Welcome to the eve of the regular season. I have officially drafted my final (and most important) team as of midnight last evening. Rosters have been entered, depth charts are being formed, and all over Fantasyland, owners wrestle with meaty issues as they determine Week 1 starters and reserves. I hope that throughout the season my advice will be helpful, and that when you find yourself in a pickle, it is here that you will turn to have all of your most serious fantasy queries answered. As always, I am here to serve your fantasy...rosters.
Q: In a league that you can start two quarterbacks, which two would you roll with in the season opener: David Garrard, Kyle Orton, Chad Pennington, and/or Derek Anderson? - Dan
A: Ye Gods man! What happened? Was Uncle Rico already off the board when it was your turn to grab a QB? Wow. Your strategy is clear this season: Matchups. Let's eliminate Derek Anderson immediately. We do not officially know who Eric Mangini is going to start, but the rumor is it will be Brady Quinn. Garrard draws Indianapolis, Orton draws Cincinnati, Pennington gets Atlanta to start out the season. The weather in Cincinnati this weekend is supposed to be very wet. The other two games are indoors. Atlanta's defense did not blow me away this preseason, and while I am not afraid to take a QB against the Colts, that receiving corps in Jacksonville doesn't get me too excited. For week 1, go with the dome quarterbacks, and hope that Garrard and Pennington can get the balls in the hands of their speedier guys with room to run and maneuver on the carpet.
Q: Through the magic of auto-draft, I ended up with both Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Who is the real #1 guy there and who should I be starting? - Adam
A: There are few things in life I despise more than the scourge of fantasy leagues: the auto-draft/auto-pick. It is the tool of the lazy man and the great equalizer in leagues filled with people who know nothing about football or have no love for the art of drafting a fantasy team. It is my understanding Barack Obama has pledged to eradicate auto-drafts from the fantasy world after he institutes a playoff system in the NCAA. As for you Adam, Santonio is the #1 guy in Pittsburgh so he is the logical start right? Not so fast. Hines Ward is plenty capable still at the age of 33. He will benefit greatly from Holmes drawing the opponent's best defender. And Big Ben has a huge amount of trust and confidence in Hines Ward. Call it a hunch, but I would go with Ward against the Titans this week. Cortland Finnegan is no slouch at corner, and he will lock up Holmes pretty good. You might not have the explosive play possibilities with Ward that you would with Holmes, but you might make it up in total catches and 1st downs (if your league rewards that.) My advice to you would be to hope both do relatively well this week and then try and trade one for a need somewhere else, or a receiver from a different team (preferably from a different team than your current wide receivers.)
Q: What can we expect out of Beanie Wells? Will he get the goal line carries? - Charles
A: I watched Arizona's preseason specifically to see this guy run. When he got in, he did not disappoint. His injury concerns pushed his value down in drafts enough to make him a slam-dunk keeper option in leagues where your keeper cost is tied to where you drafted him the previous year. Personally, I expect Beanie Wells to take over the starting job from Tim Hightower by mid-season. Hightower has looked good, but Wells has flashed some serious skills in his limited action in the preseason. In Arizona, goal-line carries are a bit of a different beast, right? They are almost a pass-first offense in every situation. I think Wells will get you some TD's near the goal line early in the season, but if you can afford to stash him on your roster, he is the kind of player that can win you fantasy playoff games in weeks 13-17.
Q: Who would you start in the flex position this week--Willis McGahee or Percy Harvin? - Steve
A: Steve, neither of these guys is someone you can count on to get you a lot of points this week. Willis McGahee relinquished his grip on the starting role in Baltimore this summer and is now behind Ray Rice on the depth chart. Worse than that, he finds himself squarely in the midst of the dreaded running back-by-committee system. Percy Harvin is someone who I think they will figure out how to get the ball too. That said, you are probably still only looking at 5-10 touches per game (depending on how many returns he has). In week 1, I like the gamble. If your league gives you points for return yardage, that is the difference in my opinion. Go for Harvin. The chance for the big play in either the return game or on some play they draw up for him is worth the risk of giving up the 10 carries or so Willis may get.
Thanks for your questions this week. We'll see you next Wednesday.