With the last long weekend of the summer behind us, the kids are back in school and the leaves will soon begin to changing colors. This is depressing for some, but others, like those who love football, are letting out a collective sigh of relief as meaningful football games are finally back! This signals the start of lazy Sundays that involve taking in as much football as possible. Sundays during the fall have a certain allure that can only be understood by the Fantasy Football faithful. They will experience the highs and the lows that go hand in hand with being a fantasy owner. There will be weeks that just don’t go well and have them cursing their TV and team. However, there will also be weeks where their team will have them jumping for joy and smack talking their fellow owners after laying a beat down on their team. In order to try and limit those bad weeks we have compiled a list of 20 Players that you should SIT or START in your Week 1 match-ups in order to give you the edge over your opponents. Given all the changes that took place during the NFL off-season, week 1 is typically one of the most unpredictable, so we'll help you navigate this difficult time.
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20 San Francisco 49ers Defense – SIT
Bet you weren't expecting to see the defense most have ranked among the elite in the NFL as a Sit ‘em candidate this early in the season, but that’s exactly where you find them in week 1. The 49ers D is experiencing some internal issues, as Ray McDonald, who have been a starting DE for the 49ers for the last 3 seasons was arrested over the weekend on domestic violence charges. The 49ers will also be missing Aldon Smith for the first 9 games of the season as he serves his suspension. Additionally they will be without the services of NaVarro Bowman who will be starting the season on the PUP list as he recovers from a torn MCL and ACL. This defense just won’t be the same dominate unit it was last season. Not only is the defensive unit not the same, they happen to being playing the high-powered Cowboys Offense. After the Broncos, opposing defenses scored the least fantasy points against the Cowboys last season and the Cowboys offense looks to be just as strong this year.
19 New York Jets Defense – START
The Jets may be not have the dominate secondary they once had when Revis roamed the field for them. However, they have one of the most dominate front seven’s in the league. When a defense can put pressure on the QB it leads to turnovers and points for the defensive fantasy unit. Couple this with the fact that the New York Jets have a favorable week 1 match-up against the Oakland Raiders who will be starting rookie QB Derek Carr and this is how they found their way to the Start ‘em section of this list.
18 Martellus Bennett – TE, Chicago Bears – SIT
The Chicago Bears have high hopes for their offense coming into the season. They are entering their second year under the tutelage of QB Guru Marc Trestman, which many expect to translate to an even more feared offensive unit than last year. However, the Bears have a week one match-up against the Buffalo Bills who have a potent and improving defense. The Bills allowed the 6th least points to tight ends last season which makes this a tough match-up for Bennett. Add in the fact that the Bears have Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte already fighting for targets and touches and we'd bench the Black Unicorn in this tough week 1 match-up.
17 Ladarius Green – TE, San Diego Chargers – START
The reign of Antonio Gates as a top tier TE is over as he figures to be fighting for targets on his own team this year and will likely finish the season behind the talented Ladarius Green on the Chargers depth chart. If you drafted L. Green, get him in your starting lineup this week as the Chargers have a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals who gave up the most points by far to TEs last season. The Cardinals gave up an average of 13.61 points per game to opposing TE, whereas the 2nd worst defense against TE, the Minnesota Vikings, gave up 9.88 points per game.
16 Roddy White - WR, Atlanta Falcons – SIT
In Week 1, the Atlanta Falcons will be able to start their Dynamic Duo for the first time in a game that matters since Julio went down with the foot injury early last season. This is good news for the Falcons and Matt Ryan’s fantasy value; however there is some bad news. The Falcons face off against their divisional rival, the New Orleans Saints, who boasted the 6th best defense against WRs over the course of the 2013 season. This makes Roddy White a tough start in week one. I’d reluctantly sit out Roddy this week unless you have no other options.
