Monday, September 7, 2015

10 burning questions heading into Week 1

Thursday night can’t get here soon enough.

I still have one draft to go (tonight), but after that come those days of limbo when anticipation can get the best of you.

I’ve already started receiving tweets and emails with questions about various trade and waiver-wire 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 immediate success.

I have one word for you: Relax!

Unless, of course, you followed my advice and grabbed Jonas Gray. Sorry about that! Go ahead and dump him for a free agent with upside. (I picked up Knile Davis, who went undrafted in one of my leagues.)

Otherwise, trust your draft preparation, don’t succumb to the knee-jerk trade offer and avoid impulsive waiver-wire moves. Instead, join me in pondering these 10 burning questions that should begin to be answered as 2015 Opening Weekend unfolds:

  1. How soon will LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Todd Gurley, Randall Cobb, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman and other nicked-up stars be ready to go full throttle? It’s never a good sign to head into the regular season already nursing an injury, because they often linger and/or re-emerge later in the season. Rush back too soon, and all bets are off.

  1. Who will emerge from obscurity? Last season Justin Forsett, C.J. Anderson and Brandon LaFell became prized free-agent acquisitions after stellar early-season performances. Which players will we be scrambling for in the coming weeks? Early candidates: Titans RB Terrance West, Rams WR Brian Quick, Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bears WR Eddie Royal, who always seems to tease us early on.

  1. Can the new-look Eagles make Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense hum? Sam Bradford looked sharp in the preseason, but the injury bug plagues him. Can DeMarco Murray hold up all season after handling the ball 450 times last year in Dallas? Can Jordan Matthews continue his progression while Nelson Agholor attempts to fill Jeremy Maclin’s cleats? One thing seems certain: This group will be fun to watch.

  1. Is Melvin Gordon the next LaDainian Tomlinson, or the next Ryan Mathews? The Chargers traded up in the first round of April’s draft to grab the man they hope will be their next franchise back. But so far, Gordon isn’t reminding anyone of LT. Millions of fantasy owners have invested a premium pick in the rookie, even though he’s mostly struggled this preseason.

  1. How will the Cowboys’ RB committee shake out? Joseph Randle will be the nominal starter, but oft-injured Darren McFadden is clearly more explosive. And what are we to make of the late acquisition of former Seahawk Christine Michael? When, if ever, will he get a chance to showcase his considerable talents?

  1. Will Cam Newton throw a TD pass to a wideout this season? Scoff if you like, but Alex Smith didn’t in 2014. With no receiver on the roster seemingly capable of filling Kelvin Benjamin’s role, Newton’s options are Greg Olsen and, um…

  1. Which rookies will make an immediate impact? Gurley could set the league on fire in St. Louis, but he needs to get fully healthy first. Gordon, Ameer Abdullah and T.J. Yeldon will get plenty of opportunities to shine. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will surely take their lumps. Most intriguing: Can Amari Cooper, Agholor and the rest of this year’s rookie wideouts possibly measure up to the stellar class of 2014?

  1. What antics does Bill Belichick have in store for his backfield this year? Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are gone. LeGarrette Blount is back, though suspended for Week 1. The inscrutable head coach already threw us a curve ball with the release of presumed opening day starter Jonas Gray. James White and Brandon Bolden will likely share the backfield in Thursday’s opener, but will Blount return to a committee?

  1. After a year’s hiatus, will Adrian Peterson return to elite form? Spoiler alert: You betcha.

  1. Will the Jaguars produce a single fantasy stud? How about the Titans? Or the Browns? Yeldon and Allen Robinson are the most promising candidates in Jacksonville, but will their talent be squandered? Will Delanie Walker get any support from his rookie QB, the unproven outside receivers or Tennessee’s mediocre running game? Will this be the first and last time that “Isaiah Crowell” and “stud” are written in the same sentence?

After another interminable offseason, these questions and many more will begin to be answered in just a few days.  And I can’t wait.

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