What to watch for in Week 1


Let's take a step back and look at the overriding trends and storylines for the upcoming fantasy football weekend, shall we? Obviously, with actual games to watch, this is a much better weekend, with more to discuss. I'm leaving Tom Brady and the Patriots out, because the game in which they'll be scoring 48 points by halftime isn't until Monday night. Wait, did I just type that?

Checking out the Waffle House: No, that's not where I will be dining Sunday morning, but with the "king of waffling" throwing passes for the Minnesota Vikings, and the head coach on the other sideline still debating his starting center, color of uniforms and what route he'll take driving to the stadium, there's a lot to pay attention to. Plus, didn't Eric Mangini coach Brett Favre last season? What a coincidence they face each other in Week 1! Fantasy owners will probably overrate the performance of each quarterback. Favre should have a good game against a bad defense, but every little thing he does will be picked apart to no end. It's time to move past the circus offseason and focus on him being one of the 20 most valuable fantasy quarterbacks. If Brady Quinn had attended Florida International instead of Notre Dame, would he be at all popular? I think this is a tough matchup, even though the Vikings don't thrive against the pass. But everything he does will be micro-judged. Anyway, I like waffles, so pass the syrup.

Defense rests in NFC West: A season ago, it took only nine wins to win this sad-sack division, and let's just say defense wasn't a strongpoint, as no division allowed more points. Well, I don't think any division will permit more points this weekend, either. That's a good thing for fantasy! I've gone on record as saying I loved Matt Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Seattle Seahawks, but the St. Louis Rams are going to keep pace. It might be all Steven Jackson, but so be it. I also ranked Shaun Hill as a near-starting signal-caller in deep leagues, believing he has the proper weapons to push Kurt Warner into throwing 50 times. Look, this is the only weekend all season in which the four NFC West teams play only each other, so you might not get another weekend like this in which 125-plus points will be scored by these teams ... and, of course, allowed.

Shore up those benches: For some of you, a lot has probably changed since draft day. For example, how many of you still have Dominic Rhodes on your bench? Until he finds work, you don't need to own him, and even after that we can certainly debate the case. We know there will be surprise performances this weekend, and someone is going to be the next Frisman Jackson, the guy who has a big Week 1, gets overrated, picked up in about every league and then never has a good game again. I would use bench spots for players who you might not intend to use this week, but could have more value than you think. Mike Bell of the New Orleans Saints is a perfect example. Maybe you don't need him active for this week, thus he remains a free agent in your league. Well, what if Pierre Thomas not only misses this week, but needs a few more weeks off? What if Thomas plays and exacerbates the knee injury? If Bell goes off Sunday -- and I think he will, to be honest -- then you and nine other leaguemates all know about it and it comes down to waiver order to sign him. Dump the excess, go get him and others with potential before the weekend and see what happens. You don't need a reserve kicker or defense ever, and I'm sure a decent one will be sitting there on waivers for the bye week. If I had to name players owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues that I think fantasy owners will be pining for next week, I'd say Shaun Hill, Mike Bell, Chris Brown of the Houston Texans and wide receivers Kenny Britt, Troy Williamson, Josh Cribbs, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Mike Sims-Walker and David Clowney. No clowning around.

Best of luck to everyone this weekend. Only 16 more weeks to go after this!