Week 1 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at the best and worst matchups from around the NFL and how they might affect lineup decisions for your Fantasy Football team. We are not in the business of stating the obvious, so you won't be reading here why you need to start Drew Brees,Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson or any other top-tier players.

Jay Cutler enters 2010 with a lot to prove. It's a good thing he has a favorable matchup to get him started.

Before we get into Cutler, let's explain what we do in this space. Our job is to recommend players who we believe are worth using or avoiding for that particular week. It will largely be based on the matchup, but we also take into account a player on the rise or decline, injuries and our own personal opinions.

As it says in the tagline above, we're not going to state the obvious and tell you to start Peyton Manning, Maurice Jones-Drew or Randy Moss, because you already know that. They're good, keep them active (Though you'd be surprised how many readers point out that we overlooked Adrian Peterson as an obvious start in a given week).

What we are going to do is present an argument about a player and offer a suggestion. Ultimately, the decision is yours on who to start and who to sit. And in this case, we suggest starting Cutler, who is our Start of the Week.

He's been much maligned since coming to Chicago last year, and it didn't help when he threw a career-high 26 interceptions even though he still had 3,666 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. But this year, his outlook should improve since he gets a new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz, who has worked wonders for quarterbacks in the past.

There are going to be weeks where Cutler struggles -- there will be more interceptions, and he is going to take a lot of sacks in this system and with that offensive line. But then there will be weeks like this against Detroit where Cutler looks like a star. It happened in 2009 against the Lions.

In two meetings with the Lions last year, Cutler had six passing touchdowns and one rushing score. Detroit was the worst team against opposing quarterbacks in Fantasy points allowed in 2009, and it looks like more of the same this year since the Lions were No. 28 in pass defense in the preseason.

Chicago's passing game struggled in the preseason, but Cutler will do enough this week to make him a starting Fantasy option. And all three Bears receivers -- Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Devin Aromashodu -- are worth using this week as well. There might not be many times where you're going to absolutely trust Cutler, but this is one of those weeks.


Start 'Em

Carson Palmer (at NE): The Patriots have an inexperienced secondary with Leigh Bodden (shoulder) now out for the year. That means second-year pro Darius Butler and rookie Devin McCourty are starting at cornerback in Week 1 against Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. Palmer should be able to use his veteran receivers to exploit the youth in New England's secondary, and this is a good week to count on Palmer. He might be throwing a lot if the Patriots offense can score as expected, and this game should be high-scoring.
Kevin Kolb (vs. GB): Speaking of high-scoring games, the Packers and Eagles should be full of fireworks. But Kolb is going to have to prove he can keep up with Aaron Rodgers since Green Bay will definitely be able to score. We're putting our faith in Kolb -- as well as DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek -- that he can rebound from a shaky preseason and play well in Philadelphia's first game without Donovan McNabb. The Packers had a solid pass defense last year, but they still were among the league leaders in passing touchdowns allowed with 29. Green Bay is also without Atari Bigby (ankle) and Al Harris (knee), which should help Kolb, who is ready to show Fantasy owners (and Eagles fans) he can be trusted.
Matthew Stafford (at CHI): Stafford only faced the Bears once as a rookie last year, and he played well in Chicago with 296 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception before injuring his knee. This year, he should play well again since the Lions offense is poised for a big year with talented weapons in Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler and Jahvid Best. The Bears defense will definitely improve from last year with Brian Urlacher (wrist) back and the addition of Julius Peppers, but Stafford still has the chance to post quality starts in the first start of his second year.
Alex Smith (at SEA): Smith had his best game of the season last year at Seattle when he passed for 310 yards and two touchdowns. That was part of a four-game stretch where Smith had nine touchdowns and three interceptions against Green Bay, Jacksonville, Seattle and Arizona. Those performances put Smith back on the Fantasy map, and he should only improve in 2010 with Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree continuing to develop. He should play well this week since the Seahawks will once again struggle in pass defense after a down year in 2009 when they allowed 27 passing touchdowns.
Chad Henne (at BUF): The Dolphins should be able to run all over the Bills, which makes Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams good options for Week 1. But Henne could also finish as a solid starter in deeper formats this week based on the matchup. The Bills might not have safety Jairus Byrd (groin) for this game, and their defense struggled during the preseason. The Dolphins will likely try to make a splash with new wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has a good history against the Bills. Henne could easily finish this game with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns, so he's worth using as a sleeper.

