Wells, Hillis should be active for owners in Week 1

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at weekly matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert features a player who's under the radar and could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a player who's a regular fantasy starter but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Beanie Wells vs. Panthers: It's time to jump on the Beanie bandwagon, as the Cardinals' No. 1 runner has a fantastic matchup against a Panthers defense that allowed more than 22 fantasy points per game to backs in 2010. With no one else to steal carries, Wells will be in a great position to succeed. Consider him a solid No. 2 back across the board.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Matt Schaub vs. Colts: The most valuable fantasy quarterback in this contest isn't Peyton Manning, who'll miss his first NFL game ever as he continues to recover from neck surgery. Instead it will be Schaub, who should shine against a Colts defense that could be on the field a whole lot more than normal. He'll hook up with Andre Johnson often.

Josh Freeman vs. Lions: There's been a lot of talk about the Lions defense making major strides, but this unit still surrendered an average of more than 16 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Freeman, a potential breakout candidate in fantasy land, should start the 2011 campaign with a solid line.

Kyle Orton vs. Raiders (Mon.): The Silver & Black allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season, and that was with CB Nnamdi Asomugha in the defensive backfield. Orton's stock won't be what it was last season, but he's still an attractive matchup-based option.

Eli Manning at Redskins: The Giants defense is chock full of injuries, so I'd look for Manning and the offense to throw the ball often in what could be a high-scoring game at FedEx Field. When you consider how bad the Skins were against the pass last season, Manning has some starting appeal.

Mark Sanchez vs. Cowboys: Sanchez has been one of the most unreliable quarterbacks in fantasy land, but he can put up good numbers against a vulnerable defense. Enter the Pokes, who are without CB Terence Newman and were dreadful against the pass in 2010. That means good things for the USC product, who is a nice matchup option.

Sleeper alert - Rex Grossman vs. Giants: Don't laugh, Grossman has some starting appeal this week. In three starts at the end of last year, he averaged 280 passing yards, threw for seven touchdowns and ripped the Giants in Week 17. The veteran is still a free agent in 90 percent of NFL.com leagues, so go get him if you need a quarterback.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Joe Flacco vs. Steelers: It's hard to start Flacco in fantasy land this week, as he'll face a Steelers defense that has held him in check for much of his NFL career. In six regular-season starts against them, Flacco has averaged just 214 yards with a total of six touchdown passes. Go with another option this week, even someone like Grossman.

Matt Cassel vs. Bills: Cassel looks like he'll be ready to roll in Week 1, but do you really want to play a quarterback with a cracked rib when the game plan is likely to heavily feature the run? I see Jamaal Charles, not Cassel, stealing the show against the Bills and their porous run defense. Keep Cassel on your fantasy bench this week.

Sam Bradford vs. Eagles: There's little doubt that Bradford is going to have more than his share of huge statistical performances this season, but a game against the "Dream Team" is anything but favorable. Unless you're between a rock and a hard place at the position -- or start two quarterbacks -- I'd sit Bradford in Week 1.

Donovan McNabb at Chargers: With a road game against the Chargers on the slate, McNabb will be hard pressed to put up big numbers in his first start as a member of the Vikings. The Bolts ranked first in pass defense in 2010 and held opposing quarterbacks to an average of just 12.16 fantasy points. That's anything but a favorable matchup.

Cam Newton at Cardinals: Newton might appear to have a nice matchup on paper, but the Cardinals actually allowed an average of just 13.74 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2010. The rookie will need a lot of time to mature before he warrants serious consideration as a fantasy starter, at least in standard-sized leagues.

Owners beware - Jay Cutler vs. Falcons: Cutler is coming off a mediocre second season in Chicago, throwing for his lowest yardage total since taking over as the starter in Denver in 2006. He'll struggle against a solid Falcons defense that should be much improved with the addition of DE Ray Edwards. If you can bench Cutler, it's worth the move.

Running backs - start 'em

Peyton Hillis vs. Bengals: The Bengals could end up having one of the NFL's worst squads this season, so opposing teams should have a regular fantasy feast against them. That's good news for Hillis, who rushed for 102 yards and scored a touchdown in his last home game against the Cats. He'll continue to be the Browns bell cow in 2011.

