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20/20 Hindsight - Week 15

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.”

Poor lineup choices are a cruel way for your fantasy team to die. It’s even worse when you choose someone else over your absolute favorite player. That twist happened to me this week in my local league. But first, here’s part II of my receiver match up nightmare for week fifteen.

Receiver Nightmare: Part 2
 Name Comments
D. Bennett A complete bust for all but one game this year.
I. Bruce Getting a lot of targets and playing at home.
A. Bryant The primary receiver in an offense likely playing from behind.
J. Jurevicius Great match up, but Jackson would be starting and fewer targets really hurts.
E. Parker Playing well lately, but still the 4th option.
K. Robinson Not a lot of targets, but producing with what he’s receiving.
J. Smith Garrard's favorite target, and a good match up.
A. Toomer He is a step up from Parker, but hit and miss as the offense's 4th choice.

I pick Bruce, Bryant, Robinson, and Smith. Bruce and Robinson are complete busts this week. Toomer? He gets that controversial score where it was argued his knee wasn’t down. Considering the tackling of the KC defense, they deserved this cruel form of punishment. Unfortunately, I wasn’t spared either. Parker? Certainly better than Bruce and Robinson! Even Jurevicius got a score despite his fewer targets with Darrell Jackson’s successful return.

Bennett’s two touchdowns were a real blow, but the worst was choosing Kerry Collins over Steve McNair. I am not a fan of Kerry Collins’ game but he’s been a top-5 quarterback all season for my league and my usual starter. McNair is my favorite player in football, but he’s had no receivers. In hindsight, I should have placed more weight on the fact Cleveland’s defense did such a good job against Carson Palmer the week before. Instead, I based my decision on the stats for the year, and ruled out Cleveland’s effort more as an anomaly than a trend. It cost me fifteen points—the exact amount I needed to beat my semi-final opponent that got a huge game from Todd Heap last night. Tough way to lose, but in the playoffs the margin for error generally narrows as the postseason competition has more comparable talent. No excuses here, just a bad decision with the quarterback choice combined with the side effects of acquiring inconsistent receivers all year long.

The Original Whizzinators The Practice Squad
 Actives Total  Actives Total
K. Collins QB 10.7 M. Hasselbeck QB 26.3
E. James RB 10.5 C. Portis RB 12.9
L. Johnson RB 37.2 R. Moats RB 13.8
I. Bruce WR 1.6 R. Wayne WR 9.1
K. Robinson WR 3.4 K. Johnson WR 2.0
A. Bryant WR 8.6 A. Johnson WR 5.1
J. Smith WR 7.0 M. Muhammad WR 4.0
A. Gates TE 2.9 T. Heap TE 24.1
J. Kasay K 9.0 S. Graham K 11.0
D. Panthers DST 4.0 D. Colts DST 0.0
Total 94.9 Total 108.0
 Reserves Total  Reserves Total
S. McNair QB 25.4 M. Brunell QB 24.1
B. Volek QB 0.0 W. Parker RB 9.7
C. Martin RB 0.0 M. Anderson RB 22.1
C. Williams RB 2.7 T. Duckett RB 0.0
D. Rhodes RB 1.6 M. Bennett RB 4.3
J. Jurevicius WR 9.1 C. Benson RB 0.0
D. Bennett WR 21.6 T. Taylor WR 2.8
E. Parker WR 6.3 M. Williams WR 0.9
A. Toomer WR 12.9 J. Stevens TE 11.3
H. Miller TE 5.8 R. Lindell K 5.0
Total 85.4 Total 80.2

My friend is the three-time champion of our 11-year old local league. We’ve been talking about teaming up for a team in WCOFF some day. His lineup wasn’t very impressive this year, but he made the right choices. Priest Holmes was his first-round pick, and Andre Johnson was even worse than Drew Bennett for much of the year. He’s another example why surviving is a big part of fantasy football. He made enough good choices to survive despite a less than impressive roster: A true mark of a skillful owner in the art of match ups.

Oftentimes the unforeseen has a big impact. I was fortunate to survive this week in the Fantasy Auctioneer Experts Invitational League despite what seemed like a crushing blow to my lineup: losing Kurt Warner after the Cardinals QB went 10- for-10 with a score. Once again with McNair on the bench, and relatively poor days from Torry Holt and Terry Glenn, I was only leading by six going into the Sunday night game. Although I beat the same opponent last week by a pretty fair margin, Payback was about to take on the same qualities as Hindsight (if you know what I mean). I was done for the week, and my opponent was only down by six with Crumpler and Gado yet to play. This order of players yet to perform was the same scenario for our game last week, except I had a 43-point advantage and a lot more confidence in the probable outcome. This time the unforeseen was in my favor. Crumpler was limited to just a point, and Gado, like Warner, couldn’t finish the game. Sometimes you take the win any way you can get it especially when it leads to a championship appearance.

My opponent in the finals had an even crazier outcome to his semi-final. He was up by three with all his players finished for the weekend, but his opponent had Donald Driver going into Monday night. The Packers receiver was four yards short of earning his opponent that fourth point for the win. With the score deadlocked at 81-81, the tiebreaker became the sole factor: who scored the most total points for the season. My opponent and I had the tiebreaker advantage in our match ups. And if this somehow occurs again in our championship game, it could get even nuttier—while I have one more win (13-2 record to his 12-2-1 season), he outscored me overall by just a point. As a proponent of total points as a better determining factor to break a tie than total head to head wins, this is obviously something I hope not to imagine into reality. This time of year is as exciting—and harsh—as it gets. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the draw of fantasy football at its best.

