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20/20 Hindsight - Week 16

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 Merry Christmas to Mike MacGregor for his championship in the Dirty Dozen Showcase League. What did you get for the holidays? Among my gifts were two titles and few regrets. Not a bad way to end the year. For those of you hoping for commiseration, I have some past horror stories I’m sure will rank with yours on the misery scale.

“The Chris Warren for a Championship Deal”
Years ago in my local league (that has two former fantasy football website contributors), I was sporting a 3-2 record with a backfield that included Chris Warren. The one-time Seattle Seahawk was actually pretty good back in his prime:

In His Prime
Last Name First Name Team Year G GS Rush Att Rush Yds Rush Tds Rec Yd Rec Td FF Pts
Warren Chris sea 1992 16 16 223 1017 3 134 0 133.1
Warren Chris sea 1993 14 14 273 1072 7 99 0 159.1
Warren Chris sea 1994 16 15 333 1545 9 323 2 252.8
Warren Chris sea 1995 16 16 310 1346 15 247 1 255.3
Warren Chris sea 1996 14 14 203 855 5 273 0 142.8

Unfortunately, I grabbed him as a hopeful bargain after a down year in 1996 and Dennis Erickson decided he was going to split Warren’s carries with Lamar Smith and Steve Broussard in a running back by committee purgatory. My friend Bill (who by the way just won his 4th title in 12 years in this league—congrats big guy, we definitely need to consider a WCOFF team—maybe you’ll fund the trip with all those winnings since neither of my titles brought me a cent…just kidding) was 0-5 and desperately searching for something to jumpstart his lineup.

He wanted to make a deal for Chris Warren and offered me a starting receiver (whom I don’t remember) and a rookie back that was seeing occasional time as a change of pace back in an pretty explosive offense that already had a high first-round pick as the starter. I turned Bill down flat. Big mistake. Warren’s opportunities continue to decrease and I have to resort to starting William Floyd or Mike Alstott—yep, that bad—since Warren’s trade value was in the dumpster.

By week 10, the back Bill offered me gets the start after the first string guy goes down with yet another season-ending injury and this rookie looks like Jim Brown’s son. In fact, he reels off enough impressive games to break one of Brown’s rookie records. Worse yet, he does it during the fantasy playoffs. Does 39 attempts for 246 yards and 4 scores ring a bell? If not, then you weren’t playing fantasy football when Bengal rookie Corey Dillon pasted the Oilers/Titans in the snow. While I made the playoffs, my team left in the first round with a whimper. Bill’s squad ripped through everyone after a 0-5 start and won the championship. In hindsight, I’d take a championship for Chris Warren any day.

“Whizzinating My Championship Hopes Down the Toilet”
My local dynasty league also includes some of these same characters. And Bill is about to win that one too (come to think of it Bill, you do need to fund our trip—and I don’t want to hear the excuse about being a father of two kids…tell your wife to get her doctorate if the MBA isn’t doing the trick)—good year for Bill Billy, this will be his first title in this league. Unbelievable. I win two “expert league” titles and he makes all the money. I’m playing well in the wrong leagues!!!

Anyway, a few years ago I’m one week away from winning this league. I’m ahead of my competition in second place by one half of a power point. This was not a head to head league but to make the explanation of the situation simple, I needed to win my match up or outscore the second place guy by a certain amount of points to win the league. I had to choose between two players as my second RB: Tampa’s Thomas Jones and Minny’s Onterrio Smith. Jones had emerged as Gruden’s bell-cow back towards the end of the season and I was riding the Jones express with good results. Smith was an iffy play due to the backfield rotation in place, but the media was reporting the strong possibility Smith would earn more carries against a porous KC defense.

I decided to go with Smith because I had watched Smith in college, felt positive about what I saw in him thus far in the NFL, and believed he’d bet an opportunity to shine against the Chiefs. But I doubted my decision at last minute and made the switch to Jones. While Jones had a decent day, Smith blew up for 146 yards and 3 scores! If I made this move, I win the championship. Instead I lose it by half of a power point.

“Four Tries at the Goal Line”
I’m sure more than a few of you wish you never had what I’m about to tell you happen to your team. If it did, I’m right here with you. In 1997, I had a decent draft in the aforementioned local league. It’s a deep draft—20-25 players depending on the year. We’ve cut back to the lower end of the range, but back then it was very deep. Towards the end of the draft, I selected an un-drafted rookie that was making some noise in camp and looked like he’d actually make the squad’s roster. Everyone said, “who?” when I made this pick, but I was just beginning to make a reputation for picking players like this—in contrast, I selected Greg Jennings in round 18 this year and no one batted an eye.

