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20/20 Hindsight - Week 9

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.”

I had a decent week in the FFTOC, but when Ladainian Tomlinson scores 4 times, you begin to wonder if saving him for later makes a lot of sense.

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB T. Brady 28.5 It was going to be Brady or Manning. I wanted to save Manning. I’m still satisfied.
RB F. Taylor 6.3 Off to a decent start before spraining his ankle
RB L. Johnson 27.5 I bet 60% of the teams in the tournament started Johnson this week.
WR L. Coles 12.4 Great touchdown catch…about as much as I could expect to get out of him in the situation.
WR C. Johnson 9.1 Hoped for a bigger game, but decent yardage.
WR E. Kennison 6.0 I anticipated a higher scoring game from this rivalry.
TE E. Kinney 13.4 Finally a better choice at TE this week.
K L. Tynes 9.0 Generally what I’m earning for a kicker every week.
DEF Jaguars 9.0 Not bad, but time to stop picking on the Texans. Packers look like a better target anyhow.
  Total 121.2 Averaging higher per week in phase two, but not enough of a difference…yet.

This is closer to the total I’m expecting, but I expect I’ll need a couple of weeks with 150 points, or more to make a serious move. I don’t want to count on other teams to falter in order to advance. Especially when everyone else in my bracket picked LJ, Porter, Burress, and Eli Manning. Since I’m still looking up at the rest of the teams, I have few valid criticisms of their strategies, but I do hope they continue to pick skill players in the passing game against struggling teams where the game is effectively over in the third quarter.

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

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

Ernest Wilford Is On His Way To Locking Down The Starting WR Job Opposite Jimmy Smith
While both are coveted qualities, it’s human nature to prefer talent to work ethic. Especially when it comes to athletes. Randy Moss epitomizes to us what it means to be blessed with natural talent. Moss does things on a consistent basis that no one else on a football field can do, and he makes it look effortless. On the other hand, Hines Ward is relatively small and slow for a receiver, yet the Steeler willed his way to becoming an elite receiver by out working everyone ahead of him on the depth chart.

While there is no way to dispute that a player such as Moss possesses the most rare form of physical talent, I do believe the talent to out work one’s peers is a more valuable type of skill. Especially when the difference in physical skill is so marginally small as in pro football. Randy Moss may be able to do things physically that Jerry Rice could not, but few would argue Rice in his prime was an all-around better receiver in every phase of the game. There’s no coincidence that the greatest WR of all time possessed the greatest work ethic.

Ernest Wilford wasn’t a first round draft pick like Reggie Williams or Matt Jones, but what he lacked in combine numbers he’s more than making up for in work ethic. The Jaguars have recognized Wilford as one of the hardest working members of the team. Byron Leftwich says he and Wilford have a better rapport than any receiver on the team. What has held Wilford back from a starting role? Draft status. But after a couple of years, teams generally don’t ignore common sense. So far, Ernest Wilford is a better player than Williams or Jones. Some may compare Wilford to former Dolphin, Oronde Gadsden. Gadsden was a former Arena League receiver that clawed his way up the Miami depth chart due to his great hands. Wilford may not be a burner, but he’s a lot faster than Gadsden.

I believe Jones will eventually replace Jimmy Smith, but Williams has shown very little so far. I mentioned Hines Ward earlier and Ernest Wilford is in a similar situation at the start of his career. Ward was behind Troy Edwards—a first round pick with an impressive college career. Edwards actually had a better rookie year than Williams, but Ward outworked him. Wilford’s 4 catches for 89 yards and a score was the type of production the Jaguars expected from Reggie Williams because teams would be double covering Jimmy Smith.

It’s true the Texans secondary isn’t much better than the Rams unit, but Jacksonville still has Tennessee (twice), Arizona, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Houston one more time on their schedule. Jack Del Rio is not going to bench the one receiver that rarely drops the ball, is where Leftwich expects him to be on every route, and produces in clutch situations. As a Jimmy Smith owner and regular watcher of Jaguars games, it’s hard not to miss that as clutch as Jimmy Smith has been in certain moments in 2005, he’s been nearly as frustrating with false start penalties, drops, and miscommunications with Leftwich on routes. Still, Smith has been light years better than Williams.

Lesson Learned: Ernest Wilford may turn out to be one of those waiver wire picks that can carry a mediocre team to a playoff berth, and a good team to a championship appearance. Think Drew Bennett last year or Chris Chambers’ rookie season in 2001, and Wilford could be that kind of difference maker. If you acquired Wilford during the past two weeks congratulations, and if he’s still available don’t hesitate.

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

Lions Receiver, Scott Vines Would Have A 100-Yard Day And A Score
Vines, an un-drafted free agent in 2003 that bounced back and forth from the Lions and Packers practice squads, has two weeks of respectable performances. He has outperformed three of the great college receivers of all-time that have been ahead of him on the roster.

Lesson Learned: Honestly, I know nothing about Scott Vines other than he’s 6-2, 200 lbs., went to school at Wyoming, and he’s producing. The Cardinals defense is in the same neighborhood as the Vikings’ unit—an offenses vision of Easy Street. I wouldn’t expect him to be as consistent as Wilford, but he’s still worth a pick if you’re desperate, and need a 1-2 week fix.

Michael Bennett Would Come Out Of Hiding
Bennett runs for 100 yards and a score in limited carries. Although Mewelde Moore left the game with a sprained wrist, the Vikings starter didn’t get hurt until the 4th Quarter.

Lesson Learned: Can we trust Mike Tice to give either of these backs the majority of carries? With Ciatrick Fason scoring this week and Bennett playing when Moore was still healthy, I doubt it. Still, if you are looking for that player to put you over the top, Bennett could give you a nice boost if Moore’s wrist injury is serious. If not, it was still a low-risk investment.

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

Started Larry Johnson Over Most Established, Starting Backs
Thanks to Ainsley, who regularly fields Who Should I Start questions from the Help Board, I got some necessary validation that starting Johnson over Cadillac and Curtis Martin was the right move. Sure it sounds like a no-brainer—and it was—but sometimes I tend to overanalyze my picks and getting solid, objective advice is always helpful.

Lesson Learned: If he’s stuck behind a stud running back, but he looks like a stud running back, and runs like a stud running back…

Nagging Feelings—Week 9

Jerry Porter finally had consecutive, productive outings. Last week, I neglected to think that Porter was facing the Chiefs substandard secondary in week nine. Maybe Porter legs are feeling better after starting the season injured. If so, Oakland’s remaining schedule is favorable for decent passing yardage.

Don’t expect Larry Fitzgerald to quiet down any time soon. Arizona’s schedule includes Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Houston. Even with Anquan Boldin out of the lineup, Fitzgerald is on pace for a heck of a year.

Brandon Lloyd’s catch that was called back on a penalty may have been one of the sickest grabs I have every seen. Hasn’t Lloyd made more of these types of catches than anyone in recent memory? I’m telling you, if he even had a quarterback the caliber of Brad Johnson, he’d be a fantasy stud—just look at his totals with Rattay. If you can acquire Lloyd cheaply in dynasty leagues, it’s worth the risk. Alex Smith should make significant strides next season.

Anyone else beginning to agree with ESPN’s Mark Schlereth and his opinion that in Philadelphia the starting RB is good, but the offensive line’s run blocking isn’t? Considering the frame of reference (and watching quite a few Eagles games), the Eagles run blocking is far from physical. If I were Joe Banner and Andy Reid, I’d spend some of the cap surplus on a high profile, free agent offensive lineman (or two). Westbrook and Moats could become a great 1-2 punch—as runners!