By M3Swagger – Fantasy Football Columnist
Keep telling yourself, “it’s only a game.” Or more accurately, say to yourself, “it’s only a fake game.” Bitter? Maybe. Passive-aggressive? Perhaps. It is just a way of dealing with the Kevin Ogletree vs. Victor Cruz disparity in Wednesday’s season opener. Any readers who said they started Ogletree over Cruz are either lying or omniscient. If the latter, I will yield the floor to them for future columns.
That said, the million-dollar industry known as fantasy football season has begun. If you are a player for money or pride, here are some free and useful tidbits that you won’t find in the $8 magazines that were published in July or on websites that list projected stats based on last year. These are the gut instincts of a fellow player who has finished in the money 75% of the time; hence the swagger.
For those old enough to have once drafted Dan Marino or Barry Sanders (in a day and age when league commissioners tracked stats with calculators and not computers), you probably said: “if only I could combine Marino and Sanders into one pick.” Well that dream has been realized in the person of Cam Newton. The once highly paid collegian who has become a slightly higher paid pro, just needs to maintain his health. He could total 30 fantasy points this week against the Bucs, but 40 is not out of the question. That is only the start of big things. And, for the record, the NCAA found that he and his dad were not paid. Nothing gets by those guys …
Aaron Rodgers will have a tough task in opening against the 49ers’ top-ranked defense in the most untouchable matchup of the week. The final score will not add up to many offensive fantasy points. Do you feel lucky? You do if you have Niners kicker Dave Akers or Packers receiver Jordy Nelson.
If you own Marshawn Lynch, then you own his back issues too. If concerned about whether or not he will play this weekend, just look south. Not on the Seahawks’ depth chart, but to San Diego. Consider Ronnie Brown who will likely fill in for Ryan Matthews for the first few weeks. While considering Mr. Brown, cue the NFL Films music and John Facenda voice in your head while remembering that, “on Sept. 21, 2008, Ronnie Brown set the fantasy world on fire, racking up 45 points as the Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat formation in a rout of the Patriots. Brown ran for four touchdowns and threw for another.” End music.
The Chargers probably won’t run the Wildcat, and he likely won’t run as he did in ’08, but (resume music and voice) “for a brief evening and against a suspect Raiders run defense, Brown will be the go-to back of the week.” It’s not logical, but was Ogletree?
Speaking of running backs, so is Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. He hasn’t installed a muddle huddle, but he may as well have by not ruling out Rashard Mendenhall for this week’s game in Denver. Really? Mendenhall had a major knee injury in January and needs at least another month. I suspect gamesmanship. A crowded backfield that also includes Jonathan Dwyer will be led by Isaac Redman for a few weeks at least.
Other players to watch include that man, the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas, who was last seen streaking past the Steelers in overtime. Thomas could be Manning’s main man this time. As for the weekly Johnson Watch, Andre and Calvin will put up big numbers, but don’t expect much from Chris.
The Seahawks’ defense should eat the Cardinals alive. Nothing is better for a sack-happy team than a quarterback controversy. Look for the same out of the Lions’ defense against the Rams.
Remember players, approach the season in quarters. This first is based on your draft. Once the first bye week has passed and as your team sustains injuries, mysterious slumps or arrests, don’t be afraid to troll the waiver wire and adjust your roster. Ogletrees don’t grow on trees, you know.