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20/20 Hindsight - Week 8

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.”

A lot of career days this weekend. I was fortunate to catch one of them on my FFTOC lineup. I could have used all of them, but couldn’t we all.

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB B. Leftwich 21.42 I expected a shootout, and nearly got one.
RB L. Jordan 19.6 The Raiders are figuring out handing it to Jordan takes pressure off everyone else.
RB R. Droughns 9.9 Acceptable, but really thought he’d take it to Houston’s defense.
WR S. Smith 26.1 Best game of the year for Smith and the type of game I needed from a WR.
WR J. Smith 2.7 Huge disappointment.
WR K. McCardell 7.3 Pretty good, but Gates got all the scores.
TE R. McMichael 2 I need to do a better job with my choices at TE.
K J. Kasay 8 Two weeks in a row I have a kicker with 8 points.
DEF Buccaneers 0 A shocker…Simeon Rice deactivated before the game and bye week 49ers go mistake free.
  Total 97.02 Dipped back to earth after last week. Jimmy Smith and the Bucs disappoint.

This isn’t disastrous, but it’s about 20-25 points fewer than I was counting for this period of time. Hopefully, it all averages out to the necessary totals.

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

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

Jerry Porter Would Finally Have A Good Game
Thanks to CB Adam Jones, Jerry Porter finally out-produced #3 WR, Doug Gabriel. Both touchdowns were the result of Jones taking poor angles on his tackle attempts. Otherwise, Porter would have had a typical 5 or 6-reception, 50 to 70-yard contest. I know some of you abhor the idea of discounting big plays from the total. In many cases, I understand but we’re talking about a veteran receiver matched up against a rookie that has yet to demonstrate anything the Titans hoped for when they drafted him:

  • Gets into a media war with Tennessee’s most-respected member of the defense unit, pro bowl LB Keith Bulluck.

  • Spends more time this summer extricating himself from poor choices on his social time rather than learning the pro game.

  • Forgets how to wrap up when he tackles people. The CBS commentator was completely right: a peewee league coach would have even lost his mind after seeing that kind of performance.

To top it off, Jones appeared as if he were waiving off his teammates as they lit into him for his lack of effort. The best thing that could have happened to Jones Sunday would have been to jump into the goal post spread-eagled just a bit harder. Maybe his early exit before the half (any coincidence?) a few minutes after that play might have needed more recovery time. That in itself could have saved the game for Tennessee.

Lesson Learned: Thank Pac Man for Porter’s day. In other words, don’t get ready to start Porter with confidence just yet.

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

Corey Dillon Would Start The Game On The Bench, But Wind Up In The End Zone Twice
As I mentioned last week, the Buffalo Bills are having a tough time stopping the run. I have to admit I was disappointed when I saw Patrick Pass starting the game. When Dillon somehow managed to get into the game due to the fact he was the only back New England had that could at least break into a trot without grabbing his leg, I still wasn’t encouraged with the way he seemed to treat his leg like a delicate piece of crystal after every run.

But Dillon got better as the game went along. The Patriots starter got warmed up after coming off the bench and by the third quarter, Dillon was nimbly avoiding defenders and finishing runs with power. Next thing I know, Dillon has two scores in the span of five minutes and his performance was a big reason the Patriots won the game.

Lesson Learned: It’s tough enough to guess the health status of any Patriot. So it was initially surprising that Dillon wasn’t starting. But it was even more of a surprise the Dillon played so well, given the situation. Tough players can never be counted out—look at Hines Ward’s game against San Diego on Monday night. He had no business playing on that hamstring, but the Steelers receiver wound up a big part of the winning game plan. Corey Dillon has been waiting for several years to be a part of a good team in a big game—and this division match up was a big game.

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

Started Marion Barber
Barber’s performance versus Seattle was all the ammunition Bill Parcells needed to challenge Julius Jones. After Barber’s 2-TD game against Arizona, where the rookie showed a nose for the end zone, anyone else thinking Parcells may decide to limit the use of his sports car in favor of something less flashy, but more capable of handling tougher terrain?

