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

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      


Staff Writer
Email Doug

Doug's Articles

Preseason Schedule Analysis
2009 Year In Review – AFC & NFC West

It’s never easy for a person to admit their mistakes. It’s even harder to do so in front of a national audience. But admitting – and learning from – one’s mistakes is a vital part to growing and becoming a better person and, for the purposes of this four-part series of articles, a better fantasy prognosticator.

There are many fantasy “experts” that would not dare do what I am about to do, which is look back at their projections from late August or early September of last season and revisit their triumphs as well as their regrets. (And yes, I was as shockingly off on some of my projections just about as often as I was right on the mark.) But I believe this is a useful exercise for all parties involved and perhaps will give even more credence to my belief in the PSAs. At the very lWest, it should allow each of us to see just how much faith I should have in my ability to “predict the schedule” and how much trust I deserve from each of you when I do so.

After much debate on how I should go about deciding whether or not I projected a player accurately, I finally settled on the system that I explain over the next few paragraphs. It didn’t make much sense to stack up my 15-game forecasts against the player’s actual 16-game numbers and with the number of teams that have essentially taken Week 17 off recently (if not most of December), it seemed prudent to measure each player on their points-per-game average. The next step was deciding how to measure accuracy. Again, a simple hit-miss system was too rigid, so I added two more categories to analyze the accuracy of my projections.

Hit: my projection was within +/- 1 FPPG (fantasy point per game)
On-Target: my projection was within +/- 1.1 and 3 FPPG
Off-Target: my projection was within +/- 3.1 and 5 FPPG
Miss: my projection missed by more than 5 FPPG

Before we dive into the heart of this walk down memory lane, I want to explain two more areas I decided to address: 1) the percentage listed next to the “hit”, “on-target”. “off-target” and “miss” and 2) the names listed after the percentage. The percentage is simply a reflection of how much each of those four standards fit into the accuracy “pie” while the names reflect the players who actually fell into that category. (For example, Denver ended up with seven greens out of a possible 18 – nine PPR and nine non-PPR projections – so I ended up “hitting” on 39% of my projections for the Broncos.) Finally, I will hand myself a grade at the end of each “team report”, with weight on that grade being given to the quality of player. For example, a miss on a player like Antonio Gates would send my grade down much more than a miss on Donnie Avery. Conversely, a hit on Gates would skyrocket my grade much more than a hit on Avery.

Explanations of column headers below:

PPR Margin – The difference (plus or minus) between a player’s actual FPPG and the FPPG I projected for him prior to the start of the 2009 season in PPR leagues.

NPPR Margin – The difference (plus or minus) between a player’s actual FPPG and the FPPG I projected for him prior to the start of the 2009 season in non-PPR leagues.

Actual PPR – The amount of FPPG a player scored during the 2009 season in PPR leagues.

Actual NPPR – The amount of FPPG a player scored during the 2009 season in non-PPR leagues.

PPR Avg – The FPPG average I projected for the player prior to the start of the 2009 season in PPR leagues.

NPPR Avg – The FPPG average I projected for the player prior to the start of the 2009 season in non-PPR leagues.

 Color Codes

AFC West

 Denver Broncos
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Kyle Orton 1 1 16.1 16.1 15.1 15.1
RB Knowshon Moreno -0.8 0.3 11.9 10.6 12.7 10.3
RB Peyton Hillis -5.5 -4.4 1.1 1 6.6 5.4
RB Correll Buckhalter 4.5 3.2 8.7 6.7 4.2 3.5
WR Brandon Marshall 6.6 4 18.5 11.5 11.9 7.5
WR Eddie Royal -10.4 -7.2 5.1 2.5 15.5 9.7
WR Brandon Stokley -0.1 0.6 4.7 3.5 4.8 2.9
WR Jabar Gaffney 4.8 3.1 8.7 5.3 3.9 2.2
TE Tony Scheffler -2.3 -1.3 5.6 3.6 7.9 4.9

