Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What We Learned from the New York Victory

For a week (and really two weeks) the Jets pummeled New England with exclamatory statements, bold predictions, tongue in cheek comments, and so much “Bulletin board material” that Belichick probably ordered the construction of 5 new ones for the facility. A loss would have been Armageddon for everyone associated in any way, shape, or form with the franchise. It wasn’t so much that they won that surprised me, but rather, how they won.

Questionable Coaching Decision 1: The Benching of Wes Welker
Let’s go back to the early parts of the season. Braylon Edwards was pulled over for a DUI but, to the displeasure of many, received no team-sanctioned punishment for his off field behavior. I argued then that the Jets had the right to do whatever they pleased with him. Few, if any, teams would have given Edwards a suspension for his behavior. Instead, I believed that other organizations would adopt the famous “bench-him-for-a-series-to-prove-a-point-to-the-media” strategy.

Granted, Welker’s off field incident (making suggestive comments against Rex Ryan) were not as severe as Edwards’, but Belichick handed down a confusing punishment. He benched Welker for the first offensive series, although he did allow his player to return to first punt of the game. Excuse me? Did anyone watching the game last night believe for even an instant that Welker would be benched for a significant amount of time? No, of course not. He was making a statement: The Jets are brash and disrespectful and the Patriots are not. We will bench our star wide out for a minor incident and you know what? We’ll still beat you and we’ll do it with class.

Or so he thought. The Welker-less drive ended with a Brady pick. I’m sure if he had the chance to do it again Belichick would have left the usually well-behaved Welker on the field. I guess some of that New York talking rattled the Pats after all.

Questionable Coaching Decision 2: Fake Punt?
When I watched this live my first thought was that there was simply a poor snap. Pat Chung, the up-man and recipient of the snap, bobbled the ball when it hit him. I mean, why in the world would a team call a fake punt in their own territory, down by 4, with a minute and change left in a half? Upon review, however, it became obvious; this was a designed play. So why did Belichick call this one?

Following the game various players, namely the punter, suggested that it was actually Chung who made the decision and furthermore, that he had the go ahead to do so. Do you mean to tell me that a 23 year old, second-year SAFETY has the ability to singlehandedly decide to audible on an offensive play in a critical end-of-half playoff game? On second thought, I think I could better understand the decision if Belichick made it himself rather than leave it up to a guy participating in his second ever playoff game. Could it be that Chung wanted to psych out those cocky a-holes from New Jersey? Just saying. He must be one of those guys who go for it on 4th and 27 in Madden.

(Un)Disputed Realization: Rex Ryan is the PERFECT Jets head coach
How do you handle a team littered with a who’s who list of ex-superstars, hot-headed receivers, cocky defensive backs, angry linebackers, and criticized young players? Easy. Be the biggest force in the room and allow them to be all of those things they truly are. While some coaches limit their players’ media interactions and tenacity, Ryan encourages it, putting no shackles on potentially outrageous claims. He is perhaps the supreme example of a “player’s coach” as his name simultaneously continues to be included among the NFL’s greatest strategic minds. The 28-14(+7 prevent points) dominating victory was a culmination of these things. Ryan outcoached Belichick, using defensive backs as pass rushers and linemen as coverage personnel. Brady was sacked 5 times despite facing more than 4 pass-rushers on few occasions. The secondary utilized a balanced dose of man and zone coverage, often with one safety in the box and another deep. It takes a confident coach to abandon his first instinct (send the house) and go with a new, judicious decision (8 in coverage). While his past teams have won games sending 7 pass rushers from 7 different directions, this current one is hoping to win a Super Bowl utilizing a more conservative approach. Ryan has his entire team believing it will.

What Does this Win Mean for the AFC East Balance of Power?
At the moment, both teams would have legitimate arguments to this question. The Jets would argue that they are now 4-2 against the Patriots over the last 6 games and Sunday’s victory obviously trumps them all. This is now the second year in a row that the Jets have advanced further through the post season than their Boston rivals. However, the Patriots won the division and continue to exhibit regular season dominance. But I think the real reason Pats fans should feel confident about their chances next season is that they will have 2 first and second round picks in the upcoming draft. For years the team has been stockpiling picks and its seems this upcoming draft day will be the culmination of all that wheeling and dealing. I think the answer to this question truly comes down to whether or not the Jets can advance to the Super Bowl. If they win it all the argument is over. They are the team to beat in the NFL, the AFC, and the AFC East.

