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20/20 Hindsight - Week 6

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.”

Second-guessing, and second-guessing my second-guessing is the theme of my week six FFTOC. Last week could have resulted in a big move for me, but I decided to save some players at WR. Here’s the results of my doubts:

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB D. Brees 12.06 Second-guessed myself on Plummer (23.08 pts)
RB W. Dunn 17.5 I’ll take it.
RB W. McGahee 22.7 That’s more like it for an RB.
WR M. Harrison 6.9 Had Derrick Mason here. He had 8.5 points and I could have saved Harrison for another week.
WR D. Branch 8.7 Had Keyshawn Johnson here. He had 12 points…
WR C. Henry 0.5 Santana Moss, but decided to save him and missed out on his best game of the year (29.3 pts).
TE J. Stevens 2.8 Wrong week for Stevens…
K J. Feely 7 Not bad.
DEF Seahawks 8 Pretty good, but I expected more. Joe Pendry’s adjustments to 1-3 step drops hurt me.
  Total 86.16 If I stayed with my first lineup I would have had 130.88 pts. That’s a rough 44pt swing!!!

An additional 44 points could have meant a great start for my second phase of the tournament, and a decent climb up the ratings. Instead, I basically treaded water this week. At least I still have enough studs for the rest of the season. Although I’m disappointed by my first week of the second period, I’m still hopeful.

Already Used
D. Bledsoe M. Anderson A. Bryant J. Peele P. Edinger Broncos
T. Dilfer W. Parker C. Rogers B. Franks J. Hanson Eagles
J. Harrington J. Lewis A. Randle El A. Smith N. Rackers Cowboys
E. Manning A. Green B. Engram K. Mangum J. Nedney Saints
D. McNabb T. Jones E. Parker E. Conwell R. Bironas Colts
 D. Brees C. Brown A. Boldin  J. Stevens J. Feely Seahawks
  K. Barlow D. Stallworth      
  C. Williams J. Galloway      
  S. Davis J. Reed      
  R. Brown A. Toomer      
  W. McGahee T. Glenn      
    K. Curtis      
    H. Ward      
    A. Johnson      
    E. Moulds      
    M. Harrison      
    D. Branch      
    C. Henry      

What I have to remember is to quit second-guessing my decisions. Last year I did the same thing with Brandon Stokely against Detroit on Thanksgiving. I pulled him from the lineup minutes before the game and not having his monster game cost me the difference between being a bracket winner, and a bracket winner in the finals.

Now for the week six files of 20/20 Hindsight.

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

Antowain Smith Would Have A Quality Fantasy Start Against The Falcons Defense
Smith, a role player for the Titans and Patriots in recent years, split time with Aaron Stecker against the Falcons and put up 88 yards and two scores this weekend. As the more football-savvy fragment of my personality mentioned last week, Smith averages 11.5 fantasy points per game when he as at least 16 carries. He noted that the Saints poor overall stats versus the run were misleading because their average yards per carry, and total rushing first downs were higher than two-thirds of the league while the Falcons positive overall stats belied the fact they allowed a higher yards per carry average and first down total than one would think. And furthermore, he told us the Falcons were missing prized, free agent linebacker Edgerton Hartwell, among others on the injury list.

Although Smith shared time with Stecker, he mad the most of his opportunities and was a terrific bye week option. He and Michael Pittman saved one of my teams with Cadillac still in the shop, and Brian Westbrook on bye. Will it continue for Smith? I think Smith will have some up and down weeks, but he does have some decent match ups—just pick and choose if you can manage it.

Lesson Learned: Just looking at overall NFL rankings versus the run or pass does not tell the complete story. Drilling down to yards per carry, attempts, and first downs tell a more complete story about an offense or opposing defense. The same can be said about examining individual season stats for a player. Make sure to look at his weekly stats for at least the past two seasons, especially if he’s not a regular starter.

Mark Brunell Continues To Look Like A Good Fantasy Option
In addition to losing 44 potential points in the FFTOC, I lost by .02 points this week in the SOFA Auction League. There were a number of players I could have started to easily win the game, but I thought for sure Kerry Collins coming off a bye week to face a suspect, Chargers passing defense would be a more reliable play. But, Brunell’s totals more than double Collins’ output for the week. I guess I could just say I didn’t realize Santana Moss was the best WR with that last name this week, but that’s not going to help me determine whether in hindsight I had any good reasons for starting Brunell over Collins.

The first is that the Raiders historically have rough starts coming off bye weeks. This says a lot about the lack of discipline in this organization compared other NFL teams. But the stats are the key indicator here: Kansas City was allowing over 60% completion rate heading into the game and Oakland’s defense was well under that figure. Plus, the Chiefs allowed three more touchdowns than the Raiders.

What worried me was the thought that Santana Moss has been a one-man receiving corps for the Redskins. It’s true that Moss accounted for 40% of Brunell’s completions, but TE Chris Cooley and RB Clinton Portis combined for another other 40%. There’s enough distribution here to keep defenses honest. Cooley was a guy Gibbs targeted last year in the draft and chose to forgo TE Kellen Winslow in the first round—looks like a great decision thus far. Portis has historically been runner that gets better as the season progresses.

