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

The Weekly Gut Check - Vol. 50
Looking for Inspiration from The Gumbo

The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information. This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.

Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic, he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider, or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast as you can!

This is the time of the year where desperation begins to set in for those footballers with squads teetering on the edge. Some will resort to more extreme methods to inspire positive results. Take for example, Fred Smoot and his Minnesota teammates. Their attempts to emulate the ancient lifestyle of their team’s namesake—a full-blown Viking fantasy complete with a fleet of boats and wenches in costume, sounding the battle horns—will either result in a winning streak, or time served. The Gut Check is skeptical this approach is going to improve Minnesota’s performance for the rest of the season. This week, Yours Truly weighs in on a few players that many owners attempt hope will help their team without going overboard to acquire, or for that matter, anywhere near a boat.

Spoiled or Spoils

Antowain Smith —A lot has been made of the Saints troubles, but The Gut Check still believes this team is the same as they have ever been—inconsistent for their perceived talent. The media over-reacts to their performances on a week-to-week basis every year. On a bad week, the Saints are the sorriest team you’ve ever seen, and on a good week they’re playing up to their enormous potential, and frequently mentioned as a dangerous sleeper. The truth is the Saints lost to a good Giants squad before anyone was ready to label New York a contender, a Minnesota squad that has talent but is in disarray, and Packer team that is off to its second straight 1-4 start.

In other words, don’t write off Antowain Smith—he is worth paying a bit extra on the waiver wire to acquire right now. The former Bill, Patriot, and Titan is a quality, NFL running back that will at least get your team points every week. Smith is a down hill runner that will fight for extra yards and is decent receiving option out of the backfield. His season totals for the past two years don’t look impressive, but what one really needs to examine is his game stats:

Smith: 2003-2004
Opp Team Year Week Att Rush Yd Rec Rec Yd Total Tds FPts
Mia Ten 2004 1 11 40 1 1 0 4.1
GB Ten 2004 5 9 28 0 0 1 8.8
Hou Ten 2004 6 4 16 1 5 0 2.1
Chi Ten 2004 10 2 4 1 12 0 1.6
Jac Ten 2004 11 24 95 3 14 1 17
Hou Ten 2004 12 21 90 2 11 0 10
Ind Ten 2004 13 5 12 4 31 0 4.3
Kan Ten 2004 14 10 31 2 38 0 6.9
Oak Ten 2004 15 16 45 4 38 0 8.3
Den Ten 2004 16 14 59 1 3 1 12
Det Ten 2004 17 21 89 3 16 1 17
Buf NE 2003 1 6 7 1 12 0 1.9
Phi NE 2003 2 12 25 2 2 0 2.7
NYJ NE 2003 3 13 55 0 0 0 5.5
Was NE 2003 4 14 56 1 16 0 7.2
Ten NE 2003 5 16 80 3 23 1 16
Cle NE 2003 8 3 9 0 0 0 0.9
Den NE 2003 9 17 55 2 26 0 8.1
Dal NE 2003 11 16 51 1 2 1 11
Hou NE 2003 12 8 10 0 0 0 1
Mia NE 2003 14 27 60 0 0 0 6
Jac NE 2003 15 17 39 2 9 1 11
NYJ NE 2003 16 18 121 2 2 0 12
Buf NE 2003 17 15 74 0 0 0 7.4

At first glance, Smith is nothing special, but the key is to look at Smith’s production when he got enough carries to be a significant part of the game plan versus an opponent. Here’s what Yours Truly discovered when Smith’s production is averaged by his amount of carries in a game:

 Consistent QBs: 2003-2004
Atts Yds TDs FPts
<10 12.3 0.1 3.1
16-Oct 51.6 0.3 8.2
>16 78.4 0.4 11.5

If Smith can average 11.5 fantasy points per game as the starter for the Saints for the rest of 2005, he’ll likely wind up as a top-25 RB. This means Smith will have to perform closer to the ceiling of his demonstrated potential for the next 11 games. The Gut Check believes Smith and Saints can achieve these types of numbers at least for a few weeks and help pilot your squad through bye weeks or minor injuries.

The Saints rank among the bottom third of the league in rushing offense, but a closer look at some of these stats show signs that this shouldn’t dissuade fantasy owners from acquiring the veteran runner. New Orleans ranks in the upper half of the NFL in both first downs and rushing attempts per game. As we have been told, Jim Haslett has attempted to emphasize the running game and limit the responsibilities of Aaron Brooks.

