The most important thing is to win. Let's start there. As we open up the first Love/Hate of the regular season, I want to underline that. Up front and center, we are trying to win.
But, perhaps a close second ... we do not want to lose. Not everyone can win, but if we play it right, at least we won't finish last.
This started a few years ago when I was looking for stories about punishments for people who finished last in their fantasy league for my book "Fantasy Life." And I've got to tell you, I was blown away with what some people do. The amount of creativity is amazing. It was a hugely popular part of the book. I got even more great ones for the paperback and it continues to this day, as people tweet me all the time with pictures and video of punishments, using #fantasylife.
Because it has been a year since we did this, I thought before we start the season we should look at some of the best ones that were submitted to me on Twitter or via the Fantasy Life app to remind what we play for ... and what we play to avoid.
It seems most punishments fall into one of a few buckets. Forcing the loser to do or wear something embarrassing at the draft ...
Or do something embarrassing in public ...
Of course, there are many ways to humiliate oneself publicly.
And finally, there is always actually doing something to oneself.
Speechless. But before you feel too bad for any of these people, realize it could still be much worse. You could be Dusty Carter, walking around with this tattoo for the rest of your life:
Here's to you enjoying one of these punishments on one of your league-mates ... and with that, we wander into Love/Hate.
This year, the column will still be the same as you have always known. Intros, lots of players, and this season we will add more of a focus on daily fantasy (DFS), specifically geared toward the official daily fantasy sports provider of ESPN, DraftKings.com. In case you've somehow been under a rock, we are doing a pretty cool promotion with them. Sign up to play in a league on ESPN.com (there's still time!) and then enter the Millionaire Maker on DraftKings.com.
The person playing in a League Manager (LM) league on ESPN.com who scores the highest on DraftKings wins $1 million to share between him/herself and everyone he/she plays with in LM leagues. The winner gets $100,000 and other $900,000 is split equally between him/her and the members of each of the LM leagues he/she is in. That simple. The idea is to encourage folks to play with us here at ESPN.com; someone from ESPN will win $1 million for him/herself and his/her league-mates in Week 1. Guaranteed. So hopefully you'll play in more LM leagues ... more chances to win, don'tcha know? Nice how that works out. Don't worry about links, if you win, we'll find you. But more details are available at ESPN.com/draftkings. And if you want to try DraftKings for free, they are doing a $100,000 freeroll (which means $100,000 in prizes, but it doesn't cost to play) with me for Week 1. Use promo code TMR when you go to DraftKings.com.
As always, Love/Hate is based on general perception of how players are viewed and my personal take on them. Just because I "love" Doug Martin and "hate" Marshawn Lynch doesn't mean you start Martin over Lynch. Rather that, especially when it comes to the salary cap format of daily games such as DraftKings (DK), Martin is a better value to me.
Hates are always tough for me because it is either saying bench a stud, which in season-long play is almost impossible to do, or it is being negative on a marginal player. Now, the "hates" are very geared toward DFS, which makes more sense, as you can "hate" a stud's price that week.
For those of you who have never played DFS before and are curious what some of the phrases mean (it's not tough, I'm sure you'll figure it out), you should check out Renee Miller's excellent glossary.
One last reminder before we dig in: This is all written late Wednesday night. As always, players' status, ranks and values change all the time. Always consult our rankings page for specific start/sit questions, check out the daily podcast, and tune into ESPN on Sunday. That's right, I said ESPN, not ESPN2 (though that's great too). This year, I am joining the cast of our new show NFL Insiders: Sunday edition (10-11 a.m. ET) and then I will be part of Sunday NFL Countdown (11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET) on ESPN. I also will still contribute to Fantasy Football Now, which continues on ESPN2 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET. Can't wait. Really excited.
