By Michael Salfino
RotoWire Staff Writer
Last Barometer of the season. I was going to look at my calls from the past summer and hopefully prove how smart I am by ignoring the whiffs or rationalizing them away by with trite observations like, "The better man doesn't always win (Joseph Addai and, arguably, Mike Bell)." The fact that we're all such wonderful self deceivers makes for interesting psychology but pretty dull reading. And it might prove too depressing to me to find out (deep down) that the pretty good year I thought I did have didn't turn out quite so nice in actuality. Of course, I'm sure some will be so unkind to remind me of my more egregious missteps in the blog below.
Really, the Barometer is for looking forward, not back. But looking forward to Week 17 is meaningless for almost everyone, as most championships have been decided and virtually all have been eliminated regardless. So, we'll focus instead on 2007 with the recommendations below. Of course, by next summer, we'll forget that any of this ever happened.
Happy New Year!
Michael Turner, RB, Chargers: Will the Chargers give him the strong tender (well over $2 million) that would force a team that wants him as a feature back to fork over a No. 1 and No. 3 pick as compensation? If so, will it merely be a negotiating ploy to extract a low No. 1 or, more reasonably, a second round pick? Or do they really want to keep Turner around for another year as LaDainian Tomlinson insurance? These are important questions because Turner appears to have the full package and could be a guy we'd really be excited about owning if he were on any one of about 20 other teams. I think he'll leave San Diego and be an impact fantasy player next year.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: There were injury effects, for sure. I was all excited about uncovering that the Steelers are 26th in sack percentage (allowed) this year. That has to have a huge impact on Roethlisberger's struggles, right? Well, the Steelers were 24th in 2005 in that same stat. So, no. He should have better luck physically next year. And the Steelers defense might be in decline. That would boost Big Ben's output. The Steelers are sixth in YPA though. So Roethlisberger (and the Steelers) were mostly hurt by the big spike in interception rate (29th).
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: He's got ability. But he remains seriously flawed. There are already coaching changes afoot in New York. Maybe he can get a guru that will unlock the potential that he's flashed more than occasionally (though not nearly enough). The Giants fans in every league are completely, irrationally sour on him. That depresses his stock. As a result, he'll fall to his 2007 owners at a nice price. Upside is great to own as long as you purchase at a steep discount.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: He's caught 74 percent of his 116 targets, Chad Johnson has 142 targets, but catches 58 percent. The way the game is played now, always take the underneath guy if he's also the primary red zone guy, as is T.J. Teams will keep Cover 2-ing Ocho Cinco to death.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills: He's going to fly under the radar a little because he was cemented as a 2006 disappointment in November. But look at the numbers now. Pretty sweet. He's got a chance to explode like Steve Smith in 2005 next year if J.P. Losman can continue his steady progression beyond a mere competent QB into a good one. That's 50-50, at best. But, again, it's not going to cost that much to take a chance on it.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: If only I had ranked him just ahead (as opposed to just behind) Ronnie Brown, my poster boy for the summer argument of, "Why having the fourth pick sucks." Do you know that Steven Jackson now has one less receiving target than Brian Westbrook (105 to 106). Reggie Bush? 120. Jackson is also about 80 total yards behind Tomlinson.
Leon Washington, RB, Jets: Washington was never "it" on the playground, you can be sure. He's got the hops, no doubt. But I get the feeling he's cemented now as a situational back. I think he can be at least a poor-man's Brian Westbrook if consistently given a larger role. But it doesn't matter what I think, now, does it.
Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars: He's rolling again at the end of the year. But, as I said before, do not invest in the Jaguars passing game until someone (anyone) makes a profit off of it. Avoiding land mines can get you to the winner's circle in this game.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Before the outburst versus the Giants (where he was more consistent than explosive), Bush had six plays over 15 yards from scrimmage (two rushing, four receiving). The problem for Bush backers is that Deuce McAllister is showing that he's still good and not likely to go anywhere. So, you're looking at a time share for the foreseeable future. But Bush does get some goal-line work. Very, very tough player to value. We all want to be smarter than the rest of our league. But the money play is to usually pass on types like this.
Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys: You get the strong sense that it's not going to end well on the field for Owens. He's just going to disappear from the scene like the ghost that's all that's left of Randy Moss now in Oakland. Where will Owens be next year? Probably not in Dallas. He's also 33 years old.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: He'll definitely be in Dallas. But he's The Man Who Fell To Earth the past few weeks. And, when you get down to it, a few bad weeks isn't much less of a sample size than the great weeks that preceded it. So, anyone who thinks they know what Romo is now is merely guessing.
Jeff Garcia, QB, Eagles: People are talking about Garcia showcasing himself like he's 25. He's 36. Even if he wasn't too old, he's very likely nothing without Andy Reid and that friendly system and very underrated offensive supporting cast. After all, he was nothing in Detroit and Cleveland.
Ron Dayne, RB, Texans: Dayne teased last year, too. But the Texans stink. They have no QB (big "oops" on Vince Young). Domanick Davis may come back (there's a big cap charge if the Texans cut him). Plus Dayne always disappoints when something is expected of him.
Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins: Shocking stat: 140 targets for Chambers, 56 catches (40 percent). That percentage is by far the worst in football from a receiver with any type of significant action. His targets-caught percentage was bad last year, too. I think he can turn into Javon Walker with the right QB. But Miami looks a long way away from having one.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Hasselbeck's charm was that he was a really good player who would be consistently solid but never spectacular. Check on the "never spectacular" part. But is he a "really good player" in light of his terrible year. He's making bad decisions, getting sacked with great frequency, turning it over, missing open receivers. But the guys in your league who think they know football will roster him early, you can be sure. Let 'em have him
Article first appeared 12/26/06