Hits – (39%) Orton, Moreno, Stokley, Scheffler (non-PPR). Orton could very well go down as this generation’s Chad Pennington (which, of course, assumes that Pennington’s generation has come to an end). Orton, like Pennington, does not get the credit he deserves simply because his team wins in a less-than-flashy manner. So when much of the fantasy community was praising Chicago for stealing Jay Cutler from Denver, some of us knew Denver wouldn’t be that bad off with Orton. Look for all that to start changing this season as Orton will be asked to throw 154 passes in the direction of some WR other than Marshall this season. Moreno, much like Pierre Thomas, was a divisive fantasy player last season. Was he the feature back or was he going to cede carries at the goal line to the likes of Hillis or LaMont Jordan? As it turned out, Buckhalter turned out to be the biggest drain to his fantasy value along with the fact that Denver was attempting to run a power-based running scheme with a multitude of linemen who were holdovers from Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking system.

On-Target – (6%) Scheffler (PPR). Until the day comes where Denver uses a first-round pick or huge free agent contract on a known receiving TE, it may be a good idea to avoid that position in fantasy. Despite praising Scheffler as the best receiving TE he has coached, HC Josh McDaniels did little to accentuate that potential mismatch on a weekly basis. While his final numbers weren’t far off his 2008 pace, Scheffler accumulated more than 25% of his total points in PPR in one game last season (Week 6 vs. the Chargers). Otherwise, Scheffler was almost a waste of a roster spot in fantasy for the rest of the season.

Off-Target – (33%) Buckhalter, Gaffney, Hillis and Marshall (both non-PPR). Buckhalter refuses to go away. The 31-year-old, who has overcome multiple knee surgeries throughout his career, was incredibly productive in his role as Moreno’s complement, averaging 5.8 yards/touch, including 5.4 YPC on 120 rushes in 2009. Much like Buckhalter, Gaffney was sneaky productive as Denver’s WR3, hauling in 54 balls for a career-high 732 yards. Hillis was a virtual non-factor in 2009 after garnering some goal-line and short-yardage consideration late in the preseason.

Misses – (22%) Royal, Hillis and Marshall (both PPR). Royal’s season was an absolute nightmare for fantasy owners. Even six months after the regular season ended, it still seems mind-boggling how a WR can go from 91 catches to 37, particularly on a team that didn’t add a significant player at his position who could eat away at his production last offseason. Of all the 100-catch seasons ever recorded in the NFL, Marshall’s 100-catch season in 2009 had to be among the most unlikely. When he wasn’t recovering from hip surgery, he was feuding with McDaniels. After the two parties appeared to have mended their fences, Marshall was effectively benched in Week 17. In short, the lessons that can be learned here are: 1) a standout rookie season is no assurance that a stellar Year Two is forthcoming (Royal) and 2) a new coach is capable of just about anything, be it turning the offense inside out or focusing on players that he has a rocky relationship with, regardless of how long he has been in charge (Marshall).

Grade: C This team review was definitely the best of times and the worst of times. On one hand, I missed badly on the Broncos’ WRs. On the other hand, I’m thrilled that I nailed the projection on the QB and hot-shot rookie RB. Granted, forecasting Denver last season with a rookie head coach wasn’t the easiest thing, but I’m not allowed the luxury of making excuses. In the end, a plethora of “off-targets” (as opposed to “on-targets”) drives this grade down.

Kansas City Chiefs
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Matt Cassel -2.4 -2.4 13 13 15.4 15.4
RB Larry Johnson -2.3 -4.4 7.6 4.6 9.9 9
RB Jamaal Charles 6.5 7 14.9 12.6 8.4 5.6
WR Dwayne Bowe -4.6 -2.4 11.8 7.5 16.4 9.9
WR Mark Bradley -5 -3 5.4 3.4 10.4 6.4
WR Bobby Engram -4.5 -2.7 2.2 1.2 6.7 3.9
TE Brad Cottam -2.4 -1.6 2.6 1.5 5 3.1

Hits – (0%)

On-Target – (57%) Cassel, Cottam, Johnson (PPR), Bowe, Bradley and Engram (the last three in non-PPR). Cassel was a popular pick as the top QB2 in fantasy last summer. I’m sure some of the lofty projections had to do with his stint as the Pats’ starting QB, but some of it also had to do with the fact that he showed he could run a bit in New England, something many thought he would need to do often behind the Chiefs’ below-average pass-blocking offensive line. He attempted fewer passes, was less efficient, threw for fewer scores and more INTs (all of which were expected), but he surprisingly gave his owners very little as a rusher. While some of that can be blamed on Bowe’s four-game suspension, much of it had to do with a lack of weapons on offense, Cassel holding onto the ball too long and the offensive line.

