Week 1 fantasy starts and sits

Before everyone buckles in and gets ready to check out this week’s starts and sits, be sure to CLICK HERE and check out the fantasy salary cap game the NFP is running along with FanDuel. You’ll have a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas in December to compete for $40,000 in prize money, which you can promptly blow at the craps table.

In addition, the second annual NFP Fantasy Expert’s League kicked off last night. Click here to check out the matchups.

And now, to business…

START ‘EM UP

Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins: The Buffalo Bills were one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the league last season and not enough has changed to make us think this year will be any different. The Bills allowed 25.2 fantasy points per week to opposing RBs in 2009 (third worst in NFL) and ranked 30th in the league in run defense (156.3 yds/gm), while allowing 19 rushing touchdowns in 16 games (fourth worst in league). Look for Ronnie Brown and the Wildcat to gash up this unit on Sunday.

Also consider: Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins

Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers: What better time to start one of this year’s best value picks than Week 1 against a Kansas City defense that gave up an average of 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts in 2009? Floyd put together a solid preseason (7-98-1 in two games) and will be lining up opposite a Chiefs secondary that ranked 22nd in the NFL last year in passing defense (231.7 yds/gm). Look for quarterback Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense to light up the scoreboard with a vertical passing attack that led the NFL in yards per attempt in both 2008 and 2009 (8.8 YPA).

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears: Yes, the offensive line is an issue, but Cutler has a home date with a Detroit Lions defense that gave up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (22.5 pts/gm) in 2009 than any other unit in the NFL. As if that wasn’t enough, the Lions also ranked 32nd in pass defense (265.6 yds/gm) and 32nd in points allowed (30.9 pts/gm) last season. Detroit is going to be a better football team in 2010, but expect new offensive coordinator Mike Martz to come out throwing.

Also start: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears

Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Williams was a middle to late round selection that saw his value drop due to a lengthy injury history and the fact that he plays on a bad offense. However, if you made a move to get the five-year veteran on your 2010 fantasy roster, now is the time to activate the former Auburn standout. Williams and the Bucs play host to a Cleveland run defense that gave up an average of 24.3 pts/gm to opposing running backs last season (fifth worst in NFL), 4.6 yards per carry (fourth worst in NFL) and 144.6 yards per game on the ground (fifth worst in NFL). Tampa’s passing offense may have some difficulty moving the sticks, so don’t be surprised if you see a heavy dose of the ground game on Sunday.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: This one seems obvious, but I’ve been getting plenty of emails from concerned Crabtree owners to warrant a mention in this article. Bottom line: Get him in your starting lineup. Seattle is loaded with issues on the defensive side of the football, which doesn’t bode well for a unit that gave up 24.5 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers in 2009 (fourth worst in NFL). Expect the 49ers to feature a ton of Frank Gore on Sunday, but this offense will take to the skies enough to provide Crabtree owners with a solid fantasy total.

Also start: San Francisco 49ers D/ST
Also consider: Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers

New York Giants, D/ST: A solid front four with three big-time pass rushers (Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka), an improved secondary (NY signed safety Antrel Rolle last winter), the addition of Keith Bullock at SAM linebacker and a new defensive coordinator (Perry Fewell) are all reasons why owners should be high on a New York defense that is loaded with upside. In addition, the Carolina Panthers ranked 7th in the NFL last season in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses (9.9 pts/gm). Remember, the Panthers beat the Giants last season in the final game ever played at the Meadowlands. The revenge factor is in effect here.

Also start: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants

Kellen WinslowICONWinslow should find some success against a questionable Cleveland defense.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winslow saw very few reps this preseason as the Buccaneers coaching staff didn’t want to risk an injury to the guy who could end up being their best receiving option in 2010. Keep in mind that the former Miami Hurricane finished 19th in the NFL in targets last season (127) and is the most experienced receiving threat on the Tampa Bay roster. In addition, he’s got a showdown with a Cleveland defense that gave up an average of 9.6 points per game to opposing tight ends last season (third worst in NFL). Expect second-year quarterback Josh Freeman to look his way often this season.

