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Game Capsules: Dalton Del Don Breaks Down Week One

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Minnesota (+5.5) at New Orleans, Thursday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: The 2010 season opens with a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game -- a thrilling 31-28 overtime win by the Saints. In reality, New Orleans got lucky -- not only winning the OT coin toss and getting the benefit of a subsequent questionable pass interference call, but Minnesota fumbled a whopping six times (losing three) and outgained New Orleans 475 yards to 257, so the Vikings pretty clearly outplayed them. With this in mind, you'd expect most to back Minnesota as nearly touchdown dogs, but instead a whopping 80 percent of the public has sided with the Saints, so apparently the Super Bowl produced an even greater effect. It's not totally crazy - New Orleans will be fired up in prime time as defending champs, and it's never easy for the road team during a short week. Moreover, the loss of Sidney Rice (hip) will hurt a passing attack that has pretty much nowhere to go but down after Brett Favre had the best season of his career at age 40. Favre's ankle injury is a real concern this year, as is Percy Harvin's migraine headaches. And the Vikings graded out as the worst run-blocking unit in the NFL last season. Still, this is a team that could easily be considered the best from 2009 and is comfortable playing in a dome environment. Seems like the spread should be a field goal at most... The Saints remain a very good football team, but turnovers are fluky (especially interceptions, although in New Orleans' case they do present more opportunities by scoring so many points offensively, and therefore forcing more pass attempts from opponents), so some regression there should be expected. Moreover, Darren Sharper, who tied for the NFL lead with nine picks last season, begins the year on the PUP list with a knee injury. Remember, New Orleans hadn't made the playoffs since 2006 before last year, so it's not like they are some perennial powerhouse. But having one of the league's best players in Drew Brees is a great place to start, and the city of New Orleans should provide quite the boost Thursday night for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Predictions: Brett Favre throws for 240 yards with scoring strikes to Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe, while Adrian Peterson adds 100 rushing yards and a TD run. Pierre Thomas answers with 80 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, while Drew Brees adds 270 passing yards and two TDs, with Marques Colston and Devery Henderson the recipients, as New Orleans comes out on top. Saints 24-21.

Denver (+2.5) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: After starting out 6-0, the Broncos went 2-8 to end last season, and after running Jay Cutler out of town (a move that looks a lot better today than it did at the time), Brandon Marshall was next to go. But Josh McDaniels didn't stop there, as defensive coordinator Mike Nolan followed out the door. Denver also lost Elvis Dumervil, who led the NFL with 17 sacks last season, to a season-ending injury. Luckily, it sounds like LT Ryan Clady (knee) will be good to go Week 1, but this is a team clearly headed in the wrong direction, and RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) continues to look like a major stretch as the 12th overall pick in 2009's draft. The offense gets a strong matchup Sunday against a Jaguars defense that allowed 28 passing scores last year, and it looks like Kyle Orton might be better than we previously thought, although he's lacking weapons to throw to... Jacksonville is a mediocre (maybe even bad) team playing in a tough division; last place in the AFC South seems inevitable in 2010. It's possible some of the younger offensive linemen develop, but David Garrard's 2007 performance (7.7 YPA, 18:3 TD:INT ratio over just 12 games) seems like ages ago. What's happened to that player? Mike Sims-Walker has shown signs of becoming a nice receiver, but he faded badly down the stretch last season and has been injury-prone throughout his career dating back to college. And who knows what's going on with Maurice Jones-Drew's health. The running back position is the most fungible on the field, but this Jaguars team would be in serious trouble if MJD were to miss significant time. Facing a Broncos defense that allowed just 6.3 YPA through the air yet 4.5 YPC on the ground last season, Jones-Drew should be a big part of Jacksonville's gameplan Sunday, as long as his knee allows it.

Predictions: Kyle Orton throws for 240 yards with a touchdown to Jabar Gaffney, while Knowshon Moreno tacks on a goal-line score as well. Maurice Jones-Drew counters with 100 yards from scrimmage and a TD run, while David Garrard adds 225 yards through the air with a scoring strike to Mike Sims-Walker, as the home team prevails. Jaguars 20-17.

