Start Em Sit Em

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 1

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, check our lineup rankings.

QB start of the week

Matt Ryan at New Orleans Saints: It's almost always a barnburner when the Falcons and Saints square off in the NFC South. That's good news for Ryan, who has thrown for 370-plus yards in each of this last two road starts in New Orleans. He's also thrown the ball 50-plus times in three of his last four against them overall. (Maximum value: High-QB1)

QB Start 'em

Robert Griffin III vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): He's back! Despite missing all of the preseason, RGIII (knee) will start against the Eagles on Monday night. The talented passer averaged 199 passing yards and scored a combined six touchdowns in two starts against them in 2012, and the Eagles defense has big question marks. (Maximum value: Mid-QB1)

Matthew Stafford vs. Minnesota Vikings: Stafford loves to rack up the yards at Ford Field, averaging just under 350 passing yards in his last nine home games. The Vikings surrendered an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road last season, which makes Stafford even more attractive this weekend. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)

Tony Romo vs. New York Giants: Romo might not get much respect in real football, but he can be a valuable fantasy asset. He's thrown for 300-plus passing yards in four of his last six games against the Giants, who struggled to stop quarterbacks in 2012. What's more, Romo averaged 365 yards in his last seven home games last season. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)

Sleeper alert - Terrelle Pryor at Indianapolis Colts: Pryor isn't the most accurate quarterback in the league (not even close), but he can score fantasy points with his legs. And in a contest where the Raiders could find themselves behind against the Colts, who have struggled to stop the run, Pryor could see garbage-time success. (Maximum value: High-QB2)

QB sit of the week

Andy Dalton at Chicago Bears: Dalton has some definite sleeper appeal this season, but this week's matchup in Chicago is anything but attractive. In fact, the Bears allowed an averaged of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks at Soldier Field in 2012. You can find much better options in most leagues. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

QB Sit 'em

Carson Palmer at St. Louis Rams: Palmer should be considered a nice matchup-based starter in most fantasy leagues during the course of the season, but a road game against an aggressive Rams defense isn't what I like to call an attractive matchup. Outside of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, there isn't a must-start option on the Cardinals this week. (Maximum value: Low-QB2)

Jay Cutler vs. Cincinnati Bengals: There's a lot of hype around Cutler with new offensive-minded coach Marc Trestman calling the shots, but I'm not a believer - not against the Bengals. Their defense has tremendous talent, allowing an average of fewer than 14 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks on the road in 2012. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

Josh Freeman at New York Jets: Freeman showed flashes of brilliance last season, but he was inconsistent down the stretch and can't be trusted to serve as a fantasy starter when the matchup is tough. That's certainly the case this weekend, as the Jets fielded one of the more stout pass defenses in the entire league last season. (Maximum value: Low-QB2)

Owners beware - Cam Newton vs. Seattle Seahawks: You shouldn't sit Newton if you don't have a viable replacement, but keep this in mind: last season, he recorded an unimpressive 141 passing yards with no touchdowns during a Week 5 loss at home to the Seahawks. He also rushed for just 42 yards and lost a fumble in the contest. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)


RB start of the week

Stevan Ridley at Buffalo Bills: This is a great week to have Ridley or Shane Vereen on your fantasy roster. The Bills have struggled to stop the run in recent seasons, surrendering the third-most fantasy points to runners on their home field in 2012. The Patriots also have 16 rushing touchdowns in their last 11 games in Buffalo. (Maximum value: Low-RB1)

RB Start 'em

Steven Jackson at New Orleans Saints: Jackson's value is on the rise, and he should make quite a splash in his first real game with the Saints. In his last five games against this new NFC South rival, Jackson has found the end zone six times. The Saints also fielded one of the worst run defenses in the entire league a year ago. (Maximum value: Mid-RB1)

Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Jones-Drew missed most of last season with an injured foot, but he looks to be back at 100 percent and should now be in all starting fantasy lineups against the Chiefs. Their defense ranked among the eight-worst teams in the league in terms of fantasy running back scoring in 2012. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

David Wilson at Dallas Cowboys: The loss of backfield mate Andre Brown makes Wilson a true featured back and a virtual lock to post nice totals against the Cowboys, who struggled to stop the run last season. In fact, Dallas allowed an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to opposing runners at the Jerry Dome in 2012. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

