we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted to
learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Someone please remind me to check my previous columns before
I spend a week’s worth of time losing my mind over line
up choices. I have teams making a championship run in three leagues:
an auction league, a dynasty league, and a re-draft league. All
three were creating a similar type of lineup dilemma for me at
wide receiver. This was especially the case in my re-draft league
where I needed to choose four starters from this group:
|Who Should I Start?
||Had 99 yards and a TD in his previous
match up with Houston.
||Regained the starting job and had some
solid games recently.
||The primary receiver in an offense likely
playing from behind.
||Great match up, but will it turn out
like the Eagles game?
||Decent match up.
||Excellent performance last week, but
only 4 targets…
||Garrard's favorite target, but rough
||He is a step up from Parker, but hit
and miss as the offense's 4th choice.
I obviously didn’t score the second-most points in my league
because of this unit. Edgerrin James, Antonio Gates, Larry Johnson,
and Cadillac Williams get more of the credit. When the season
began I initially banked on Drew Bennett, Jimmy Smith, Isaac Bruce,
and either Antonio Bryant or Samie Parker to keep me competitive.
But Bennett and Bruce were out for an extended period of time
and I had to pursue free agents. Jurevicius, Toomer, Robinson,
and Parker were all from the waiver wire. These additions helped
me clinch a playoff berth two week ago despite injuries and some
tough losses due to poor lineup choices.
The excitement level ramps up a notch when you make it to the
post season—so the second-guessing. When nearly half your
roster, like mine, is practically interchangeable on a weekly
basis, it’s a situation ripe for over analysis. I originally
plugged in a lineup of Bennett, Smith, Bruce, and Jurevicius but
then my natural tendencies for picking things apart got the best
I got stuck on using Bennett because of the match up, although
he was rarely in my lineup all season. I did the same think with
Jimmy Smith, but in an opposite way: doubting Smith was a good
play although I’ve used him all year as a decent #3-#4 WR.
Jurevicius was an obvious play with his match up but what happened
the week before in Philly scared me away. I used Isaac Bruce for
the past two weeks with relative success, but I wasn’t sure
whether I should start the WR with Kid Harvard throwing to him
over Antonio Bryant receiving passes from Charlie Frye in garbage
time. Plus, I just picked up Koren Robinson and just knew I had
to get him in the lineup.
Can you tell I was completely turned inside out by the time the
playoff voices got through with me? It was time to get some of
what I’ve been giving to several others all season long:
lineup advice. Although I still took an overly analytical approach,
I wound up learning that a more intuitive-observational process
at this stage of the game can sometimes be much more beneficial.
I discovered this during the process of consulting six people
I knew, and compared their advice to overall statistical rankings
for passing defenses:
- Mike Krueger—I never asked for him advice before, but
figured it couldn’t hurt to hit him up just once for an
explanation of his weekly projections and a Who Do I Start scenario.
- Mike MacGregor—Look at his regular season report card
posted on his Week 13 FF In The Groin column and you’ll
understand why asked him.
- Jut—My friend and a former writer for another site
that gets credit for coming up with the initial idea that evolved
into The Gut Check’s Crank Rankings.
- Kitrick Taylor—not his real name, but he’s a
regular at the FFToday forums that occasionally emails me for
- Don—another reader that corresponds with me weekly
on a couple of lineup decisions.
- Todd—a guy that occasionally emails me for some feedback
that just happen to catch me when I was beginning to analyze
my lineup into oblivion.
This actually turned out to be a cool exercise in frame of reference.
Players in bold were evenly rated. Krueger suggested Jurevicius
as a more conservative choice and Robinson as a high risk-reward
start. If you read my columns semi-regularly, you’ll know
I’m personally drawn to risk when it comes to my lineups
and it’s a tendency I am trying to curb a bit.
