As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
If week one was unusual, week two clarified a number of things.
With a loss to the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field, the Green
Bay Packers really are on the decline—especially when Trent
Dilfer looks like he’s back at Fresno State. On the other
end of the spectrum, the Tennessee Titans defense responded to
LB Keith Bulluck’s challenge and held J. Lewis to a total
worthy of one of Mike MacGregor’s Groin Shot nominations—in
fact, I like the odds of him winning it. Indianapolis’ defense
continues to impress, and Cadillac Williams has proven to me that
he’s worthy of starting week in and week out after running
over the Buffalo Bills.
What was most evident about the NFL in the first two weeks of
the season is that home field advantage is a viable factor in
pro football contests. Look at the difference with the Niners,
Falcons, Eagles, Titans, Dolphins, Broncos, and Jets from week
one to week two. Sure, there are many other factors with just
as much, if not more, significance but you can’t ignore
the effect of playing at home.
Checking in with the FFTOC, week two was a slight improvement,
but my choices at the running back position (other than Fast Willie)
continue to disappoint in the early stages. Fortunately I’m
doing a decent enough job at selecting quarterbacks to keep me
within striking distance once it is time to make my move.
||Packers pass defense was as bad as they
looked last week.
||Titans defense was much better than
they looked last week.
||Okay, but not enough to make up for
Lewis' laying an egg.
||Good for a guy I wouldn’t have played
late in the season.
||Under whelming, but wasn't waiting to
count on him later, either.
||Pretty good and earmarked for the early
weeks due to his historical FPG splits.
||Hoped for a red zone score, but didn't
||Meant to play Rackers…thought I changed
the lineup, but did not.
||Great match up to exploit this week.
Although a diving, over the shoulder job in the backyard against
a 6-3, 185 lb. trash talking, prep-star-in-the-making for the game
winner was extremely satisfying for this out of shape, 35-year old,
it’s not pretty when I scored more touchdowns than my fantasy
receivers. Still, if I continue with this output, I may be able
to wait another month before I start pulling out the big guns.
Let’s move on to the week one files of 20/20 Hindsight.
The Jags-Colts And Rams-Cardinals Divisional
Tilts Wouldn’t Be Shootouts
All four teams can pressure the quarterback and the combined
16 sacks in these two games dramatically illustrate at least how
much the Colts and Cardinals defenses have improved. It also underscores
why pure pocket passers are quickly becoming rarities in today’s
The Titans Defense Would Hold Jamal Lewis
To 9 Yards!
As I mentioned last week, Tennessee’s defense quit
on their team after Pittsburgh pulled ahead by three scores. Yet
this week demonstrated why excellent coaching impacts youth in
a positive way. The Titans team is not without talent on the defensive
side of the ball. Defensive lineman Randy Starks was the youngest
rookie in the league in 2004 and has Darnell Dockett/Roderick
Coleman potential as a pass rushing defensive tackle. Albert Haynesworth
and Antwaan Odom are top-notch athletes on the line that need
to continue to mature, and Kye Vandenbosch is displaying the pass
rushing skills The Gut Check mentioned a few weeks ago when profiling
the DE for his All Gut Check Preseason Squad.
When the defensive line can play up to its potential—as
it did Sunday—it makes the job a lot easier for the rest
of the defense—also a young, but talented and athletic group.
Even before his stint as a head coach in Arizona, Dave McGinnis
was a highly respected linebackers coach. As the Titan’s
current LB coach, he has gone on record to say that he feels the
unit of Bulluck, Kassell, and Sirmon have what it takes to be
special in this league. All three display excellent pass coverage
skills in addition to their ability to stop the run. Bulluck is
also a pass rushing threat.
The pass defense is still a weaker aspect of this team, but Jeff
Fisher may be the most underrated coach in the NFL, and a one
of the best defensive minds in the league. The Titans offense
has been efficient against two of the best defenses in the NFL
despite a great deal of personnel changes from last year. Don’t
be surprised if this team plays much better than expected over
a 7-8 week period. Unlike the Chiefs of last year, who had the
scheme but not the athletes, the Titans of this year have decent
athletes that are still learning the scheme—and how to play.
Shutting down Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor is a promising sign.
The defense may actually be a nice waiver wire pick up, because
if you can stop the run and rush the passer you can keep your
offense in the game. The schedule gets easier for Tennessee down
the line, so keep an eye out for them.
Cadillac Williams Would Be Even Better
Against The Bills
Maybe it’s the nickname that had so many pegging Williams
as runner that couldn’t be physical enough in the NFL. All
I know is that I can’t think of a vehicle that has the burst
of a motorcycle combined with a bulldozer’s desire for contact.
If there is one, I suggest we start a movement to rename Carnell
Williams after his 24-carry, 128-yard, and 1-TD performance against
a physical unit like the Bills. Williams’ greatest influence
is Walter Payton, and the Buc’s rookie attacks defenders
with the same type of fervor when faced with the option of contact.
At the same time, the Bills defense allowed over 16 fantasy points
per game versus the run—12th easiest in the NFL last year.
So the Bills defensive reputation is a bit deceiving.
