The theme of the opening week of the NFL season is optimism and unpredictability.
Optimism because every NFL player believes he is going to have a great season -- just as every fantasy owner is excited about the team he or she just drafted.
Unpredictability because stuff happens, good and bad, that can change things in a hurry.
In the opening game of the 2005 season, my New York Giants were opening at home against the Arizona Cardinals. Amani Toomer was our No. 1 receiver at the time, and going into that game, he had a streak of 98 straight games with at least one reception. Eli Manning was our new starting QB, and the game plan all week was to get him off to a comfortable start by having him hit Toomer on a slant in the first offensive play from scrimmage.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way.
After breaking the huddle, our other starting wideout -- Plaxico Burress, whom we signed in the offseason -- went to the wrong spot. Toomer, the savvy veteran, simply went to the spot where Plax was supposed to be. Eli hit Burress on a hitch, good for eight yards, and he was in business.
Fast-forward to 3:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Toomer still doesn't have a reception. We were up 42-19 at this point, and had just run the ball three straight times to bleed the clock down a bit, but called a timeout. On third-and-5, we set up what we thought was the perfect play to get Toomer his catch. Amani was wide open, but Eli simply missed him. The only other offensive plays we ran in the game were two kneel-downs by yours truly.
The lesson here is that even the best play calls and the best fantasy teams may not turn out exactly as planned once the season begins. Being able to make those adjustments (like Toomer did on the opening play) can be vital. We did win the game, after all.
What I'm seeing
Each week in this part of the column, I'm going to let you in on some things that I've been seeing on film that can have an impact for fantasy owners. This week, I've liked a lot of what I've seen from Oakland Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor.