Tom Brady is the league's top fantasy QB (last time he was 100 percent healthy, he threw 50 TDs, and the team has no running game to speak of. Plus Bill Belichick is the rare coach who will call pass plays in a blowout).
Wes Welker fails to record 75 catches or score a touchdown (Why is no one paying attention to this quote?)
At least one of the following doormats from last year — Raiders, Chiefs, Bucs, Rams, Lions, Seahawks, Browns, Jaguars, Redskins or Bills — make the playoffs. If I knew which one, I wouldn't be writing this, I'd be in Vegas placing the bet.
Devin Thomas is an every week fantasy starter by midseason (He's 6-2, 215, runs a 4.4 and just has Joey Galloway and Anthony Armstrong to overtake for a starting job).
The Giants are a better fantasy defense than the Jets.
The bottom line — 17 of the league's 32 teams have either a future Hall of Famer, a probable Hall of Famer, a Pro Bowler in his prime, a rising star or a blue chip prospect at the position. And seven more have younger QBs with some upside.
Things to Watch for in Week 1
Brett Favre's health — can he play at anywhere near last year's Pro Bowl level?
I'd take the home dog in this rivalry almost regardless of the circumstances, and given Washington's huge upgrade at quarterback and head coach, getting more than a field goal seems especially generous. Dallas is the better team on paper, of course, but I expect this to be a close, hard-fought game. Back the Redskins.
Redskins 20 — 19
We were 10-7 in this forum last season, 131-122 overall. We were 12-5 in this forum in 2008. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties).
One of my biggest fears in life is losing in Week 1 of Survivor — not only would I lose my entry fees before getting any entertainment value whatsoever, but I'd take down all the people who trusted my advice with me. In most years, while the fear is well founded (after all, upsets are relatively common in the NFL), chances are good that it won't happen (usually you can get an 85-90 percent moneyline favorite). But this year is different. The biggest Week 1 line is seven points (Giants over Panthers), and the moneyline is -300/+250. That means the real line is +/-275, or a mere 73 percent chance that the Giants win (assuming you agree with that line). Moreover, I think the Panthers are underrated (see above), and the odds of that game are more like 64/36. So there really is no solid ground to stand on.
I was initially going to take the Titans, but there are two arguments against this pick. One, that they play the Raiders, and historically Oakland has been a survivor killer, especially last year when they knocked off the Steelers, Bengals, Broncos and Eagles. Second, according to the Yahoo Survivor Game the Titans are the most popular pick with 31.2 percent of people taking them. That means if the Titans do lose, and you have a different team, a significant portion of the pool will die, and your equity in the pool will grow by a lot. But if the Titans win, and the Giants (six percent) lose — only a very small percentage of your pool is gone, and your equity only increases slightly. In other words, the payoff is better by avoiding the Titans. The first argument doesn't sway me much — the Panthers, for example, have upset double-digit favorites seven times in the last 10 years to Oakland's eight, and anyway, it really isn't a very useful stat because Oakland's been on the dog side of so many double-digit spreads, it's not surprising they'd pull out a bunch of them. The second argument is more compelling — for the Titans to be a better pick than the Giants, you'd have to think they had a significantly better chance to win, given the disparity in payoff. To illustrate, if there were 100 people in your pool, and 31 had the Titans, you'd go from a 1 in 100 to a 1 in 69 chance of winning should the Titans lose and your team win. With the Giants it's just 1 in 94. Put differently, a $100 entry would be worth $106.38 in pool equity after Week 1 with a Titans win and Giants loss, and $144.93 with a Giants win and Titans loss.
So I'm going to take a different team — in this case the Chicago Bears (9 percent taken). The Lions could be a much-improved team this year, but I'd expect that to happen as the season goes on and their young players get more experience.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind before the full article comes out Wednesday night.
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