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Games to Watch – Week 1

Hello fellow Sharks! From now right up through week 17, we’ll be giving our insight as to which games are the ‘games to watch’ each week. This is a heavy burden, as we know a lot of you have Sunday Ticket, too much free time, and an addiction to premium brews like Natty Lite or Yuengling. A lot of you know us from our weekly podcast on this site (the Fantasy PRE-Wind podcast), and our “Sine Lines” sport-toon (every Mon, Wed, Fri), or maybe one of our posts in the Tank. We’re just like you, though – we love a good football game, no matter who’s playing. All times Eastern:


Minnesota

@
New Orleans
– Thursday 9/9,
8:30pm

Picture this: you’re at a party, pub, or even at your locker in high school; the girl of your dreams happens to be close by; you play out about 20 or 30 scenarios in your mind of what witty “first thing” you are going to say when your eyes meet (heck…you’ve even played out how she responds). Lo and behold, the moment arrives and she’s making her way in your direction. She’s close… 20 feet… 10 feet… you look her way (but don’t stare) and she looks up at you and says, “Hi”. With a suaveness that would put the Old Spice pitch-man to shame, you unleash the phrase you decided was the perfect turn of phrase to show her you are fun, witty, charming, and someone she’d like to get to know better.

But, something happens in that split second between your brain retrieving your well-practiced comment and your mouth actually speaking it, and you end up just saying, “Oh… uh… ‘Sup?” “‘Sup”?!? That was the reply? What happened to “Hey, I was hoping I’d run into you here” or “Great! Someone here who I can talk to!” or whatever pick-up line you convinced yourself was a stroke of genius (“Hey – I’ll bet you 50 lbs. of cabbage I’m the best lover you ever saw.”), but no. The best you can muster is “Oh… uh… ‘Sup?”.

That’s it; moment lost, and you can never have it back again. Rest assured, we’ve all been there (Chris more than Tom, but his 50 lbs of cabbage line does make for a great memory – and a true story by the way). And we all wish we could get moments back and change how we would have done things if given another opportunity. Some of us actually get them (at least according to Braun’s parole officer), but most of us don’t.

There IS however someone in the NFL who gets a second chance in the opening week of the NFL In fact, the opening game – when everyone’s favorite head-case… err… headliner,
Brett Favre, gets a second chance to face a foe that has turned his stomach the last seven months, the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Favre (4,202 yards/33 TD/7 Int) is simply going to look to take apart the New Orleans D that decided to lay the smack-down on him last January. You can expect a heavy dose of
Adrian Peterson (1,383 yards/18 TD /6 Fum) and Favre looking to some of the youthful WR talent on the roster, namely
Percy Harvin (60 rec/790 yards/6 TD). But, before we make this article seem one sided, let’s not forget to mention that the NFL opening night is taking place in the Big Easy.
Drew Brees (4,388 yards/34 TD/11 Int) is going to attempt to pick-up where the Saints left off – in front of a national audience, giving plenty of chances to
Marques Colston (70 rec/ 1,074 yards/9 TD) and
Devery Henderson (51 rec/804 yards/2 TD). Defensively, two of the leagues most aggressive defenses are going to help keep the score in check if any of you were thinking “shootout”.
Jarred Allen (14.5 sacks) and
Will Smith (13 sacks/3 FF) give each respective defense an anchor on the line.

So, Favre is the lucky one – he actually gets his second chance to impress football fans everywhere – unlike the million of schleps like you and us who blew our one chance to make a lasting impression with some wonderful one-liner. But, don’t beat yourself up too badly, even if you had a disaster of a line with the girl next door, you could probably beat the pants off of her in Fantasy Football with all the knowledge you gain in the Shark Tank every week.

Cincinnati
@
New England
– Sunday 9/12,
1:00pm

Seems you can’t channel surf these days without bumping into a slew of “reality” TV shows. On one channel you get to see a bachelor wooing scores on beautiful, young women who are all too eager to throw themselves at anyone – provided they get their 15 minutes of fame doing it. On another, you get to see spoiled socialites turned tv-personalities, like the Kardashians, tell us the tale of their woeful lives, where they are subjected to a life of mansions, endless parties, and having to watch Bruce Jenner’s acting that is more wooden than a 100-year-old oak. On another, you get to watch self-proclaimed ‘bad girls’ throwing themselves at any man, woman, or alcoholic drink in reach, and being proud to act less classy than a $5 streetwalker.

Sure, they aren’t sophisticated or full of complex stories, but the Nielson Ratings don’t lie; we can’t seem to tear our eyes off of any TV event that features a whole lot of drama mixed with a little action – which is a perfect reason to watch the Patriots and Bengals facing off on Sunday afternoon.

