Well folks, it is finally here-the beginning of the NFL regular season. Fans everywhere are filled with anticipation as NFL teams get set to debut new players, coaches, and systems acquired in the offseason with hopes of resolving any lingering issues from last year. This is the first real demonstration of the success of their strategizing and hard work during the limited time that teams have had to practice since the signing of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and week 1 of the NFL 2011-12 season should be more unpredictable than ever. This high level of uncertainty may leave Fanagers (I named Fantasy team owners “Fowners” in my previous post but think this new moniker is catchier) more anxious than ever as they set their line ups for the first time this Fantasy season. If you are among these Fanagers, here are some tips for conquering week one.
Going into this week, the number one thing to remember is that Proven Beats Projected. Players with a consistent track record of success are your safest bet this week despite whatever projections your specific league may have on site. If an historically productive veteran is listed as the starting player on the depth chart to this point, then they will likely be given the opportunity to prove that they are worthy of the position. Whether or not that performance will keep them at the top of the depth chart for the bulk of the season will remain to be seen, but they are more likely to be healthy and well-rested now than at any other point in the season (in most cases anyway).
Moreover, assumptions based on preseason performances may also lead to trouble for Fanagers. Many significant starting players saw minimal amounts of reps during the preseason and so seemingly spectacular performances by back-up players or players competing against the opposing second, third and even fourth-string teams may be deceiving.
This week is one for observation rather than speculation. Go with the guys that you drafted early as they will have the greatest chance for success despite their opponents; after all, that’s why you drafted them when you did.  Do not rely heavily on last year’s NFL team statistics because  a lot of teams made significant changes in the offseason. Even if you are going up against a team with impressive (or unimpressive) defensive stats from last season, very few situations warrant benching a player that is typically reliable without significant cause (e.g. injury).
Also be patient. If a player hasn’t proven himself yet, then give him the time to do so – on your bench. This may take a week or 2 or 3 , but as long as you have the depth on your roster to sustain his presence on your bench, keep him there. And don’t drop players right away in pursuit of this year’s Peyton Hillis (breakout player). Of course, there is always an underrated player or 2 who will open up with an incredible first game (known as sleepers to us Fanagers), but the majority of them will deliver an average or (more likely) abysmal performance. Few things in Fantasy Football cause more remorse than dropping a player only to watch them explode on an opposing Fanager’s team.
Injuries must be taken into account as you decide which players to include on your starting roster. Peyton Manning is at the top of this list as his season is threatened by continuing neck issues that caused him to undergo yet another surgical procedure on the first day of the regular season.  Arian Foster also makes this list with the hamstring injury he suffered in the preseason. Check player status updates and injury reports before each game and adjust your roster accordingly. Teams often wait to announce the severity of an injury or illness close to game time in order to limit their opponent’s ability to alter their game strategy.
This weekend should certainly be an exciting one as our week-1-Fantasy-fates play out in the chase for the always-elusive optimal line up and to reflect that, this week’s Fantasy Football Bible lesson comes from the book of John (a.k.a. my buddy John):
 “Hope and pray (and stay away from crowded backfields).”