If you have urgent fantasy questions that require thoughtful, well-supported answers, then…um…well, you should probably email Pianowski. But if you just need someone to blame when things go wrong in Week 1, then Evans and Behrens are at your service. Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll answer 'em tonight during "The Fantasy Freak Show" on The Score, following WSCR's White Sox coverage.
First of all, let's acknowledge the fact that Tennessee's defense is not a joke. (Except in overtime on Thursday night, when it became strangely passive and user-friendly). The Titans were one of only six NFL teams that held opponents under 100 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game in 2008. They allowed an average of 14.6 points per week last season, the second lowest number in the league. They're plenty good.
But we also need to acknowledge the fact that the Steelers are simply not a great running team, something that was evident long before the '09 opener. Pittsburgh finished 23rd in team rushing yardage last year, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. The O-line isn't special and the backs all have shortcomings. There was a fair amount of Willie Parker(notes) draft-bargain hype leading up to Thursday night's game, but his 13-carry, 19-yard effort should kill that chatter.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gene Collier asks a key question today:
Maybe you can get away with the 23rd-best ground game in a 32-team league, but can you get away with 32nd?
You might find out, unless, of course, someone up front eventually gets around to knocking somebody backward.
Neither Rashard Mendenhall(notes) (4 carries for 6 yards) nor Mewelde Moore(notes) (5 for 8) distinguished themselves on Thursday, though Moore played basically every down at the end, after the run had been abandoned. The Steelers face the Bears at Soldier Field in Week 2 and they'll have 10 days to prepare and adjust. Still, there's no way we can endorse Pittsburgh RBs, not after last night's display of ineffectiveness.
OK, that's one down, eight to go…
The Williams Wall shall not crumble. And you can't run through it. "Minnesota Vikings Kevin and Pat Williams(notes) won't be barred from playing this season under a ruling today by the U.S. Court of Appeals." Let's celebrate with a StarCaps party! On a boat! Wooooo! [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Darren McFadden(notes) will be the starting running back in Oakland. It's now official. You should not have been waiting for this announcement, though. He's clearly the most dangerous weapon in that offense, and you'll see him all over the field. This via Jerry McDonald: "McFadden will be the starting running back because of his versatility, running and catching. All three backs will get work, but McFadden will get the 'bulk' of the touches." It's also worth noting that badass corner Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) (wrist) practiced without restrictions. [Oakland Tribune]
The Troy Polamalu(notes) news is in and it's not good: MCL sprain, possibly out 3-6 weeks. Point, Madden Curse. Unless you have an absurdly large bench, you can't really afford to hang onto injured IDPs. Tough loss. Just add the four percent-owned Kenny Phillips(notes) and move on, IDPers. [Shutdown Corner]
Kevin Walter(notes) hasn't been completely ruled out of the Texans' opener, but Andre' Davis(notes) will get the start. He's worth a look if you're in an insanely deep league; Davis has been a productive fill-in whenever he's called upon. Eugene Wilson(notes), the DB who took that cheap-shot to the knee from the Gunslinging Real Comfortable Little Kid Out There, is not expected to start against the Jets, either. [Houston Chronicle]
Pierre Thomas(notes) (MCL) was held out of team drills on Thursday. Here are the essential quotes from his head coach: "I was hoping we'd get more from him today," said Saints Coach Sean Payton, who said Thomas didn't have to be "100 percent" healed in order to play, but he "has to be better than the other back that's potentially dressing in his place." Thomas' snaps would go to Mike Bell(notes), as you might have heard. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels is just spittin' sunshine today. McDaniels is "hopeful" that Kyle Orton(notes) (gross finger) will start, he believes that Jabar Gaffney(notes) (thumb) "should be good to go," and he's telling reporters that Knowshon Moreno(notes) (MCL sprain) is "doing a nice job and progressing." There is much optimism. Even Brandon Marshall(notes) has had a "good week of practice," according to McDaniels. What could possibly go wrong? [Denver Post]
Apparently Wes Welker's(notes) previously undisclosed injury involves a knee, but he's at least a limited participant in practice. New England simply never reveals meaningful injury information, ever. I'm starting Welker unless we hear something terrible on Sunday. He's played all 16 in each of the last four seasons. [Worcester Telegram & Gazette]
While I disagree with the writer's opinions on keeper leagues and email drafts, the linked piece here on the universal truths of fantasy drafting is really a nice read. Well done, sir. [SB Nation]
(Do you know where email drafts are most popular? In Hell. Eighth circle, where deceivers are set ablaze, made to wait for Vick's Labradoodles to email their 15th rounder. DO NOT take the email path).
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