Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Let History Be Our Guide
Tom Brady: AP

So, here we are ... Week 1 of the NFL season. Hope springs eternal for all teams. The temperatures are warm, the sun is shining everywhere and the days are still noticeably longer (although you have to love that first Sunday after Daylight Savings ... when it suddenly turns dark during halftime of the 4 p.m. games). Sounds like fantasy utopia for quarterbacks, right? Meh. Truthfully ... the numbers could be a little better, especially for QBs who supposedly had the perfect amount of reps during the tedious preseason. But then again, it's not like I expect greatness from MLB starting pitchers in April ... so why should I hold Jake Delhomme to such an unattainable standard?

Anyway ... here's how fantasyland's best quarterbacks rank from their last four Week 1 starts (and yes, we're throwing out Tom Brady's 2008 season-opener (knee injury) ... and yes, we're excluding all top-notch QBs with fewer than four career Week 1 starts under their belts -- like Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, etc.):

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
Four-year Week 1 average (excluding '08): 277 total yards, 2.5 touchdowns, 0.5 interceptions

2. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
Four-year Week 1 average: 284 total yards, 2 touchdowns, 0.75 interceptions

3. Peyton Manning, Colts
Four-year Week 1 average: 268 total yards, 1.75 touchdowns, 0.25 interceptions

4. Drew Brees, Saints
Four-year Week 1 average: 229 total yards, 1.5 touchdowns, 1.5 interceptions

5. Kurt Warner, Cardinals
Four-year Week 1 average: 243 total yards, 1.25 touchdowns, 1 interception

6. Chad Pennington, Dolphins
Four-year Week 1 average: 253 total yards, 1.5 touchdowns, 0.5 interceptions

7. Eli Manning, Giants
Four-year Week 1 average: 230 total yards, 2 touchdowns, 1.25 interceptions

8. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Four-year Week 1 average: 170 total yards, 2 touchdowns, 0.5 interceptions

9. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
Four-year Week 1 average: 229 total yards, 0.5 touchdowns, 0.25 interceptions

10. Carson Palmer, Bengals
Four-year Week 1 average: 177 total yards, 1 touchdown, 0.5 interceptions

The Aftermath: Wow! Could Palmer be more pedestrian on Opening Day? (Thankfully, he's historically a beast during Week 2.) And what about Brees' tepid numbers to start a campaign? Maybe there's a glimmer of hope for my hometown Detroit Lions at the Superdome on Sunday? HA! It simply reiterates the notion that running backs make the fantasy world go 'round -- and they get the proverbial ball rolling like no one else.

Lastly, for those with inquiring minds, here's how Brett Favre and the aforementioned Jake Delhomme have fared in their previous four Week 1 starts:

Favre, Vikings
Four-year Week 1 average: 193 total yards, 0.5 touchdowns, 1.25 interceptions

Delhomme, Panthers
Four-year Week 1 average: 218 total yards, 1.25 touchdowns, 0.75 interceptions

QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs

1. Peyton Manning vs. Jacksonville
2. Drew Brees vs. Detroit
3. Kurt Warner vs. San Francisco
4. Matt Hasselbeck vs. St. Louis
5. Aaron Rodgers vs. Chicago
6. Tom Brady vs. Buffalo

The Obligatory Predictions: NFC

Along with my esteemed colleague Jeff Ritter and loyal Twitter follower @JamilSmith, who works for NFL Films, here's our written-in-stone picks for the NFC's four division winners and two wild cards:

NFL 2009 preseason predictions
CategoryJay ClemonsJamil SmithJeff Ritter
NFC East Winner Eagles Eagles Eagles
NFC South Saints Falcons Saints
NFC North Packers Packers Packers
NFC West Cardinals Seahawks Seahawks
Wild Card #1 Vikings Cardinals N.Y. Giants
Wild Card #2 Falcons Vikings Vikings
RB Locks -- 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs

1. Willie Parker vs. Tennessee
2. Michael Turner vs. Miami
3. Adrian Peterson @ Cleveland
4. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Indianapolis
5. Joseph Addai vs. Jacksonville
6. Frank Gore @ Arizona
7. Brandon Jacobs vs. Washington
8. Julius Jones vs. St. Louis
9. Steven Jackson @ Seattle
10. Cedric Benson vs. Denver
11. Matt Forte @ Green Bay
12. Darren McFadden vs. San Diego

Just So You Know ...

