2. Brian Westbrook (PHI) – He should shred a soft Rams defense on the ground and in the passing game. Westbrook could be in for a monster week 1.
3. Frank Gore (SF) – In his last game against Arizona, Gore rushed for 116 yards and 2 TD’s while adding 11 receptions for 98 yards, by far his best fantasy performance of ’07. In addition, he has 7 TD’s in his last 4 match ups against the Cards. Gore should be the centerpiece of the new Mike Martz offense, and week1 should be a big one for him.
4. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – He will have his work cut out for him on the road against a solid Green Bay defense. While Peterson could not manage to find pay dirt against the Packers in either game against them last season, he did average a hefty 6.8 yards per carry.
5. Joseph Addai (IND) – While a healthier Chicago run defense looks to improve on a dismal ’07 campaign, their first team D continued to get gashed in the preseason. They will have a monster challenge in week 1 in the form of Joseph Addai on Sunday night at the new Lucas Oil Stadium. We like Addai’s chances for a strong showing. He is a no brainer for your fantasy roster.
6. Marion Barber (DAL) – The Browns run defense probably won’t be the pushover that they were a season ago, but Barber might make it look that way. Barber will be used early and often in this one and you should expect a strong outing.
7. Michael Turner (ATL) – He has looked like the real deal in preseason, and he couldn’t ask for a better match up than his week 1 contest against the Lions at home. Turner should bring smiles to fantasy owner’s faces on Sunday.
8. Steven Jackson (STL) – It will be a tall order for Jackson to run wild over the Eagles on the road, but there is never a match up too scary for this guy.
9. Clinton Portis (WAS) – In 2 contests against the Giants last season, Portis combined for 223 total yards while finding the end zone once in each match up. He will be on the road Thursday night, but Portis will be facing a Giants defense that should be softer than that of last seasons. He is a must start.
10. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – This match up against an underrated Seahawks defense will not be a walk in the park, but he is a phenomenal talent, and should have a solid week 1 performance.
11. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – Jones is coming off of a lack luster season in which he only rushed for 1 TD all season, the good news is that the lone TD came in week 13 at Miami. While Jones should still be considered a slightly risky fantasy option, the addition of Brett Favre and a vast upgrade in the Jets offensive line should leave fantasy owners optimistic for ’08. Fantasy owners should be very optimistic in week 1 against what should be a lousy Dolphins defense; the one defense in which Jones performed well against in both games last season.
12. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – Jacobs rushed for 130 yards and hauled in 3 passes for 30 yards against the Skins in his only game against them last season. If he can duplicate that and possibly add a TD, Jacobs will provide fantasy owners with a nice point total.
13. Kevin Smith (DET) – He may just be a rookie, but Smith has a sweet week 1 match up at Atlanta. He should be able to run all over this defense, and must be included in your fantasy roster as a low end RB1 or a high end RB2.
14. Earnest Graham (TB) – The one and only time that Graham went into the Super Dome to face the New Orleans defense was week 13 of last season, and he ran circles around them, rushing for 106 yards and a score. He also added 7 receptions for 37 yards. This match up bodes well for Graham and fantasy owners once again.
15. Laurence Maroney (NE) – If Belichick actually decides to utilize has vast talents this season, Maroney could be in for a big year. That big year could kick off in a nice home match up against a young Kansas City defense. Maroney has the tools to produce strong fantasy numbers this week, but Belichick will have to get him the ball, something he failed to do early last season.
16. Larry Johnson (KC) – He should be relied on heavily in the tough week 1 match up at New England. Johnson has the ability to gash even the best defenses, but don’t expect a huge game from him this week.
17. Selvin Young (DEN) – In 2 games against Oakland last season, Young rushed for 71 yards on just 10 carries (7.1 yards per carry). The Raiders run defense should be better in ‘08 and Young will have to get goal line touches to make a big splash, but this match up is still promising.
18. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – Lewis will have an uphill battle when he faces a strong Cowboys defense at home on Sunday. Lewis tends to play well in big games, but if the Browns get down early, he could become an afterthought in this offense. He still has big TD potential for week 1. Check injury report: hamstring
19. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX) – While Jones – Drew has never played all that well against the Titans at home, for whatever reason, he has played extremely well against them in Nashville. The Titans have one of the best run D’s in all of football, but Jones – Drew should be able to tap into his versatility as a pass catcher and return man to produce solid fantasy numbers in week 1.
20. Ryan Grant (GB) – He was one of only a couple of guys to have success against the Vikings top ranked run defense in ‘07, rushing for 119 yards and a TD while adding 5 catches for 20 yards in his only start against them. Grant will be hard pressed to duplicate that against the Purple People Eaters at home this time around, but he is plenty capable. Check injury report: knee
21. Darren McFadden (OAK) – Hopefully, we will find out just how good this kid is when he takes the field against rival Denver on Monday night. The big question is, how much will head coach Lane Kiffin get him the ball in week 1? We think it should be enough to produce solid fantasy numbers against a suspect Broncos run defense.
22. Ricky Williams (MIA) – It seems likely that Williams will be the feature back for the Fins when they take on the Jets at home Sunday afternoon. The match up bodes well, but his success will rely heavily on how the carries are divvied up between himself and Ronnie Brown. If Williams gets the bulk, he could have a big game.
23. Willie Parker (PIT) – He is not much of a TD threat, but Parker could slice and dice the Texans defense for big yards on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield. He is not an ideal fantasy RB for week 1, but he should start as a RB2 or utility in deep leagues.
24. Reggie Bush (NO) – In 2 seasons and 4 games of trying, Bush has never been able to muster more than 64 yards rushing against the Tampa Bay defense. He has, however, put up solid numbers in the receiving department against them. This is not one of his better match ups, but he should probably make your roster as a low end RB2 or utility, depending on your options.
25. Edgerrin James (ARI) – James has performed admirably against the 49ers in recent years, but he is a year older, and with Tim Hightower expected to snag the goal line carries, James has little chance of finding pay dirt. He should put up decent numbers otherwise.
26. Matt Forte (CHI) – Forte has a lot of potential and has been flying under the fantasy radar somewhat, especially for a guy who will be a feature back. We figure Cedric Benson’s lack of fantasy success has a lot to do with it, but this guy is much more talented. He will probably have some bumps in the road, most assuredly in week 1 at Indianapolis, but we like his upside. Keep expectations tame for week 1, but he should get the rock a bunch.
27. Willis McGahee (BAL) – On paper a match up against the Bengals defense should have fantasy owners licking their chops, but in reality, McGahee has never played that well against them, even against the ridiculously porous run defense Cincinnati had in ’07. You must also take into account that he will probably give up a lot of touches to rookie Ray Rice in week 1, as the Ravens will probably want to bring him along slowly after coming off of arthiscopic knee surgery. You may be best served waiting to see how McGahee plays this week before throwing him into your starting line up, but if you are short on talent in that area, you really have no choice. Check injury report: knee
28. Chris Perry (CIN) – He will be the feature back for the Bengals when they head to Baltimore to face an aging but capable Ravens run defense on Sunday. He has much to prove as a fantasy RB, but this will be a great stage for him to showcase his talents, that is if he can stay healthy long enough to finish the game. Perry is risky for week 1, but he could be a nice sleeper pick as a RB2 or utility.
29. Maurice Morris (SEA) – Morris is maybe the most overlooked fantasy RB in the league. He performed admirably in Shaun Alexander’s absence last season, and appears to have the starting job locked down over Julius Jones. The week1 match up against a much improved Buffalo defense will be difficult, but Morris is better than advertised.