What Would a Win in Pittsburgh Mean?
When their Sunday evening game with the Pittsburg Steelers concludes, the New York Jets will have played against the 3 teams that have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl a combined 9 times since 2001 (the Raiders were the only other AFC team to make the big game). Rex Ryan has proclaimed since the preseason that the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl. It is fitting that in order to do that his team must defeat the 3 best teams of the last decade. There can be no argument against the Jets as a truly deserving championship team if they can advance through this murder’s row that has been created for them.

Crazy Stat:
The Jets are now 13-1 this season in games in which they have scored a touchdown.

Championship Game Predictions:
In my preseason playoff article (http://adamweinberger.blogspot.com/2010/09/playoff-predictions.html), I predicted the final 4 teams would be the Jets, Colts, Saints, and Packers, with the Colts and Pack advancing to the Super Bowl.

I always try to separate my bias from reality and I think I do it pretty well. From my perspective, the Patriots were the biggest threat the Jets would face in their pursuit of a title. In fact, after they defeated the Colts a week ago I proclaimed: “If the Jets beat New England, they will win the Super Bowl.” Well, they beat New England. I hope the Jets will enter their game against Pittsburg knowing that the regular season game is meaningless, which they essentially proved Sunday night against the Pats. If they want to win again they cannot feel overly confident and take this team lightly. New York has been to the championship game 2 years in a row now. They will learn from their mistakes and I truly believe they want it more than anyone else left in the tournament. The Jets will win it 20-17.

Over now to the NFC, the game features another 2 vs. 6 matchup. I have believed that the Packers are the NFC’s best for most of the season and there is no reason for me to think otherwise now. The Bears are yet to have a real playoff game and despite their recent victories, I still refuse to accept them as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 10 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards in 3 playoff games and he leads a Green Bay attack that should be able to make relatively easy work of Chicago. I like the Packers to advance to the Super Bowl winning 35-24, setting up a never before 6 seed vs. 6 seed Super Bowl in Dallas.

-AW

To view this article in its original content go to http://www.hotboxsports.com/article/2011/1/What-We-Learned-from-the-New-York-Victory

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Look Back to My Preseason Picks

A wise man once said, “It takes a tough man to make a tender forecast.”

Anybody can make preseason predictions. It’s fun and easy. You can say whatever you want and there’s essentially nobody that can really question you because every argument ends in, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.” Well, we have seen what happened, thus, let it continue.

Back in September I gave 2 different lengthy columns detailing my predictions for both the AFC and NFC. Some of those came out great while others were… well… lets just take a look.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys
What I thought: 10-6, first in division, 3 seed
What they did: 6-10, third in division
What I said: “Romo seems to be improving after putting up career high numbers last season…they will need to improve on a pass defense that ranked 20th in the league last season.” – He didn’t (poor start, season ending injury in week 7) and they didn’t (dropped to 26th).
Season high point: Saying goodbye to Wade Phillips
Season low point: Saying goodbye to Wade Phillips’s face.

New York Giants
What I thought: 9-7, second in division, 6 seed
What they did: 10-6, second in division
What I said: “Hopefully their injuries from last season will be a thing of the past.”– Even more so than last year, the Giants were ravaged by injuries to key men on both sides of the field, which ultimately eliminated any shot at playoff contention.
Season high point: The banter at the O’Hara Thanksgiving dinner.
Season low point: Signing Matt Dodge.

Philadelphia Eagles
What I thought: 8-8, third in division
What they did: 10-6, first in division, 3 seed
What I said: “The Eagles have numerous question marks, most significantly with LeSean McCoy at Running Back and Kevin Kolb at QB.” – Rather than questions marks at the two positions, Phili had exclamation points. Vick emerged ahead of Kolb and produced a season worthy of second in MVP voting while McCoy looks like the next Brian Westbrook.
Season high point: Kevin Kolb’s week 1 injury.
Season low point: Mike Vicks’s week 4 injury.

