By now, you've undoubtedly read a few accounts from fantasy experts imploring you to drop Anquan Boldin from starting lineups this week, as a direct consequence of Darrelle Revisreturning to the Jets (isn't it funny how $46 million can inspire someone to work again?). And while this sounds like good advice for the masses, in reality, it conflicts with one of the most unimpeachable rules of fantasy football: Never fear someone who skips training camp.
Think about it: If Revis had missed the Jets' entire preseason drudgery with a bad hamstring or injured knee, you'd want Boldin -- or any other No. 1 receiver -- to test Revis's physical limits on every pass play, without mercy. And yet, we're supposed to offer a guy who's been sitting on his couch for seven weeks an amazing show of respect, as if playing Madden between stints on the treadmill down in Florida constitutes preparations for a rigorous NFL campaign. Don't get me wrong, Revis is probably the best cornerback in the NFL when in top physical shape; but that's not the case in early September. He's easily more susceptible to muscle pulls and groin tweaks in Week 1 than he'll be come Week 12 against the Bengals.
On the flip side, I'm sure Boldin has been anticipating the Revis encounter ever since his trade to the Land of Crab Cakes. New team, new quarterback, new time zone, prime time game in a new stadium -- the only thing that can stop Boldin on Monday night is another helmet-to-helmet facial from Eric Smith -- who, last I checked, is languishing on the Jets' depth chart.
Boldin prediction: 6 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD
I'm a real-world fan of Carson Palmer's exploits with the Bengals, namely the club's two AFC North titles in the last five seasons. But he's been a passive pooch in fantasy circles during that time frame -- particularly Week 1. Here are Palmer's averages for opening day from 2005-09 (avert the eyes of children, please):
182.4 passing yards, 0.8 TDs, 0.8 interceptions
1. Drew Brees vs. Minnesota 2. Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis 3. Matthew Stafford @ Chicago 4. Aaron Rodgers @ Philadelphia 5. Kevin Kolb vs. Green Bay 6. Philip Rivers @ Kansas City
Along with esteemed Golf.com shamanJeff Ritter and loyal Twitter follower @JamilSmith, here's our annual, written-in-stone picks for the NFC's four division winners and two wild cards:
1. Adrian Peterson @ New Orleans 2. C.J. Spiller vs. Miami 3. Matt Forte vs. Detroit 4. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Atlanta 5. Jerome Harrison @ Tampa Bay 6. Chris Johnson vs. Oakland 7. Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Carolina 8. DeAngelo Williams @ N.Y. Giants 9. Steven Jackson vs. Arizona 10. Ray Rice @ N.Y. Jets 11. Jamaal Charles vs. San Diego
Outside of my wife, family, friends and reruns of 30 Rock and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, my life is fantasy football from August-December. If I'm not re-reading one of the 12 fantasy magazines that engulf my coffee table, or mindfully watching old DVR'd broadcasts of Fantasy Fix (starring John Hansen and Scott Ferrall) I can be found listening to (or downloading) one of the hundreds of fantasy-related podcasts on the web. In fact, here are my top 5 football-specific podcasts/radio-TV shows:
1. ESPN -- "Fantasy Focus" with Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz2. CBSSports -- "Fantasy Football" with Dave Richard/Jamey Eisenberg3. Sirius Radio -- "Sirius Fantasy Football" with John Hansen/Adam Caplan4. KFAN in Minneapolis -- "Fantasy Football Weekly" with Paul Charchian5. WDFN/Fox2Detroit.com -- "Fantasy Sports Geekly" with Sean Baligian
With Super Bowl/fantasy boasts thrown in...
