As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday's "Fantasy
My cumulative fantasy season feels a lot like Mike Vick's. Flashes
of brilliance one week and scratching my head the next. The positive
is I'm 6-2 in the fantasy
auctioneer showcase league with consecutive weeks where my
squad has posted the league's high score. On the other hand, I'm
3-5 in my long-running local league after a solid effort wasn't
enough to catch up my opponent that had Peyton Manning, Shaun
Alexander, and Tony Gonzalez in his week 8 lineup. But other than
giving one owner lineup advice (starting Quentin Griffin against
KC) in week one, there's really no other reason I should be better
than 4-4. With the third overall pick in the draft, I felt very
comfortable with the
results in August, but posting a 3-5 record changes things.
Although I'm still capable of a playoff bid, I'm going to do an
unofficial autopsy on my draft and major transactions I've made
thus far. In hindsight it looks like The Gut Check's consistency
data, would have determined a different approach to the draft
|The Gut Check (In Hindsight)
I wouldn't have known that Ladainian Tomlinson would be hampered
by a groin injury. Although it's a testament to Tomlinson that
he's still producing at 80%, his recent tendency to sit out at
least a quarter of the last four games is killing my fantasy production.
Add Jesse Chatman's stats to Tomlinson's and not only would LT
be the best fantasy RB in the league, I would be 5-3 rather than
3-5. In hindsight there wasn't a better reason to pick another
RB that was available other than injuryand Tomlinson entered
the season in great shape. From 2000-2003, only Priest Holmes
and Marshall Faulk had a higher percentage of elite fantasy games,
and only Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Ahman Green, and Tiki
Barber had fewer sub-par fantasy efforts. The only back I seriously
considered picking over Tomlinson was Green, and he too is now
limited with a nagging injury.
Michael Bennett was another story. Maybe I couldn't have known
that he would also get hurt, but after I got Tomlinson and saw
the sheer number of backs that would have likely been available
to me in round three, in hindsight I should have picked Donovan
McNabb. The problem is I had McNabb as my fourth-rated quarterback
and neither Manning nor McNair were close to being off the board.
Another good "should've" was Terrell Owens, my third-rated
WR and the most consistent WR in fantasy football. If I had done
my consistency research as a part of draft-day preparation, I
would have jumped on Owens as my #1 WR at the end of round two.
I still would have picked Travis Henry in round three based on
the consistency figures, although I would have given Curtis Martin
more serious consideration. Martin, Henry, and Stephen were about
even in terms of consistently performing as a #1-quality fantasy
RB over this 2000-2003 period. Henry had more elite level games,
but also more sub par performances. I can't say that the McGahee
situation scared me enough to stay away from Henry in round three.
In hindsight, I wish it did
I wound up trading Henry for
Rod Gardner. I guess I can say I got the better end of the deal,
but not by much. Considering that I was close to swinging a deal
that would have landed me Henry for Andre Johnson or Roy Williams
and Lee Suggs, I came out the loser.
This leads me to the biggest bust of my draft-and from what I've
seen on message boards at FFTodayI'm not alone here: Santana
Moss. Injuries and other factors have limited Moss, but his consistency
percentage in 2003 wasn't too special37.5% chance he'd perform
like a #1 WR or #2 WR and only a 43% chance to be a #3anyway.
These are low figures for a player many expected to be a #1-quality
receiver. I'll need Moss to get healthy and come back huge over
the next half of the season for the pick to payoff.
I wanted Joe Horn, but he was taken the pick before mine. In Hindsight,
Horn is one of the more consistent fantasy performers so the intention
was good. But realistically the better picks that were available
were Plaxico Burress and Andre Johnson. Neither of them were even
players I considered at this round, although Tony San Nicholas
and I calculated Johnson
as the most likely breakout candidate at the position. I will
be relying more upon the basis for this information when studying
breakout candidates next year and pick accordingly.
So far this tells me is that my mid-round picks were my best selections.
Moulds and Favre have turned out to be bargains in rounds five
and six. Brandon Lloyd in round seven was a reach, but he's coming
on as of late. If Rattay can stay healthy, Lloyd can be a good
#4 WR. Keyshawn Johnson and Donald Driver were better picks that
were made later in the round. My go-for-broke pick of the draftByron
Leftwichwas available too, but I couldn't take two QBs with
the same bye week in consecutive rounds.
Chris Brown was the steal of the draft, considering he's out-performed
most of the running backs I picked in front him and he's been
remarkably consistent. It's because of Brown that I'm still in
the hunt for a playoff spot. Marcus Robinson would have been a
steal, too if I didn't drop him after the Eagles' game. This decision
cost me a game. I still thought Gannon was a nice pick. Anyone
still claiming that Kerry Collins was the better choice as the
Raiders' starter needs to wake up.
Onterrio Smith, Daniel Graham, and Jason Witten were great late-round
picks, but I dropped Witten early. Another dumb move, especially
when he's had weeks that have outscored two-thirds of my starting
receiving corps. Picking up Kris Brown over Joe Nedney was goodbut
in general, I can never get really excited about kickers.