Sleeper alert: Derek Anderson (at STL): The Cardinals are going with Anderson as their starter, and he gets what should be a layup for his first game. The Rams pass defense should once again struggle, as they allowed 22 passing touchdowns with only eight interceptions in 2009 and led the NFL with 10 passing touchdowns allowed in the preseason. Anderson will finally get to play with Larry Fitzgerald, who is coming back from the knee injury sustained in the first preseason game, and Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are viable targets. You're not going to start Anderson in the majority of standard leagues, but in deeper formats he is worth using this week based on the matchup.

Dave Richard's Week 1 Flex Rankings
Name Pos Opp
1 Chris Johnson RB OAK
2 Maurice Jones-Drew RB DEN
3 Adrian Peterson RB @NO
4 Frank Gore RB @SEA
5 Cedric Benson RB @NE
6 Steven Jackson RB ARI
7 Andre Johnson WR IND
8 Brandon Marshall WR @BUF
9 DeAngelo Williams RB @NYG
10 Ryan Mathews RB @KC
11 Cadillac Williams RB CLE
12 Miles Austin WR @WAS
13 Calvin Johnson WR @CHI
14 DeSean Jackson WR GB
15 Antonio Gates TE @KC
16 Joseph Addai RB @HOU
17 Jamaal Charles RB SD
18 Ronnie Brown RB @BUF
19 Roddy White WR @PIT
20 Anquan Boldin WR @NYJ
21 Reggie Wayne WR @HOU
22 Randy Moss WR CIN
23 Michael Turner RB @PIT
24 Matt Forte RB DET
25 Ryan Grant RB @PHI
26 Ray Rice RB @NYJ
27 Chad Ochocinco WR @NE
28 Greg Jennings WR @PHI
29 Dwayne Bowe WR SD
30 Bernard Berrian WR @NO
31 Marques Colston WR MIN
32 Jermichael Finley TE @PHI
33 Dallas Clark TE @HOU
34 Zach Miller TE @TEN
35 Tim Hightower RB @STL
36 Jerome Harrison RB @TB
37 Marion Barber RB @WAS
38 Arian Foster RB IND
39 Vernon Davis TE @SEA
40 Kellen Winslow TE CLE
41 Larry Fitzgerald WR @STL
42 Robert Meachem WR MIN
43 Steve Smith WR CAR
44 Jahvid Best RB @CHI
45 Ahmad Bradshaw RB CAR
46 Visanthe Shiancoe TE @NO
47 John Carlson TE SF
48 Roy E. Williams WR @WAS
49 Jabar Gaffney WR @JAC
50 Pierre Garcon WR @HOU
51 Benjamin Watson TE @TB
52 Kevin Boss TE CAR
53 Johnny Knox WR DET
54 Jacoby Jones WR IND
55 Mike Wallace WR ATL
56 Malcom Floyd WR @KC
57 Fred Taylor RB CIN
58 LeSean McCoy RB GB
59 Rashard Mendenhall RB ATL
60 Greg Olsen TE DET
61 Tony Scheffler TE @CHI
62 Anthony Fasano TE @BUF