Washington Redskins
What I thought: 7-9, fourth in division
What they did: 6-10, fourth in division
What I said: “Can Donovan McNabb revitalize his career in Washington? I think not… Will Albert Haynesworth learn to play nice with coach, Mike Shanahan, and perform like his days in Tennessee? Again, I think not.” – Let’s just call that an √úberbingo.
Season high point: Consecutive wins against the Eagles and Packers.
Season low point: Seeing Rex Grossman play quarterback.

NFC WEST

San Francisco 49ers
What I thought: 10-6, first in division, 4 seed
What they did: 6-10, third in division
What I said: “Perhaps I’m delusional, but I believe Alex Smith will have a pretty good year in 2010.” – Perhaps? Really?
Season high point: Remaining in the playoff hunt until week 16.
Season low point: No more notable Singletary soliloquies.

Arizona Cardinals
What I thought: 6 – 10, second in division
What they did: 5-11, fourth in division
What I said: “Goodbye Kurt Warner, goodbye post-season.” – Apologies to Larry Fitzgerald.
Season High Point: Tie! Remaining in the playoff hunt until week 15 and THIS
Season Low Point: Going winless from October 11 to December 11.

Seattle Seahawks
What I thought: 6 – 10, third in division
What they did: 7-9, first in division, 4 seed
What I said: “Honestly, Seattle, who the hell knows what you’re going to do this season?” – Who could have possibly said, “Win the division with a 7-9 record!”
Season high point: Remaining in the playoff hunt until wildcard weekend.
Season low point: Heading a division with an overall point differential of -322 (This is the worst ever by a 4 team division. Numbers 2-4 on that all time list? NFC West, NFC West, NFC West).

St. Louis Rams
What I thought: 3 – 13, last in division
What they did: 7-9, second in division
What I said: “On the Brightside, St. Louis gets to play Seattle and Arizona twice.” – They went 2-2 but 3-1 would have made them playoff bound.
Season high point: Remaining in the playoff hunt until week 17.
Season low point: Losing to Seattle in week 17.

NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers
What I thought: 12-4, first in division, 1 seed
What they did: 10-6, second in division, 6 seed
What I said: “The Green Bay Packers will be the best team in the NFC in 2010… Anything less than a deep playoff run from this team should be viewed as a disappointment.” – Remains to be seen how far they will go, but they certainly showed moments of dominance.
Season high point: Going into Minnesota and defeating the Favre-led Vikings 31–3.
Season low point: 3 of 6 losses to teams with sub-500 records.

Minnesota Vikings
What I thought: 10-6, second in division, 5 seed
What they did: 6-10, fourth in division
What I said: “I expect Favre to suffer an injury at some point this season, most likely from some 300-pound freak, rushing from his blind side and sacking Favre hard enough to end his days as a professional quarterback.” – The only thing I got wrong was the weight of the “freak.” Arthur Moats is 250 pounds, not 300.
Season high point: Firing Brad Childress
Season low point: Starting a WR at QB.

Chicago Bears
What I thought: 6 – 10, third in division
What they did: 11-5, first in division, 2 seed
What I said: “Julius Peppers may have been the biggest free agent of the off-season, but his presence in Chicago is not enough to transform the Bears into a winning team.” – Julius Pepper may have been the biggest free agent of the off-season. His presence in Chicago is enough to transform the Bears into a winning team.
Season high point: Ending the debate over the most dangerous player in football
Season low point: “Cutler drops back, can’t find anyone, and is SACKED!” (X52).

Detroit Lions
What I thought: 5 – 11, fourth in division
What they did: 6-10, third in division
What I said: “Bringing up the rear for yet another year are the Detroit Lions. However, the defense will be improved after a solid draft.” – Rookie Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be a top 5 defensive player by next season’s end.
Season high point: Finishing outside of the 4 spot.
Season low point: Yet another losing season.

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints
What I thought: 12 – 4, first in division, 2 seed
What they did: 11-5, second in division, 5 seed
What I said: “The only reason I can believe that the New Orleans Saints will struggle this season is the appearance of Drew Brees on the cover of Madden.” – He was miraculously able to defeat the curse… or at least so far.
Season high point: As a number 5 seed, being a 10 ½ point favorite in wildcard weekend.
Season low point: Losing by a combined 23 points to Arizona and Cleveland.

