A few fantasy pointers before kickoff

Maurice Jones-Drew is back with the Jaguars but is not expected to play much in Week 1.
Maurice Jones-Drew is back with the Jaguars but is not expected to play much in Week 1. (PHELAN M. EBENHACK / AP)
Posted: September 06, 2012

Your draft is in the books, or will be shortly. The Cowboys and Giants kick off the NFL season Wednesday night. The wait is nearly over for those of us whose lives seem just a tad incomplete without the thrill of fantasy football competition.

These final hours seem to be more than some of you can handle, however. My Twitter account has been lit up with questions about various trade scenarios from owners who've apparently been staring at their rosters a little too hard and feel the need to do something, anything, to better position themselves for success out of the gate.

May I offer one simple word of advice? Relax! Stop panicking about your team before it has even taken the field. You presumably spent a reasonable (if not unreasonable) amount of time preparing for your draft, and you made the best choices you could under the circumstances. Now give your guys a chance to compete.

OK, I'll toss you one bone. If Jonathan Dwyer is available in your league and you have an extra kicker, defense or other expendable player at the bottom of your roster, grab him. The Steelers tailback has had an impressive preseason, and could even draw the Week 1 start against the Broncos, thanks to a slew of nagging injuries to Isaac Redman.

If the fast-rising Dwyer outperforms Redman in the opener, he could potentially seize the starting job going forward. You're better off grabbing him now, rather than taking your chances on the waiver wire next week.

Another hot Twitter topic centers on the status of Maurice Jones-Drew, who finally ended his acrimonious 38-day holdout and reported to the Jaguars on Sunday. Will he play? Will he start? More specifically, should he be in your starting lineup, or resting safely on your bench in Week 1?

Unfortunately, your guess is probably as good as mine, since Jags head coach Mike Mularkey hasn't returned my calls, e-mails, texts, Tweets, pokes or smoke signals.

No doubt, starting MJD in Week 1 poses a significant degree of risk. The decision, therefore, comes down to your alternatives. Do you have another running back with clearer prospects for success? If you play with a flex position, do you have a safer option at WR or TE?

I expect Jones-Drew will see some action on Sunday in Minnesota; but Rashad Jennings will draw the start and the bulk of the carries. If you have a choice between those two, Jennings is your man.

Earlier last week, Kenny Britt and his fantasy owners got the best news they could possibly have hoped for, when the NFL imposed a hand-slap suspension of just one week for the receiver's eighth - eighth! - arrest since turning pro in 2009. As a result, Britt catapulted up draft boards and gave those who gambled a late-round pick on him just days earlier a serendipitous boost to their 2012 prospects.

Britt, whose injured knee is expected to be fully healed by Week 2, has the potential to produce at an elite fantasy level. An opening-game "bye" is a small price to pay for a fantasy wideout with that much potential. Don't ever get in a car he's driving, but don't hesitate to grab him if your draft is still ahead.

Those counting on big things from Hakeem Nicks should brace themselves for some pregame jitters throughout the season. The explosive wideout has admitted that his surgically repaired foot is not yet fully healed, and that he expects to play with pain all year. That's not what you want to hear in the preseason from one of your most important players.

You know by now that Jason Witten's prospects for playing in Wednesday's opener are slim to none. Like Britt, he will need to be squirreled him away for a week but probably no longer. Once his lacerated spleen is fully healed, Witten should immediately return to elite form.

In even better news for Tony Romo, both Dez Bryant (knee) and Miles Austin (hamstring) are fully expected to suit up for the Giants game.

But to me, the most eagerly anticipated question of the 2012 season won't be answered until Sunday night in Denver. Will the historically durable, gunslinging Peyton Manning be back, or will the post-neck-injury version prove to be a fragile shell of the four-time league MVP?

The answer has huge implications not only for Manning's owners and Broncos fans, but for those betting big on Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme.


Follow Ladd Biro at fantasy-fools.blogspot.com, on Facebook and @ladd_biro on Twitter.

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