Oakland (+6) at Tennessee, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: All Oakland needs is for Jason Campbell to be an average quarterback to be a much-improved team in 2010. JaMarcus Russell was quite clearly one of the three biggest busts in NFL history, so the switch at the most important position in football is big news. Still, the Raiders have a long way to go. Zach Miller is an intriguing tight end, and Louis Murphy looks like a bargain as a fourth rounder, but franchises simply can't keep missing with their early round picks like Oakland has recently (Russell #1, Michael Huff #7, Darren McFadden #4, Darrius Heyward-Bey #7). The team seemed to do a better job at this year's draft, but the impact may not be felt for a while. A west coast team travelling to Tennessee to play an early game is not an easy task, and there's a chance of "severe thunderstorms," although at this time of year, the temperature should be reasonable. Michael Bush is a gametime decision while dealing with a broken thumb. Fantasy owners who have both Bush and McFadden should be rooting for him to sit out... After starting last year 0-6 and owner Bud Adams essentially forcing coach Jeff Fisher's hand, Vince Young was inserted as starting quarterback, and the team went 8-2 down the stretch. Young played moderately well, especially considering his lack of weapons as receivers, but the real story, obviously, was Chris Johnson, who broke the NFL record by totaling 2,509 yards from scrimmage. He's a special talent - a true difference maker - who should shred a Raiders' front seven that allowed an NFL-high 24 rushing scores last season. Oakland has surprised before (winning in Pittsburgh in Week 13 last year against a desperate Steelers team), but playing in a division featuring the Texans and Colts, Tennessee can't afford to overlook the Raiders.

Predictions: Jason Campbell plays through his various injuries, resulting in a TD toss to Louis Murphy. Darren McFadden gets the majority of touches in Oakland's backfield, totaling 70 yards and a score. Chris Johnson answers with 150 total yards and a touchdown. Vince Young throws for 225 yards with a TD to Nate Washington, while Young also scores on the ground, as Tennessee starts 2010 with a victory. Titans 24-17.

Cincinnati (+4.5) at New England, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: One of many intriguing Week 1 matchups (seems like all the bad teams are facing each other), this one features two of the six AFC playoff participants from last year. The Bengals sure seemed like a team that got lucky last season, and it's doubtful last year's run-dominant strategy (with an average-to-below-average RB leading the way) would work again, especially with a tougher schedule. However, the team added Terrell Owens through free agency and Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley through the draft during the offseason. Moreover, they will be getting back (through health) Antwan Odom as well, who was a beast before getting hurt last season. It's too bad Andre Smith appears content to go through life fat and lazy, because he once looked like a potential dominant left tackle (but Cincy can't be without blame there, the red flags were bright when they used the 6th overall pick on him in 2009). With two strong corners as well, the Bengals' fortunes seem to fall on Carson Palmer, who simply hasn't looked the same since 2006... The Pats are coming off a historically tough schedule facing pass defenses last season, and as long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are around, they need to be taken seriously. The loss of Logan Mankins (holdout) hurts, but Brady is now two years removed from knee injury, and don't forget he played with fractured ribs down the stretch last season. Randy Moss is motivated in a contract year, and while it may take Wes Welker some time to get back to full strength, Julian Edelman received valuable reps last year and looked plenty competent, not to mention both rookie tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and especially Rob Gronkowski) look like home run draft picks. Believe in the system - this team remains a legitimate Super Bowl threat.

Predictions: Carson Palmer gets 230 passing yards with a touchdown to Terrell Owens, while Cedric Benson plods for 70 yards and a goal-line TD. Fred Taylor gains just 50 total yards, but he adds a score, while Tom Brady throws for 250 yards with touchdown strikes to Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski, as New England wins it. Patriots 24-20.

Cleveland (+3) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Browns quietly won their last four games last year, although the schedule was highly favorable. Over the final three games, Jerome Harrison totaled 593 yards (and set an NFL record for carries (106) over a three-game stretch in the process). The coaching staff doesn't seem to believe in him, but with rookie Montario Hardesty suffering yet another season-ending knee injury, he certainly looks like a fantasy asset (but Peyton Hillis and James Davis are on the radar), although his setup is pretty rough, playing for a bad team in a ridiculously tough division defensively. Jake Delhomme had a terrific preseason, but he remains a turnover waiting to happen. Mohamed Massaquoi is a sleeper, and he's lucky to miss Aqib Talib (suspension) in Week 1. Joe Thomas is the best offensive lineman in the NFL... Tampa Bay allowed 29.2 ppg over the first 10 games last year, but once coach Raheem Morris took over play-calling duties, they allowed just 17.0 ppg over the final six weeks. Then they added Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in the first two rounds of the draft to shore up the interior. Talib might not be the ideal customer if you're a cab driver, but he's become one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Josh Freeman should improve during his second year in the league, and Mike Williams looks like one of the five best picks in last year's NFL draft and a future stud. There's room for optimism here.

