Beware of opening performances

In 2003, the first season I paid full attention to fantasy football, my first two weeks were a nightmare. My first-round pick, running back Jamal Lewis, just had his clock cleaned by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the end result was a less-than-inspiring 69-yard performance. For whatever reason, a force greater than me decided to drop the Baltimore Ravens’ running back after just one week. Little did I realize what was about to be in store for me the following week — not to mention the rest of the season.

Sure enough, someone jumped on the opportunity to grab Lewis from the waiver wire and — as if he knew what I had done — he pounded the Cleveland Browns for 295 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis went on to rush for 2,066 yards, taking home the NFL rushing crown that year. I, meanwhile, became the idiot of the league and was tested every week with ridiculously lopsided trade proposals. You don’t want to be that guy.

That said, Week 1 tends to be one filled with knee-jerk reactions. If your supposed sleeper picks are shut down in the first week, don’t drop them. And if you see some no-name go off for a couple of scores, you can’t rush to judgment and pick him up. (Courtney Anderson, anyone?)

The key to this week is patience. Keep in mind that everyone’s starting out of the same gate. And it usually takes a bit longer before players really show what type of year they’re going to have. And just like real-life teams, Week 1 will not make or break your season. I just wouldn’t count on Lewis to be the cornerstone of your team anymore.

STONE-COLD LOCK: Tatum Bell vs. Raiders. Yes, the former Denver Broncos running back hasn’t had much success against the Raiders (a measly 43.3 yards per game and one touchdown in five career games). But with Kevin Jones ailing, Bell has about a month (maybe less) to steal the No. 1 position away.

And against a Raiders run defense that still yielded 134 ypg in 2006 (25th in the league), Bell will be licking his chops at the opportunity. Don’t forget that he’s supposed to thrive under Mike Martz’s system. Use him.

Start ’em

» QB: Alex Smith, 49ers

» RB: Jerious Norwood, Falcons

» WR: Hines Ward, Steelers

» TE: Chris Cooley, Redskins

» K: Jeff Wilkins, Rams

Sit ’em

» QB: Philip Rivers, Chargers

» RB: Jamal Lewis, Browns

» WR:Calvin Johnson, Lions

» TE: Marcus Pollard, Seahawks

» K: Rian Lindell, Bills

cnavalta@examiner.com

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