Sneaky Starts: Week 1

Sneaky Starts: Week 1

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Sep 8, 2012

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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It's only Week 1, but that doesn't mean fantasy owners don't need a sneaky start or two. Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jahvid Best, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mathews and Kenny Britt are all out, questionable, suspended or limited for Week 1, and there are ways for fantasy owners to capitalize.

Here is a look at the sneakiest QB, RB, WR and TE plays for Week 1…
Note: The order below does not trump our weekly rankings which are updated throughout the week.
Titans QB Jake Locker (vs. NE)
The Patriots were the 2nd-worst against the pass in 2011, and while they may be better in that area in 2012, it's doubtful that they'll suddenly become stingy. Locker has produced when given the opportunity, and it's likely that the Titans will be playing from behind for most of the game. He'll miss Kenny Britt (suspension), but Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams and Jared Cook are capable of posting solid numbers.
The Cardinals were mediocre against the pass in 2011, but they haven't had much of a chance to game plan against Wilson, who has played so well so far as a rookie. Wilson can make plays with his legs and has a healthy Sidney Rice to throw to. Golden Tate may be out, but Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edwards should be able to pick up the slack.
Lions RB Kevin Smith (vs. STL)
Smith is questionable with an ankle injury, but if he plays, he should produce RB1/RB2-type numbers. He scored seven touchdowns in six games down the stretch in 2011, averaging 84 total yards per contest. Throw in the fact that the Rams were the 2nd-worst against the rush last season, and we have the recipe for a big game for Smith. If he can't play look for Keiland Williams to take his place.

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