63 Percy Harvin WR @NO
64 Wes Welker WR CIN
65 C.J. Spiller RB MIA
66 Knowshon Moreno RB @JAC
67 Pierre Thomas RB MIN
68 Reggie Bush RB MIN
69 Darren McFadden RB @TEN
70 Rob Gronkowski TE CIN
71 Steve Smith WR @NYG
72 Laurent Robinson WR ARI
73 Beanie Wells RB @STL
74 Fred Jackson RB MIA
75 Brandon Jacobs RB CAR
76 Shonn Greene RB BAL
77 Clinton Portis RB DAL
78 Tony Gonzalez TE @PIT
79 Brent Celek TE GB
80 Derrick Mason WR @NYJ
81 Lance Moore WR MIN
82 Santana Moss WR DAL
83 Jonathan Stewart RB @NYG
84 Chester Taylor RB DET
85 Ricky Williams RB @BUF
86 Leon Washington RB SF
87 Jason Witten TE @WAS
88 Chris Cooley TE DAL
89 Lee Evans WR MIA
90 Nate Burleson WR @CHI
91 Donald Driver WR @PHI
92 Mike Sims-Walker WR DEN
93 Mike Thomas WR DEN
94 Hakeem Nicks WR CAR
95 Jerricho Cotchery WR BAL
96 Mike Williams WR SF
97 Michael Crabtree WR @SEA
98 Mike Williams WR CLE
99 Thomas Jones RB SD
100 Justin Forsett RB SF
101 Steve Breaston WR @STL
102 Brandon LaFell WR @NYG
103 Devin Hester WR DET
104 Terrell Owens WR @NE
105 Kevin Walter WR IND
106 Chris Chambers WR SD
107 Dexter McCluster WR SD
108 Brian Hartline WR @BUF
109 Mario Manningham WR CAR
110 Braylon Edwards WR BAL
111 Louis Murphy WR @TEN
112 Jeremy Maclin WR GB
113 Deion Branch WR SF
114 Danny Amendola WR ARI
115 Nate Washington WR OAK
116 Anthony Armstrong WR DAL
117 Peyton Hillis RB @TB
118 Felix Jones RB @WAS
119 Correll Buckhalter RB @JAC
120 Steve Slaton RB IND
121 LaDainian Tomlinson RB BAL
122 Michael Bush RB @TEN
123 Todd Heap TE @NYJ
124 Jermaine Gresham TE @NE
125 Owen Daniels TE IND
126 Dustin Keller TE BAL
127 Heath Miller TE ATL
128 Early Doucet WR @STL
129 Eddie Royal WR @JAC
130 Anthony Gonzalez WR @HOU
131 Devery Henderson WR MIN
132 Hines Ward WR ATL
133 Josh Morgan WR @SEA
134 Mardy Gilyard WR ARI
135 Willis McGahee RB @NYJ
136 Mewelde Moore RB ATL
137 Darren Sproles RB @KC
138 Kareem Huggins RB CLE
139 Javon Ringer RB OAK
140 Marcedes Lewis TE DEN
141 Aaron Hernandez TE CIN
142 Jeremy Shockey TE MIN
143 Daniel Fells TE ARI
144 T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR @NYJ
145 Steve Johnson WR MIA
146 Dwayne Jarrett WR @NYG
147 Devin Aromashodu WR DET
148 Jordan Shipley WR @NE
149 Mohamed Massaquoi WR @TB
150 Brian Robiskie WR @TB

