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The Fire Sale: Quarterbacks make the men for Saints, Patriots

We did it everyone. We're back in business.

How great was it to sit back and watch football for the first time this year? There's nothing like checking the score of your fantasy team and thinking, "Why did I draft that bum?" In my case, that was my entire team. I went the whole day on Sunday without any of my players scoring a touchdown. I couldn't do that if I tried. Oh well, let's see how many guys I can trade away this week. Heads will roll, I can promise you that much.

Before I get into the fantasy aspect of the article, here are some things I learned after one week of football:

• I said a couple of weeks ago that I didn't think there was really a running back battle in Green Bay and that James Starks is the guy there. After one game I have no reason to think differently. To be honest, I have no idea why Ryan Grant is ever on the field.

• Good thing the Saints drafted Mark Ingram and the Falcons traded up for Julio Jones. Too bad neither guy plays on defense.

• Todd Haley will be fired following the 2012 season if not sooner. Mark it down. The Chiefs were lifeless on Sunday and they'll struggle all year. I also said the Ravens, Bears and Giants wouldn't be as good this season. As usual I'm hitting around 50 percent.

• The Bills took advantage of the Chiefs' poor play and hammered them. Buffalo looked great, and Ryan Fitzpatrick may finally be the guy there at quarterback. Too bad Buffalo plays in such a tough division. They really need the Pats or Jets to take a step back in order to make serious noise. Oh, and the Bills also now have the best uniforms in the NFL.

• My hunch that Curtis Painter would be under center at some point in Week 1 didn't come true but it should have. Listen, Kerry Collins is just too old and he can't play anymore. Painter will be the Colts starting quarterback soon and Collins may not even be on the roster in a couple of weeks. Seems Peyton Manning really does deserve all of those MVP awards.

• I knew Mike Shanahan was going to be right. It didn't matter who he started at quarterback, it was just meant to be.

• When the lights come on Cam Newton plays his best. He did it time and time again last year at Auburn. Whenever the Tigers got behind or it was late in the game, Newton was at his best. Say what you want about this kid, he has something special. That makes Steve Smith relevant again, huh? It's only one game but you know a superstar when you see one. The Panthers will be in a lot of shootouts this year, so expect more big fantasy days than bad ones from Newton.

• A new head coach, a new defensive coordinator and same old Cowboys. Another fourth quarter meltdown. Nothing has changed in Dallas. Wake me up when the team stops being a bunch of chokers led by the quarterback. I can't defend Tony Romo any longer. He's the epitome of a fantasy football player. Romo will always put up great numbers but when the team needs him most he doesn't deliver. It wasn't all his fault against the Jets but a lot of it was his fault and it's been too many times now. The guy chokes under pressure. Hey, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck ...

Now, on with the Fire Sale ...

Darren Sproles, RB, Saints -- A German fellow that plays in the Fire Sale Fantasy Football League drafted Sproles in the ninth round and declared that he would have a better season than Reggie Bush. He may be right. Then again, the guy is German, so he probably thinks he's playing fantasy soccer.

While I liked the Sproles pick, I disagreed with him simply because I believe Bush will get many more opportunities in Miami. I still believe that, but to be honest, Sproles is a better player than Bush and he's also a perfect fit for the Saints offense.

When Bush was in New Orleans he always had value in PPR leagues and the same should be true for Sproles. Now with Marques Colston out for at least a month, expect Sproles to be an even bigger part of the Saints passing game.

All the talk this summer revolved around Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, but after one game it looks like the best fantasy option in the Saints backfield this season when it's all said and done could be Sproles.

Ben Tate, RB, Texans -- I really like the way this kid runs. We know Arian Foster will be the guy once he's healthy but those hamstring injuries can linger. Even if Foster plays on Sunday, I don't think we've heard the last of Tate this season.

Granted, anyone can look good against the Colts, but Tate impressed me by running with power and showing some nice elusiveness in the open field. Most important, Tate looks fully recovered from a broken ankle that cost him all of his rookie season.

