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Shanahan is a nightmare, Spurrier could be a dream

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Broncos' plan of running back by committee is puzzling

As I write this, I'm wearing a ratty 1998 Minnesota Vikings Central Division Champions T-shirt. I'm also staring at a schedule grid analyzing Week One matchups and plan on spending at least six hours on the couch watching NFL Direct Ticket without interruption this Sunday.

Now that you know I'm one of you, let's get down to business. This fantasy football column will be running every week of the NFL regular season. Sometimes I'll break down the upcoming games; other times I'll have a specific topic or answer reader mail. Here's what's on my mind this week:

Mike Shanahan lives to irritate me. The guy has the second coming of Terrell Davis in Clinton Portis and everyone in the free world knows it, yet Shanny likes to play secret agent and blow smoke screens all over the place. Will Olandis Gary really remain the starter? Does Portis really have fumbleitis? Is Mike Anderson going to sneak in and scarf all the goal line carries? Will the dreaded "timeshare" backfield come into play?

I had Anderson and Davis last year, and it was like playing Russian Roulette trying to figure out what would happen every week. This year, things should turn out differently. Portis is an obvious stud, and it's only a matter of time before even Shanahan has to acknowledge it. If you own Portis, just sit tight. You'll be smiling like TD in a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial a few weeks from now.

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So what's going to happen with Edgerrin James? Tony Dungy isn't about to let us know. The season-ending injury to backup running back Dominic Rhodes could be a huge blessing for James owners, because he has to carry the entire load now, whether he's ready or not. Forget any talk of some other back spelling James –; it won't happen. The Colts will live on The Edge this season.

You can't write a fantasy column without someone demanding sleepers, so here you go: I love Jeremy Shockey –; he could be second to Tony Gonzalez among tight ends. I'll also take Chris Chambers putting together a Pro Bowl season in Miami and Lavernues Coles hitting double digits in scores for the Jets. A running back? How about Michael Bennett of the Vikings, who has looked explosive in the preseason and will benefit from defenses worrying about the Randy (Moss) Ratio.

Perhaps the most intriguing fantasy situation is in Washington, where the Redskins have adopted the Fun-N-Gun approach of new coach Steve Spurrier. While we're sure Washington owner Danny Snyder likes his new toys, beware the offensive gimmicks. There's a reason things like running the option don't work in the NFL. Sure, Washington looked like Florida East during the preseason, but what defensive coordinator in his right mind would show his best schemes in August?

Another thing –; what's up with Stephen Davis now? Will his rushing yardage go into the tank because of all the wobbly spirals flying around Washington? Surely he'll still get goal line duty, unless Spurrier goes to five wideouts in the red zone. Davis owners should be chewing their fingernails for at least a few weeks while this all unfolds. Last thing: Ignore whatever Washington does this week. Arizona doesn't count. Wait until the Redskins go to Philly in Week Two and play a real defense.

That's all I have space for this week. Time to go back to deciding whether to start Terry Glenn or Kevin Johnson. Don't you hate having too many receivers? I'll save that rant for another column.

John Nemo, the Fantasy Fanatic wants to hear from you. Send your questions, comments or suggestions to johnnemo@mediaone.net.

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