Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Matt

Matt's Articles

20/20 Hindsight - Week 9

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."

With a month left in the regular season, it's time to do a brief check-in with the FFTOC. After a decent start, I wound up starting excellent talent on off weeks and I dropped out of the top 200 which qualify to play for the grand prize after week 12. So it's time to pull out the big guns and hope I can make a move from my lowly 488th place (out of 600) into the top 200. I'll find out more about the results after publication of this article, but the numbers look promising:

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB P. Manning 36.85  Can’t go wrong with this match up.
RB C. Portis 22.24  Historically, Portis turns it up a notch in the second half of the season.
RB T. Barber 25.1  Needed to play the best fantasy RB in the NFL to stay alive.
WR M. Harrison 8.1  Disappointing week for a stud like Harrison.
WR K. McCardell 8.9  Gates hogged all the scoring throws from Brees.
WR P. Burress 7  That fumble on the long reception likely cost me a touchdown.
TE R. McMichael 1.6  Thought about Gates or Pollard, and not going with them cost me.
K N. Kaeding 8  Like Manning vs. Vikings, a can’t-miss choice.
DEF Giants 7  Looked like a shut out was brewing early, then the bottom fell out.
  Total 124.79  

So far this was my best week. Although the low ranking doesn't sound good, I'm only 68 points away from the top 200. The 200th -ranked team averages 102 points per contest. In theory if I average 17 points more than the 200th-ranked team for the next four weeks, I should make it. A 124.79-point effort is a good start. Unfortunately, I'll have to rely on players I wanted to save for the "money weeks."

In hindsight, I would have taken more chances on lesser talents for the first four to five weeks of the season and then made my move at that point. This would have afforded me more time to evaluate how the season is going—which players are breaking out and which ones are disappointments. I think next year I'd like to do a 3-4 year study on average fantasy points scored per week by position to see if there is any consistent set of weeks where offenses begin to open it up. Maybe this could help me maximize the times I use top talent…

FFToday's publisher didn't appear to concern himself with a slow start. Entering week 9, Krueger was the 68th-ranked team. Since Krueger was able to climb from the high 300's to 68th in the month of October, I still have some hope. So does Mike MacGregor—he's ranked 414th entering week nine.

On to the weekly files of 20/20 Hindsight …

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

Daniel Graham would go quiet for three consecutive weeks? Graham scored at least one touchdown on four straight games to being the season. The last three games, Graham has had a combined 6 receptions for 66 yards and no scores. Even more disturbing is the frequency in which Graham has been designated to block on passing downs. The Patriots even threw to LB Mike Vrabel before considering Graham in the red zone. What gives? Injuries are the problem. As mentioned in a thread about Graham on the message boards, the Patriots TE has been targeted fewer times each game as a result of injuries to the offensive line and receiving corps. Plus, Graham accumulated nearly a third of his season total receiving yards (180) in the first game of the season (57 yards vs. the Colts).

Lessons Learned: Tight end performance can be highly dependent on line play. Graham looks like he's fallen from a must start to a situational fantasy TE against defenses where the match up is more favorable.

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

Santana Moss was going to explode? Benching Moss turned out to be a pivotal mistake for many teams this week—including one of mine. Jets' quarterbacks targeted Moss seven times (five from Pennington and twice from Carter) against the depleted Buffalo secondary. Moss wound up with six catches for 157 yards and a touchdown. To Moss' credit, he has been recovering from two strained hamstrings for the first half of the season. But Moss didn't do much last week against Miami after declaring himself healthy. Plus the wind gusts in Buffalo certainly didn't look like Moss would have such a good game. Of course, that's exactly what happened against the Bills.

Moss performance looks like a sign of things to come.

Moss faces two good passing defenses down the stretch—Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The rest of the teams—Cleveland, Arizona, Seattle, New England, and Houston—are ranked no higher than fourteenth against the pass. That's a good sign. Heading into week nine, Moss had 14 catches for 290 yards and was only targeted 24 times. The amount of times Moss was targeted against Buffalo accounted for more than 25% of the entire season's worth of passes thrown in his direction. If Moss was average target per game rate was less than half the amount of times he was thrown to in this game, it stands to reason that the receiver is healthy enough to make a major impact and the offense no longer has to pick its spots to get him the ball.