Atlanta Falcons
What I thought: 9 – 7, second in division
What they did: 13 – 3, first in division, 1 seed
What I said: “There are many signs that point to Atlanta competing for the division with New Orleans… there is Roddy White, who has quietly had 3 straight seasons of 80 plus catches and 1100 plus receiving yards… Atlanta is my dark horse to make some noise in the NFL this season.” – Roddy White won’t go quietly anymore. He has emerged as arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver.
Season high point: A new tradition
Season low point: I’m sure there was a Falcon who took a trip to the dentist.

Carolina Panthers
What I thought: 7 – 9, third in division
What they did: 2 – 14, fourth in division
What I said: “Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, and/or Tony Pike have no business starting at quarterback in the NFL this season, yet, one or more of them will.” – Add to that list Brian St. Pierre, and you can explain why they finished dead last in passing yards/game.
Season high point: Securing the number one overall pick with 31-10 shellacking in week 17.
Season low point: The season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What I thought: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What they did: 10 – 6, third in division
What I said: “Anything more than 5 wins for the Bucs is a sign of the apocalypse.” – 2012 is rapidly approaching.
Season high point: Development of offensive stars Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Kellen Winslow, and Mike Williams.
Season low point: Watching the 7-9 Seahawks take their final playoff spot.

AFC EAST

New York Jets
What I thought: 10 – 6, first in division, 4 seed
What they did: 11-5, second in division, 6 seed
What I said: “When you add on Kyle Wilson, the newest first round pick of the Jets, this secondary has the ability to be more than great, they could be historically great.” – Wilson had been a major disappointment thus far (although corners often start of slow) and it’s a major reason why offenses are having success when they spread the Jets out.
Season high point: Starting the season 8-2.
Season low point: Take your pick from the following: sexual harassment charges against Ines Sainz, Braylon Edwards’ DUI, injury to Kris Jenkins or Jim Leonhard, the “Wall,” losing to New England 45-3 on MNF, or losing 3 of their last 5 games.

New England Patriots
What I thought: 10 – 6, second in division, 5 seed
What they did: 14 – 2, first in division, 1 seed
What I said: “The offense is composed of big uncertainties… As for the defense, I was actually surprised last season at how well the unit performed… Yet, Brady and Belichick are still leading the franchise, which goes a long way.” – In a “rebuilding” year, Brady but forth his best season of his career and reestablished New England as the elite NFL team once again.
Season high point: Scoring 30+ points in 9 straight games.
Season low point: The lack of barbers in the Boston area.

Miami Dolphins
What I thought: 9 – 7, third in division
What they did: 7 – 9, third in division
What I said: “Chad Henne is on the verge of a breakout year.” – This may have been the single wrongest aspect of all my predictions.
Season high point: Going 6 – 2 on the road.
Season low point: Going 1 – 7 on the road.

Buffalo Bills
What I thought: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What they did: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What I said: “The Bills have the most unjustly difficult schedule of any team in the NFL. They not only have to play 6 games against the other 3 teams in the division, but they also must play Green Bay, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburg. Those are 11 possible losses right there.” – There were actually only 9.
Season high point: Finding a future quarterback (or at least I think they did).
Season low point: Falling to 3 different playoff teams in overtime.

AFC WEST

San Diego Chargers
What I thought: 11- 5, first division, 3 seed
What they did: 9 – 7, second in division
What I said: “I expect the San Diego Chargers to have another Charger-esque season.” – It looked to be like that for a stretch, but San Diego just couldn’t keep up with their injuries and mistakes.
Season high point: Having the first ranked past defense, fourth ranked rush defense, and second ranked pass attack.
Season low point: Having the first ranked past defense, fourth ranked rush defense, and second ranked pass attack, but failing to make the playoffs.

Oakland Raiders
What I thought: 8 – 8, second in division
What they did: 8 – 8, third in division
What I said: “Oakland with an 8-8 record may come as a shock to some.” – And it did.
Season high point: 8 wins!
Season low point: Lingering quarterback concerns yet again.

Denver Broncos
What I thought: 7 – 9, third in division
What they did: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What I said: “You have my least favorite head coach, Josh McDaniels, who always seems involved with some type of drama. Honestly, though, I flat out can’t stand him.” – Neither could anyone apparently.
Season high point: Freeing themselves with McDaniels.
Season low point: 4 wins.

