The NFL season is finally here, and there is already plenty of discussion about who should start and who should ride the bench for everyone's fantasy football teams.
This piece will take a look at some of the safest bets to start and the biggest red flags to bench at every position.
Let's go ahead and get started.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
When you're playing a team with as little talent as the Oakland Raiders, you can bet on having a good game.
That will be the case for Luck as he goes against the Raiders, and he's going to put up some big numbers. Not only is he going against a bad defense, but the Colts also improved over the offseason. He now has an upgraded offensive line, his old college offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton and a number of big weapons in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
He may not always be a go-to starter in fantasy football, but he's going to put up some big points in Week 1.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson may be gone, but that doesn't mean that the Rams can't put up some big rushing numbers in Week 1.
Daryl Richardson is a safe bet going up against the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona allowed 2,192 yards on the ground last year, ranking No. 28 against the run. Richardson looked good when he played last season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry over the year.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Staying healthy was an issue for Greg Jennings last season, but he'll be healthy and ready to go to kick off the 2013 season.
The Detroit Lions don't have a lot of talent in the secondary, and Jennings will be a popular target for Christian Ponder. He may have had his woes this preseason, but Jennings knows what he's doing out on the field. Add the fact that the Lions will be focusing more on Adrian Peterson, and you can bet that Jennings will find himself open often.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
Tom Brady will make any target out there look good, and that's going to be the case for Zach Sudfeld this week.
The Patriots will be playing the Buffalo Bills, and although they had a solid defense against the pass last year, Brady is familiar with this team and will find open receivers all day.
He may not be the biggest name, but look for Sudfeld to get some targets in the red zone.
Matt Bryant, K, Atlanta Falcons
The defense for the New Orleans Saints was terrible last season, and if they haven't fixed it over the offseason, the Falcons will be putting up a lot of points this week.
That means that Bryant will find himself with some field-goal opportunities and a number of extra points. Expect him to put up some impressive points for a kicker.
Kansas City Chiefs, D/ST
When you're playing the Jacksonville Jaguars, chances are you're going to be just fine defensively.
The Jaguars don't have an intimidating passing game thanks to Blaine Gabbert, which hurts the team and keeps them from scoring points. Maurice Jones-Drew can make some plays, but the Chiefs have an underrated front seven on defense.
This will be a win for the Chiefs, and it's unlikely that the Jaguars will put up more than 20 points.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
It's tempting to start a playmaker like Cam Newton, but you have to look at the matchups, and they don't look good for the Panthers.
The Seattle Seahawks were one of the best teams defensively last season, and with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett now on the line, the defense is even scarier.
It's going to be tough for the Panthers to put up points, and Newton will be a disappointment, even if it's only for one week.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
It's always tempting to start CJ2K, but he's someone you want to sit to start the season.
It takes awhile for him to get going during the season. Over the past two seasons, he's struggled during the first three games, as you can see here.
He will also be going against a strong, if aging, defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Titans will likely be forced to pass more if they fall behind.
Stay away from Johnson for now but give him some time; he'll be putting up those big numbers that you always want to see later in the season.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly's new offense is still somewhat of a mystery, and who knows if it will work with Michael Vick under center. Jackson is a great vertical threat, but this offense will feature a lot more shorter passes this season.
This offense is going to have some growing pains, and opposing defenses will be keeping a close eye on Jackson now that Jeremy Maclin is out for the season. Stay away from Jackson unless this offense starts proving itself later in the year.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
It seems that every year people are expecting Finley to break out and have a big season.
That could be the case this year, but you shouldn't believe it until you see it.
Finley hasn't put up huge numbers for a while, and although he looked good in the preseason, the Packers will be going up against a great defense in the San Francisco 49ers that could keep him in check.
Sebastian Janikowski, K, Oakland Raiders
I know that Janikowski has a really nice leg, but how can you expect him to put up big points with that offense on the field?
Terrelle Pryor is now the starting quarterback, and that's probably bad. The offensive line is plagued with injuries, and the Colts are built to stop the run, which is the only thing the Raiders have going for them.
It's going to be a long year for the Raiders, so maybe you should try to pick up a different kicker this week.
San Francisco 49ers D/ST
The 49ers probably have one of the top defenses in the NFL this year, but can you bet against Aaron Rodgers?
The 49ers tore the Packers apart on offense last year, but Rodgers and company can still put a lot of points on the board. Now, Green Bay might also have a running game with Eddie Lacy in the backfield, and the passing game could still be scary thanks to all of the receivers.
You should start the 49ers any other week but maybe not this week.
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