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Fantasy Fix: Our Annual Test Of Patience

Week 1 of the NFL season has a way of making you want to throw away your whole fantasy football game plan. Nothing ever goes quite as anyone expected. Guys that are supposed to be great end up falling on their faces, while players who didn't make your preseason draft list end up at the top of the week's fantasy stat board.

It's the sort of thing that makes you want to hate the so-called fantasy experts. I forcefully hesitate to call myself an expert, and think of my role as much more of an assistant, helping you find your way to information that may prove useful. But I wouldn't blame you if you hate me for not suggesting to you last week that Carolina QB Cam Newton would throw for 400-plus yards; that Green Bay WR Randall Cobb would score two TDs; or that troubled Cincinnati RB Cedric Benson would run for 121 yards. I'm kind of mad at myself, too.

The big question to ask though - while we're filling the world with more hate - is how many of these Week 1 performances are indicative of future returns? Here's my analysis of some surprising Week 1 stars:

Newton: He was so good, with 422 yards passing and 3 TDs, he broke the record for a rookie QB debut, previously held by some guy named Peyton Manning. He will have a much tougher time against Green Bay this week, and the Arizona defense Newton shredded last week was among the worst league-wide in 2010. Newton is a definite waiver wire pickup, but keep in mind his two passing TDs from Week 1 were in the first half and were amazing plays by veteran wild man WR Steve Smith. Arizona seemed to figure Newton out a little in the second half, intercepting a pass, though Newton did rush for a TD as well.

Cobb: His biggest play was an NFL record-tying 108-yard kick return TD, yards that may not count in some league formats, though it was pretty clear QB Aaron Rodgers saw Cobb as a premiere option despite his wealth of more obvious targets. Another nice wire pickup if you have the space, Cobb may not pile up receiving yards every week, but seems to have the moves and speed to score whenever and wherever he touches the ball.

Benson: Despite doing jail time during the preseason, Benson was sharp Sunday, continuing to do stuff for the Bengals that he never did as a Bear. The lack of preseason practice had some of us thinking he might split carries with A.J. Green, but with a rookie QB, Andy Dalton, on the line, it looks like Cincinnati will ride Benson until he inevitably gets in trouble again.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston: I did mention him last week, but 116 yards rushing and a TD was far more than I imagined. He started because No. 1 fantasy pick Arian Foster was out with a hamstring injury. I think he is most valuable when handcuffed to Foster, and because of Foster's versatility, I doubt he will have much value when Foster does start.

Early Doucet, WR, Arizona: A disappointing week for teammate Larry Fitzgerald turned into a great week for Doucet, with 105 yards receiving and a TD. QB Kevin Kolb and Fitzgerald will figure out how to connect, but Doucet should be the obvious No. 2 receiver on a team that will pass a lot.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo: He never gets drafted in fantasy leagues, but is almost always a mid-season pick-up. He led a 41-7 rout of Kansas City with only 208 yards passing, but 4 TDs and no INTs. I would still slate him as no more than a backup, and before you think otherwise, consider he fumbled (though Buffalo recovered it) in Week 1, and historically has had a problem with fumbles.

Rex Grossman, QB, Washington: Speaking of fumbles, a QB that Bears fans associate with them actually lost a fumble again during Week 1 (now 15 fumbles lost out of 24 total fumbles in 43 career games at QB), but Grossman made up for it with 305 yards passing and 2 TDs. He actually would be a great start again this week vs. Arizona. He can achieve some nice yardage games, but turnovers will keep him as a second-tier choice.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has its own piece on Week 1 surprises, starring Newton and Tate.

* CBS Sports looks at the injury-shaken WR ranks, with Marques Colston and others headed to the infirmary.

* Bleacher Report notes oft-injured St. Louis RB Steven Jackson is out again. Could fantasy owners be in the market for a Cadillac?


Comments welcome.

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