September 08, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 1 Revelations
Tom Brady: AP
New England 17, Kansas City 10
  • If you invested a first-round pick on Tom Brady and then ignored the QB slot until Round 16 in fantasy drafts -- grabbing Brodie Croyle as your backup -- then you'll need to:
    1) Hope and pray Brady's knee injury is not season-ending,
    2) Keep Croyle and spend the next 15 weeks cursing in hushed, indecipherable tones,
    3) Outbid your fellow owners for Matt Cassel (or Chris Simms) in next week's waiver wire,
    4) Or start thinking about trading your top receiver (like Braylon Edwards) or running back (maybe Ryan Grant) to the guy/gal who doesn't even start Donovan McNabb at QB.

  • Regardless if you think Cassel is a viable QB, or not even qualified to hold an NFL clipboard on Sundays (right, Sterling Sharpe?) ... Cassel is a must-have for the Brady, Randy Moss or Wes Welker fantasy owner. In relief duty against the Chiefs, Cassel completed 13-of-18 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. As a full-timer with New England's playmakers, Cassel owners could safely project minimum numbers of 215 yards passing and 1.75 TDs per game.

    New York Jets 20, Miami 14
  • Brett Favre (194 yards passing, 2 TDs) may be a surefire Hall of Famer and the toast of the Big Apple right now; but in fantasyland, he's still just a top-of-the-line QB2 -- no matter how many jump-ball touchdowns Chansi Stuckey catches.

  • Before we pencil in Thomas Jones (101 rushing yards, 1 TD vs. Miami) for 1,400 total yards and eight TDs this season, here's a word of caution: Jones tallied 100 and 111 total yards in two games against the Dolphins in '07, while scoring one of only two TDs for the season. In other words, let's see how he fares against the NFL's other 30 teams.

  • Neither Ricky Williams (24 yards rushing) nor Ronnie Brown (23 yards rushing; 51 total) left a lasting legacy on Sunday. But I still say Brown (the NFL's leading rusher at Week 7 last year) will be the every-down back by the end of the month.

    Philadelphia 38, St. Louis 3
  • Donovan McNabb (361 yards, 3 TDs) probably isn't the greatest September passer in NFL history -- it only seems like it. He torched the Rams early and often, connecting with eight different receivers and helping not one, not two ... but three pass-catchers (DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett) tally 100-plus-yards receiving. Another word of caution: Lewis and Baskett are unlikely to duplicate Sunday's performances the rest of the way, since the Rams or Lions aren't on the schedule. Which brings me to this ...

    Atlanta 34, Detroit 21
  • ... Feel free to move heaven and earth to acquire Ryan Grant, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, Chris Johnson or Jonathan Stewart, via trade. These six running backs, plus a few more, all get a shot at pulling a Michael Turner (220 yards rushing, 2 TDs) against the Lions this season. While Turner (formerly LaDainian Tomlinson's understudy in San Diego) is the real deal and could easily challenge Adrian Peterson, Marion Barber or Westbrook for the NFC rushing title, the Lions' lack of aggression and/or tackling prowess may have skewed his record-setting numbers a bit.

  • Oh, while you're busy moving heaven and earth to grab any prominent RB on the Lions' docket, try saving some negotiating room for Detroit WR Calvin Johnson. I'm not joking about what's coming next: At some point this season, Johnson (seven catches for 107 yards vs. Atlanta) will pull down 18 catches in a game (the all-time record is 20, courtesy of Terrell Owens).

  • Revelations, Book II
    Marion Barber: AP
    Dallas 28, Cleveland 10
  • How good are the Cowboys? Theoretically speaking, you could take no one else but Dallas players in a 12-team fantasy draft ... and still compete for a league championship. The Cowboys scored only 28 points against the Browns -- but racked up enough fantasy points to keep owners of Barber, T.O., Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Patrick Crayton and even Felix Jones fat and happy.

    Pittsburgh 38, Houston 17
  • In 2005, Willie Parker entered the season as a fantasy question mark (unknown quantity) and proceeded to burn an up-and-coming AFC foe (Tennessee) for 209 total yards and one touchdown in the Steelers' opening-day rout. Fast forward three years: Parker enters the season as a fantasy question mark (injury recovery, Rashard Mendenhall looming) and proceeds to torch an up-and-coming AFC foe (Houston) for 138 rushing yards and three touchdowns, as part of the Steelers' opening-day blowout victory. The lesson here: Parker should never be taken for granted; and he will likely reward loyal fantasy owners with another season of 1,500 combined yards, if healthy.

    Carolina 26, San Diego 24
  • From a real-life perspective, you may never see a more exhilarating ending than Jake Delhomme's last-gasp, double-pump, bullet-pass-through-three-defenders TD heave to Dante Rosario to pull out the road shocker. But the real news in fantasyland revolves around the Chargers' all-world tight end Antonio Gates (four catches for 61 yards and 1 TD). IF Gates can get past the residual soreness of off-season toe surgery -- along with the wear-and-tear from the actual games -- and play every week (or at least 14 games), fantasy owners shall rejoice at getting second-round value on a seventh-round draft pick (at least in most leagues I've seen).

