As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
The first month of the FFTOC is in the books, and I’m
just where I thought I’d be—looking up at the rest
of the competition. But as John Elway purportedly said to his
teammates on their own 2-yard line in Cleveland Municipal Stadium
nearly 20 years ago, “We’ve got them just where we
||That Chargers game was a good sign more
was on the way versus the Rams.
||Big waste of a player choice here.
||At least I donít have to worry about
using him later in the tournament!
||Decent game for Curtis, but maybe itís
the slot in St. Louisí offense that generates the points!
||This early in the season, the #4 option
in this hot Giants offense still keeps me afloat.
||That 57-yard rainbow from Bledsoe helped
||About as good as I could hope from a
TE that shares time.
||I thought the 49ers drives would stall
out on the other side of the Cardinalsí 50-yard lineÖ
||This is why you play a defense against
most first year starting QBs.
I’m probably 70-90 points behind my bracket leader, and 50-60
points behind the 60th-ranked manager, but I’m feeling good
because of the players I used (and more importantly, haven’t
used) thus far:
||A. Randle El
Bledsoe and Dilfer are surprising good so far, but I believe both
will come back to earth to varying degrees. Younger Manning might
work out well as the season progresses, because he is appearing
to get it—but remember, that 4-TD effort was against the Rams.
I still have all the perennial top tier quarterbacks at my disposal
and most of the solid starters capable of great games. The quarterbacks
many of the managers in my bracket have used thus far? Kerry Collins,
Marc Bulger, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady.
I’m just as rich at the running back position as I enter
the second stage because with the exception of Mike Anderson and
Cadillac Williams, I would have never used most of these guys
down the stretch. Jamal Lewis is producing like the second-best
runner on his team. Last week wasn’t so, but the Ravens
were playing a team without a passing game. When Lewis can put
up at least 80-yards and a score when the opposing team has the
Ravens playing from behind, I’ll stand corrected on this
one. Willie Parker, Kevan Barlow, and Thomas Jones are on the
verge of losing more carries to teammates. Now that Green Bay
and Tennessee have proven that they can’t stop the pass,
Chris Brown and Ahman Green will be riskier plays, at best. As
for my opposing bracket managers plays this month at running back?
Brian Westbrook, Tiki Barber, Shaun Alexander, Corey Dillon, Priest
Holmes, Steven Jackson, Kevin Jones, and Willis McGahee (just
has he’s going to get a passing game with Kelly Holcomb
at the helm) all used up during the initial stanza.
Other than Terry Glenn, Anquan Boldin, and Joey Galloway, I haven’t
used a single #1 receiver for an NFL franchise. Holt, Chad Johnson,
Bruce, Ward, Kennison, Harrison, Owens, and Wayne have all seen
playing time this month. The same thing goes for the TE position.
This theoretically wise use of players should give me an advantage
because there are plenty of things I got to observe throughout
the first four weeks of the season—things I wouldn’t
have known to begin the year. Here’s just a few:
- Dallas is prone to the deep ball and their defense still
- Indianapolis has a defense worth saving, and their offense
is just getting warmed up.
- McNabb and T.O. are absolutely fine.
- Corey Dillon isn’t quite the rock of consistency he
was last year, although his TD output still helps.
- Carson Palmer is carrying over his stretch run from 2004
- Byron Leftwich is the first guy ESPN’s Tom Jackson
watches to find a play for his “Jacked Up” segment,
and it this rate there will be no Byron Left which to hit.
These observations and many more, help me plan for the most vital
part of the tournament—the last eight weeks of the regular
season. If I can outscore my bracket by an average of 10 points
per week over the next two months, I not only have a good shot
at doubling my entry fee, but I also should get into the tournament
finals. All of this sounds good, but we’ll see how the practical
application of this strategy works. Depending on week four’s
overall tournament results, I may wait just one more week to begin
making my move.
Now for the week four files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Cadillac Williams Would Have Blown A Tire
Detroit’s defense looked like a road ready for a little
Sunday cruise in the Buccaneers’ rookie ride, but there
were some tell tale signs this road was hazardous.
- The Lions had two weeks to prepare
- Williams missed practice all week and sported a walking
- The Lions previous opponents weren’t balanced offenses
Teams coming off bye weeks are often tough to beat because they
have the time advantage for practice and game planning. This is
even more advantageous to a team facing a non-divisional opponent
lacking familiarity with them. Although Detroit lost the game,
they did render Williams ineffective for the first half, and therefore
kept it a contest. In hindsight, I downplayed Williams’
injury a bit too much. I feel justified in my decision to start
him over Curtis Martin in one of my leagues, but Cadillac was
a poor selection in one-time starter leagues like FFTOC where
I could have chosen a healthier option facing a team not coming
off a bye week. Detroit’s defense really wasn’t as
bad against the run as the numbers appeared on the surface. The
Lions only played two games, and the Bears were already up by
10 points when Thomas Jones gained 83 of his 139 yards and Cedric
Benson tacked on another 49 yards in the 4th quarter. This wasn’t
the best assessment of the situation.