Sit 'Em

Matt Ryan (at PIT): The Steelers posted good stats in the preseason for pass defense and finished No. 2 behind Carolina with good outings against Detroit, the Giants, Denver and Carolina. Pittsburgh's defense is poised for a turnaround with Troy Polamalu (knee) healthy, and this is a difficult matchup for Ryan, who struggled in the preseason. We expect Ryan to have a breakout year, but those big games will begin in Week 2 against Arizona.
Brett Favre (at NO): Favre benefits with Darren Sharper (knee) not playing for the Saints, but Favre had a rough go against New Orleans in his final game last season with 310 passing yards and one touchdown to go with two interceptions and a fumble. His ankle is still a problem, and Sidney Rice (hip) is out for the start of the season. I'm convinced Favre is in line for a down year, especially with Rice not playing, and I don't see the Saints allowing Favre to play well in their first home game following the Super Bowl victory.
Donovan McNabb (vs. DAL): McNabb is expected to play despite dealing with an injured ankle, but he might not be making his Redskins debut in optimal conditions. On top of the injury and a lack of rapport with his receivers from missing time, McNabb looked bad against the Cowboys last year. In three meetings including the playoffs, McNabb averaged 227 passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Dallas was able to pressure McNabb, and he could see the same rush this week. He will have better matchups ahead, especially when he's healthy, so avoid McNabb in Week 1.
Vince Young (vs. OAK): Young will most likely be able to sit back and watch the Chris Johnson show this week since the running game will carry the offense as usual with the passing game not expected to do much. Oakland should improve on defense this year, but teams have been able to run on the Raiders at will the past few years, which should continue in Week 1 with Johnson. Oakland was actually No. 4 in pass defense this preseason, limiting Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle to only three passing touchdowns. Young has never posted dominant Fantasy stats and last year only had two games with multiple touchdown passes. Keep him out of your starting lineup this week.
Matt Cassel (vs. SD): Cassel is going to improve this year from his mediocre performance in 2009, his first with Kansas City, and he could even come out in his first game this year with a good outing. But he was miserable against the Chargers last year and isn't worth trusting in Week 1. In two games last year against San Diego he passed for 275 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. He also lost a fumble. Cassel should not be in your starting lineup for now.

Bust alert: Joe Flacco (at NYJ): If you're new to this column, here's a refresher course on the bust alert. These guys are typically must-start guys, but they face a difficult matchup and should be considered as sits if you have a better option on your bench. Flacco might not be a must-start quarterback in all leagues just yet, but he's on his way after getting T.J. Houshmandzadeh to join the rest of his talented receiving corps with Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Ray Rice and Todd Heap. But the Jets defense could frustrate Flacco in this matchup, especially with Darrelle Revis back in the fold and the addition of Antonio Cromartie this offseason. Revis helped the Jets finish last year as the best team against opposing quarterbacks in Fantasy points allowed, and only Chad Henne had multiple passing touchdowns against New York. Flacco should have a tremendous year in 2010, but this is not the week to trust him. In one of my leagues, I'm starting Cutler over Flacco.

Running backs

Start 'Em

Matt Forte (vs. DET): Like Cutler, Forte is going to have to prove his worth after a down year in 2009. And he should thrive in his matchup against the Lions. In four career meetings with Detroit, Forte has three 100-yard games and three touchdowns. The addition of Ndamukong Suh will eventually help the Lions defense improve, but Forte is in line for a bounce-back year, which starts in Week 1. Consider him a must-start option in all leagues.
Arian Foster (vs. IND): Foster's Fantasy value has risen so much during the preseason that he was being drafted as early as Round 2 over Labor Day weekend. Is that too high? Maybe, but the talent is definitely there as well as the opportunity. And now it's time to see if he's worth the hype. The Colts only allowed nine opposing running backs to score rushing touchdowns in 2009, but the Texans had two of them (Steve Slaton in Week 9 and Chris Brown in Week 12). Foster has more talent than both, and the Texans should be able to move the ball against the Colts in what should be a high-scoring affair. Foster should be considered a quality start in the first game of his breakout season.
Cadillac Williams (vs. CLE): Williams is the Rodney Dangerfield of Fantasy Football this year -- he gets no respect. Even after he played in all 16 games in 2009, gained over 1,000 total yards and scored seven touchdowns, owners still consider him a shaky option. The perception didn't change even though the Bucs discarded Derrick Ward, who was supposed to replace him last year, or that Williams has the motivation for a new contract. But how about this for Week 1 -- he has a great matchup. Cleveland allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last year, which was among the worst in the NFL, and the Browns run defense should still struggle. Williams will be a great No. 2 running back or flex option for this week.
Jahvid Best (at CHI): Best has the chance to be a tremendous dual-threat running back as a rookie, and he should start off the season with a solid performance. The Bears defense will improve against the run this year with the return of Urlacher, but Chicago still allowed Kevin Smith to score two touchdowns in the first meeting with the Lions last year and Maurice Morris had over 100 total yards in the second meeting. Best will lose some carries to Smith if he's healthy, but he should see plenty of touches in this game. He is worth starting in all leagues as a No. 2 running back or flex option.
Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. CAR): Bradshaw is ready to prove to the Giants and Fantasy owners he should be considered the best running back on his team. He's expected to be the starter ahead of Brandon Jacobs, and Bradshaw clearly has more upside. He has a favorable matchup this week against the Panthers, who struggled against the run in 2009, allowing 14 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Bradshaw had 11 carries for 53 yards against Carolina last year, but that game was a 41-9 blowout loss. If he averages 4.8 yards per carry again in this meeting, you should expect a potential 100-yard performance with a possible touchdown.

