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Forte, Spiller should be active in most fantasy leagues this week

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Which running back do I start in Week 1: Matt Forte or Ryan Grant? - M. Eckland, Quincy, Mass.

Michael Fabiano: Chances are that you drafted Grant ahead of Forte, but I'd start the Bears running back this week based on his matchup against the Lions. Not only have these Motor City cats been awful against the run over the last few seasons, but Forte has had immense success against them. In four career games, he's rushed for 100-plus yards three times. Overall, Forte has compiled a total of 456 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns against this NFC North opponent. Grant has a much tougher matchup, facing the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. That's not to say that Grant should be benched in fantasy leagues, but Forte is clearly the better matchup-based choice this week.

I have a difficult decision to make this week. Should I start Knowshown Moreno or C.J. Spiller? - M. Brown, Australia

M.F.: The fact that Moreno missed most of the preseason with an injured hamstring makes me want to side with the safer choice, Spiller. He was ultra explosive in the preseason and has already been confirmed as the Week 1 starter for coach Chan Gailey. Fred Jackson (hand) will be active against the Dolphins, but I still see the rookie being the focal point of the offense. Between his work on special teams and in the backfield, he should easily see 20 touches and more than his share of chances to produce.

Hey Michael, thanks for helping me out last two fantasy seasons! I have two questions - first, should I start Carson Palmer, Chad Henne or Joe Flacco? Second, who do you think has more upside as a flex starter this week between Ahmad Bradshaw and Jahvid Best? - B. Murray, Kalamazoo, Mich.

M.F.: Always glad to help my friend. At quarterback, I would go with Palmer over Henne and Flacco. I think the Ravens signal-caller will be your best bet in many weeks, but I just don't like his matchup against the Jets. Last season, no defense gave up fewer fantasy points to quarterback than the Men in Green. Oh, and that Darrelle Revis guy is going to be back in the mix, too. I'm not sold Palmer re-emerging into a weekly fantasy starter, even with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens in the mix, but he does have a decent matchup against a Patriots defense that still has a lot of question marks. To answer your second question, I would start Best. While I do like Bradshaw this week, he's going to lose some work (especially near the goal line) to Brandon Jacobs. You shouldn't have to worry about that with Best, who has established himself as a featured back for coach Jim Schwartz. The matchup against the Bears isn't too bad, either.

This is my first year playing fantasy football! Currently, I have Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice and Anthony Gonzalez at wide receiver, but Jabar Gaffney is on the waiver wire. Should I drop Rice, who is out for at least six games, to pick up the Broncos wide receiver? - O. Court, England

M.F.: Welcome to the fantasy world ... once you join, you'll never leave! Hopefully you're playing your first league on NFL.com! Instead of dropping Rice, I would release Gonzalez and pick up Gaffney. The Colts' wideout will open the season no better than fourth on the depth chart with Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie ahead of him. Gaffney, who I think has some definite sleeper value this season, is the top option in the Broncos passing game for Kyle Orton. He'll see far more opportunities to produce than Gonzalez, whose targets will no doubt be limited behind the aforementioned trio of wideouts and Dallas Clark.

I have to start one of the following three players in my flex position: Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs or Tim Hightower. Who do you think has the best chance to have a solid game in Week 1? - S. Sours, Chicago, Ill.

M.F.: This might sound odd, but I had a dream earlier in the week that Brown scored two touchdowns against the Bills in Week 1. Weird, huh? Or maybe I'm just really excited for the season. Or both. Regardless, Brown has the best matchup of the backs you've mentioned and is the player to start. Buffalo's defense was downright dreadful against the run last season - only the Raiders and Chiefs allowed more fantasy points to running backs - and it didn't look much improved during the preseason. In his last game against this AFC East opponent (Oct. 2009), Brown rushed for 115 yards and scored (you guessed it) two touchdowns. I'm having a little bit of an Inception moment here!

Despite all of the hype surrounding Arian Foster, I'm still not sure I should start him. I also have Grant, Jonathan Stewart and Willis McGahee at running back. Should I start Foster? - C. Weddig, Knoxville, Tenn.

M.F.: Honestly, I think Foster is without question the most attractive running back you have based on the Week 1 matchups. He'll face a Colts defense that has rarely been stout against the run, and there's no one behind him on the depth chart to steal carries. I think Foster can be the real deal in the Texans offense, so start him with confidence. Your second starter should be Grant. I don't like his matchup very much, but the Packers runner wins out based on value alone over Stewart and McGahee.

I need to start three wide receivers from Roddy White, Michael Crabtree, Malcom Floyd, Hakeem Nicks and Owens. Thoughts? - P. Karstens, Canada

M.F.: White might not have the best matchup in the world, facing what should be a tough Steelers pass defense at Heinz Field. However, he's not someone you should even consider benching in most weeks. White is clearly one of fantasy's best receivers and should remain active regardless of the opponent. I also like Crabtree, who has a favorable matchup on the road against the Seahawks. Their defense allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers last season. The third player to start is Floyd, who has a pile of sleeper potential while Vincent Jackson is off the field. He also has a great matchup against the Chiefs, who also struggled to stop wideouts last season.

I'm thinking about putting together a trade proposal to get Ryan Mathews. Currently, I have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Moreno, Ronnie Brown, Jahvid Best and Spiller at running back and Greg Jennings, Miles Austin, Johnny Knox, Lance Moore and Jerricho Cotchery at wide receiver. Since the team that has Mathews lost Sidney Rice as his No. 1 wideout, I was thinking of offering Brown and Knox for Mathews. What do you think? - D. Harry, Dallas, Texas

M.F.: I'm always up for making trades in fantasy leagues, especially when I see that another team is vulnerable at a certain position. Your first offer should always be the least attractive - basically just a starting point - at which time the other owner can counter your proposition. You're pretty stacked at running back, so if Brown isn't enough to get the deal done you could really offer up any one of Moreno, Best or Spiller along with Knox. To me, you'd be getting the best rookie runner in return.

Darrelle Revis has returned to the Jets, but someone dumped him in our IDP leagues. Currently, I have Troy Polamalu and Brian Dawkins in my defensive backfield. Would I be wise to drop one of those players to add Revis? - C. Dunlap, Covington, Ky.

M.F.: I'd actually stand pat with Polamalu and Dawkins. While Revis is clearly the best cover corner in the NFL, he's not an elite fantasy option in IDP leagues for the same reason. Opposing offense tend to avoid throwing the football to his side of the field, which means fewer chances to produce passes defensed and tackles. I do think the addition of CB Antonio Cromartie could mean more chance for Revis to produce, he still won't be able to put up the same sort of numbers as your current defensive backs.

Which two running backs should I start from Ray Rice, Mathews and Rashard Mendenhall? Also, is Wes Welker worth starting over the Giants' Steve Smith or Ochocinco? - B. Herman, Chicago, Ill.

M.F.: Rice has the worst matchup among your running backs, but I don't see how you can sit a player of his caliber. While the matchups are important, it's also hard to bench your start players. That leaves Mathews and Mendenhall, and the former faces a much more favorable opponent. The rookie superstar faces the Chiefs, who allowed the second-most fantasy point to running backs in 2009. At wide receiver, I would start both Smith and Ochocinco ahead of Welker. While he has made a miraculous recovery from ACL surgery, I'd rather sit back and examine how he performs in his first regular-season game if I have viable alternatives. Clearly, that's something that you do have.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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