As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Contrary to what I wrote last
week, my planned Phase Two of the FFTOC began this weekend,
and my strategy is off to a good start. Week six became a dry
run for the next phase, and I learned a valuable lesson. I took
my own advice not to second-guess my decisions this week, and
my restraint from over analysis paid off.
||Former WR Mike Furrey is the Rams starting
S—and Brooks helps me save my studs a bit.
||With Bulger, Bruce, Holt, and Martz
out, what else were they going to do?
||Moore does well on turf.
||I thought Owens would get me more vs.
the Chargers secondary, but this was acceptable.
||Driver has a nice history vs. Minnesota,
and on turf.
||One of my bye week specials. He won
me games in four leagues this weekend.
||Disappointing, but every point helps.
||I was expecting more.
||My best score of the year as I begin
the second phase of the tourney. A solid start!
My total was nearly 40 points more than my Phase One average. This
is the type of output I am expecting from now through week 12. Brooks,
Moore, and Hakim are the best kind of plays at this stage of the
tournament—players I don’t want to use later, but I
have learned enough about their match ups to use them to my advantage.
After seeing Jackson run strong against the Colts, I knew he was
a great choice versus the Saints. The fact that Holt was ruled out
of the game was almost a bonus.
As Phase Two gets underway, I’ll begin relying on more
establish fantasy starters to make up the difference in points.
||A. Randle El
|| J. Stevens
This week should help me climb the rankings about 20 spots. If I
can continue climbing at this rate, I’ll have a solid shot
at making the top 60 with good players to burn…
Now for the week seven files of 20/20 Hindsight.
LaDainian Tomlinson Would Be Held To 33
Total Yards On 21 Touches
Even the most consistent players in fantasy football have bad
days. Tomlinson found little room to run this weekend as the Eagles
defense kept the team in the game, although the Chargers looked
like the better team for most of the contest.
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is one of the better coaches
in football. His philosophy is to bully offenses—instill
fear into them early and then play off that fear for the rest
of the game. Johnson tends to blitz aggressively early with the
hope that the offense will adjust to a more conservative game
plan. If this happens, Johnson then gets to shorten the range
of the field the offense targets in the passing game. Teams that
succeed against Johnson’s defenses bully back. They use
deep passes early in the game to force the Eagles to think twice
The Falcons and Chiefs were successful with this strategy in
the first quarter of their match ups versus the Eagles. Both hit
long passes to a receiver and forced the Philly defense away from
their signature approach. In contrast, the Chargers are not a
long ball team. The team will throw passes of 20-35 yards on a
frequent basis, but Brees doesn’t have that strong arm.
As a result, the Eagles already had an advantage and could cheat
the run a bit more.
Lesson Learned: One cannot
underestimate the level of game planning the Eagles had available
to them due to the bye week. Any NFL team should be able to have
success with their strategy with two weeks to prepare—even
a defense known for their prowess against the run that has under-performed
in this respect.
Randy Moss Could Play This Week And Have
A Decent Week, Too
Moss was listed as doubtful with a bruised pelvis, ribs, and a
groin strain. Although he practiced late last week, most speculated
that Moss would be on the sideline to start the Buffalo game.
It came as a surprise to many when Moss had three receptions for
43 yards and a score. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have
been much of a shocker.
The 1-4 Raiders were desperate for a win after some close losses
through the first third of the season. Just from the looks of
it, a 1-5 record seems a lot more difficult to overcome than 2-4.
Maybe it just had to do with the fact that at 2-4, you still have
to double your current losing output to be eliminated from playoff
contention. Regardless of the reasons why, Randy Moss knows this
was a must-win game for his team.
Even if Moss couldn’t be effective, he’s demonstrated
in the past that he can still help his team as a capable decoy.
Last season, Moss wasn’t 100% upon his return to the lineup,
but kept the Vikings competitive. Most people only remember Moss
pretending to the moon the Green Bay crowd in that wild card playoff
game, but what isn’t pointed out is that Moss was still
hurt, and came up with a clutch moment in the cold—and muscle
pulls don’t respond well to cold weather. Moss’ behavior
may elicit a lot of negatives, but he’s a deceivingly tough
Lesson Learned: Don’t
rule out Randy Moss if it’s a must-win game, and the team
hasn’t confirmed his absence. Moss has a tendency to prefer
to fight through the injury rather than sit out games. Based on
his performance, he should be back to his acrobatic, self within
a couple of weeks. Until then, he’s still going to make
a decent play as your #2 or #3 WR against the Titans young secondary
Started Az-Zahir Hakim
Hakim has been playing well for the Saints ever since he got the
opportunity to fill in for an injured Joe Horn. His 100-yard,
1 TD-outing versus his former team was the reason why the diminutive
receiver was a highly sought after player on the waiver wire this
week. Why has Hakim been producing in New Orleans when he was
an overpaid dud in Detroit?
