown.
- Curtis Martin three consecutive games with 100 yards
and a touchdown.
- Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have thrown at least two
touchdowns in every game in 2004.
Of course trends always have a stopping point, but early production
is a good indicator of
3. Exploit passing match ups against the
TexansFrom a perspective of touchdowns this is a good
choice, but there is better to be had in the same division!
||  QB Yds
|| WR 100
||300 Yd Gms
||  QB Yds
|| WR 100
||300 Yd Gms
Although a bye week comes in week six for Indianapolis, don't count
on the passing defense to get much better right away. Put a saddle
on the Colts and ride them for what it's worth.
4. The Raiders are going to surprise this
year. They have an offense filled with fantasy spoilers. The Ravens
offensive starters are spoiling many owners' shot at a good start
to a fantasy season. The raiders have had their share of
fantasy spoilers. Week one, the stars are Gannon, Gabriel, and
Whitted. Week two it's Curry and week three Tyrone Wheatley. Week
four? Amos Zereoue. Maybe the only consistent player has been
wide receiver Ronald Curry. Collins should have a healthy week
against the Colts, but he's not the type of player one feels confident
using when the opposing defense is the tiebreaker between him
and another decent quarterback. The Ravens (excluding last night)
have had one big game from Jamal Lewis and a nice game from Randy
Hymes. Not exactly what a fantasy owner would expect.
5. Riding an opposing defense's performance
can be as successful as riding a players'. See the Colts
and Texans defense against the pass or the Chiefs, Bengals, and
Packers against the run.
So far these look like pretty good lessonsnow it's time to begin
incorporating them more often in my fantasy lineups for the FFTOC.
Unfortunately, I haven't done so thus far in this tournament
Week 4 Lineup
||Leftwich had his best game against a
decimated Colts secondary: 18.72 points—not much more,
but it could help!
||Still would have went with him—especially
with the possibility of a suspension imminent
||Not the great game from him that I was
counting on this week, but still decent numbers. Consistency
||Yardage totals could have been greater
if Leftwich were accurate on a couple more deep balls—but
still a decent total.
||A dud performance to follow up a terrific
effort in week 3. Maybe it’s time to study a “let down”
||What a disappointment, but I should
have known the Niners would roll over quickly.
||It’s a little sad when the best decision
of the week might be picking a TE!
||The Colts are just too good to have
drives stall very often in the red zone. Probably good
do be disappointed now than later.
||The Texans would have been the better
defense to play! But who would have known?
This is the third consecutive week my performance has trended downward.
Here's hoping for a better second quarter of the season. Time to
look at the week four files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Drew Brees would be productive against
I have to admit, I'm a Brees fan. He's gotten a raw deal in San
Diego. Brees was the first pick in the second round of the 2001
draft. After his first appearance in a regular season game, Brees
generated a buzz among NFL fans when he relieved an injured Doug
Flutie and brought the Chargers back with 221 yards and a td in
the second half in a comeback effort that almost beat the Kansas
City Chiefs. San Diego's teammates, fans, and the organization
remarked about his poise and accuracy. Tomlinson and Brees were
a combination The Chargers' touted as building blocks of a winning
John Butler, the late-GM and former front office man on the talent-laden,
Bills of the Jim Kelly era was very confident in Brees: "Never
did I think we'd get so lucky to have Drew Brees sitting there
when we had the top pick in the second round. Some people are
special in life and in their profession, and Drew's one of them."
PFW's Jeff Reynold's once wrote that Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan
views Brees as one of the most intelligent quarterbacks in the
So what happened? In 2002, Brees and Tomlinson led the Chargers
to first-place tie with the Broncos in the AFC West heading into
week 12, but the bottom fell out. In 2003, the Chargers got rid
of Brees' most reliable receiver in Curtis Conway and replaced
him with the unreliable David Boston and rookie Reche Caldwell.
Not a good combination for a quarterback about to start his second
full season. Brees' had a bad year and next thing you know, the
Chargers were drafting a quarterback.