With Derrick Ward hobbling a little bit, there's a chance Tate could be the main ball carrier in Week 2 against Miami. Even if Foster returns, the Texans are likely to bring him along slowly, meaning that Tate has immediate fantasy value either way.

Tate's long-term value is directly tied to Foster's health but there's no question that he's an emerging fantasy player in the Houston backfield. I like Tate much more than Ward as a handcuff to Foster moving forward.

Devery Henderson, WR, Saints -- Those of you who follow the Fire Sale know my uncanny knack for running into bad luck. So after a week of pumping water out my basement every 10 minutes, all I wanted to do was get my fantasy season underway.

So how does that fantasy season kick off? Colston fumbles the first time he touches the football. Of course, we weren't done yet. Colston broke his collarbone and is now out at least a month, likely longer. Welcome to the hell that is my life.

With Colston taking up space on my bench and Lance Moore dealing with a tender groin, Henderson becomes a hot commodity. While I like any receiver that will get looks in the Saints offense, I don't believe Henderson is headed to the Pro Bowl just yet.

In my opinion, the players who benefit the most with Colston out are Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem. Henderson would be third on that list. So while Henderson is worth a pick-up, especially for those of us who own Colston, don't expect him to put up numbers every week like he did in the opener.

Henderson is more of a deep threat, big-play kind of receiver. When Henderson finds the end zone he'll have nice fantasy numbers he'll also be inconsistent from week-to-week. As far as targets go, look for Moore, Graham and Meachem rank ahead of Henderson.

If you have room on your roster go after Henderson. However, don't drop anyone of significance to get him. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't expect Henderson's role in the offense to change all that much.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers -- I thought Nelson was being overvalued in drafts based on his big performance in the Super Bowl. Every summer we hear Nelson is the talk of camp and that he's going to break out. It looks like this could be the year when it finally happens.

Nelson had a nice opening game, catching six balls for 77 yards and a touchdown. Ironically, Aaron Rodgers' only poor pass of the night was an overthrow of Nelson that would have gone for an easy, long touchdown. Nelson was a couple of feet away from having a monster game.

It seems obvious that the Packers' passing game will revolve around Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Nelson, likely in that order. Jennings is now an elite receiver regardless if Finley is around or not. Nelson tied for the team lead against the Saints with eight targets and he's clearly ahead of the aging Donald Driver and declining James Jones in the receiver pecking order.

Nelson was one of my favorite players when he was at Kansas State but I've been a little disappointed in his NFL career so far. That will end this year. Nelson will catch no less than 70 balls in 2011. Mark it down.

If Nelson is still available in your league he should be a high waiver priority this week. Nelson was actually dropped in my league late last week. I had the second waiver spot but lost out because the guy at the top grabbed him. I'm telling you, I can't catch a break.

Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens -- Dickson is a guy who left me torn this preseason because I liked him in college but I was down on the Ravens offense. Nice call by me.

Dickson played well in Week 1, catching five balls for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also had another 34-yard gain called back because of a penalty. Dickson isn't nearly as polished as Todd Heap but he has much more speed and physical ability to create mismatches with defenses, which could mean more big plays.

Dennis Pitta also played in Week 1, but the Ravens ran a lot of two tight-end sets on Sunday. We'll have to wait and see if they did that just for the Steelers or if Baltimore is going to utilize both Dickson and Pitta together more in the future.

Dickson isn't going to come in and be a fantasy starter for you but he reminds me a lot of Washington's Fred Davis, who I talked about this summer. Dickson can do a lot of things in Baltimore's offense, so if you're looking to add a tight end with upside, he's a good choice.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots -- Wow, what a game on Monday night. I'm so glad I listened to all the fantasy experts and waited on a quarterback. I mean, who wants to start Tom Brady every week?

You know what you could have done in your draft instead? You could have waited on a running back and gotten guys like Sproles, Woodhead and Reggie Bush much later. Especially if you play in a PPR league. All of those players are solid fantasy options.

I had Brady rated as my No. 1 overall player this summer because I heard through the grapevine that the Pats were going to use a lot of fast paced, no-huddle offense this year. I believe Brady will put up numbers close to what he did in '07. He's off to a pretty good start.

