we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted to
learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Thanks to some worthwhile waiver wire pickups, and drafting
excellent depth at RB (Edgerrin James, Curtis Martin, Cadillac
Williams, Larry Johnson, and Chris Perry), I entered week 12 on
a five-game winning streak, tied for the second-best record, and
a little more than 100 points behind the scoring leader. I’m
even more optimistic with the return of Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett
to my lineup.
With a starting lineup requirement of four receivers, I suddenly
had a dilemma. Prior to Bruce and Bennett’s return, I fielded
a lineup of Jimmy Smith, Joe Jurevicius, Antonio Bryant, and Amani
Toomer. Not a juggernaut by any means, but serviceable considering
I have Antonio Gates and an excellent backfield. I gambled and
started Isaac Bruce in week 11, and came out looking good. Week
12 had more difficult match ups:
- Does Isaac Bruce continue producing with Jamie Martin against
a Texans run defense that has the same level of expertise as
former FEMA director, Mike Brown has starting a consulting group
specializing in disaster relief? For those of you that listen
to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio that would have been
my Match Game entry for this subject…
- Jimmy Smith faded after a great start, but with that young
receiving corps developing, the double teams have been fewer,
and Smith seems poised for some better weeks ahead. Arizona’s
secondary is pretty weak and Leftwich has been looking strong.
- Amani Toomer had some nice moments, but he’s now the
fourth receiving option behind Burress, Shockey, and Barber.
Is he really worth a start against a mediocre Seahawk pass unit?
- Antonio Bryant is still the primary guy, and as long as Dilfer
stays in the lineup he looks like a good bet against the Vikings.
But the Vikings defense has looked better recently, should I
- Joe Jurevicius has disappeared a bit and other receivers
have surprised in this offense.
You probably know where this is going by now. I decided Isaac
Bruce and Jimmy Smith would remain in my lineup because of their
experience and the match ups. Drew Bennett got the not due to
the 49ers match up as well. This left me with Bryant, Jurevicius,
and Toomer for the last spot. I didn’t choose Jurevicius
and I wound up trailing my opponent by the exact amount of points
Jurevicius scored heading into the Monday night contest. I had
Edgerrin James and my opponent had Hines Ward. If I started Jurevicius,
I would have won by four and clinched a bye week in the playoffs.
Now, I’m in a three-way tie for the bye week and am only
3 points ahead on the tiebreaker if we wind up with the same record
Were there some clear keys that could have helped me make the
right choice? Both Toomer and Bryant had significantly more targets
and yards than Jurevicius in the past three weeks, but Jurevicius
had close to the same number of receptions. Toomer played against
three lackluster units—although in hindsight, Minnesota
began showing improvement during this stretch—Bryant faced
the Titans but did well against Miami and Pittsburgh, and Jurevicius
didn’t do much against the Rams, Cardinals, or Niners.
The key was the combination of the match ups and the reception
to target percentage. Toomer and Bryant may have had more production,
but Jurevicius was more efficient against a lower quality of opposition.
This indicates that Jurevicius wasn’t as necessary in the
game plan because the Seahawks had over matched their opponent
on the ground. Lesson Learned? There generally isn’t just
one magic stat that serves as a difference maker in lineup choices.
Combining pieces of information can help you create a clearer
So much for my own personal would’ve, could’ve,
should’ve—let’s examine the week 12 files
of 20/20 Hindsight.
Samkon Gado Would Pillage The Eagles Run
26 carries, 111 yards, and a score against a tough Eagles run
defense was something I completely discounted after his horrible
performance the week before. Looks like Gado and the Packers just
needed to figure out how to best exploit his running style on
a consistent basis. This is a downhill runner that needs to make
Lesson Learned: Anticipating
success and failure can be a key factor that determines your team’s
fate, but there has to be a level patience to ride out the hype
on a new player on the scene. That’s extremely difficult
to do if you have to rely on said player.
David Carr Was A Great Choice As A Starter
393 yards and 3 scores? Well it was the Rams he was facing, but
this was by far his best effort of the season. Andre Johnson finally
looks healthy and the offense clicked early.
Lesson Learned: Even a QB that
has been a low-end fantasy prospect throughout the season has
the potential for a great day against a poor defense. It’s
not the gamble anyone wants to take, but it’s not a bad
strategy when desperate.
Rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick Would Look This
Good In His First NFL Game
Nothing like starting your NFL career by bring your team back
from a significant deficit on a beautifully thrown post corner
route to Isaac Bruce, then leading the team on a game-tying drive,
and to top it off, getting the victory in overtime on a well executed
touchdown pass. Not bad for a 7th round pick out of Harvard, huh?
Who is this guy? Here was my take on Fitzpatrick back in July
for our rookie impact series on quarterbacks
(I listed him as a sleeper):
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rams:
Fitzpatrick is a 7th rounder that fits a similar profile to
that of Stefan Lefors—except he is 3 inches taller and
20 pounds heavier. So why wasn’t Fitzpatrick a first day
pick? He played for Harvard, which hasn’t exactly been
the bastion for top-flight football since the early 20th century.
