There's more to life than just fantasy football.
There are suicide pools, pick 'em leagues and more. Hey, maybe you even like to place a wager from time to time. I have Britney Spears on my computer playlist, so obviously, I'm not here to judge.
Therefore, this is the weekly feature I came up with to get readers ready for football weekends. Hopefully, it's a little bit of everything. I break down some fantasy options and make picks on every game. Keep in mind that picks are made against the spread, not just who I think is going to win. I'll try to break down Monday night games in a separate entry.
Also, I'll list my six most confident picks separately at the top of each entry. Week one is always difficult, and I found myself leaning to most of the favorites. Here goes:
Six-pack: Dolphins, Eagles, Bengals, Jaguars, Seahawks, Falcons
Dolphins at Steelers
The difference: Rule No. 381 of picking games: If it seems too easy, you're probably wrong, but go with the easy pick anyway. With Charlie Batch starting, Jerome Bettis gone and Daunte Culpepper healthy, it's impossible to go with the Steelers. Also, keep in mind that former Steelers' offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is now with the Dolphins. That's got to count for something right?
Fantasy nugget: Willie Parker is a good start for an offense that is without Ben Roethlisberger and a banged up Hines Ward.
The pick: Miami (pick 'em)
Broncos at Rams
The difference: In the offseason, St. Louis did a good job of addressing its defense, which ranked 30th in the league last season, but Denver is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Fantasy nugget: Steven Jackson could have trouble finding running room against a defense that ranked second against the run in 2005. Useless piece of information No. 1 of 1,000: Marc Bulger has the sixth highest passer rating of any QB in NFL history.
The pick: Denver (-3.5)
Jets at Titans
The difference: Games like this are the reason fantasy football was invented. Is there any truth to the rumor that Bubby Brister will serve as all-time quarterback for both teams? Nobody knows what to expect from New York's rushing attack, and their run defense finished 29th in the league last year. What does that mean? It's the Titans by default.
Fantasy nugget: Keep an eye on both teams' running games. Travis Henry, Chris Brown or LenDale White could emerge for the Titans. Meanwhile, fools like me took a shot on Kevan Barlow in the late rounds hoping he would get the bulk of the carries. We'll see if that happens.
The pick: Tennessee (-2.5)
Bills at Patriots
The difference: Bill Belichick vs. J.P.Losman. That sounds about as even as me vs. Orlando Bloom in a good looks competition (With me being Belichick of course…is anyone following this analogy?).
Fantasy nugget: Count me among those on board the Ben Watson bandwagon. Also, look for Willis McGahee to make his many doubters look foolish this year. He's still one of the most talented backs in the league.
The pick: New England (-10)
Bengals at Chiefs
The difference: I will count Kansas City's defense as soft no matter what Herman Edwards tells me (unless we're in the same room because he seems pretty intimidating). Look for Carson Palmer to show the league that he is healthy and an elite QB.
Fantasy nugget: I'm a Penn State alum, but would there be anything funnier than Larry Johnson running for 12 yards in this one? I'm in a keeper league, and Johnson's owner has mentioned how he drafted him in the 9th round last year about 2,000 times. Somehow I don't see this happening though against a rush defense that ranked 20th in the NFL last year.
The pick: Cincinnati (+1)
Ravens at Bucs
The difference: Tampa Bay's defense is getting older, but Baltimore's offensive line just hasn't shown me enough. I expect the Ravens' 'D' to be one of the league's best, but it won't be enough in this one. I like Tampa Bay in a defensive struggle.
Fantasy nugget: I'm one of the few guys who likes Cadillac Williams over Ronnie Brown this season, but the Ravens defense allowed less than 100 yards per game on the ground last season so Williams could get off to a slow start.
The pick: Tampa Bay (-3)
Seahawks at Lions
The difference: Yes, I'm aware that in this decade, no Super Bowl loser has won eight games or more the following year. But I need more than that to count Seattle out this season. They're still the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC as far as I'm concerned.
Fantasy nugget: Detroit allowed more than 127 yards per game on the ground last season. Shaun Alexander will continue to be a fantasy monster despite the loss of guard Steve Hutchinson.
The pick: Seattle (-7)
Falcons at Panthers
The difference: Steve Smith is questionable. And while everyone likes the Panthers this year, the Falcons could be a sleeper in the NFC behind a talented defense. I like them to pull the upset in week one.
Fantasy nugget: Atlanta ranked 26th against the run last year so this will be a good test to see how much their defense has improved. DeShaun Foster fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on how many carries rookie DeAngelo Williams steals in the first week.
The pick: Atlanta (+5)
Eagles at Texans
The difference: Dave Alexander recently received a call to start at running back for Houston. No offense to Dave, but that tells me all I need to know about this one. Philadelphia's defensive line has improved, and David Carr will be as confused as the Subway guy when I order up a veggie and cheese sandwich on Italian.
Fantasy nugget: Andy Reid says he is more committed to running the football this year, and the Texans ranked dead last in the league in rush defense last year. Look for Brian Westbrook to have a big game.
The pick: Philadelphia (-6)
Saints at Browns
The difference: New Orleans' defense should be awful, and they have question marks all along the offensive line. Meanwhile, the Browns added solid veterans in the offseason and are playing at home.
Fantasy nugget: Drafting Reggie Bush was one of the major fantasy questions in the offseason. I think he will show flashes of brilliance, but will be inconsistent as a fantasy back. His best chance of becoming a star immediately is to be a monster in the passing game.
The pick: Cleveland (-3)
Cowboys at Jaguars
The difference: Jacksonville beat the Seahawks in week one last year, and their defensive line should be able to pressure Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys' offense. Wouldn't it be fun to see the T.O. implosion start in week 1? What's the over-under on the first interview with Michael Irvin where they both start crying about how unfair life is? Week 3?
Fantasy nugget: Would I be surprised if Owens went off for 100 yards and a pair of TDs? No way. Also, keep an eye on Byron Leftwich, my 2006 QB sleeper.
The pick: Jacksonville (-1.5)
Bears at Packers
The difference: The Bears return all 11 starters from the league's second-ranked defense last year, but they still have question marks at the skill positions on offense. This one seems too easy, which means I'll probably get burned.
Fantasy nugget: Look for Thomas Jones to be a nice option this week. He has accounted for 40 percent of Chicago's touchdowns over the last two seasons and is going up against a Green Bay defense that allowed over 125 yards per game on the ground last year.
The pick: Chicago (-4.5)
49ers at Cardinals
The difference: Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin against a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL last year. This is a fantasy owner's dream.
Fantasy nugget: Arizona was awful in the red zone last year, but look for James, who had 14 TDs a year ago, to get off to a strong start in his new uniform.
The pick: Arizona (-7.5)
Colts at Giants
The difference: The Giants gave their secondary a facelift in the offseason, but their pass defense last year finished 27th in the league.
Fantasy nugget: Look for Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to get off to great starts. Indy might have to go with whichever running back does a better job in protection against New York's strong pass rush.
The pick: Colts (-3.5)
- Seattle Seahawks
- Baltimore Ravens
- National Football Conference
- Atlanta Falcons
- Chicago Bears
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Dallas Cowboys
- Indianapolis Colts
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Tennessee Titans
- Miami Dolphins
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Buffalo Bills
- Carolina Panthers
- Cleveland Browns
- Denver Broncos
- Houston Texans
- New Orleans Saints
- San Francisco 49ers