Week 1 of fantasy football presents some of the toughest lineup decisions of the entire year with so many variables playing into which performers will have the best days.
Not only does last season come into play, but additions over the offseason and the outlook for the opposition all have to be accounted for in order for owners to craft the best starting lineup.
The Week 1 slate of games would cause serious hurdles for owners no matter where it was positioned in the season. As is the case with any week, the best of the best are able to sift through all of the available information and make the right choices.
Here is some of the most critical info that fantasy owners can use to arm themselves with the knowledge to beat the overwhelming odds.
Start 'Em: QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Normally Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not a must-start, but he most certainly is in Week 1 with the running back position behind him in shambles.
Starter Le'Veon Bell is out and the team released Jonathan Dwyer, so as ESPN points out, the load of the running game against Tennessee will be handled by Isaac Redman:
Redman has recorded over 100 yards in a game just once in four years. Furthermore, Tennessee figures to be horrific against the pass once again.
Roethlisberger will be in charge of scoring the points, and since 2009 he's beaten up on Tennessee three times for an average of 318 yards a contest while throwing seven touchdowns. No-brainer.
Sit 'Em: QB Jay Cutler (CHI)
Jay Cutler is due to see an uptick in production this season with new head coach and offensive guru Marc Trestman in town.
It just won't happen right away, especially against an elite Cincinnati Bengals defense.
Cincinnati returns all of its important starters from a year ago on a unit that only allowed four quarterbacks to throw multiple touchdowns. Cutler is coming off a down year in which he threw for just 19 touchdowns and recorded one 300-yard performance.
New offensive system or not (which is actually another issue so early in the year), it's a recipe for fantasy failure.
Start 'Em: RB Darren McFadden (OAK)
What's that? Darren McFadden can't stay healthy and should be avoided?
But it's Week 1, McFadden is fully healthy and has a favorable matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
McFadden always starts the season off with a bang. The past three years have seen him record at least 118 yards on the ground in the opener before hitting the injury wall a few weeks later.
Week 1 of 2013 will be no different, especially against a Colts team that struggled to stop the run last year. Terrelle Pryor will start at quarterback for Oakland, meaning McFadden is going to see a major workload.
Sit 'Em: RB Eddie Lacy (GB)
The hype machine around Green Bay Packers rookie back Eddie Lacy is at a fever pitch, but Week 1 is the perfect time to sit Lacy out.
Lacy has a matchup against a stout San Francisco defense. The 49ers bullied the Packers in the playoffs last year, and if this rematch turns into a shootout as well, the Packers won't be doing much in the way of running.
Delay Lacy's rookie fantasy debut or else.
Start 'Em: WR DeSean Jackson (PHI)
Fantasy owners know the deal with DeSean Jackson. He's liable for the big play at all times but can post a dud more often than not.
With Chip Kelly in town Jackson should be back to sound fantasy production. He's the No. 1 receiver in an exciting new offense and will also be handling punt return duties, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News:
Jackson gets to take on a Washington defense that allowed 18 touchdowns to receivers a year ago. Take advantage, because Jackson will.
Sit 'Em: WR: Mike Wallace (MIA)
The biggest free-agency signing of all this offseason came when Miami scooped up Mike Wallace.
Unfortunately for Wallace and his owners, Cleveland has his number. The past three times Wallace has had to go against Joe Haden and the Browns, he's totaled just six receptions for fewer than 100 total yards and no scores.
Wallace figures to be a viable option down the line, but against Haden without Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, Wallace is a must-avoid receiver.
Start 'Em: TE: Jared Cook (STL)
Jared Cook without a doubt is a risk, but in this scenario the reward highly outweighs the risk.
Cook was underutilized in Tennessee but now resides in a pass-happy offense with St. Louis. He's a freak athlete capable of creating mismatches and defense should be equally concerned with stopping rookie receiver Tavon Austin.
Arizona gave up two touchdowns to St. Louis' tight end Lance Kendricks a year ago, but Cook is a much better all-around player.
Expect the Rams to continue this trend and hit the Cardinals where it hurts by creating plenty of mismatches with Cook.
Sit 'Em: TE: Greg Olsen (CAR)
Greg Olsen is a solid player. Just not against Seattle.
In fact, any tight end is a horrible option against the Seahawks, as last year only one tight end scored double-digit fantasy points against Seattle as the unit gave up three touchdowns to the position all year.
Add in the ferocity of the Seattle pass rush, which will cause Olsen to have to stay in and block, and this is a doomsday scenario. Owners may be better starting a backup.
Start 'Em: D/ST Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Geno Smith certainly is not a Luck or RGIII.
New York is starting the rookie for lack of a better option and relying on a running back in Chris Ivory who has missed 20 games the past two seasons to carry the load.
Conversely, Tampa Bay now has former Jets star Darrelle Revis and an elite combo at safety with Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. The team has also revealed Revis is good to go against the Jets:
All of this spells great success for Tampa Bay's unit. Act accordingly.
Sit 'Em: D/ST Green Bay Packers
Yes, the Green Bay Packers have had all offseason to study Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.
No, that does not guarantee Green Bay will be able to stop anything in the opener.
The fact of the matter is Kaepernick and Co. posted 579 yards of total offense and have had the same amount of prep time as well.
Starting the Packers defense against San Francisco on the road is another way of throwing up the white flag.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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