Off-Target – (29%) Bowe, Bradley and Engram (all in PPR), Johnson (non-PPR). When all is right in Bowe’s off-field world, he can be a joy to own in fantasy. In three seasons with the Chiefs, Bowe has posted just 11 single-digit games in PPR leagues, which is quite the achievement when one considers the lack of surrounding talent he has endured, especially at QB. Johnson’s final season in KC was abysmal – plain and simple. LJ showed he had a bit left after he joined the Bengals, but he’s strictly a pounder now that needs the kind of line he enjoyed in his glory days in Kansas City to be effective.

Misses – (14%) Charles. If I have learned anything from this exercise (and I have), it is to make sure I release a Big Board right before the start of the season. Granted, I wasn’t going to nail Charles’ 2009 value last season regardless, but in my final preseason column last season, I predicted Charles would meet or exceed LJ’s value in PPR. All this is to say that I let my judgment of a team (the Chiefs) alter my perception of a player (Charles) who is one of the few players who does not require optimal blocking or a semi-complete supporting cast to make a splash on any given play.

Grade: D While a high on-target rate is good, the fact I recorded no “hits” means I will not be patting myself on the back here. The most important Chiefs – Bowe and Charles – were among my worst projections, making this grade one of my worst in this four-week review.

Oakland Raiders
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB JaMarcus Russell -8.4 -8.4 3.3 3.3 11.7 11.7
RB Darren McFadden -8 -7.1 6.8 5.5 14.8 12.6
RB Michael Bush -1.3 -1.1 6.3 5.5 7.6 6.6
RB Justin Fargas 4.3 3.2 8 6.5 3.7 3.3
WR Chaz Schilens 4.4 2.5 9.7 6.1 5.3 3.6
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins -2.6 -1.4 3 1.8 5.6 3.2
WR Louis Murphy 0.2 0.6 7.1 4.8 6.9 4.2
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 0.2 -0.1 2.7 1.7 2.5 1.8
TE Zach Miller 0.7 0.5 10.9 6.7 10.2 6.2

Hits – (33%) Murphy, Heyward-Bey, Miller. I’m really not sure how excited I should get about pegging three players off such a dreadful offense, but I’ll settle for being proud about being pretty accurate with Murphy and Miller since most of the world knew DHB was going to have a rough rookie season. The word started coming out of camp early on last preseason was that Murphy was the best WR on the team and when he was given half a chance to succeed with Oakland’s QB play, he usually accounted quite nicely for himself. Miller has to be thrilled he is getting a respectable QB in town this season, but we’ll save that for another article. Despite having to deal with Russell since the pair went 1-2 in the Raiders’ 2007 draft class, Miller has continued to drive his catch and yardage numbers up each season. The fact he has been usable in fantasy is a credit to his talent, something we may get to see realized in 2010.

On-Target – (22.3%) Higgins, Bush. It’s hard to understand how a Raiders’ RB that can post averages of 4.5 and 4.8 YPC in successive seasons to open his pro career could so often be his team’s third option in the running game. Fortunately, Oakland appeared to open its eyes to Bush as a lead committee RB option late last season. Amazingly, in the three games he’s carried the ball at least 16 times in a single game, he has no fewer than 90 rushing yards and two 100-yard rushing games to his credit in those contests. (He actually registered another 100-yard game in 2009 vs. the Chiefs on just 14 carries.)

Off-Target – (22.3%) Fargas, Schilens. Schilens probably would serve as a decent WR2 or talented WR3 on most teams, but in Oakland, he is probably the WR1 when he is healthy (although Murphy can make a strong case). Nevertheless, Schilens’ nine-week absence to open the season probably was just another nail in the coffin for Russell’s Raider career as he one of the few players the team had that was capable of tracking down some of his QB’s overthrows.

