Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1

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Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. All starts and sits are based on standard scoring leagues. Obvious fantasy starters like Cam Newton and Antonio Brown will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

QUARTERBACKS


Start 'Em


Andrew Luck vs. DET: I doubt I'll be able to use Luck in this space for long, because he's going to be putting up big numbers week in and week out all season. But for now, fantasy fans who were burned by him in 2015 should feel secure in what is a solid home matchup against the Lions. Luck had nine touchdown passes in his four home starts last year.

Eli Manning at DAL: Manning flat out stunk in his last roadie against the Cowboys (8.36 fantasy points), but overall he's put up 21-plus points in five of his last seven games in Dallas. It will also be difficult for the 'Boys to field much of a pass rush without several of their best d-linemen on the field, so Manning should find success this week.

Jameis Winston at ATL: Winston had a solid rookie season, ranking 13th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. I think he takes a step forward in 2016, and he'll start his move against the Falcons. The Florida State product averaged 19.03 fantasy points per game against Atlanta in 2015, and two of his six rushing scores came against the NFC South rival.

Tyrod Taylor at BAL: This could turn into the "Season of Tyrod" for fantasy fans. He showed flashes of brilliance as a passer and rusher in 2015, averaging the third-most fantasy points per touch among quarterbacks. This week he'll be motivated to face his former team, the Ravens, who allowed 17.84 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks last season.

Derek Carr at NO: The Saints were less than impressive on the defensive side of the ball a season ago, surrendering more touchdown passes (45) and fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (23.98) than any other team in the entire league. That bodes well for Carr, who scored 20-plus fantasy points in four of his eight road games in 2015.

Sleepers: Dak Prescott vs. Giants, Brock Osweiler vs. Bears

Sit 'Em

Philip Rivers at KC: Rivers could end up being a decent draft bargain for fantasy owners at season's end, but he's a tough start this week in Kansas City. He's failed to throw a single touchdown pass and has tossed four interceptions in his last three games against this AFC West rival. Keep Rivers on your bench in this very unfavorable opener.

Blake Bortles vs. GB: Bortles was one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy land a season ago, finishing with 4,428 passing yards and 37 total touchdowns en route to a 316.12-point campaign. Still, I expect at least some level of regression in the stat sheets. That starts in Week 1 against a Packers defense that was tough on quarterbacks in 2015.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. CIN: Fantasy fans were thrilled to see Fitzpatrick return to the Jets this summer, but his 2015 success doesn't make him a must-start fantasy quarterback. In fact, I'd keep him on the sidelines this week when he faces the Bengals. Cincinnati surrendered the second-fewest touchdown passes (18) to opposing quarterbacks a year ago.

Jay Cutler at HOU: Another season, another offensive coordinator for Cutler. This time it's Dowell Loggains, who had filled that role for just two full seasons (Titans, 2012-2013) prior. Regardless, Cutler isn't likely to do much in the opener against a Houston unit that surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.

Ryan Tannehill at SEA: Tannehill finished last season 17th in fantasy points among quarterbacks, and an opening game in Seattle isn't going to help his value for 2016. In three career games playing in the Pacific Time Zone, Tannehill has averaged a meager 214.7 passing yards and one touchdown strike. The Seahawks are a formidable opponent as well.

Busts: Carson Palmer vs. Patriots, Andy Dalton at Jets

RUNNING BACKS


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Eddie Lacy at JAC: Remember last season, when Lacy was the biggest (no pun intended) bust in fantasy football? Well, put away that dark memory and get set for Lacy's resurrection in the fantasy world. It will start this week, as he goes up against a Jacksonville unit that surrendered a league-high 13 rushing touchdowns at home last season.

DeAngelo Williams at WAS: Williams was one of the best running backs in fantasy football last season, and he'll continue to fill a feature role for the Steelers while Le'Veon Bell serves his suspension. Look for the veteran runner to see a full workload against the Redskins, who surrendered the eighth-most rushing yards among home defenses in 2015.

Doug Martin at ATL: Martin had one of the best fantasy seasons of his career in 2015, finishing with better than 1,400 rushing yards and 199.3 points. He should start the new campaign on a high note against the Falcons too, as the veteran has averaged 21.6 carries, 81 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns in five career games versus Atlanta.

Latavius Murray at NO: Murray finished 10th in fantasy points among running backs last season, and an opening matchup against the Saints bodes well for his chances for a hot start to 2016. New Orleans surrendered the fourth-most rushing yards among home defenses last season, not to mention the third-most fantasy points to backs overall (22.84 PPG).

