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 0

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’s an early start for the fantasy football confessional, but I have a feeling I may already have some draft day sins that require absolution:

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

Steven Jackson Is Going To Turn St. Louis Into A Ground Team In The Red Zone
I’ve been saying all summer if Jackson were on any offense other than Martz’s Rams, I’d be excited about this guy. Detroit may wind up as one of those underachieving teams where they look way better on paper than on the field, but Jackson was punishing the Lions in the first half of a preseason game that was suppose to be a dress rehearsal. There were some runs where Jackson overpowered defenders in impressive fashion. Marshall Faulk has been a fantasy also-ran for three seasons and a question mark for the two prior to that—this explains why the Rams rarely ran the ball at the goal line. I think St. Louis now has a reason to pound it in from inside the five-yard line. Although I’m still skeptical Martz is going to make Jackson a 20+ carry a game back, I’m beginning to believe he may only need 15-18 attempts per contest to be a solid #2 RB on fantasy rosters—especially when 3-5 of those carries might be from inside the five-yard line.

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

Chris Brown Could Be A Mid-to-Late Round Draft Pick And Considered A Steal For Completely Different Reasons
Last year the Titan starter was an unproven commodity that teased fantasy owners with awesome first halves, followed by second halves on the bench. He was a steal as a some-time starter or bye week depth on 2004. In 2005, Jeff Fisher has made it a point to the media that the Tennessee running game will be a 50/50 committee approach between Brown and Travis Henry. I believe that’s the intent, but Travis Henry has been more banged up in the past few years than Chris Brown! Henry is a warrior that will play hurt, but he hasn’t seen a lot of time to get acclimated to the offense. Another thing I noticed this preseason was the frequency with which McNair looked to Brown in the passing game—especially inside the 20-yard line. As a mid-to-late round pick at running back, Brown will again be a steal—not because he’s unproven, but because he is now among the discounted.

Laveranues Coles Could Have A Better Idea About His Health Than Washington’s Medical Staff
His toe injury scared me (as it did the Redskins), but Coles has been healthy and looks like he and Chad Pennington will be making up for lost time in New York. Prior to his injury-riddled 2004 campaign, Coles had two, 1200-yard seasons. I can see how Mike Heimerdinger might find Coles to be a speedier version of Derrick Mason in his offense. Like the former Titans receiver, Coles is tough across the middle and has strong skills after the catch. I’m at a point where the fear that my tendency to downgrade him in drafts is beginning to outweigh the fear of that bad toe flaring up at any time.

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

Terrell Owens Should’ve Been Drafted Earlier In Most Leagues
One key to winning at fantasy football is to view the facts with a dispassionate eye. A great example of the difference between those that understood this key point from those that didn’t occurred during ESPN’s televised Fantasy Football Draft Special. Selecting the best players takes an understanding of the rules of one’s league and which players best match these rules. At least judging by this episode, there’s a huge gap between those that know football and those that know fantasy football. For example, Mark Schlereth clearly understands fantasy football. His explanation of why Daunte Culpepper for the past few years has been hands-down the best fantasy quarterback in most leagues, illustrates his knowledge of the difference between the fantasy game and the real game. In contrast, Tom Jackson’s initial reactions to disagree with Schlereth on several points, and his use of real football knowledge as a basis for his arguments only illustrated his lack of understanding of this exploding hobby. There’s obviously a huge disconnect for many that are knowledgeable of the game and our game. Especially when in 2005—decades after fantasy football’s inception—you still get more logical explanations about draft picks from someone like Nick Lachey than Susie Kolber and Steve Young, this clearly demonstrates my point.

So what does this have to do with Terrell Owens? As a football fan, I dislike Terrell Owens the businessman and public persona more than any public figure I see in the media on a regular basis. He’s the anti-hero of sport: a selfish, immature, and divisive presence that is unwilling to be accountable for his actions. But as a fantasy football manager, I admire Terrell Owens the player. Owens the wide receiver is the epitome of what you want on your fantasy roster: a clean, hard-working, physical talent that can beat the opposing defense from anywhere on the field, and will sacrifice his body on the field of play.

