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What to Watch For: Week 1 Part 1

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh – Thursday 8:30 NBC

Titans: Kenny Britt was taken in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, and with Nate Washington suffering a hamstring injury, the rookie is likely to get the start in Week 1. The Titans may have finally found a stud to line up outside.

Steelers: I’m very curious to see how the three-headed monster of Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore works. Who will get goal-line carries? How many touches will Mendenhall steal from Parker? RBBC is so common in the league, but this is one murky situation that fantasy owners are somewhat lost in.

Miami

@

Atlanta – Sunday 1:00 CBS

Miami: Year 2 of the Wildcat offense is underway, but

Miami is being labeled a bust in 2009 by many pundits. Chad Pennington thrived last year and fell just outside the Top 10 of all fantasy QBs. However, this year, he is owned in under half of all leagues. Pennington will look to prove that he has what it takes to get it done two years in a row.

Atlanta: Tony Gonzalez wanted out of

Kansas City and he couldn’t have gone to a better place. Matt Ryan is looking to duplicate his rookie season with even more success and Gonzalez will be added fuel to the fire. Gonzalez will quickly become Ryan’s favorite target in the redzone and look for him to start off strong in Week 1.

Kansas City

@

Baltimore – Sunday 1:00 CBS

Kansas City: Matt Cassel was already rumored to be in danger of not starting and then he strained his MCL against

Seattle. Tyler Thigpen was a Top 10 fantasy QB in 2008 and if he has a decent game versus the vaunted

Baltimore defense, new coach Todd Haley will have a tough time benching him when

Cassel is ready to return.

Baltimore: Ray Rice has been one of the most sought-after RBs as the preseason as worn on by casual owners and experts alike. When he clinched the starting job in

Baltimore’s run-based offense his ADP shot through the roof. Kansas City has an awful defense that will allow him to show off his skills and prove that he has what it takes to live up to expectations.

Philadelphia

@

Carolina – Sunday 1:00 FOX

Philadelphia: Brian Westbrook will be back in the starter’s role after missing nearly all of training camp and not playing a single down in the preseason. Westbrook is known for not practicing all week and still performing on Sunday, but a months-long absence from the field will hurt him this time around if he doesn’t have his full speed underneath him yet.

Carolina: Everyone is raving about DeAngelo Williams and the Panthers’ running game, but it will be interesting to see if Jake Delhomme can rebound from the debilitating playoff loss last year to

Arizona in which he threw five INTs. If Delhomme has a tough time throwing the ball, expect

Philadelphia to stack the box and crash in on

Carolina’s backs.

Jacksonville

@

Indianapolis – Sunday 1:00 CBS

Jacksonville: Torry Holt moving to

North Florida has been a quiet transition and maybe that’s good for the Jaguars. While many think that Holt has reached his fantasy death, playing in

Jacksonville will be revitalizing. He will be David Garrard’s main target and will come out of the gates firing.

Indianapolis: Donald Brown has been a trendy pick in the past few weeks and he will face a true test against the Jags’ bulky defensive line. While he will serve as the complement to Joseph Addai (at least for now) it will be important to see how he does when given opportunities, because if he can clash with John Henderson and come away with even the slightest bit of success, it will spell good things for his fantasy owners.

Dallas

@

Tampa

Bay – Sunday 1:00 FOX

Dallas: Roy Williams came into

Dallas in October last year and failed to impress anyone. However with T.O. gone and Williams stepping into his familiar role as a No. 1 receiver, it will be interesting to see if he was worth all of the draft picks that

Dallas sent to

Detroit. He still has big-play ability, but is now three years removed from his only 1,000-yard season.

Tampa

Bay: Rookie head coach Raheem Morris fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski prior to the season beginning and named Byron Leftwich the starter at QB. While Antonio Bryant had a comeback year in 2008, the instability of the offense and his shaky starting QB could have a huge impact on his numbers. It will be interesting to see how he is affected while going up against one of the best secondaries in football.

Detroit

@

New Orleans – Sunday 1:00 FOX

Detroit: The biggest question here is who will be the starter under center? And if the guy who starts (whether it is Matthew Stafford or Daunte Culpepper) falters, will he be pulled for the QB on the bench?

Stafford did not do anything to help his cause in the preseason finale either. Calvin Johnson was a great WR last year with unstable QB play, but I’m not sure if even he can make this QB situation look good.

New Orleans: All eyes will be on the Saints’ backfield this week. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are both questionable, but will most likely go if given the opportunity. Thomas has been a trendy pick from the starting gun of the 2009 fantasy football season and will have to perform well each week to keep Bush from stealing his starting spot. There’s no better opportunity for Thomas to do that than this week against the Lions.

New York

Jets @

Houston – Sunday 1:00 CBS

New York: I think we’re all anxious to see what Mark Sanchez does in his NFL debut. He finished off the preseason well, completing all five of his passes for 67 yards and a touchdown on his lone drive against

Philadelphia. However,

Houston’s defense is rebuilt and the combination of Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans and rookie Brian Cushing (Sanchez’s teammate at USC) will make things tough for the QB. It will be fun to see how he responds to the pressure.

Houston: Steve Slaton came into 2008 as a third-round pick who would hopefully get some carries here and there, but he blew away expectations when he topped all rookie runners in rushing yards and was sixth in the league. The times have changed now and fantasy owners are counting on big things from the 5-foot-9 back who is not only a good runner, but a solid receiving option as well. Slaton gets a tough first test against

New York’s new head coach Rex Ryan and his brilliant defensive mind.

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