Hit the ground running in your fantasy league

The NFL released its schedule on Tuesday (in case you were buried under a cyber rock), and of course everybody is going 16-0 and your fantasy team is going to rule. But what can we really learn about the upcoming fantasy season because of the schedule?

Eh, not much.

Ask yourself, when you opened the schedule last year, did you look at the Panthers’ schedule and think that DeAngelo Williams was a must-add for Week 5? Was there anything in the schedule last year that led you to believe that Matt Cassel was going to be a viable fantasy contributor? Most of the information that will help you win next year can’t be gleaned from the schedule just yet.

But with our fantasy draft for the NFL.com preview coming out on Thursday, here are some of the things that I will consider while preparing for the draft:

  • RB LaDainian Tomlinson is going to have a monster game against the Raiders in Week 1. LT loves to kill the Raiders. He’s going to be healthy (hopefully) to start the season. Those of you who pick in the latter half of the first round will get Tomlinson and the six touchdowns he’s going to score against the Raiders in Week 1. I have the eighth pick and LT looks like a great option right now.
  • QB Kurt Warner killed fantasy owners in the playoffs last year with an absolute clunker in New England. That won’t happen this year. The Kurt Warner Machine ends his fantasy season at San Francisco in Week 14, at Detroit (dome) in Week 15 and at home against St. Louis. Say it with me … championship!
  • For the record, the fantasy game of the year will be in Week 5 when the Texans play at Arizona. The KWM, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston vs. Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson and whatever touchdown vulture that’s going to steal touchdowns in Houston this year. Lots of points.
  • Target the Arizona defense in Week 8 when the team plays at Carolina. QB Jake Delhomme might not commit six turnovers again, but you never know.
  • Don’t panic with QB Jay Cutler. He’s going to have modest numbers in the first two weeks against the Packers and Steelers, but then the Bears face the less-fearsome secondaries of the Seahawks, Lions, Falcons, Bengals and Browns.
  • On the flip side, QB Kyle Orton plays three easy games to start the year, but the Broncos have a stretch where they play nine consecutive teams that finished .500 or better last season.
  • RBs Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte are the top two fantasy picks by far. How fitting, then, that the two will play each other in Week 16 — championship day for most fantasy leagues. The best part? For a little added drama, the game is on a Monday night. I already have my seat reserved at the Shore House on Pacific Coast Highway.
  • The Raiders play at the Giants in Week 5. Is WR Plaxico Burress going to be playing for the Silver & Black by that time? If Burress can make Eli Manning a Super Bowl MVP, imagine what he could do for JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders open with three AFC West games. You will quickly know how much the Raiders will be worth.
  • If RB Marshawn Lynch does serve all three games of his suspension, he would return against the Dolphins. He might be worth stashing on your bench. Especially if he has his suspension reduced like Brandon Marshall did last year.

AND FINALLY…

I can’t give away all of my secrets. Last year’s champion (I think his name was Greg Ellenport or something) is probably going to be reading this.

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