Here's something to consider: CBSSports.com's projections for tight ends with 45 or more catches. Noticeably absent is one star-in-the-making (Fred Davis), three neglected veterans with solid reputations (ToddHeap, Tony Scheffler, Anthony Fasano) and seven young turks who might be ready to take the fantasy world by storm (Shawn Nelson, Brandon Pettigrew, Jermaine Gresham, Jared Cook, Aaron Hernandez, Dennis Pitta, Rob Gronkowski):
Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 90 catches Dallas Clark, Colts -- 84 catches Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 82 Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 81 Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 76 Jermichael Finley, Packers -- 73 Brent Celek, Eagles -- 73 Zach Miller, Raiders -- 72 Owen Daniels, Texans -- 69 Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- 69 Chris Cooley, Redskins -- 69 Heath Miller, Steelers -- 64 Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- 58 John Carlson, Seahawks -- 55 Dustin Keller, Jets -- 51 Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- 50 Bo Scaife, Titans -- 48 Greg Olsen, Bears -- 47 Kevin Boss, Giants -- 45
In a 16-team real draft with 15 Twitter followers Sunday night, I found it interesting that @TheFantasyNerd -- a guy with no ties to the city of St. Louis -- grabbed Rams tight end Billy Bajema before some guys on the above list. Who is Billy Bajema, you ask? Well, he's either the next-great tight end we've never heard of (Jermichael Finley, circa 2008) OR an unwitting pawn in one of the more hilarious draft-day disasters in Fantasy Clicks history. Either way, it's worth mentioning here.
1. Dan Carpenter @ Buffalo 2. Nate Kaeding @ Kansas City 3. David Buehler @ Washington 4. Josh Brown vs. Arizona 5. Rob Bironas vs. Oakland 6. Josh Scobee vs. Denver 7. Stephen Gostkowski vs. Cincinnati
@bschulle -- Out of Ahmad Bradshaw, Felix Jones, Michael Crabtree and Mike Wallace, who is my No. 2 RB, No. 2 WR and the flex starter? Steven Jackson and Miles Austin are my No. 1s, thanks!
Answer: I'm happy to help here, but it sounds like you want me to pick your entire lineup; and where's the fun in that for you? The whole point of fantasy football is drafting a team that fits your personal philosophy, and then riding your gut instincts when choosing starting lineups. Are you saying you don't want that pit in your stomach on Sundays when it's 12:50 p.m. and you can't decide who to start at the flex spot? (deep sigh) Sermon aside, I'm definitely starting Bradshaw as your RB2, Crabtree as your WR2 and Wallace over Felix in the flex spot.
@iHateJJRedick -- Pick two to start Week 1 (PPR league): Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller, Jerome Harrison, Tim Hightower, Cadillac Williams.
Answer: Wow, you have a smorgasboard of choices here. Excellent drafting! Hmmm, Hightower is certainly an intriguing PPR prospect, and lord knows he could catch eight balls and score two short-yardage TDs against the Rams. But Caddy, Spiller, Best and Harrison are the better backs, with equally enticing matchups in Week 1. If I had to choose, I'd ride Spiller and Harrison -- who may be the NFL's leading rusher after Week 2.
@FunnyMelton -- Who do I start this week, Tony Romo or Carson Palmer? I'm afraid to use Romo right now; our league scores 6 pts on touchdowns.
Answer: Melton, there's a reason why you invested a high draft pick on Romo ... and then took Palmer as a relative afterthought a few rounds later. And looking at the acutal matchups, I don't see how Carson (@ New England) has an edge over Romo (@ Washington). We've got a whole season to overthink lineup changes, let's not play this game in Week 1, OK?
@BobbyOSheaVSL -- Who's the better flex starter in Week 1: Johnny Knox? Nate Burleson? Eddie Royal? Leon Washington? Steve Slaton?
Answer: Bobby, unless this is a 14-team league, your flex options are less than flattering. Don't get me wrong, Johnny Knox could have a superb game against the Lions in Week 1 -- Detroit's best cornerback is Chris Houston, after all -- but he's maybe Chicago's third- or fourth-best receiving threat for a full season. Burleson certainly got his share of targets with the Seahawks, when healthy, but that's never a given. And Slaton, Royal and Washington are all randon shots in the dark, from week to week. This Sunday, ride Knox with confidence. But next week, spend a little time upgrading your squad, via trade.