Sleeper alert: Jerome Harrison (at TB): Harrison may not start this year the way he finished last year, but this is a favorable matchup where he should find plenty of running room. In Harrison's final three games in 2009 against Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville he ran for 561 yards and five touchdowns. The Bucs defense is on par with those teams since they allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last year and will struggle in stopping the run once again. Harrison doesn't have to worry about Montario Hardesty (knee), who is out for the season, but Peyton Hillis could take away some carries, including goal-line work. But we still consider Harrison a great option in this matchup at Tampa Bay.

Sit 'Em

Thomas Jones (vs. SD): Jones is going to find out that running behind the Jets offensive line was a luxury he will miss now that he's in Kansas City. And this is a game where Jamaal Charles will prove he's still the most valuable running back for the Chiefs because if Kansas City falls behind as expected, Jones will be on the sidelines in passing situations. The Chargers run defense was efficient last year and only allowed nine rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Jones also had 14 carries for 41 yards against San Diego last year in the playoffs for the Jets, but he was limited by a knee injury.
LaDainian Tomlinson (vs. BAL): You probably can't afford to sit Shonn Greene this week, but Tomlinson is worth keeping in reserve based on his matchup with the Ravens. Baltimore will once again be tough against the run, and last year the Ravens only allowed six touchdowns to opposing running backs and were among the best teams in stopping the run. Tomlinson has looked great in the preseason and will have his moments this year, but this week he could find it tough to make plays based on his opponent.
Justin Forsett (vs. SF): Forsett was given the starting job by new coach Pete Carroll, and he should finish the season with quality stats as a breakout player. He even played well against the 49ers last year when he wasn't the starter with 92 total yards in their first meeting in Week 2 and a receiving touchdown in their second meeting in Week 13. But the 49ers defense should be among the best in the NFL in 2010, and they will focus on shutting down Forsett in this matchup. Save Forsett for later in the year when he has a favorable stretch against St. Louis, Chicago, Arizona and Oakland from Weeks 4-8.
Jonathan Stewart (at NYG): I want Stewart to prove he's healthy before I'm ready to count on him as a starter, especially with DeAngelo Williams at 100 percent. Stewart missed the entire preseason with an Achilles' tendon injury, and the Panthers might ease him into action in Week 1. Stewart ran over the Giants last year with 206 rushing yards and a touchdown, but that was with Williams out with an ankle injury. Williams should be considered a great option against the Giants in this matchup, but Stewart should be kept in reserve until it's clear he's back at full strength.
Clinton Portis (vs. DAL): Portis is hoping to relive his glory days with coach Mike Shanahan when both were in Denver, and that may happen over the course of the season. But don't plan on starting Portis in this matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas had one of the top run defenses in 2009 and should be solid again. Last year, the Cowboys only allowed six rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Portis missed both games against Dallas last year due to injury, but he only averaged 75 yards rushing with no touchdowns in his previous three meetings with the Cowboys. Consider Portis a good reserve for you in 2010, but don't plan on using him in Week 1.

