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(Fantasy) Football is finally here

Armchair quarterback

September 9, 2011
By Keith Shelton - Sportswriter ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - Week one of the fantasy football (and the bona-fide real-deal NFL) is finally here. Unless you're a Packers (or Saints) fan, you've had to wait an excruciating two extra days for the first pig(skin) to fly.

While they were whooping it up in celebratory fashion Thursday with Kid Rock and American Idol winners, we'll (and by we'll, I mean us Lions fans) settle for some no-frills football. Then we'll begin stressing out about our fantasy teams, and that's something all fantasy fans can enjoy.

I've already begun that tough task of setting my week 1 lineup. I've sat staring at my team absently, losing track of time and pondering even the seemingly simplest moves. Still I'm left with one decision, I just can't commit to either way.

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Keith Shelton

But before we get to that, I'm sure you're all itching to know what fantasy behemoths I have to unleash on my league.

Look, and be amazed.

QB - Michael Vick, Philadelphia

WR - Wes Welker, New England

WR - Braylon Edwards, San Francisco

WR - Kenny Britt, Tenessee

RB - Peyton Hillis, Cleveland

RB - LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay

TE - Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville

K - Graham Gano, Washington

DEF - Philadelphia


QB - Matt Cassel, Kansas City

WR - Derrick Mason, NY Jets

WR - Randall Cobb, Green Bay

RB - Joseph Addai, Indianapolis

RB - Danny Woodhead, New England

DEF - Arizona

I'm not too happy with my bench, but it is a 14-team league and I picked 11th, so all-in-all I'm pretty happy with what I've got. I won't need Cobb or Mason or until week 7 so hopefully by then I'll know whether to keep them or try to upgrade through a trade or free agent wire.

Anyway, back to my week 1 dilemma.

Do I start the revamped and hyped up Philly D against Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams? Or the solid Arizona defense against rookie Cam Newton in his first start with the Carolina Panthers?

Arizona is a very tempting start in this position, but Philly looks like a good start virtually every week. I'm leaning toward Arizona, I just don't want to get burned this early in the season. Only 13 percent of Arizona defense owners are starting them in week 1, while 94 percent of Philly owners are giving them the green light. That's not enough to sway me.

Likewise, only one percent of Gano owners are starting him at kicker. Like I said last week, kickers are relatively useless in fantasy ball. If Gano gets me 7-8 points, I don't care.

There's no real must-haves on the free agent wire for week 1, unless you desperately need a backup QB. Then you might grab Luke McCown, who will take over for the just-released David Garrard in Jacksonville.

Here's one tip to keep in mind though. Make sure to have your lineups set by Thursday afternoon, as there's a game that night. Oh wait...It's Friday. Never mind then.

Looking at my week one opponent, I'm liking what I see. He has Josh Freeman going up against the Lions. In the past, this would be cause for alarm, but I'm thinking Suh and the rest of the D-line are going to pressure him into some mistakes.

His receivers in Miles Austin, Sidney Rice and Chad (sigh) Ochocinco are about even with mine. What scares me is Arian Foster at running back. I'm projected to win by two points. If I start Philly's defense, that increases to five points, but projections are usually wrong. I've had Yahoo project zero points for a player, and he ends up scoring 10. Usually that happens if a third or fourth stringer hasn't played in the past, but suddenly has a solid game.

I just have to be careful not to fall into the Monday night spiral. Fantasy owners know what I'm talking about. It's when you or your opponent, or both, have a player or two left to play Monday night. It can be cause for hope or despair.

The worst is when you have a kicker left to play on Monday and your opponent has a receiver or running back. You might have a five point lead so you need at least eight points from your kicker to have a realistic chance. Yeah, good luck. That is the worst. We each have a New England receiver this Monday. I've got Welker, he has eight-five (Ochocinco). I like my chances.



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