Yes, thank you, I am ready for some football. Though, to be honest, three more days wouldn't kill me. I'm not a fan of Thursday night games or any game before Sunday for that matter. It forces the fantasy coach into making decisions on starters several days before you have all the information. Opening the season on a Thursday night is even worse -- preseason injury situations are harder to evaluate since nobody important plays that final exhibition game.
The world champions open the NFL season at home on Thursday night. The Giants have had a surprisingly low-key offseason for a team that won such a historic Super Bowl. They were not even the most talked-about team in New York over the summer; the Jets stole the back pages with the Brett Favre signing. The Giants will have a tough time coping with the losses of DE Osi Umenyiora with a preseason knee injury and the still-retired Michael Strahan. They face a Washington defensive line that is also compromised. New acquisition Jason Taylor sprained his knee two weeks ago, and Andre Carter is limping around with a calf injury.
One more complaint while I'm on my soapbox: late roster moves are a pain in the neck. How many of you kept Tatum Bell and cut Rudi Johnson last week? A lot can change in a week.
• The Chargers have the best and deepest roster in the NFL. Heard that before? That was the story before the 2006 and '07 seasons. This year they will have to overcome some tough injuries right out of the box. Shawne Merriman and his two torn knee ligaments will play on Sunday. You can start him in your IDP league, but I hope you have some depth behind him. Antonio Gates is the bigger concern for fantasy coaches. The star tight end hurt his toe in the playoffs last season, and eventually had to have surgery. Gates never played in the preseason, but claims he's ready to go against Carolina. The toe injury could turn Gates into Todd Heap.
• The quarterback situation in Baltimore was decided by default. Injuries to Troy Smith and Kyle Boller mean that rookie Joe Flacco gets the start against the Bengals on Sunday. None of these guys should be on a fantasy roster.
• The Cowboys are thin at wide receiver this Sunday, behind starters Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton. Backup receivers Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback are out, doubtful and questionable, respectively. Only Hurd was a likely to be on a fantasy roster at this point. It does mean, however, that Crayton should get more looks.
• Tampa Bay WR Joey Galloway is a great play against New Orleans, assuming he has recovered from a groin injury. He could be a game time decision.
• What's the biggest mismatch of the week? It might be the New England defense versus the Chiefs' offense. It's not going to be a good week for RB Larry Johnson, against the fired-up Patriots. New England has had seven months to chew on that bitter Super Bowl defeat.
• I like Packers RB Ryan Grant a lot, but not this week. Nobody runs against the Vikings.
• Which Brett Favre shows up in Miami this Sunday? I think it's the '05 version -- the one with 29 interceptions. Give him a couple of games to get comfortable in the Jets system. It was a mistake to sit him for the final preseason game.
• Go ahead and pick up RB Rudi Johnson if you want, but don't start him yet. Johnson will be a sub in Detroit, behind rookie Kevin Smith, who will get a chance to establish himself against Atlanta, before Johnson learns the Lions' playbook. He is a good play against the Falcons.
• Chad Ocho Cinco, formerly Chad Johnson, is one strange dude. He has a tough matchup this week against the Ravens' defense. The revamped Cincinnati running game, with Chris Perry and Kenny Watson, will have an even harder time against last season's No. 2 run defense.
• The Ravens offense will get a boost facing the Bengals on Sunday, even with Flacco at quarterback. Wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton are no-brainers against a Bengals defense that ranked 27th last year. Even oft-injured Todd Heap is a good play in Week 1. Use him before he gets hurt.
• Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will have a chance to make a statement at home, against a Houston defense that is vulnerable to the pass. All Steelers' receivers are good plays, including Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller and even rookie Limas Sweed.
• Dallas rookie running back Felix Jones looked great in the preseason, averaging nearly 5.5 yards a carry. He will back up Marion Barber. Most weeks he will not see enough carries to be a factor in fantasy, but this week he could. He faces the terrible Browns defense, which makes everyone on Dallas a strong play.
• The Saints are home, in spite of hurricane after effects. Last year their defense couldn't stop anybody, so that makes Tampa Bay QB Jeff Garcia a strong play.
• Miami QB Chad Pennington knows the Jets defense in and out. He practiced against them every week for eight years. He could very well have the better game on Sunday in Miami.
• Finally, I like Giants QB Eli Manning and RB Brandon Jacobs to shine against the Washington defense, even if Taylor suits up. Too many injuries, and it's only Week 1.