Sleeper alert - Lamar Miller at Cleveland Browns: Miller didn't have a spectacular preseason, but he will make for a nice flex starter this weekend in Cleveland. The Browns have long struggled against the run, and allowed an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to opposing runners on their home field last season. (Maximum value: High-RB3)

RB sit of the week

Ryan Mathews vs. Houston Texans (Mon.): Mathews left me with a whole lot of egg on my face last season, and I won't trust him until he proves he warrants a starter's role in fantasy land. This week he goes up against the Texans, who allowed fewer fantasy points per game to running backs on the road than any other team last season. (Maximum value: Mid-RB3)

RB Sit 'em

Chris Ivory vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ivory's short-term fantasy value is in question, as the Jets have listed Bilal Powell ahead of him on the depth chart. He also has a difficult matchup against the Buccaneers, who fielded one of the league's toughest run defenses a year ago. Overall, Ivory is tough to trust at this point in time. (Maximum value: Low-RB3)

DeAngelo Williams vs. Seattle Seahawks: Williams has seen his value increase with Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list, but starting him against the Seahawks isn't advised. Their defense allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points overall to opposing running backs last season, and held Williams to six yards on six carries in Week 5. (Maximum value: Mid-RB3)

Rashard Mendenhall at St. Louis Rams: Mendenhall (knee) is slated to start for the Cardinals this week, but should he start for your fantasy team? That's a huge question, as his durability is up for some debate. What's more, Mendenhall has scored double-digit fantasy points just once since the end of the 2011 NFL campaign. (Maximum value: Mid-RB3)

Owners beware - Eddie Lacy at San Francisco 49ers: There's a good chance you'll need to start Lacy this week, especially if you use a flex position. Just keep in mind he could get a very rude welcome to the pro game in San Francisco - the Niners allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs among home teams in 2012. (Maximum value: High-RB3)


WR start of the week

Marques Colston vs. Atlanta Falcons: Colston and the Saints should be in a shootout this weekend against the Falcons, who have some new and inexperienced members in their pass defense. Colston has also had some success against this NFC South foe, scoring a touchdown in three of his last four home games against these Dirty Birds. Maximum value: High-WR2)

WR Start 'em

Antonio Brown vs. Tennessee Titans: If Brown is going to have a breakout season, it should be 2013. With Mike Wallace now in Miami, he'll take over as the top option in the Steelers pass attack for Ben Roethlisberger. He's a nice option against the Titans, who allowed the seventh-most touchdown receptions to wideouts last season. Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

Pierre Garcon vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): Garcon (foot) has declared himself 100 percent and will be a ready to roll for Monday night's NFC East clash against the Eagles. The matchup makes him a solid option, as Philadelphia allowed more touchdown receptions to wide receivers than any other team in the league this past season. Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

DeSean Jackson at Washington Redskins (Mon.): I still have trust issues with Jackson, but he's an attractive fantasy option nonetheless this week against the Redskins. He'll see plenty of targets from quarterback Michael Vick, and Washington's pass defense surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts in 2012. Maximum value: High-WR3)

Sleeper alert - Miles Austin vs. New York Giants: Do you need a third wideout? Take a chance on Austin, who has had success in the past against the Giants. In fact, he's scored four touchdowns in his last seven games against this NFC East opponent. In Week 8 of last season, he went for nine catches and 133 yards against the G-Men. Maximum value: Mid-WR3)

WR sit of the week

Mike Wallace at Cleveland Browns: This might look like a good matchup for Wallace on paper, but the Browns have been far tougher against the pass on their home field compared to on the road. Furthermore, the veteran will be lined up against stud cornerback Joe Haden in what could be a low-scoring contest for the Dolphins in Week 1. Maximum value: Low-WR3)

WR Sit 'em

Steve Smith vs. Seattle Seahawks: Smith is coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season and shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 34. However, he's tough to trust as more than a No. 3 wideout against a tough Seattle defense. In a Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks last season, Smith scored a pretty meager four fantasy points. Maximum value: Low-WR2)

Steve Johnson vs. New England Patriots: The Patriots don't have a solid pass defense, but can you trust Johnson to produce against them with a rookie quarterback under center? The Kentucky product has also failed to score a touchdown in three of his last four home games against New England. Johnson is clearly a risk-reward option this week. Maximum value: Mid-WR3)

