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What Have We Learned – Week 1 Edition

First, a moment to remember those who passed away on or as a result of Sept. 11, and a thank you to the men and women who serve as police officers, fire fighters, and in our armed forces. You will always be remembered.

James Starks is the guy in Green Bay.
There was a lot of talk in the offseason that Starks, a breakout player in the playoffs last year, would split touches with Ryan Grant. Well, the two did split carries fairly equally, with Starks getting 12 to Grant’s nine, but it was Starks who did more with his opportunities. He racked up 57 yards and scored on a 17-yard run, rumbling through the New Orleans Saints defense. Grant did fine, with 40 yards on nine carries, but just didn’t look as good. Look for Starks to continue to receive more and more carries.

Cedric Benson isn’t terrible.
Part of my draft strategy this year was “Avoid Cincinnati Bengals.” But Benson showed Sunday that he can certainly be productive. Against an underrated Cleveland Browns team, Benson carried the ball 12 times for 121 yards and a score. I’ll take that out of my running back any day. With his jail time out of the way (which is really funny to say), Benson should return to being a very good back, as long as he isn’t playing the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens.

Donovan McNabb should retire.
And it’s not because I’m a Philadelphia guy. I actually like McNabb, but he and the Minnesota Vikings won’t be that great offensively. He just looked bad against an admittedly good San Diego Chargers defense. But over the course of an NFL game, a starting quarterback should throw for more than 39 yards. Only A.J. Feeley and Josh Johnson threw for less, and they came into their games in garbage time. I hope you’re not counting too heavily on the Vikings’ receivers.

The Colts are the worst team in the NFL without Peyton Manning.
Seriously. It’s been said countless times already, but apparently, Manning is so good, that he also plays defense and special teams. I understand that teams will be better when their offense is taking time off the clock, scoring points and setting up the defense to succeed. But the Colts went from being a solid offense to being a Bottom 5 offense with wasted weapons. Kerry Collins will continue to throw to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, but everyone else takes an enormous hit in value. Maybe they should start Curtis Painter?

LeGarrette Blount may not get the opportunity.
He was drafted as high as the second round, but it’s looking more and more like that may have been a little high. Granted, the Detroit defensive line is going to make a lot of people look bad this year, but his five-carry workload, combined with his poor performance (just 15 yards) left fantasy owners scratching their heads. It won’t get much easier against the Minnesota Vikings this week either. I’m not saying trade him, but he’s not necessarily an automatic start.

You probably underrated Fred Jackson.
He should be a low-end RB2. Jackson is going to be the primary guy in Buffalo this season, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick slinging the ball like he can, Jackson can be very productive. Defenses will focus on stopping Fitzpatrick, meaning Jackson will have running lanes. He carried the ball 20 times for 112 yards, and is just a better option than C.J. Spiller. Look for Jackson to continue his success.

Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams will help fantasy teams.
Steven Jackson started off strong, but, as expected, he got hurt. Cadillac came on to run for 91 yards on 19 carries, and added six catches for 49 yards. And it’s already being reported that Jackson is unlikely to play this week. That said, Williams should be a big waiver pickup this week. But temper expectations. His matchup is a Monday night road game against what will be an angry New York Giants defense. And he’s still ‘Cadillac’ Williams, so there’s injury risk.

Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy.
And he looks fantastic. As you would expect, Jones-Drew carried his team on Sunday, gaining 97 yards and a score. I have him on a few teams, and was concerned about his health going into the game. But what really impressed me – the defense knows he’s getting the ball. No one is afraid of Luke McCown. If Jones-Drew can run like this, in a fairly weak defensive division, he can rack up big numbers once again. He’ll get a big test in the New York Jets next week.

Kenny Britt will be a Top 10 receiver this season, and maybe a Top 5 guy.
Britt is an elite talent, but his brain keeps getting in the way. He has been stuck in Tennessee with Vince Young and the aforementioned Kerry Collins. But Britt now has a more capable signal caller in Matt Hasselbeck, he still has Chris Johnson, and he still has all that talent. If someone is looking to sell on him and capitalize after his 136 yards and two scores on Sunday, make a deal. Don’t sell the farm, but get him.

Cam Newton, Chad Henne and Rex Grossman are viable fantasy starters.
This is tough for me to say, but these three weren’t supposed to be good this year. But the three combined for more than 1,000 yards, with the rookie leading the way. They’re not every week starters, but they are certainly useful to a fantasy owner on a bye week or looking for an injury replacement. Newton looked very good, although he was playing a bad Arizona Cardinals defense. Henne looked good, but benefited from playing a New England Patriots team that was close to flawless on offense, meaning Henne got to play from behind. Grossman seems confident, and is making good decisions. While we’ve seen this fast start before and should still take it with a grain of salt, it’s interesting to watch.

Good luck.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at

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