The stats obviously showed the best match ups on paper, but I
felt they also neglected arguably the most skilled receivers on
my roster (Smith and Bruce). This is why fantasy football is such
a challenge: statistical analysis, player observation, knowledge
of the game, and intuition all play an important role in achieving
consistent success. On the other hand, if I were to take create
lineup from the consensus of my counselors, my choices would have
been Jimmy Smith (6), Koren Robinson (5), Joe Jurevicius (4),
I didn’t use this method to determine my lineup—though
I will go through this process the next time I need to get out
of my perpetual landing pattern. If I used it, I wouldn’t
have focused my energies on the wrong players. For instance, I
spent way too much time on whether to start Jimmy Smith. He should
have been a must-start. I had Bennett as a more solid start than
Jurevicius—although the Seahawk receiver was a huge factor
in keeping me competitive while Bennett and Bruce were gone. If
I had went with Smith, Robinson, and Juervicius I would have had
a much easier time with deciding among Bruce, Bryant, or Bennett.
I probably would have made the wrong choice (Bennett or Bryant)
but the point is I could have avoided the potential of hurting
myself from this much second-guessing. I almost benched my best
And why should have I checked last week’s column?
Nagging Feelings—Week 14
I think Jimmy Smith suddenly comes back to fantasy life
with David Garrard in the lineup. Garrard targeted Smith 24
times in the last two contests. Garrard’s ability to keep
a play alive should match up well with Smith, a receiver that
had plenty of good years finding ways to get open for a scrambling
Mark Brunell in his prime.
I actually made good enough choices, but the credit goes to Mike
MacGregor who game me some great last-minute advice when I was
still second-guessing Jimmy Smith for another league (Smith or
Lee Evans). Although Mike would probably tell you I didn’t
sound like I was listening very much at all to him (I was nervously
running my mouth throughout much of the call), I got a lot out
of what he said to me. Mike pointed out that seeking lineup advice
from people that don’t have a vested interest in following
those particular players could be problematic. You are following
your players throughout the year you should get a feel for their
ebbs and flows in performance as well as the state of their team.
This sounds very intuitive. Most people don’t like to advocate
the gut feeling over stats. But when I look at Mike’s record
as a fantasy coach, it all goes back to the factors I mentioned
that contribute to consistent success. Stats on their own sell
products, but it takes more than that to win games. I watched
Jimmy Smith more than any of the receivers on my team. Once I
thought about his recent games, I once again realized he was a
must-start. At some point you have to incorporate all your knowledge:
the stats, player and team performance on the field, and knowledge
of football. If you accurately understand all of these facets
you can make some good decisions right away—like the concept
cognition. You bet I’ll be studying this idea in more
detail this winter because if you watch a ton of football and
have years of experience with fantasy leagues, this could be a
more suitable approach for you.
Here’s how it worked out for me. My team name is the tribute
to Onterrio Smith.
||The Original Whizzinators
|J. Plummer QB
||S. McNair QB
|S. Jackson RB
||E. James RB
|L. Tomlinson RB
||L. Johnson RB
|T. Holt WR
||D. Bennett WR
|C. Chambers WR
||K. Robinson WR
|A. Lelie WR
||A. Bryant WR
|R. Williams WR
||J. Smith WR
|T. Gonzalez TE
||A. Gates TE
|T. Peterson K
||J. Kasay K
|D. Seahawks DST
||D. Panthers DST
|D. Garrard QB
||D. Carr QB
|R. Fitzpatrick QB
||B. Volek QB
|S. Gado RB
||C. Martin RB
|T. Jones RB
||C. Williams RB
|M. Barber RB
||D. Rhodes RB
|C. Houston RB
||J. Jurevicius WR
|M. Jenkins WR
||A. Toomer WR
|K. Curtis WR
||E. Parker WR
|M. Pollard TE
||I. Bruce WR
|J. Hall K
||H. Miller TE
My good friend, and long-time rival, is probably kicking himself
over the fact his running back depth outperformed some seriously
good starters. I wish I could console him by telling him few would
have seriously considered benching LT for any of these guys. Maybe
Samkon Gado over Stephen Jackson as a possibility exception, but
it still would have taken some serious cajones to make that call.
I know I lucked out this week when Tomlinson had this kind of
day. But sometimes, winning a championship is as much about survival
as it is preparation. Just look at my quarterbacks. I lost Kerry
Collins last week—the fifth ranked quarterback in our league’s
scoring system—to a demotion…bizarre as that sounds.