Kansas City Chiefs
What I thought: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What they did: 10 – 6, first in division
What I said: “They do have some young talent on offense in Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, and Dwayne Bowe. I believe in 2 years they will be competing for the playoffs.” – Those 3 accelerated that playoff competition.
Season high point: Matching their highest win total since 2005
Season low point: Recording 2 division victories.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens
What I thought: 11 – 5, first in division, 2 seed
What they did: 12 – 4, second in division, 5 seed
What I said: “The Ravens have put themselves in a position to win a super bowl.” – No division title, but a super bowl win remains a strong possibility
Season high point: Suffering only 4 loses by a combined point total of 16 points and entering the postseason with the league’s second longest win streak.
Season low point: A persistent inability to fix Flacco’s ugliness.

Cincinnati Bengals
What I thought: 9 – 7, second in division
What they did: 4 – 12, fourth in division
What I said: “In 2010, I believe that once again the Bengals will be a good team, however, I expect them to fall a bit short of their 2009 accomplishment.” – By “fall a bit short” I mean, “Fly off a cliff 100 miles short.”
Season high point: They were 2 – 1 once.
Season low point: Earning my vote for worst team in the league.

Pittsburg Steelers
What I thought: 9 – 7, third in division
What they did: 12 – 4, first in division, 2 seed
What I said: “If Pittsburg can manage a 2-2 split over those first 4 games, then maybe they can reach the post season.” – Going 3 – 1 over that stretch secured their playoff spot.
Season high point: Sending Roethlisberger so far on the ugly scale he came back around to the attractive end.
Season low point: Going 2 – 4 against playoff teams.

Cleveland Browns
What I thought: 3 – 13, fourth in division
What they did: 5 – 11, third in division
What I said: “Their quarterbacks would be better served as the towel boys, the running backs are so poor that not a single one was drafted in my fantasy league, and their wide receivers were good enough last season to lead the team to dead last in passing offense. Their defense is tragic and head coach Eric Mangini is anything but qualified.” – Well at least Peyton Hillis proved me wrong.
Season High Point: With a record of 3 – 5, people actually thought they were good for the first time in I can’t even remember when.
Season Low Point: With a record of 5 – 11, people actually realized they were no good for first time in I can remember when.

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts
What I thought: 13 – 3, first in division, 1 seed
What they did: 10 – 6, first in division, 4 seed
What I said: “Manning is still one of the 3 best players in football and quite frankly, is the only one that matters on that team. Even if everyone else on the team got the flu, and they brought in the practice squad, I’d still take the Colts over half the teams in the league.” – Is that not exactly what happened?
Season high point: The calendar turning to 2011 marked the official release of the newest model of Caldwell, affectionately named Caldwell 3.0, the title being inspired by Caldwell’s incredible excitement and creativity. Previous models include the now outdated Caldwell and Caldwell 2.0. The Caldwell 3.0 has been called “less buggy” and “has better RAM” according to various users.
Season low point: Over a 3 game stretch, Manning threw 11 interceptions.

Tennessee Titans
What I thought: 9 – 7, second in division, 6 seed
What they did: 6 – 10, fourth in division
What I said: “Vince Young continues to prove that no matter what, regardless of his stats or anyone else’s, he is a proven winner. It’s usually never pretty, but the Titans can win games.” – Oh… about that…
Season high point: Suspension-free karma
Season low point: Managing to drive away a former R.O.Y. and probably doing the same for a great coach.

Houston Texans
What I thought: 8 – 8, third in division
What they did: 6 – 10, third in division
What I said: I’m including the entire thing since it was my favorite write up of any team. “This is the year the Texans make the playoffs… ok… next year is the year they make the playoffs… ok… next year? Well, I, along with many other football fans and analysts, have been claiming a Texan playoff run for the last few seasons. This is the year that I will not say that about the Texans, which means, of course, this is the year it will actually happens. So, then, I guess I am calling it then, which means, my predictions are knowingly wrong, but, no, I don’t think they will. Really, I don’t think they will. But maybe…” –
Season high point: The above high point as well as defeating the Colts in week 1.
Season low point: Earning a third of their wins in the first 2 weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars
What I thought: 4 – 12, last in division
What they did: 8 – 8, second in division
What I said: “MJD can only do so much, and the star running back will have to play through, what I can only imagine being, another frustrating season.” – Garrard actually surprised people with his play, but it was indeed yet another frustrating season for Jones-Drew.
Season high point: The Hail Marry pass to defeat Houston.
Season low point: Playing their home games in Jacksonville.