Ryan Mathews vs. CLE: Mathews appears locked into a featured role for the Eagles to start the season, and he'll no doubt see a lot of burn with a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz under center. Aside from volume, Mathews is also an attractive fantasy option due to what is a favorable matchup on paper against a questionable Cleveland run defense.

Sleepers: Spencer Ware vs. Chargers, Duke Johnson at Eagles

Sit 'Em

Jeremy Hill at NYJ: Hill scored 11 times last season, but he still disappointed in fantasy overall. And while he's a viable flex starter because of his goal-line role in Cincinnati's ground attack, keep in mind that the Jets were formidable against the run in 2015. In fact, their defense surrendered just three rushing touchdowns at home.

Melvin Gordon at KC: There's no doubt about it ... Gordon looked great in the preseason. But now comes the real test for fantasy owners, as he faces a Chiefs defense that has surrendered one rushing touchdown in its last five games against the Chargers. The Bolts have also rushed for 70-plus yards once in their last four games against Kansas City.

Jonathan Stewart at DEN: Stewart was on pace to finish with well over 1,000 yards last season, but injuries limited him to 13 contests. He's back at 100 percent for the start of the 2016 campaign, but an opening matchup against the Super Bowl champion Broncos makes him a tough start. Their defense allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards at home in 2015.

Rashad Jennings at DAL: Jennings looks like the "featured" back in New York, but Shane Vereen is almost certain to see touches as a receiver out of the backfield against the Cowboys. The Giants have also had just 10 rushing touchdowns (and 18 fumbles) in their last 20 road games against Dallas, which is a trend that doesn't favor Jennings this week.

Arian Foster at SEA: Foster is coming off a torn Achilles and at 30 he's a real risk when the matchup isn't favorable. That's the case this week in Seattle, where he'll face a Seahawks defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing runners in 2015. It's also tough to trust Foster with Jay Ajayi lurking in Miami's backfield rotation.

Busts: Carlos Hyde vs. Rams, DeMarco Murray vs. Vikings

WIDE RECEIVERS


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Amari Cooper at NO: The fantasy combination called AC (Amari Cooper)/DC (Derek Carr) will leave fantasy fans thunderstruck this season, and it will start this week versus the Saints. Their defense allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts a season ago, including 27 touchdown catches. Look for Cooper to dominate in what could be a barnburner in the bayou.

Donte Moncrief vs. DET: I'm a huge fan of Moncrief and the Colts pass attack this season, and I like this week's matchup against the Lions. If we assume that Detroit's shutdown corner Darius Slay is on the other side of the field opposite T.Y. Hilton, Moncrief will face a far less difficult task against Nevin Lawson. He's quite a nice option this weekend.

Sammy Watkins at BAL: Watkins is one of the best young wideouts in fantasy football, and he looks to be all the way back from a surgical procedure on his foot. The Clemson product also has a terrific matchup this week against the Ravens, who allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers (25.33 PPG) last season. Look for Watkins to produce.

Golden Tate at IND: Fantasy owners who drafted Tate this season should be golden, and it will start this week against the Colts. Their defense surrendered an average of more than 24 fantasy points per game to wideouts a season ago, and Tate should see a bunch of targets as the new top option in the pass attack for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

DeSean Jackson vs. PIT: I like fun, out-of-this-world trends. Jackson has a few of those in his favor this season. First, he scored 187.40 fantasy points in his last contract year (2013). Second, he averaged 10 points a game at home last season, And third, he averaged 78.2 yards and scored four times in his last six games of 2015. He's worth a start.

Sleepers: Marvin Jones at Colts, Tyler Lockett vs. Dolphins

Sit 'Em

Julian Edelman at ARI: Edelman is coming off multiple foot surgeries, which was a concern for fantasy fans in drafts, and now he'll be facing a Cardinals defense that allowed the sixth-fewest yards to wideouts a season ago. Edelman, who could wind up facing Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, is also catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo, not Tom Brady.

Jeremy Maclin vs. SD: Maclin is a tough wideout to sit this week, but keep in mind that he hasn't had a lot of success against the Chargers. In fact, he's posted fewer than 80 yards in each of his three career games against them. Fantasy fans should also remember that San Diego surrendered the fifth-fewest touchdowns (11) to wide receivers a year ago.

Kelvin Benjamin at DEN: Benjamin is back for the Panthers and fantasy fans, but should he be in your starting lineup in Week 1? No team allowed fewer fantasy points to wideouts than the Broncos last season, and Benjamin will be faced with matchups against talented defenders like Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby. The big man comes with some risk.

