NFL Scores Week 1: Five Fantasy Targets to Go After
With the first week of the 2011 NFL season here, there have been a group of strong performances.
The Ravens knocking out the Steelers, 35-7, the Bills beating up on the Chiefs, 41-7, the 49ers coasting by the Seahawks, 33-17, to the Bears rolling over the Falcons, 30-12, we've seen some teams and players ready to go out the gate.
Before these players really take off, here are some players to consider going after early.
Cam Newton, Panthers. After slicing up the Cardinals to the tune of 422 passing yards, and three total touchdowns, Newton looks to be a stud in his rookie season. He's just as dangerous with his legs as his arm, so if defenses have to defend his passing game, it will open up lanes on the ground for him to go off. I'd expect some ups-and-downs from a rookie QB, so he wouldn't be a weekly guy to start, but based on matchups, he'll definitely have more of these games as well.
Matthew Stafford, Lions. Injury history is the only real concern, as Stafford is set for a big year, particularly playing pitch-and-catch with the freakishly talented Calvin Johnson at wideout. Stafford showed with a 300-yard, three touchdown performance against the Buccaneers that he can be a fantasy starter in the 10-15 range. He'll be a starter in all leagues 12-teams and deeper, and if you need help at that position, he's a guy who can come in and produce.
Steve Smith, Panthers. For the first time since Jake Delhomme was dropping back for passes, Smith looked rejuvenated going up for jump balls tossed brilliantly from Newton. After finishing with 178 receiving yards and two scores, it's time to try and convince his owner that the game was a fluke, as his value will sky rocket in the coming weeks.
Kenny Britt, Titans. I'm not sold on Matt Hasselbeck at this point of his career, but Britt did establish himself as Hasselbeck's favorite target in their first game working together. With 136 yards and two touchdowns on only five catches, I'd expect inconsistent results from Britt. But if you can live with boom-or-bust stats, and can get by on the slow weeks, and let him win you a few games, the time is ripe to go for him.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys. Watching him explode out the gate for a long reception, and then jump ball touchdown on the Cowboys' opening drive, I'm expecting him to become Tony Romo's go-to receiver in his second season, and emerge as a top-10 WR in fantasy football.
Mike Tolbert, Chargers. This all depends on his health, as he left the game late with a leg injury. With two receiving touchdowns, and another one rushing, he looks to be not only the goal-line threat, but also a top receiving option for Philip Rivers this season.
Tim Hightower, Redskins. Hightower began to build some hype with a strong preseason, then followed up with 25 carries and a touchdown in his first game of the regular season. If Rex Grossman can manage the game, and limit bad decisions that lead to interceptions, Hightower will net a ton of carries, and big numbers in 2011.
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