First, Hakim had a very serious hip injury during his first season
with the Lions. This took him more than a year to rehab, not to
mention the time missed to establish a rapport with his QB. Speaking
of signal callers, the Lions are still having issues at this position
and establishing some sort of continuity is difficult, at best.
Even if Hakim were healthy enough to establish a connection with
the quarterback, his physical skills do not lend themselves well
to being a primary receiver. One may counter with Santana Moss
and Steve Smith as examples of smaller receivers that lead their
teams’ aerial attack. But Moss and Smith are faster than
Hakim and they play a more physical style of football. Hakim’s
strength is his elusiveness and short area quickness. The Saints
receiver also doesn’t have the kind of vertical leap that
helps Moss and Smith face larger corners and still possess the
equivalent of a height advantage when both are fighting for the
Hakim needs other capable receivers to stretch the field so he
can work underneath the coverage. Or, the other receivers need
to occupy the middle of the field so Hakim has the opportunity
to surprise the defense and slip behind them. Dontè Stallworth,
Ernie Conwell, and Devery Henderson do just enough to complement
Hakim. Stalloworth in particular is playing better than any receiver
the Lions had while Hakim was in Detroit.
Lesson Learned: As long as
Joe Horn remains out, Hakim is a good bet to be a decent start.
When Horn returns, Hakim will still have some big games in a slot,
but he’ll be a much less consistent play.
Started Heath Miller
Last week, I mentioned in week 6’s Nagging Feelings that
the Steelers tight end was beginning to make noise in the passing
game. I drafted Miller as my TE in several leagues this year,
only to drop him in many of them due to short-term injury replacements
needed at other positions. Fortunately I was able to add Miller
in a league where I had lost Drew Bennett, Issac Bruce, and Cadillac
Williams for significant portions of time.
Since I have Antonio Gates—and he scores like a receiver—I
could afford to play a 2-TE set. This I was forced to do with
Jimmy Smith on bye. Miller and Gates wound up out-producing my
three starting WRs (Jurevicius, Bryant, and Gabriel) and with
the help of Edgerrin James, I still had an excellent week.
The Steelers haven’t regularly looked toward a TE in the
passing game since they had Eric Green back in the 90’s.
But Miller is just the kind of option the Steelers were looking
for in the spring, because the tight end is the optimal check
down option for a quarterback. The tight end running underneath
routes off play action is also a staple of an offense that effectively
runs the ball. Now that Plaxico Burress is a Giant, Hines Ward
is the only consistent option on the outside.
The Steelers may not have and adequate replacement on the outside
to draw attention away from Ward, but Miller fits the bill underneath.
The threat of the run or Miller over the middle frees up Ward
on the outside. In addition, Miller can clear out the safety and
give Ward—an excellent runner after the catch—to have
more space to operate over the middle.
Lesson Learned: As long as
Pittsburgh can run and Ward remains healthy enough to make plays,
Miller could become one of the more exciting fantasy rookies in
the second half of the season.
Nagging Feelings—Week 7
The Buffalo Bills allowed more
yards per carry after week six (5.3) than any team in the NFL.
After Lamont Jordan’s showing, this stat isn’t going
to improve. Clearly the losses of Takeo Spikes and Antoine Winfield
(an excellent tackler at corner) have made a difference. Definitely
rank them with the Texans and Vikings as teams that pose favorable
match ups for your running back choices at this point of the season.
Detroit WR Mike Williams had
his best day as a pro with 95 yards receiving—including
a 49-yarder. But it’s worth noting this reception would
have likely been a touchdown for at least half the starting receivers
in the league and 90% of those starters with a first round label.
Williams will be a plausible fantasy start in the coming weeks
because he has several circumstances favoring him.
With Roy Williams hurt, Charles Rogers suspended, and Kevin Johnson
gone for the year, Mike Williams is the primary option by default.
Jeff Garcia’s veteran presence and scrambling ability also
favors Williams, because he’ll have more time to get open.
So for the next couple of weeks, Williams will look enticing.
Be wary. I thought Williams would be a strong candidate for rookie
of the year. This was after the draft and I thought about Garcia
as the starter and Williams insulated by two other up and coming
receivers. Despite the injuries that changed this outlook, it
was the reports Williams was chronically late, and lazy with his
study of the playbook. This belied his seeking out Cris Carter
as a trainer in his year away from college football. I believe
Williams will mature, but I’m not counting on it this year.
Look for Williams to tantalize fantasy owners until the regulars
return to the lineup.