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
Colin Kaepernick vs. Dallas Cowboys: If you haven't noticed, the Cowboys defense projects to be absolutely dreadful this season ... and that's after a 2013 campaign that saw fantasy players feast on it on a regular basis. With question marks along the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, Kaepernick and the Niners should be able to pick apart Dallas at will. I'm expecting a very high-scoring affair at the Jerry Dome.
Andrew Luck vs. Denver Broncos: What a matchup on Sunday night! Peyton Manning and the Broncos go up against his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, in what should be a barn burner. I know the Broncos made some great additions in the offseason on defense, but you can't tell me Luck isn't going to be motivated to produce against the future Hall of Famer. With a questionable line and running game, I like Luck to throw it a ton.
Nick Foles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Foles wasn't overly spectacular during the preseason, and I doubt he'll be as good this season as he was in 2013. However, he's still a top-10 fantasy quarterback with a great matchup against the Jaguars in the opener. Last season, Jacksonville surrendered an average of better than 19 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks ... that's right around what Foles averaged as a starter under coach Chip Kelly.
Tony Romo vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Cowboys aren't going to win a lot of football games this season, but this team could be a boon in fantasy football. New passing game coordinator and play-caller Scott Linehan likes to throw the rock, and Romo will likely have to throw it a lot if his defense is as bad as we project it to be in 2013. Also keep in mind that this Niners defense is a shell of its former self, so Romo will be in a position to score fantasy points.
Sleeper alert - Geno Smith vs. Oakland Raiders: If you're in a two-quarterback league or your signal-callers are a serious mess in a deeper league, Smith will be worth a roll of the dice this weekend. He flashed at the end of last season, finishing among the top 10 field generals based on fantasy points over the last five weeks. His success should continue against Oakland, which allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2013.
Sit of the week
Philip Rivers vs. Arizona Cardinals: Rivers has been one of the better draft bargains in fantasy football this season, but can you start him in a tough road matchup in Arizona? I think he's a risk, as the Cardinals allowed an average of 254 passing yards and 16 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers in 2013. Unless you're really stuck at the position and don't have another option, Rivers isn't an attractive starter.
Andy Dalton vs. Baltimore Ravens: Dalton was one of the top five quarterbacks in fantasy football last season, but can he duplicate that level of success in 2014? It's not likely, especially in the run-based scheme of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Dalton has also not had a lot of success against the Ravens, throwing for multiple touchdowns (six total) in just two of his six career starts against them. That's not a positive trend.
Alex Smith vs. Tennessee Titans: Smith ranked among the 15 best quarterbacks in fantasy land a year ago, but he was one of the most inconsistent players at his position as well. He'll open the 2014 campaign at home against the Titans, who had one of the toughest pass defenses in the NFL last season. In fact, their defense surrendered just 15 touchdown passes and the third-fewest fantasy points (13.33 PPG) to quarterbacks.
Eli Manning vs. Detroit Lions: Did you watch Manning during the preseason? If you did, you know the reason I would avoid him at all costs in Week 1. He completed a mere 48.8 percent of his 41 pass attempts, and didn't look comfortable at all in new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. The Lions also have a fierce pass rush and were tough on fantasy quarterbacks a season ago, making Manning even less attractive across the board.
Owners beware - Cam Newton vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Newton has been a top-four fantasy quarterback in each of his first three seasons, and it's tough to bench him if you don't have a solid alternative at the position. Coming off ankle surgery and playing with a fractured rib, however, the veteran has thrown just three touchdown passes with two interceptions in his last two starts in Tampa Bay. At best, consider Newton a low-end QB1 this week.