We also recommend you start…

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Denver Broncos: Somebody has to catch the football against a Jacksonville defense that ranked 27th against the pass last season (235.9 yds/gm).

Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland Browns: With rookie Montario Hardesty done for the year, look for Harrison to handle the bulk of the workload in Cleveland. Harrison takes on a Tampa defense that gave up 23.1 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs last season (seventh worst in NFL).

SIT ‘EM DOWN

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: The second-year receiver out of North Carolina isn’t an awful start this weekend, but he’s got a showdown with one of the more underrated cornerback tandems in Carolina’s Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble. Both Marshall and Gamble combined to hold opposing wide receivers to just 14.2 fantasy points per week in 2009 (second best in NFL) and helped the Panthers finish the year ranked fourth in the NFL in passing defense (191.0 yds/gm).

Justin ForsettICONPatrick Willis and the Niners will be coming after Forsett on Sunday.

Justin Forsett, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Yes, Forsett has some sleeper potential after being named the Seahawks’ Week 1 starter, but he’s got a rough matchup on Sunday against a Patrick Willis-led 49ers defense that ranked sixth against the run last season (97.0 yds/gm) while giving up just 17.8 fantasy points per week to opposing ball carriers (12th in NFL). Keep in mind that Leon Washington will cut into Forsett’s workload and also be advised that if the Niners get up early, Seattle may be forced to abandon the running game.

Also sit: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: We love Flacco’s upside entering 2010 especially after watching the progress he made from his rookie season to last year. But Monday night in New York against an aggressive Jets defense is a bad matchup for the Baltimore signal-caller. All-World cornerback Darrelle Revis is back and the new Meadowlands stadium is going to be rocking for the Jets’ home opener. Keep in mind that New York held opposing quarterbacks to an average of just 10.3 fantasy points per week last season. No defense was stingier.

Also consider: Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens (Revis Island)

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Let me start by saying I don’t expect any of you to sit Turner this weekend. Hell, I’ve got him in one of my fantasy leagues and I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the starting lineup. However, the Burner is making an appearance in the “Sit” section because I want all of you to taper your expectations this weekend. The 28-year old running back heads to Pittsburgh on Sunday to take on a Steelers defense that gave up less fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2009 than any other unit in the league (13.2 pts/gm). Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that All Pro safety Troy Polamalu is healthy and back in the starting lineup.

Cincinnati Bengals, D/ST: The Bengals have one of the most underrated defensive units in the league led by stud cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. But this Sunday in Foxborough they’ll face a Patriots’ offense led by Tom Brady and Randy Moss that has ranked in the top-five in total offense in each of the past three years. Not only that, but Bill Belichick’s bunch allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score just 6.1 points per week in 2009 (fourth best in NFL). We’ll recommend you start the Cincy defense most weeks this season, but we don’t feel too comfortable about their chances Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Entire wide receiving unit, Tennessee Titans: The best preseason performance from this relatively unknown group came from the questionable Kenny Britt, who caught just seven passes for 54 yards with no touchdowns. While the Oakland Raiders have been an AFC doormat for several years running, they still feature a defense that is capable of making plays and limiting the opposition. Opposing wide receivers put up an average of only 18.6 fantasy points per week last season (12th in NFL) and don’t forget that CB Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the premier shutdown specialists in the game today. The Titans should win and Vince Young should play well, but we don’t envision a pass-happy offense leading the way.

We also recommend you sit…

Clinton PortisICONPortis isn't a terrible option, but he faces a stiff challenge against a tough Dallas run defense on Sunday night.

Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins: He’s playing behind a mediocre offensive line against a Dallas defense that ranked fourth against the run last season (90.5 yds/gm) while giving up just 15.8 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (fifth best in NFL).

Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots: The Pro Bowl wide receiver admitted he’s not 100% and has a Sunday showdown with one of the best cornerback tandems (Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall) in the game today.

John Carlson, TE, Seattle Seahawks: The 49ers allowed opposing tight ends to score just 5.2 fantasy points per game last season (third best in NFL). In addition, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks ask Carlson to stay in and help block more often that usual on Sunday.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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