Predictions: Jake Delhomme throws for 225 yards while committing two turnovers and finding Mohamed Massaquoi in the end zone. Jerome Harrison adds 75 total yards and hits paydirt, while Carnell Williams produces a similar line. Josh Freeman adds 230 yards through the air with a scoring strike to Kellen Winslow, as Tampa Bay comes out on top. Buccaneers 20-14.

Indianapolis (-2) at Houston, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Colts have lost more preseason games over the past six years than regular season games. And that's including essentially giving two away last year when they easily could have gone 16-0. Peyton Manning is the best player in the league (and maybe the best ever), which gives them a huge advantage yearly (as long as he's healthy, they'll be in contention, regardless of the moving parts). After all, Indy has won 12 or more games in a remarkable seven straight seasons. A dominant defensive end also helps, and can you imagine if Bob Sanders somehow stayed healthy for a season? Of course, Manning makes his receivers and not vice-versa, but Pierre Garcon actually looks pretty talented in his own right, which could lead to scary results. Even if Indy loses in Houston on Sunday, expect another 12 win season... Finally the impressive YPA translated into touchdowns for Matt Schaub last year, as he's now (rightfully) recognized as one of the better quarterbacks in football, although he's actually struggled against the Colts during his career (4:6 TD:INT ratio over three games). Indy doesn't mind giving up some rushing yards in its bend don't break defense, so Arian Foster should have a nice game Sunday, and no one has climbed fantasy ladders higher than he has this preseason (consider him a legitimate top-15 fantasy RB with the potential for more). The Colts should basically be considered favored to win every game, but they are on the road playing outdoors dealing with O-line injuries facing a divisional opponent that knows them well, so a slight upset here wouldn't surprise.

Predictions: Peyton Manning throws for 275 yards and two touchdowns, with Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark the recipients. Joseph Addai gains just 70 total yards and is held out of the end zone, as Houston's improved rush defense continues, even without Brian Cushing (suspension). Arian Foster gets 100 yards combined and a score, while Matt Schaub throws for 240 yards and finds Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter for scores, as Houston wins on a late field goal. Texans 24-23.

Detroit (+6.5) at Chicago, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Lions are moving in the right direction, but when you're at rock bottom, the only way to go is up. Detroit allowed 8.1 YPA, 35 passing touchdowns and a whopping 107.0 QB rating last season, so it would take a severe improvement even to approach league average. There are some good pieces here though. Ndamukong Suh should make an immediate impact (both on rush defense and in the passing game), as should Jahvid Best, who looks like a special weapon out of the backfield as long as he can stay healthy (a major question mark). And they already have Calvin Johnson, who could be the most explosive player in football if healthy. Matthew Stafford is a former No. 1 overall pick who showed some good signs last year and is entering his second year in the league, but advanced metrics suggest he was beyond awful in 2009... Those who invest heavily in Chicago in fantasy leagues will like the Bears far more than fans who root for the team. And even the former might ultimately be left upset after dealing with a pretty brutal-looking schedule Weeks 14-16. A poor offensive line still learning an entirely new system might result in a slow start, but the matchup couldn't be more favorable Week 1.

Predictions: Matthew Stafford throws for 230 yards with two touchdowns to Calvin Johnson, while Jahvid Best adds 100 total yards and hits paydirt. Matt Forte counters with a similar line, while Jay Cutler adds 300 passing yards and TD strikes to Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu, as Chicago starts the season with a win. Bears 27-21.