Misses – (22.3%) Russell, McFadden. I had no expectations for Russell last season as he was rated as the worst fantasy QB in my rankings. You know what? Somehow, Russell still disappointed. The mere fact a starting NFL QB could turn the ball over nearly six times (11 INTs, six fumbles lost) as often as he accounts for a TD (three combined rushing and passing scores) is so unbelievable that it requires a double take. McFadden still has yet to be used in the proper fashion. Think about it – it was McFadden who made the “Wildcat” fashionable in the college game before ex-Razorback assistant (and current Dolphins QB coach) David Lee brought the attack to Miami. In two seasons as a Raider, McFadden has yet to throw a pass and has rarely operated out of the “Wildcat”. In a proficient offense, this oversight would be excusable, but these are the Raiders we are talking about – a team that hasn’t finished in the top half of the league in offense (points or yards) since 2002. As good as Ronnie Brown has been out of the “Wildcat” since the Dolphins started using it, imagine how difficult a player with McFadden’s skill set would be to defend in that offense, given the fact he is a big-play threat and is no stranger to throwing the ball.

Grade: B Since McFadden was more highly regarded than Miller in fantasy drafts last summer, I’m somewhat obligated to lower my grade. However, being on the mark with Murphy and DHB should be enough to overcome any difference between McFadden and Miller. No one in their right mind was counting on Russell to begin with, so this grade comes down to Bush and Higgins being better fantasy players than Schilens.

San Diego Chargers
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Philip Rivers 0.5 0.5 20.3 20.3 19.8 19.8
RB LaDainian Tomlinson -6.2 -4.2 12.6 11.5 18.8 15.7
RB Darren Sproles 1.9 1.4 10.6 7.9 8.7 6.5
WR Vincent Jackson 2.4 1.8 16 11.4 13.6 9.6
WR Chris Chambers -2.4 -1.4 9.3 6.4 11.7 7.8
WR Malcom Floyd 3.5 1.9 8 5.2 4.5 3.3
TE Antonio Gates 0.7 0.7 15.2 10.2 14.5 9.5

Hits – (29%) Rivers, Gates. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Rivers wasn’t gong to match his 34-TD pass campaign of 2008 last season. But what Rivers did last year was every bit as impressive, if not more so. With one of the league’s worst rushing attacks, the six-year veteran carried the offense in every sense of the word with the help of Jackson and Gates. Amazingly, despite the woeful running game, Rivers lowered his INT total to nine and missed matching his completion percentage of 2008 by less than a tenth of a point. Even after seven seasons in which he has battled injuries – especially in recent years – Gates keeps solidifying his place at the top of the fantasy TE board. In 2009, most of Gates’ career averages held pretty true to form except receiving yards and yards per catch, which skyrocketed to 1,157 yards and 14.6 YPC, numbers that are usually reserved for WRs that are elite deep threats, not TEs.

On-Target – (50%) Sproles, Jackson, Chambers, Floyd (non-PPR). It’s hard to not be entertained whenever Sproles touches the ball. However, I would not have imagined that he could log 218 touches (rushes, receptions and returns) in a single season, particularly in one where Tomlinson was still on the team. Nevertheless, I’m happy to say I was pretty close on his overall value, even if he wasn’t quite as efficient as he was in 2008, mostly due to the Chargers’ run-blocking woes. If you (the knowledgeable fantasy reader that you are) come across a prediction for Jackson this summer that has him averaging less than 15 YPC, move on. Jackson has yet to average less than 15 YPC in any of his five NFL seasons, with 18.6 and 17.2 being his averages over the past two years. Not only is San Diego a deep-passing offense, Jackson is nearly impossible to guard and Rivers will throw his way regardless.

Off-Target – (14%) Floyd (PPR), Tomlinson (non-PPR). Floyd really never took the bull by the horns after the release of Chambers, but his nine-catch, 140-yard showing in Week 17 showed that is capable of a huge game. For the time being, though, Floyd is no better than the No. 3 option in just about every passing play with Jackson and Gates being among the best at their positions.