We're still hard at work updating our fantasy rankings, starting with the Top 200 List ... and ending with positional rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, defense/special teams and, of course, the kickers. BOOM!

America's Top 10

I learned my lesson from last year's Clicks: It's quite foolish to guarantee 100 receiving yards and/or one touchdown with tight ends -- since their stats, including the stars, fluctuate wildly from week to week. Instead, here's my list for the top 10 most productive tight ends for Week 1 only:

1. Owen Daniels vs. N.Y. Jets
2. Tony Gonzalez vs. Miami
3. Zach Miller vs. San Diego
4. Jason Witten @ Tampa Bay
5. Antonio Gates @ Oakland
6. Visanthe Shiancoe @ Cleveland
7. Kevin Boss vs. Washington
8. Vernon Davis @ Arizona
9. John Carlson vs. St. Louis
10. Steve Heiden vs. Minnesota

The 40 & Over Club

Speaking of tight ends ... here's something to consider:'s projections for every tight end who'll tally 40 catches. Noticeably absent here are three neglected veterans with solid upside (Todd Heap, Vernon Davis, Anthony Fasano) and four rookies ready to take the pros by storm (Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, Shawn Nelson, Chase Coffman):

Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 85 catches
Dallas Clark, Colts -- 81 catches
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 81 catches
Chris Cooley, Redskins -- 75 catches
Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- 71
Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 69
Greg Olsen, Bears -- 67
Dustin Keller, Jets -- 64
Owen Daniels, Texans -- 58
John Carlson, Seahawks -- 52
Kevin Boss, Giants -- 52
Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- 51
Zach Miller, Raiders -- 51
Bo Scaife, Titans -- 45
Brent Celek, Eagles -- 43
Tony Scheffler, Broncos -- 42
Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- 42
Heath Miller, Steelers -- 40

Kicker Locks For 3-Plus Field Goals

1. Rob Bironas @ Pittsburgh
2. Jason Elam vs. Miami
3. Matt Prater @ Cincinnati
4. Joe Nedney @ Arizona
5. Nate Kaeding @ Oakland
6. Ryan Longwell @ Cleveland
7. Nick Folk @ Tampa Bay
8. Shaun Suisham @ N.Y. Giants

This Week In Twitter-land
Calvin Johnson: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

@hillsidebuffalo asks: Matt Forte for Andre Johnson. Who wins that trade?

Answer: EVERYONE wins!!! Yes, Forte (No. 3 overall) possesses the higher draft value (AJ ranks 10th), but they're both aces at their respective positions. And if you geuninely want to start your PPR draft by going WR-WR-WR ... then AJ would be a stupendous choice late in Round 1 or early in Round 2 (although Forte seems like the NFL's surest bet for 60 catches, 2,000 total yards AND 10 touchdowns this season). Who knows ... maybe you'll get 'em both?

@Texstro wonders: In a PPR league, Steve Slaton/Wes Welker or Ryan Grant/Reggie Wayne?

Answer: In a PPR, go with Slaton/Welker (one's a lock for 1,600 total yards/10 TDs; the other's a lead-pipe cinch for 100 catches). In standard-scoring leagues, ride Wayne/Grant (ranked 21st/22nd overall) to fantasy glory.

@rmleider wants to know: Will Detroit QBs keep Calvin Johnson from a big year? And in a PPR, where do you rank Roddy White amongst Greg Jennings, Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin?

Answer: Calvin scored an NFL-high 12 TDs with four different quarterbacks last year (Daunte Culpepper, Jon Kitna, Drew Stanton, Dan Orlovsky) ... so why wouldn't he replicate the feat with a more-svelte Daunte and future All-Pro in rookie Matthew Stafford calling the shots at QB? Also, regarding the WR/PPR query, I'd go 1) Moss, 2) Jennings, 3) Boldin and 4) White.

