As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Week three is filled with good hindsight material. Usually that
means I had a rough week, but with the exception of the FFTOC
that’s not the case. My patience is getting tested with
a slow first month out of the gate, but I’m going to stick
to my plan and avoid the most time-tested players for at least
another week. Even so, I second-guessed decisions to start two
players and it cost me 28.5 points.
||The rare rushing TD was a nice bonus.
||Okay outing. If I had known about Henry's
issues earlier, I would have saved Brown this week.
||Nice choice and may hold onto job longer
than I thought.
||Led the Bills in receiving this week--but
that's not saying much.
||The lone bright spot on a dismal week
for my receiver choices.
||Really thought this would be a great
play, but shut out.
||No redzone looks today.
||Bailed me out so I could have a respectable
||Not as much as I anticipated, but it's
still something. Dallas defense is surprisingly weak
The two players the players I originally had slated for my starting
lineup? TE Ernie Conwell and WR Arnaz Battle, both had over 65 yards
and a score—which would have meant 115+ points last week with
players I never planned to start during the more crucial point of
the tourney. Fortunately, I still have a lot of terrific players
to choose from because of my conservative strategy thus far.
Back to the subject at hand: why did I start Josh Reed over Arnaz
Battle? Initially, Battle seemed like a good choice for the fundamental
reasons I stated in my FFTOC tournament primer—he’s
a new starter. This means the 49ers wide out is probably too unproven
to save for the money weeks, but he’ll get enough targets
to give you potential points without too great a loss if he comes
up short. Dallas’ pass defense was in the middle of the
pack and last week’s fourth quarter letdown was a telltale
sign they were vulnerable. Roy Williams is an excellent run stuffing,
pass rushing safety, but his aggressive tendencies get the best
of him in the deep passing game.
Again, why did I start Josh Reed? This was the classic mistake
of reading some good news on a player the night before, and taking
action without doing the homework. Reed, a former Biletnikoff
Award Winner at LSU, was scouted as one of the steals of the draft
when Buffalo selected him four years ago in the second round.
Reed was regarded as a sure-handed receiver with great football
instincts and the run after the catch skills one would expect
from a former running back. Reed had a promising rookie year,
but never took the next step when expected to take over for the
departed Peerless Price.
Reed came very close to being released this summer, but played
well enough to win the confidence of J.P. Losman late in the preseason.
When rookie receiver Roscoe Parrish hurt his wrist, Reed got the
opportunity to be the slot receiver. Last week, Reed led the bills
with 71 yards receiving and seemed poised for bigger things this
week against a Falcons defense that might be a bit weak at the
nickel corner spot after Kevin Mathis tore his ACL in a practice
The best decision was really a simple one. Between Battle and
Reed, which receiver had the better match up?
|Battle vs. Reed
Prior to week three, Dallas and Atlanta had nearly the same passing
yard per game figures. But Atlanta played pass-happy Philly and
Seattle and Dallas faced run-oriented San Diego and Washington.
Big difference in opponents—meaning the statistics may have
been similar, but the quality of competition provided a better explanation
of the numbers. Especially when one considers the Cowboys allowed
one more passing touchdown (4) than the Falcons (3) after two weeks.
Plus, the Cowboys faced San Diego without Antonio Gates!
In hindsight, Battle was by far the more attractive option this
weekend. Fortunately, the tournament is still in its early stages
and I have another chance to use Arnaz Battle, especially when
the 49ers resume divisional play and he won’t be facing
top-rated pass defenses such as the Eagles.
The Conwell-Smith decision is a bit more complicated—Green
Bay and Minnesota’s defenses were pretty even statistically
speaking, but I felt Green Bay faced easier competition, which
made their defense look worse. This was the case, but again I
decided to use a role-player (Smith) over a starter (Conwell).
Since the FFTOC isn’t a traditional league system, this
didn’t hurt me, but it could have cost me a game in the
Lesson Learned: In most cases,
it’s best to use starters in your fantasy lineup despite
the talent or previous performance of that player. With that said,
how am I going to explain that I’m thinking about starting
rookie #3-#4 WR Chris Henry against Houston next week in FFTOC?
I better do my homework first.
Let’s move on to the week three files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Terry Glenn And Drew Bledsoe Would Turn
Back The Clock?
Glenn and Bledsoe are 4th and 5th in the NFL in yardage gained
for their respective positions. With Oakland, Seattle, San Diego,
and Arizona on their schedule this tandem should continue to produce
decent numbers well into the mid-point of the season. I’m
not enthusiastic about them continuing at this pace as their schedule
potentially gets more difficult down the stretch, but based on
the opening weeks of the season Bledsoe to Glenn is a combination
to exploit in quite a few ways:
- Ride them while they are hot.
