By David Sabino
Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson:: Bob Levey/Getty Images:AP
Finally! After half a year of offseason moves, injuries, suspensions, court appearances and endless speculation about all the former and more, we're actually going to get to see real, live regular-season football tonight as the Titans, who had the best record last regular season, take on the Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champs. Unfortunately, this matchup of two of the league's premiere defenses promises to be a fantasy clunker. Ben Roethlisberger and Kerry Collins should be chained to your bench and, while you probably have to play Chris Johnson (on whom you likely spent a top 10 pick), Willie Parker should ride the pine if you can afford to have him reserved. Matchups like these usually turn out well for guys like former Steelers wideout Nate Washington, who is making his Titans debut, likely as the third receiver. He promises to be one of Collins' favorite targets throughout the season and would like nothing more than to stick it to his old team. Otherwise, Rob Bironas and the Titans defense/special teams might be the most productive fantasy contributors in a defensive battle.
This Week's Perfect Team
QB Drew Brees should get a good jumpstart on his pursuit of the NFL's single-season yardage record by taking on a Detroit team that hasn't tasted a regular-season victory since two days before Christmas 2007.
RB He may have been the subject of a zillion "Does he have anything left?" columns this offseason, but early in the year with virtually no wear and tear on him yet, LaDainian Tomlinson gets to face his favorite team, the Raiders, against whom he's rushed for an average 115.2 yards and 10 total touchdowns the last three seasons. He'll give you big numbers.
RB In six career games against the Colts, Maurice Jones-Drew has averaged 6.3 yards per carry, scored six total touchdowns and gained 770 yards from scrimmage. He's now a workhorse, meaning all but the average should increase this week in Indy.
WR The Niners have had success containing Larry Fitzgerald, but have also had a lot of trouble with Anquan Boldin, who, in the last two meetings with San Francisco, has totaled 15 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
WR Sure, the Bills held Randy Moss out of the end zone last year with just six catches and 66 yards in two games, but the last game he and Tom Brady played together against the Bills they connected for 10 catches, 128 yards and four touchdowns.
WR Moss isn't the only receiver licking his chops at the prospect of his quarterback's return. Chad Ochocinco became virtually unusable last season, but with Carson Palmer back under center, "85" should slide right back to the top of the receiving list, starting this week against the discombobulated new-look Broncos.
TE The Dolphins have made numerous improvements over the last year but are still a bit thin at linebacker, even with Jason Taylor now lining up on the outside. Look for Tony Gonzalez to take full advantage by racking up a slew of catches and a score or two in his Falcon's debut.
K A member of the Super Bowl-winning team two years ago, Lawrence Tynes returns to fulltime duty kicking for the Giants after making just one field goal last season as ancient John Carney held the job for most of the year. With two tough front fours, these two NFC East rivals will settle for a lot of field goals, so look for Tynes to get on the board often.
DEF The Browns could name Bernie Kosar their quarterback for this week's game against the Vikings, and it wouldn't help. Rookie RB James Davis is still an excellent pickup, but this week he, along with Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison and the rest of Cleveland's vanilla offense, won't go anywhere against Jared Allen and the Williams Wall.
|This Week's Hot List|
These are somewhat fantasy related, I guess, but even if they're not, here are my predictions for the upcoming season anyway:
|NFL Regular-Season Predictions (*wild card)|
We're delving into multimedia this fantasy season and want you involved. First off, I'll be tweeting every Sunday as NFL action warrants fantasy decisions. You can follow these updates at @SI_DavidSabino.
You can also tune into the brand new SI Fantasy Football Extra podcast, where my co-host, Richard Deitsch, will talk about the fantasy week ahead. And that's where you come in. We want your questions, and we'll answer the best ones on the show and in this space. Send questions to me on Twitter with your first name and where you're writing in from, and we'll find the best possible answer for your team.