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PALLISTER: Avoid fantasy-football panic based on Week 1 performances

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The opening week of the NFL season is always wild, and this year was no different.

Three games starting out 2-0. The reigning MVP failing to average 1 yard per carry after beginning the season with a 78-yard touchdown run. The Jets winning.

Weird things happen in Week 1, which is essentially an extension of the preseason. And like the preseason, what happens in Week 1 is rarely indicative of what will happen as the regular season progresses.

I guarantee the first thing I mentioned will not happen again this year, it's highly unlikely you'll see a repeat of the second, and, if for no other reason than the glorious train wreck entertainment of it all, let's hope the third is a one-time deal (Don't let me down, Tom).

So in analyzing fantasy football's good and bad from the opening week, don't give up on the likes of David Wilson, Dwayne Bowe and Eric Decker just yet, and don't be in a hurry to clear roster space for players like Philip Rivers, Terrelle Pryor and Jerome Simpson.

Of the former group ...

⦁ Wilson's status is the most precarious. He already spent a large portion of his rookie season in coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse, so starting the season with two fumbles (one of which was returned for a TD) in a close loss to a division rival gives him no room for error going forward. Wilson's stock rose before the season when Andre Brown broke his leg, and it's Brown's absence that may be the saving grace for Wilson and fantasy owners who drafted him. The Giants have former Terp Da'Rel Scott and recently signed former starter Brandon Jacobs as backups. Even if Coughlin wants to, he probably can't afford not to give Wilson another chance. But again, no room for error.

⦁ I was high on the Bowe-Andy Reid pairing initially, until I was reminded that Alex Smith has a history of not throwing to wide receivers; Michael Crabtree didn't break out until Colin Kaepernick took over in San Francisco. Having said that, Bowe is by far the most talented receiver on the Chiefs' roster, and while Reid doesn't care who catches the ball as long as his offense is producing, I can't imagine he won't figure out ways to get Bowe 70-plus catches this year.

⦁ It's tough to be a nonfactor during a game in which your quarterback throws for an NFL-record-tying seven TDs. But a couple drops and said QB having plenty of other options led to Decker being nearly invisible in the league's season opener. It appears that Decker is the third option behind DeMaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, who had two TDs against the Ravens. Tight end Julius Thomas also stole some of Decker's thunder with two TD catches. But Decker is still a viable flex play most weeks. The Broncos' passing offense is going to be generally unstoppable, and there will be days when Welker and Julius Thomas will be neutralized. Decker will be the beneficiary of those defensive adjustments and Peyton Manning's continued assault on the record books.

Of the latter group ...

⦁ I can't be the only one who was frantically trying to pick up Rivers at halftime of Monday's late game, right? Luckily for me, I didn't try too hard. Rivers had four TDs by the early third quarter, but he didn't add to that total the rest of the game and finished 14 for 29. It's almost impossible in this day and age to complete less than 50 percent of your passes. Rivers also has a questionable line and receiving corps. He won't approach four TDs the rest of the season.

⦁ I'd almost rather have Pryor if I was desperate for a QB. He played pretty well in the opener, but he still threw twice as many interceptions as TDs (2-1). He had 112 yards on the ground, but defenses are not going to consistently allow him to do that.

⦁ Simpson led the Vikings with 140 yards on seven catches. But unless you're in a 48-team league, there's no reason to have a Minnesota receiver on your roster. QB Christian Ponder is Bob Avellini bad. He was credited with three INTs last week, but two more were negated by penalties. Simpson is Kevin Ogletree.

Week 1 Lineup Crime: My selection of Leonard Hankerson very late in one of my drafts drew a collective, "Who?" I think Hankerson has a chance to be a big-play wide receiver in the Redskins' offense. It felt good to watch him catch both of Robert Griffin III's TDs on Monday night, but I would have felt better had I started him. As a result of leaving him on my bench, I tied my matchup instead of winning it handily.

Week 2 Lineup Time: I like Hankerson and all the Redskins — even Alfred Morris and Fred Davis coming off opening-week duds — in this week's matchup against the Packers, who gave up 412 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick in Week 1. I also like Aaron Rodgers and anyone he throws the ball to against Washington's secondary. I expect this game to be the fantasy matchup of the week. ... Don't expect Broncos-Giants to be a shootout. The Manning brothers are like the Williams sisters in head-to-head matchups. They never deliver what is expected. I'd still start Peyton, of course, but if Eli is your backup, leave him on the bench. ... I think Dez Bryant will have a big game in the Cowboys-Chiefs matchup. He's too talented to go consecutive games without making noise. ... If you search weekly for a defense to start, look at the Eagles. They face the Chargers, whose QB and offensive line can't handle a blitz-heavy scheme.

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