Tuesday, September 9, 2008

FANTASY FOOTBALL RECAP: WEEK ONE

Quite an interesting weekend to kick off the 2008 fantasy football season.

Many rookies stepped up to make an impact, some veterans with some question marks responded in a big way, some veterans expected to produce big numbers fizzled and injuries took their toll to the point of changing the complexion of the 2008 fantasy football season.

If you heeded my warning in my fantasy football column that ran on Saturday you have yourself a decent backup quarterback to replace Patriots QB Tom Brady. I wrote in my column I had a hunch he was going to miss extensive time and really didn't think he would finish the season, although going down in the first game of the season was a huge surprise.
Hopefully Brady will be okay for 2009, but what about the rest of the Pats for 2008?
Because of who he is you still need to start Randy Moss, although Wes Welker's value diminishes a bit. Running back Laurence Maroney will likely be leaned on a lot more now although Sammy Morris will still see goal line carries.
If you plan on using Pats backup QB Matt Cassel to replace Brady, there's good and bad news. The bad news is the Patriots won't be facing a pathetic team like the Chiefs every week. The good news is the Pats' brass is going to give Cassel every chance to be the No. 1 guy. The Patriots invited Tim Rattay and Chris Sims for a tryout and when they got to Foxboro they were sent home without even a look. Also, should Cassel falter in the next 2-3 weeks, the Pats could try to coax Daunte Culpepper out of retirement since he has a history with Moss.

What about those rookies last weekend?
Titans' back Chris Johnson had 93 yards rushing, including a TD run, and 34 yards receiving; Lions back Kevin Smith had 48 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving inckuding a 3-yard TD run; Cowboys' second string back Felix Jones had 62 yards rushing inculding a TD run; and Bears back Matt Fore had over 140 total yards and a TD.
And how about Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, my annointed sleeper last week, who ended up with 106 yards.

As big as Brady's news is, to me the next biggest news items fantasy wise are the field day Falcons back Michael Turner had and the return to form for Eagles QB Donovan McNabb.
Turner, for years in the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson, gave us a preview of what we've been missing from this gem as he led all backs with 220 yards rushing and two TDs. I have him in four of the eight leagues I'm in and I couldn't be happier.
McNabb showed us what he's still capable of when he's healthy, an iffy proposition during his career, as he blew away all quarterbacks with 361 yards passing and three TD passes. And he did this with his No. 1 receiver (Kevin Curtis) and No. 2 receiver (Reggie Brown) sidelined with injuries. He made one-week wonders out of backups Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett who both had over 100 yards receiving.
Note that a healthy L.J. Smith also benefitted with 36 yards receiving and a TD. Smith is still available on some waiver wires and I would grab him if you need tight end help.
When it came to QBs the Saints Drew Brees (343 yards, three TDs) and Cowboys Tony Romo (320, 1 TD) also had solid days.

In addition to Brady, injuries also took their toll on Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson (knee) and Titans QB Vince Young (knee). Burleson is out for the season andYoung could miss 2-4 weeks. Deion Branch should return from injury this week to fill Burleson's spot

Pittsburgh pulled off some surprises with a run-heavy philosophy with Willie Parker rushing for 138 yards and three TDs. This ultimately contributed to a pathetic day for receiver Santonio Holmes who many fantasy team owners believe will post elite wideout numbers this season. Instead, he had two catches for 19 yards.

Biggest waiver wire pick up this week: Eddie Royal, Denver - the receiver, albeit with No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall serving a one-game suspension, had 146 yards and a touchdown in a win over Oakland on Monday.

If you have any fantasy related questions (who to start, who to get off waivers, etc.), email me at dnowak@nhregister.com.

-Dan Nowak is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association......

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