LeGarrette Blount vs. Lions: Bucs GM Mark Dominik might have said the team will use a committee approach this season, but I still see Blount leading the team in backfield carries overall. The Lions defense has long been vulnerable to the run, so it makes sense to use him as a viable No. 2 back in the majority of fantasy leagues.

DeAngelo Williams at Cardinals: The Panthers are going to utilize a run-based attack this weekend, and a matchup against the Cardinals makes Williams a nice option. The Red Birds allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2010, so look for the veteran to shine. Jonathan Stewart also has some deep flex appeal.

Knowshon Moreno vs. Raiders (Mon.): Moreno is in a great position to find success this season, as he'll be the top back in an offense that will lean on the run under new coach John Fox. And with a favorable matchup against the Raiders in Week 1, Moreno should put up a nice stat line. Consider him a viable No. 2 runner.

Jahvid Best at Buccaneers: Best, whose value rose when the Lions lost rookie Mikel Leshoure for the season, should start the 2011 campaign with a nice stat line against the Bucs. In 2010, this defense allowed an average of more than 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. That makes Best a very viable No. 2 fantasy option.

Sleeper alert - Tim Hightower vs. Giants: The Giants defense is loaded with injuries, so Hightower will be in a nice position to produce. The new featured back for coach Mike Shanahan looked great in the preseason, and should make for a nice debut for the Redskins and fantasy leaguers. Consider him a legitimate No. 2 fantasy back in Week 1.

Running backs - sit 'em

Michael Turner at Bears: It's almost impossible for most fantasy owners to bench Turner, and you shouldn't unless you have a viable alternative. However, keep in mind that he's not as effective on the road as he is at home, and a matchup against the Bears run defense isn't favorable. As a result, the Burner could have a rough week.

Ryan Mathews vs. Vikings: This isn't about sour grapes because Mathews burned me last season (OK maybe a little), but I don't love this week's matchup against the Vikings. What's more, Mathews is going to continue to be a real risk while losing backfield work to Mike Tolbert. If you do start him, it should be strictly in a flex spot. 

Ryan Grant vs. Saints (Thurs.): Reports out of Green Bay suggest that Grant and James Starks could see a 50-50 split in carries, and that the hot hand could emerge week to week. Against what should be an improved Saints run defense, I'd be wary of starting Grant in Week 1. He's even a risk as a flex starter in standard leagues.

Felix Jones at Jets: A major sleeper on NFL.com, it will be tough to bench Jones if he's your No. 2 fantasy back -- especially after how well in played in the preseason. Just keep in mind that he's got a difficult matchup on Sunday night against the Jets, who allowed the second fewest fantasy points to runners in 2010.

Marshawn Lynch at 49ers: Outside of his amazing playoff run against the Saints, Lynch didn't have a memorable 2010 season on the field or in fantasy football circles. In fact, he was barely a flex starter in most leagues. With a questionable offensive line and the Niners on the docket, Lynch should be benched if possible.

Owners beware - Ray Rice vs. Steelers: It's almost impossible to reserve Rice, who was a top-five pick in most drafts. Just keep in mind that he was absolutely dreadful against the Steelers in 2010. In his two starts, he averaged a terrible 26 rushing yards. Rice also rushed for just 32 yards against them in the postseason.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Santonio Holmes vs. Cowboys: As I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys will be without Newman in this contest. That is great news for Holmes, who should see tons of targets from Sanchez -- even if he's covered by CB Mike Jenkins. That makes the veteran a very solid option as a No. 2 fantasy wideout on Sunday night.

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Brandon Lloyd vs. Raiders (Mon.): Lloyd might be the least respected wideout in fantasy land one year after leading his position in points, but this week's game against the Asomugha-less Raiders is clearly a favorable one. I'd get him in there as a nice No. 2 starter.

Kenny Britt at Jaguars: His off-field problems aside, Britt has major upside and could turn into a terrific breakout player in fantasy leagues. Against a Jaguars defense with a very questionable back four, Britt should be in your starting lineup as a No. 2 or 3 option.

