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Fantasy Fast Forward: NFL Week 1

Carson Palmer

We all love summertime. The mercury in the thermometer peaks, and so does the number of scantily clad women at the beach. But personally, I’m very happy to see the summer come to a close. Not because I want to see the lovely beach bunnies layer up for colder weather ahead, but because with the end of summer comes a new beginning: Football season. No, not autumn… football season. In my world, it’s winter, spring, summer, and football season, and I know I’m not alone here in that thinking.

So with Week 1 of the NFL’s 2010 season upon us, just hours away, it’s time to turn our attention to the new national pastime… fantasy football. It’s a game that anyone can learn, but few can really be great at. The minute you think you’ve figured out a sure-fire way to win, your first rounder goes down with a torn ACL and your season is lost. Or is it? Because hope is never fully dashed, as the next diamond in the rough is yours for the taking… you’ve just got to figure out who that next breakout star is going to be.

That’s the beauty of fantasy football… everyone’s a so-called “expert.” None of us can truly predict what’s going to happen on the field each week… if it was that easy, we wouldn’t play fantasy sports in the first place. But it’s always fun to throw a prediction against the wall and see if it sticks. The only thing you can do is spend time pouring over stats and news, so your guess is an educated one, at least.

Here’s where my educated guess comes in. Today, I present to you the premier edition of “Fantasy Fast Forward,” otherwise known as my weekly take on the NFL’s slate of games, from a fantasy perspective. This is the article you’ll want to print out and take to the bathroom with you to read on the hopper before you set your starting lineup each week. Don’t laugh, because we ALL do it. Some of my best studying is done with my pants around my ankles, and again, I know I’m not alone.

So click “print,” pick up your hot copy of Week 1’s “Fantasy Fast Forward” off the printer, and go show your colon who’s boss!

Week 1 QB Aces

Carson Palmer, CIN (@NE)

New weapons Terrell Owens and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham join Chad Ochocinco, as Palmer and the Bengals look to take aim at a young and inexperienced Patriot defense. I see a high-flying, high-scoring affair in Foxboro come Sunday afternoon, with Palmer racking up the fantasy points with relative ease.

Jay Cutler, CHI (vs. DET)

Despite a career-high 26 interceptions last season, I see Cutler getting off to a great start in 2010 against a very weak Detroit secondary. Cutler tore the Lions up in his two meetings against them last year, throwing for six TDs and running for another. No team was worse against opposing quarterbacks in fantasy points allowed that the Lions in ’09, so look for Cutler to take new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense to the promise land in the NFL’s opening week.

Alex Smith, SF (@SEA)

The Niners are the hip pick to win the otherwise weak NFC West this year, and that’s because former first overall pick Smith has finally hit his stride. He’ll square off against the Seahawks, a team that ranked 30th in pass defense last year. You probably didn’t draft Smith as much more than a bye-week replacement, but don’t hesitate to use him early, and possibly often, this season as one of my favorite sleepers in the NFL.

Week 1 QB Jokers

Brett Favre, MIN (@NO)

I know, you don’t want to hear any more about this attention junkie. But Favre faces a tough test Thursday night taking on the defending champion Saints in front of a capacity Superdome crowd, sure to be amped up to watch their beloved team get their championship rings, and begin their title defense. Favre’s wimpy ankle will limit his scrambling ability, and without his go-to guy Sidney Rice available, look for the “Ageless Annoyance” to put up very pedestrian numbers for Week 1.

Joe Flacco, BAL (@NYJ)

The Jets were able to bring back All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, just in time for their home opener against the highly touted Ravens, who many think are a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season. Flacco and the Ravens will definitely have a huge year on offense, but don’t look for them to get off to much of a start here against “Sexy Rexy’s” J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Donovan McNabb, WAS (vs. DAL)

I’m not seeing a great Redskin debut ahead for McNabb against Big D, especially with a bum ankle. I’m just not a big believer in McNabb and the ‘Skins this season, call me crazy.

Week 1 RB Aces

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (vs. CAR)

Bradshaw and the Giants open up the New Meadowlands Stadium for real on Sunday, so you can expect all of the G-Men to be energized by a raucous home crowd. Bradshaw’s also going to be trying to prove he’s a better answer to the New York ground game than his running mate, Brandon Jacobs. Look for Bradshaw to run wild against a weak Panther defense.

Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (vs. ATL)

With Dennis Dixon under center for the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin will lean hard on Mendenhall to carry the team through what could be a rough and tough first month of the season without Ben Roethlisberger at their disposal. Atlanta will likely stack the box, but Mendenhall has the talent to turn the corners on the outside and rack up those hard-earned yards.

Matt Forte, CHI (vs. DET)

It won’t be every week that I’m so high on Bears, but facing the Lions this week, I can’t find a reason not to be. Sure, Forte’s carries will be vultured a bit by the addition of Chester Taylor to the Chicago backfield, but I see Forte having a bounce-back season this year, even with Taylor competing for carries.