Tavon Austin vs. Arizona Cardinals: Austin was likely the first rookie wide receiver drafted in fantasy land, but that doesn't make him a lock to be in your starting lineup. He has a tough matchup against CB Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals, who surrendered the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in road games last season. Maximum value: Low-WR3)

Owners beware - Vincent Jackson at New York Jets: Unless you are loaded at wide receiver, you probably won't have a choice but to start Jackson. Regardless, keep in mind that the Jets were one of the toughest defenses against wide receivers last season. A lot of that had to do with CB Antonio Cromartie, who should shadow Jackson this week. Maximum value: Low-WR2)


TE start of the week

Tony Gonzalez at New Orleans Saints: If you notice a trend of Falcons and Saints players in the start 'em portion of this column, well, it's because that contest has the look of an absolute shootout. That's great news for the veteran Gonzalez, who has scored four touchdowns in his last four contests against New Orleans. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

TE Start 'em

Vernon Davis vs. Green Bay Packers: Let's face it, Davis was awful for a good portion of last season. And while fantasy owners still have some trust issues with him, the veteran is a virtual must-start against the Packers. Hopefully the rapport he seemed to lack with Colin Kaepernick at times in the past will be elevated. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

Kyle Rudolph at Detroit Lions: The reigning Pro Bowl MVP, Rudolph should be considered a quality option for owners this week. He has a great matchup against the Lions, who allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends overall in 2012. Rudolph also scored double-digit fantasy points in his last contest against the Lions. (Maximum value: Mid-TE1)

Brandon Myers at Dallas Cowboys:Eli Manning has always liked to use his tight ends, so Myers has some definite appeal as a potential No. 1 fantasy option. He's a nice choice in what could be a high-scoring game against the Cowboys, who allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends based on home games last season. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

Sleeper alert - Zach Sudfeld at Buffalo Bills: Unless Rob Gronkowski makes a miraculous return to action, Sudfeld is going to start and see his share of targets against the Bills this weekend. Buffalo has been a victim of Gronkowski a number of times in the past, so don't be shocked to see Sudfeld make an immediate impact. (Maximum value: High-TE2)

TE sit of the week

Jermichael Finley at San Francisco 49ers: Finley, who is in a contract year, has seen his value rise after showing some flashes of his past self during the preseason. However, he's no lock to open 2013 with a strong performance against the Niners -- no team allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends in home games during 2012. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

TE Sit 'em

Greg Olsen vs. Seattle Seahawks: Olsen is coming off his best statistical season and remains a viable No. 1 fantasy option, but this week's contest against the Seahawks isn't a favorable one. In fact, their defense allowed just three touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points overall to opposing tight ends this past season. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

Martellus Bennett vs. Bengals: Can you name the last time the Bears had a fantasy-viable tight end on their roster? Greg Olsen was alright, but he didn't have his first big year until he left for Carolina. Enter Bennett, who is coming off a career season with the Giants but could now be the next in a pretty long line of Chicago tight ends to falter. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Jordan Cameron vs. Miami Dolphins: I love the potential that Cameron brings to the table under the tutelage of new coach Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner, but he's still a matchup-based option at this point. Against an improved Dolphins defense that was tough on tight ends last season, I'd keep Cameron on the fantasy sidelines. (Maximum value: High-TE2)

Owners beware - Jermaine Gresham at Chicago Bears: Gresham is coming off the best statistical season of his career, but his statistical arrow is pointing down after the addition of Tyler Eifert and the return of Mohamed Sanu to the pass attack. Furthermore, a difficult matchup against the Bears makes Gresham even less attractive. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)


K start of the week

K Start 'em

Blair Walsh at Detroit Lions: It's hard to envision a scenario where this NFC North battle doesn't turn into a shootout, so Walsh should have plenty of opportunities to produce. That was the case last season, as Walsh attempted seven field goals (six conversions) in two meetings with the Motor City Cats during his rookie year. (Maximum value: High-K1)

Matt Bryant at New Orleans Saints: This is another case of a kicker who is projected to see a lot of chances to produce in what promises to be a very high-scoring game. Bryant, who was one of the top kickers in fantasy football a year ago, hit all five of his field-goal attempts in two games against the Saints last season. (Maximum value: High-K1)