Allen Hurns vs. GB: Hurns was a fantasy surprise last season, scoring 10 touchdowns while finishing in the top 13 in fantasy points among wideouts. Still, I'd be leery of starting him against a Packers defense that allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts last season. Hurns could also be faced with a matchup against cornerback Sam Shields.

Steve Smith vs. BUF: Smith, 37, is coming off a major Achilles injury and saw zero action in the preseason. If that weren't enough to scare fantasy owners about his first-week prospects, the veteran will also have to face Buffalo cornerback Ronald Darby. He was one of the top cover corners of 2015, per Pro Football Focus. Keep Smith on the bench.

Busts: Jarvis Landry at Seahawks, Brandin Cooks vs. Raiders

TIGHT ENDS


Start 'Em


Delanie Walker vs. MIN: Walker is an absolute targets machine, which we saw last season as Tennessee quarterbacks looked in his direction 133 times. He's also had success against NFC teams, averaging six catches for 90 yards with six touchdowns in his last six games against the conference. It's an out-of-the-box trend, but we are in Week 1.

Coby Fleener vs. OAK: I've been a huge fan of Fleener ever since he signed with the Saints, and an opening matchup against the Raiders makes him a solid option for fantasy fans. Oakland was one of the weakest defenses in the league against tight ends a season ago, allowing an average of more than 10 fantasy points per game to the position.

Zach Ertz vs. CLE: Ertz has not been what you would call a fast starter from a statistical perspective, but you have to like his chances to produce in what could be a Travis Kelce-esque role under new coach Doug Pederson. With few proven options in the pass attack and cornerback Joe Haden on the field, Ertz should see a lot of targets.

Jason Witten vs. NYG: Witten isn't the elite fantasy tight end he was earlier in his career, but he's worth a roll of the dice against the Giants. That's because he's been a virtual touchdown machine against them, scoring seven times in their last six meetings. In those six contests, Witten has also averaged 11.85 fantasy points a game.

Dwayne Allen vs. DET: Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has had a lot of statistical success with tight ends in his career, so Allen shapes up to be a nice sleeper or DFS option this weekend. That's due in large part to a matchup against the Lions, who allowed 12 touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends last season.

Sleepers: Clive Walford at Saints, Jesse James at Redskins (Mon.)

Sit 'Em


Martellus Bennett at ARI: Bennett has some definite appeal as a fantasy tight end this season, but I still see him as a player who's subjected to the matchups. And with a game in Arizona against the Cardinals (without Tom Brady) first on the docket, well, I'd be a bit timid about using Bennett ... even with his recent September success trend.

Antonio Gates at KC: Gates is tough to sit in the season opener, but fantasy fans should keep in mind that his recent numbers against the Chiefs aren't too solid. Not even close. He's scored just one touchdown in his last nine games in Kansas City, and he posted 80-plus yards just once in his last 19 games against them overall.

Jordan Cameron at SEA: Cameron was once considered an elite fantasy tight end, and some analysts expect him to re-emerge under the guidance of new coach Adam Gase. I don't happen to be one of the them, however, and I'm not about to trust the Southern California product in what figures to be a brutal matchup against the Seahawks in Seattle.

Zach Miller at HOU: Miller has some definite deep sleeper appeal after his hot finish to the 2015 campaign, but this week's matchup against the Texans makes him anything but a sure bet to produce on the gridiron. Houston was tough on tight ends a season ago, allowing a mere five touchdowns and an average of just seven fantasy points per game.

Eric Ebron at IND: Ebron could be on the verge of his best statistical season, as the retirement of Calvin Johnson should open up more opportunities. However, he could have a slow start due an ankle ailment that kept him out of action during the preseason. It's better for fantasy owners to bench him until he's back at around 100 percent.

Busts: Travis Kelce vs. Chargers, Julius Thomas vs. Packers

DEFENSES


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Texans D/ST vs. Bears: The Texans defense figures to make an immediate impact, even more so with news that J.J. Watt (back) is in a good position to suit up for a home matchup against the Bears. Jay Cutler has never been the most accurate quarterback in the league, so I'd look for Houston to force a few turnovers and sack him quite often.

Panthers D/ST at Broncos: Remember when it used to be a fantasy sin to even think about starting a defense against the Broncos? Well, Peyton Manning is retired and Trevor Siemian is the new starting quarterback. That's the same Siemian who has never thrown a single pass in a regular-season NFL contest. That alone is enough to start Carolina.

