As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
It’s an early start for the fantasy football confessional,
but I have a feeling I may already have some draft day sins that
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.
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.
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
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
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...?
|| Player A
|| Player B
|Playing at home?
|Statistically worse passing defense?
|Statistically worse rushing defense
|Best weather conditions?
|Previous high performance against opposing
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:
| QB Tiebreakers
|Most potential to
|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
| 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.