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So ... when does football start?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One of my favorite episodes of South Park involves Cartman waiting for the new Nintendo Wii to come out.

Cartman can't concentrate in school. He spends hours pacing around the mall chanting "Come on!" Even at 2:15 in the morning, he can't sleep.

Finally, the tortured 9-year-old decides to have his body cryogenically frozen so that the three-week wait doesn't seem quite as long.

Obviously, what Cartman did was pretty extreme, but I know the feeling. It's exactly how I feel waiting for football to start.

We are now 102 days away from the first regular season contest of 2013, which will feature the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens against the AFC West champion Denver Broncos.

Who knows, the NBA playoffs might actually be over by then.

Three months and 10 days is a long time to wait, but here at The Sports Network, it's never too early to start talking fantasy. For those of you pacing around your homes waiting for Week 1, here are a few fantasy nuggets to help tie you over.

1. How will injuries affect the 2013 fantasy campaign? Remember Rob Gronkowski, New England's football-spiking, beer-guzzling fantasy genius? Sure we do, but it's getting harder and harder to remember the last time Gronk was healthy. The guy's had more surgeries than Heidi Montag.

I don't know who replaced Gronkowski's left arm with Greg Oden's knee, but it's driving fantasy owners nuts. The hope is that Gronk will be in uniform for Week 1 against Buffalo, but at this point, it's still too early to tell. Draft cautiously, fantasy owners.

And then there's Robert Griffin III, who watched his ripped-up knee heal faster than the time it took me to walk out of Great Gatsby (If I hear Leo call Tobey Maguire "old sport" one more time I think I'll need to be institutionalized).

Dr. James Andrews truly is the MacGyver of the sports medicine field. If Adrian Peterson can have a monster year after tearing his ACL, why can't RG3? Speaking of Peterson ...

2. 2,500 yards ... can it be done? AD thinks so. And why not? He almost broke Eric Dickerson's single-season record nine months after major knee surgery.

Quarterback Christian Ponder is straddling the line between awful and mediocre and his only weapons in the receiving game are Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph (and maybe Cordarrelle Patterson if he has a good training camp).

That means Peterson will be getting a plethora of carries and fantasy owners will be feasting on a steady diet of 100-yard performances. I'm not sure he can make it to 2,500, but I definitely see Peterson crossing the 2,000-yard threshold again in 2013. And while we're on the subject of records ...

3. How many records will Megatron break in 2013? At least one. Calvin Johnson reeled in an NFL record 1,964 yards a season ago ... with broken fingers on each hand! Are you kidding me? That's like Usain Bolt setting the world record with broken feet.

If you're thinking of taking another receiver before Johnson in this year's draft, you don't deserve to be reading my fantasy column. Seriously, why don't you go to Barnes & Noble and look at a pop-up book or something?

4. Who wins the Jets QB job: Sanchez or Geno? This question really has no fantasy implications because you don't want either one of them on your team. But it's my article, and we're talking about what I want to talk about.

I think Mark Sanchez would be the more hilarious option (the "butt fumble" should have won an Emmy), but there's sure to be drama either way. Geno Smith seems like a headcase, which is exactly the mindset you need if you're going to wear J-E-T-S on your chest.

Sidenote: I think Funny or Die should hire Tim Tebow as an intern just like they did with Blake Griffin during the lockout. Tebow + Will Ferrell = guaranteed 100 million YouTube views (with me accounting for 50 million of them).

5. Has the Michael Vick ship finally sailed? I hope so. How many more chances is this guy going to get? Yes, he's fast, but his passer rating is lower than the Astros' win percentage. And why does he insist on taking enormous hits instead of sliding or running out of bounds? That's bordering on Amanda Bynes levels of insanity.

Vick's run-first, get-taken-off-on-a-stretcher-later approach appeals to head coach Chip Kelly, a former head coach at run-heavy University of Oregon and also a bit of a lunatic. But if rookie Matt Barkley is better than Vick in training camp, Vick could be answering phones with Tebow at Funny or Die.

6. Sean Payton is back ... now what? The Saints had every excuse to tank last season. New coach, new system, Roger Goodell breathing down their necks.

But now BountyGate is over and head coach Sean Payton has returned from his year-long suspension to lead New Orleans back to the promised land. What I'm trying to say is that the Saints' offense is going to be unstoppable in 2013.

Drew Brees threw for over 5,000 yards last season. And you know what we called it? A down season.

Year after year, Brees gets drafted behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and it doesn't make any sense. His arm's a cannon, New Orleans has three 1000-yard receivers on its roster and half of their games are indoors. Who cares if he threw 19 interceptions last season? Brees absolutely deserves to be the first quarterback drafted in fantasy.

7. Should we even care about Darren McFadden anymore? If underachieving, never-healthy running backs who will play on bad teams fascinate you, then yes, you've come to the right place. McFadden, as I learned last season, embodies all of these frustrating qualities.

"But he's only 25!" the McFadden diehards might argue.

Well, know this. McFadden has never played more than 13 games in a season (yes, we play a 16-game schedule in the NFL) and in five seasons he's only rushed for 800 yards once. So thanks ... but no thanks.

8. Which Cam Newton will show up in 2013? I'm hoping it will be a combination of the Cam we saw in 2011 and the one we saw last season.

In 2011, Newton was a far more prolific passer, throwing for 4,051 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. The following season, Newton's touchdown totals dipped (19 passing TD, eight rushing TD), but he threw fewer interceptions (12) and he ran for more yards than he did as a rookie.

Last season, Newton saved his best for last, leading the Panthers to a 4-1 record down the stretch. If Newton can keep that momentum going, he might be a top-five fantasy player in 2013.

September 5th will be here before you know it. Happy Memorial Day, everyone.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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