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Start 'Em, Sit 'em: Wide receivers 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 Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Victor Cruz vs. Detroit Lions:Eli Manning looked horrendous in the preseason, and I wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole in fantasy leagues this week. However, Manning's poor outlook isn't a statistical death sentence for Cruz. This week's matchup at Ford Field is favorable, in fact, as the Lions surrendered an average of almost 27 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts a season ago. That makes Cruz a nice option.

Start 'em

Andre Johnson vs. Washington Redskins: Johnson might be a bit long in the tooth, but he's still the top option in a Houston offense that could be more productive than people predict this season. The veteran out of Miami (Fla.) has had a lot of PPR success in recent seasons against NFC teams, averaging more than six catches in his last six games against the conference. That includes three contests where he recorded at least 97 yards.

Vincent Jackson vs. Carolina Panthers: Jackson is no longer a No. 1 fantasy wide receiver, but he's a nice No. 2 option in most leagues. The veteran has been better at home too, as he's found the end zone in each of his last three games on his home field. Furthermore, Jackson has scored five touchdowns in his last six games at Raymond James Stadium. So despite a tough matchup on paper against Carolina, Jackson is a good choice.

Michael Crabtree vs. Dallas Cowboys: I am a huge fan of Crabtree during what will be a contract year, and I like him even more as a starter this weekend against the Cowboys. Dallas might field one of the worst defensive units in NFL history to start the 2014 campaign, and that is coming off of a season in which their defense resembled Swiss cheese. If you drafted Crabtree, he should be in your active lineup as a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver or flex starter.

Sleeper alert - Cordarrelle Patterson vs. St. Louis Rams: Patterson isn't going to fit in the "sleeper" description for long, as he's projected to be one of the big breakout wide receivers in 2014. An explosive playmaker out of Tennessee, he was the best wide receiver in the final four weeks of the 2013 fantasy season. The Rams allowed an average of close to 22 fantasy points per game to wideouts a season ago, so Patterson is a terrific option.

Sit of the week

DeSean Jackson vs. Houston Texans: Jackson was a top-10 fantasy receiver a season ago, but that was as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Now in Washington, he's in danger of seeing a decline in production in an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. The Cal product has also struggled in recent road games against the AFC (2012-2013), scoring just one touchdown with one game of 100 or more yards in his last four such contests.

Sit 'em

Torrey Smith vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Smith is coming off a career season, as he posted personal bests in both receptions and yardage. However, it's tough to trust him in what has to be considered a difficult matchup against the Bengals. In his last five games against this AFC North opponent, Smith has averaged 32.6 yards and has found the end zone just once. So unless you're hurting for a No. 3 wideout, Smith should be benched.

Mike Wallace vs. New England Patriots: With new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling the plays, Wallace is a good bet to improve on what was a disappointing first season in South Beach. However, this week's matchup against the Patriots and their new cornerback, Darrelle Revis, is not at all favorable. With Brandon Browner suspended for the first four games, I'd be shocked if Revis didn't shadow Wallace for most of this AFC East contest in Miami.

Sammy Watkins vs. Chicago Bears: I'm not a fan of rookie wide receivers, because most of them fail to make an impact in the stat sheets. Enter Watkins, who was the top wideout picked in the 2014 NFL Draft but is entering the regular season at less than 100 percent due to an injured rib. When you also consider how poorly EJ Manuel played during the preseason it's even more difficult to trust Watkins as a fantasy starter.

Owners beware - Eric Decker vs. Oakland Raiders: Decker has been one of the 10 best wide receivers in fantasy football over the last two seasons. He's also had a nice string of success against the Raiders, scoring a touchdown in three of his last four games against them. However, that was all while catching passes from Peyton Manning ... not Geno Smith. So while he's a viable No. 3 wideout in 12-plus team leagues, Decker's value has fallen.

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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