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 Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.
Start of the week
Dan Bailey vs. San Francisco 49ers: Bailey was one of the top-10 kickers in fantasy football last season, and he projects to rank in that same tier again behind what should be an explosive Cowboys offense. The Niners were one of the toughest teams for kickers to score on in 2013, but this defense is missing several key contributors and looked far more vulnerable than usual during the preseason. Consider Bailey a nice starter.
Justin Tucker vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Tucker was a fantasy football hero for countless owners last season, as he ranked third in points among kickers and scored a ridiculous 22 points in a Week 15 win against the Detroit Lions. He'll remain a solid option in 2014, and an opening-week matchup against the Bengals makes him an attractive starter. He's kicked a combined nine field goals in four career games versus the AFC North foe.
Phil Dawson vs. Dallas Cowboys: Another 49ers player in the "start" portion of this column? Yessir. Dawson, who emerged into one of the top kickers in fantasy football last season, should find no shortage of scoring opportunities against a Dallas defense that is going to struggle to stop opposing teams all season long. Look for the veteran out of Texas to post top-10 numbers at his position in the opening weekend of the season.
Sleeper alert - Cody Parkey vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Who is Cody Parkey, you might ask? He's the new starting kicker in Philadelphia, replacing the disappointing Alex Henery. A big-legged booter who hit on 5-of-6 field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards last year at Auburn, Parkey is going to have plenty of sleeper appeal behind an Eagles offense that is going to allow him more than his share of opportunities. He's a free agent in most NFL.com leagues.
Sit of the week
Sebastian Janikowski vs. New York Jets: Once considered an elite kicker in fantasy land, Janikowski ranked an awful 26th in points at his position in 2013. He doesn't figure to rebound in the first week of 2014, as Sea Bass faces a tough matchup against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Coach Rex Ryan will no doubt call out a lot of blitzes and aggressive packages to rattle rookie quarterback Derek Carr, so scoring chances could be few and far between.
Caleb Sturgis vs. New England: You might not know it, but Sturgis was a top-20 kicker based on fantasy points last season. Regardless, it's tough to trust him this weekend against a Patriots defense that allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points (6.88 PPG) to his position a season ago. Sturgis has also been inconsistent in his career against New England, which makes him that much more of a risk as a true starting option.
Randy Bullock vs. Washington Redskins: Bullock was similar in production (or a lack there of) to Janikowski, as the duo tied for 26th in fantasy points among kickers. He was especially ineffective on his home turf, as Bullock made 68.4 percent of his field-goal attempts (13-of-19) at Reliant Stadium. Until he proves otherwise, the Texas A&M product isn't someone you should be using as a regular starting fantasy kicker this season.
Owners beware - Blair Walsh vs. St. Louis Rams: Walsh, who is a fantasy football owner himself, finished a disappointing 2013 campaign a mere 16th in fantasy points among kickers. While I'm expecting him to rebound and put up better totals during the course of this season, Walsh does have quite a tough matchup against the Rams in Week 1 ... their defense allowed the second-fewest fantasy points (6.13 PPG) to opposing booters in 2013.