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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 1
Fritz Schlottman
September 8, 2005

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

GREEN BAY at Detroit

Conventional Wisdom says Green Bay plays poorly on turf and in domes. Not in this series. In games played in Detroit, the Packers have won 2004 38-10, 2003 lost 14-22, 2002 won 37-31, and 2001 won 29-27 for an average of 29.5 points per game for Green Bay and 22.5 for the Lions.

In a switch from previous seasons, the general public is very high on Detroit and down on Green Bay this season. Not surprisingly, for the first time in very a long time the Lions are field goal favorites in this game. Both analysts and the public are looking at the Lions weapons on offense, particularly at running back and wide receiver and expecting the Motor City to roll out points they way Chevy’s come off the factory line. However, until Joey Harrington’s performance shows me otherwise, I think the Lions will continue to make too many mistakes to be a playoff team.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Packers won this contest by a field goal or more with both teams scoring in the low twenties. Worry not about the turf and the roof, look to play your Packers this week (especially GB RB A. Green).

TAMPA BAY at Minnesota

Conventional Wisdom says the Buc’s can’t keep place with all the offensive weapons Minnesota has in its arsenal. I see it the other way.

Tampa Bay has owned this series and has racked up the touchdowns. In the last four meetings, the outcomes were TB 34 MIN 24, TB 41 MIN 14, TB 16 MIN 20, and TB 41 MIN 13 giving the offensively challenged Buccaneers a 3-1 record with three wins by margin. In those games, both teams were able to move the football with Tampa Bay averaging 142.5 yards rushing per contest while Minnesota rushed for just 106 yards. If Tampa Bay can run the ball on the Vikings, their chances in this game get a lot more favorable.

The Vikings are getting all the attention from the general public right now. When analysts and the public are talking about a Super Bowl in Minnesota’s future despite losing a unique talent like WR Randy Moss you know it’s getting a little frothy out there. I’m still scratching my head as Minnesota’s number gets pushed higher and higher. Minnesota did not finish well in 2004 going just 1-3 in their last four games 2-4 in their last six and yet expectations continue to climb going into the first week of the season.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this was more of the same despite the conventional wisdom. I think Tampa’s defense will once again be nasty and I suspect that the Buc’s offense is better than they’re given credit for. I’m increasing my rating on the Buc’s this week (especially the running game) and downgrading my Vikings (especially at RB).

Arizona at NEW YORK GIANTS

The Arizona Cardinals as road favorites on the East Coast? The Denny Green hype is now officially way out of hand.

Green always makes it a point to try and win all his preseason games so don’t take too much of what happens in August in to your decision making process, especially the final score. What I took from Arizona’s preseason is a team that’s down to its fourth string center after Alex Stepanovich (fractured hand), backup Nick Leckey (ankle) and third string Bill Conaty (triceps- Injured Reserve) all went down in August. Starting next to whomever Green finds to play center will be a rookie guard (Elton Brown), a left guard rushed back after a preseason knee injury (Oliver Ross), and a complete mystery at tight end where Eric Edwards (torn pec) may be the opening day starter. RB Arrington has averaged less than three yards per carry in the preseason behind that makeshift line and QB Kurt Warner had trouble with the Giants pass rush in St. Louis playing behind a better offensive line. That spells trouble in my book.

Until the Cardinals offensive line gets a little healthier, I don’t expect Arizona to put up big numbers on offense. Upset city as the healthy Giants thump the Cardinals (with new, more aggressive Cardinal logo!) at home in a low scoring game.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

NEW YORK JETS at Kansas City

This is the case of one team that plays poorly on the road (the Jets) having to go into the hell that is Arrowhead Stadium on opening day. Looking at the game from a Vegas perspective, the Jets have gone just 1-5-2 against the number as a road dog the past two seasons. Kansas City has historically been a very strong starter with their 21-5-1 record against the number in their first home game of the season. The Chief were number two in scoring and number one in yards last season.

KC will be sky high in this game given that it’s likely the start to the final season of this coaching and talent run (Willy Roaf, Will Shields, e.g.)and will likely play over their heads in this contest. Expect NY to play conservatively, controlling the clock and keeping the Chiefs high-powered offense off the field. That adds up to a lower scoring game than you might expect with each teams runningbacks being your best fantasy plays.

CHICAGO at WASHINGTON REDSKINS

THIS WEEK: Home to Chicago

NEXT WEEK: At Dallas

The conventional wisdom is to fade new starting quarterbacks in their road opener, and I can’t disagree with that wisdom, but it’s also true that you fade teams that might be looking past less powerful opponents.

With the Dallas Cowboys on deck, the Redskins just might be tempted to look past Chicago this week. Chicago had the NFL’s worst offense last season and although they’ve added talent at runningback and wide receiver they will be starting QB Kyle Orton in his first road game against a very solid Redskins defense. Going into Week 1 with a 4 th round pick guiding your offense is not a good place to be. My bet is that Washington will be thinking along the same lines. The Bears have a young and improving defense and if the ‘Skins look past them on offense you could have a very low-scoring game decided by special teams, penalties, and turnovers.

If I have Bears or Redskins on my fantasy roster, I’d be looking around for better alternatives this week as 13 points may win this game. However, both defenses might be a play as this is likely to be a mistake-filled game.

DENVER at Miami

THIS WEEK: At Miami

NEXT WEEK: Home to San Diego

This is a big, ugly spot for the Broncos. They open on the road in Florida once again this season to play a Dolphins team with a history of playing well at home in the September heat of S. Florida…and to top it all off a hurricane headed for the region.

This is a similar situation to last season where Denver opened their season in Jacksonville and got upset in a low-scoring game. The Broncos got caught looking ahead in 2004’s opener and they shouldn’t get caught looking ahead to San Diego next week…but they just might do exactly that. If Denver turns this into a running game then the heat and humidity will get to them before it gets to Miami. If this is a bad-weather game on a sloppy field, all the more temptation there is for the Broncos to play conservatively and not show anything on game film to the Chargers.

This doesn’t look to be a wide-open game even if played under the best conditions. I’d look to other fantasy options unless less I got points for RB carries as 17 points is probably enough to win this game.

NEW ORLEANS

THIS WEEK: On the road

NEXT WEEK: On the road

I really feel for this team and this city. With all the distractions and talk of the team moving to Los Angles you can’t expect this city and this team to be focusing on football any time soon. This has all the markings of a lost season and I suspect that both the offense and the defense will be off for months to come. A good play if you have Carolina Panthers on your roster this week and a season-long headache if you have Saints on your fantasy roster.