OK. Enough plugs. Big shoutout to Jacob Nitzberg, Robert Nelson and the crazy kids over at ESPN Stats & Information for their help. Let's get to it.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 1
Tom Brady, Patriots: Want a stat or want gut? 'Cause I got both. Stats say that last season the Patriots ran the most plays with two tight ends on the field in the NFL. With Gronk and the underrated Scott Chandler, they're going to do just that. Especially because the Steelers' defense allowed the most completions, yards and TDs against two-plus TE sets last season. Gut says ... national audience and whatever you think of them, the Patriots feel they've been unfairly accused. After the offseason Brady has had, watch him make a huge statement here. Especially with LeGarrette Blount suspended. The Tom Brady Blank You 2015 Tour starts Thursday. He's worth his DraftKings price of $7,700.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: In two games against the Bears last season: 617 yards, 10 touchdowns. If you want to go top shelf in DFS at QB, Rodgers is the play.
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Lotta points in this one, and the Falcons will need to throw to keep up with Philly. An uncertain ground game, lotta snaps thanks to Philly's up-tempo offense and then there's this stat: Only one quarterback has totaled at least 300 total yards and multiple touchdowns in three straight season openers ... Matt Ryan. Two first names, always a crowd pleaser. He's $7,500 on DraftKings.
The price is right
This is a new section I am adding to Love/Hate this year, highlighting a few cheaper options for DFS on DraftKings.
Sam Bradford, Eagles ($6,900): You saw the preseason, didn't you? Well, then, what are you staring at? The Eagles are tough to game plan for regardless, but the first game of the season? Against a defense that ranked last against the pass last season and got a sack on just 3.6 percent of opponent dropbacks, the second-lowest figure in the league? The Falcons upgraded the defense in the offseason through the draft and free agency, but that will take time to jell. Among the games with the highest over/under in Vegas, this game should have a ton of scoring on both sides of the ball. Bradford is healthy now and I love him at his price.
Philip Rivers, Chargers ($7,100): The Lions allowed multiple passing touchdowns in eight of their final 10 games last season and losing Ndamukong Suh this offseason won't help pressure Rivers into making mistakes.
Tony Romo, Cowboys ($7,300): This game will be shootout city, which wasn't the name of a bad video game in the '80s, but should have been.
If you're desperate: It won't be pretty, but mobile QBs get fantasy points, so I am very intrigued by Tyrod Taylor, especially at his minimum $5,000 price ... Derek Carr was top five in pass attempts last season and now faces a Bengals defense that was passed on more often than 30 teams last season and ranked dead last in sacks. A Derek Carr/Amari Cooper stack would be a fairly low-owned stack for tournament play.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 1
The "hates" this year are going to be much more DFS-focused, as if you own these big names in season-long leagues, you're obviously starting them. I know, I already said that, but half of you skip that part, so I'm putting it here as well to save both of us time on Twitter.
Andrew Luck, Colts: He's a stud, with or without the long, crazy beard. If you own him, you're starting him. But as the second-highest-priced QB on DraftKings ($8,300), on the road against a Bills team that allowed just 16 touchdowns through the air last season? The fewest in the NFL? I'd rather go cheaper or pay the extra $200 for Rodgers.
Drew Brees, Saints: I'm guessing the Cardinals leave the roof open for this game. During his career, Brees has played worse outdoors, averaging 249 yards and 1.7 TD passes per game (compared to more than 300 yards and 2.3 TD passes indoors). It will take a while to adjust to life without Jimmy Graham, and on the road in Arizona -- with the fourth-highest price tag among QBs on DK -- is not the place to find out.
Jay Cutler, Bears: New offense, banged-up receiving corps and then ... the matchup. In 10 games against the Packers (as a member of the Bears), Cutler has 13 TDs, 21 INTs and averages only 183 passing yards per game. Nope.
Cam Newton, Panthers:
The scene: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Cam Newton drops back to pass. As he does ... an angel appears on one shoulder. A devil appears on the other.
