Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Deciding Which Quarterbacks to Lock into Your Lineup
Week 1 of the NFL season doesn't just signal the start of a long journey for the league's players and coaches. It also sets several fantasy football leagues in motion.
By now you've drafted your squad, but the season's first week is always tricky. You don't know how certain players will perform now that regular season action is here, and a victory in Week 1 sets the tone for the rest of your season.
Most leagues will only allow you to slot one quarterback into your starting lineup on a weekly basis, so you better make the right choice.
Let's take a look at two quarterbacks you must start this week and two signal-callers you must avoid.
Smith doesn't exactly jump to mind when you think No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but he has a favorable matchup in Week 1.
The Green Bay Packers are an excellent team, but their pass defense is still suspect. Nick Perry will help by providing a pass rush opposite Clay Matthews, but one player doesn't completely shore up a defense that allowed nearly 5,000 yards through the air last season.
Smith has more weapons at his disposal this season, and the 49ers won't be afraid to let him throw the ball. He will still lean on Frank Gore and San Francisco's stable of running backs, but he will throw enough to justify a fantasy start.
Smith has one successful season under his belt, and that goes miles for his confidence. He's known as a "game manager," but he's worth a few starts this season.
Week 1 must be one of those starts.
Roethlisberger isn't known for gaudy fantasy numbers as much as he is for winning, but it's worth putting him into your lineup this week.
The Broncos were 18th in the league against the pass last season, and they didn't make any major additions to their secondary in the offseason.
Todd Haley's new offense will lean on Roethlisberger until they know what to expect from the ground game. Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace are two excellent receivers to throw to, and Big Ben knows how to find them.
Roethlisberger's fantasy value is always a little lower than you might expect from a household name, but this year could be different. Haley will air it out more often, especially with Rashard Mendenhall on the shelf to start the year.
Think back to last year's AFC playoffs. The Steelers lost a heartbreaker to the Broncos, and Roethlisberger essentially played on one leg.
If you think you remember that game, he remembers it more. That's all the motivation he will need.
Manning's debut against Pittsburgh is one of the league's most anticipated Week 1 matchups, but don't go crazy with him in fantasy football world.
Manning made it through the preseason unscathed, but the Steelers defense is another animal. They were the No. 1 pass defense last season, and they will terrorize Manning consistently Sunday night.
The Broncos offensive line can't be ready for the pressure Pittsburgh will bring from all angles. Dick LeBeau loves to dial up the pressure, and he's going to be more inclined to do so against Manning.
Whether he's healthy or not, the Steelers will test him.
Manning is an easy start most weeks, but I would sit him in this one.
Ryan is going to get plenty of opportunities to damage the Kansas City defense, but the Chiefs group is stingy. Romeo Crennel knows how to inspire his group, and Ryan is going to get off to a rocky start.
Many are making a big deal about Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki returning to the Chiefs offense, but how about safety Eric Berry? He will be hungry in his return this season, and the Chiefs as a whole will draw on that emotion.
We keep waiting for Ryan to take the next step toward being an elite NFL quarterback, but it hasn't happened yet. Kansas City's 3-4 defense will pressure him in Week 1, and their secondary can hold things down on the back side.
Last year, Kansas City was sixth in the league in pass yards allowed. That was without their best defensive player.
A plethora of skilled targets makes Ryan intriguing, but you should avoid him in his season opener.
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