Bust alert: LeSean McCoy (vs. GB): Guess who led the NFL in the fewest rushing touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs in 2009? That's right, the Packers. And their run defense will be stout again in 2010. McCoy should be able to make plays in the passing game in this matchup, but he's not expected to find a lot of running room or work near the goal line. He's a must-start option in Week 2 at Detroit and Week 3 at Jacksonville, but you should probably consider sitting McCoy based on the Packers run defense..

Wide receivers

Start 'Em

Pierre Garcon (at HOU): Garcon should pick up where last year ended when he had a breakout year in helping the Colts reach the Super Bowl. He is the second-best receiver (third-best target with Dallas Clark) behind Reggie Wayne, and Peyton Manning will continue to look in Garcon's direction. In two games against the Texans last year, Garcon had 10 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, with the score coming in the game at Houston. Consider Garcon a solid No. 2 Fantasy option this week.
Jabar Gaffney (at JAC): Gaffney did a great job this preseason in showing he's ready to be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Broncos, and he played well in 2009 when he was finally given a chance. The Jaguars secondary was among the worst last season against opposing wide receivers, allowing 21 touchdowns, which tied the Titans for the No. 1 spot. Gaffney should see a healthy amount of targets in this game, and he's worth using as a No. 2 wide receiver in deep leagues or as a solid No. 3 option based on the matchup.
Terrell Owens (at NE): Owens did not fare well in two meetings with the Patriots last year when he was playing for the Bills, but he has a better outlook for this game. New England has a lot of inexperience at cornerback with Bodden out, and Owens and Ochocinco should take advantage of the matchup. Owens also is part of a much better passing game in Cincinnati compared to what he left behind in Buffalo. This should be a rebound year for Owens, and he will get off to a good start in Week 1.
Michael Crabtree (at SEA): Crabtree played well against the Seahawks last year with six catches for 60 yards. That matched his career high for catches as a rookie last year, but he should set all sorts of new records in his sophomore campaign. We're big fans of Crabtree in 2010, and he has a great matchup to get things started. The Seahawks were one of four teams to allow at least 20 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in 2009 along with Tennessee, Jacksonville and Detroit, and the Seahawks won't improve much in their pass defense this year.
Malcom Floyd (at KC): Floyd scored one touchdown in 2009 -- Week 7 at Kansas City. He's going to score plenty of touchdowns in 2010 now that he's the No. 1 wide receiver for Philip Rivers with Vincent Jackson out. Floyd also had another good game against the Chiefs in Week 12 at home last year with three catches for 85 yards. He's a big-play threat, and the Chiefs allowed a lot of big plays last year with 16 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. Kansas City will struggle to stop Floyd in this matchup with the amount of targets he's expected to receive. Consider him a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver in all leagues.

Sleeper alert: Jacoby Jones (vs. IND): The talent has always been there for Jones, but now he has the opportunity with the Texans giving him an increased role on offense. He had six touchdowns in 2009, and he could prove to be a more complete wide receiver in 2010 with an increase from his 27 catches and 437 yards. In two games against the Colts last year he had seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, with the score coming at home in Week 12. The Colts allowed nine passing touchdowns in the preseason, which doesn't say much since they typically don't care about those meaningless games, but Indianapolis struggled with opposing wide receivers last year. With plenty of attention going to Andre Johnson, and rightfully so, Jones could thrive with all the single coverage he'll receive in this game and the entire season.