Misses – (7%) Tomlinson (PPR). I didn’t doubt for a second that LT was on his way down, but what I did not foresee was that a loyal coach like Norv Turner cutting Tomlinson’s usage in the passing game so much that the RB would finish with 31 fewer catches than his previous season low. Furthermore, the offensive line injuries did him no favors either. (Anyone who believes that LT’s disappointing 2009 was all his fault, in my opinion, is sadly mistaken. For those who doubt me, explain to me why an explosive RB like Sproles could muster only a 3.7 YPC, 0.4 YPC better than LT.) Nevertheless, Tomlinson rarely was able to find a hole in the defense and when he did, he ran as if he was surprised to see it.

Grade: B+ Tomlinson was a pretty big miss, even if I feel his demise wasn’t entirely his fault. That alone knocks me out of any kind of “A” grade. Nevertheless, I feel like I cleaned up pretty nicely on the rest of the Chargers’ fantasy players, so I feel justified in handing myself a pretty nice grade.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Kurt Warner 0.7 0.7 18.2 18.2 17.5 17.5
QB Matt Leinart -0.7 -0.7 1.4 1.4 2.1 2.1
RB Chris Wells -1.6 -0.9 9 8.5 10.6 9.4
RB Tim Hightower 3.1 1.4 12.9 9.4 9.8 8
WR Anquan Boldin -3 -2.4 14.3 8.9 17.3 11.3
WR Larry Fitzgerald -1.6 -1.3 17.8 11.7 19.4 13
WR Steve Breaston -1.8 -1.2 9.8 5.9 11.6 7.1
WR Jerheme Urban -1.7 -1.3 3.7 1.9 5.4 3.2

Hits – (31%) Warner, Leinart, Wells (non-PPR). It has been obvious for some time that HC Ken Whisenhunt has wanted to turn the Cardinals into a more balanced offense. With that said, it’s quite difficult to make that happen when a team employs an accurate QB throwing to two of the NFL’s top 15-20 WRs and a spectacular slot WR in Breaston. Still, Warner’s inability (or unwillingness) to throw downfield last season – along with the selection of Wells in the draft – presented Whisenhunt with the ideal time to make his offense a more traditional one. It didn’t require a great leap of faith to assume last August that Warner would see a slight decline of value in fantasy while someone like Wells would be given every chance to live up to his hype.

On-Target – (63%) Boldin, Fitzgerald, Breaston, Urban, Wells (PPR), Hightower (non-PPR). Not really much to explain here. Fitzgerald has become so consistent at being freakishly productive that his 97-1092-13 line from a season ago almost seems like a small letdown considering that he had delivered at least 1,400 yards and better overall fantasy numbers in three of the previous four seasons. Boldin’s toughness – which may be his biggest strength and weakness – is what helped him achieve so much so early in his career but also probably led to the Cardinals to start counting more and more on Fitzgerald over the years when he could stay healthy while Boldin could not. While Boldin did turn it on more in the second half of 2009, his owners likely were counting on more than the five TDs he scored in 2009.

Off-Target – (6%) Hightower (PPR). While Wells did flash an ability to catch the ball from time to time, Hightower seems to be Whisenhunt’s preferred option in that role on a regular basis. Despite fumbling only one more time than Wells (five to four) despite 18 more touches, Hightower seemed to lose the ball at the most inopportune times, leading to even more reliance on Wells as the season progressed. Nevertheless, Hightower will probably remain in his pass-catching and goal-line roles for the foreseeable future, at least until Wells makes it painfully obvious he is the best all-around option.

Misses – (0%)

Grade: A When the biggest margin of error – a yellow – comes on the third-down and goal-line RB, you know you had a good day forecasting. Boldin’s ankle injuries drove his numbers down somewhat or else I could have really enjoyed a field day. In the end, I pretty much forecasted just about every Cardinals player accurately, which is what I should be able to do every so often. Since I refuse to hand out a perfect “A+”, I’ll settle for the next best thing.

