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Week 1: Fundamentals and Matchups

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This is the Brew Crew Corner season kickoff edition. Thursday kicks off the season with the Green Bay Packers hosting the New Orleans Saints. Every year the defending champions have won the season opener. The streak is at seven and every season the matchup seems to get tougher and tougher. In this case, I’m sticking with the Packers to win at home. Until the defending champion falters in a season opener, you have to stick with the favorite.

Now that preseason is over and the real hitting starts, you have to start getting into a weekly routine to make sure you’re covered every week. In the beginning of the week check Fantasy Sharks for the latest updates and advice. I think this should be mandatory in your weekly preparation, so add it to your calendar, send yourself an email reminder and make sure you start the week right.

The first week of the season is the shortest to prepare for, so there are a few things you should look to do before you hit submit on that lineup. This should include checking roster cuts, depth chart changes, waiver wire players, trade options, your lineup and new rule changes. I’ll go through each scenario so that you have a better idea of what to look for.

Roster Cuts

Teams’ rosters have just been cut to 53. Make sure a player you drafted isn’t one of them. Check through the list of players on your team to make sure you don’t have a rookie or old veteran that is now looking for work. Sometimes a player cut can help or hurt your team because a player cut away from the team your player is on could elevate his playing status and vice versa. A player could be added to your team after the first week which could demote your player. So keep track of those movements.

Depth Chart Changes

With the offseason being so short, teams have to wait as late as possible to set their depth charts. There are several factors that you need to monitor such as which quarterback is named the starter. This will affect Seattle and Jacksonville and the receivers on those teams. Handcuffing your stud running back could be a challenge until you know what the depth chart is, such as the situation in Houston. Will Ben Tate back up Arian Foster or will Derrick Ward?  

Waiver Wire Pickups

Regardless of how well you drafted, the waiver wire is your lifeline to improving your team and filling in for injuries and bye weeks. Waiver wire pickups could win you a championship. Last year both Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis were picked up off the waivers. Even if you feel that your team is set, make sure to see what players are breaking out to improve your bench. Sometimes a player could be dealing with an injury or struggling and another owner will drop that player. These are good pickups if you have the room to stash them.

Trade Options

There are going to be several owners who leave the draft with a team they are not too happy with. This is a good opportunity to make them a deal that will benefit both teams. Look for ways you can trade a few decent players for a great player on their team. Don’t low ball or try to swindle an owner in these deals. I personally don’t like these types of trades where one owner gets screwed over in the deal. Remember that the rest of the league sees those trades and it can hurt your chances of trading with another owner. The best trades in my opinion are deals that help both sides.

Lineups

Start a legal lineup. It sounds easy but every season there is an owner that sets an illegal lineup. Don’t be that owner. Play your best players. You drafted that running back in the first round, use him. If you have quarterbacks or defenses that are not elite, you may want to look at matchups to play the better option. For instance, you have Sam Bradford and Matt Hasselbeck as your quarterbacks because you went running back heavy early in the draft. Bradford faces the Philadelphia Eagles defense while Hasselbeck plays Jacksonville. You might want to sit Bradford for that game.

Rule Changes

Looking at the new NFL rule changes, there are two that will impact fantasy scoring this year.

-Kickoffs will now be from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line. If you play in a league that rewards points for return yards, expect a dramatic decrease in stats there. That makes players such as Josh Cribbs, Stefan Logan and LaRod Stephens-Howling less valuable to you. Maybe your league can reward for touchbacks because there are going to be a large amount of those going on. Another area you will see this rule hurt teams are those clubs that struggle moving the ball on long drives. You can see more teams that are weak on offense going three-and-out more often.

-All scoring plays will be reviewed by referees. This will be good for coaches so that they won’t have to waste a challenge on a blown touchdown call. This is also good for fantasy owners because it will confirm scoring and you won’t get hosed on calls as much. It is a new concept so expect some errors but I think overall it is a good rule to have.



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