Lesson Learned: Be wary of
teams coming off bye weeks and don’t take stats for face
value this early in the season—research the level of competition
and how those games unfolded before assuming you have an easy
Josh McCown Would Have Nearly 400 Yards
And 2 TDs
Anyone else notice that McCown looks ridiculously like Dolph Lundgren
(Ivan Drago from Rocky IV)? If not, you had to notice
that Kurt Warner looked as if he wanted to set himself on fire
rather than listen to the Sam Houston product make excuses for
his horrible start. That miked explanation on ESPN for
not arcing the ball correctly to a wide-open receiver rivals the
rationale of some of our nations finest politicians during the
last 20 years. All I know is if McCown continues to play out his
career like those last three quarters in Mexico City, he might
be able to talk himself into a major leadership position in our
Like some of these Reagan-inspired politicians as of late, McCown
had a little help from the opposition, or more accurately, the
lack of opposition. The 49ers were without half their starting
secondary, and LB Julian Peterson. Yet, McCown deserves some credit.
As Brett Favre did Monday night, McCown brought his team back
while operating behind an offensive line that performed like also-rans
from The Gong Show. McCown’s performance in my
opinion wasn’t nearly as good as Favre’s in a losing
effort, but on a smaller scale it was as impressive as it was
Lesson Learned: Check the injury
reports of the potential opposing defenses and former starters
with decent win-loss records prior to getting benched, have some
modicum of talent. Plus, if you have a receiver that’s good
enough with the ball in the air that you might as well be throwing
at the side of a barn, then he’s worth at least a bye week
The Colts Offense Would Get Healthy
Three radio station hosts asked me the same thing last week: Is
it time to worry about Peyton Manning, and the Colts offense?
My answer was no, of course, and for three reasons: Tennessee,
San Francisco, and Houston next on the schedule. Baltimore and
Jacksonville are excellent defenses. Yes, Jacksonville lost to
Denver, but when Mike Shannahan had to result to gimmick plays
involving a former TE playing LT at the goal line in order to
score, I don’t have to make any further argument.
As they handled Tennessee on Sunday, the Colts will be able to
maintain a balanced attack against less talented defenses. According
to his 2003-2004
Crank/Consistency Score, Manning averaged 2 sub-par games
per year. If 2005 comes close to his 2003-2004 consistency of
performance, then his two bad games have already come and gone.
Since just about every defense in the NFL is less talented than
Baltimore and Jacksonville, get out the blankets and grills because
the fireworks are about to begin.
Lesson Learned: If you traded
Peyton Manning due to a couple below average performances, good
luck down the stretch—I hope you got a lot in return.
Nagging Feelings—Week 5
Jarrett Payton had his NFL
debut during the Colts drubbing of the Titans as time ran out.
He looked decent enough that Teresa M. Walker of the Associated
Press reported Steve McNair felt the un-drafted free agent out
of Miami showed he could serve as a good 1-2 punch with Chris
Brown in the backfield while Travis Henry serves his suspension.
True, 4 carries for 37 yards at the end of a blow out isn’t
much proof, but I’m taking a flier on him in certain leagues
where I have the luxury of depth. Payton may not show it this
year, but his rate of improvement from last season to this season
was too noticeable to ignore—and I have the nagging feeling
he’ll continue to progress at a similar rate between now
and 2006. If you don’t see how my feeling is more than gas
pains, click the
link and check it out.
Kelly Holcomb is about to resuscitate
the Bills moribund offense. If the former backup to Peyton Manning
could do it in Cleveland under Butch Davis, he’ll be fine
in Buffalo where they actually have a defense. If you are fortunate
enough to be in a league where Eric Moulds was placed on the waiver
wire—I was—grab him. If you’ve been benching
Lee Evans, keep him close to the sideline because you might see
signs that you need to send him into the huddle pretty soon.
As you find yourself in situations to decide whom to start between
a couple of players consider whether they catch the ball with
any frequency and are playing the Oakland
Raiders. The secondary often looks like they are playing
two-hand touch when a receiver gets the ball. If this were a new
NFL rule, Oakland would have the toughest defense in the league
because getting their hands on a player isn’t a problem—but
actually laying a hit and wrapping up an offensive player running
through their area is still too foreign a concept. Unfortunately,
they have a week off so you’ll have to wait until they face
the Chargers to take advantage. Don’t worry about the bye
week, this is a divisional game and the advantage isn’t
as big and the Raiders make too many mistakes.