As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
Finding a player with a multi-touchdown
game in week 6 was like almost as easy as spotting a story on
Mark Foley or Terrell Owens on television—you almost can’t
avoid them these days. I entered this week with a team still in
the top 16% of 618 FFTOC entries and I should still be on my way
to making the final cut unless there were 100 owners that started
Tomlinson, Portis, Bulger, Branch, Holt, Steve Smith, and Shockey
in this week’s lineups—not likely. Of course, I had
to be the lucky S.O.B. to choose Rex Grossman as my starter…
||What a stunner! Leave it to a Florida
Gator to mess up this Georgia Bulldogís potentially
great lineup. A seriously ill-timed clunker.
||Two scores made all the difference between
respectability and mediocrity.
||No scores made all the difference between
mediocrity and respectability.
||I figured T.O. would take out his frustrations
on the Texans after his Cowboysí teammates and coaching
staff bore the brunt of it all week.
||I recommended Steve Smith to a caller
over Evans on Miamiís 790 the Ticket despite the easier
match up for Buffalo on paper. Too bad I started Smith
in FFTOC weeks ago.
||He had a sure score 2-3 times on fly
or post routes, but the Bearsí QB was off target tonight.
||The first catch was enough to make me
happy. The others were gravy.
||A two-game streak of not-so-good performances.
||And to think in the first half I thought
the Bears defense would disappoint!
||Like Rex Grossman, the Bears defense
saved my night, too.
Once again, this was a respectable total, but only because the Monsters
of the Midway came to my rescue. To think I could have done better
with at least a dozen other quarterbacks or receivers this week
is disappointing. It was one of those feast or famine weeks. Fortunately
I still had enough big games to make up for my three whiffs.
Marc Bulger Would Make A Return To The
Bulger was my preseason #2
fantasy QB overall, but as of week five the Rams’ quarterback
was a somewhat disappointing 13th in QB Crank Score. Last week
Bulger was the first player I mentioned on my list of players
that will regain their fantasy prominence in the second quarter
of the season. The St. Louis quarterback had a 360-yard, 3-touchdown
performance against a Seahawks defense that allowed only one huge
performance prior, a garbage-time effort from Eli Manning. While
the Seahawks weren’t a great pass defense, Bulger is still
a great downfield passer with excellent weapons.
It’s not like Scott Linehan abandons the passing game just
because he abandoned the Greatest Show on Turf philosophy. The
Rams’ coach coordinated excellent passing attacks in Miami
and Minnesota that hinged on a more balanced offensive game plan.
Although San Diego and Kansas City have tough fantasy points allowed
differentials versus quarterbacks (see
Rams QB vs. Remaining Schedule), these two opponents have
overrated passing defenses that faced lackluster opponents that
bolstered their stats. This is why the phrase “study the
numbers,” is a deceptive statement, because if you raise
your expectations for Bulger against these two teams, the remaining
schedule looks quite favorable for the Rams passing game.
Seriously, you should have known Bulger would begin to
produce. That goes for Chad Johnson, Randy McMichael, and many
of the others I mentioned last week as second quarter rebound
performers. As long as the player is healthy, the opportunities
to score points remain consistent, and the surrounding talent
is still there, don’t panic on established stars.
Travis Henry Could Stampede The Redskins
Yeah sure, Henry had a good week versus the Colts—a given
when you consider Indy is missing the middle of their defense
from 2005 which consisted of all-pro caliber players Corey Simon,
David Thornton, and Bob Sanders—but did anyone seriously
expect a 32-carry, 178-yard, 1-touchdown performance from the
former Bills back that fantasy owners have begun to relegate to
You know what I mean about the journeyman status. Antowain Smith,
Terry Allen, and Gary Brown were all backs that had promising
years with their first team but fell out of favor only to flash
weeks of productivity with different teams. Sometimes, those weeks
stretched into seasons. Travis Henry is poised to become this
player. Even if he churns out a 1000-yard season over the course
of the next 10 games, he’s likely seen as a short-term option
until Lendale White gets it together. Plus, I’m about to
relegate Henry to my grudge list of players because he might well
help the Titans win enough games they should be losing and ruin
their chance of acquiring Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson in
the 2007 draft. Thanks Travis, I guess the Bills fans are finally
getting their revenge for the Music City Miracle. Then again,
maybe they’ll win enough games that Fisher will remain the
head coach—doubt it, but a man can hope, can’t he?
