The pro football season kicks off tonight, and the Fool is getting in the spirit. Our fantasy team might just help you tear up the investing gridiron! Head this way to read all about the starting lineup.

Special-teams plays are the most exciting part of any football game. In both real and fantasy football a good special teams can make the difference in a close match.

Every investor needs a few special-teams difference-maker stocks in their portfolio. These aren't blue chip or Motley Fool Hidden Gems-type picks with which you'd fill up the majority of your portfolio. Special-teams stocks are more speculative bets, like a promising development stage drugmaker such as InterMune (NASDAQ:ITMN), which can return an ordinary portfolio for a touchdown in a flash rather than the years that other stocks may take.

The nice thing about InterMune is that even though it should occupy a smaller portion of an investor's portfolio compared with a good offensive or defensive stock, it's not reliant on only one "Music City Miracle" drug candidate for it to produce winning multibagger returns.

InterMune's most exciting touchdown opportunity is its hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor in phase 1 testing. Rival Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) is busting open the HCV protease inhibitor playing field with a competing drug candidate, and its success should lift InterMune along the way. Read my article from yesterday for more details.

Shares of InterMune have fallen by more than a third on the year though, over fears that it was fumbling its timelines with its HCV drug candidate. The first efficacy results of its HCV compound, ITMN-191, are expected in the first quarter of 2008 rather than the previously guided fourth quarter of this year.

Even if ITMN-191 fails to show the necessary efficacy or safety needed to garner future regulatory approval, InterMune still has another chance to kick an investment-winning field goal with its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) drug candidate, Pirfenidone, which is in phase 3 testing. (Hmm, what colors do you suppose the Phighting Pirfenidones would wear?)

Currently there are no good treatments available for IPF, which is characterized by an unknown scarring of the lungs. Shionogi, which owns the marketing rights to the compound in Japan, has produced positive phase 3 study results with Pirfenidone. InterMune expects to announce its own clinical trial results in late 2008 or early 2009.

With two touchdown opportunities in the intermediate term, InterMune gets the nod as my first-string fantasy football special teams pick.

InterMune and Vertex Pharmaceuticals are active picks of our high-scoring Rule Breakers newsletter. You can catch all of our other recommendations if you don't pass on a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Brian Lawler ended his touching catching career several years ago and does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool is the only mascot with a disclosure policy.