For you fantasy footballers out there, here are my recommended plays for the first week of the NFL season.
QB: Gotta love Kurt Warner of the Cardinals going up against last years worst pass defense, the 49ers. Opposing teams averaged 276 passing yards per game against the lowly 49ers last year.
Another good option is Chad Pennington of the Jets going up against the Titans, who gave up 33 passing touchdowns last year.
RB: The two Bells of Denver should toll for the Rams this week. Considering Mike Shanahan won't name a clear starter for the Broncos, this is a high-risk/high reward play. However, as bad as the Rams are against the run (giving up 136 yards per game last year, plus 22 touchdowns), it is possible both Mike and Tatum could have a big day against the lowly Rams.
If I have to tell you to start LaDainian Tomlinson against the Raiders this week (or against whomever the Chargers play against ANY week), you need some major fantasy football therapy. The same goes for Shaun Alexander against the Lions.
If you are looking for hidden gold, how about Frank Gore of the 49ers against the Cardinals? The Cards gave up 22 rushing touchdowns last year.
WR: Look for the Cardinals wideouts, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, to have big days against the 49ers.
Of course, Laveranues Coles of the Jets should have a big day against the Titans, but watch what Jerricho Cotchery does. Cotchery may surprise a few people this week.
No one should ever ignore the two Bengals wide receivers, Chad Johnson and T.J. "Who's your mama" Houshmandzadeh, but they are particularly nice this week against the Chiefs, who gave up 229 passing yards per game and 25 touchdowns last year. Considering Herm Edwards is installing a new Cover Two defense in K.C., expect some growing pains for the Chiefs defense.
TE: Antonio Gates starts EVERY week. Over any other tight end in the NFL. Period. Do not question this, and you will enjoy a prosperous fantasy football season.
For the best of the rest, try Dallas Clark of the Colts against the Giants. The Giants will be blitzing to stop Peyton Manning, which will leave their underbelly exposed for Clark.
K: For kickers, always look for a team which will move the ball between the 20's, but get stopped in or near the red zone. For that, I like Jason Hanson of the Lions this week. The Seahawks should be able to keep the Lions from the endzone.
On the other hand, Phil Dawson of the Browns is a solid choice against the Saints, who give up all kinds of points in bunches.
DEFENSES: For defenses, the best barometer is how often the opposing offense turns the ball over. Most leagues give you points for turnovers, but turnovers also create oppurtunities for defensive touchdowns.
The best defense this week? Da Bears. As the first stop on Brett Favre's Farewell Tour, they should benefit richly from a quarterback who has not realized he has gotten too old.
Denver's defense is not a bad play against the Rams this week either. While I cannot be sure whether the Rams offense will play as sloppy as they did last year, the Broncos defense should cause a few turnovers regardless.