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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs 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.

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 an impressive 16 rushing touchdowns in their last 11 games in Buffalo. (Maximum value: Low-RB1)

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 this past season. (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. It's Wilson's time. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

Sleeper alert - Lamar Miller at Cleveland Browns: Miller didn't have a spectacular preseason, but he will still make for a nice fantasy 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)

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 in the NFL last season. (Maximum value: Mid-RB2)

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 their initial team 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 very 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 (ankles) on the PUP list, but starting him against the Seahawks still 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)

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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 debate. What's more, Mendenhall has scored double-digit fantasy points just once since the end of the 2011 NFL campaign. (Maximum value: High-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)

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on 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 _**@MichaelFabiano**_ or send a question via **Facebook**!

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