Rams D/ST at 49ers: The Rams do have a new look on defense without the likes of defensive end Chris Long and linebacker James Laurinaitis, but this unit still has a terrific front seven. A matchup against Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers makes them a solid option. San Francisco doesn't have much offensive firepower, and Gabbert is prone to turnovers.

Eagles D/ST vs. Browns: Robert Griffin III might have looked good in the preseason, but he hasn't been in a regular-season NFL contest since December 2014. He was also prone to turnovers in his last 22 games, tossing 18 interceptions and 20 fumbles (eight lost). That's enough reason to stream the Eagles, who figure to be fired up at home.

Sleepers: Packers D/ST at Jaguars, Vikings D/ST at Titans

Sit 'Em


Redskins D/ST vs. Steelers: The Redskins might have added shutdown cornerback Josh Norman this offseason, but he's had his share of tough times against some of the league's elite wideouts (Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr). This week he'll face Antonio Brown and a Steelers offense that will make it tough for fantasy fans to trust Washington's defense.

Patriots D/ST at Cardinals: The Patriots defense has some major holes entering this season, including the loss of defensive end Rob Ninkovich (suspension), so a road matchup against the high-powered Cardinals offense leaves much for fantasy owners to desire. Last season, defenses averaged the second-fewest fantasy points per game (4.75) against Arizona.

Steelers D/ST at Redskins: The Steelers have a lot of issues in their defensive backfield, so much so that the team traded for one of the biggest draft busts of the last five years in cornerback Justin Gilbert. Couple that with a matchup versus the Redskins, who will throw the ball a ton, and you have a recipe for a defensive fantasy disaster.

Cowboys D/ST vs. Giants: The Cowboys offense is always a high-profile unit in the fantasy world, but their defense isn't what you would call a valuable asset. Between injuries and suspensions, Dallas will have a tough time rushing Eli Manning and stopping what figures to be a solid Giants offense. Even at the Jerry Dome, Dallas is a sit 'em.

Busts: Ravens D/ST vs. Bills, Raiders D/ST at Saints

KICKERS


Start 'Em


Dan Bailey vs. NYG: Bailey has had a lot of success against the Giants in recent seasons, scoring seven or more points in five of his last six games against them. New York also allowed more fantasy points to kickers (9.50 PPG) to kickers than any other team in the league last season, so Bailey should be considered a virtual must-start in Week 1.

Cairo Santos vs. SD: Santos was a bit unreliable as a fantasy kicker last season, but he was still among the best players at his position when all was said and done. He should have a fast start to the 2016 campaign against the Chargers, who he's posted nine or more fantasy points against in three of four career meetings. Santos is a solid choice.

Mason Crosby at JAC: Crosby should be considered a virtual must-start kicker this week, as he faces a Jaguars defense that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (8.75 PPG) to the position a season ago. In an odd stat, Crosby has also scored nine or more points in four of his last six road games against the AFC including three with 12 or more.

Adam Vinatieri vs. DET: Vinatieri might be a little long in the tooth which could have resulted in a down statistical season in 2015. But I expect the future Hall of Famer to rebound this season, and it will start against the Lions in what could be a high-scoring affair. Detroit allowed an average of almost eight fantasy points a game to kickers last year.

Sleepers: Nick Novak vs. Bears, Caleb Sturgis vs. Browns

Sit 'Em


Brandon McManus vs. CAR: McManus had an up-and-down campaign in 2015, but he did finish in the top-12 in fantasy points among kickers at season's end. Still, starting him on Thursday night against the Panthers is a questionable move based on the matchup. The Chiefs were the lone team to allow fewer fantasy points per game to the position than the Panthers last season.

Chris Boswell at WAS: I like Boswell to finish as one of the better kickers in fantasy football at season's end, but he could have a slow start based on this week's matchup in Washington. The Redskins allowed an average of just over seven fantasy points per game to kickers in 2015, and the Steelers figure to find the end zone often on Monday night.

Mike Nugent at NYJ: Nugent was inconsistent at times last season, but he still finished as a top-12 fantasy kicker based on points. Whether he returns to that level remains to be seen, but he's a tough sell against the Jets in their season opener. Gang Green allowed an average of just over seven fantasy points per game to kickers last season.

Roberto Aguayo at ATL: Aguayo's preseason struggles were well documented, for the most part due to the fact that he was a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Regardless, it's tough to recommend the rookie kicker against a Falcons defense that allowed an average of 6.31 fantasy points per game to the position a year ago. Keep Aguayo on the bench.

Busts: Graham Gano at Broncos (Thur.), Josh Lambo at Chiefs

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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