Angel: Don't look at me. I'm with him. Those guys suck. (Angel takes halo off, sits down, crosses legs, lights cigarette and sighs.)
Cam looks toward Greg Olsen, now covered by six guys. As he looks over there, he is sacked. Again. By the team that was tied for the sixth-most sacks in the NFL last year. Cam is slow to get up.
Angel (to Devil): And you thought the Johnny Manziel gig sucked ...
Running backs I love in Week 1
Eddie Lacy, Packers: Another obvious name, but mentioning him here because I believe he is worth the price on DraftKings ($7,500, sixth highest). Expect the Packers to go a bit more run-heavy as they ease their new receiving corps into things, especially because no team has allowed more yards per rush during the past two seasons than the Bears (4.85), and their 34 rush TDs allowed are tied for fifth most in that span. The Bears will be without DT Jeremiah Ratliff (suspension) and will often be playing on a short field for the Packers after Cutler turns it over (I'm guessing).
DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, Eagles: In case you missed it, I'm kind of on the Eagles this week. The Falcons allowed 21 rushing TDs last season, three more than any other team in the NFL and as I said in the Bradford section, it's going to take a while for the new pieces on defense to jell. The Eagles run so many snaps in a game, everyone gets to touch the ball. It's fun that way! Murray is just the 11th-highest guy on DK ($6,700) and Mathews should get 10 to 12 touches, which makes him potentially flex worthy in season-long play and an interesting flyer at $3,600 on DK.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals: After piling up the most rushing yards in the NFL from Week 9 on last season, it's Jeremy Hill's world, we just live in it. I mean, what are they gonna do? Let Andy Dalton throw it? Exactly. Oakland's defense is not a joke, but they're still a few pieces away as well. He's not a bargain at $7,100, but should return that value for cash games or 50/50s on Draft Kings.
The price is right
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: What are they gonna do? Let Andy Dalton throw it? Er, I mean Cam? Did I use that joke already? Sorry, I write this column behind the Panthers offensive line and I was dizzy from getting hit so much. I do think the Jags' defense is better than they get credit for, but they did give up at least 100 rushing yards and a touchdown to opposing running backs eight times last season. Volume is the key to Stewart here, especially because I expect him to be involved in the passing game a decent amount and the Jags did struggle with pass-catching backs last season. Stewart is $5,800 on DraftKings, 15th highest.
Chris Ivory, Jets ($4,100): Going to get the ball a ton against a team that allowed the most rushing yards in the league last season.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers ($4,500): DraftKings set their prices before Doug Martin decided to look like Doug Martin again in the preseason. He'll be a very popular play on DraftKings and against the Titans, a successful one as well.
Rashad Jennings, Giants: Whom do you think Dallas is worried about? Rashad Jennings or Odell Beckham Jr.? Jennings will find a decent amount of nickel coverage to run against and it's worth noting that he averaged 95 yards in games last season in which he recorded at least 10 carries. We don't know yet how Shane Vereen and Andre Williams will figure in, but Dallas did give up 10 rushing touchdowns in its final nine games of 2014 and you could do much worse for $5,100 in a high-scoring game. I prefer him in tournaments rather than head-to-head games, but the upside is there.
If you're desperate: Usual caveats apply with a Patriots running back, but Dion Lewis ($3,000) should get a decent amount of looks in the "Shane Vereen role" ... C.J. Spiller is expected to miss the game Sunday, which means Khiry Robinson ($3,000) should get double-digit touches. ... Todd Gurley is out and there's a chance Tre Mason could be as well, so Benjamin Cunningham ($3,000) would get a lot of work. It's against Seattle, so, you know, not ideal, but this is the desperate section we are in. Don't make that face. Come on. You've done worse.
