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The 2011 NFL football season kicks of on Thursday, September 8. And, while NFL coaches are readying their depth charts and preparing their teams, it’ll be up to you fantasy football managers to put together your best lineups. Although it can be tough to pick who to start based on just preseason performances, here are some suggestions.

Start Him

  • Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: Johnson just signed a huge contract and can now solely focus on football and being the premiere back in a new Titan offense. He scored 14 touchdowns in 2009 and 11 in 2010, and he is a solid bet to continue to put up the rushing numbers in 2011. He’ll be going up against the questionable Jacksonville defense in week 1.
  • Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Like Johnson, Vick just signed a new contract making him the QB of the future with the Eagles. Vick had a breakout year in 2010, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 21 TDs in just 12 games. But, he can also use his legs, making him a dual threat. The Rams will be his first victim of 2011.

Sit Him

  • Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Sitting Manning would normally be considered ludicrous. But, the Colts QB has been limited in training camp by a neck injury and is a question mark heading into week 1. Play it safe with Manning and give the other QB on team a rare start.

Sleeper

  • Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Chances are Matt Stafford wasn’t picked very high in your fantasy draft if he was even drafted at all. And for good reason: Injuries have limited him to just 13 games his first two years in the league. But, Stafford and the Lions are poised for big things in 2011, having finally recovered from the Matt Millen era. Prior to Detroit’s final preseason game at Buffalo, Stafford has completed 77 percent of his passes for five TDs and zero turnovers. And, with a questionable backfield, look for Stafford to begin airing it out at Tampa Bay on September 11.
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