Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Matt

Matt's Articles

20/20 Hindsight - Week 1

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.”

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.

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB K. Warner 30.04 301 yards and 3 TDs…Glad I have him in two other leagues.
RB R. Johnson 19.3 Chiefs are still trying to get their act together defensively.
RB L. Tomlinson 20.9 LT feasts on the Raiders…again.
WR R. Moss 4.7 Aaron Brooks and the Raiders o-line were putrid.
WR R. Williams 3.6 Disappointing outing at home although the Lions played Sea tough.
WR C. Henry -0.5 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.
TE T. Gonzalez 14.1 Odell Thurman is out for 4 games, and he was Cincy’s best cover LB.
K S. Graham 11 I figured Palmer’s first week back might mean more stalled drives.
DEF Eagles 10 5 sacks and 10 points allowed—pretty nice.
  Total 113.14 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.

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

Frank Gore Would Be A Fantasy Stud In Week One
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 to excel.

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 situations.

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 hurt.

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

Ahman Green Would Return To Form Against Chicago
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 Explosion
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 outside.

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 sign.

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

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 defense.

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 play.

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.