    Tennessee 17, Jacksonville 10
  • Introducing the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 & Friends fantasy draft ... Titans RB Chris Johnson. If you have a chance to grab this rookie gem off the waiver wire -- he's blessed with Hester-like speed and Peterson-like burst, you know -- are you bold enough to blow your entire auction budget on such a move? Simply put, Johnson (127 total yards, 1 TD) is a must-have in all fantasy leagues, especially after he beats out LenDale White as Tennessee's primary back -- if he hasn't already!
  • Quick-Hitting Revelations
    Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Carson Palmer: AP
  • New Orleans 24, Tampa Bay 20: It's your fault, not Reggie Bush's, if you continue to place unreasonable expectations on someone who's only 6-foot and 200 pounds. I, on the other hand, will sit back and enjoy his 87 catches, 1,475 total yards and 9 TDs in '08.

  • Buffalo 34, Seattle 10: Hey, Lee Evans, congratulations on the second September 100-yard receiving game of your career. Keep this up ... and those projections of 1,200 yards and 9 TDs could be met come Fantasy Playoff Time (Week 14).

  • Arizona 23, San Francisco 13: Is it possible for a player -- say 49ers tailback Frank Gore (151 total yards, 1 TD) -- to claim Fantasy MVP honors in the same season his actual team goes 2-14? After all, I have him down for 1,950 total yards and 12 TDs.

  • Chicago 29, Indianapolis 13: I know explosive rookie Matt Forte had 123 rushing yards, including a 50-yard TD run. But I'm going to look past his great debut ... and focus on the fact not one Bears player caught more than three balls (and that was Forte!). To use Seinfeldian logic: That's not going to be good for anyone.

  • Baltimore 17, Cincinnati 10: There's nothing I can say here that'll comfort fantasy owners of Carson Palmer (99 yards passing), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (44 yards) and Chad John, er, Ochocinco (one catch, 22 yards). So I'm not even going to try. Just know that Palmer will have a five-TD day at some point this season. Good luck, though, on guessing which one it'll be.

  • Celebrity Fantasy League

    Ever dreamt of playing fantasy football against a Hall of Fame safety, Sports Illustrated football writer, Major League Baseball general manager, world-renowned swimsuit model, professional poker player or best-selling author -- to name a few?, in conjunction with Facebook, will welcome someone into its 2008 Celebrity Fantasy League where one lucky fan matches weekly wits, from Draft Day to the Fantasy Bowl, with Ronnie Lott, Peter King, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, supermodel Brooklyn Decker, poker great Phil Gordon and Michael Lewis, author of the sabremetrician-friendly book, Moneyball. Time's running out, though, so click here and register today! As a consolation prize for the contest non-winners, you can create new leagues and develop newer rivals on the new SI/Facebook fantasy game.

    How'd We Do?

    Last week, I offered specific predictions for Week 1 -- some pure gold and others that flopped worse than Larry David as Max Bialystock. Here's a rundown of things so far:

    QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs
    1. Drew Brees (343 yards and 3 TDs -- correct!)
    2. Tony Romo (320 yards and 1 TD -- correct!)
    3. Derek Anderson (114 yards and 1 TD -- wayyyy off!)
    4. Philip Rivers (217 yards and 3 TDs -- correct!)

    RB Locks For 120 Yards and/or 2 TDs
    1. Marshawn Lynch (94 total yards, 1 TD -- just off)
    2. Brian Westbrook (92 total yards, 1 TD) -- correct!)
    3. Frank Gore (151 total yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    4. LaDainian Tomlinson (112 total yards -- just off)
    5. Marion Barber (101 total yards, 2 TDs -- correct!)
    6. Brandon Jacobs (124 total yards -- correct!)
    7. Joseph Addai (47 total yards -- wayyyy off!)
    8. Adrian Peterson vs. Green Bay (TBD on Monday night)
    9. Reggie Bush (163 total yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
    10. Larry Johnson (86 total yards -- way off!)
    11. Steven Jackson (74 total yards -- way off!)
    12. Laurence Maroney vs. Kansas City (51 total yards -- yikes!)

    Winning Ugly, Happily

    As of Saturday night, only one QB drafted in Round 1 this decade had won his respective season opener (David Carr with the Texans, 2002). But by at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, the all-too-exclusive club had welcomed two new members -- the Falcons' Matt Ryan (No. 3 overall) and the Ravens' Joe Flacco (No. 18 overall). What's the old creed about NFL quarterbacks ... they're not paid to put up monster numbers but paid to win? Well, that's exactly what Ryan (161 yards passing, 1 TD) and Flacco (129 yards, 0 TDs) did in leading two middling franchises to Week 1 victories. However, since this is a fantasy site ... and fantasy honks tend to fall in love with rookies, there is NO real reason for pursuing either signal-caller as anything more than low-QB2 or high-QB3 options.

    A Bad Omen?

    The last time the Cowboys registered a season-opening win at Cleveland (prior to Sunday) was 1991, a year in which Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin qualified for the NFC playoffs ... but lost in the divisional round (38-6 to Detroit). Sound familiar?

    I Cannot Leave Without Saying ...

    That after seeing how the Lions' defense received an 'F' grade for Sunday's lackluster performance in Atlanta (318 rushing yards allowed) ... I'm left to wonder the following: Why don't NFL teams use tackling sleds ... all day, every day?

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