A perfect mix of action and drama has
Tom Brady (4,398 yards/28 TD/13 Int) trying to lead the Pats on an important win over another projected AFC playoff team, while trying to work out a contract extension with the Pats’ brass. Adding to both the action and the drama are his WRs –
Randy Moss (83 rec/1,264 yards/13 TD), who feels snubbed (and rightly-so) by New England who hasn’t even been interested in talking contract with the #1 receiver in terms of TDs and #5 receiver in terms of yardage in the NFL last year, and
Wes Welker (123 rec/1,348 yards/4 TD) who is rebounding from a season-ending knee injury after just a scant seven-month recovery time.

But, don’t get the idea for a second that the drama is limited to New England. Cincinnati is no stranger to drama, especially this year. RB
Cedric Benson (1,251 yards/6 TD/1 fum) was arrested for assault this summer, but somehow avoided any suspension under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s “zero tolerance” policy. And, the Bengals are blessed (cursed?) with two ACTUAL reality TV stars in
Chad Ochocinco (72rec/1,047 yards/9 TD) and
Terrell Owens (55 rec/829 yards/5 TD). And while some people might wonder if Chad will find love on his show “Chad Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch” (*groan*), NFL fans and fantasy owners are more concerned if he’ll get some love from QB
Carson Palmer (3,094 yards/21 TD/13 Int) – or if Palmer will spurn him in favor of T.O.

Face it, sports-fans… with this much action AND drama, you just know you’re not going to be able to watch anything else on Sunday afternoon except this game… and that’s saying a lot – especially because we’re pretty sure there is a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon.

Baltimore
@ New York Jets – Monday 9/13,
7:00pm

Take a little trip back in time with us and picture this…the annual FantasySharks Spring Picnic on Cape Cod earlier this summer had picturesque views, ice cold beverages of your choice, and a spread put out by the office higher ups that put a smile on everyone’s face. (Tony Holm might not nail every prognostication 100% of the time, but he’s smart enough to know if you throw some fat and starch at the troops, they pretty much stay in line for the year – or at least until they start rumbling about a Christmas bonus).

The office staff was huddled under Tony’s 10’ x 10’ EZ-Up Tent, so we found ourselves in close proximity and dipping into the small-talk bag. The date, May 22, exactly one week before the final episode of ABC’s LOST. Vinnie, being the official gambling man here at FantasySharks, looks over at Tom and says, “Braun, I know you watch that show about the plane crash… $100 says you can’t explain that show in under a minute!” Braun never took the bet. How could he? That show is a loosely associated casserole of characters, a crumbled topping of sub plots, and a dash of confusion to season it all.

Fast forward to the present and that same question can be asked of the Ravens v. Jets game this upcoming Monday. In fact, when looking over the intriguing games for this week, there are quiet subtleties that make this game far more interesting than two teams duking it out.

This game isn’t just one linear story – it’s a main plot riddled with a series of sub-plots strung together to hook you into dropping whatever you are doing and watching this game.

First, look at the Jets under 2nd year coach Rex Ryan. The main characters are a young charismatic leader who is still getting NFL experience in
Mark Sanchez (2,444 yards/12 TD/20 Int); a youthful, yet capable running back in
Shonn Greene (540 yards/2 TD); and a prolific receiver and Super Bowl MVP –
Santonio Homes (1,248 yards/5 TD), who can only watch from afar this week as the league punishes him. As this storyline develops, another is taking shape as well – one with a 3rd year quarterback named
Joe Flacco (3,613 yards/21 TD/12 Int) who’s calmer than a 1st grader on a double dose of Ritalin, and a dynamic running back who has taken the league (and fantasy football owners) by storm in the last 12 months named
Ray Rice (1,339 yards/7 TD).

Clear so far right? Think again…

Subplot 1: You have once-beloved Baltimore defensive coordinator,
Rex Ryan, who leaves to join a new team, and now he’s facing a defense he built in the first game of a season where Jets’ fans have themselves convinced they are going to a Super Bowl. Tough way to start, but it makes for great TV.

Subplot 2: Ravens FB
Le’Ron McClain (180 yards/2 TD) was “amused” with the Jets resigning a popular MVP cornerback (see below) and had this to say: “I’m glad they got him back so there won’t be any excuses.” (As far as sub-plots go, a little spite always goes a long way – for motivational purposes and fan-fun).

Subplot 3: Just when you think you know all the characters involved – two special guest stars enter with all-world CB
Derrelle Revis (6 Int) and WR
Anquan Boldin (84 rec/1,024 yards/4 TD) both playing the unknown factors and showing up in the nick of time to make an impact.

Well, we could go on… but it took Lost seven years to spin out all of the plots, sub-plots, characters, and twists and while we wouldn’t mind racking up seven years worth of overtime, we have to wrap up this column in time to watch this week’s Games to Watch!!

 

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.