Mike Williams vs. Lions: The top-scoring rookie in fantasy football last season, Williams scored an impressive 11 touchdowns in the Buccaneers' pass attack while also putting up consistent point totals overall. He should be in fantasy lineups this week as a No. 2 or 3 option against the Lions, who aren't great in total pass defense.

Mario Manningham at Redskins: One of my favorite sleepers, Manningham is going to see a ton of targets in the Giants pass attack this season. This week's game against a Redskins defense that allowed a ton of fantasy points to wideouts last year makes him a nice choice. The Michigan product could be as much as a No. 2 option.

Sleeper alert - A.J. Green at Browns: I know, Andy Dalton is under center and makes someone like Green a major risk. But that's why he's considered a sleeper, right? The talented Georgia product is well worth a look as a No. 3 fantasy wideout or flex starter in deeper leagues against the questionable Browns defense.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Anquan Boldin vs. Steelers: A major disappointment for owners in 2010, Boldin's chances of starting this season on a high note are slim against the Steelers. Their stout defense is traditionally tough on wideouts, so don't be shocked if Boldin's numbers aren't great. If you must use him, it shouldn't be as more than a No. 3 option.

Marques Colston at Packers (Thurs.): Colston, a No. 2 wideout in most leagues, is coming off multiple knee surgeries and has a very tough matchup against the Super Bowl champion Packers in the season opener. He could be in for a difficult night at Lambeau Field, so consider alternatives if you have wideout depth.

Sidney Rice at 49ers: Rice, who is nursing a shoulder injury, looks to be the next big-name wideout to land in the Great Northwest and disappear. I'd keep him on the bench against the 49ers, who will no doubt focus on keeping Rice from beating them in the pass attack. He's no more than a shaky No. 3 option in most leagues, if he even plays.

Jeremy Maclin at Rams: A third-year wideout out of Missouri, Maclin has major upside in an Eagles offense that will throw the ball a ton. But will he have a slow start after missing training camp with an illness? I'd still start him as a No. 3 fantasy option with a stud like Michael Vick throwing him the football, but no more.

Austin Collie at Texans: A sleeper wideout in most fantasy formats, Collie's stock looked like it was on the rise earlier in the offseason. That was before we found out that Manning was going to be on the sidelines for at least one week. With Kerry Collins now at the helm of the offense, Collie and Pierre Garcon are less attractive.

Owners beware - Miles Austin at Jets: Who will get the challenge of facing CB Darrelle Revis, Austin or Dez Bryant? If it's the former, he's going to be a major risk for fantasy owners -- especially when you consider that he's been dealing with a hamstring ailment. Overall, Austin will be no more than a No. 2 fantasy option this week.

Tight ends - start 'em

Owen Daniels vs. Colts Daniels was fantastic in the preseason, and he's likely to see a major role in the Texans offense in 2010. With that said, look for the team to get him into the mix quickly against the Colts in a game that could see the Texans score often. Daniels could turn into a top-five fantasy tight end if he stays healthy in 2011.

Jimmy Graham at Packers (Thurs.): The Packers always seem to have a great defense between the white lines, but they've also traditionally been among the league leaders in giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Enter Graham, a fantasy sleeper who should be active in the passing game in Week 1. 

Marcedes Lewis vs. Titans: Lewis isn't going to duplicate the 10 touchdown catches he had in 2010 -- especially with Luke McCown under center -- but he's still a big red-zone target and potential security blanket in the pass attack for the inexperienced Luke McCown. He's worth a look as a low-end No. 1 this week.

Sleeper alert - Lance Kendricks vs. Eagles: The Eagles defense has almost always struggled to contain opposing tight ends -- they allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position in 2010 -- so don't be shocked to see the rookie Kendricks make a quick impact. He was solid in the preseason and had real upside.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Tony Gonzalez at Bears: A future Hall of Famer, Gonzalez has seen his reception and yardage totals decline in each of the last three seasons as age seems to have caught up with him. I'd avoid him as anything more than a low-end No. 1 against the Bears, who allowed an average of just 6.21 points to tight ends in 2010.