St. Louis Rams
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Marc Bulger -3.8 -3.8 8.6 8.6 12.4 12.4
RB Steven Jackson -3.4 -2.3 16.3 13.2 19.7 15.5
WR Donnie Avery -3.2 -2.2 8.4 5.6 11.6 7.8
WR Laurent Robinson 7.2 4.4 11.9 7.6 4.7 3.2
WR Keenan Burton -1.4 -1.5 5.6 2.8 7 4.3
TE Randy McMichael -3 -2.1 4.6 2.5 7.6 4.6

Hits – (0%)

On-Target – (50%) Burton, McMichael, Jackson and Avery (both non-PPR). We’ll get to Jackson in a second…for now, I’ll focus in on the one player many thought would fill in Torry Holt’s shoes last season. Instead, the speedster from the University of Houston failed to live up to his rookie success, although he rarely received much help from his QB. I would be remiss if I did not mention the change in offensive philosophy as well, as the team moved from Scott Linehan’s power-running, deep-ball offense into a more traditional West Coast attack. There is certainly room for a player of his talents in a West Coast offense, but Avery will need to stay healthier and work much harder on his route-running in order to take advantage of his speed and after-the-catch prowess.

Off-Target – (42%) Bulger, Jackson and Avery (both PPR) and Robinson (non-PPR). On a team so devoid of offensive skill-position talent last season, it would have taken something the likes of a season-ending injury for me to believe Jackson would manage only 50 catches in 16 games in 2009. I projected him for 63 catches for 500 yards through 15 games, so most of my misfire on him had to do with that over-projection, along with the fact that Jackson needed eight weeks to score his first TD. He settled for four scores on the season, well short of the 10 I forecasted for him. For the first time in years, I had low expectations for Bulger going into the season. Unfortunately, for the purposes of this review, I was still too high on his prospects. It remains to be seen if some team eventually scoops him up, but it’s more than likely he’s got the David Carr syndrome, meaning his internal clock in the pocket is set about five-tenths of a second too fast. After years of punishment in Mike Martz’s system and/or poor offensive lines, Bulger is highly prone to wild overthrows or forced attempts to avoid another big hit.

Misses – (8%) Robinson (PPR). Robinson was probably the one bright spot early on for the Rams’ offense. While the offense was managing a total of seven points in its first two games, Robinson was still able to manage solid fantasy WR2 numbers; unfortunately, his season would come to an end one week later. In all honesty, Robinson is probably capable of becoming a real-life, low-end WR1 someday if he can ever stay healthy long enough to put together a full season or two. Of course, that has yet to occur after three seasons.

Grade: B- This grade comes down solely to my performance on forecasting Jackson because, quite simply, no other Ram player really mattered in fantasy in 2009. Because I posted a yellow and a blue on Jackson, my grade probably should reflect that as well.

San Francisco 49ers
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Shaun Hill -1.7 -1.7 11.5 11.5 13.2 13.2
RB Frank Gore 1.1 1.3 19.9 16.5 18.8 15.2
RB Glen Coffee -0.7 -1 3.4 2.6 4.1 3.6
WR Josh Morgan -2.4 -2.1 8.1 4.4 10.5 6.5
WR Isaac Bruce -4.3 -3 4.7 2.6 9 5.6
WR Michael Crabtree 4.9 3.1 11 6.8 6.1 3.7
WR Arnaz Battle -1.8 -0.8 0.3 0.3 2.1 1.1
TE Vernon Davis 5.4 4.7 15.8 10.9 10.4 6.2

Hits – (19%) Coffee, Battle (non-PPR). Coffee, last preseason’s star, pretty much generated a thud in fantasy leagues last fall, mustering one score and a 2.8 YPC. His final numbers were somewhat predictable (83 rushes and 11 catches) but his lack of production was a bit surprising given his college career and showing in August 2009.

On-Target – (44%) Hill, Gore, Morgan, Battle (PPR). Lost in the wash of Gore’s two missed games and the degree to which San Francisco became a passing team is the fact that Gore still finished the season as the fifth-highest ranked RB in PPR leagues (total points and FPPG). Consider for a second that Gore finished two-tenths of a point-per-game behind Adrian Peterson despite “All Day” logging 77 more touches and five more TDs than Gore. The Niners’ offensive centerpiece deserves a fair amount of skepticism every year because he has only put together one complete 16-game season so far in his career, but he is without a doubt a player who has been undervalued most of his career because of his injury history and lack of an eye-popping TD season, although last season’s 13 combined scores is getting close. As for Morgan, I was pleased to discover my projection of him landed in the on-target zone because I really did not believe Crabtree had much chance to contribute near as much as he did. Once Crabtree established himself as a threat, Morgan became even more boom-or-bust than he was prior to the rookie’s signing.