- Hope their value grows for a few more weeks before trading
- Trade them now.
Keeping either of these players could really be a boon for your
team. In the Fantasy
Auctioneer Experts Invitational League I spent $133 of my
$200 dollars on Edgerrin James, Priest Holmes, and Larry Johnson.
I was fortunate to win Torry Holt and still get Jimmy Smith at
what I considered a bargain, but among these five players I was
pretty tapped out of funds. Terry Glenn wasn’t my first
choice as a #3 WR but I certainly knew what he and Bledsoe were
capable of doing. Here are their seasons while playing together
in New England:
|Bledsoe & Glenn In
|Bledsoe & Glenn In
At the very least, Glenn was a strong #3 WR in a 10 or 12-team league
while working with Bledsoe in New England—he finished among
the top 30 WRs three out of those five years. The average baseline
values for WRs between 1996-2000 in a 12-team league demonstrates
that Glenn’s totals (8.2-9.95 fpts/game) were more consistently
in line with a quality #1 or #2 WR:
Thus far, Glenn is producing like a quality WR in fantasy leagues
with 2-WR lineups. Will this continue? I think the possibilities
are good—Bledsoe and Glenn perform as if they always had
the best rapport with each other. A good rapport is also a decent
factor to consider if you worry Glenn’s penchant for injury
is a detracting issue from his appeal. When a quarterback and
receiver have a good working relationship, the signal caller learns
his pass catcher wants the ball on a variety of throws. This helps
the player avoid injury just due to comfort level of running patterns
and the ball is where he expects it—generally where the
defender is least likely to do physical harm.
Nevertheless, Glenn only played one complete season with Bledsoe
under center and two complete seasons in his entire career. Injuries
may always be a legitimate concern with Glenn due to the consistent
nature of him missing time. This is probably why I would use Glenn
for a few more weeks, build on his value, and trade him. If you
don’t trade Glenn, ride him for as long as he’s healthy.
If he finishes the season, considered it a blessing.
Bledsoe on the other hand was a viable starter with a track record
for durability. What I like the most about the Cowboys quarterback
in 2005 is that he’s avoiding sacks because he is throwing
the ball away at the right times. While I might be more inclined
to keep Bledsoe throughout the season, I’d still see what
I could get for him on the open market because if Glenn goes down,
I believe it will have a significant impact on Bledsoe’s
game. Confidence comes with rapport and this allows Bledsoe to
make quicker decisions with Glenn in the lineup. If Glenn isn’t
there, that second-nature timing is gone and Keyshawn Johnson
will see tighter coverage. This could create a situation where
Bledsoe may tend to force the ball or hold onto it too long—things
he did in recent years.
Thomas Jones Would Be The Productive Workhorse
This Season In Chicago
I’ll tell you who could have known—Jon Gruden. The
Buccaneers coach got Jones for a song from the Arizona Cardinals
two years ago. Jones, a former 1st round draft pick, that many
scouts rated higher than Shaun Alexander and Jamal Lewis, showed
enough near the end of the 2003 season that Gruden openly lamented
his departure to the Bears via free agency.
At the time, most people—Jones included—probably
felt Gruden would continue to employ a running back by committee
game plan. A couple years later, one may have to wonder if this
was truly the case—especially with a 5-11, 215-pound Cadillac
on track for 400+ carries in Tampa. Maybe Gruden hoped Jones would
continue to develop into the Bucs feature back.
Based on Jones’ performance over the last two years, I
don’t think it was out of the realm of possibility. At this
point, Jones is averaging close to 21 attempts per game and is
ranked eight in the league in rushing yards with 276—and
a healthy 4.5 yards per carry average. Jones also has 4 rushing
tds—only Tomlinson and Alexander have more so far.
Cedric Benson, you say? Well I counter with Larry Johnson-Priest
Holmes, Lamont Jordan-Curtis Martin, and Stephen Davis-Deshaun
Foster—three examples of excellent prospects sitting behind
establish backs. Yes, I believe Benson will get his chance but
not this year. The Texas tailback missed enough to camp that he
fell too far behind to be an asset for the team at this early
stage of the season.
As a side note, the NFL really should consider a salary system
for rookies based on the NBA’s format. The current system
poses too great a risk that a rookie’s agent will negotiate
him out of an opportunity to play because he’s too far behind.
The player sits on the bench, loses confidence, and winds up farther
behind the learning curve than he originally expected, which makes
performing for the real big contract even more difficult. Plus,
it’s crazy that a proven veteran often makes far less than
a rookie that has never seen live action as a pro.