Sit 'Em

Anquan Boldin (at NYJ): This is strictly because of the Revis factor, and he will be able to stay with Boldin even without any work in the preseason. To review, Revis shut down some elite talent last year (Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Marques Colston, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith of the Panthers, Reggie Wayne and Chad Ochocinco). Boldin also will lose some targets with Houshmandzadeh now in the mix, and this might be a good week to sit Boldin if you have other options on your Fantasy roster. Boldin could have a good game if Revis is rusty, but he could also have a game with two catches for 22 yards. The choice is yours, but Revis' track record is impressive.
Lee Evans (vs. MIA): Evans is the epitome of the boom or bust wide receiver, so there's always the chance he could catch that one long ball and save your Fantasy team. But the other side of that is Evans could finish the game with two catches or less and 50 yards or less with no touchdowns. He had six games like that last year, and he has a bad quarterback in Edwards. The Dolphins will focus their pass defense on Evans, who is not worth using in this matchup.
Braylon Edwards (vs. BAL): The Ravens were among five teams in 2009 that allowed less than 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers (Cincinnati, Buffalo, Carolina and the Jets were the others). The secondary is banged up heading into the season, but Baltimore will still put a ton of pressure on Mark Sanchez, who has struggled in the preseason. The Ravens are familiar with Edwards from his days with Cleveland, and he has just 10 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown in his past three meetings with Baltimore. Edwards will see an increase in targets for the first four games with Santonio Holmes (suspension) out, but Sanchez's struggles and the opponent make Edwards a risky play.
Hines Ward (vs. ATL): Ward will finish the season with quality stats, especially once Ben Roethlisberger returns from his four-game suspension. But I'm not trusting Ward in Week 1 with Dennis Dixon as the starter, and the same goes for Mike Wallace. Ward could see a lot of Dunta Robinson, the Falcons prize offseason acquisition at cornerback, and it's unlikely the Steelers are going to allow Dixon to take many shots down the field. You're better off waiting to use Ward and Wallace in Week 3 at Tampa Bay or just waiting until Week 6 when Roethlisberger returns against the Browns.
Santana Moss (vs. DAL): I'm counting on Moss to improve this year with the addition of McNabb, and he could even play well this week against the Cowboys. But I'm still not willing to trust him with McNabb at less than 100 percent with the ankle injury against this secondary, which some believe is the best in the NFC East. Moss went scoreless in two games against Dallas last year with 13 catches for 120 yards. The suggestion here is to let McNabb get healthy before you consider Moss a guaranteed starter in standard formats.

Bust alert: Mike Sims-Walker (vs. DEN): It could be a risk to sit Sims-Walker this week because he was great at home in 2009. He had a touchdown or at least 100 receiving yards in six of eight home games last year. He also will see plenty of targets as the main receiving threat for the Jaguars. But Denver had one of the best pass defenses in the NFL last year with Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins, and both return this season. Sims-Walker will likely see plenty of Bailey, who still has enough skill to cover second-tier receivers like Sims-Walker. At best, you should only use Sims-Walker as a No. 3 Fantasy option in Week 1.

Tight ends

Start 'Em

Zach Miller (at TEN): As we told you this offseason, Miller is on the verge of a breakout year now that Jason Campbell is throwing him passes instead of JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders are going to have to make plays in the passing game this week to compete, and Miller should see plenty of targets. The Titans secondary will improve from last year's down year with Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan healthy, but Miller is still worth starting as a No. 1 Fantasy option.
Visanthe Shiancoe (at NO): Shiancoe is disappointed he won't get to see Sharper in this game based on their trash talk this offseason. But it's not like Sharper did much to contain Shiancoe in last year's NFC Championship Game when he had four catches for 83 yards. Shiancoe should see more targets this year with Rice out, and he's worth using most weeks as a No. 1 Fantasy option. Consider him a must-start in this matchup even though the Saints only allowed one touchdown to an opposing tight end last year.
Kellen Winslow (vs. CLE): It appears like Winslow is ready for the start of the season following another offseason of concern with a knee problem, and he should be considered a great start in Week 1 against his former team. The Browns struggled with tight ends in 2009 and shouldn't improve much this year, especially in dealing with Winslow. Josh Freeman, who also should be fine following a wrist injury, will continue to look in Winslow's direction a lot, and he will likely finish the season -- and this matchup -- as the best receiving option for the Bucs.

Sleeper alert: Tony Scheffler (at CHI): Scheffler should see plenty of open seams down the middle of the field with the Bears and every opposing defense focusing on Calvin Johnson and Burleson outside. He's a nice sleeper for the season and for Week 1. Last year, Chicago was one of three teams to allow double digits in touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and Will Heller caught a touchdown for the Lions against the Bears in Week 4. Scheffler is an upgrade over Heller, and look for Stafford to find Scheffler as often as possible in this matchup.

