As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Week one has come and gone, and
while there were some performances that have intriguing fantasy
football implications, there’s still a long way to go. I
cut down the number of leagues I’m in from 2005 from 12
to 6 in 2006. I’m still competing in the FFTOC. I barely
missed the final cut in 2004 and had a decent stretch run after
a slow start in 2005. As for the opener in 2006, most of my choices
panned out nicely.
||301 yards and 3 TDs…Glad I have him
in two other leagues.
||Chiefs are still trying to get their
act together defensively.
||LT feasts on the Raiders…again.
||Aaron Brooks and the Raiders o-line
||Disappointing outing at home although
the Lions played Sea tough.
||Mike MacGregor had this guy in his lineup
and I decided to pick him over Braylon Edwards—not like
the Browns’ WR was much better.
||Odell Thurman is out for 4 games, and
he was Cincy’s best cover LB.
||I figured Palmer’s first week back might
mean more stalled drives.
||5 sacks and 10 points allowed—pretty
||Decent, but could have been great if
the WRs showed up in week 1.
My FFTOC strategy was sound last year, but I waited two weeks too
long to make a move. I decided I’d go with easier plays in
week one and took fewer chances. I think I went from one extreme
to the other in consecutive seasons, so I hope to combine the best
of both strategies in 2006.
Let’s move on to the week one files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Frank Gore Would Be A Fantasy Stud In
FFToday has been touting Gore as a sleeper since his rookie year
and moved him up their rankings once the Niners completed the
Barlow trade. The San Francisco runner had 16 carries for 87 yards,
6 receptions for 83 yards, and two touchdowns in a competitive
match up against their division rival, Arizona. FFToday likes
Gore for more reasons than Kevan Barlow leaving the fold.
The 49ers upgraded their 2005 offensive line with the addition
of Larry Allen and return of Jonas Jennings. RG Justin Smiley
is a promising young player entering his second season. These
three players constitute a big-time upgrade to the left side of
the line, which aids the power running game. As we saw with the
Packers last year, losing quality guards can damage a ground attack.
So it stands to reason the development of one (Smiley), the return
to health of another (Jennings) and the addition of a quality
veteran (Allen) at tackle should enhance Gore’s chances
The development of Alex Smith and additions of Vernon Davis and
Antonio Bryant should not be ignored, either—especially
not Smith. An underrated part of an NFL quarterback’s evolution
is learning when to recognize defenses and not only make the correct
read as a passer, but also when to check down to a running play.
A successful audible can create favorable match ups to run the
ball and give the offense the ability to dictate their playing
calling with greater flexibility that’s unpredictable to
the defense because they will have the favorable down and distance
Davis and Bryant are two great playmakers that can stretch the
field, go across the middle, and succeed in the red zone. Although
Brandon Lloyd is a promising receiver, two promising playmakers
are usually much better than one. Plus, Lloyd wore out his welcome
in San Francisco.
Arizona was an average defense against the run last year. They
were in the upper third of the league in rush yards allowed and
in the upper half of the league in yards per attempt. Yet San
Francisco only had 51 yards rushing in both games against Arizona
last year. The Niners more than doubled that 2005 output on Sunday.
Look for Gore to be a fine, #2 RB this season.
Reggie Bush Could Run Inside With Power
It’s beyond me that some people just refuse to believe Reggie
Bush can run with power as an every down back. Cleveland may be
among the bottom rung of defenses against the run, but they are
certainly better than the University of Texas. Bush had a few
runs where he finished strong up the middle. I’ve said repeatedly
Bush has good finishing power against the second and third level
of a defense. He demonstrated this at USC and he’ll continue
to show it in the NFL. His size isn’t what determines his
power as a runner, it is his ability to maintain a low pad level,
accelerate into a defender, and maintain good body lean.
Bush and Tiki Barber are runners with similar dimensions, and
John Madden was explaining just this with Barber on Sunday night.
Deuce McAllister did have a respectable, 90-yard outing and this
will only help the Saints be a more versatile offense. But don’t
fool yourself into thinking that Reggie Bush wouldn’t become
the primary back in the New Orleans offense if McAllister gets
Ahman Green Would Return To Form Against
Ahman Green has been a fantasy afterthought this year, but he
finished with a 20-carry, 110-yard effort (5.5 ypc) against one
of the better defenses in the NFL. This is more impressive considering
the fact that Green’s longest run was a 14-yarder and he
had five runs between the length of 4 and 12 yards when the game
was still within reach. Green Bay has a long way to go from last
week, but Ahman Green could be a lone bright spot and worthwhile
as a #3 fantasy RB for your roster, maybe more if the passing
game can take flight.
