Fantasy football is a cruel, cruel game. Every week, it’s inevitable that you’re going to leave a high scorer on your bench, and have a disappointment in your lineup.
But the more prepared you are, the better you can feel about the unfortunate random bad breaks you’ll catch over the course of the season. So here are my picks to start and sit in Week 1, based on the best matchups and opportunities this week.
Players to Start
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton has a fantastic fantasy matchup to kickoff what should be a breakout season for the speedster for the Colts. Facing the Raiders means room to work for Hilton, and being on the same team as the Indianapolis defense means the Colts will need to keep throwing the ball to stay in the game.
Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter aren’t going to be able to keep up with Hilton, and Luck has already developed a nice chemistry with the young receiver. Start him as a flex, or as a good bargain player in daily fantasy.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Using running quarterbacks in fantasy football is like playing the lottery when you already know half of the winning numbers.
Check out this article from Rich Hribar over at numberFire, who lays out the statistical proof of how unfair running QBs are in fantasy football. Pryor has a huge opportunity to rack up rushing yards as he runs for his life to keep the Raiders in football games this season, and that begins Week 1 against a questionable Indy defense.
If Pryor runs for 60 yards and a touchdown, that’s 12 points before he even throws a pass. So if he manages just 200 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs, you’re still coming out with a very solid week.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
The Dallas Cowboys are attempting to shift into a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Monte Kiffin, and I’m a bit skeptical that they’re going to be ready to face Eli Manning and his plethora of passing options. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and David Wilson will all have the opportunity to have a big game on Sunday Night, and Eli will be the beneficiary of their successes.
There are plenty of quarterbacks with less than favorable matchups this week. So if you waited on quarterback and wound up with Eli, Week 1 will be a great chance to show off your patience at quarterback.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
If you have Darren McFadden, you can’t be sure you’re going to have him for very long. The injury bug is looming, and he has a great matchup. Don’t waste this opportunity.
We’ve see McFadden have great games in the past, and playing against the Colts could lead to another great fantasy performance. Add in the running threat of his new quarterback, and he should see a plenty of space to run.
If you have him, start him. Then enjoy the solid Week 1, and trade him for your own sake.
Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers
Similar to McFadden, if you wound up with Redman, you might not have a ton of chances to use him. For Redman, the concern is the eventual return of Le’Veon Bell and the fantasy football headaches that will cause.
Redman and the Steelers will face the Titans, which means it’s a good matchup and his team will likely be in the lead. It’s a great recipe for fantasy success, especially for a player who you probably got for really cheap.
Players to Sit
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
He’s DeAngelo Williams. He’s playing the Seahawks. If you need it spelled out any clearer, I’d recommend Fantasy Baseball as an alternative hobby.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
Tavon Austin will see his first “real” game as a pro against the Arizona Cardinals, who have a better defense than most give them credit for having. They have a stable of good players at defensive back, and that means Austin won’t have the same room he had in the Big 12 last season.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers might not leave the stadium in one piece, and even if he does, the chances that he finds the time and opportunities to feed the ball to Malcom Floyd are slim to none.
The San Diego offense has an awful matchup this weekend, and Floyd isn’t a transcendent player who can overcome this kind of adversity. Stay away.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer isn’t a bad play in fantasy football this year…
Except when he plays the Rams. That’s not a good matchup for the Cardinals. The pass rush will get to Palmer, and the defensive backs are good enough to neutralize his best targets.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
He plays the Bears in Week 1, he has a first-round rookie fighting for snaps with him, and his offense features plenty of other viable receiving options.
Gresham probably isn’t a very good play in general this season, but if you have him, Week 1 is particularly bad.