It's not easy to watch the games without slipping into validation mode, but that's what I try to do. Appreciate, learn, and going forward, apply. Here are some thoughts from the notebook, with a few Monday injury items ducked in:• Felix Jones is owned in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so feel free to skip this note if you like. The small-leaguers in the room, I beg you to find a stash spot for this guy. Jones has the highest upside of any running back not currently starting, and this Dallas offense is basically going to eat, drink and sleep in the red zone this year. This is the lottery ticket of the season. You know about the home-run speed but Jones also has the vision and decisiveness to run inside, and the willingness and technique to block. I don't wish anything to happen to Marion Barber, but with that high-contact running style, you never know (he's already battling sore ribs).
And while we're on the subject, can't you see the Cowboys as this year's Patriots? Tony Romo in the Tom Brady Hollywood role, TO in the Randy Moss alpha-dog role, Barber in the dreadlocked Gopher Laurence Maroney role, Jerry Jones in the genius/villain Bill Belichick role. Must see TV, love em' or hate 'em. The Juggernaut Index doesn't lie, friends.
• A no-show from Laveranues Coles (one catch, five yards), but that sets up a buying opportunity. He did draw two pass-interference flags, for what it's worth. He's still getting comfortable with Brett Favre. Jerricho Cotchery is clearly the lead dog here, but Coles will eventually get back to being a dynamite, reliable No. 3 for us most weeks. He's also broken his media boycott - perhaps a happier Coles will be a more-productive Coles.
• A snappy day for a couple of Notre Dame tight ends, Anthony Fasano (8-84, touchdown) and John Carlson (4-52), and the hits should keep coming (Chad Pennington is a check-down guy, while the Seahawks are quickly running out of healthy wideouts). Mark Bavaro sits back in his Boxford, Ma. home and nods approvingly.
• Brodie Croyle (shoulder) is probably going to miss a couple of games, which makes me more interested in Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe. Damon Huard certainly isn't a miracle worker, and he had some messy moments yesterday, but this is nonetheless an upgrade.
• Jeff Garcia (ankle) looks very questionable for Week 2, so warm up, Brian Griese. I'd like to see Earnest Graham (10-91 ground, 3-27 air) get used more, but Warrick Dunn crashed the party (9-54, 1-11).
• Trent Edwards was a reined-in game manager last year, nothing more, but he looked vastly improved in the opener, making a couple of stick throws into tight windows and throwing a pretty rainbow to Lee Evans. This is still an offense that runs first and asks questions later, but I'm thinking my initial rank of Evans was too skeptical. Oh, and if your league lumps special teams scoring with Team Defense, run to the free-agent wire and see if Buffalo is available. The collection of return talent on this roster is ridiculous.
• Dante Rosario didn't just collect numbers, he looked sensational doing it. He's technically not the starter here, but if I'm Jake Delhomme, I keep chucking him the ball. In leagues with more than 12 owners and a TE requirement, don't ask why, ask why not? (Rosario actually was drafted in one of my leagues, pick No. 395 in a 400-selection bloodbath last week. I wish that were my baby. Afraid not.)
• I'm not going to over-react to Seattle's nightmare opener. One, the Bills played pretty well, credit them. And two, the Seahawks have a recent history of playing poorly in those messed-up-body-clock games on the east coast (it would be more fair if the league started them at 4:15 pm eastern). This isn't a 12-4 or 11-5 team, and obviously the offense remains a work in progress, but I fully expect Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck to figure out a way to cobble together nine wins or so and take the division (the Week 4 bye is a godsend for them, given the current state of the roster). The defense should get well in a hurry, back at home and up against Mike Martz and J.T. O'Sullivan next week (use fantasy defense up against the Niners; Arizona paid the bills Sunday) and St. Louis the week after that.
• Every QB needs a clock in his head. Unfortunately with Kurt Warner, it's a grandfather clock.
• The Titans aren't going to turn into Air Coryell with Kerry Collins, but he's definitely an upgrade for the receivers here (see if Justin Gage is out there). Vince Young will never be much of a pocket passer.
• The Browns looked shorthanded on defense all day. No pass rush, giant leaks in the secondary. Dallas can make a lot of teams look bad, of course, but getting even eight wins against this monster schedule looks daunting. I still think Derek Anderson and the offense will get it together, but they better be ready to score 30 every week.
• I'm not in favor of making the league into a carnival, but come on, TO's celebration was pretty cool.
• Romeo Crennel's field goal decision in the fourth period cannot be defended. Do teams need a common-sense coach?
• "Everyday is Like Sunday" as a pro-NFL commercial spot? Did anyone listen to the rest of the song? Everyday is silent and grey . . . in the seaside town, that they forgot to bomb. Reminds me of the time a jeans maker mistook "Fortunate Son" for a rah-rah nationalistic anthem. ("The Headmaster Ritual" randomly hit on my iPod as I jotted down this note. That's gotta be one of the five best songs by The Smiths. Maybe it will be a mascara ad tomorrow.)
• The Patriots might be the least helpful team in the league when it comes to disclosing information, but I don't think they're content to devote the season to Matt Cassel (his surprising effort to the side). Not having a designer backup QB made sense into the season - Tom Brady's proven to be durable and you can't devote too many resources to one position - but it's definitely time to throw money at the problem. I'm thinking someone not currently on the roster will turn into someone worth starting every week in 12-team leagues by the second half.
• Sammy Morris saw 29 snaps Sunday compared to 24 for Laurence Maroney, for what it's worth. Just two snaps for LaMont Jordan. Jabar Gaffney got 53 snaps but no receptions. And Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe should be on your reading hit list.
• Gotta give props to The Noise for his Baskett Catch.
• I liked Matt Forte from the jump, but the blocking was a lot better than I expected.
• The Hines Ward set-up wasn't all that tricky. When two receivers are close in ability but everyone runs to one guy, you get an amazing value on the second player. T.J. Houshmandzadeh scored for us on the 1-A Bill for years. Ward is a different type of player and clearly in the second part of his career, sure, but clip and save the concept. (None of this is a knock on Santonio Holmes, he's going to be fantastic. Even the best receivers will have 4-6 off days a season.)
• Every glowing and crazy thing written about Calvin Johnson this summer looked justified in Atlanta. Seven catches for 107 yards is a nice haul, and it looked even better on the screen. I just wish I had a bigger piece of what's about to happen. Detroit's awful defense helps the cause, of course.
• The Jacksonville offensive line got schooled at Tennessee, and now left tackle Vince Manuwai is out for the year. I'm not bailing on the Jags, but the bandwagon has more seating choices today.
• Famous (or Infamous) Last Words: Thomas Jones 2008 might equal Jamal Lewis 2007 . . . If I'm Jim Zorn, I'm renting, not buying . . . Just one game, but Ronnie Brown looked a lot more interesting than Ricky Williams did . . . Catch Miami's pointless play fake from the 18-yard line in the final minute, no time outs? I guess they're playing to Pennington's strength . . . Cincinnati's offense looked like 11 guys who randomly met outside the stadium.
P.M. Update from Seattle: Nate Burleson is out for the year, Holmgren announced Monday. If you have good hands and can run crisp routes, please report to Qwest Field immediately. Andy Behrens will break it all down in a blog post shortly. And don't forget to come over to the MJD Live Blog and discuss MNF with us.