Fantasy football is the cherry on top of the Sunday bonanza of football (you see what I did there?). I played for the first time last season and I loved it. My goal was to compete, have a solid team and have a good time.
I won my league with a team of producers where I scored 118 points in the title game with another 70 points on my bench. I am a Browns fan so I had their logo as my avatar. So at the end of the year there was a Cleveland Brown helmet next to the world champion.
It was like 1964 all over again. 1964 is 13 years before I was even born.
It is tough being a Browns fan, let me tell you, and it looks like another six-win season is on the way.
But then there are days like today when the NFL is about to start. I have goosebumps just typing the words and knowing they are true.
New England, Baltimore, Houston, San Diego
The Patriots upgraded their defense. Tom Brady is still in his prime and they have a relatively easy schedule. I do not like to say a schedule is easy because every NFL game has its own beat and anything can happen on any given Sunday.
The Ravens are as solid as they come and Joe Flacco has improved every season.
I am into the Houston Texans in a big way as I have their defense, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub on my fantasy team.
San Diego will not implode all over themselves and with Ryan Mathews healthy (I hope, as he is one of my guys) and Philip Rivers bouncing back from a bad year, they should overcome their inept coach this year.
Philly, Green Bay, Carolina, San Francisco
Mike Vick is my quarterback and he will stay healthy this year. Andy Reid is the dean of NFL coaches and this team will be vastly improved over last year when I also picked them for the Super Bowl. I must like that green Kool-Aid.
The Packers are the best team on paper in the NFL. They are the favorite in my mind, but my picks are always wrong because I never pick the favorites.
The 49ers might have the NFC West won by Thanksgiving again. The test for them is how Alex Smith progresses for a Super Bowl run.
The Bengals are a fun pick. Was last year an illusion or is Andy Dalton on his way to having a special career? When you lead the Bengals to back-to-back playoff runs, you are a very special player.
Denver has Peyton Manning and a great defense. I am a huge Peyton Manning fan and I want to see him have a great year and I really want him to stay healthy because those neck injuries can be scary.
I have Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew on my fantasy team and with Matt Stafford slinging the ball around, the Lions should be fun to watch. Their defense has potential to be dominant as well.
Tony Romo has been questioned for so long and he has playmakers around him on offense. Last year, the Cowboys blew two games in epic fashion with missed field goals and a missed pass. So, like the Chargers, I expect them to not implode all over themselves this year.
Baltimore as the one seed will host the third-seeded Texans. Houston will once again break the Ravens heart as they go to their first Super Bowl, which would be one more than Cleveland has been to.
Philly as the three seed will host, in what will be an epic NFC Title Game, the fifth-seeded Dallas Cowboys. I just cannot see the Cowboys going into Philly in January and beating the Eagles.
I like the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl over the Houston Texans.
Running backs are the breadwinners of fantasy football. Quarterbacks and wide receivers cancel each other out because their numbers are tied together. When I play the owner who has Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew will cancel out the numbers that Stafford has—assuming they all have great games.
I also like to double dip, and by having Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson on my squad I can get both of their points when they have a great game. It does not always work as last year I had Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson only to see Jackson mope through a bad year.