Considering he once beat my juggernaut lineup that included the
likes of Terrell Davis, Ricky Watters, and Jerry Rice (all in
their prime, but relegated to the bench before halftime) in the
opening round of the playoffs with a huge day from Rams rookie
Eddie Kennison, I don’t feel so bad. This time the breaks
went my way. Hopefully, the same will happen next week.
Cadillac Williams would return to his
early season form: Williams 112-yard, 2-TD outing versus
the Panthers on Sunday was yet another indication the rookie is
still a serious contender as a good fantasy start during the playoffs.
With New England and Atlanta on the horizon, Williams could reward
owners that didn’t lose hope the rookie might return to
Lesson Learned: Anticipation
is a dual-edged sword—ridding one’s roster of Cadillac
might have hurt as many owners as it helped…we’ll
see how it works out. I may very well be starting Cadillac if
I’m fortunate enough to be playing for my league championship
two weeks from now and Edgerrin James vs. Seattle looks as dicey
as it’s beginning to sound.
LT and Carson Palmer could have these
kinds of days when owners needed them most: Tomlinson’s
75 yards were a disappointment, but not exactly a horrible rushing
total. But the lack of touchdowns or receiving yards killed most
of his fantasy owners. Palmer’s 93 yards passing on the
other hand was a serious letdown for those that astutely drafted
the second-year starter as a breakout player. Neither of these
certain pro bowler’s match ups appeared problematic heading
into the week.
Lesson Learned: Any given Sunday…
Randy Moss is no longer a quality fantasy
start: I mentioned this last week—Moss is still hurt
and the quarterback with the best skill set to feed the ball to
him lacks the wheels to buy time in the pocket. Moss’ two
receptions for 18 yards was a definite fantasy low point for one
of the best fantasy receivers of all-time.
Lesson Learned: See my rants
about Brandon Lloyd—they definitely apply to Moss this year.
Ryan Moats is good: The rookie
tallied over 100 yards and two scores on 11 carries against a
decent Giants defense last week. I mentioned Moats last year and
in the preseason as a back to keep an eye on. Admittedly, I dropped
the guy in most of my re-draft leagues but I didn’t need
him. Still, there were two backs that I watched last year that
made me rewind the tape over and over. The first was Cadillac
Williams, and Moats was the other guy. Andy Reid said last week
Moats was the best pure runner on the team.
Lesson Learned: A rookie coming
in during a blowout and screwing up is worth overlooking. It’s
more important to listen to what the coach says about the guy.
I still believe Ryan Moats could wind up paired with Westbrook
to make a serious 1-2 punch. Imagine splitting Westbrook out wide
or in the slot with Moats in the backfield? The Eagles may need
to do it out of necessity—Reggie Brown might still be their
best receiver in 2006 if they don’t bring in a free agent.
Get Moats—he’s a serious talent that has the speed
to go outside, but has more power and explosiveness between the
tackles than Brian Westbrook. Remember, this is coming from a
big fan of Westbrook’s game.
Nagging Feelings—Week 15
Tony Dungy said the Chargers
contest would be treated as any other game. This is great news
for fantasy owners of Colts skill players—especially Edgerrin
James. With that said, the Seattle game could be a big
problem. Dominic Rhodes could
be a good start, if he starts the game. Otherwise, he’s
a risk due to the fact he may only receive a partial workload—if
James starts for a quarter or two. I believe Rhodes gets the start
in Seattle, so he’s a good play. Still, it’s always
good to be prepared so having another lineup option
Nick Saban is a quarterback
away from making the Dolphins a wild card team and I’d be
surprised if Miami doesn’t pursue a promising, talented
veteran known for his game management in 2006. That said I believe
Saban will draft a quarterback he can develop in a few years that
he can match with Chris Chambers, Ronnie Brown, and Randy McMichael.
Of course, if Matt Schaub can
be acquired for the right price all bets are off.
Ravens receiver Mark Clayton
did not have a fluke game against Denver. The rookie is starting
catch on, and I’m excited about him as a sleeper next year.
He should see single coverage against a lot of #2 corners with
Derrick Mason on one side, and Todd Heap clearing out the middle
of the field.