When it comes down to it, I realize I don’t care why Terrell Owens is behaving the way he has for several years now. As long as he is productive week in and week out, that’s all that matters. Some people have their own “moral dilemma” in regards to drafting Owens. Yet, that’s not going to win you games if you chose to let him slide out of principle. Anyhow what is the principle? That he acts like a spoiled child? So what. Unless you have reasonable proof that Owens is going to abandon the team due to his contract fiasco, wake up! If you feel bad you slept on him, you’re not alone. I should never have let Owens slide past the 4th round or get taken for under $30 in any draft.

Nagging Feelings—Week 1

Kerry Collins will have a nice game in New England to start the season. Bill Belicheck is often described as the equivalent of a chess master when it comes to game planning. He’s reduced high-powered offenses the likes of the Colts and Rams to a state of utter confusion. I think that’s because those quarterbacks and offensive coordinators were playing on Belicheck’s terms—attempting to match wits. But Oakland’s offensive is like that bully that refuses to play by the rules. Jerry Porter and Randy Moss are physical freaks that don’t require Collins to have perfect timing to get the ball to them. New England blitzes? Fine. Throw the ball up to Randy Moss and let him grab it over two defenders. You’re going to tell me that Rodney Harrison is going to be in position to deliver a huge hit on Moss? I just don’t see Norv Turner running Moss on a lot of slants or crossing routes, so unless Harrison drank something that turned him into a 25-year old version of Rod Woodson, I don’t think anyone is going to catch Moss deep. Oakland may not win the game, but fantasy owners with Collins, Jordan, Moss, or Porter will be happy.

The ugliest game of the week for fantasy owners will be the Jacksonville-Seattle match up. These two franchises were the worst at dropping passes in their respective conferences last year. Matt Hasselbeck has been a slow starter for the last three seasons and the Jaguars offense appears it’s still trying to get in sync. Look for a mistake-filled, topsy-turvy game filled with multiple turnovers.

Speaking of turnovers, the Arizona Cardinals defense is going to have a field day with the New York Giants. Look for Eli Manning to get sacked at least four times and to throw a couple of interceptions as the Meadowlands crowd turns on him early. Manning will get better, but the Cardinals are a much-improved team. The local media will be wondering aloud about Kurt Warner’s renaissance against his former squad. Ernie Accorsi and Tom Coughlin will be on the defense early in the season.

Look for Green Bay and Detroit to light it up at Ford Field. Joey Harrington’s fantasy value may never be higher after this week.

Last Chance To Get It Right—Week 1:

For those of you with line up issues, here’s some fundamental ground rules on determining starters. For every question you answer with a “yes,” that player gets a point in his favor.

Who Should I Start...?
 Criteria  Player A  Player B
Playing at home? No Yes
Statistically worse passing defense? No Yes
Statistically worse rushing defense run? No Yes
Best weather conditions? No Yes
Previous high performance against opposing team? Yes Yes
Healthy? Yes No
Total 2 5

Taking every precaution to research one’s lineup choices against a set of criteria is excellent preparation, but as I learned the hard way, it does an owner no good if he isn’t bold with the decision his research yields. This is where owners tend to invent emotional reasons for starting players that the criteria are against because the result seems too risky to accept.

So what happens if you run into a situation where the players you are evaluating have an even score on the criteria scale? Establish some tiebreakers. It’s obvious these fantasy experts that do “Start’em/Sit’em” articles have some tiebreakers. Here are some of mine:

WSIS Tiebreakers
 QB Tiebreakers
Most potential to run
Least turnovers (fumbles & Ints combined)
Yards per completion
Yards per catch of top 3 receivers (RB/TE-included)
 RB Tiebreakers
Most potential to gain points from passing game
Least # of fumbles
Yards per carry
Health of offensive line
 WR/TE Tiebreakers
Number of receptions
Yards per catch
Most potential to get rushing yardage
Target (number of times thrown to)
Least turnovers of QB (fumbles & Ints combined)

Nothing is 100% foolproof, but having even a basic system helps you do your homework. It also gives you better odds of making the correct decision and an easier time justifying your choices. Otherwise, you are letting fear dictate your choices rather than the collected information. This is true “paralysis by analysis.” Trust me, if I did the research and found out that I should have stuck with my original game plan from draft day, there are quite a few seasons where I wouldn’t have lost my playoff games by five points or less.