30. Justin Fargas (OAK) – With all of the hype surrounding Darren McFadden, everyone has forgotten that Fargas is still the starter. He will probably be phased out slowly in this offense as the season progresses, but he should see plenty of carries in week 1. Fargas ran wild on the Denver defense in week 13 of last season rushing for 146 yards and a TD. You can’t expect him to repeat that with Mcfadden in the fold, but do not count him out.
31. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – Stewart will begin his NFL career with a baptism by fire as he must face a stout Charger run defense in hostile San Diego. The match up does not bode well for him, but the same could be said for Adrian Peterson last season when he blistered this same defense. We like him for the long haul, but this match up is scary.
32. LenDale White (TEN) – While he is still the workhorse in this offense and a TD threat any given week, White has struggled badly against the Jaguars during his short career, especially at home. He is not a safe week 1 start.
33. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – He has performed brilliantly during the preseason and will likely be the first Panther RB to hit the field against San Diego on Sunday. The Chargers defense will be difficult to crack on the road, and Jonathan Stewart may cut deep into his workload. Williams should not be one of your better fantasy options for week 1.
34. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – Brown torched the Jets last season to the tune of 211 total yards and 3 TD’s in 1 game. Unfortunately, that was Ronnie Brown at 100%, and he was not competing for playing time with Ricky Williams. If Brown sees plenty of action, he could put up some nice stats, but it seems too risky to start him in week 1, even with the promising match up. We suggest monitoring the RB situation in Miami before deciding Brown is your guy. He may end up just fine, but at this point there are just too many questions yet to be answered.
35. Fred Taylor (JAX) – He finished the second half of the ’07 season as one of the better fantasy RB’s in the league. If he can carry that momentum into ’08, Taylor could once again prove to be of great value to fantasy football rosters. He begins his ’08 campaign against a very stingy Tennessee run defense on the road. Taylor did not play especially well against the Titans in either match up from last season, and he will again give up a lot of touches to Maurice Jones-Drew. Taylor is capable, but the deck is stacked against him in week 1.
36. Ray Rice (BAL) – If the Ravens decide to bring starting RB Willis McGahee along slowly after knee surgery, Rice could be on the field more often than not in week 1. The match up is right for a big game, but the question is, how much will he play? Rice could be a sleeper in week 1 against the Bengals, but he is a very risky start.
37. Chris Johnson (TEN) – Johnson should see significant action in his first ever NFL game. He will be coming off the bench, but the speedy rookie has the ability to explode to pay dirt on any given play. He is not ideal for starting fantasy rosters in week 1, but we like his potential.
38. Julius Jones (SEA) – He will likely split carries with Maurice Morris, and Jones should see plenty of action in his first game as a Seahawk on Sunday. He has fallen behind expectations and has an uphill climb to prove worthy on fantasy rosters once again. There is potential, but it is looking more and more like the same story we saw unfold in Dallas. Jones is probably only good for a 40 or 50 yards this week.
39. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – For the time being, Bradshaw seems to be in line to see some quality touches early in the season. He is an explosive and speedy RB capable of taking it to the house on any play. Unfortunately, those types of plays are few and far between, so while Bradshaw is probably good for a few yards in week 1, a TD will be hard to come by, but it is always a possibility with this guy.
40. Andre Hall (DEN) – You probably shouldn’t expect to see Hall on the field a lot in week 1 against the Raiders, but you should see him out there at the most significant time with regard to fantasy football. If practice and preseason hold true, Hall should get the all important goal line carries for the Broncos on Monday Night, but you never know with Mike Shanahan calling the shots. Hall is risky, but a TD is a real possibility.
Other notable RB’s for week 1 include:
Deuce McAllister (NO)
Rashard Mendenhall (PIT)
Tim Hightower (ARI)
Chester Taylor (MIN)
Ahman Green (HOU)
Jerious Norwood (ATL)
Steve Slaton (HOU)
Kenny Watson (CIN)
Felix Jones (DAL)
Warrick Dunn (TB)