At last, another NFL season is upon us. I hope you'll enjoy the following weekly feature. Now exclusive to TheHuddle.com, I've been syndicating this mini-progno of players for the last four years.
Here's how it works: Each week, I will release seven sleepers and seven snoozers. A sleeper is defined as a second-tier player (or lower) who I expect to enjoy an above-average performance. A snoozer, on the other hand, is a first-tier/superstar type who I suspect will endure what is for him a subpar effort. The idea is to assist you with potential lineup decisions, and maybe render a second-opinion that you didn't actually request.
One thing I want to point out... my sleepers are not intended to supplant superstar players, and my snoozers should not necessarily equate to benching recommendations. That ultimately depends on your specific roster. If, for example, your team sports Peyton Manning and Mark Brunell as QBs, and I write that Mark Brunell is a sleeper pick, it doesn't mean that I'm suggesting you bench Manning for Brunell. My belief has always been that you stick with your studs regardless of matchups.
However, if your roster has Brunell and, say, Byron Leftwich... then I'm essentially recommending you play Brunell.
Each subsequent week after this one, I'll include grades of my picks from the previous week (just for the heck of it, because that practice has proven popular).
All righty then... here we go for Week 1:
Tommy Maddox, QB, Pittsburgh -- Maddox and the Steelers offense mostly looked sharp in the preseason, and the Raiders defense -- recent holdout Charles Woodson and the seconddary, in particular -- look vulnerable.
Quentin Griffin, RB, Denver -- The Chiefs defense is supposed to be improved, and it better be because last year it was the league's worst rush defense. At Denver, this appears to be a favorable matchup.
Domanick Davis, RB, Houston -- The Texans have a favorable matchup - at home against San Diego - and the reports from Houston are that the offense will attempt to take the pressure off Carr early on with lots of Davis rushes.
Todd Pinkston, WR, Philadelphia -- Just a hunch here, really, but if you were the Giants wouldn't you double-team Terrell Owens on just about every play?
Donte' Stallworth, WR, New Orleans -- Apparently, he's healthy. I foresee a big effort in the home opener against a Seattle secondary that tends to yield big plays.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas -- The Cowboys will play the ball-hawking game at Minnesota, and new/old QB Vinny Testaverde likes his tight ends.
St. Louis Rams teams -- Hmm... they get the Cardinals and their young QB at home. Could be a turnover fest.
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis -- Never bench him. But temper your expectations when he's required to play at Foxboro.
Clinton Portis, RB, Washington -- Even with Warren Sapp departed, Tampa Bay figures to be stingy against the run.
Travis Henry, RB, Buffalo -- Jacksonville is flat out tough to run against these days.
Derrick Mason, WR, Tennessee -- Miami's secondary may be the NFL's best.
Chad Johnson, WR, Cincinnati -- The Jets' defense is improved, and rookie Carson Palmer starts at QB for the Bengals.
Randy McMichael, TE, Miami -- I figure a 13-10 type of game against Tennessee.
(No snoozer teams this week)