15 Tavon Austin – WR, St. Louis Rams – START
This is a bold move that sends a message to your fellow league owners. The St. Louis Rams lost their starting QB in the third preseason game, and it would be a lie to say this didn't affect the value of the Rams receivers. Tavon Austin is not a receiver that should be started week in and week out, however given his favorable match-up against the Vikings I would start Austin as a WR3 with enormous upside this week as he faces the defense that gave up the 2nd most points to WRs last season.
14 Mike Evans – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – SIT
Mike Evans is entering this season as a rookie WR for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is penciled in to start opposite Vincent Jackson. This gives the Tampa Bay faithful hope that their offense will improve after a rough 2013 campaign. Mike Evans has the skills to have a very productive rookie campaign but don’t expect it to start in week 1 as he faces off against the fierce Carolina Panthers Defense. The Panthers don’t given up many points to opposing wide outs as they were the 3rd best unit against the pass last season.
13 Victor Cruz – WR, New York Giants – START
Given how bad the New York Giants have looked this preseason, it’s tough to include any member of their offense in the Start ‘em portion of this list. It seems that Eli is struggling to grasp new Offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo’s scheme. This being said, it is hard to imagine the Detroit Lions secondary being able to contain Victor Cruz for a whole game. The Lions, who face off against the Giants in the first Monday night game of the season, were horrendous against the pass last year as they allowed the third most points to WRs, which means you should get Victor Cruz in your line-up this week.
12 Mike Wallace – WR, Miami Dolphins – SIT
Mike Wallace and the Miami Dolphins will be the first team to face-off against the new-look New England Patriots Defense in week 1 of the NFL season. The Patriots went out and acquired Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the off-season to improve their secondary. However it should be noted that Browner will be suspended until Week 5. Wallace has starter appeal this year as he will likely assume the DeSean Jackson role for new OC, Bill Lazor, however with the presence of Darrelle Revis expect for this to be a tough match-up for Wallace who may struggle this week.
11 Michael Floyd – WR, Arizona Cardinals – START
Many believe that this is the year that Larry Fitzgerald will pass the torch Floyd, and he will no longer be the best wide receiver on his own team. Floyd may supplant him as the number one option in Arizona. That being said, both receivers should be in your line-up in week one as they have a favorable match-up against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers fared quite poorly against pass catchers last season as they gave up the 4th most points to wide-outs.
10 Ryan Mathews – RB, San Diego Chargers – SIT
Ryan Mathews is coming off a great season in which he finished 12th among RBs. It seems doubtful he can repeat this feat, and he likely won’t be able to silence his critics in week one as he faces off against a dominate Arizona Cardinals Defense. In 2013, there was no better defense against the run that the Cardinals who allowed an average of 11.24 points to opposing running backs which is almost 2 points better than the 2nd best defense against the run who allowed 13.19 points on average. Mathews will have value as a RB2 and flex over the course of the season but it would be best to keep him on your bench this week.
9 Chris Johnson – RB, New York Jets – START
Much like Ryan Mathew, Chris Johnson is coming off a decent season and yet is not being drafted at an ADP that would imply the fantasy world thinks he could repeat. This may be partly due to the fact the Chris Johnson now finds himself with the Jets, or the fact that he is slated to split carries with Chris Ivory. However, don’t let this scare you in week one, as Chris Johnson has value as a low-end RB2 or as a flex starter this week as the Jets face off against the Raiders and their porous run defense which ranked in the bottom 5 of the NFL last season based on average fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs.
8 Bernard Pierce – RB, Baltimore Ravens – SIT
Bernard Pierce is the default starter for the Ravens for the first 2 weeks of the season as Ray Rice sits out those games due to a suspension. Rice fell in drafts as owners feared he would lose his starting job to Pierce if he performed well in the first two games of the season. This seems highly unlikely as Pierce has a tough week one match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals who fields a fearsome defensive unit which ranked in the top 5 defenses against the run over the course of the 2013 season.