Digital Underground

Mainstream fantasy sites, like, are obviously a hit with fantasygoers. But there's always room for alternative media in the marketplace, especially when the authors are hilariously shouting from the rooftops about why Marc Bulger hasn't turned over a new leaf, or why the Detroit Lions may not win a game ... until 2012.

The first must-see blog is; and the site's signature page involves Snake's Takes (running every Tuesday) -- comprising a collection of unfiltered thoughts so random, so emotional, so bitter, so twisted ... you'll wonder how the man even survives an NFL Sunday, let alone write about it come Monday.

Next up ... we have Fantasy Football Toolbox. If you're looking for updated depth charts, weekly cheat sheets, injury reports and even -- sacre bleu! -- an updated listing of the NFL's Top 10 punters (insert joke here) ... then welcome home!

There's even a weekly podcast during the season -- although the Clemons/Ritter podcast offers more hard-hitting fantasy analysis and abject mocking of one another's lineup decisions. BOOM!

WR Locks -- 110 Total Yards and/or 1 TD

1. DeSean Jackson @ Carolina
2. Andre Johnson vs. N.Y. Jets
3. Larry Fitzgerald vs. San Francisco
4. Marques Colston vs. Detroit
5. Reggie Wayne vs. Jacksonville
6. Calvin Johnson @ New Orleans
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. St. Louis
8. Greg Jennings vs. Chicago
9. Jordy Nelson vs. Chicago
10. Randy Moss vs. Buffalo
11. Chris Chambers @ Oakland

The Rock-Paper-Scissors-Sanchez Triangulation
I realize Mark Sanchez-mania will sweep the Big Apple as soon as the Jets rookie QB helps beat the Patriots or Dolphins (it could happen this year) ... but that's still no excuse to start him in fantasy circles for non-bye-heavy weeks. Oh sure, Sanchez and Detroit 's Matthew Stafford have the capacity for fantasy greatness down the road ... but not in 2009 -- unless you have already forgotten that only Dan Marino, Matt Ryan and Jim Kelly posted superstar numbers as rookies.

Speaking of the veterans, here's how a few performed in their inaugural NFL starts ... wayyyyyyy back when:

Peyton Manning (1998, Colts): 21-of-37 for 302 yards; 1 TD, 3 INT (Loss)
Tom Brady (2001, Patriots): 13-of-23 for 168 yards; 0 TD, 0 INT (Win)
Donovan McNabb ('99, Eagles): 8-of-21 for 60 yards; 0 TD, 0 INT (Win)
Drew Brees ('02, Chargers): 15-of-19 for 160 yards; 2 TDs, 0 INT (Win)
Matt Hasselbeck ('01, Seahawks): 20-of-34 for 178 yards; 0 TD, 2 INT (Win)
Ben Roethlisberger ('04, Steelers): 12-of-22 for 163 yards; 1 TD, 1 INT (Win)
Carson Palmer ('03, Bengals): 18-of-27 for 248 yards; 2 TDs, 1 INT (Loss)
Matt Ryan ('08, Falcons): 9-for-13 for 161 yards; 1 TD, 0 INTs (Win)
Joe Flacco ('08, Ravens): 15-for-29 for 129 passing yards (37 rushing); 1 TD, 0 INTs (Win)
The Bye Week Conundrum

Here's the 2009 bye schedule, along with the impacted fantasy stars:

Week 4: Cardinals (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Warner, Wells, Urban, Breaston, Hightower, Pope), Falcons (Turner, Ryan, White, Jenkins, Norwood, Gonzalez), Panthers (Williams, Stewart, Delhomme, Muhammad, Smith, Dawson), Eagles (McNabb, Westbrook, McCoy, Jackson, Vick, Maclin, Curtis, Avant, Celek)