Anyway this section is just as much about the Redskins defense
as it is my bittersweet feelings as a Titans’ fan regarding
Henry’s performance. I’ll formulate an argument as
to why Washington was prone to the Titans new ground attack, but
the fact this topic is placed under the “Could’ve
File” should tell you all you need to know. When you examine
the Redskins’ fantasy
points allowed stats vs. RB you’ll see that the only
games where the defense shut down a teams’ ground attack
were the Texans and Jaguars contests. These games had something
in common: The Washington offense amassed over 30 points—both
teams were forced to throw the football. Although the Vikings
only managed 126 yards on the ground, the game was close enough
that Minnesota could pound out 41 carries and wear down the ‘Skins’
defense in the 4th quarter. But the argument is fools gold because
few could have imagined Washington wouldn’t blow out Tennessee
in the first half and force the Titans to take to air for the
entire second half.
Resisted The Urge To Start Michael Turner
I didn’t start Turner, although I do have him in a league
where he made an enticing option versus San Francisco’s
porous defense. But I saw quite a few media outlets touting Turner
as a viable #2 fantasy runner heading into Sunday. Admittedly
it was tempting, because anyone that owns Ladainian Tomlinson
understands how much of a wet blanket the Northern Illinois alumnus
has become for fantasy owners in the second halves of Charger
games. When thought of this game, you probably didn’t have
to know that the Niners had a nearly 33%
fantasy points allowed vs. RB differential to have thoughts
of Turner ripping off two long touchdown runs in the 4th quarter.
So why did I resist the urge? Michael Turner is not a starting
running back. It’s that simple. If Earl Campbell in his
battering ram prime or Barry Sanders with his castors for ankles
were the #2 RB to LT I still wouldn’t start either resident
of that Hall in Canton, Ohio. Unless you were missing a starting
back due to this crazy bye week, you are not off the hook if you
picked the Burner. I know, I know, Turner burns you all the time
when he outscores your #2 RB and prevents LT from monster contests.
Well, he burned you again. Just think of Turner as your friendly
neighborhood fantasy lineup arsonist. Unless Tomlinson is officially
on the bench or remains in the training room, don’t play
with fire. Note to JocStrap (No, I don’t correspond
to athletic equipment—I haven’t gone that insane—this
is a guy’s screen name on our forums): I just saw your post…you
and me were thinking the same thing this morning.
Week 6’s Grudge List
Unfortunately, I do have an update to my list of players with
whom I’m biased against them for inexplicable reasons.
Willie Parker—Like my
inaugural addition of Brad Johnson last week, Parker is a guy
I should like: An un-drafted free agent sitting behind players
on North Carolina’s depth chart that didn’t even get
a sniff at the NFL not only becomes Pittsburgh’s starter,
but scores a huge touchdown in the Super Bowl. That’s the
problem—Parker plays for Pittsburgh and he’s a Super
Bowl champion. The metamorphosis from underdog to front-runner
was way too quick for me to feel anything.
To me, Fast Willie’s like those people you’ve seen
in the news that win an ungodly sum of dough with a Power Ball
ticket and then tell everyone they’re going to continue
their job as the men’s room urinal mint replacement guy
at the airport. You want to like the guy, but…Willie Parker
is a runner I want to like…I should like him, but…I’m
already thinking I want to like Najeh Davenport more. Now that’s
Off The List
something you should know about me. Whenever I start using the
words “never” or “always” to precede a
sentence, the Universe likes to humble me. I try to avoid these
words at all costs, but I got suckered into saying I would never
feel a connection with Matt Leinart as a fan. Its just minutes
after the Monday night game and I have to retract that statement.
Leinart won me over with his leadership, poise, ability to see
the field, and his accuracy. While the Cardinals new starter does
not possess the arm strength to deliver ball on intermediate and
deep routes without setting his feet, Drew Brees and Tom Brady
seem to do just fine in this area. I still like Jay Cutler’s
potential more than Leinart’s because he has the Favre/McNabb
ability to chuck it deep while moving backwards or in awkward
settings but as I always noted, this is like discussing the merits
of a future Favre (Cutler) or Brady (Leinart)—no coach would
refuse either player in their prime.
