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Fantasy football: Where did it all begin?

Jeremy Evans

I knew there was something wrong with me back in May, when I was researching 2005 rushing stats on http://www.NFL.com. Actually, I knew there was something wrong with me five years ago, when I entered my first fantasy football league and each spring thereafter have engaged in an annual pilgrimage to http://www.NFL.com.

But if you think I’m pathetic, consider the intrepid group of five nerds who started fantasy football 44 years ago. In 1962, Oakland Raiders’ limited partner Bill Winkenbach, the team’s public relations director Bill Tunnell, Oakland Tribune writer Scotty Stirling, Oakland Tribune Sports Editor George Ross and Winkenbach’s friend Philip Carmona formed the first fantasy football league.

According to http://www.wikipedia.com, the group thought of creating fantasy teams during a three-week road trip to the east coast. When they returned, they created the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL). The rest, as they say, is history.



Now at least 15 million people participate in fantasy football, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and the sport, err, Geek Olympics is growing annually at 7-10 percent. Never in the history of the world have so many married men taken their wives out to dinner on Saturday night just to receive a license on Sunday to watch football all day.

Or, in my case, sift through rushing stats in May. Now that we know the history of fantasy football, let’s take a look at this week’s best match-ups.



Start ’em

Quarterbacks

Kurt Warner, Cardinals: Aging quarterback threw for 354 yards and a TD in last year’s game against San Francisco, which should again have the NFL’s worst secondary.

Marc Bulger, Rams: Back from injury, Bulger faces a Denver team that had the fourth-worst secondary in the NFL last year and he gets to play them at home, on turf.

Running backs

DeShaun Foster, Panthers: As long as Foster can stay healthy for four quarters, he should be able to match last season’s numbers against Atlanta, which surrendered more than 300 yards in two games to him.

Corey Dillon, Patriots: Biggest enigma of 2005 fantasy season regroups against Buffalo, which allowed more than 138 ypg on the ground last season.

Wide Receivers

Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Arizona tandem has posted career numbers against San Francisco in their careers. In five career games vs. 49ers, Boldin has 503 yards receiving and three TDs.

Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, Colts: Indy tandem faces the N.Y. Giants, one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last season. Both should catch their first TD of the season from Peyton Manning.

Sit ’em

Quarterbacks

Steve McNair, Ravens: New team won’t translate into big numbers in his season opener at Tampa Bay. WR Derrick Mason and RB Jamal Lewis are both banged up and the Bucs’ defensive schemes will confuse McNair.

Brett Favre, Packers: Another aging quarterback but this one looked awful in the preseason and will look awful again vs. Chicago, which has one of the NFC’s best pass defenses.

Running backs

LaMont Jordan, Raiders: Although he should become one of the more productive fantasy backs this season, he opens against San Diego, which had the league’s stingiest run defense in 2005 (84 yards per game).

Steven Jackson, Rams: Jackson’s quarterback should have a big game, but the Broncos allowed just 85 yards per game rushing last season. Like Jordan, Jackson is a must-start each week, so owners need to cross their fingers.

Wide Receivers

Muhsin Muhammad, Bears: Pop Warner quarterback in Chicago and facing last year’s NFL best pass defense last year in Green Bay isn’t a good situation for this inconsistent receiver.

Hines Ward, Steelers: Without QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh will run 40 times against the Dolphins in tonight’s 2006 season opener, which should be a low-scoring game.

Worst draft pick

Red State Insurgent in my $200 salary cap auction league paid $49 for the Houston Texans’ Domanick Davis, who will miss the entire season with a knee injury.

Jeremy Evans is a Tahoe Daily Tribune sports writer. He can be reached at (530) 542-8008 or by E-mail at jevans@tahoedailytribune.com.


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