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20/20 Hindsight - Week 16

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.”

My on-going saga of quarterback play down the stretch nearly cost me a championship this weekend. Ironically, the first player I profiled for FF Today this summer made all the difference. Congratulations to 2004’s champion, Scott Pianowski of for a fine season, a competitive championship game, and for being a class act.

Here was original draft and accompanying summary of my strategy in this $200-salary cap, auction league between 12 representatives of fantasy football Internet sites:

Matt Waldman, FF Today
Pos  Name Team Bye $
QB Steve McNair TEN 10 6
RB Priest Holmes KAN 5 58
RB Larry Johnson KAN 5 18
WR Terry Glenn DAL 9 1
WR Jimmy Smith JAC 7 14
WR Torry Holt STL 9 31
TE Ben Troupe TEN 10 1
K Jeff Wilkins STL 9 1
DEF Philadelphia Eagles PHI 6 3
B-QB Kurt Warner ARI 6 3
B-RB Edgerrin James IND 8 57
B-RB Artose Pinner DET 3 1
B-RB Marion Barber DAL 9 1
B-WR Darius Watts DEN 9 1
B-WR Mark Clayton BAL 3 1
B-WR Kevin Curtis STL 9 1
B-WR Michael Jenkins ATL 8 1
B-TE Bubba Franks GNB 6 1
This year I decided to target a few elite talents and then pick my spots for value later. The pervading theme was to not let fear—“False Evidence Appearing Real,” stand in the way. The strategy cost me depth at RB and WR but my intent wasn't to play it safe.

My best buys were the combination of Holmes ($58), James ($57), and signal callers McNair and Warner (a combined $9). Holmes' value dropped due to fears of an anticipated decline, but if you know about The Gut Check’s Crank Scores, then you’ll know why the numbers say Holmes—or any KC feature back receiving most of the workload—is one of the best options in fantasy football. My worst buy was rookie WR Mark Clayton. I don't anticipate the Ravens passing game to improve to the point where he will be a fantasy factor.

Funny how things turn out—not being afraid to spend $18 on a back up RB when I knew the competition was going to place him up for bid and drive up the price the moment after I won the bid on Priest Holmes was my best move of the draft. Unfortunately, I didn’t take this risk in another auction league after acquiring Holmes and it was all the difference.

Although I dropped Kevin Curtis and Marion Barber at inopportune times, my choices turned out to be valuable players. Kurt Warner and McNair were more than serviceable for me throughout the year, as long as I made the right choice week to week. Terry Glenn was the steal of my draft and even my “worst buy,” turned it up a notch during the fantasy playoffs—of course, I dropped him long ago. Still this roster did well enough with a starting efficiency of over 90% and only two loses all year.

Unfortunately, my start of Steve McNair made the difference in my team turning into the Atlanta Braves of a dynasty league (four times runner up in its five-year history):

Out To Lunch Jutpackers
 Actives Total  Actives Total
S. McNair QB 0.5 D. Garrard QB 22.6
C. Dillon RB 19.7 T. Bell RB 8.3
C. Williams RB 27.1 M. Anderson RB 12.6
D. Stallworth WR 5.0 J. Porter WR 2.9
C. Johnson WR 19.5 T. Holt WR 28.7
J. Smith WR 7.1 C. Chambers WR 17.6
J. Shockey TE 1.8 J. Stevens TE 9.9
S. Graham K 8.5 P. Edinger K 14.0
K. Bulluck LB 6.5 J. Trotter LB 5.0
J. Vilma LB 9.5 N. Barnett LB 3.0
R. Coleman DL 4.0 L. Little DL 5.5
O. Umenyiora DL 0.5 J. Abraham DL 4.5
T. Polamalu DB 4.0 M. Boulware DB 4.5
A. Wilson DB 8.5 N. Collins DB 2.5
Total 122.2 Total 141.6
 Reserves Total  Reserves Total
B. Leftwich QB M. Bulger QB
B. Volek QB 7.6 D. McNabb QB
R. Fitzpatrick QB A. Green RB
R. Moats RB 1.3 S. Gado RB
B. Westbrook RB F. Taylor RB 17.4
L. Suggs RB 0.7 R. Droughns RB 6.5
F. Gore RB 18.8 N. Davenport RB
R. Moss WR 7.2 L. Betts RB 4.5
B. Lloyd WR 1.8 B. Jacobs RB 0.6
E. Wilford WR 19.7 J. Jurevicius WR 3.1
K. Robinson WR 0.5 R. Wayne WR 2.1
O. Thurman LB 4 J. Walker WR
H. Miller TE 2.1
Total 61.6 Total 36.3

