Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 1
In that game, Manning threw for 462 yards, the second-most of his career, and tied an NFL record of seven touchdown passes in a game. Both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, a sleeper for many heading into the season and about to become a top waiver-wire addition for next week, finished with more than 100 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.
Hopefully you didn't begin your 2013 fantasy season facing Manning and a Thomas in your Week 1 matchup.
Beyond the more obvious choices like Dez Bryant, Jamaal Charles and others, the decision of whom to start (or sit) can present some tough decisions. Each week, we try to give you a list of players to consider starting (or sitting) in fantasy football via this column.
Of course, everyone's situation will be different.
In other words, if you happen to be loaded at running back and weak at wide receiver, it's possible that find yourself sitting someone like Reggie Bush, who would be an RB2 for most teams, and needing to start Greg Jennings, a WR3/WR4 for most teams.
With that said, here are some players to start for Week 1:
QB - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)
No quarterback was as good as Wilson in the second half of his rookie season last year. In his final eight games, Wilson had a league-best 120.3 passer rating as he threw 16 touchdowns (and ran for four more) with only two picks. Even though he won't have Percy Harvin this week (or for many more), he didn't have him all of last year either.
The Panthers' defensive line is improved with the addition of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short via the draft, but their secondary is one of the league's worst. I expect Wilson to pick up right where he left off last season and pick apart the Panthers back four.
QB - Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)
In the weeks he plays (and finishes the game), Vick has the potential to have a big week in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. In the preseason, Vick completed 73.7 percent of his passes for an average of 10.1 yards per attempt and rushed nine times for 73 yards (8.1 yards per attempt).
In Week 1, Vick gets the Redskins, who allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year.
RB - Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (at BUF)
As the biggest favorite in Vegas this week (giving 10.5 points to the Bills), the Patriots have the potential to put this one away early. Either way, I expect to run the ball a lot. Not only will Stevan Ridley get a heavy workload, It wouldn't surprise me if Vereen finishes the game with 10 or so carries and five receptions and finish with close to 100 yards from scrimmage.
Compared to any other Patriot to be active for Week 1, Vereen poses the biggest matchup nightmare of the team's skill players. Only the Saints allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs last season.
RB - Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (at IND)
When healthy, McFadden is one of the league's more talented backs. Of course, he is far from an iron man as he has missed at least three games in all five of his NFL seasons, but he is at least healthy to begin the season.
Aside from his durability, another major negative with McFadden is the team's offensive line. Not only do the Raiders have one of the league's worst offensive lines, they lost their best blocker for at least half the season to make things worst.
That said, I expect McFadden to see a high volume of carries and a number of targets out of the backfield from Terrelle Pryor, who will get his first-ever regular-season start. It wouldn't surprise me if McFadden had in the neighborhood of 25-30 touches.
WR - Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. KC)
Used sparingly at the beginning of the year, Shorts had a breakout season in 2012 as he finished the season strong. From Week 7 on, Shorts had 774 receiving yards, which ranked him 10th in the NFL, despite missing two games during that span due to concussions.
In general, I'm high on Shorts going into the season as I had him ranked inside my top 20 receivers in my preseason WR rankings. Considering that Justin Blackmon is suspended for the first four weeks of the season and Marcedes Lewis (calf) will miss the season opener, Shorts should be the recipient of plenty of targets in Week 1.
WR - Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks (at CAR)
As noted earlier, the Panthers have one of the league's worst secondaries and Tate is the biggest beneficiary of the Harvin injury as he enters a contract season. Coming off a season with career highs of 45 receptions for 688 yards and seven (or six) touchdowns, Tate should get his 2013 season off to an excellent start.
WR - DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)
Playing in a career-low 11 games, it's not much of a surprise that Jackson set career lows with 45 receptions and 700 yards last season. In a lopsided 31-6 loss to the Redskins in Week 10, Jackson had only two receptions for five yards. I expect him to have a much bigger game in Week 1 against the Redskins, who allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing receivers last year.
TE - Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns (vs. MIA)
The Dolphins defense was solid at limiting fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year, but I still think Cameron could have a big week even without a very favorable matchup. Playing in a TE-friendly offense, Cameron has the athleticism to create mismatches. In Week 1 (and 2), the Browns will be without their best receiver, which in turn should lead to more targets headed Cameron's way.
Here are some players to possibly sit for Week 1:
QB - Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)
If you drafted Newton to be your starting quarterback, it's unlikely that you have a quarterback on your roster that you would start ahead of him, but this is not a good matchup for him at all and I have him ranked as my 13th-best fantasy quarterback for the week.
No team in the league has as talented of a secondary than Seattle with corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner plus safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Against the Seahawks last year, Newton completed a season-low 41.38 percent of his pass attempts (12-of-29) for 141 yards, which was also a season low.
RB - Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (vs. HOU)
Until we get a better feel for what the Chargers offense will look like under Mike McCoy in 2013, Mathews is nothing more than a flex option as he could/should be part of a rotation. Despite missing star linebacker Brian Cushing for most of last season, the Texans still allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs last year. You can likely do better than Mathews for Week 1.
RB - Christopher Ivory, New York Jets (vs. TB)
The Jets traded for Ivory and then signed him to a multi-year deal to be the team's featured back, but he's not even listed atop the team's depth chart. None of the team's backs ran the ball well in the preseason, but Ivory averaged a mere 2.0 yards per carry on his 14 attempts. Facing the league's top rushing defense from 2012, this is not the week to start him.
RB - DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)
With The Daily Show on the PUP list and out for at least six weeks, Williams will see a bump in workload compared to recent seasons during that span. Depending on the matchup, there will be weeks where Williams is on the start'em side of this list, but this is not one of those weeks.
Last season, the Seahawks ranked 10th in rushing defense and allowed the fifth-fewest rushing touchdowns and fantasy points to opposing running backs last year.
WR - Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA)
Sense a theme here? I want little to do with the Panthers offense against the Seahawks in Week 1. Against the Seahawks last year, Smith had four catches for 40 yards and I would expect a similar pedestrian performance against Seattle's talented secondary.
WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. CLE)
The Dolphins have finally added the vertical threat that they had lacked in their passing offense with Mike Wallace, who has a career 17.2 average per reception. Wallace had a disappointing season last year with 64 receptions for 836 yards and a career-low 13.1 YPR.
The start to his tenure with the 'Phins may be a disappointment for 60 Minutes as well as it's likely that stud cornerback Joe Haden will shadow Wallace all over the field. In his past two games against the Browns, Wallace has one catch in each game for nine and 11 yards, respectively.
WR - Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (at PIT)
Depending on the health of his knee, Britt could be in for a big season. When healthy, Britt has the physical tools to be a top-15 WR or higher. Although he has an unreliable (i.e., inaccurate) quarterback, he's certainly motivated to put it all together in the final year of his rookie contract. Facing the league's top-ranked pass defense from 2013, I'd like to take a wait-and-see approach with Britt in Week 1.
TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. CIN)
The Bears added a potential TE1 in free agency by signing Bennett in free agency, but he finished with the preseason with few targets and as many drops as he had receptions. Or should I say reception since his total was not plural?
For Week 1 discussion, check out our Week 1 fantasy football podcast Sunday morning at 10 a.m. ET.