we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted to
learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
This week I serve up a full
course meal of “Hindsight(s)” that begins with some
nice takes on rookies, but ends with a dessert of crow that is
for my consumption only. Good thing there’s so much on the
menu, because the FFTOC appetizer isn’t too hardy of a meal:
||Better than Palmer’s output last week…
||Last minute change of mind when I had
Frank Gore here—in essence, a 6-point penalty for changing
||Figured this might be his last decent
game, but that was last week.
||Decent week coming off a 2-TD effort
||A total dud.
||The only rookie “sleeper” I might have
liked more than Jennings was Bruce Gradkowski—he was
a better start than Lefty for 3 of my teams.
||The streak of picking a productive TE
ended this week.
||Decent, but nothing special.
||Should have thought more about the fact
that sacks and the name Vince Young wouldn’t be as synonymous
as they were with Collins
||Pretty big dip from the past two weeks.
I made four key errors with my picks this week. The first was a
last-minute choice of Foster over Gore that cost me six points.
Cleveland’s rush defense might be bad, but Oakland is a team
in total disarray. The decision to go with Troy Williamson’s
play is like choosing that beautiful, talented woman/man (ladies,
I know you’ve been suckered as well) that displays moments
of wonder in one breath and makes you wonder what the hell you were
thinking the next. Unfortunately, I took the risk and I’m
now left wondering if I’ll make up the ground I lost.
As for Eric Johnson? Outside of Randy McMichael, Alex Smith,
and Antonio Gates, these were the only decent performances from
tight ends eligible for my use. The Colts game was a total surprise,
but in hindsight the absence of Corey Simon was another strong
pre-game indicator that the Indy defense would continue to struggle
against the run. The problem was I didn’t believe Tennessee’s
defense would play so well. I also didn’t think about the
fact that I used team defenses against the Titans when concrete-footed
Kerry Collins was under center. These four errors cost me at least
30 points and a chance to maintain my standing. I will need a
seriously big week to make up ground.
Rookie Bruce Gradkowski Would Have An
Anyone reading my columns would probably be aware this was a possibility.
ESPN’s Bill Simmons is highly entertaining, but he’s
not trying to seriously convince you that a guy lacks the skills
to play quarterback in the NFL because his name doesn’t
sound right for the role. It’s only one game, but
Gradkowski was exactly what I’ve been talking about for
months—a match for Jon
Gruden’s profile of a promising west coast offense quarterback.
Gradkowski got rid of the ball quickly, used his legs to gain
yardage when no one was open, and threw the ball away when under
pressure. The rookie from Toledo looked like the same player I
studied for the 2006 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Did you see his
long completion to Galloway in the 4th quarter off play action?
The fake was so good, Gradkowski literally stood seven yards deep
with the ball behind his back, like a statue, before launching
a pass that was right on the money. It was the type of play fake
that caught the defense so off guard you only see them in college.
He also didn’t lock onto one receiver. He distributed the
ball to seven different receivers—four of them had at least
Then there’s his leadership. The coaches at the East-West
Shrine Game raved about his presence in the huddle and the stories
relayed to them from Toledo about his poise. He rallied the Bucs
around him on Sunday. Did you ever see the Bucs offense and defense
as pumped up when Chris Simms hooked up for a score? Remember,
Tampa is still a team with a lot of quality veterans. Gradkowski’s
impact was very noticeable. In fact, the Bucs were two plays away
from tying or winning this contest: A perfectly thrown slant that
Galloway dropped, but would have gained at least enough yardage
to get into field goal range and an illegal contact penalty that
called back a beautifully timed, rainbow to Ike Hillard for about
35-40 yards that would have put Tampa inside the five-yard line.
As I mentioned, Gradkowski’s quick decisions, play action
skills, and mobility also helped eased the burden of the running
game. Cadillac Williams finally had a 100-yard performance and
there was enough balance to the offense to afford the Bucs defense
to get some rest. I told you weeks ago, Caddy would be a great
buy low candidate around Tampa’s bye week—did you
listen? The Bucs face a mediocre Cincinnati defense next week,
but the Bengals are coming off a bye. This should be a stiffer
test for the Toledo rookie, but I believe the Buccaneers appeared
to have a different attitude with Gradkowski at the helm. Don’t
be surprised if Tampa goes on a winning streak. The rookie will
have his ups and downs, but he’s not a guy to take lightly.
Deuce Mcallister Would Be Off To Such
A Good Start
The Saints’ starter is coming off an ACL tear and averaging
4.8 yards per carry with 4 scores in 5 games! All summer, I see
training camp footage of McAllister limping or looking gimpy through
the hole in practices and now he’s plowing over runners
and making nifty cut backs at the line of scrimmage. If I hadn’t
seen three Saints games this year I would be prone to believing
this whole ACL injury was a sham. The fact is McAllister doesn’t
have the burst he once did, but he benefits greatly from the addition
of Drew Brees and Reggie Bush.