But to be more accurate, this pick was more like selecting Marques Colston. It turns out I needed this runner and around mid-season he actually earned a start and looked good. Good enough to keep playing and lifting my fantasy squad out of a losing streak and into the playoffs. The player with the last name the matched his college was none other than the Panthers’ Fred Lane.

When I get to the playoffs, my team is down going into Sunday night. My opponent’s team is through, but I have Dolphins receiver O.J. McDuffie on Sunday night and Lane on Monday night. I believe I was down by more than 30 points, but McDuffie has a good enough night for Lane to need 120 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys for me to win and advance.

I decide to watch this game at a local bar and Lane is doing little to disappoint. By the fourth quarter, he’s broken the 100-yard mark and I’m imagining a very possible championship appearance and at least some runner up prize money. As the game gets under 4 minutes, Carolina is riding Lane down the field and he’s at the 120-yard mark as he takes the ball from the Dallas 10-yard line to the one. At this point I’m talking to the television screen—well really, I’m moving my lips but nothing is coming out. Further down the bar is a guy that’s yelling at the screen because he needs his tight end to score for him to win a hundred bucks. Little does this sucker know if Lane scores I win at least 4 times that amount and get the chance for about 8 times his paltry sum.

So the Panthers have a first and ten at the one-yard line and I’m praying they don’t use the play action pass. My prayer is answered, but my hopes aren’t fulfilled—Lane gets the ball, but doesn’t reach paydirt. Second down and I’m still thinking there’s a good chance for Lane to get another attempt. I could have known Lane got another shot without success just by listening to the drunk, college student screaming expletives further down the bar.

Third down. If there’s a passing situation inside the one, this is the time. If you ever wanted to hear Wildman speak in tongues that was the moment. In fact, stick him in one of those rural south church services with the snakes and at that moment he would have fit right in with the congregation. Lane gets the ball and he’s…the line judge isn’t signaling touchdown. The drunk is practically bawling at this point. I’m wondering if I should join him, but I’m against him—screw this guy, if Lane gets in I’ll give him a c-note just to shut up!

Fourth down and there’s no way Lane is going to get the ball again, but I’ve worked myself into a frenzy of positive thinking. And unbelievably, Lane gets the ball! At that split second, I’m elated—I’m coming back from over 30 down because of a late round draft pick that was invited to the Panthers camp and is about to carry me to my championship game. It will be a story of the ages. Forget Bill and his Corey Dillon story, I’ll have him trumped with Fred Lane and huge comeback! But almost as incredible that Lane actually got four straight tries from the one-yard line was the fact he didn’t convert on any of them and I lose by five points. The crying coed is standing on his chair telling anyone that will listen how he just lost a hundred bucks. As I pass him, he looks at me and says, “Can you f$%*ing believe I lost that money because they gave that guy the ball 4 times?” I keep walking past him and as I get close to the exit he’s shouts, “C’mon man have a heart, can you believe it?” So I turn to face him and say, “One hundred? I would have had a chance 8 times that amount if that guy could have scored on any of those four attempts!” That shut him up…

So that was the bad. Here’s the good—the box scores for my two championship teams:

Fantasy Auctioneer Experts Invitational

 Fantasy Guru  FF Today
Player Pts. Player Pts.
Brees, Drew NOS QB 10 Rattay, Tim TBB QB 7
Barber, Tiki NYG RB 8 Jackson, Steven STL RB 35
Tomlinson, Ladainian SDC RB 13 Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC RB 29
Curry, Ronald OAK WR 10 Brown, Reggie PHI WR 2
Hackett, D.J. SEA WR 3 Clayton, Mark BAL WR 16
Harrison, Marvin IND WR 23 Driver, Donald GBP WR 9
Scheffler, Tony DEN TE 8 Heap, Todd BAL TE 5
Gould, Robbie CHI PK 15 Scobee, Josh JAC PK 3
Chiefs, Kansas City KCC Def 14 Ravens, Baltimore BAL Def 11
Total: 104 Total: 117

Fantasy Guru’s owner, Scott Pianowski is a heck of a writer and fantasy football owner. Scott won the championship in 2004 and he’s been my finals opponent both last year and this year. The fact he’s made the championship for 3 straight years says enough. Scott made some excellent lineup choices for the final week—a difficult time to go with normal starters—his pick up for Tony Scheffler, Ronald, Curry, and the Chiefs defense were excellent calls. I opted to stick with most of my starters with the near fatal exception of taking a chance on Tim Rattay over Steve McNair, which cost me 14 points! If LT got his normal, 2-score day my victory would have been by the closest of margins. McNair could have put the game away even if LT had a bigger day. Fortunately, I did pick Clayton over Santonio Holmes and I got a gift from Maurice Jones Drew—well more accurately from Pats linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. This is the first title I’ve ever successfully defended the following year, so it’s a championship I’ll savor.

