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Fantasy season begins


This preseason was relatively quiet with injuries and position battles. So, we head into week 1 of the season much as we started week 1 of the preseason, but there are some exceptions to the rule. The two exceptions would be the injury to Bengals OT Andre Smith and the rapid climb of Ray Rice to the top of Baltimore's depth chart. Looking closer we see the injury to Smith means less protection for Carson Palmer and fewer holes for Cedric Benson; Rice is now the featured back in Baltimore and should be considered a solid RB2 in most formats.

Jaguars Report

Troy Williamson opened some eyes this preseason with his big plays and high yardage totals. Mike Sims-Walker put on a clinic in the second quarter of the final preseason game and finished with four receptions for 63 yards. Sims-Walker acknowledged that Williamson is now the starter, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them switch roles if Williamson slows down even a hair. David Garrard and Torry Holt are getting their timing down, but make no mistake about whose team this is. Maurice Jones-Drew gave Jaguars fans a scare when he left the final game with a "bruised leg," but the X-rays came back negative and he has my vote as early season fantasy MVP. Jacksonville landed backup QB Luke McCown from the Buccaneers in exchange for a pick in 2010. No disrespect to Todd Bouman, but McCown is a noticeable upgrade should Garrard go down. Jacksonville's defense finished the preseason ranked #25 against the pass, but picked up the slack against the run and finished 13th in the NFL.

Start Em'

Jay Cutler: Chicago now has a legit QB, but many people are still letting Cutler slip to a low end QB1 draft position. It is now or never time for Devin Hester and Earl Bennett's stock has risen since he has been named the other starter. And, don't forget about pass catching TE Greg Olson.

Carson Palmer: The Broncos finished last season ranked #28 for passing yards given up per game (228.5) and the defense doesn't look any better this year. Palmer is healthy, Ochocinco looks refreshed, Coles is steady and Henry looks like he finally has his head on straight.

Reggie Bush: Those in PPR leagues know all too well how valuable Bush is already, but playing the Lions only helps his week 1 value. The Saints are going to have a high scoring offense and Bush should dominate with Pierre Thomas hurting.

Kevin Smith (Det.): You know, the good Kevin Smith. The Lions have a rookie QB at the helm, so starting Smith makes sense. Calvin Johnson could end up being a big fantasy bust this year if Stafford does fall flat on his face, but Smith should see plenty of carries each game no matter what happens.

Braylon Edwards: While it is true that the Browns have yet to decide on a starting QB, Edwards is the lone bright spot on the team. Jamal Lewis isn't going to scare anyone and Joshua Cribbs couldn't even lock up the WR2 spot against rookie Mohamed Massaquoi and veteran Mike Furry… might as well take the best of the worst.

Eddie Royal: Now that Brandon Marshall has gone Quince loco in Denver, Royal is going to see his looks increase. Yes, Marshall's suspension was lifted as all knew it would be, but he looks like he is walking over bridges with a gas can in one hand and a lit match in the other. Royal should be a good bet to flirt with 100 receptions this season.

Zach Miller (Oak.): Oakland has some major issues at WR, but Miller looks like the best bet. Fellow TE Brandon Myers will take over blocking duties, so Miller will be open for pass catching duties and Oakland has nobody trustworthy at WR.

Cowboys Defense: I'm not a big fan of anything on the Buccaneers offense, so the Cowboys defense just seems logical. Antonio Bryant is good, but Byron Leftwich is a better back-up than a starter and Derrick Ward is an ok low end RB2 that isn't going to break for 200 yards in a game.

Sit Em'

Brett Favre: What people failed to remember is that every single one of those western "gunslingers" ended up dueling in one too many battles, and that is what I see for Favre this season. He doesn't have good enough WR's to make up for his mistakes and I could see him throwing more INT's than TD's this season. I'll pass.

Joe Flacco: Flacco looked better than anyone thought last season, but his starting wideouts are Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. Todd Heap is far from those 05' and 06' seasons and Ray Rice looks to be the Ravens go-to guy these days.

Fred Jackson: Even with Marshawn Lynch suspended for the first three games, Jackson and the Bills face the Patriots and their tough defensive line. The Buffalo offense was inept during the preseason, and they just released their left tackle six days before the first game. Don't expect much from the regular season with Lynch out.

Willie Parker: Even with Coach Mike Tomlin giving Parker the feature back title, Fast Willie has a bum hammy and always seems to be banged up in some way. I don't see him lasting the whole season as a featured back.

Donnie Avery:Look, the plain and simple truth is that Bulger looks terrible, St. Louis' O-Line is awful, and Avery doesn't even look like a true #1 WR when you watch him run routes. He has youth on his side (25 years old), but I wouldn't bet on him breaking out this season.

Steve Smith (NYG): Really this could be any Giants receiver. Not because Washington's defense is that good, but Eli Manning is that bad for fantasy owners. Eli and Ben Roethlisberger are the two prime examples of NFL value not equaling fantasy value.

Visanthe Shiancoe: Shiancoe made a lot of noise last season with his seven TD's and almost 600 receiving yards. The Vikings drafted Percy Harvin and signed Brett Favre, and they remain a run-first offense. Shiancoe was signed to block and catch a pass here and there, so I see him as overrated in fantasy terms.

Miami Dolphins Defense: Atlanta has a top-tier runner in Michael Turner, and let's not forget about Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. I saw too many people drafting Miami as a Def1, so hopefully you weren't one of the people making that mistake. Sit them this week for sure.

Question of the Week

Q: What are your feelings towards "handcuffs"? Do you think it's wise to use another roster slot to protect a higher pick with his backup or is it better to draft wisely and use that roster spot for a player that can be used at any point in the season to get some production? (Cole from Little Rock, AR)

A:That all depends on the league size and who the player is. In an 8- or 10-team league, handcuffs are not worth it since there are starters on the waiver wire. 12-team it depends on the starter's injury history; 14-teams or deeper, sure. Steven Jackson and Michael Turner need to be handcuffed, where as Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew do not need them.

Yes, I know Peterson had just as many carries as Turner did last year, but I see Peterson having a 2,000-yard season and I don't get that feeling from Turner. I just have a bad feeling about Turner missing time this season. That being said, don't take a handcuff just to be safe... make sure there is a history of injury or the previous season's workload supports it, as is the case with Turner.

James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for well over a decade. Not only does he write the Jaguars fantasy section, but he also does the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers fantasy sections as well as the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz fantasy basketball sections in the NBA. Last season James finished with an 82% accuracy rating for fantasy predictions and will be here to answer any questions you may have about your specific team. Just send him an email from the box above and he will reply back the same day with your answer.

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