Off-Target – (31%) Bruce, Crabtree, Davis (non-PPR). This was a no-win situation last year for any forecaster. We knew Bruce was trying to squeeze one more year out of his body while it was becoming clear in late August that Crabtree wasn’t going to sign soon enough to have an impact in the first half of the season, if at all. What transpired was rather remarkable: with roughly two weeks to prepare following a holdout that lasted into early October, Crabtree wasted little time acting like a respectable NFL WR. Amazingly, Crabtree went straight from 2009 fantasy afterthought to a usable WR3 in 12-team fantasy leagues. Bruce, who was probably on as many fantasy waiver wires as he was on fantasy rosters before Crabtree signed, became virtually useless after the rookie joined the lineup.

Misses – (6%) Davis (PPR). I know for a fact I was higher on Davis than most of the fantasy community because I identified him as my last TE1 candidate in the SOFA Auction League I participated in last year. What I did not know (or expect) was just how much OC Jimmy Raye was going to benefit Davis. In his first season under Raye, Davis made my 15-game projection of 62-695-4 look pathetic after going for 78-965-13.

Omissions – Alex Smith. Much like the Bruce-Crabtree situation above, it was going to be difficult to forecast how the QB drama was going to play out. It looked even more improbable after a near 4-0 start by Hill that Smith would not only be starting by midseason, but change how the offense would attack.

Grade: C+ Gore was a near-hit, so while I did not get a green for my efforts with him, I will factor it heavily into the grade. Davis was an unfortunate off-target and/or miss simply because I felt strongly about his opportunity to shine prior to 2009, but could not rightfully expect that: 1) a Mike Singletary-coached team would be so pass-happy, 2) his QBs would trust him so much early on that they would force the ball to him near the end zone and 3) defenses would not adjust to him and make Morgan and Crabtree beat them on a more regular basis. Crabtree was an unfortunate off-target as well even though the most optimistic forecaster would not have predicted a 48-catch season in 16 games after a long holdout, let alone that kind of production in 11 games. Still, I’m forced to give myself an average grade.

Seattle Seahawks
Pos Player PPR Margin NPPR Margin Actual PPR Actual NPPR PPR Avg NPPR Avg
QB Matt Hasselbeck -1.6 -1.6 13.9 13.9 15.5 15.5
RB Julius Jones 1.1 0 10.6 8.1 9.5 8.1
RB Edgerrin James -4.4 -4.4 2.5 2.1 6.9 6.5
RB Justin Forsett 4.5 4.2 10.4 7.9 5.9 3.7
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh -3.8 -3 11.6 6.8 15.4 9.8
WR Deion Branch 2.2 1 7.1 4 4.9 3
WR Nate Burleson 4 2.4 12.2 7.6 8.2 5.2
WR Deon Butler -3.4 -2.1 2 1.1 5.4 3.2
TE John Carlson -2.4 -1.4 9.4 6.2 11.8 7.6

Hits – (11%) Jones and Branch (both non-PPR). Through the first three weeks of the 2009 season, Jones was well on his way to making me look pretty bad. However, a keen eye could discern that his fantasy production was being helped by two receiving scores in three games – an unsustainable total for a RB in a league where most running backs are lucky to score two receiving TDs in a single season. Furthermore, the Seahawks’ offensive line was falling apart at the seams. From Week 4 on, Jones managed only one more touchdown the rest of the season. It got so bad, in fact, Jones managed to score more than nine fantasy points in non-PPR leagues just once more all season.

