Here are a few guys who you’re probably on the fence about starting but are primed to put up big numbers for you to kick off the 2011 fantasy football season. I’m not going to include guys like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, etc. because you are starting these guys no matter what. I just want to give you some guys who might end up on your bench, but they need to be in your starting lineup.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: Beanie is set up to have a great opening day against the Carolina Panthers. Ryan Williams, who was the favorite to steal carries from Beanie this year, is out for the season. The Panthers were horrible against the run last year, and they didn’t work too hard in the draft to improve their rush defense. They used their first overall pick to draft Cam Newton instead. With their rookie quarterback who, because of the lockout, hasn’t had the time rookies usually have to learn an offense and develop chemistry, expect the Cardinals to control this game and get ahead early, which will mean even more opportunities for Beanie.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints: The Jimmy Graham hype is picking up more and more steam each day. If you did your draft early this season and had the luxury of picking up Jimmy Graham late as a back up tight end, it’s going to pay off in Week 1. In fact, Antonio Gates is the only tight end I would start in front of Graham this week. The Saints are playing the Packers on Thursday for the season opener and it is going to be a shootout. Neither team is known for relying on their run game, so expect a lot of passes to be thrown during this one. Drew Brees has shown in the preseason that Graham will be one of his favorite targets, and while the Packers have a great defense, they give up a lot of fantasy points to tight ends. Expect Jimmy Graham to be a headache for the Packers and expect big numbers on Thursday.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens: I know, I know, it’s hard to recommend starting anyone who is going up against the stout Steelers defense, but of the Ravens I expect Boldin to have the best game fantasy wise. With speedy receiver Lee Evans spreading the field now for the Ravens, Boldin will be able to take on more of the role he had in Arizona alongside Fitzgerald. Not that Evans is anywhere close to the receiver Fitzgerald is, but he is still speedy enough to give Boldin some room, and Flacco will be looking for him often. Boldin also tends to fare very well against the Steelers, even though they’re one of the scariest defenses in the league.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers and Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers: Everyone who had the luxury of picking up Mike Williams last year understand the chemistry these two developed so quickly in Williams’ rookie year. While Detroit has an improved defense that will get after the quarterback, their pass defense is still lacking and I don’t think it has developed enough to stop this solid young Buccaneers team. In the preseason Mike Williams has proved to still be Freeman’s favorite target, and they will hook up several times on Sunday against the Lions. Expect a huge opening day for these two Buccaneers.
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