Josh Brown at Dallas Cowboys: Brown was a late-season fantasy football star among kickers in 2012, and now he's in a good position to find continued success ias a member of the Giants. The Cowboys surrendered an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to kickers a year ago, and this should be a high-scoring contest in Big D. (Maximum value: Mid-K1)

Sleeper alert - Kai Forbath vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): If you're one of those fantasy owners who likes to stream kickers, consider Forbath on Monday night. He was effective in 2012, and a matchup against the Eagles makes him a viable matchup-based option. Available in over 90 percent of NFL.com leagues, he's readily out there on the waiver wire. (Maximum value: Mid-K1)

K sit of the week

Greg Zuerlein vs. Arizona Cardinals: For all the "Legatron" talk, Zuerlein finished a mediocre 19th in fantasy points among kickers last season. He also had little success against the Cardinals, seeing just three field-goal attempts (two conversions) in two contests. For now, Zuerlein shouldn't be considered a fantasy starter. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

K Sit 'em

Robbie Gould vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Is it me, or does this Bengals-Bears game at Soldier Field have all the makings of a defensive battle? That would mean a less-than-stellar performance from Gould, who finished an unimpressive 24th in fantasy points among kickers last season. He's not someone to start in the opening weekend. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

Rob Bironas at Pittsburgh Steelers: The 18th-rated kicker based on fantasy points last season, Bironas has a tough task in the 2013 opener against the Steelers. Kicking on the sometimes questionable turf at Heinz Field aside, the Steelers defense doesn't figure to give up too many scoring opportunities in front of their home crowd. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

Owners beware - Mason Crosby at San Francisco 49ers: To put it mildly, Crosby was a fantasy disappointment last season. He failed to finish in the top 15 based on fantasy points among kickers, and his 2013 opening matchup against the Niners is a tough one. No defense allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing booters during 2012. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)


DEF start of the week

Patriots defense at Buffalo Bills: In a case of a good defense facing a rookie quarterback, the Patriots defense is one of the most attractive options of the week going up against EJ Manuel. In fact, the P-Men should be considered the top fantasy defensive unit to start in Week 1. (Maximum value: High-DEF1)

DEF Start 'em

Buccaneers defense at New York Jets: Here's a rule of thumb if you like to stream fantasy defenses - start anyone going up against the Jets. The Buccaneers draw that favorable matchup in Week 1, and will face rookie quarterback Geno Smith and an offense that doesn't have much firepower. This unit is available in a lot of leagues. (Maximum value: Mid-DEF1)

Rams defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals should be more formidable on offense this season with the addition of new coach Bruce Arians and veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, but there are still a lot of question marks with their offensive line. That's very good news for a young and aggressive Rams defense this weekend. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

Sleeper alert - Colts defense vs. Oakland Raiders: I am on the record - I think Terrelle Pryor can turn into a viable fantasy option. However, I also know that he's going to be prone to more than his share or turnovers. That makes me like the Colts defense, which is available in a ton of leagues and is a great streaming option. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

DEF sit of the week

Packers defense at San Francisco 49ers: The Packers have the potential to be a top-10 fantasy defense this season, but it's tough to trust this unit against the Niners on their home field. In 2012, opposing defenses averaged fewer than seven fantasy points per game against San Francisco. Keep the Pack on the sidelines if possible. (Maximum value: Low-DEF2)

DEF Sit 'em

Chargers defense vs. Houston Texans (Mon.): The Chargers ranked sixth in fantasy points among defenses in 2012, but that was then and this is now - and this week's matchup against the Texans isn't very favorable. With Arian Foster looking to be close to 100 percent and DeAndre Hopkins in the mix, the Texans will be running on all cylinders. (Maximum value: Low-DEF2)

Cowboys defense vs. New York Giants: The addition of new DC Monte Kiffin and DL coach Rod Marinelli could very well make the Cowboys defense more attractive in fantasy land, but I'd take a wait-and-see approach against the Giants. This game has all the looks of a shootout, making the 'Boys and the G-Men both unattractive defensive choices. (Maximum value: DST1)

Owners beware - Falcons defense at New Orleans Saints: I have a sneaking suspicion that Saints coach Sean Payton is going to come out with a bang after being suspended for the entire 2012 campaign. That's bad news for the value of the Falcons defense, which projects to give up a whole bunch of points to star Drew Brees and crew.(Maximum value: Mid-DEF2)

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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