Week 1 RB Jokers

LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs. GB)

The second year back will get his fair share of touches in this Eagle offense, but this isn’t the week to have McCoy starting for your fantasy team. He’ll be up against a stout Packer defensive unit, a squad that gave up the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league last season.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@NYG)

You probably drafted Stewart with high hopes of him putting up another 1,000-yard season, right? Sorry, Stewart owners, but I just don’t see it happening for you in 2010. Stewart was sidelined for the entire preseason with an Achilles’ tendon injury, so it’s going to take some time for him to start taking carries away from DeAngelo Williams in the Carolina backfield. Facing a revamped Giants D won’t help this week either.

Laurence Maroney, NE (vs. CIN)

Even though Maroney’s in a contract year, I don’t see him having a very fruitful 2010 campaign for the Pats. The Bengals, New England’s Week 1 opponent, have a very underrated defense, and with all of the weapons that Tom Brady has at his disposal in the passing game, I wouldn’t put my money on Maroney or any of the other Patriot running backs, this week, or really any other week this season.

Week 1 WR Aces

Jabar Gaffney, DEN (@ JAC)

The former Patriot has emerged as Denver’s go-to guy at the WR spot, and facing a very weak Jaguars secondary this week, Gaffney has the chance to make his presence known in a big way, right from the start.

Pierre Garcon, IND (@ HOU)

This Colts-Texans will rival only the Pats-Bengals game as the highest scoring games of Week 1. Garcon, who will start opposite Reggie Wayne for Indy, broke out with a huge 2009, including two big games against the Texans last season.

Malcolm Floyd, SD (@ KC)

He might not receive the amount of man-love that Alex Smith is getting from me this season, but San Diego’s Malcolm Floyd is another one of my big favorites entering 2010. Let’s face it, Vincent Jackson’s days as a Charger are all but done, leaving Floyd as the top receiver for a San Diego team bound to win some games this season in the weak AFC West. Floyd’s only TD of ’09 came against the Chiefs… I’m betting he gets at least one, if not more, on Monday night in K.C.

Week 1 WR Jokers

Lee Evans, BUF (vs. MIA)

Who’s going to get Evans the ball, Trent Edwards? ‘Nuff said. Buffalo is frankly, the worst team in the AFC, at least in my book. Miami’s defense is young, but they’re still talented enough to shut down the Bills and Evans with relative ease.

Mike Wallace, PIT (vs. ATL)

He was a hot mid-round pick in fantasy drafts everywhere the past few weeks, but I’ll ask a similar question to the one I just posed with Evans… who’s going to get Wallace the ball, Dennis Dixon? There’s no doubt Wallace will earn your fantasy team some points this season, it just won’t be this week against a talented Falcons squad.

Kenny Britt, TEN (vs. OAK)

He led the Titans in receiving yards last season, and head coach Jeff Fisher is relying on Britt to kick it up another notch this year. But Britt will likely be dealing with Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha this week, one of the league’s premier cornerbacks. If you drafted Britt, you hopefully did so with no intent of starting him until the bye weeks eat up some of your better receivers anyway, but if you are turning to him for some production early and often, you can’t count on it this week against the Silver & Black.

Week 1 TE Ace

Zach Miller, OAK (@ TEN)

Going from JaMarcus Russell to Jason Campbell is an instant upgrade for every Raider on the offense, but especially for Miller, who will have a huge year catching balls over the middle for the Raider offense. Miller should be good for at least five grabs a game, and could push for a 1,000-yard receiving season if he stays healthy.

Week 1 TE Joker

Owen Daniels, HOU (vs. IND)

Daniels has been taking his time coming back from a knee injury that knocked him out of much of last season, so if you took Daniels with hopes of him being your answer at TE, I’d look for another option before Sunday. He hasn’t played in the preseason and even if he does crack the starting lineup Sunday against the Colts, he’ll likely be used in a very limited role. He hasn’t enjoyed much success against Indy anyway, being held without a touchdown in four meetings with the Colts, dating back to 2007.

Week 1 Superlatives

  • Rookie Most Likely to Succeed in His NFL Debut – Ryan Mathews, RB San Diego
  • Rookie Most Likely to Disappoint in His NFL Debut – C.J. Spiller, RB Buffalo
  • QB Most Likely to Throw for 400 Yards – Peyton Manning, QB Indianapolis
  • Team Defense Most Likely to Shut Out Their Opponent – Arizona Cardinals (vs. St. Louis)
  • Fantasy First Rounder Most Likely to Have a Disappointing Opener – Ray Rice, RB Baltimore

Week 1 Wackies

(These are low-odds predictions that only I have the stones to profess…)

  • Adrian Peterson won’t run for more than 60 yards in New Orleans against the Saints.
  • Matthew Stafford will throw for more yards on Sunday against the Bears than Tony Romo will rack up against the Redskins.
  • Road teams will win more than home teams in Week 1.

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