SOFA Auction Fantasy League

 FFToday  RotoWorld
Player Pts. Player Pts.
Young, Vince TEN QB 27.4 Cutler, Jay DEN QB 15.1
Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC RB 35.2 Gore, Frank SFO RB 26.6
Tomlinson, Ladainian SDC RB 14.3 Parker, Willie PIT RB 2.9
Driver, Donald GBP WR 18.9 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 19.3
Holmes, Santonio PIT WR 14.0 Johnson, Andre HOU WR 8.8
Wayne, Reggie IND WR 5.7 Owens, Terrell DAL WR 10.3
McMichael, Randy MIA TE 15.6 Crumpler, Alge ATL TE 6.9
Scobee, Josh JAC PK 3.0 Vinatieri, Adam IND PK 6.0
Patriots, New England NEP Def 3.0 Falcons, Atlanta ATL Def 7.0
Total: 137 Total: 103

Rotoworld had the top-scoring team during the regular season and was a formidable opponent. He clearly did a great job drafting and managing his team through the regular season and playoffs. Although he chose to start Parker over Dayne, it only would have made the contest closer. At the same time, that would have made my choice of Vince Young over Chad Pennington much more important. This 11-point swing is something I should thank Doug Orth for his Inside The Matchup column. Doug laid out why Young would have the potential for a similar day as David Garrard’s performance against Buffalo despite the Bills strong pass defense.

As for the FFTOC, I’ll be somewhere among the middle of the pack of finalists. A decent effort, but it was not enough to quality for any prizes.

FFTOC Update
 Pos  Player  Pts  Comments
QB B. Farve 11.3 I could have gone with Young or Cutler and been much happier with the result.
RB L. Betts 28.4 The Rams defense, need I say more?
RB C. Benson 5.7 And I could have gone with Ron Dayne!
WR J. Walker 11.6 Not bad for a bum shoulder…
WR D.J. Hackett 3.7 The passing game is really struggling not to excel against SD’s secondary.
WR R. Wayne 2.7 The way Indy plays on defense, I’m wondering how soon they’ll remain in the playoffs.
TE V. Davis 9.1 I considered Heath Miller…glad I opted for the rookie.
K L. Tynes 5.0 Nothing special.
DEF Panthers 17.0 This was how I was scoring on defense to begin the year.
  Total 94.5 A very mediocre end to a decent year in the FFTOC.

No would’ve, could’ve, should’ve situations this week. I’m trying to end the year right in preparation for the new year.

Nagging Feelings—Week 17

Brandon Marshall is going to be over hyped in fantasy leagues next season, but if you can get him in the late rounds you’ll have a bargain. He’s looking better every week and has a good chance to be a dominant player. And I’m only echoing Champ Bailey who, according to FFToday Forum member Big Pete, covers the remaining third of the globe that the water doesn’t reach.

Will Ron Dayne be the man in Houston in 2007? I’m skeptical. Dayne should have a role in the offense, but look for the Texans to look to Domanick Davis or find another back of Davis’ skill sets in the off-season.

Anyone notice Reggie Bush keeps looking better as the season progresses? Maybe he’s getting a healthier (I did mention he was banged up just before mid-season). Maybe he’s just making the adjustment to the NFL. Either way, I’ll gladly take my chances drafting Bush as my number two back in 2007. I’m not giving ground on my belief he’ll be a great feature back in the coming years.

Top rookies? I’m a Vince Young fan and believe Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t far behind, but what about tackle Marcus McNeil out of Auburn? He’s been so good for the Chargers that he wasn’t called for a holding penalty for the first fifteen weeks of the season—did you hear Madden say that last weekend? Pretty amazing stuff—but one thing Marty Schottenheimer manages to do with his teams and that’s build good offensive lines. Since he doesn’t have the same assistants in this role, I’m giving him the credit for figuring out how to get it done in Cleveland, Kansas City, and San Diego.