Put away those fantasy football draft cheat sheets until next year. At this point, it doesn't matter if Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning or someone else was the first pick. Now it's time to transition from general manager to coach.
Some owners agonize over this phase of fantasy football. They spend hours deliberating tendencies and matchups to determine which players to start each week. Others might mull starting a player from their favorite team to amplify rooting interest.
Should an owner consider benching Manning because he opens against the Ravens, perhaps the best defense in the league, in favor of, say, Drew Bledsoe, whose Cowboys play the Chargers, ranked second to last in passing defense last season?
Or should an owner sit a starting wide receiver for the Vikings because they play Tampa Bay, last season's top-ranked defense against the pass?
Such over-thinking is a sure formula for fantasy football failure. Make it imperative to start your top picks, no matter the matchup, and do not waiver on this principle. There's a reason owners draft a starting lineup, then fill out the rest of the roster. Reserves are so named because ideally they play only when necessary, i.e., injury or bye week. They are the backup plan.
Generally in standard leagues, an owner should consider his first five picks foundation players who must start each week. Presumably in that mix are two running backs, one or two wide receivers, a quarterback and/or a tight end. Anyone who has a kicker or defense in the top five should slowly put down the opening week schedule, back away from the keyboard and cease playing fantasy football immediately.
Around the League
The Steelers probably will be without their top two tailbacks, Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, against the Titans. Bettis will be sidelined by a strained right calf muscle, and Staley, who underwent preseason knee surgery, probably will join him on the shelf. Willie Parker is scheduled to make his first NFL start. Pittsburgh signed wideout Quincy Morgan, just released by Dallas, and cut fellow wide receiver Lee Mays. . . .
Colts wide receiver Brandon Stokley missed the entire preseason because of a dislocated shoulder but is slated to play Sunday night at Baltimore. . . .
The Lions plan to keep quarterback Jeff Garcia on their 53-man roster after learning Tuesday that he won't need surgery for injuries to his left leg that he suffered in the preseason finale.
Garcia is expected to be out for six to eight weeks. For now, starter Joey Harrington and rookie backup Dan Orlovsky are the only quarterbacks on the roster.
Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report.