Running backs I hate in Week 1
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: If you own him in season-long leagues, of course you're starting him, but I don't love him in daily this week. I feel the offensive line for Seattle is still a work in progress and while he catches more balls than you think, Lynch is not a great PPR play (DraftKings scoring). In his past four games against the Rams, he has averaged less than 60 yards rushing and has not scored in his two games at St. Louis the past two years. At $7,300, there are better options at that price range. He's a good contrarian pick, if you want, as I expect his ownership in tournaments to be low this weekend, but other than that ... we're all here so we don't get fined, Marshawn. We all are.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers: I own him in a few season-long leagues, so I'm starting him. I have no choice. But in the $5,500 price range, I'm looking elsewhere. Gordon is expected to leave the field on third down and passing plays, he looked just OK in the preseason. And his first start is against a defense that was No. 1 against the run last season. Yeah, the Lions lost Suh, but they'll still be a force to be reckoned with.
Alfred Morris, Washington: In Kirk Cousins' nine career starts, Morris has averaged 66.6 rushing yards and 0.44 rushing TDs per game on 3.66 yards per rush. All of those numbers are below Morris' career averages. He doesn't catch passes (watch out for my beloved Matt Jones!), is going against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and is $5,500 in DK, more than Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde and the same as Lamar Miller, all of whom I like more.
Wide receivers I love in Week 1
Julio Jones, Falcons: See Ryan, Matt. What's the record for targets in a game? A billion? A billion five? Jones is the most expensive wideout on DraftKings at $9,300 and I say he's worth it.
Randall Cobb, Packers: Cobb is ninth in price on DK ($8,000) but first in Aaron Rodgers' heart. Five, count 'em, five receiving touchdowns in his past three games versus the Bears and, you know, the whole no-Jordy thing.
A.J. Green, Bengals: Just the 11th-highest priced guy on DK ($7,800), Green is underrated because of his injury last season, but was once again, he's very productive when healthy. Oakland's defense has improved, but not that much. Plus, he tends to rock the first game of the season: 21 catches for 404 yards and four touchdowns in his four career season openers.
Julian Edelman, Patriots: Off the injury report and into our hearts! Wait, I used that line, too? Damn it. You try writing behind this line. Come on guys, help me out here. Meanwhile, see Brady, Tom.
The price is right
Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers: The Titans currently have nine players listed at cornerback or safety on their active roster. None of them are taller than 6-foot-1. Evans and Jackson are each listed at 6-foot-5. Jackson's $6,000 price tag is especially inviting.
Charles Johnson, Vikings: Johnson was targeted on 23 percent of Teddy Bridgewater's passes during Minnesota's final seven games, and I've been very vocal about the fact that I am team Johnson, not Wallace, as far as who is the Vikings' No. 1 guy. Just $4,900 on DraftKings, I've used a Bridgewater-Johnson stack in more than one lineup this week. Plus, if you watch with a buddy, you can root for him while using Norv as a verb. "Hahaha I just Norved you!" "Norv this, punk." "Yo! You going to the fridge? I'm Norving!"
Davante Adams, Packers: At just $4,400, he's a must-own in daily this week. Everyone else will have him and you won't find that kind of production at that price elsewhere, so, you know ... the cost of doing business. Also, if I own him in season-long, I'm starting him.
Eddie Royal, Bears: This will be a high-scoring game and Cutler has to throw to someone. Really like him in PPR and daily (just $3,900 on DK).
If you're desperate: Rueben Randle gets the "let's ignore him to focus on OBJ" slot this week and is $5,100 ... Stevie Johnson has had a nice preseason, and I don't believe San Diego will be able to run much on Detroit, meaning the Chargers will have to throw. And no Antonio Gates means Johnson is in play, especially at $3,700. ... Allen Robinson got all the (deserved) preseason hype, but Allen Hurns will get some love as well in a nice matchup for just $4,000.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 1
Alshon Jeffery, Bears: Banged up and a bad matchup; in six career games versus the Packers, Jeffery has a total of two receiving touchdowns and has never eclipsed 80 receiving yards. I have him in a season-long league and I'm starting him, but I'm avoiding him in daily.
