If Las Vegas provided lines on things like who will have the best fantasy production in Week One, Tom Brady's name would be taken off the board.
The abuse the New England quarterback has doled out to the Buffalo Bills in their recent meetings borders on criminal. In his record-setting 2007 alone, Brady went 54 for 68 (79.4 completion percentage) for 684 yards and nine touchdowns (zero interceptions) against the Bills.
With a national audience on Monday night waiting to see if Brady is indeed healthy, he is my No. 1 play for the first week of fantasy football.
Here's the rest of my team of recommended starters, based on a squad of two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, flex position, defense and kicker.
Keep in mind I'm excluding super-obvious starters like Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald since I'm assuming they're dead-bolted to your lineup, for good reason.
*Running back: LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers. LT went for 197 yards and three touchdowns against the Raiders last season, while Oakland's rush defense gave up a ghastly 159.7 yards per game on the ground. Come to think of it, start San Diego's Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and the water boy, too, if you've got them.
*Running back: Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals. With Carson Palmer back, the visiting Broncos will have to at least respect the pass and not stack the box against the run. Even when they employed that strategy last year, it hardly worked: the Broncos were 27th against the run, allowing 146.1 yards per game. Benson ended the season strong for the Bengals, rushing for more than 400 yards in December. Palmer's return should open some space for him.
*Wide receiver: TJ Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks. Goodbye Ryan Fitzpatrick, hello a healthy Matt Hasselbeck -- and a St. Louis pass defense. It helps that Hasselbeck has carved up the Rams lately, passing for at least 240 yards in three of the past five games. Word out of Starbucks country is Hasselbeck and Houshmandzadeh, a classic-sounding connection if there ever was one, have gotten on the same page quickly. Expect that to continue.
*Wide receiver: Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts. Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis will be busy on the other side of the field with Reggie Wayne, which should open the door for Gonzalez, a player I expect to post better-than-you'd-think numbers this year.
*Tight end: Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Two of Miller's four career touchdown catches have come against the Chargers, including one last season at home. He's got 21 catches for 243 yards and the TD in his last three against San Diego, as well. JaMarcus Russell's options at wide receiver are limited, so Miller is also a strong play in that sense.
*Flex: Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints. In points-per-reception leagues this is even more evident, but there's a chance Kim Kardashian's ex could get the start at running back since Pierre Thomas might sit out with a knee injury. Last season, the Lions gave up a comical 172 rushing yards per game and 31 touchdowns on the defense.
*Defense: Baltimore Ravens. Matt Cassel might miss Sunday's game with a knee injury for the Kansas City Chiefs, but the play would have been the same here regardless. The Ravens' D is still good.
*Kicker: John Carney, New Orleans Saints. A Drew Brees-led offense against a Detroit Lions defense means Carney's leg should get a workout.
Analyzing the Bills
Buffalo managed just 10 points in its two meetings with New England last season, so there aren't many appealing options here. Quarterback Trent Edwards shouldn't start in any one-quarterback leagues. . . . Wide receiver Terrell Owens always shines on the Monday Night stage, so he should be in your lineup, even if he doesn't like the Bills' no-huddle offense. . . . Lee Evans has just 13 catches for 142 yards and no touchdowns in his past five games against the Patriots, which means he should stay on the bench. . . . Start Fred Jackson as a third running back if you have him. Jackson's value this season is tied directly to this three-game stretch while Marshawn Lynch is out, so he needs to be in your lineup.
Post your comments and ask questions at the Fantasy Fix blog at www.buffalonews.com.