Atlanta (-2) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Falcons are a dangerous team entering 2010, but the fact they are two-point favorites in Pittsburgh suggests Vegas considers Ben Roethlisberger a 5-7 point player, which is significant. Nevertheless, the Falcons should be a strong team this year, but we really don't know if Matt Ryan will truly become the star he looked destined to be during his rookie season after last year's disappointment. Still, the schedule is highly favorable, although that's not including Week 1, even without Roethlisberger... It may have taken an injury to Byron Leftwich, but Dennis Dixon looks likely to start Sunday, and he always appeared to be the best option behind Roethlisberger anyway. The season-ending loss of Willie Colon was huge, since he was by far the best right tackle in the NFL last season. But the return of Troy Polamalu is equally large, and the Steelers are well-coached and a physical team playing a dome team outdoors. This point spread is pretty surprising.

Predictions: Matt Ryan throws for 200 yards with a touchdown to Tony Gonzalez, while Michael Turner adds 70 rushing yards and a TD run. Rashard Mendenhall responds with similar production, while Dennis Dixon adds 180 passing yards and a touchdown toss to Hines Ward, as Pittsburgh wins it. Steelers 20-17.

Miami (-3) at Buffalo, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: Miami has some nice pieces in place, and Chad Henne could very well develop into an elite quarterback -- we simply don't know if that will happen, although the addition of Brandon Marshall certainly increases his chances. Jake Long is an absolute stud at left tackle, allowing just five quarterback hits during 1,147 snaps last season, and Ronnie Brown could end up being a fantasy steal if he were to somehow stay healthy (Ricky Williams is a ticking time bomb). But this still looks like the third-best team in the AFC East, although they do catch a break traveling to Buffalo early in the season, when the weather conditions look just like Florida's... Buffalo appears to be a bad team that failed to address its two most glaring weaknesses during the offseason - quarterback and offensive line. While Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch formed a competent RB combo, CJ Spiller could be special, and he already looks like the team's best offensive weapon, even if he can only handle 15-20 touches weekly. Don't be surprised if they keep Sunday's game close or even win outright.

Predictions: Chad Henne throws for 180 yards and no touchdowns against an underrated Bills' secondary, while Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combine for 150 yards while each score a TD. CJ Spiller answers with 90 total yards and a score of his own, while Trent Edwards throws for 150 yards and finds Lee Evans for a touchdown, as Buffalo pulls off the upset. Bills 20-17.

Carolina (+6.5) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.

Comments: The Giants are a bounce-back candidate, but maybe Kenny Phillips never returns to previous form. The same could be said about the team's offensive and defensive lines. If the defense rebounds like many expect, then this is a dangerous team, with strong running backs led by Ahmad Bradshaw and a suddenly elite passing attack (the three young wide receivers help, but Eli Manning played like a star last season. We'll see if he can do it again)... Carolina fielded a very good secondary last season, and the loss of Julius Peppers' pass rush should be offset by an improved run defense (not Peppers' strength anyway). With good coaching, a third-place schedule and one of the best rushing attacks in football, Matt Moore only needs to be competent for this team to be a playoff contender. It's not wise to judge QBs off small samples that came later in seasons (Rob Johnson, Scott Mitchell, etc), but Moore might be good, so while they are faced with a tough matchup Week 1, don't be shocked if the Panthers make the playoffs in 2010.

Predictions: Matt Moore throws for 225 yards but no touchdowns, as DeAngelo Williams totals 80 yards with a TD run, and Jonathan Stewart adds another score from in close. Ahmad Bradshaw answers with 80 combined yards and a touchdown, while Eli Manning adds 230 passing yards and a TD toss to Hakeem Nicks, as the Giants get off to a 1-0 start. Giants 23-17.

Green Bay (-3) at Philadelphia, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: The Eagles look very good on defense and have three awesome options as receivers, and if Philadelphia's coaching staff is right, Kevin Kolb can take advantage and lead them to the playoffs once again. I'm not necessarily betting against it (Andy Reid is one of the worst game managers in the NFL but from Monday-Saturday, he's one of the best coaches in the league. This system is one to believe in). Kolb's shorter, more accurate game theoretically works better for Reid's WCO, which was somewhat abandoned when Donovan McNabb went mostly deep last year. Still, Kolb is an unknown, and his preseason was shaky. And even if he turns out to be better than McNabb, Philly is still stuck in a ridiculously difficult division... Everyone loves Green Bay, and why not? This is a loaded offense with a defense that should only get better. The O-line improved as last year progressed and got deeper during the offseason with the addition of rookie Bryan Bulaga as well. Aaron Rodgers is suddenly in the conversation as one of the five best players in the NFL. Green Bay could easily win the Super Bowl in 2010. In fact, they might be the favorites to do so. However, laying three points in Philadelphia is an awful lot to ask.