This game plan was designed for Deuce McAllister’s talents, but the Saints do face some teams in the coming weeks that are vulnerable to the run: Atlanta, St. Louis, and New England. The Falcons are allowing 4.6 yards per carry and now prized, free agent LB Edgerton Hartwell is out for the year. St. Louis is ranked in the upper third of the league against the run, but they also allow over 4 yards per carry and tend to play to the level of their opposition—a positive for those considering Smith for week 7. The Patriots without Harrison, Bruschi, Law, and Johnson are an ordinary unit despite good coaching. As a corollary to Bill Parcell’s statement about personnel, coaching, and performance, you can’t cook a good dinner with out good ingredients. Right now, New England’s defensive personnel is filled with players that either haven’t ripened yet or are on the verge of going stale.

So Smith is definitely a good, bye week option for those desperate for RB depth, but for the long-term he may cede time to another player worth considering but for not as steep of a price…

RB Jesse Chatman — As most already know, the Saints acquired Chatman from the Dolphins for an undisclosed draft pick Tuesday afternoon. The big question is how the Saints intend to use him. The Chargers originally acquired Chatman as an un-drafted free agent from Division-II, Eastern Washington and the 5-8, 215-lb. RB turned into a great find for the San Diego staff. Last year, Chatman routinely spelled Ladainian Tomlinson and had some big moments—including a 100-yard, second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So it was a surprise to the general fantasy football enthusiast that the Chargers cut Chatman this summer. According to the, “Chatman has struggled each year to maintain the weight requirements placed on him by the coaching staff and failed a physical with the team, prompting his release. According to Schottenheimer, the running back was also absent from much of the off-season activities at Chargers Park.”

When the Gut Check researched various player pages on the web, Chatman’s weight is listed as 245-lbs—a definite sign that the back did not have the discipline to meet Schottenheimer’s regimented, old-school style. The big question is whether Chatman learned something from his release and worked himself into shape while on the Dolphins’ depth chart. This is something we will find out in the coming days.

If Chatman is in shape, or can be effective at his current listed weight, then the Saints may have gotten a deal with positive, long-term implications. When at his best, Chatman is a powerful runner with excellent quickness and lateral movement. He’s shown enough speed in game situations to make a long run, and his performances were good enough to warrant the Chargers trust in him. It generally takes an RB less time to learn an offense than any skill position, so look for Chatman to see time down the stretch. At best, you save him and watch his value grow slightly after a decent outing and trade him—of course by that time your trade deadline may have passed. At worst, he’s an every-down insurance policy for the Saints behind Smith.

Chatman reminds The Gut Check of a smaller version of former Oiler/Charger/Giant RB Gary Brown, a back that also battled weight problems at points during his career but demonstrated starter skills when at his best. A combination of a fit, Chatman and a powerful Saints offensive line could be a good pairing. Yours Truly wouldn’t spend a lot on the back because who knows what the Saints organization—still trying to patch together their life and work blown apart by Katrina—actually knows about Chatman’s situation.
On the surface, the Saints trading for Chatman sounds like something promising for a desperate fantasy owner but only a small investment should be made in him in a re-draft league. He may be worth slightly more in dynasty leagues, because McAllister won’t be back to his old form for at least another year and a half. This is a big second-chance for Chatman. In most businesses, a company will be wary of a guy that sees a little success and then demonstrates a chronic inability to fulfill the most basic expectations of his job. A highly-paid employee may get more chances, but not an entry level employee—guess what un-drafted, free agent, traded for an undisclosed (likely low round pick with conditions) draft choice player like Chatman represents in the real world? Short leash, my friends…short leash.

Tyson Thompson — The Gut Check is going to keep it simple here. Grab him if you can, because when a young player garners that trademark, tepid praise from Bill Parcells it means he’s not only physically talented, but has the work ethic, toughness, and awareness on the field to make plays when he gets the chance. For an un-drafted rookie out of San Jose State, that’s promising. Although there’s no reason to compare the two players potential at this point, Parcells did label Curtis Martin “One Game Wonder,” early in his career.

On the other hand, you can compare Parcells’ take on Thompson and compare that with an Anthony Thomas that told the media last week he was very close to initiating a meeting with his coach about playing time, and you should have all that you need to know. Can someone teach these guys how to conduct their business? Who announces to the general public that they have a problem with their boss, before they talk to him? Not a player that wants to stay employed with his team? Which of course, could be the motivation here, too. Thompson’s style is much closer to that of Jones that Thomas’—so you do the math. Thompson’s production against Philly doesn’t hurt his chances either—he looked good both running it inside, outside, and catching the ball.