Red Zone

NFL Week 1: Ten burning fantasy football questions

How healthy is Cam Newton?
How healthy is Cam Newton? The Associated Press

Now that most of us have completed our drafts, all we can do now is wait for Thursday night’s season opener. That’s right, this is no time to let anticipation get the best of you.

My Twitter account has been lit up with questions about various trade scenarios from owners who’ve apparently been staring at their rosters a little too hard and feel the need to do something, anything, to better position themselves for immediate success.

I have one word for you: Relax!

Trust your draft preparation, don’t succumb to the knee-jerk trade offers and avoid impulsive waiver-wire moves. Instead, join me in pondering these 10 burning questions that should begin to be answered as the 2014 opening weekend unfolds:

1. How healthy are Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Arian Foster, Montee Ball, Wes Welker, Jeremy Maclin, Sammy Watkins, Rob Gronkowski and other nicked-up stars? It’s never a good sign to head into week one already nursing an injury, but these guys have no choice. Their fates will affect not only their owners, but those banking on the players around them.

2. Who will emerge from obscurity? Last season, Julian Edelman, Julius Thomas and the Chiefs defense became prized free-agent acquisitions after stellar early-season performances. Which players will we be scrambling for next week? Hint: Do you have your starting RBs handcuffed?

3. Will Dallas’ defense be the MVP of fantasy football? The Cowboys were historically inept on defense in 2013, and they’ll begin 2014 without their four best players from last season. Their offensive opponents could set records against this band of misfits on a weekly basis.

4. Can the Eagles’ offense take another step forward under Chip Kelly? Nick Foles was en fuego in 2013 thanks in large part to DeSean Jackson’s explosiveness. Will Maclin’s return, Darren Sproles’ arrival and Zach Ertz’s development make up for Jackson’s departure? As long as LeSean McCoy is healthy, this offense should be fun to watch.

5. Is Montee Ball the next Terrell Davis, or at least the next Knowshon Moreno? Millions of fantasy owners have placed a massive bet on Ball by investing their first pick in the promising, yet still unproven, tailback. An appendectomy cost him valuable reps this preseason, so how quickly he assumes a workhorse role in Denver’s offense is to be seen.

6. What about You-Know-Who in Cleveland? Personally, I’m not all that interested in the Browns’ QB battle, mostly because Josh Gordon is out of the picture. How quickly Johnny Manziel unseats Brian Hoyer is likely of little consequence in fantasy circles this season.

7. How will the Saints’ RB committee shake out? Mark Ingram heads into the season as the starter, but we know he’s a nonfactor in the passing game. Pierre Thomas slipped behind Khiry Robinson on the depth chart, yet his receiving prowess can’t be overlooked in this offense. Will this be a three-headed monster or will one tailback emerge as a consistent fantasy contributor? New England’s backfield could also produce weekly headaches.

8. Which rookies will make an immediate impact? Bishop Sankey will be given every opportunity to secure the lead RB role in Tennessee, but he must first eliminate his fumbling issues. Watkins and Mike Evans could light the world on fire — or take months to adapt to the pro game. Incumbents must get out of the way before we can see how dominant Carlos Hyde and Devonta Freeman can be.

9. What’s up with all these new kickers? Brandon McManus will mind the store in Denver until Matt Prater returns from his four-game suspension. The Cardinals are rolling with rookie Chandler Catanzaro, the Lions drafted Nate Freese and the Bucs are trusting rookie Patrick Murray. Alex Henery is looking for work after being run out of Philly by Cody Parkey. Rookie Cairo Santos beat out incumbent Ryan Succop for the Chiefs’ job; but Succop could find a new home in Tennessee, where Travis Coons thought he had solidified his hold on the kicking duties. And the Saints are still shopping for a kicker after releasing both players vying for the job, including veteran Shayne Graham.

10. Can Matty Ice and the Falcons’ receivers get their mojo back? Last season was a disaster for those invested in Atlanta’s passing game, primarily due to the loss of Julio Jones and lingering injuries to Roddy White. Matt Ryan was awful at times, with only future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez providing a consistent target. Now that his starting wideouts are back, can Ryan rekindle his aerial exploits, without Gonzo’s help down the middle?

After another interminable offseason, these questions and many more will begin to be answered in just a few days. And I can’t wait. 

Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). He was a finalist again in 2013. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).