Lessons Learned? I really could have used this consistency data
prior to my draft (Owens) and I should have been more patient
with some of my picks (Robinson, Witten) and less patient with
others (Henry). Plus the research I performed after the draft
revealed players I had good shots at grabbing earlier than the
ADP data projected and wound up being correct: Owens, Walker,
Johnson, and Leftwich. If I can't turn it around this year, I
know I'll be ready for the next.
On to the weekly files of 20/20 Hindsight...
Michael Bennett would outscore Mewelde
The Vikings would fall apart without Randy
Moore was averaging nearly 20 points per contest
since he became a starter. Bennett was sulking about not getting
his starting job back. Next thing you know Bennett is in the rotation
just one week after Mike Tice mentioned Bennett would have to
return kickoffs to earn his carries back. Sounds like the coach's
words say one thing, but his actions say something completely
Lessons Learned: This situation
is only going to get more nerve-wracking next week. All three
players have a reason to be the feature back. Bennett was the
starter before his injury and it's generally an unwritten rule
among football coaches that the starter doesn't lose his job to
injury. If Bennett is healthy enough, his point is traditionally
Onterrio Smith was having "Mewelde Moore-like games"
before anyone knew Moore was capable of such efforts, but the
suspension cost him. While this suspension is enough of a reason
to keep Smith on the bench, the second year back might just be
the best combination of the other two backs' talents.
And Mewelde Moore has performed, and performed very well in all
aspects of the game. Sure he made one major mistake last week,
but still did some nice things overall. Culpepper and seemed to
be a little lost without Randy Moss and has an effect on Moore's
impact on the game.
All three players have a point. The problem might be Mike Tice's
approach to the situation. Bennett is following the old coaching
axiom and sulking as a result if it not turning out as expected.
Tice then responds to the media that he's going to make Bennett
earn this carries back, but reverses his decision and rotates
Moore and Bennett. Then he's got a suspended player saying he
feels he should be the starter.
It sounds like all three players and the coach are communicating
more through the media than directly with each other. Maybe the
coach is trying to motivate his players through competition, but
it sure seems like this will not only be a headache for fantasy
owners but also spiral out of control for the team. Starting strong
and fizzling out for consecutive seasons is not the way to create
Based on talent as a runner, I'd say Smith has a slight edge over
Moore and Bennett comes in third. But as an overall football player,
I think Moore gives Smith a run for his money. None of this is
useful fantasy information unless Mike Tice feels the same way.
I can't imagine all three still on the Vikings roster by next
I like Daunte Culpepper. I've been watching him since his senior
year at Central Florida. It's just puzzling that Culpepper, a player
that has been on fire this year, would just fall apart without Moss
in the lineup. Is Moss that important to the Vikings offense? Nate
Burleson would be a quality starting possession guy for most teams
and Marcus Robinson has shown the ability to still score from anywhere
on the field. And Mewelde Moore has proven to be a multi-dimensional
threat out of the backfield.
What gives? Whether or not you believe it, Moss is that valuable.
Defenses play more on their heels with Moss around. But without
the all-pro receiver, the Vikings offense is above average, at best.
Robinson is a good threat in the red zone and on deep balls, but
he's still coverable with one defender. Moss requires two players.
This means defenses can tighten up on the intermediate and short
routes without an effective Moss in the lineup. Blitzing Culpepper
with a healthy Moss on the outside is almost as risky as single
coverage. But blitzing is an optimal strategy without Moss because
it forces Culpepper make throws with greater anticipation and a
higher level of accuracy. This places more pressure on backs and
receivers that are already receiving tighter coverage with Moss
out of the lineup.
Lesson Learned: If Moss is out
for an extended length of time and the opposing defense is good,
don't think your Minnesota lineup choices are automatic.
Thomas Jones would go down after one play?
Personally, this cost me two games this weekend. Jones against
the 49ers patchwork defense (Rumph, Plummer, and Peterson among
the marquee players gone for the year) meant certain triumph.
He gets one carry and looks a bit gimpy coming out of the pile.
Next thing I know he's out for the game, and A-Train as 98 yards
on the ground and another 46 in the air. Just think what Jones
could have done on Thomas' 28-yard run and his 30-yard reception
estimating over 200 total yards and 2 touchdowns overall for Jones
if he didn't get hurt.
Lesson Learned: Making the
correct pick and that correct pick staying healthy are two different
Started Reggie Wayne this week.
Wayne had 119 yards and 2 touchdowns after practically being non-existent
in week seven. A top-ten fantasy receiver, Wayne faced an opponent
in Kansas City that practically guaranteed a shoot out.
Lesson Learned: Start a high-performing
wide receiver after he throws a temper tantrum on the sideline
and shoves his MVP-caliber quarterback.
For those of you that made the right decisions this week, congratulations.
For those of you that didn't: Hindsight's a