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

Steve Mcnair Would Come To Life Against One Of The Best Teams In The League: Lacking consistent receivers, an uneven running game, and sporting a bum ankle, McNair lit up the Seahawks Sunday afternoon for over 300 yards and a couple of scores. For McNair it is the same song, next verse —hurt and undermanned, but still capable of keeping a team competitive. The Titan’s quarterback certainly isn’t a Hall of Fame candidate, but he’s a highly underrated, clutch performer throughout his career that I’d argue was only two plays short of having a vastly different perception among fans and media types alike.

What were those two plays that might have made a difference in perception? The first was obviously the pass to Dyson in the Super Bowl, who came up one yard short. The second play was Drew Bennett’s drop against the Patriots during the 2001 Divisional Playoffs in Foxboro. If Bennett makes the play (a difficult catch, but the ball hit his hands), it’s a chip shot to advance to the AFC Championship versus a Colts team with whom they matched up better than any team not named New England. Plus, Tennessee wiped the floor with Carolina in the 2003 regular season. I know the playoffs are a different animal, but you see my point here.

The Seahawks’ clear, defensive weakness is the secondary. Although the Titans passing offense is highly ranked, the result is attributable to garbage time where there is little sense to run the football. So look for Indy to expose Seattle early and often next week.

Lesson Learned: A very good veteran quarterback beats a shaky, youthful secondary. Especially one with enough mobility to make plays on the go.

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

Kurt Warner And Samkon Gado Would Dash Hopes As Quickly As They Raised Them: Both Warner and Gado were turning injury-riddled fantasy squads into contenders down the stretch, but they both suffered knee injuries after excellent showings in their respective first quarters. When this happens to the two highest scoring positions on a fantasy roster, it’s most likely a deathblow to advancing any further.

Lesson Learned: You can’t predict injury. Give yourself credit for starting these guys because they most likely helped you get to the semi-finals and were poised to do more if health were permitting. Whether you call it luck, fate, or the unforeseen, there was no way of knowing it would turn out this way.

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

Tiki Barber Was Going To Be This Good In 2005: The Chiefs defense wins the award for best supporting actor here, but Barber deserves a lot of credit. He’s at least 50% of the Giants offense this season and that spells fantasy success.

Lesson Learned: I’ll believe in Brandon Jacobs as a vulture when it starts to happen.

Ryan Moats Is Very Good: About the same carries this week against the Rams as he had in the Giants game (as mentioned here last week) and similar results. The Rams defense is scary bad against the run, but a healthy and more experienced Moats in 2006 is going to help the Eagles return to prominence.

Lesson Learned: Take a fast, shifty player that runs hard and place him on artificial turf against a defense like the Rams and you can understand why many hard-up owners took a chance on Moats once again. Arizona has a grass surface at home, but their defense isn’t awe-inspiring, either. The rookie is worth another chance, especially if you are lacking a solid, 4-quarter starter next week.

Nagging Feelings—Week 15

Shaun Alexander is poised to have consecutive seasons that end in a way that could feed the perception he’s a selfish player. Imagine Alexander one score away from the record, but he’s benched due to the meaningless nature of the game. That’s not going to be a pretty sight in Seattle—especially with a contract negotiation still in progress. I can imagine Mike Holmgren doing it, too. Funny how so many modern coaches want to carry on the tradition of their NFL fore-bearers, but get it backwards. George Halas had no problem with inserting rookie Gale Sayers back into a game to field a punt and get a shot at the single game record for touchdowns—a game where the outcome was already decided! Maybe Alexander is a selfish guy in some ways—I don’t know—but I don’t think his desire to break Priest Holmes’ record if he’s that close is such a bad thing. Individual goals help spur people towards achieving the bigger picture, if not blown out proportion.

Mushin Muhammad owners, many of us fantasy writers owe you some sort of an apology. In hindsight, your reasons for drafting Muhammad as a #1 WR, although many of us viewed him as an overrated prospect in 2005, were good ones. I say this after watching Rex Grossman come into the game against the Falcons and immediately show a rapport with the former Carolina Panther. According to the ESPN Sunday Night announcers, Muhammad told the media he signed with the Bears because he’d get to play with Grossman. While we were technically right about the projected outcome, you were right about the promising connection.

Anyone else notice the most consistent scoring deep threats at receiver have mobile quarterbacks? Mike Vick-Donovan McNabb type of mobility isn’t what I’m referring to, either: Guys that can leave the pocket when necessary to make the connection and buy more time for his receiver to get open. Terry Glenn and Randy Moss had their moments, but Kerry Collins and Drew Bledsoe have concrete feet. Bledsoe had the better line play, so Glenn’s totals were better although still spotty from week to week. On the other hand Jake Delhomme and Mark Brunell can move around, and Steve Smith and Santana Moss took advantage more often. Even McNabb and Owens were great together when physical and mental heath wasn’t an issue.