This also means Woodhead will be on the field a lot. If you go by one week, Woodhead is clearly the main option in New England's backfield. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will get all the goal-line carries, but Woodhead will get plenty of touches this season.

Brady is now in the class with Joe Montana and John Elway among the best quarterbacks I've ever seen. That means every offensive player in New England not named Chad Ochocinco has a lot of fantasy value this season. Woodhead is still out there on a lot of waiver wires. If he's on yours, go get him.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs -- When I heard Cassel was having a poor training camp I wasn't that concerned. I know from watching Cassel in New England that he's a terrible practice player. However, after going 22-for-36 for 119 yards on Sunday, I'm now concerned.

As I stated last week and above in this column, the Chiefs are on the decline. Haley got lucky last season but he can't coach. I'm sure of it. The guy is an offensive coordinator, not a head coach. Basically, he's a poor man's Norv Turner. That's not really a compliment in case you didn't know.

As bad as Kansas City looked overall against Buffalo, Cassel was by far the worst player on the field. He was indecisive and unsure of where to go with the football. I guess having only one option in the passing game is catching up with the Chiefs. Maybe Haley shouldn't have had Tony Moeaki playing significant minutes in the final preseason game. In all seriousness, though, if you take Dwayne Bowe out of the game, where is Cassel supposed to go with the ball?

Whatever the reason, Cassel has been struggling badly since the end of last season. At one point last year I was actually using Cassel as my starting fantasy quarterback. Now I don't think he's even worth a roster spot. That's one heck of a freefall over the last 11 months.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB Steelers -- What the heck was that in Week 1? I've seen the Steelers lose before but I don't think I've ever seen this team get physically beat up as badly as they did on Sunday. They were physically dominated in every area by the Ravens.

So last offseason Big Ben has off-the-field problems, he gets suspended and he comes in out of shape. Yet, he has a great fantasy season and the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl. This year Big Ben gets married, stays out of trouble and comes into camp in the best shape of his life. So much for clean living.

It's only one week and Roethlisberger and the Steelers will get better, so don't jump off a bridge just yet. Still, the fact that Pittsburgh was manhandled physically has to be a concern. Also, that offensive line better improve soon or Big Ben won't be around long. No one can take that many big hits week in and week out.

Donovan McNabb, QB, Vikings -- Three people told me last week that McNabb got jobbed in Washington last year. But the guy is done. He has no fantasy relevance. To be honest, it's comical that he's still starting in the NFL. I would rather see Joe Webb in there. It's over, Donovan. Now go cry to your mother and have her call up a radio station to stick up for you. Hey, it wouldn't be the first time.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers -- Despite Newton's impressive debut, Carolina couldn't run the ball at all against the Cardinals.

That's one problem for Williams. The other problem is that Jonathan Stewart got more reps in the second half. I've thought about this situation quite a bit over the summer and I've come to a conclusion. While Stewart didn't do much on Sunday, either, he's a stud back. Williams is a good back that used to be a stud.

It's hard to complain when a team spends money to try to win, but the re-signing of Williams was one of the more perplexing contracts in recent memory. While still a good player, wouldn't Carolina have been better off going with the combination of Stewart and Mike Goodson? Maybe they don't trust Stewart to stay healthy.

Either way, Williams is going to lose touches to both Cam Newton and Stewart going forward. He still has fantasy value, but if you're using Williams as anything more than a flex play, I think you're expecting too much.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets -- A word comes to mind every time I see Greene run the ball. That word is backup. I've seen all I need to see from Greene. He's not a consistent NFL feature back. Greene will roll over some very bad run defenses, but other than that he's a backup disguising himself as a starter. If you own Greene wait for him to have one big game and then trade him away as fast as you can.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts -- Collie made me look like a genius last year but the exact reason I liked him in 2010 is why Collie is going to have a rough season now: Manning loves Collie. You could see the two of them building chemistry two years ago, but with no Manning, Collie isn't much of a fantasy factor.

