Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Sleeper alert features an under-the-radar player who could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a regular fantasy starter who could fail to meet expectations based on the strength of his opponent. Obvious fantasy starters like Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster will not be featured in this column. For your final lineup decisions, be sure to check our weekly lineup rankings.
Start of the week
Vernon Davis vs. Packers: Davis was an absolute beast in the 2011 postseason, posting 10 catches for 292 yards and four touchdowns in two games. Fantasy leaguers hope he can pick up where he left off, and this week's matchup against the Green Bay Packers is a favorable one. Green Bay allowed the second-most touchdown catches and the second-most fantasy points overall to opposing tight ends last season.
Aaron Hernandez at Titans: A potential breakout candidate in fantasy land, Hernandez should open the regular season on a high note against the Tennessee Titans. Their defense surrendered the third-most receiving yards and the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2011, so look for Tom Brady to target Hernandez often. The Florida product could actually also see some carries, which just helps his appeal.
Fred Davis at Saints: The release of Chris Cooley cements Davis as the top tight end in Washington, not to mention one of the two best options in the pass attack for Robert Griffin III. Had he not been suspended for the final four games of the 2011 campaign, Davis had a terrific chance to post better than 70 catches and 1,000 yards. Look for him to have a nice stat line against the New Orleans Saints this week.
Greg Olsen at Buccaneers: Olsen, who is still a free agent in over 70 percent of NFL.com leagues, is a player to consider if you're not thrilled with your current tight end. He should see more targets in the pass attack with Jeremy Shockey no longer in the mix, and this week's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a favorable one. Their defense allowed seven touchdown catches to tight ends in 2011.
Sleeper alert - Kyle Rudolph vs. Jaguars: A deep sleeper who could prove to be a great draft bargain, Rudolph is coming off a solid training camp and could emerge into Christian Ponder's favorite targets this season. A home game against the Jags is also favorable, as their defense allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year. Consider him if you're in need at the position.
Sit of the week
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Rams: Pettigrew finished a respectable 11th in fantasy points at his position last season, but he was more than a bit inconsistent in standard scoring systems. While a matchup against the St. Louis Rams looks good on paper, this unit allowed one touchdown and the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2011. Don't be shocked if Pettigrew fails to meet your statistical expectations.
Jacob Tamme vs. Steelers: While his overall value is on the rise as a member of the Denver Broncos (and re-united with Peyton Manning), Tamme is a bit of risk this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their defense was tough on opposing tight ends in 2011, giving up the 10th-fewest fantasy points to the position. Unless you're in dire straits at the position, Tamme is someone better left on the fantasy football sidelines.
Jared Cook vs. Patriots: Cook has a pile of upside and could develop into a top-12 player at his position, but this week's matchup against the New England Patriots isn't favorable. While this unit allowed a ton of points for wideouts in 2011, the tight end position was held to a mere three touchdowns and an average of just 5.48 fantasy points per game. Also, Cook has a combined seven yards in three Week 1 games.
Jermaine Gresham at Ravens (Mon.): Gresham suffered a knee ailment during the preseason, but he is expected to be back in action this Monday night when the Bengals face their AFC North foes, the Baltimore Ravens. Regardless, the veteran isn't someone you want in your starting fantasy lineup in Week 1. In his three career games against Baltimore, Gresham has averaged a mere 3.6 receptions, 45 yards and no touchdowns.
Owners beware - Jermichael Finley vs. 49ers: It's tough to sit a player like Finley, who is considered one of the top options at his position and was likely selected as such in drafts. However, this week's matchup against the San Francisco 49ers is a tough one. Their formidable defense allowed a meager three touchdown passes and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends in 2011, so Finley could be in for a long day.