Sammy Watkins, Bills: On a run-first team with a young QB, I need to see it from Watkins before I'm ready to trust him against a secondary that was top-12 last season. He's $7,000 on DraftKings and I'd much rather have Brandin Cooks ($7,100), Jeremy Maclin ($6,900), Amari Cooper ($6,700) and Julian Edelman ($6,600) in the same price range.
Torrey Smith, 49ers: I've used this stat before, but it's worth repeating: Last season, more than 30 percent of Smith's receptions came on passes 15-plus yards downfield. His new QB Colin Kaepernick completed 33 percent of such passes last season, tied with Geno Smith for fourth worst in the NFL.
Tight ends I love in Week 1
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: It's Jeremy Hill's world, but it's Rob Gronkowski's universe. We merely exist as specks of dust in it. As safe a play as there is this week, he's fully healthy and target one, two and three for Brady. At $7,000, he's worth every penny.
Greg Olsen, Panthers ($5,300): For all my fellow fans of "The League," sometimes you don't have to be the prettiest girl in the bar, you just have to be the only girl in the bar. Greg Olsen is the only girl in the bar.
The price is right
Jason Witten, Cowboys: Since 2013, he has 13 touchdowns. Five have come against the New York Football Giants. And at just $4,000, this should be a game with a high floor and a bit of upside for him.
Owen Daniels, Broncos ($3,400): As long as he is healthy and playing with Peyton Manning, he has value. Peyton pays attention to things like former teams and everything, and if there's a chance, my gut says he grooves one to Daniels against Baltimore and tries to get him into the end zone.
If you're desperate: Those short Titans defenders don't get a break with Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-5). He's also $3,400. ... And what a shock, another Packer. Last season, no team allowed more fantasy points to TEs than the Chicago Bears, including 13 receiving touchdowns to TEs, second most in the NFL. Enter Richard Rodgers, who's just $2,500, making him an option in tournament play if you want to punt the position.
Tight ends I hate in Week 1
Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, Colts: The Bills allowed just two tight end touchdowns last season and with more weapons for Luck (and in a low-scoring game), trying to predict which one of these guys might luck -- heh heh, I said luck -- into a touchdown isn't a recipe for success. Or even brownies. I could live with that. Everyone likes brownies.
Defenses I love in Week 1
Carolina Panthers: Last season, defenses facing the Jaguars scored 201 fantasy points, 24 more than any other team. The team facing the Jaguars scored double-digit fantasy points nine times, most of any team. They've improved, but the Panthers should still be a strong play.
Miami Dolphins: Happiness is facing Kirk Cousins. Nine interceptions in six games last season; his 4.4 percent interception rate was the highest among 36 QBs with at least 200 pass attempts. The Dolphins are just $3,000 on DK.
The price is right
Minnesota Vikings: Last season, Colin Kaepernick ranked 88th of 92 qualified QBs in completion percentage when under pressure. He's now behind a depleted offensive line, so the Vikings should have no trouble bringing the same pressure they did last season, when they were top 10 in sacks. Only $2,800 on DK.
If you're desperate: We discussed this on the podcast, but assuming your buddies just download the podcast and don't actually listen, you'll win a bar bet with this stat: Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars were tied for the sixth-most sacks. At home against a Panthers team that gave up 42 sacks last season, has struggled this preseason and doesn't have great receiving options? OK ... $2,700.
Defenses I hate in Week 1
Buffalo Bills: They're good, but so is Luck. The Colts allowed sacks on just 4 percent of dropbacks, the third-lowest rate in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers: Remember when they were the 49ers?
And there you have it, folks. Good luck in Week 1 and this entire season. And just remember, even in the darkest hours, when you have the most pressing questions ... I'm always with you.
Matthew Berry -- the Talented Mr. Roto -- would rather get pierced than a tattoo, if it came to it.