When Manning is the quarterback the Colts main offensive set is having three wide receivers on the field. However, against the Texans, Indianapolis went to a lot more two-receiver sets, so Collie wasn't on the field much. One could argue it was because Collie has been dealing with an injury, but I don't think that's the case.

No matter who plays quarterback for the Colts, Collie's fantasy value plummets until Manning returns, which likely won't be this season. Manning looks for Collie. He trusts him more than he does Pierre Garcon. We saw that all last year when Collie was healthy.

Collie now has less fantasy value than receivers like Anthony Armstrong. How depressing.

St. Louis Rams -- Wow, what a disaster. I don't think any team had more go wrong for them in Week 1 than the Rams.

There's no shame in losing to the Eagles. But add in the injuries to Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola,and Sam Bradford getting nicked up, and it was a costly Sunday for the Rams offense.

Amendola was feared to be lost for the season with a dislocated elbow but now it appears he'll only miss a few weeks. Amendola's absence weakens an already suspect receiving corps. Oh, and nice debut, Lance Kendricks. What did he drop, 10 passes? I can't cut that waste of space soon enough. Although to be fair, Kendricks outscored my starting tight end, Owen Daniels, which wasn't hard to do.

Jackson's injury isn't much of a surprise. He's been getting hammered for years now, so it shouldn't shock anyone if Jackson has lingering injuries all season. A pulled quad can be a tricky injury, so even though Jackson is a warrior I would expect him to miss some time.

As this goes to print I'm not sure how long Jackson will be out but he's looking doubtful to play against the Giants. Cadillac Williams played well in relief and is a must-add if you own Jackson. Actually, I'm thinking about using my top waiver request on Williams this week.

Obviously the biggest injury was Bradford hurting his hand. I don't like when I hear "nerve damage." The last time we heard that was with Manning, and he went from possibly missing Week 1 to likely being out for the season. But now the Rams are saying it's just a bruise, so hopefully Bradford will be fine.

The future is still is bright in St. Louis, and with Bradford the future could be as early as later on this season. People like me were probably a little too quick to jump on the bandwagon. The Rams still need receivers and it will take time for the players to get used to Josh McDaniels' system. There will be better days for Bradford and Co. At least let's hope so.

The Sneaky Starts are back. Remember, I'm not telling you to bench Andre Johnson for one of these guys. This section is for people who have injuries or bye weeks and are looking for an under-the-radar player to plug in. Last season I was awesome with tight ends and defenses. Let's see what '11 has in store.

Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins -- It's a little early in the season to be going to a backup quarterback, but if you want to bench your starter, Grossman has a juicy matchup against a Cardinals secondary that made Cam Newton look like Dan Marino. Going back to last season, Grossman has topped 300 yards in three of his last four games. He should make it four of five in Week 2.

Ernest Graham, RB, Bucs -- Apparently fantasy owners were the only ones who thought LeGarrette Blount was going to be the feature back in Tampa. Someone forgot to tell Raheem Morris. Graham totaled 71 yards in Week 1 compared to Blount's 15. I guess the Bucs really will use a committee.

James Jones, WR, Packers -- Jones appears to be the odd man out in Green Bay, but reports are the Packers are trying to trade him. I don't know if you saw the Panthers secondary on Sunday; to say they have a lot of problems is an understatement. All of the Packers receivers should get into the act this week.

Braylon Edwards, WR, 49ers -- Edwards was quiet in Week 1. Normally I wouldn't endorse an offensive player on the 49ers, but at the end of Sunday night's game I swore I saw my cousin Sal out there playing corner for Dallas. At least one receiver on the 49ers will have a big week. I'll put my money on Edwards.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles -- The Falcons safeties are awful. The Bears don't use a tight end and they still did a lot of damage where Celek usually roams in the Eagles offense. Celek is inconsistent but he could have a big week against a dreadful Atlanta pass defense.

Browns defense -- I'm taking the easy way out. Until the Colts offense shows me something I will suggest using any defense against them. It's that simple.

For more average fantasy advice you can follow Thomas Casale on Twitter and Facebook or e-mail him at tcasale@mail.com.

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