Sit 'Em

John Carlson (vs. SF): Carlson should be considered the No. 1 receiving threat for the Seahawks with Houshmandzadeh now in Baltimore, and he's going to have a solid year as Matt Hasselbeck's main target. But I don't like this matchup against the 49ers, who were among the best teams at defending tight ends last season. In two games against San Francisco in 2009, Carlson combined for seven catches for 54 yards and no touchdowns. Don't expect him to do much with this talented defense focusing on shutting him down.
Todd Heap (at NYJ): As good as Revis has been at shutting down No. 1 wide receivers, the Jets as a whole were good at eliminating tight ends in 2009. Only three tight ends gained more than 50 yards last year and only three scored touchdowns. The Jets limited Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow, Owen Daniels, Zach Miller and Jeremy Shockey to minimal production, and they should be able to contain Heap this week.
Heath Miller (vs. ATL): As we said with Ward, you might want to sit the Steelers targets while Roethlisberger is out since Dixon isn't a proven passer. Miller also could see plenty of time blocking with the offensive line in Pittsburgh banged up. We view Miller as a No. 2 Fantasy tight end most weeks, but even in deeper formats, he might not be worth using without his No. 1 quarterback.

Bust alert: Owen Daniels (vs. IND): For those of you who drafted Daniels as your starting tight end, hopefully you took a quality backup in case it takes him some time to ease back into the flow of the offense. He has not played in the preseason and could still be limited following last year's knee injury. He also has a tough history with the Colts despite not facing them in 2009. In his past four meetings with Indianapolis going back to 2007, Daniels has just 15 catches for 144 yards and no touchdowns. He'll improve as the season goes on, but let him prove it first.

Defense/Special teams

Start 'Em

Arizona (at STL): There aren't many weeks where you're going to count on the Cardinals defense, especially after losing talented players like Dansby and Antrel Rolle this offseason. But facing a rookie quarterback like Sam Bradford in his first NFL start, even at home, should be a benefit since he could make a couple of mistakes. The Rams have issues on the offensive line and a weak wide receiver corps even with the recent addition of Mark Clayton from Baltimore. The Cardinals DST should be considered a No. 1 option in Week 1.

Other DSTs with good matchups: San Diego (at KC), Tennessee (vs. OAK) and Miami (at BUF)

Sit 'Em

Philadelphia (vs. GB): The Packers offense looked dominant in the preseason and enters 2010 poised for a big year after they averaged 28.8 points per game in 2009. That could be trouble for the Eagles in Week 1. Philadelphia has plenty of talent on defense, but slowing down Aaron Rodgers and Co. is a tough task for most teams. This should be a fun game when it comes to offense, but the Eagles DST might be worth sitting if you can afford to put them on your bench. Philadelphia does benefit with its return game, but don't expect the Eagles to slow down the Packers too much in this matchup.


Start 'Em

Neil Rackers (vs. IND): Rackers becomes just the second kicker in Texans' history after he beat out Kris Brown for the job. Rackers had his own struggles last year in Arizona, but he's kicking for a team with a great offense in a favorable venue. This week, Rackers should be able to score plenty of points against the Colts, who were one of six teams to allow 30 field goals last year. If this game goes as expected, Rackers should have a big week.

Other kickers with good matchups: Robbie Gould (vs. DET), Jay Feely (at STL) and David Buehler (at WAS)

Sit 'Em

Matt Bryant (at PIT): Bryant will have plenty of big weeks this year, but you might be better off going with a different option in Week 1. Pittsburgh hasn't always been friendly to kickers, and Bryant is coming from an indoor venue. The Steelers also have a tough defense and could limit the scoring chances for the Falcons. Consider Bryant a No. 2 Fantasy kicker this week.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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