Greg Williams, the former coach of the Bills and defensive coordinator for the Titans when they had one of the best defenses in the NFL during the late 1990s has players buying into his system. Of course, Joe Gibbs—after an adjustment year—is illustrating why he’s a Hall of Fame coach. The team has figured out how to get the most of Brunell, and the offensive line is much healthier. With San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona, and Oakland on their schedule, Washington at the very least should be a 9-win team. Look the Rams, Cardinals, and Raiders to test the defense and force Brunell to continue airing it out.

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

Thomas Jones Would Play, Much Less Be Effective
Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson looked like possible sleeper and deep sleeper picks heading into the weekend against a lackluster, Vikings defense. Instead, Jones carried the ball 23 times for 89 yards and two scores on a stretched ligament in his knee. Jones is determined to keep Benson on the bench as long as possible, and earn him self the opportunity for starter consideration elsewhere in 2006.

Lesson Learned: Jones really is a tough football player. He has a reputation for being an underachiever in Arizona, but he was playing with a painful rib injury that required surgery to correct. By the time Jones medically addressed the problem, Michael Pittman became a part of the picture and a favorite of the coaching staff. Don’t discount a guy with a chip on his shoulder, and determined to keep his job.

Corey Dillon Would Be Fully Dressed For The Game, But On The Bench
In comparison to Jones, Dillon seemed like a lock to play this week. Belicheck decided to go with Patrick Pass and Amos Zereoue. Certainly this was a tough blow for many fantasy owners this week.

Lesson Learned: First, Dillon’s status was downgraded to questionable during the week. It was easy to read too much into this as gamesmanship from the Patriots in response to the league, and Atlanta’s smooth move with Vick and Schuab. In hindsight, the Patriots were one week out from a bye and resting the second-most important piece of their offense to guarantee his health for the remainder of the season was a move many could have seen coming. Just look at what the Bucs decided with Cadillac.

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

Started Shaun Alexander
It’s expected a back should have a big day against the Texans. It’s equally expected that Shaun Alexander has huge games at home on Sunday Night match ups broadcasted by ESPN. Put the two together, and you get one monster outing from the Seahawks runner. Heck, Maurice Morris had a 100-yard day in the equivalent of a quarter’s time.

Lesson Learned: ESPN in Seattle = Shaun Alexander carrying your fantasy team. Unless his leg has been ripped out of its socket, start him in every one start per player, per season fantasy league you’ve joined.

Remembered Greg Jones
The Jaguars fullback got his shot to replace Fred Taylor and pounded the Steelers for 77 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. While everyone was hyping Alvin Pearman, including the Jaguars, the former first-round pick out of Florida State demonstrated why he was the Blesto Scouting Services top-rated back entering the 2003 college season.

I like Alvin Pearman’s game. He reminds me of Earnest Byner—an underrated prospect that fell in the draft due to a lack of elite measurements, but excellent awareness of the game and high quality football skills (blocking, receiving, vision, etc.). I think Pearman can develop into a great weapon for the Jaguars. Yet, I also see Greg Jones as the equivalent of Byner’s counterpart in Cleveland, Kevin Mack. Jones is a bulldozer that can wear out an opposing defense. Don’t be surprised with this showing in against a tough Steeler defense in Pittsburgh, that Fred Taylor gets spelled more often with Jones in the coming weeks.

Lesson Learned: Fullbacks that used to be halfbacks with demonstrated talent on a high level at college should not be ignored in any circumstance where a starter is needed—i.e., Rueben Droughns, Patrick Pass, and Jones fit the bill here.

Nagging Feelings—Week 6

Apparently my nagging feeling about Bennett was misguided. A thumb injury may send the Titans starter to many teams’ waiver wire in the coming weeks, especially if the recovery time of “indefinite,” becomes a several week process. Brandon Jones is now the primary receiver. Expecting Jones to be productive versus the opposing teams shut down corner is too much to expect. If Tyrone Calico can improve his play, Jones may at least continue his 50-80 yard outings. I believe the most likely thing to happen will be a different receiver with a decent game every week—Jones, Calico, Courtney Roby, and Roydell Williams. Look for more of the same two-tight end sets, and RBs catching passes out of the backfield.

Keep an eye on Quincy Morgan. The former Brown and Cowboy is a cheap waiver wire pick up and demonstrated the athletic ability to be a top-shelf receiver. The problem was he fell out of favor with Butch Davis and a coaching staff that was in too much turmoil to help a player develop or retain a professional outlook with the organization. By the time Morgan wound up in Dallas, he was expected to know what it took to be a pro. Bill Parcells has a low tolerance for behavior that indicates otherwise. Now that he’s a Steeler, Morgan is making plays in a variety of ways. If he continues to earn more opportunities, Pittsburgh may have gotten a steal of a replacement for Plaxico Burress and the benefits will really show up in 2006. Antwaan Randle El is best suited in the slot. Morgan has great speed and can run after the catch—he’s a physical football player that will likely benefit from being around such a quality organization, a possibly a mentor in Hines Ward. If you have room on a dynasty league, grab Morgan.

For right now, the second leading receiver in Pittsburgh may soon turn out to be rookie TE Heath Miller. His 4-reception, 72-yard, and a score against a stout, Jacksonville defensive unit demonstrates the Steelers are becoming more confident in their first-year player. Expect more big games from the rookie as the season progresses.