Carroll: Lessons Learned

Updated: January 23, 2007, 2:54 PM ET
By Will Carroll | ESPN.com
Most of you are more like Sean Payton or even Cam Cameron today, not Tony Dungy or Lovie Smith. Millions of us play fantasy football, but not all of us win. That's okay, it doesn't make you less of a person and it gives you the hope that next year is the year where you'll take home the big trophy and sizeable check that I'm sure you'll donate to charity. One of the reasons you aren't headed to Fantasy Miami for Fantasy XLI is injuries -- yeah, you knew I was heading there -- so let's take a quick look back at 2006 and see what we can learn from our mistakes. It'll be quick, like ripping the Band-Aid off and you'll be better for it.

LESSON 1: The Seahawks Conundrum
This year's problem wasn't that you drafted Shaun Alexander too high, it was that you happened to pick the highest of the running backs that broke down. Let's face it, running backs break down. We know the type, we know the various reasons, but we seldom can say "oh yeah, that's the one!" and duck him in the draft like you can when Edgerrin James moved from a good line to a bad one. We aren't blaming you and we aren't blaming the Seahawks, but let's face it, even with the best planning, things go wrong. If you drafted Alexander -- or Matt Hasselbeck or anyone on the Seahawks offense -- you faced the same things that Mike Holmgren did. Do you have adequate backups? How can you adjust so that Seneca Wallace becomes a weapon and not a victim? Building a fantasy roster does have much in common with a winning NFL team. I'm glad Holmgren's not in my league.

One other lesson to learn here has to do with the line. Steve Hutchinson left in free agency and Walter Jones dealt with injuries early in the season. That put more pressure on Alexander to make his own holes, got Hasselbeck hit more, and generally affected the team negatively. Even though most leagues don't draft linemen, they affect the guys behind them. Not understanding their situation will make it harder to assess the ones you are drafting.

Will Carroll | email

ESPN Fantasy Games
Will Carroll writes two injury columns per week relating to fantasy football for ESPN.com. Carroll can also be seen on The Fantasy Show Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. He also writes baseball injury articles on www.baseballprospectus.com.

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