Seems to me this was a reaction A.J. Smith made in regards to
Brees where John Butler would have been more patient. True, Brees
was Butler's guy, so it's common sense that Butler would have
likely gave the former Purdue star more time. Ever a conspiracy
theorist, there are a number of things that don't make sense about
When a player has a dissenting view of an organizational move
that is strong enough for him to state it in the media, that's
worth noting. LaDainian Tomlinson believed that the Chargers'
still had their quarterback of the future in Brees heading into
the 2004 draft. It's true the two players are close and share
a similar football background in terms of being overlooked and
under-appreciated until they made the big-time college football
programs pay for their mistakes. This can create a sense of loyalty
to a teammate that Tomlinson obviously has for Brees. But don't
think a sense of a loyalty from a player as competitive as Tomlinson
is going to cloud his judgment about a teammate's ability to help
That leads us once again to the late, great John Butler. This
is a man that was known as one of the best evaluators of talent
in the NFL. I just have a hard time believing the San Diego Chargers
would have ever drafted a quarterback in 2004 if Butler were still
alive and in the role he had with the team. Sure, even the best
make mistakes now and then, but Brees' stats from 2002his
first full season as a starterdon't appear to be indicative of
a future back up:
First Full Season As A Starter
|| FF Pts
The nearly 61% completion percentage should catch your eye. It caught
mine. How many other quarterbacks completed at least 59% of their
passes in their second year as a quarterback? The results yielded
a fairly impressive roster of signalmen:
|2nd Year QBs
|| P Yd
|| P TD
|| R Yd
|| R Att
|| R TD
Notice the correlation among quarterbacks that threw more touchdowns
than interceptions and were long-term starters in this league? Other
than Brees, all fifteen of the players in this table with more scores
than picks were undisputed starters for their team. Ten of those
fourteen led their team to a Super Bowl at least once. Interestingly
enough, the remaining quarterbacks with a higher pick-score ratio
wound up as backups or disappointments: Jake Plummer, Jeff George,
Tim Couch, Steve DeBerg, and Steve Fuller.
I wonder if this information some how lends itself to why Eli
Manning refused to be a Charger? Was it the presence of head coach
Marty Schottenheimer? As oft stated as this point is, I find this
too convenient an explanation. Schottenheimer may be old school
in his approach, but he's also been known to let his quarterbacks
air it out (Bernie Kosar in Cleveland and Montana in KC). Is it
the offensive line? I'm pretty sure after Manning's relief appearance
against the Eagles, the rookie discovered the Giants' line isn't
much better. What was the issue?
We may never truly know, but one has to wonder if Eli Manning
didn't want to go to an organization that was so quick to hook
a promising player like Breesespecially when other key teammates
still believed in his ability to lead the team. As good as Manning
is, its just human nature to look at the Chargers and wonder if
the organization just doesn't know how to handle quarterback talent.
But let's get back to Brees. This is a player that's always had
a chip on his shoulder. Brees wanted to play for Texas A&M,
but wasn't recruited and wound up at Purdueone of the only division
one schools to offer him a scholarshipwhere he proceeded to tear
up the NCAA. Seems to me that Brees is in yet another situation
where few tend to give him a chance. Unless the Chargers keep
winning with him under center, Brees will likely be demoted and
fighting for a back up spot elsewhere in 2005.
Yet, there is a contingent of knowledgeable NFL types that see
Brees as a quarterback with the ability to be a productive starter
and the stats seem to illustrate this potential. Against the Texans
and now the Titans, Brees has been impressive. If he can hold
on to his starting job between weeks 6-8, he has the type of schedule
that could make him a surprisingly good fantasy backupat the
Lesson Learned: Pay attention
to the actual performance of a player rather than listen to the
witty (and not so witty) twenty-second sounds bites in the media.
Amos Zereoue would post two Tds and 117
Lesson Learned: Unless you are
a masochist, stay away from the Raiders' running game until the
situation settles on one player. You probably won't have a shot
at the feature player by then, but you might not have lost several
games as a result of relying on something to turn your way, either.
Norv Turner has stated that he will stick with the back in the
game that performs the best early in the game. Unless you believed
these are empty words from the coach to the media, it's a fantasy
nightmare for anyone trying to rely upon the Raiders' ground game.
Wheatley looked like a good choice to be the consistent guyespecially
after 27 yards on 3 carries early in the game. But the former
Michigan star got hurt and it was Zereoue's show.
Started Byron Leftwich against the Colts.
Not only did this potential decision qualify under the guideline
of exploiting a bad passing defense, but it also covered the theory
of starting quarterbacks matched up against a quarterback of similar
or more ability. Many of you may not agree that Leftwich is even
in the same atmosphere as Manning at this point, but I contend
the Jags' starter has better overall leadership skills than Manning
did in his second year, and his quarterback skills will soon follow.
One thing you can't argue is Leftwich's ability in the clutch.
He's led the Jags' to two of their three wins on the final drive
of the game. It might have happened against Indianapolis if the
coaching staff put the ball in Leftwich's hands instead of Fred
Taylor on the fourth and short situation.
Lesson Learned: Although McNabb
was a decent start because he faced a decimated secondary, Leftwich
qualified under Hindsight Rules: a bad secondary, quarterback
match up, and playing to win rather than not to lose.
For those of you that made the right decisions this week, congratulations.
For those of you that didn't: Hindsight's a