Brees is so consistent the opposing defense must always respect
the pass rather than key on down and distance situations that
usually signal a run. It is Brees’ play that allows Sean
Payton’s staff to mix up the play calling to keep defenses
off balance. This benefits McAllister on draws and delays. If
you watched the Saints, you noticed McAllister gets his fair share
of attempts on these designed runs.
Reggie Bush’s presence only enhances what benefits McAllister.
The Saints routinely place Bush in the formation as a wide out
and run a fake reverse. This play, the draws, and delays all have
one thing in common: give McAllister more room to hit the hole
hard while minimizing the need to use stop-start moves to change
direction at the line of scrimmage. The play designs are working
with great success and McAllister is getting into the second level
of the defense untouched.
Speaking of the Heisman winner, Bush is averaging nearly a yard
less per carry (3.7) on the ground. The contributing factor is
a strained Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the opener that
the FOX commentators mentioned as a little-known, oh by the way
moment during the contest. I’ve had a minor Achilles tendon
injury and I can attest it’s difficult to plant, change
directions, or run hard without severe discomfort. You feel as
if the tendon is going to rip. Now the only thing Reggie Bush
and I have in common is we’re about he same height, close
to the same weight, and we have the same dynamic cutting ability…mine
was on display when I put such a wicked move on Urlacher that
he completely missed me and de-cleated Ray Nitchske. Then I swatted
Ronnie Lott like a fly with my stiff-arm and left Darrell Green
in the dust for a 95-yard score. Then I woke up Monday morning
and worked on this column.
Dreamland aside, Bush isn’t 100% and if you notice, his
sick cuts or reversals of field have not been on display. It’s
not because he can’t do it against the NFL competition.
He’s not healthy enough to do it. Bush has been compared
with Ladainian Tomlinson in terms of ability, and the Chargers
back only averaged 3.6 yards per attempt as a rookie. The point
is don’t be too quick to write off Bush’s potential
to be a true phenom, and continue starting McAllister until you
see Bush do one of those Baby-Matrix moves Joe Horn is expecting
Resisted The Urge To Recommend Kevan Barlow
Over Willis Mcgahee
On The Gridiron with Chad Dukes, a weekly Saturday segment
on KZON Phoenix (11am PST) where I appear, I was asked to choose
between Barlow and McGahee. Neither was a good option versus excellent
run defenses, but I wasn’t feeling it for the Bills starter.
I’d like to use the Troy Williamson defense as my reason
here but if Williamson is like that beautiful, talented interest
that has you riding the rollercoaster, Barlow is that moment many
of us had (or will have) where we knew we were walking down a
dead end street but didn’t heed the warning signs. While
the difference in fantasy points between Barlow’s minus
four-yard effort and McGahee’s 65 total yards was negligible,
it might have been enough to decide a win/loss. If the guy that
asked for my advice is reading this, I hope you were wiser than
me. If not, then I offer my apologies to you for horrible advice.
Compiled A List Of Players I Don’t
Like So You Can See The Frame Of Reference On My Advice When Comparing
Close Calls Between One Player And The Ones On This List
We all have our biases. I try to limit mine as much as possible,
because objectivity helps you win in fantasy football. Still,
I have some players that I just don’t like their game or
something about their public persona. Admittedly, it can negatively
alter my view on their potential to have a good week, season,
Without further ado, here’s a start to my running list
that I’ll update throughout the year as I think of more.
Keyshawn Johnson—I think
this guy is the patriarch of the diva-like behavior of this generation’s
NFL receivers. CNNSI’s Peter King relayed a story
this week about T.O. telling his new teammates he was misunderstood,
and he was like Keyshawn. I could rest my case there, but I’d
rather list the details. Johnson comes out of USC with a ton of
hype. He’s big, has great hands, and can run after the catch.
But he’s slow, kind of like fellow USC-alum and Detroit
Lion, Mike Williams. The problem I have with Johnson is his raging
insecurities. He arrives in New York and within a year has an
autobiography where he badmouths a teammate. Not only a teammate,
but also one that delivered more often clutch and demanded more
respect with a lot less fanfare—Wayne Chrebet. Johnson winds
up in Tampa, and while mic’d on a Monday Night broadcast,
he badmouths possibly the best receiver in the game for the past
decade—Marvin Harrison—and then pouts when the Colts
all-pro torches the Bucs in one of the most amazing 4th QTR comebacks
in history. Soon after, Johnson gets kicked off the team and winds
up in Dallas. Johnson is a terrific possession receiver and blocker,
but the combination of his attitude and limited upside biases
my take from time to time. Kevin Rodgers of 790 The Ticket in
Miami understands what I’m saying…
new to my list, but I have that same feeling about the guy as
I do with the others that appear here. I actually had Leinart
ranked high in the 2006 RSP
and specifically mentioned he would be the clear cut, top rookie
QB if his arm strength were better in the several games I studied
in 2005. I can’t put my finger on what it is about the Cardinals
new starter, but it’s the way he projects his confidence.