Week 5: Bears (Cutler, Forte, Peterson, Bennett, Hester, Olsen), Packers (Rodgers, Grant, Wynn, Jennings, Driver, Jones, Finley), Saints (Brees, Bush, Thomas, Colston, Moore, Henderson, Meachem, Shockey, Miller), Chargers (Rivers, Tomlinson, Sproles, Jackson, Chambers, Floyd, Gates, Davis)

Week 6: Cowboys (Romo, Barber, Jones, Choice, Williams, Hurd, Crayton, Witten, Bennett), Colts (Manning, Addai, Brown, Wayne, Gonzalez, Collie, Clark), Dolphins (Pennington, Brown, Williams, Camarillo, Ginn, Bess, Fasano), 49ers (Hill, Gore, Robinson, Coffee, Bruce, Davis, Morgan)

Week 7: Ravens (Flacco, McGahee, McClain, Rice, Mason, Clayton, Heap), Broncos (Orton, Marshall, Royal, Stokley, Scheffler, McKinley, Moreno, Buckhalter, Jordan, Hillis), Lions (Stafford, Smith, Johnson, Northcutt Johnson, Curry, Pettigrew), Jaguars (Garrard, Jones-Drew, Washington, Holt, Lewis, Dillard, Sims-Walker, Williamson), Seahawks (Hasselbeck, Jones, James, Burleson, Branch, Houshmandzadeh, Carlson), Titans (Collins, Johnson, White, Gage, Thorpe, Washington, Scaife)

Week 8: Bengals (Palmer, Benson, Johnson, Leonard, Dorsey, Ochocinco, Simpson, Coffman), Chiefs (Cassel, Johnson, Charles, Cottam, Bowe, Engram, Bradley), Patriots (Brady, Taylor, Maroney, Morris, Moss, Welker, Galloway, Smith), Steelers (Roethlisberger, Parker, Mendenhall, Ward, Sweed, Holmes, Miller), Buccaneers (Leftwich, Graham, Ward, Williams, Winslow, Clayton, Bryant), Redskins (Campbell, Portis, Betts, Moss, Cooley, Thomas, Kelly, Randle El)

Week 9: Bills (Edwards, Lynch, Jackson, Owens, Evans, Hardy, Reed, Parrish), Browns (Quinn, Anderson, Lewis, Edwards, Robiskie, Heiden, Harrison, Furrey, Cribbs), Rams (Bulger, Jackson, Avery, Burton, Robinson, Klopfenstein, Darby, Pittman, McMichael), Vikings (Favre, Peterson, Harvin, Taylor, Berrian, Rice, Shiancoe), Raiders (Russell, McFadden, Fargas, Bush, Heyward-Bey, Walker, Schilens, Miller), Jets (Clemens, Washington, Jones, Greene, Stuckey, Cotchery, Keller, Clowney)

Week 10: Texans (Schaub, Johnson, Walter, Slaton, Daniels), Giants (Manning, Hixon, Nicks, Boss, Jacobs, Bradshaw, Toomer)

The Obligatory Predictions: AFC

We'd be remiss for not presenting our picks for the AFC's four division winners and two wild cards:

NFL 2009 preseason predictions
Category Jay Clemons Jamil Smith Jeff Ritter
AFC East Winner Patriots Patriots Patriots
AFC South Titans Colts Titans
AFC North Steelers Steelers Steelers
AFC West Chargers Chargers Chargers
Wild Card #1 Colts Ravens Texans
Wild Card #2 Texans Titans Ravens
November Rain

Here's some quick food for thought:

The number of Seattle road games in November: 4 (@ Dallas, @ Arizona, @ Minnesota, @ St. Louis)
The number of Seattle road games in September/October/December combined: 4 (@ San Francisco, @ Indianapolis, @ Houston, @ Green Bay)

I Cannot Leave Without Touting ...

The sparkling edition of the 2009 Sports Illustrated/Citizen Sports Fantasy Football Game (presented by Pepsi Max). For those who haven't accessed this amazing application yet on Facebook ... what are you waiting for? And for those whose fantasy-football lives were compromised looooooooong before Brian Westbrook skipped his first preseason game, check out Jeffrey Ma's omnipresent fantasy blog on Citizen Sports.

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