7 Frank Gore – RB, San Francisco 49ers – START
Every year people seem to think that this is the year the Frank Gore finally loses his fantasy relevant status. It feels like Gore has been a fantasy star for an eternity, and given he is entering the season as a 31 year old running back, a case can be made that this IS an eternity for fantasy running backs. This year we’ll see Carlos Hyde eat into some of Frank Gore’s touches and potentially supplant Gore as the starting RB by the end of the season. However, we are at the start of the season and Gore is fresh and ready for another season, so get him in your lineup this week as he will feast on the dreadful Cowboys defense who will be fielding a worse defensive unit than they did last season. This is a scary thought as the Cowboys finished last against the run last season. Expect Gore to have a monster day come Sunday.
6 Maurice Jones-Drew – RB, Oakland Raiders – SIT
Much like Frank Gore, Mojo seems to have been around forever. Unlike Gore however, Maurice Jones-Drew starts his season with a new team. Jones-Drew is the lead back of the silver and black, however they have a very tough week one match-up against the New York Jets who field a formidable front seven who will make it tough to run the ball. The Jets gave up the 3rd fewest fantasy points to running backs last season and this isn't expected to change this year. Glue Maurice Jones-Drew to your bench this week.
5 C.J. Spiller – RB, Buffalo Bills – START
C.J. Spiller is coming of a disappointing 2013 campaign that was plagued with injuries and failing to deliver on the high expectations set for him. Spiller’s fantasy value has dropped significantly after he burned many fantasy owners last year, as many had to use a first round pick in last year’s draft to acquire his services. This is no reason to keep him on your bench this week though, as Spiller and the Bills will face off against the Chicago Bears this Sunday. This means that Spiller is likely in line for a big day as he squares off against the 2nd worst run stopping defense from 2013.
4 Andy Dalton – QB, Cincinnati Bengals – SIT
Dalton was typically drafted as a high end backup and if you are feeling the need to tinker with your lineup this early in the season and were toying with the idea of plugging Big Red into your lineup, don’t. Andy Dalton will be involved in a divisional matchup against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Ravens finished middle of the pack against passers last season, however they showed up to play when they played Dalton and the Bengals. In the two meetings between the two teams last season, Dalton threw for a combined 4 TDs and 7 INTs. Given that divisional games between AFC North rivals are typically a hard-hitting, ground and pound style game, my advice would be to sit Dalton this week.
3 Colin Kaepernick – QB, San Francisco 49ers – START
There is no denying that the 49ers offense has not looked good over the course of the preseason. Finding Kaepernick as a start ‘em candidate is a direct result of his week one opponent; the Dallas Cowboys. This game figures to be a shootout given the Cowboys potent offense and lack of a NFL caliber defense. Kaepernick can make everyone forget all about his and the 49ers offensive preseason struggles with a solid performance in week one against the Cowboys who gave up the 2nd most points to signal callers in the 2013 season. Expect big things from Kaepernick this week.
2 Matt Ryan – QB, Atlanta Falcons – SIT
Matt Ryan comes into the season poised for a bounce back year as he got back his speedster Julio Jones and Roddy White has returned to full health after a various nagging injuries plagued him last season. However, this bounce back will likely start off rocky as the Falcons face off against the Saints in week one. The Saints allowed the 5th least points to opposing QBs last year and there is no reason to believe that this trend will not continue. Matt Ryan will be in tough week 1 and if you drafted a quality backup, you should consider rolling with him over Ryan this week.
1 Nick Foles – QB, Philadelphia Eagles – START
Nick Foles is coming off a season in which he took over the Eagles starting QB role and put up incredible numbers throwing for 27 TDs to only 2 INTs. Many believe he will not be able to perform at the same level as he did last season, and is likely to regress. This may be the case, however this won’t happen until after week one. The Eagles take on the Jaguars in week one, a team which gave up the 5th most points to passers last season. Throw in the fact that the Eagles are led by the creative mind of Chip Kelly who has turned the Eagles into one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and Foles should be in your lineup this week ,as he is in line for a monster week on the stat sheet.
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