So here sits Cedric Benson, a premium draft choice at a position
many debate the Bears didn’t need, trying to take credit
for Thomas Jones’ success due to his mere presence on the
bench because he’s feeling useless after bargaining his
way out of a true opportunity to be the offensive centerpiece
like Cadillac Williams. Yet, maybe Benson wouldn’t have
won the job even if he got into camp on time. At this stage of
their respective careers, Jones is a far more polished back. Even
at Virgina, Jones was seen as a slow learner, but once he picked
up the system his talent shined through. Regardless of whether
you believe Jones is more talented than Benson, the most worthwhile
point to consider is that Jones understands the system well enough
not to get his quarterback killed in the passing game—something
a late-arriving Benson may need more time to grasp.
Daunte Culpepper Would Get Back On Track
I have noticed a lot of references to my Don't
Take Old Pepper? Column on forum threads discussing Culpepper’s
sloppy start. I want to point out that I believe Culpepper will
have a very good fantasy season—something I make very clear
in the article. I just don’t believe he’ll be the
best of the best fantasy QBs, which was perennially the case since
his second season as a pro.
As much credit as I gave Randy Moss for making live much easier
for Culpepper and the passing game due to his natural ability
to drive opposing defenses crazy, Moss runs a very limited number
of routes and the ones he does run are inconsistent. This is something
Raiders receiving coach, and Hall of Famer, Fred Biletnikoff pointed
out to Moss upon his arrival. Culpepper may not have the guy he
can just throw it up to, but in the long run, the Vikings should
have as dangerous an offense as long as their QB can stay on the
The potential in this offense comes from the ability for Culpepper
to finally get to spread the ball around in much the same way
Tom Brady or Peyton Manning can in their respective offenses.
The offense becomes less predictable and Culpepper gets the opportunity
to grow into a complete quarterback—rather than the guy
that heaves the ball to Moss every 8-10 attempts. Fantasy-wise,
this doesn’t matter to us unless Culpepper begins posting
the same kind of numbers he did with Moss in the fold. I don’t
believe this is the year it will happen, but he’ll still
have his moments.
Nagging Feelings—Week 4
There are several guys I still see on waiver wires that owners
should seriously consider if they need receiving help. Troy
Brown is an excellent player to have as that bye week #3
WR in a pinch. He scored like a #1 receiver two out of the last
three contests. Amani Toomer
gets no love with Burress, Barber, and Shockey getting much of
Eli Manning’s attention. Still, Manning is targeting Toomer
more consistently as the season progresses and they should get
in sync—especially once defenses attempt to take away Burress.
Look for Toomer to be a pleasant, second half surprise. Kevin
Curtis will be among the most popular picks this week with
Isaac Bruce suffering a hyper-extended toe. Brian
Finneran is another underrated player. Although he’s
technically the #3 WR in Atlanta, Michael Vick has long-professed
that his comfort level with the former Villanova star far exceeds
that of any receiver currently on the roster. Half of Finneran’s
receptions last week were third-down conversions. Finneran doesn’t
have great speed, but think of him as a bigger, slower version
of Brandon Lloyd—a receiver with acrobatic skills and the
proven ability to make some amazing catches.
Byron Leftwich won’t
last the season at the rate he’s getting hit. Both he and
the offensive line are to blame. There have been several plays
where Leftwich has been nailed before he can finish a three or
five step drop, but its also clear the Jaguars QB has not developed
enough trust in his receivers to make a quick decision, and let
these athletes make the play. He demonstrates this through his
hesitancy in the pocket when he may wind up 2-3 times before deciding
to throw the ball—oftentimes getting hit in the process.
Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, and Ernest Wilford are all very similar
receivers—tall, athletic, leapers with the size to out-position
defensive backs. Many of Leftwich’s most successful plays
have come from his occasional displays of confidence in these
players ability to fight for the ball. Two of Jimmy Smith’s
scores this year are results of Leftwich just putting the ball
in the area.
Steve McNair had a nice fantasy
game, but his decision-making on two throws in particular cost
the Titans the ball game. The first was the poorly thrown out
route to Drew Bennett in the second quarter that resulted in Adam
Archuleta’s interception return for a score. The second
was the last-ditch throw to Bennett in the end zone that landed
far out of bounds and ended the game. On that play, Chris Brown
was open on a crossing route 20 yards in front of Bennett and
moving in the same direction as McNair rolled out. If McNair made
this choice, the Titans would have converted their 4th down and
had at least 40 seconds and four shots at the end zone within
a reasonable distance. Another reason this was not a great game
for McNair was the rare camera shot of coach Jeff Fisher dressing
down the Titans QB on the sideline after a failed drive. Look
for McNair to continue to post decent numbers—especially
with Travis Henry out of the lineup for the next four weeks. Chris
Brown should provide more continuity to the offense now that he’s
once again the featured back and the unit can get into more of
rhythm with fewer substitutions.