Brent Celek at Rams: Celek's role in the Eagles offense diminished with Michael Vick under center, and that's not likely to change in 2011. In fact, reports out of Philadelphia suggest he'll be utilized in a similar fashion moving forward. Unless he shows signs of fantasy life, I'd keep him on the sidelines against the upstart Rams.

Zach Miller at 49ers: It's bad enough that Miller left Oakland, where he was one of the top options in the pass attack, for the fantasy wasteland that is Seattle. But his first game of the season comes against a Niners defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2010, so Miller could struggle to produce a nice stat line.

Owners beware - Chris Cooley vs. Giants: Cooley is dealing with a bum knee and could be a game-time decision to face the NFC East rival Giants. Even if he does play, there's a chance he could end up seeing limited snaps because of his ailment -- especially if Fred Davis gets hot. Bench Cooley if possible, at least for the first week of the season.

Kickers - start 'em

Sebastian Janikowski at Broncos (Mon.): Janikowski should start the 2011 campaign with a solid stat line against the Broncos. This AFC West rival allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position last season.

Neil Rackers vs. Colts:  Rackers should put up some nice numbers for owners against the Colts. Only the Cardinals, Broncos and Titans allowed more fantasy points to opposing kickers last year, so give him the start.

Nick Folk vs. Cowboys: Sunday night's game won't be the "Folk Bowl," but he should be motivated to produce against the team that cut him loose. The Cowboys also gave up a bunch of fantasy points to kickers in 2010.

Sleeper alert - Alex Henery at Rams: It's hard not to like Henery, a rookie, on turf behind a solid Eagles offense. Also, keep in mind that the Rams allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers last year.

Kickers - sit 'em

Robbie Gould vs. Falcons: Gould was 12th in fantasy points at his position last season, so he'll be a starter in most leagues. However, he's a risk against a Falcons defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to kickers in 2010.

Dan Carpenter vs. Patriots: Carpenter finished in the top 12 in points at his position in 2010. He struggled against the AFC East rival Patriots, however, scoring a combined three fantasy points (0 field goals) in two games.

David Buehler at Jets: Buehler was a legitimate fantasy starter last season, but he's lost the starting role to Dan Bailey. He might see longer field-goal attempts, but Buehler now has no real fantasy appeal for owners.

Owners beware - Adam Vinatieri at Texans: Vinatieri has long been a viable fantasy starter, but the Colts could struggle on offense without Manning. Also, Vinatieri has just two field goals in his last two games in Houston.

Defenses - start 'em

Cardinals defense vs. Panthers: The Panthers offense will have Newton, not Jimmy Clausen, under center in 2011. However, it's still a rookie playing on the road in his first NFL start. That makes the Cards a nice option.

49ers defense vs. Seahawks: The Niners defense is always listed as a sleeper, but it rarely meets expectations. However, this team is worth a look off the waiver wire against Tarvaris Jackson and the Seahawks offense.

Patriots defense at Dolphins: The Patriots have a great matchup against the AFC East rival Dolphins in Week 1. Opposing defenses facing the Fins in 2010 scored the sixth-most fantasy football points at the position.

Sleeper alert - Browns defense vs. Bengals: If you need to add a defense, give the Browns a look. In a home game against a rookie quarterback, this unit could put up some fantasy points for owners in Week 1.

Defenses - sit 'em

Cowboys defense at Jets: I'm not a huge fan of the Cowboys defense, and the loss of Newman hurts this unit. The Jets should be able to move the football through the air, so I'd look for another option off waivers.

Giants defense at Redskins: The Giants defense is shot full of injuries -- CBs Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamura, DE Osi Umenyiora and LB Jonathan Goff are all out, leaving this unit in dire straits in Week 1.

Saints defense at Packers (Thurs.): The Saints defense is built to stop the run, but can it make a push to stop Rodgers and the Packers pass attack? Probably not. As a result, I'd bench them on Thursday night.

Owners beware - Lions defense at Buccaneers: The Lions are a popular sleeper defense, but I'd keep this unit sidelined in Week 1. The Buccaneers have a talented offense, and Freeman doesn't turn the ball over.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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