-AW

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where It all Went Wrong: A look back to draft day.

Now that the fantasy football season has come to an end, I can think of no better way to wrap up another eventful year than to analyze where so many fantasy owners went wrong on draft day. I have arbitrarily decided to look at how someone with the seventh pick in a 10-team league could have won it and how he could have lost it. The players listed are guys who were probably available at the time of your pick and also would have been logical choices you could have conceivably made (so drafting Mike Vick with the first pick, Arian Foster with the second, and Peyton Hillis with your third round selection does not fit this bill). Here’s a look at the first 8 picks of the draft. I conclude this article with the all-undrafted team. Shockingly, 8 good free agent pickups could have transformed the mistake team into a first place contender.

First Pick:
The Mistake
The 7 spot was a pretty tough one to be in preseason. You’re basically unable to claim any of the truly elite running backs and there’s also a good chance that Andre Johnson, the unanimous preseason top WR, will be gone as well. Left with a decision between a second tier running back vs. an elite wide receiver or quarterback, you decide the following: (1) Talented running backs are prized in fantasy sports so you must have one. (2) The Rams are too bad to draft Steven Jackson. (3) Frank Gore has had health and fumbling issues. (4) If Norv Turner says Ryan Matthews will be getting over 250 carries his rookie year and considering the way LT played in San Diego his first season, you’re taking Ryan Matthews with the 7th pick in the draft.
Unfortunately for you, Matthew suffered from a midseason injury but even prior to that seemed to have a decreased value in the San Diego attack. He finished the fantasy season with only 558 yards rushing, 126 receiving, and 4 touchdowns. His BEST game of the year came in week 16 when he produced 55 yards rushing and a touchdown.

The “Shoulda”
Running backs are almost always overvalued in the preseason. Deciding to go with either Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers with the number 7 pick would have been the correct decision, as they finished the year as the top fantasy quarterbacks. Since this is an entirely hypothetical debate, however, the better decision of the 2 would have been Aaron Rodgers.

Second Pick:
The Mistake
Okay, so you already got a “stud” at running back so you can basically draft the best available player with this selection. This a three wide receiver league so if a top wide receiver is available that would be ideal. Well, whatdoyaknow, Brandon Marshall has fallen to you with this pick. Perfect. What’s not so perfect is that Marshall floundered in Miami, his new home, where he produced his fewest yards, receptions, and touchdown totals since his rookie season. That’s what a Chad Henne led attack will do to you.

The “Shoulda”
Roddy White produced the best season of his career in 2010 and one of the best for the position. The “Shoulda” team still doesn’t have a running back, so drafting Roddy with the second pick may make some people scratch their head, but a wise fantasy owner would realize that there is great value to be had in the next grouping of running backs with guys like Jamal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Arian Foster.

Pick 3:
The Mistake
It’s time to take a quarterback and with the 27th selection, you are probably left to decide between Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, and Phillip Rivers. You choose Romo on the basis that he will have Austin for a full year and rookie sensation Dez Bryant to boost his statistics. Schaub is inconsistent and Rives will be missing his favorite target, Vincent Jackson, for most of the season. This is a bad decision, in fact, it’s the worst one you have made in an otherwise terrible draft. Schaub and Rivers both produced top 15 seasons, but Rivers was truly the 3rd round gem of 2010. Owners who waited until this time to draft their quarterback feasted as Rivers threw for nearly 4400 yards through 15 games to go along with 30 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Romo suffered a season-ending injury in week 6.

The “Shoulda”
Alright, there is no way you can delay drafting a running back any longer. LeSean McCoy is your decision at this point in the draft. For years, Brian Westbrook thrived in Andy Reid’s offense. Kolb is going to be looking for safe options in his first season as a starting quarterback, which means lots of receptions for McCoy. He produced nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards his rookie season and now with an unquestioned starting role, those numbers will show drastic improvement.

