Must Starts:

1. Adrian Peterson vs. Cleveland Browns

The road for 2,000 begins in the Dawg Pound. Look for Peterson to get the ball early and often and shred this Browns’ defense for over 150 yards and two TDs. Mangini’s influence will certainly make for a more disciplined defense in 2009, but it won’t happen on opening day and it won’t happen against the premier fantasy football running back.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Indianapolis Colts

Check back before game time, but if Jones-Drew is past his shin bruise he suffered in the pre season finale, look for him to carve up this undersized Colts’ defense. In fact, he’s always come up big when playing vs. the Colts, and this time he won’t be sharing carries with Fred Taylor. 100 yards and at least one TD.

3. Pierre Thomas vs. Detroit Lions

Thomas should have a lot of opportunities to carry the ball vs. the Lions after the Saints jump out to a large lead. And going against a defense which ranks towards the bottom of the league, 100 yards with a TD or two seem certainly within reach.

4. Michael Turner vs. Miami Dolphins

The Falcons and their high octane offense kick off the season against last season’s year’s Cinderella team, the Miami Dolphins. And look for Atlanta to stay with what made them so successful a year ago: the run. Turner should get the ball at least 25 times in this one and that should be enough to hit the century mark with at least one TD.

Sleepers

1. Cedric Benson vs. Denver Broncos

The interior of the Broncos defense last season had a hole as big as the Atlantic Ocean, and they didn’t do much to address it this off-season. Benson finished off 2008 very strong and will look to pick things up where he left off. A great fantasy sleeper play in week one.

2. Chris “Beanie” Wells vs. San Francisco 49ers

Wells will have an opportunity to kick off his career with a bang against the 49ers. While the Niners possess a solid group of linebackers, their defensive line is small, and that means that the Cards blockers will have a chance to get to the second level and create nice running lanes for Wells.

Others With Favorable Match-ups

Ray Rice vs. Kansas City Chiefs

There was a reason why the Chiefs were 2-14 last season; they had no defense. They’ve got a lot of youth on that side of the ball which will one day gel and become a legit NFL defense, but this Sunday won’t be that day. Look for Rice to do a lot of damage running the ball and as a receiver out of the backfield.

DeAngelo Williams vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Williams was a fantasy football superstar last season and single handedly won people their leagues. The Eagles have questions on defense to address and are undersized in the interior of their defense. They also lost standout MLB Stewart Bradley in training camp. This adds up to a big day for Williams.

LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders never start off a season well. Last year they were annihilated by the Broncos on opening day, and this year doesn’t look much better. Tomlinson should receive at least 15 -18 carries in this one and has always carved up the Raiders defense. He’ll most likely put at least one ball into the end zone too.

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