The second half differentials for wide receivers last year shows that the highest differential of fantasy points scored in the second half of the season compared to the first half of the season was slightly more than 3.5 points per game. That player was Anquan Bolden. If Moss were to have this high of a differential, he'd be averaging a little over 8 points per contest. Not bad for a #4 WR, but still a disappointment for a guy many owners targeted as at least a quality #2 WR.

It's worth noting that Moss had a nice rate of 0.63 touchdowns per game last season and his four-year average was 0.44 touchdowns per contest. His 2004 scoring proficiency rating was zero prior to this game. Seems like Moss has nowhere to go but up.

Considering that Moss was playing with two injuries, I take a more optimistic view of the receiver than the 2004 stats may indicate. None of the receivers with a high second half fantasy point differential from 2003 missed time or played with a significant injury. It may be more beneficial for owners to view Moss with a similar sort of optimism they view Keenan McCardell—as if Moss hasn't even played the first half of the season. I mentioned Moss last week in my team autopsy as my ultimate bust and I could easily write off Moss. But the Buffalo game and my options at WR (Moulds, Gardner, Lloyd, Moss, Gabriel, and Ferguson) are forcing me to reconsider.

Other than the Ravens, the Jets will be facing offensive units—yes, I'm being charitable to the Cardinals and Browns' offenses—that are capable of keeping their teams competitive for the entire course of the game. This means Moss—unlike his game in Miami—will get more opportunities because the Jets will be forced to throw. With Pennington forced to miss time, opposing defenses will be more inclined to force Carter to throw. This should benefit Moss.

Plus, the Jets know that defenses have studied their previous game plans where New York threw more passes to their tight ends and backs and that's another reason why Herm Edwards wants to get the receivers more involved. Any way you look at it, I think Moss has a good chance to be a quality contributor in the second half of the NFL season—and possibly much more. If you are in a league where you start four wide receivers, keeping hope alive for Moss may be the best decision.

Lesson Learned: Injuries are dicey situations. Monitoring a players' recovery can be the difference between making a good lineup decision and a bad one.

Could've (From The Who Could Have Known File) Part II—Mirage:

Michael Pittman would explode: Pittman averaged 8.5 yards per carry in Tampa Bay's upset of Kansas City. Suddenly, people are looking at Griese, Clayton, Pittman, the defense, and the Buccaneers' schedule and thinking playoffs. Only the defense and the schedule are quality arguments in favor of this happening. Clayton is playing well, but he's largely unproven. Griese is capable of good games, but hasn't strung together quality performances since the first half of his second season as the Denver starter. But Griese is young for a quarterback and Gruden did a lot for Rich Gannon-a similar guy in terms of on field personality-so I'm still keeping an open mind here.

This brings us to Pittman. Take away that 78-yard touchdown run against the Chiefs and we're looking at 14 carries for 50 yards—a very pedestrian 3.57 yards per carry. We already know what the Chiefs have given up on the ground this year, so don't put a lot of stock in Pittman down the line. Sure, he'll have some good games but don't go trading for the guy just yet. His four-year scoring proficiency is 0.22 touchdowns per game. Over half (52%) of Pittman's games in that time span have been sub par (less than 8.67 fantasy points in a game).

One thing going for Pittman is the fact he's playing with a decent defense that should keep the Bucs' in games and that Pittman is the undisputed starter for the first time in his career. Still, I'd be wary with this guy. If you can acquire or use Pittman as a #3-#4 RB on your roster, you are much better off than having to rely on him as a starter.

Lesson Learned: Everyone in the NFL is capable of a big game once in a while. The same people that have been down on Santana Moss might be over enthusiastic about Pittman. You know, that might not be a bad trade…dealing Pittman for Moss. You might actually get a second player in return if the guy is desperate enough for an RB.

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

Brandon Lloyd was a decent start. Lloyd had 75 yards and a touchdown off a broken play that he helped keep alive with this hustle. This came off the heels of Fred Beasley and Kevan Barlow calling him out. Lloyd is a flashy guy, but he's a team player that will eventually fulfill the promise he's periodically shown on the field.

Lloyd demonstrated a team-first attitude by not firing back at Beasley in the press. If anything, Lloyd showed nothing but respect for Beasley. "Fred has a lot of respect on this team, and a lot of respect from his peers on other teams," Lloyd said. "What he says pretty much goes. It would be a bad career move for anyone to take that the wrong way."

Lesson Learned: It's generally a smart move to start a player after a teammate calls him out in the press-especially if that player has demonstrated ability on the field.

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