Pick 4:
The Mistake
You remember all the good times Steve Smith enjoyed in Carolina a few years back when he led the league in all major receiving categories. You think that the quarterback situation is adequate enough for him to revitalize his slowing career. You know that once Smith gets the ball in his hands he is one of the most dangerous players in the league. However, you are completely wrong and downright stupid for picking someone as hopeless as Smith. You are rewarded for this decision with 554 yards and 2 touchdowns (neither of which came after week 2).

The “Shoulda”
Round 4 is what separates your team from everyone else in the league. It is now that you make one of the best draft picks to be made over the last 5 years. You take your second running back, Arian Foster with this pick. Foster will go on to be the best fantasy player of the season, with nearly 2,000 all purpose yards through 15 games, 16 total touchdowns, and an added bonus of 44 receptions. Foster has unmatched consistency at the position and failed to produce either 60 all purpose yards or a score on only 1 occasion.

Pick 5:
The Mistake
Time for another running back. You believe Marion Barber is the perfect choice as he is the goal line threat and exciting to watch. Yeah, there’s a guy named Felix Jones but Barber has been able to thrive in multi-running back situations before. By the time Barber suffered an injury in week 13 he is probably no longer on your team after a start that can be only described as tragic.

The “Shoulda”
The Kansas City Chiefs might be this season’s biggest surprise and wide out, Dwayne Bowe, was instrumental in their performance. Bowe led the NFL in receiving touchdowns this season with 15. During one stretch Bowe scored an incredible 13 touchdowns over 7 games. It is safe to say Bowe would have been a terrific round 5 pick.

Pick 6:
The Mistake
Last season, Mike Sims-Walker produced 869 yards and 7 touchdowns but judging by his pre-draft hype, you’d think those numbers would have been better. He’s a young talent on a run first team, but you like his potential so use your sixth pick on the Jacksonville wide out. His 2010 production is worse than that of 09.

The “Shoulda”
Drafting a tight end this early is sometimes a bad decision. There are very few players who actually perform at round 6 caliber every season, but once somebody drafts Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis, the floodgates are open for mediocre players to be selected well before their due date. With the sixth pick, you elect to draft Jason Witten, someone who typically performs around the level of Gates and Davis. Lucky for you, Witten goes on to lead all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and finishes third with 8 touchdowns.

Pick 7:
The Mistake
When healthy, there may not be a player more dangerous than Reggie Bush. Unfortunately, he is rarely healthy. You disregard this dubious trend and select Reggie Bush with your 7th pick. If the Marion Barber thing doesn’t work out well, Bush should be a nice backup, or so you think.

The “Shoulda”
Needing a third wide receiver, you turn towards Pittsburg deep threat, Mike Wallace, who posted career best numbers in all three receiving categories. He also improved his already NFL best average yards/reception of 19.4 yards to 20.2.

Pick 8:
The Mistake
Now needing only a tight end, you decide to draft Brent Celek. There was a mini run on the position earlier in the draft, but you elected to hold off and select someone who you thought was a small step behind the elites. Celek turns out to be mediocre, catching 42 passes for 511 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The “Shoulda”
It might be a bit early to draft a backup quarterback, but you look at the talent pool in front of you and decide that the best long-term bet would be to draft Matt Ryan. He’s shown moments of greatness in his first 2 NFL seasons and may provide you with some great trade options. Plus, you have Roddy White on your team as well and there’s nothing greater than having a productive QB-WR combination.

So here’s a final wrap up for the season.

Mistake Team:
QB: Tony Romo
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Steve Smith (CAR)
WR: Mike Sims Walker
RB: Ryan Matthew
RB: Marion Barber
TE: Brent Celek
Bench: Reggie Bush

Shoulda Team:
QB: Aaron Rodgers
WR: Roddy White
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Mike Wallace
RB: LeSean McCoy
RB: Arian Foster
TE: Jason Witten
Bench: Matt Ryan

Undrafted Team:
QB: Mike Vick
WR: Brandon Lloyd
WR: Stevie Johnson
WR: Mike Williams (TB)
RB: Peyton Hillis
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
TE: Rob Gronkowski
Bench: Mike Tolbert

-AW

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