Predictions: Aaron Rodgers throws for 260 yards and two touchdowns, with Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver the recipients, while Ryan Grant adds 75 yards sans a TD. LeSean McCoy puts up similar stats, while Mike Bell punches in a goal-line score. Kevin Kolb throws for 240 yards with touchdown strikes to DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, as Philly pulls off the upset. Eagles 24-23.

Arizona (-4) at St. Louis, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: Arizona nearly won the Super Bowl two years ago and won a playoff game last season, but this is a team in decline. The Anquan Boldin loss was a moderate problem, but downgrading quarterback from Kurt Warner to Derek Anderson is by far the biggest issue. And coach Ken Whisenhunt refuses to give Chris Wells (who is admittedly once again proving to be injury prone. He's questionable this week with a knee bruise that was originally considered minor) more carries than Tim Hightower. However, Arizona does have a tasty matchup this week against a St. Louis secondary that allowed opposing passers to post a 96.9 QB rating last season... While there's still plenty of room for improvement, the Rams' franchise is finally looking up, thanks mostly to the addition of Sam Bradford, who should solidify the QB position for years to come. It was only the preseason and the rookie will no doubt have his ups and downs in 2010, but Bradford has impressed so far. It's too bad he might be dealing with the worst WR group in the NFL.

Predictions: Derek Anderson remains inaccurate, but he does find Larry Fitzgerald for a score. Tim Hightower gets most of Arizona's touches out of the backfield, resulting in 80 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson responds with 120 total yards and a TD run, while Sam Bradford adds 220 passing yards and a touchdown to Laurent Robinson, as St. Louis surprises with a victory. Rams 20-17.

San Francisco (-3) at Seattle, Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Comments: The problem with the 49ers is that they seem to be everyone's "sleeper" pick, making them anything but. They've also failed miserably when pegged as such in the past (which has been frequent over the past couple of years). Alex Smith is no doubt shaky, but San Francisco has the makings of a dominant defense and added two top-15 picks to the O-line. Moreover, the team should get a full year (and second season, which usually is a leap for WRs) from Michael Crabtree, while Vernon Davis is developing into a stud receiver (admittedly he's an awful blocker who commits far too many penalties), while Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook provide an insurance policy should something happen to Frank Gore. San Francisco is hardly a threat to win the Super Bowl, but they play in the worst division in football and also get the AFC West, so things are set up nicely for them in 2010 ... The Seahawks appeared to do very well in the draft, but Russell Okung recently suffered a high ankle sprain that should keep him out a few weeks. Okung should make an immediate impact when back on the field, as should fellow rookie Earl Thomas in Week 1. Pete Carroll's impact remains to be seen, and a RBBC featuring Leon Washington and Justin Forsett could be productive. But Mike Williams is this team's WR1, and John Carlson will probably be asked to block frequently again. Seattle is lucky they have a true homefield advantage and play in the NFC West. They have a tough matchup against an emerging defense in Week 1.

Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck deals with a strong pass rush, resulting in 190 passing yards and no touchdowns. Seattle implements a committee in its backfield, totaling 90 yards and a touchdown. Frank Gore counters with 120 yards from scrimmage and hits paydirt, while Alex Smith throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to Vernon Davis, as San Francisco wins it. 49ers 20-13.

Dallas (-3.5) at Washington, Sunday 8:20 p.m.

