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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Philip Rivers opens with favorable matchup

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

Philip Rivers at Raiders (Mon.): Rivers fell hard in a lot of fantasy football drafts -- I landed him in Round 10 in one league -- but that doesn't take away from the fact that he has a great matchup against the Raiders. In his last eight starts against this AFC West foe, the veteran has thrown for an average of over 270 yards with two touchdowns. That includes a combined 584 yards and five passing scores against them in 2011.

Start 'em

Matt Ryan at Chiefs: Ryan was solid in the preseason, completing 75 percent of his passes while posting a quarterback rating of 111.00. In an offense that will throw the football a ton under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, I see Ryan as a major breakout option in fantasy football. So while the Kansas City Chiefs' defense has some talent, I wouldn't be afraid to start Ryan in this inter-conference clash at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jay Cutler vs. Colts: Cutler's fantasy value is on the rise with Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery in the pass attack, and he should open the 2012 campaign on a high note against the Indianapolis Colts. Their defense failed to put much pressure on the quarterback and allowed 25 touchdown passes last season, so Cutler is in a good position to find success. Start him if you don't have a No. 1 option.

Matt Schaub vs. Dolphins: Schaub looked no worse for wear from last season's foot ailment, completing over 76 percent of his passes in the preseason. He also has Andre Johnson back in the mix, not to mention new wideouts like Lestar Jean and rookie Keshawn Martin. The Miami Dolphins were mediocre against the pass in 2011, making Schaub a viable option if you're playing the quarterback matchups.

Sleeper alert - Robert Griffin III at Saints: I don't know about you, but I'm thinking there will be a ton of points scored in this contest. That's good news for RG3, who should make an impact for fantasy owners in his first NFL regular-season start. Also, keep in mind that the New Orleans Saints allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers in 2011, making Griffin well worth a look.

Sit of the week

Andy Dalton at Ravens (Mon.): Dalton is coming off a nice rookie campaign, throwing for 3,398 yards with a combined 21 total touchdowns. Unfortunately, he figures to have a tough statistical start to 2012 against the Baltimore Ravens. In two starts against them last season, Dalton threw just one touchdown pass and was intercepted three times. There are better options at the quarterback position this weekend.

Sit 'em

Carson Palmer vs. Chargers (Mon.): Palmer was horrid in the preseason, throwing no touchdowns passes and two interceptions in his two contests. He didn't have much time to get on the same page as some of his receivers as well, due to injuries to Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. That could mean a slow start to the season for Palmer, who will also face what should be a much improved San Diego Chargers' defense.

Russell Wilson at Cardinals: Everyone in fantasy land seems to be in love with Wilson, who beat out Matt Flynn to earn the top spot on the Seattle Seahawks' depth chart. That doesn't mean he should start for your fantasy team, at least not yet. The Arizona Cardinals pass defense was average in 2011, but their front four will put a ton of pressure on the rookie this week. Stash Wilson on your bench for now.

Mark Sanchez vs. Bills: Sanchez might have finished 10th in fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2011, but he's in a new run-based offense now and failed to lead the New York Jets on a single touchdown drive in the preseason. With the spector of Tim Tebow seeing time in the offense and a matchup against what should be a much-improved Buffalo Bills defense, Sanchez is not someone you want to roll with in Week 1.

Owners beware - Andrew Luck at Bears: Luck looked awesome in the preseason (514 yards, four total touchdowns) and seems to have the confidence and moxie of a five-year veteran. However, starting him this week against the Chicago Bears is going to be difficult. Their aggressive front four will look to put pressure on the rookie quarterback, so this could be a tough start for the Stanford product.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to _**@MichaelFabiano**_ or send a question via **Facebook**!

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