@aL_Frin -- Would you drop any of the following for T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Legedu Nanee, Jacoby Jones, Derrick Mason or Seattle's Mike Williams?
Answer: At the risk of being a politician who speaks but says nothing, you just can't afford to dump Housh at this juncture. It's wayyyyyyy too early to gauge his value with the Ravens, especially since he has no previous ties to Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh, Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice or offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. At this stage of his career, Housh may not be better than D-Mason, but it's just too soon to tell. He's a keeper, for sure, but on your bench for the foreseeable future.
Jacksonville over Denver
1. Andre Johnson vs. Indianapolis 2. Reggie Wayne @ Houston 3. Anquan Boldin @ N.Y. Jets 4. Marques Colston vs. Minnesota 5. Calvin Johnson @ Chicago 6. Greg Jennings @ Philadelphia 7. Mike Sims-Walker vs. Denver 8. Brandon Marshall @ Buffalo 9. DeSean Jackson vs. Green Bay10. Larry Fitzgerald @ St. Louis
• Week 2's five best fantasy RBs will be ...Ryan Grant (vs. BUF), Michael Turner (vs. ARI), Clinton Portis (vs. HOU), Jerome Harrison (vs. KC), Frank Gore (vs. NO).
• Week 3's five best fantasy RBs will be ...Steven Jackson (vs. WAS), Arian Foster (vs. DAL), Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. PHI), Adrian Peterson (vs. DET), Pierre Thomas (vs. ATL).
• The first tailback to tally four TDs in one game -- aka, Pulling An Al Bundy -- will be ... Ray Rice vs. Buffalo (Week 7).
• Kansas City's Jamaal Charles will be the first back to throw a touchdown pass in 2010.
• Maurice Jones-Drew will be the best sell-high RB option before standard trade deadlines (Week 12).
• Week 14's five best fantasy RBs will be ... Chris Johnson (vs. IND), Adrian Peterson (vs. NYG), DeAngelo Williams (vs. ATL), Felix Jones (vs. PHI), C.J. Spiller (vs. CLE).
• Week 15's five best fantasy RBs will be ... Steven Jackson (vs. KC), Cadillac Williams (vs. DET), Ray Rice (vs. NO), Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. PHI), Cedric Benson (vs. CLE).
• Week 2's five best fantasy WRs will be ... Roddy White (vs. ARI), Legedu Naanee (vs. JAX), Miles Austin (vs. CHI), Reggie Wayne (vs. NYG), Marques Colston (@ SF).
• Week 3's five best fantasy WRs will be ... Anquan Boldin (vs. CLE), Randy Moss (vs. BUF), Andre Johnson (vs. DAL), Hakeem Nicks (vs. TEN).
• The first receiver to tally three TDs in one game will be ... Larry Fitzgerald vs. New Orleans (Week 5).
• Philly's DeSean Jackson will be the first wideout to register 10 catches and two touchdowns in separate games.
• Week 14's five best fantasy WRs will be ...Steve Smith (vs. ATL), Devin Thomas (vs. TB), Andre Johnson (vs. BALT), Dwayne Bowe (@ SD), LeeEvans (vs. CLE).
• Week 15's five best fantasy WRs will be ... Andre Johnson (@ TEN), Calvin Johnson (@ TB), DeSean Jackson (@ NYG), Brandon Marshall (vs. BUF), Kenny Britt (vs. HOU).
The guy who wrote/conceived this gawd-awful TV spot for NAPA Auto Parts. Seriously, I'd rather watch the infamous Teddy Ruxpin-as-Frankenstein commercial from the 1980s 100 times before being subjected to the 'Know How' song one more time. Thank god it's football time!