Donte Stallworth Would Have A Week One
While it seemed likely that Stallworth would have this kind of
game sometime during the year, 141 yards and a score without any
significant time to learn the Eagles system seemed highly unlikely.
Credit Stallworth, McNabb, and the coaching staff for making the
most of the time available and implementing a game plan to make
their new addition an impact player from the beginning. In hindsight,
Stallworth’s skill set perfectly complements the existing
personnel. The former Saint routinely used his speed and skills
after the catch for big gains and this fits well with an Eagles’
system that has solid, short to mid-range threats with Brown,
L.J. Smith, and Westbrook. Stallworth makes it easier for the
Eagles to spread out a defense with a proven deep threat on the
It would be foolish to expect Owens’ stats from Stallworth
every week, but I think an average of somewhere between 70-80
yards per game is reasonable. This would put the Tennessee alum
between 1100-1280 receiving yards when it’s all said and
done. I thought McNabb was an underrated fantasy QB this season.
True, it was one game versus the Texans but this is still a good
Benching Cadillac Against Baltimore Was
A Wise Move
When two starting linemen are out against a defense of Baltimore’s
caliber, that’s a big problem. While I was wise enough to
bench Cadillac for Frank Gore in one league, I kept Williams in
another lineup over Fred Taylor. I got to watch the Ravens-Bucs
game and from my perspective I didn’t feel the problem was
Cadillac. The Tampa offense was never in a rhythm and the run
blocking was not to expectation. Williams actually had some decent
runs and looked much better as a receiver than in 2005. Look for
Williams to rebound, but his value will likely drop this month
with a remaining schedule versus Atlanta and Carolina before a
bye week. Especially if the passing attack and o-line don’t
look dramatically better.
Nagging Feelings—Week 2
I had Mike MacGregor place bets for me on two teams to make the
Super Bowl while he was in Vegas this summer (I need to send you
that money, Mike): Baltimore
and Tampa Bay. The Ravens look
like they have a legitimate shot to be a strong playoff team.
Steve McNair was efficient and calm in the pocket. He also displayed
his trademark skills as a powerful runner out of the pocket. Once
he learns enough of the offense to begin throwing deep, Baltimore
is going to have an equally dangerous offense to their smothering
The biggest problem with the Buccaneers was the health of their
offensive line. With two missing starters, the run game was non-existent
and Chris Simms lacked the confidence
in the patchwork line to stand in the pocket and deliver accurate
throws. I noticed at least 4 incomplete passes where Simms didn’t
step into this throws despite having time in the pocket. All of
these passes were thrown in reasonably tight coverage, but he
placed the ball too far behind the receiver. If he led the receiver,
these passes would have been completed. I was not at all surprised
Jon Gruden gave promising rookie, Bruce
Gradkowski some mop up duty. Once the line returns to health,
Simms will have no excuses if he doesn’t improve his performance
dramatically. This is a playoff caliber team with consistent quarterback
Matt Jones took a while to
get into the game, but he made some nice catches in tight coverage
against a tough corner in Terence Newman. Byron Leftwich showed
a lot of confidence in Jones when he made these stick throws to
the 2nd year receiver in the 2nd half. While Reggie Williams and
Ernest Wilford duke it out for the other starting job, look for
Jones and Leftwich to hook up often as the season progresses.
Want a surprisingly good match up for a running back? Look no
further than the Indianapolis Colts.
While the Giants line, Tiki Barber, and Brandon Jacobs had excellent
days against Dungy’s defense, other teams looked pretty
impressive against this team up the middle. I believe this has
something to do with the fact that this is an undersized, fast
unit that is vulnerable to the power running game. In addition,
LB David Thornton is in Tennessee and S Mike Doss—an excellent
run-support player—is currently injured. Look for more teams
to exploit the Colts in this phase of the game for at least another
month. Of course the problem is which Texans RB will receive the
bulk of the workload? My money is still on Wali
Lundy at this point.