Don’t let the 7th round designation fool you, though.
Fitzpatrick is a good athlete that has excellent pocket awareness,
a quick release, great touch and timing. Sounds a bit like Bulger
and Warner, doesn’t it?
Fitzpatrick has already impressed Mike Martz with his quick
grasp of the offense. Apparently, Martz is known to be very
tough on his quarterbacks and the Harvard grad didn’t
even get yelled at once in mini-camp. This doesn’t make
the guy the next great quarterback, but it indicates he could
play at higher level than his draft status. He’s at best,
a late-round flier in dynasty leagues but most likely a player
that will be available on most waiver wires until he’s
given a real opportunity.
I watched the Rams-Texans game, and Fitzpatrick demonstrated
everything I mentioned about his skills. His ability to move
in the pocket and find the open man when Houston decided to
blitz heavily was most impressive for a rookie. To go 19 for
30 in his first game—and coming in at a point when the
team was down—was a terrific performance.
Lesson Learned: Back in the
70’s Cowboy’s rookie, Clint Longley subbed for Roger
Staubach in a similar situation on Thanksgiving Day against the
Redskins. He performed great, but his career turned out to be
short-lived. So we certainly want to temper expectations here
for Fitzpatrick. Then again, I don’t think Fitzpatrick is
going to get in fights with locker room leaders anytime soon,
either. On the positive end of the spectrum, Aaron Brooks first
few starts were filled with excellent performances that carried
the Saints to the playoffs and their first-ever, post-season victory.
If Fitzpatrick earns another start expect surprisingly good things
out of him (220-260 yards, 1-2 scores), but don’t bench
an established guy over him just yet. The Rams may have a history
of finding little-known gems at the QB spot, but don’t go
overboard. The Texans defense certainly isn’t on the level
of Yale or Brown, but in comparison to their peers in the NFL,
it may not be such a bad parallel. ESPN’s Chris Mortenson
reported last night that the Colts and Packers both considered
using a higher pick to acquire Fitzpatrick last spring, but the
Packers in particular saw Aaron Rodgers drop far enough that they
pounced on him instead. Picking up Fitzpatrick in a re-draft is
advised if you have the room, but don’t start him unless
you are lacking a solid starter.
Steve Mcnair Was An Excellent Play Versus
The 49ers Moribund Secondary
The Titans quarterback scorched the Niners secondary for 343 yards
and 3 scores—including a bomb to rookie Roydell Williams
in the second half. If McNair had receivers that could consistently
catch the ball all year, he might have had more of these outings
in 2005. I’m still amazed he’s completing nearly 63%
of his passes with what amounts to four, rookie skill players
regularly on the field in Roby, Jones, Williams, and Scaife. Still,
he’s a borderline starter-top bye week back up in most leagues.
Lesson Learned: If McNair can
end the season as healthy as he began it, target the Titans skill
players as cheap but underrated options in the mid-to-late rounds
of your fantasy drafts in 2006.
Nagging Feelings—Week 12
I’m getting ready to bench Randy
Moss in favor of Donté
Stallworth—okay, not quite ready—but I’m
seriously considering it. Kerry Collins holds onto the ball way
too long. Of course, I’m afraid the moment I put Moss on
the bench he’ll have a fantasy point explosion…
A friend of mine—a Niners fan—invited me over to
watch the Tennessee—San Francisco game. We jokingly referred
to it as the Reggie Bush Bowl: the loser gets a great shot at
acquiring the USC phenom. Bush may be central figure in 2006’s
draft, but Matt Leinart is a
player I hope the Titans don’t target. FFToday.com writer
Robert Wright has some well-studied sources that have similar
reservations about the Heisman Trophy winner and based on what
he’s mentioned, I have doubts Tennessee will target him
anyhow. You can check out my Scouting
Report on Leinart that will be available prior to the draft
for more details, but I’ll give you one small hint about
his overall game—count how many passes Leinart throws in
a contest that are more than 10 yards away from the line of scrimmage…
I think Shaun Alexander owners
may have reason to worry if they rode the Seattle back into their
league playoffs. They can clinch the division next week and Chicago
and Carolina face division foes they generally give them difficulties—Green
Bay and Atlanta. By week 15, Seattle could have home field advantage
and Shaun Alexander could be on the bench in what then amounts
to a meaningless game with the Colts.
If you have Brian Westbrook,
next week is pivotal for your team if you are in the playoffs
and the Eagles back is your starter. His 21-carry, 117-yard, 1-Td
stat-line versus Green Bay proved he be an effective, every-down
runner (at least a third of his 5+ yard carries were up the middle).
The Eagles need to beat a good Seahawks team next week in order
to stay alive for playoff contention. If they can beat Seattle,
they face poor run defenses during key fantasy playoff weeks (Arizona
and St. Louis)—Westbrook will continue to be the main man.
But if they lose to Seattle, Andy Reid could decide to give rookie,
Ryan Moats more playing time,
but not enough to count on either player as a great starting option.