Monday, September 5, 2016

10 burning questions heading into Week 1

Now that most of our drafts are complete, the waiting begins. But this is no time to let anticipation get the best of you.

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 immediate success.

I have one word for you: Chillax!

Trust your draft preparation, don’t succumb to the knee-jerk trade offer and avoid impulsive free-agent moves. Instead, join me in pondering these 10 burning questions that should begin to be answered as 2016 Opening Weekend unfolds:

  1. How healthy are Jamaal Charles, Thomas Rawls, Carlos Hyde, Matt Jones, Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Julian Edelman, John Brown, Jimmy Graham and other nicked-up stars? It’s never a good sign to head into Week 1 already nursing an injury, but these guys have no choice. Their fates will affect not only their owners, but those banking on the players around them.

  1. Who will emerge from obscurity? Last season Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, Devonta Freeman, Allen Robinson and Gary Barnidge shocked the fantasy world with unexpected stellar performances. Which players will we be scrambling for next week? Hint: Do you have your starting RBs handcuffed?

  1. Can the Jaguars’ offense pick up where it left off? Bortles was en fuego in 2015 thanks in large part to the aerial exploits of Robinson and Allen Hurns. With Julius Thomas entering the season healthy, and an upgraded running game featuring T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory, the Jags are a team to be reckoned with. They’ve also added several playmakers to their defensive unit. Oakland’s young offensive stars are likewise poised to take the next step.

  1. Is David Johnson the next Marshall Faulk? After dazzling over the second half of 2015, millions of fantasy owners have placed a massive bet on Johnson by investing their first pick on the all-purpose tailback. His coaches have compared him to Faulk, due to his strengths as both a runner and receiver. In Arizona’s high-octane offense, Johnson will have no excuses.

  1. How soon will Sam Bradford be running the Vikings’ offense? After this week’s blockbuster trade with Philly, the Vikings are clearly counting on Bradford to lead them where they hoped Teddy Bridgewater would – the playoffs, and beyond. But Shaun Hill will start the opener while Bradford learns the ropes. I’m just glad I don’t have a stake in Minnesota’s receiving corps. This is still Adrian Peterson’s offense.

  1. How will the Ravens’ RB committee shake out? Apparently the Ravens just wanted to mess with Justin Forsett’s owners’ heads, as they just re-signed the veteran after releasing him over the weekend in a cost-savings move. On top of that, local beat writers expect him to play a big role in their offense in Week 1. But it’s pretty clear that Terrance West, Buck Allen and rookie Kenneth Dixon will get their share of the load as well. Dixon may be the pick of the litter, but he’s likely out for a month with a knee injury. Baltimore’s backfield could produce weekly headaches.

  1. Could this rookie WR class rival that from 2014? Not likely, but they’ve got a shot. Talent abounds, and playmakers like Corey Coleman, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas and Will Fuller will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their skills. It’s tough to love the situation Laquon Treadwell landed in in Minnesota, and Josh Doctson missed all of training camp and preseason recovering from an Achilles injury. But don’t be surprised if at least three of the others emerge on the fantasy radar. In related news, we should finally get a look at Kevin White and Breshad Perriman, who missed their rookie seasons last year with injuries.

  1. Can Andrew Luck and the Colts’ stocked receiving corps get their mojo back? Last season was a disaster for those invested in Indy’s passing game, primarily due to Luck’s injuries. Now that their leader is back at full health, will this aerial attack pay big fantasy dividends again? My Magic 8 Ball says “Outlook Is Good.”

  1. Will Larry Fitzgerald finally start acting his age? Fitz begins his 13th campaign in Arizona, with only the calendar to suggest that his best days are behind him. At some point, you have to figure Michael Floyd or John Brown will ascend to the top of the Cardinals’ WR pecking order. Perhaps 2020?

  1. Will Thursday night’s Super Bowl rematch be a fantasy dud? Two of the league’s premier defenses will be squaring off in the opener, while Denver rolls out an untested quarterback. The last time Cam Newton faced Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware & Co., Superman found his kryptonite. This battle may be best avoided for the respective offenses.

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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