I was completely wrong about what he projects from a leadership
standpoint. While I’m still more enamored with Gradkowski’s
play due to his underdog status, Leinart showed signs of being
a mentally tough player. The rookie did more than enough for Arizona
to win this game. Although they lost, I’m convinced Leinart
is ready to be a decent fantasy player for your roster immediately.
Nagging FeelingsóWeek 6
had another nice game. I keep telling you guys not to give up
on him. Check out his remaining
schedule, because I think heís going to overtake some of these
surprise top-15 RBs from the first quarter of the season. Jonesí
fantasy stretch run and playoff schedule looks rough, but the
schedule is deceivingófor instance, Miamiís
RB fantasy points allowed stats are worse than they look because
they faced some pretty mediocre running teams outside of the Patriots.
And in that contest with New England, Heath Evans was the leading
point-getter. Speaking of New England, their competition hasnít
been all that impressive, either. Now Atlanta, Detroitís next
opponent, might be a wee ticked off after Tiki Barber ruined their
reputation against the run. But after the Falcons, Jones has quite
a nice 3-4 game run. Take advantage.
I picked up Michael
Clayton two weeks ago when Bruce Gradkowski got the job, because
the 3rd year receiver out of LSU has a game that suits the short
to intermediate accuracy of the Toledo quarterback. Although Clayton
didnít tear up fantasy leagues against Cincy this weekend, he
was targeted in the clutch. One thing I also noticed was that
as much as Gradkowski threw the ball deep to Galloway, he was
really off the mark. His deep accuracy should improve, but he
will go underneath to Clayton far more than Chris Simms. Iíd recommended
picking up this forgotten man if heís still a free agent in your
Lo and behold a Joe
Horn sighting in The Superdome! Did we really think 7th round
pick, Marques Colston was going to be the best wide receiver for
the entire season? While Iím hoping heís good enough to continue
to play like a fantasy #3 or #4, Iím inclined to believe Joe Horn
is just getting warmed up and will find a way to get close to
the 1000-yard mark by seasonís end.
Desperate for a receiver due to the bye weeks ahead and waiver
wire is picked clean? Try rookie Derek Hagan. The former Arizona
State Sun Devil is a good route runner and was actually targeted
12 times this weekend. In fact, I wouldnít be surprised
if Hagan plays himself into a more significant role by seasonís
end. The Green Bay match up is a good opportunity for him to surprise
if you are short on receivers in week 7. Here was my take on Hagan
this summer in our Rookie Impact
Series on receivers.
Derek Hagan, Dolphins:
Hagan began the year as one of the best prospects of the class,
but his post-season workouts in the Senior Bowl and combine were
disappointing. The problem was Hagan didnít display great
hands. He fought the ball or had costly drops on easy throws.
With this in mind, keep an eye on Santonio Holmes. Pittsburgh is
making the effort to get him involved with the offense. He could
be a nice pick up down the stretch especially if makes good on his
opportunities. Two catches on three targets for 58 yards against
Kansas City wasnít a bad start.
This wasnít the Hagan I saw at Arizona State University.
The player I saw caught 40-yard bombs over his shoulder with a
player wrapped around his waist 2-yards prior to the ball arriving.
The player Iím talking about displayed leaping ability and
concentration that reminded me a bit of Herman Moore but with
Former Lions starter, Gary Danielson compared Haganís game to
Rod Smith because Hagan has a knack for getting open. As much
as I like Haganís game, I believe it will take Hagan more work
to generate similar comparisons as a pro.
Still, I think Hagan is an absolute bargain in dynasty leagues.
Miami is looking for a player to beat out Marty Booker and I believe
Hagan will achieve that objective sometime in 2007. While Hagan
isnít a burner, heís very athletic and has more speed than people
expected from him. The Dolphins rookie should develop into a terrific
complement to Chambers. If Nate Burleson can have a 1000-yard
season in his sophomore year with Culpepper, I believe Hagan can
come close, if not exceed those totals at the same point in his
career in Miami.