Win some, lose some…on to the final files for 20/20 Hindsight for 2005:

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

Ricky Williams Would Explode For 172 Yards And A Score: Although it was against a mediocre Titans defense, Williams’ last few games have erased doubts that the league’s first Ayurvedic practitioner isn’t giving his best effort. In fact, Williams is playing as if he’s satisfied with being a part of this year’s Dolphins lineup. I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Ditka praising Williams’ character—especially when he was one of his harshest critics through 2004 and early 2005. It would have been cool of Ditka to admit his judgmental view after doing a 180-turn on the issue recently, but maybe it happened elsewhere. I was certainly guilty of having doubts that Williams had the desire to play again.

Lesson Learned: He’s definitely a lesson about hasty judgments. Those of you that scooped Williams off the waiver wire in their dynasty league(s), great job. Talent ameliorates several issues. Did Williams have good points about Dave Wannestedt and the Miami offense? Was it okay for him to make his own decisions about his life direction? Was it possible that he being more honest about drugs in the NFL than most who have played the game recently? Absolutely, but his way of approaching it was immature. But talent can earn a guy additional chances in a league where Cecil Collins, Lawrence Phillips, Jeff George, and several others continued to see field time. Williams was at least a good teammate in practice and game day. He’s also showing he learned his lesson. Rare to witness occur, but still worth an investment. Maybe Onterrio Smith is watching somewhere…

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

Steven Jackson Was Going To Play, Maurice Hicks Started, And Frank Gore Had Two Scores Off The Bench: So much for checking late news. Several sources published that Marshall Faulk would start in place of Jackson who was still suffering the after effects of a hip pointer. Although Jackson didn’t do much, it likely cost several owners the opportunity to start someone other than Marshall Faulk. At least Mike Nolan stated last week that Hicks would split time with Gore, but several publications listed Gore as the likely starter prior to just short of kickoff. Hicks 100+ yards and his 73-yard score off the Niner’s first offensive play of the game was a huge play for many desperate owners that where looking for a way to survive with Edgerrin James certain to see bench time. Frank Gore might qualify as Mike MacGregor’s first to put two groin shots in one week: First, demoted to backup, but then gets enough time to nearly equal (or surpass in many leagues) Maurice Hicks!

Lesson Learned: This time of year is so dicey. If you advanced this far into your league’s playoffs then you deserve credit for a job well done. If you did the extra research and had the courage to start a player based on what he could do in the circumstances of his match up over a guy with a proven name, great track record, good match up, but poor late-season situation, you’re likely a champion this morning!

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

The Chargers Could Not Stop Larry Johnson: A great offensive line beats a good defense, especially when the runner has the power and agility of Johnson. Although San Diego held Edgerrin James to a paltry sum in week 15, the Colts line doesn’t have the same style. They also rely on Edgerrin James to pick up a lot of his own yards. Although James is no longer a big-play threat, his ability to gain 4-5 yards makes him one of the most impressive running backs in football. The Chargers put the Colts on their heels early and the loss of a starter on the line put a huge damper on Indy’s running game. Although Johnson is a more physical runner, and at this point in his career more capable of making big gains after contact, the Chiefs new star has a lot more room to get rolling than James. This places even more pressure on the second wave of the defense. James somehow manages an extra 2-3 yards when he looks hemmed in by the defense. Johnson often has 4-5 yards prior to getting touched!

Lesson Learned: One player rarely is capable of taking over a game without help. Drafting the Chiefs’ backfield is also a great lesson about the value of offensive lines in fantasy football. Moreover, continuity has its merits. Willie Roaf’s return to the Kansas City lineup was the turning point for this offense. On the other hand, Green Bay’s line had zero continuity…

Nagging Feelings—Offseason

Reggie Bush is the talk of the running back class for great reason, but if your team is fortunate to get the consolation prize of Memphis back DeAngelo Williams, your NFL-team (and possibly fantasy team) will be well rewarded with a back that is built—and runs—like a bigger Tony Dorsett. While you listen to people lump him in with Brian Westbrook and other backs they mistakenly perceive as too small, be glad if he’s on your team. He’ll surprise people with his power—217-lbs of blinding speed and receiving skills is nothing to dismiss.

It was another season of great fun in the books. Thanks to those of you that corresponded during the season. Keep in touch!