Something few people remember is that Julius Jones as a surprise, 2nd round selection. The Cowboys traded down and by-passed Stephen Jackson, Kevin Jones, and Chris Perry in the first round for a prospect that just started showing something in his last collegiate season. Although the selection left many doubting the choice, Parcells sure looked smart at the end of 2004.

Because Jones couldn’t stay healthy, Barber’s selection in 2005 was an insurance policy for the team. The tricky thing about the whole insurance policy strategy is the back up can wind up the better option than the starter. So the question is Barber III the better back?

I think he’s the better fit for Parcell’s Cowboys, but he won’t remain the starter in Dallas this season unless three things happen:

  • Jones re-injures himself.

  • Barber has some monster games against quality defenses, which will “force” Parcells to stick with the hot hand.

  • Jones does something foolish either in his personal life or reacting to Parcells’ comments.

So I think Jones eventually returns as the starter, and Parcells “rewards” Barber with more carries, bordering on splitting time with Jones. It’s justifiable to Parcells, because he’s coming to the conclusion that Jones can’t stay healthy over the long haul.

Why do I think Barber III is the better back for the system? He’s a tougher runner than Jones. He’s a second and third effort guy with burst and vision. Jones is capable of playing a physical game. One of the first things the Jones did to impress me was at the 2004 Senior Bowl where he displayed the willingness to lower the shoulder and attack defenders first. Nonetheless, Jones relies more on elusiveness and bursting through the hole into open daylight.

Dallas’ offensive system is based on running to give Bledsoe time to throw the ball deep. Certainly Julius Jones poses a threat to break the long run, and he must be accounted for in the opposing defense’s game plan. Obviously, Jones was a big reason Bledsoe’s production has been good. But Jones naturally isn’t the kind of runner that will get you the short yardage or pound the ball and control the clock.

Barber’s style lends more to this type of attack, which lulls opposing defenses into forgetting about the play action. While I don’t have statistical proof that shows this with Barber more than Jones, it’s just an observation of the two backs’ styles.

Lesson Learned: Barber made a nice bye week pick up for the last couple of weeks. Monitor stories on Jones during the Cowboys week off to determine whether the rookie gets a third week in the starting lineup.

Nagging Feelings—Week 8

Keep an eye on Roydell Williams, Tennessee’s third rookie WR. He’ll get more time with Tyrone Calico straining his calf. Williams didn’t have a lot of production against the Raiders, but his route running was impressive. Especially the double move he put on the nickel back that almost resulted in a long completion inside the 5-yard line. This is the same rookie that worked extensively with pro bowl S, Corey Chavous. With Brandon Jones still nursing a knee problem—Roby and Williams might be decent pick-ups if you are short on receivers for a week or two.

Both Matt Jones and Ernest Wilford are stepping up in the Jaguars passing game. Meanwhile, Reggie Williams looks like it could end up being another “wait til next year,” story. Wilford is like a faster Oronde Gadsden, and Jones keeps getting better every week as he learns the position. The Jaguars have a favorable schedule against the pass and if the offensive line can somehow figure out how to pass protect, there could be some big days in store.

Hines Ward should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame receiver when his career is over. I know this is premature, but can you name another player in football today that seems to do something extra special on just about every play? I’m not talking about Ladainian Tomlinson kind of stuff, either.

I’m talking about the little plays. It could be a 4-yard reception like this evening, where he scooped up the ball while falling forward and made a first down that most receivers would have dropped. Or it could be the first down reception where he had to play tip-drill with an all-pro corner back before getting nailed in the chin by a safety after winning the ball. Of course, it’s also the blocks that force his opponents feet from their cleats and the runs after the catch where he wills himself down field regardless of the hit, the angles, or the pull hamstring.

Hines Ward could never reach a Super Bowl or significant statistical plateau within his position, but nearly every play he makes epitomizes what is great about football. You may not be a Steelers fan, but if you don’t appreciate how Ward plays the game then you need to watch more (and get a football tutor, while you’re at it). If you don’t agree, I don’t care—you just don’t get it. And if it turns out I don’t get it, then I don’t want to figure it out.