Did you know it takes a tenth of a second for your brain to form a first impression?
It’s true. Smart guys in white coats who carry clipboards around found that out.
In the time it takes for Rex Ryan to get cranky at a press conference, our brains take in all the information about someone and spit out a judgment about their attractiveness, trustworthiness and whether we can bum 5 bucks from them.
And your brain, if you believe those science types, is almost always right.
Luckily, when it comes to fantasy football, your brain can’t make decisions without you helping it along. Because first impressions in fantasy are seldom what they seem.
If they were, ex-Jet QB Glenn Foley would have a bust in Canton based on his 415-yard, 3 TD performance on opening day in 1998. (He threw for only 334 more yards and 1 TD the rest of the year and was soon benched.)
Or Kevin Ogletree’s 114-yard, 2-TD debut effort for Dallas last year would translate into a top 10 fantasy WR spot. (He finished the year with 4 TDs and 436 yards.)
Luckily, history provides a guide to players who have a track record of strong starts, and are not flashes in the pan. (Or are they a flash in the pans?)
And while there are some exceptions to the rules, this start/sit list is a good starting point.
Start: Of course, your going to start guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady who usually excel in season openers. (Brady has been particular good in Week 1 the past three seasons.)
But the off-the-radar guy who may surprise the most is the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger. Ben (I’m not going to try and spell Roeslithhwhatever again) has long gotten credit for being a great real-word QB, but an average fantasy guy. But that’s not entirely true.
If he didn’t get injured late last year, he would have had a career high in TDs and yards. His issue has been staying healthy over a full season, but that’s not a problem in an opener.
With no running game right now, trust Ben’s arm over the Titans in Week 1.
Careful: The Chiefs Alex Smith and the Texans Matt Schaub will have their moments this year, but not this weekend. It’s not their fault. Both K.C. and Houston like to run and they both face defenses that will be sacrificial lambs to their ground games.
Also, you probably can’t bench the Packers Aaron Rodgers, but he’s got a tough matchup. And, not counting a 2011 game against shootout-inducing New Orleans , he usually comes out of the gate slow.
Start: If you are worried about Matt Forte of the Bears, don’t be. Yes, he’s a “must start” every week, but he’s got a nasty Bengals defense waiting for him today.
He’s also one of the best Week 1 backs over his career. Since entering the league in 2008, he’s scored at least one TD in four out of five openers. And he’s done most of that damage as a receiver. So let Cincy shut down the run. They probably will, but they won’t shut down Forte.
Careful: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks. Historically, Lynch is a closer. He does his best work in November and December. Which is nice for your fantasy playoffs, but not so nice in September. Seattle heads East this week and faces a Carolina D that can contain the run. He’ll get his, just not today.
Also, beware of guys whose teams fall behind big and they get forgotten. Darren McFadden of the Raiders could fall into that category today.
Start: Reggie Wayne of the Colts may be at the tail end of his prime, and that may show up as the year slogs on, but he’s also had a heck of a lot of success leading off.
He’s had 100 yards in each of the last three openers – OK, so he had 99 yards in 2010, but we’ll round up – and that includes 2011 when he had Kerry Collins throwing him the ball. He should do fine against the Raiders today.
Careful: The Giants Victor Cruz is nice fantasy player most of the time. But just not when the Giants play the Cowboys. He had 8 catches for 81 yards over two games against Dallas last year, including a 58-yard effort in the opener.
Look at the bright side: He’ll be a great play Week 2 against the Broncos.
Start: Finding a sure-thing tight end for Week 1 is a tough job. There’s not a lot of statistical evidence to sift through. We know the Saints Jimmy Graham and Cowboys Jason Witten will probably have good games, but they’re no-brainers. So, let’s go with Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings.
Here’s the logic: The Lions can score, but they can’t stop anyone either. Adrian Peterson will find the end zone a few times, but to keep up the Viking have to find TDs from other sources. And guess who led the team in receiving TDs last year … Rudolph, of course.
Careful: Every year, Vernon Davis of the 49ers is supposed to take a leap forward into fantasy superstardom. Every year, he teases and falls short. You may think a Green Bay-San Francisco game would be a shootout, but look for it to be a 20-17 type game with Davis not playing a big role.
Do you REALLY need a start/sit hint for a kicker? If you drafted smart, you should only have one on your roster. NEXT!
Start: Here’s a hint you don’t really need: ALWAYS start the defense that plays the New York Jets. Not only will you score lots of fantasy points, but you could end up being mightily entertained. Can you say “butt fumble?” This week, that team is Tampa Bay.
Careful: Da Bears were the top scoring fantasy defense a year ago. But that was when they were coached by the defense-loving Lovie Smith. They may still be a good squad, but opening against the Bengals won’t be easy.