I have Williams in two leagues—a dynasty format where I
traded up one pick to land him, and a re-draft where I acquired
him in round 5 after acquiring starters Edgerrin James and Curtis
Martin. I’ve kept Williams on the bench for the first two
weeks in the re-draft and I promised myself I’d start Cadillac
if he gained at least 70 yards on Buffalo. Heading into this weekend,
I couldn’t be happier to be a proud owner of Curtis Martin
as my recently demoted, #3 RB.
Peyton Manning Would Have Such Meager
Totals After Week Two
When Gus Frerotte and Trent Dilfer are outscoring Manning in most
fantasy leagues, something seems off-kilter, but fantasy owners
shouldn’t worry about him. Manning faced two of the better
defensive units in the AFC to open the season and has Cleveland,
Tennessee, and San Francisco in succession—which should
be welcome news in comparison. What makes Manning great is his
discipline. The Colts quarterback is with checking down to a running
play if the defense dictates this is his best move. Edgerrin James
owners rejoice! Even with more looks to James, Manning will get
his shots downfield—and capitalize.
Steve Heiden Would Be A Leading Tight
End In Fantasy Football
A 6-catch, 104-yard, 2-TD effort will do that for a player.
So should fantasy owners make Heiden a waiver wire priority? Absolutely.
The 7-year veteran out of South Dakota State had a career high,
5 scores in 13 games in 2004. This year, Heiden already has 3
scores and only 151 yards away from topping his yardage total.
But the real reason you should consider Heiden is QB Trent Dilfer.
The veteran starter uses the tight end like a security blanket
in the passing game—something quarterback coaches try to
instill in young signal callers year after year. Antonio Bryant,
Dennis Northcutt, and Braylon Edwards are decent enough options
to draw attention away from Heiden. Don’t expect any more
games like last week from the Browns starting TE, but he should
be a serviceable starter capable of at least 4-6 points per game
on a consistent basis. I wonder how Kellen Winslow, Jr. is faring
Joey Harrington Has Earned The Opportunity
To Begin His New Role As Career Backup In 2006
Harrington, and Texans QB David Carr were the top two QB
prospects of the 2001 draft class. Neither has lived up to expectations,
but surprisingly, these are two quarterbacks going in different
directions despite the similarity in their stats.
|Harrington & Carr
Harrington has thrown 14 more touchdowns than Carr in their first
three seasons, but consider the team around Harrington in comparison
to Carr. The Lions’ QB had veteran receivers and a better
coaching than Carr. Marty Mornhinweg and Mariucci produced far more
successful quarterbacks (and offensive systems) than Chris Palmer
and Dom Capers. Palmer has been known as a quarterback guru, but
his most recent projects have been Rob Johnson and Tim Couch. Palmer
was influential in choosing Couch over Donovan McNabb and Daunte
Culpepper. On the other hand, Mariucci coached Brett Favre, Mark
Brunell, Kurt Warner, and Jeff Garcia.
Place Carr on the Lions and Detroit is a playoff team by now. Just
look at Carr’s steady improvement with his completion percentage
despite the fact his offensive line’s pass blocking is among
the worst in football. Carr is also a far better scrambler. Don’t
expect Carr to make an immediate improvement with the firing of
Palmer and the Texans in-house choice of Joe Pendry as the replacement.
Pendry was with Capers during his tenure with the Carolina Panthers
(Kerry Collins) and 1998-2001 with the Buffalo Bills (Doug Flutie-Rob
Johnson)—none of these players had completion percentages
over 60% or 25-plus, passing touchdowns in a season. Still, Carr
is recognized among some of the better quarterbacks that have played
the game as an up and coming signal caller.
Harrington has at least two receivers with the talent level of
Andre Johnson, and cannot get the job done. If Jeff Garcia were
healthy, Harrington would be starting his new role today. Maybe
the Lions will find themselves in the running for Matt Leinhart…
Nagging Feelings—Week 3
Matt Schaub, Billy Volek, or David
Garrard will be traded to either the Lions or Ravens before
the 2006 draft. Neither team will play poorly enough to be in
the running for Leinhart. Nevertheless, they will need a quarterback
that is young enough to be the future, but with enough experience
to step in immediately. Stash these guys on your roster in keeper
Rueben Droughns has been the
starter due to his versatility and consistency, but don’t
believe he’ll hold onto the job once Lee
Suggs gets healthy. In fact, William
Green looks like he’s regained some burst and looked
good this weekend on his only time with the ball in his hands.
The fact is that Suggs is the most talented of the three. Droughns
20 carries for 50 yards against the Packer’s poor defense
is a good indication that Romeo Crennel won’t hesitate to
give Suggs a shot.
Look for Jerry Porter to have
some big games within the month. Porter has been coming along
slowly from his hamstring injury, but last weekend against Kansas
City he showed signs of regaining some stamina, and had 50 yards
receiving in the process. Ronald Curry
tore his Achilles tendon, but Doug
Gabriel is almost ready to play. Gabriel is actually a
more accomplished receiver than Curry, although not as physically
talented. The 3rd year Raider has the size and speed to get deep
and should make life easier for Porter as another deep complement
to go alongside Randy Moss and draw coverage away from the former
West Virginia defensive back.