NFL Week 1 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- There has been some concern in the fantasy community about the potential usage of Bowe in Week 1. Hogwash. Bowe was elevated to the first team in practice by midweek and should be considered a viable start in all fantasy formats. This is one of the top 15 WRs in football and it shouldn't take much to know learn the terminology in the Chiefs' new offense. Bowe should be good for 75 yards and a score as the Chiefs try to keep pace with the Falcons' new up-tempo attack.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers -- Randy Moss gets all the pub, but Crabtree is the ace in the hole for QB Alex Smith. Crabtree, despite playing in a run-oriented attack, is one of the best receiver talents in football. Seriously. He will prove it here against a secondary that was second-worst against QBs and WRs a year ago. Why were the Packers suspect? Because Aaron Rodgers and the offense pushes the pace and allows for shootouts. Rodgers might go to some no-huddle if the 49ers defense proves capable against the Packers offense early and help open this game up late. Crabtree will be good for almost 100 yards and maybe a TD.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- DHB might not be a sure-thing as Carson Palmer's leading target, but the health of the starting wideout on the opposite side likely makes DHB a frequent target in Week 1 against the Chargers. That game might get a little loose late, so look for 100 yards and a score out of DHB.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Eagles -- You might not believe this, but the Browns were the second-best team in fantasy against WRs a year ago. But Michael Vick is healthy, and the Eagles have plenty to prove, namely with these receivers coming off bad years. They should get off to a great start in a potential blowout victory, so don't miss out with them on your bench.
Eric Decker, Broncos -- Meet Peyton's new best friend. In a rugged matchup against the Steelers, Decker will be a oft-targeted receiver in routes over the middle and underneath those safeties over the top. Decker just might prove to be a must-start in all leagues in all weeks.
Santana Moss, Redskins -- The news on Moss isn't encouraging to start the season. There are reports suggesting Moss will merely play the slot in three-WR sets, leaving Pierre Garcon (start him) and Josh Morgan (sit him) as the primary wideouts for the rookie QB. The Saints also have a pretty good secondary.
Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, 49ers -- The Packers were the second-worst team in fantasy against WRs a year ago, but this doesn't figure to be the kind of shootout Green Bay is accustomed to playing. Instead, the 49ers will try to impose their will on the ground and keep this game a closer, lower-scoring affair. Moss won't get enough plays -- he just doesn't run enough routes -- while Manningham is merely a third WR in a mediocre-to-bad passing offense.
Stevie Johnson, Bills -- Laugh at the Jets from the preseason all you want. This is still a very good defensive team and Johnson will be placed on (Darrelle) Revis Island. Sure, Johnson did have some big catches against the Jets a year ago, but that likely served as a mere learning experience. They won't let it happen again as Ryan Fitzpatrick is in for a long day against one of the more overlooked defenses in fantasy.
Santonio Holmes, Jets -- His injury-plagued preseason was real untimely because he needed the reps with QB Mark Sanchez in the new offense. Holmes isn't 100 percent and the Bills have a great front that can help an underrated secondary operate against the weakest receivers corps in football. Holmes is going to be so quiet, the Jets might consider some of the waiver-wire vets after this weekend.
Denarius Moore, Raiders -- He has battled a hamstring issue all preseason and should be cleared to play before the Monday night tilt, but that won't mean he is cleared to perform like a top 24 or 36 WR in fantasy. You had to pick him as a backup and/or back him up with a fill-in option, so use it in Week 1 in Moore's place.
Dustin Keller, Jets -- He is not entirely healthy going into the season due to a hamstring issue, but he will play and he is facing the Bills defense that was the worst in fantasy against TEs last season. Keller had a pair of 60-plus-yard games against the Bills, including one game with two TDs.
Owen Daniels, Texans -- Another TE you likely drafted as a backup who can be a good performer in Week 1. Like the Bills, the Dolphins were also in the bottom half against TEs last season and Daniels gives Schaub a great short option when Johnson and the backs are covered.
Brent Celek, Eagles -- The Eagles learned something about their team in the second half of last season. When Celek is involved and involved early, they were a much better team. In the Eagles eight wins, Celek caught 35 passes for 542 yards and five scores. In the eight losses, he was merely 27-269-0. Michael Vick has a rapport with Celek now and the rhythm West Coast offense passing game is going to include Celek, particularly against a sub-par opponent in the Browns.
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals -- The Ravens were second-best in fantasy against TEs last season and it is likely you drafted a viable second TE if you were counting on Gresham as a starter in most weeks. This is a week to go to another option. Gresham is no better than a handful of catches for 50 yards and no scores this week.
Jacob Tamme, Colts -- Manning has a special connection with his former Colts TE and many fantasy owners drafted him as a starter. He shouldn't start against the rugged Steelers defense, though. Troy Polamalu and company are tough on TEs and you probably should have drafted a better starter, if not a viable backup for Tamme. In smaller leagues, you might even consider cutting Tamme for a starter like Keller, Daniels or Celek.
Jared Cook, Titans -- His great finish to last season leaves for plenty of optimism, but don't go all-in with Cook in Week 1. First, the Pats know how to cover TEs -- they have two of the best in the game to work against in practice every day. The Pats were fourth-best in fantasy against TEs a year ago for that reason. Also, Cook needs to build something with Jake Locker now under center as a starter for the Titans. You can love Cook as a sleeper starter in fantasy this season, but you should love him from your bench in this opener.
Philadelphia D/ST, Eagles -- They figure to tee off on an overmatched Browns offense that will feature Brandon Weeden in his NFL debut. That's a rough start for Weeden a great start for the Eagles D/ST owners.
Buffalo D/ST, Bills -- This figures to be one of the most underrated units in football (and fantasy) and they get the mess that is the Jets offense under new coordinator Tony Sparano.
San Francisco D/ST, 49ers -- At Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is the only time you should sit this stalwart unit. It isn't so much the yardage or the points the Packers might put up, but that offense just rarely turns the ball over. It looks like a lean week for the best D/ST in fantasy.
Washington D/ST, Redskins -- There will be better weeks for them. Trusting them against the potent Saints in the SuperDome and with a rookie QB making his debut is asking for trouble.
Shayne Graham, Texans -- He kicks for a potent offense, mostly because of the running game, in what should be a blowout against the Dolphins.
Justin Tucker, Ravens -- The rookie figures to be busy against a bend-but-don't-break Bengals defense.
Phil Dawson, Browns -- They have a rookie QB and a banged-up rookie RB -- not to mention the Eagles only gave up an NFL-low 16 field goals last season.
Matt Prater, Broncos -- The Steelers were second to the Eagles against kickers in fantasy last season and now
is there to turn red-zone trips into TDs.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Wednesday, his Weekend Watchlist on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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