Tom Brady projects confidence, but his arrogance has the chip
on the shoulder quality where it’s as if you can hear him
saying, "Go ahead count me out, because when I’m through
you’re never going to forget that you did." Leinart
seems more like the kind of guy that says: "I’m good
and if you don’t think I’m good, I’ll be disappointed."
It’s not as overtly brash as Keyshawn’s attitude,
but it’s there. Really, it’s not a bad thing to be
confident, but as a fan the perceived source of motivation doesn’t
appeal to me because it appears as spoiled. On the other hand,
Gradkowski appeals to me because his confidence sounds more like:
"I don’t care what anyone thinks or even notices I’m
a player, I’m too busy having a good time with my teammates
while I’m beating your ass."
Leinart had a very good debut in his own right. It will be surprising
if he doesn’t have success down the line, but I’ll
ever have the connection to him. This is more telling about me
and my underdog mentality and my disdain for the front-runner
than anything about Leinart personally. And no, I don’t
have a bias against the Trojans. USC wasn’t that good when
Keyshawn was there, anyhow.
I have no idea why I am biased against this runner. The only thing
I can point to is the lack of vision he displayed as first and
second-year player. I have a feeling I’m going to be changing
my mind about him as he continues to mature.
is the ultimate underdog in the sense that he is very much a self-made
player. This should make me like the guy, but it’s his mistake-free,
conservative style of play that lacks excitement. I’d like
this guy if he was running my favorite team’s offense—if
that team had a back like Larry Johnson or Ladainian Tomlinson—because
he makes the safe play under pressure and keeps your team in the
game, provided the rest of the team doesn’t mess up and
let the game get out of hand. He’s like the fantasy football
version of celery: It’s pretty good for you, but it needs
something else to make it great.
Nagging Feelings—Week 6
Is Pittsburgh done? I think the wheels are falling off and by
they time they regroup it may be too late for them. They will
need Palmer or McNair to miss significant time and take advantage
of some of the softer opposition ahead on their schedule. I didn’t
realize the offense would miss the talents of Antwaan
Randle El as acutely as they do. But when I think about the
Redskins receiver’s talents as a passer, it makes me wonder why
the Falcons and Bucs never used Bert Emanuel is this capacity—two
words: no imagination. You have to give Cowher credit for taking
I like the Steelers acquisition of Najeh
Davenport to eventually complement Willie Parker, but the
passing game is pretty out of sync. At the same time, Ben
Roethlisberger is a deceptively good passer. I’ve seen him
make a throws that look odd, but turn out to be better than what
most quarterbacks in this league could make. I can see how he
could eventually become a solid fantasy starter, I just don’t
know if the progression of his career will foster that into a
The Titans had a nice effort against the Colts Sunday. This is
typical of Tennessee in their recent salary cap-strapped years
and what I believe will turn out to be a compliment to their coach
Jeff Fisher. When I watch the Titans I see a team that on any
given drive does 8 out of 10 things right. The first lapse seems
to be something that puts them in a hole and the second lapse
comes just as they are about to dig their way out. The play call
and for the most part the execution are solid, but it so often
seems as if one player comes up just short. It’s always someone
different. Is it bad coaching, lack of on-field leadership, or
lack of talent? I’m more inclined to believe it’s the last two,
but I have a feeling we’re going to find out next year. If Fisher
winds up in Baltimore, my conversion to the dark side will be
I’m into lists today. This one has no explanation. Its just filled
with players I feel are on their way back to fantasy prominence
in the second quarter of the fantasy season: Marc
Wayne; and Randy
I don’t think Mike MacGregor will be trading with me much next
year with Bernard
Berrian as the leading fantasy receiver though week five.
Seriously, it’s about time I got one that worked in my favor.
Here’s an excerpt from our Building
A Dynasty Blog this spring:
The one deal I did make this month was with Mike. I picked
up Bernard Berrian (once I knew he spelled it "Berriam," and
read his comments in his entry, I figured he wasn't too attached)
for my 12th pick in the 4th round. The Bears receiver was a
player I really liked when he was at Fresno State where he helped
make David Carr look like a future, 1st overall pick. In fact,
Mike was picking one spot ahead of me in that rookie draft and
nabbed Berrian at the end of the third round--just where I hoped
to acquire him. Granted, Berrian is nothing special right now,
but he's demonstrated a knack to get deep and I was impressed
with his play versus the Panthers in the playoffs. I know Mark
Bradley is the favorite receiver of the future, but the guy
is recovering from an ACL tear. I think Berrian gets a nice
opportunity in Chicago opposite Muhammad and for my squad, acquiring
Berrian was like having a 3rd round pick.
What can I say, it’s about the only victory me or the rest of
the league is going to have against Mike’s true dynasty, especially
Fitzgerald’s injury is serious. I can’t rely on 49ers cornerback
Walt Harris to give me 3-interception games on a weekly basis.