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Breaking the Huddle – Week 1

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For fantasy football managers, each Saturday marks the precipice before charging into battle. Waivers are all but complete and any trade proposal has been laid to rest. Take a good look because this is the team who will represent us in week one. The only question we need to answer is; which of our players will form a starting lineup capable of outscoring our upcoming opponent? (the game of Fantasy Football surmised into one simple sentence).

Granted, submitting our starting lineup in week one should be blindingly obvious. Players are the healthiest they will be all season, and the weather around the country is damn near perfect. However, for numerous owners there are a handful of questions still unanswered. Here is a glance around the NFL before finalizing our starting lineup.

Friday’s Injury Report

Any players listed as Probable w/Full Participation in practice means, baring a major setback in pre-game warm ups, he will suit up this weekend. The list for week 1 includes; Robert Griffin III, Arian Foster, Randall Cobb, Hakeem Nicks, Jordan Cameron and Danny Amendola. Unless you have amazing options, each should be started with confidence……. Rob Gronkowski and Le'Veon Bell have officially been ruled out. Don’t be that owner.….. Victor Cruz has been given the tag of “Probable w/Limited Participation.” Although Cruz should be penciled into your starting lineup, make sure to check the inactive report before game time.

Of course, there are players who have been lingering on the injury report all preseason. Regardless of their injury status, the list of players I want to see healthy before starting include; Jordy Nelson, Rashard Mendenhall, Sidney Rice (see; Stephen Williams below), Kendall Wright, Santonio Holmes. My personal favorite is Ahmad Bradshaw. Having not taken a single preseason snap, suddenly Ahmad Bradshaw is going to start? I don’t think so. Best to sit Bradshaw until further notice.

Inactive report

As we know, coaches will flat out lie on the Friday injury report to confuse their upcoming opponent. That’s why it’s best to always check the “inactive report” required from every team 15 minutes before kickoff. These are the eight players from each team who will not be on the field this Sunday. Even if a player has been free of the injury report his entire career, before entering any matchup, we must always check the “inactive report.”

The Weather report

Having been a golf course superintendent in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve been awarded an honorary degree in meteorology. What I’ve learned is there’s no better information than right now. Regardless of the cities mentioned below, every week I’m going to give the same advice; make sure to check the wind speed and the Doppler Radar of the city in question on game day. If wind exceeds 12 MPH, start to downgrade players accordingly. If a “significant” moisture cell his headed toward an NFL stadium, downgrade your players significantly (especially QBs and WRs). As of 2:00 AM EST on 9/7 here are the list of cities that should be monitored; Buffalo, Cleveland, New York and Pittsburgh.

Watch List

Finally, every year there are a handful of players who slipped through our leagues undrafted, but still make a significant fantasy impact by season's end. Any flicker of hope this weekend and I’m jamming to the waiver wire. For example, everyone fantasy owner is searching for that breakout No. 2 WR. Popular candidates include; Quinton Patton, Patrick Edwards, and Kenny Stills. For the non-Seattle residents, put your good eye on Hawks WR Stephen Williams. The undrafted rookie has the raw talent to be a productive fantasy WR3. Another name to watch is Mohamed Sanu. I already wrote about his stretch run in the middle of last season with four TDs in four games. Drafted in less than 10% of leagues, Sanu has upside as a big physical player with run-after-the-catch skills. E.J. Manuel and Terrelle Pryor have begun to turn heads. Although neither can win you a title, both could emerge as a serviceable bye week replacement. With Lance Dunbar ruled out, Phillip Tanner will be the Cowboys' primary backup behind the often injured DeMarco Murray.

I couldn’t close this article without commenting on the Thursday Night Game. Of course, everyone is talking about Peyton Manning and the Broncos' three ring circus. However, did you notice Ball salted out the game, but wasn’t trusted in pass protection? It may take until week six, but the coaching staff wants Ball to become the starter. Hillman owners that took a flyer in the late 8th round look to have wasted a draft pick.

Good luck this weekend and I’ll see you on the flip side.