Comments: Football Outsiders projects the Cowboys to win 7.5 games this year, and they play in quite possibly the toughest division in football, so good luck getting homefield advantage even if they somehow squeak into the playoffs. But Tony Romo is a superstar who didn't have an even average WR1 until the Cowboys finally unleashed Miles Austin in Week 5 last year. And imagine if Dez Bryant lives up to his potential - it's true he hasn't played in nearly a year and wide receiver is already a tough position to transition to - but he was highly impressive in training camp and has a Pro Bowl QB throwing to him. And this isn't some random rookie either (Bryant looks like he might be a special talent). Wade Phillips is a bad/soft head coach, but he knows defense, and realize the Cowboys lost during last year's playoffs against the toughest environment in the NFL - playing in Minnesota. Remember, this is a team that went into New Orleans and dominated in Week 15 against the eventual Super Bowl champs... Washington is unlikely to make the playoffs, but they'll be in almost every game they play, making them a profitable pick ATS. It remains to be seen how newcomers Donovan McNabb and coach Mike Shanahan mesh, but on paper, they both certainly look like obvious upgrades. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis provide good options at tight end, but Santana Moss better hold up physically, because the lack of receiving depth here is startling. And there isn't an older backfield in the league. Still, expect them to hang tough at home in primetime against their division rival Sunday night.

Predictions: Donovan McNabb throws for 200 yards and finds Chris Cooley for a score, while Clinton Portis adds 60 yards and a touchdown. Felix Jones totals 70 yards, while Marion Barber scores from in close. Tony Romo adds 230 passing yards and finds Roy Williams in the end zone, as Dallas wins on a late field goal. Cowboys 20-17.

Baltimore (+2.5) at New York Jets, Monday 7 p.m.

Comments: A marquee matchup Monday night, this could easily be a preview of the AFC Championship game. The Ravens are dealing with issues in their secondary, but with the addition of Anquan Boldin (and to a far lesser extent, T.J. Houshmandzadeh) and further development of Joe Flacco (whose numbers were skewed late last year while playing through significant injuries), the offense may end up carrying this team for once. Ray Rice is already one of the truly elite backs in all of football as well. However, they get an extremely tough matchup this week in New York, and fantasy owners should strongly consider benching Boldin with Darrelle Revis now signed... The Jets enter 2010 as the most hyped team in the NFL. Coach Rex Ryan is a quote machine, and HBO's "Hard Knocks" only heightened the expectations. The defense sure looks legit, as does the offensive line. Shonn Greene could be an absolute monster if he stays healthy. And a full year from Braylon Edwards combined with the eventual addition of Santonio Holmes (suspension) sure looks good on paper. But ultimately, this team will go as far as Mark Sanchez takes them. It's odd to see such a legitimate Super Bowl contender entering the year with its main question mark at the quarterback position.

Predictions: Joe Flacco throws for 170 yards with a touchdown to Derrick Mason, while Ray Rice totals 80 yards and Willis McGahee scores from the goal line. Shonn Greene answers with 75 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Mark Sanchez throws for 150 yards and a TD to Dustin Keller, as New York comes out on top. Jets 17-14.

San Diego (-4.5) at Kansas City, Monday 10:15 p.m.

Comments: The Chiefs look to be on the upswing. New OC Charlie Weis should help. Former early round picks like Brandon Albert, Brandon Flowers, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson could finally emerge. Jamaal Charles looks like a rare RB who is special when given the chance. Dwayne Bowe seems to have his head on straight. Dexter McLuster and Javier Arenas (who already seems to be one of the three best returners in football) could be difference-makers as rookies as well. Of course, that might only result in six wins, but this is a team on the rise with an easy schedule... Philip Rivers is basically Drew Brees (one of the five or so best players in the NFL) with worse teammates (and a far worse coach) but in a much easier division that also gets to face the NFC West in 2010. And while Ryan Mathews will be better than last year's version of LaDainian Tomlinson as long as he stays healthy, San Diego's run blocking remains a question mark. But again, there's Rivers - a true difference maker. Even if the Chargers' defense isn't all that great (and is ultimately exposed in the playoffs as a No. 1 seed), that schedule made them a terrific target that was typically available late in fantasy leagues. For Week 1, San Diego looks far superior on paper, but traveling to Arrowhead to play Monday Night Football isn't necessarily an easy task.

Predictions: Matt Cassel throws for 230 yards with a touchdown to Dwayne Bowe, while Jamaal Charles totals 100 yards and hits paydirt. Javier Arenas gives Kansas City a boost by scoring a special teams touchdown, but Ryan Mathews counters with 90 combined yards and a score. Philip Rivers adds 275 passing yards with scoring strikes to Darren Sproles and Legedu Naanee, as San Diego wins a closely contested battle. Chargers 24-21.