On-Target – (50%) Hasselbeck, Carlson, Jones and Branch (PPR), Houshmandzadeh, Burleson and Butler (the last three in non-PPR). Injuries derailed another season for Hasselbeck, which is to be expected for a QB playing behind an offensive line that was on par with the Redskins’ front five last season. Part of the reason for my accuracy on him was pretty much understanding he would get injured at some point because of his line. However, those same line woes cost me a potential hit on Carlson, who was asked to stay in and block too often last season because of the dearth of talent up front. Fortunately, Carlson actually serves as a cautionary tale – fantasy owners should always be aware of how deep/talented/injury-prone a team’s offensive line is when drafting a player from that team. A TE is the usually the first position in fantasy to take a hit when an offense’s line is porous because one or both tackles cannot pass-block well enough to enable the TE to run his pattern, instead forcing the TE to stay in and block.

Off-Target – (39%) James, Forsett, Houshmandzadeh, Burleson and Butler (the last three in PPR). Sometimes, in fantasy, the defense isn’t the only opponent a player has to overcome in order to produce for his owners. Such was the case for Forsett, who somehow had to watch Jones for half a season before getting any real shot at showing what he could do with regular playing time. Then, after matching Jones’ TD output (four) in the three weeks Jones was forced out of action early for or injured, then-HC Jim Mora went right back to Jones, only giving Forsett slightly more action than he saw in the first half of the season. For the money Seattle handed Houshmandzadeh, it seemed a bit odd how every Seahawks’ QB seemed to favor Burleson. Yes, Houshmandzadeh ended up scoring more fantasy points than Burleson, but Burleson was the better fantasy WR in 2009 on a FPPG basis.

Misses – (0%)

Grade: B The lack of red will keep this grade high, but there is a bit too much yellow on this team review for my liking. I would have liked to foreseen Burleson’s triumphant return from injury sooner – as that would have allowed me to come closer on gauging Houshmandzadeh’s value – but I will take some pride in predicting Julius Jones’ season pretty well. Still, the lack of a meaningful hit on a Seattle player means I can’t be too proud of myself.

A review doesn’t mean much without a final analysis, so let’s see how I did overall in 2009.

AFC East (out of 64) – 14 hits (22%), 26 on-targets (41%), 13 off-targets (20%), 11 misses (17%)
AFC North (out of 60) – 9 hits (15%), 22 on-targets (37%), 17 off-targets (28%), 12 misses (20%)
AFC South (out of 58) – 8 hits (14%), 30 on-targets (52%), 13 off-targets (22%), 7 misses (12%)
AFC West (out of 64) – 17 hits (27%), 20 on-targets (31%), 16 off-targets (25%), 11 misses (17%)
AFC Final Grades (out of 246) - 48 hits (19.5%), 98 on-targets (39.8%), 59 off-targets (24%), 41 misses (16.7%)

NFC East (out of 68) – 17 hits (25%), 21 on-targets (31%), 21 off-targets (31%), 9 misses (13%)
NFC North (out of 62) – 21 hits (34%), 20 on-targets (32%), 16 off-targets (%), 5 misses (8%)
NFC South (out of 62) – 19 hits (31%), 23 on-targets (37%), 13 off-targets (21%), 7 misses (11%)
NFC West (out of 62) – 10 hits (16%), 32 on-targets (52%), 18 off-targets (29%), 2 misses (3%)
NFC Final Grades (out of 254) – 67 hits (26.4%), 96 on-targets (37.8%), 68 off-targets (26.7%), 23 misses (9.1%)

Final Grades (out of 500) – 115 hits (23%), 194 on-targets (38.8%), 127 off-targets (25.4%), 64 misses (12.8%)

Analysis: Since I conduct my preseason schedule analysis in the same divisional order I have displayed above, it sure looks like to me that my projections got better as I went on, which suggests to me a later start to my PSA’s may be necessary (or at the very least, a thorough re-examination at my early forecasts before I release my final projections). The second piece of information that catches my eye is that my hit rate nearly doubled my miss rate. Lastly, over 60% of my projections were in the 0-3 FPPG range. I believe if I can increase that number to at least 65% in 2010, I will be doing myself (and all of my readers) a big favor. Judging from my 64.2% hit-or-on-target rate in the NFC, I believe that number is attainable. So, let’s set my goals for the upcoming season:

25+% hit rate, 40+% on-target rate, >25% off-target rate, >10% miss rate.

Suggestions, comments, musings about the article or fantasy football in general? E-mail me.