The opening week of fantasy football action got started with a bang. Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes to give his owners an early treat and put many others in a massive hole right off the bat heading into Sunday's games.
While starting an elite quarterback like Manning was a no-brainer for fantasy owners, there are plenty of tougher decisions to make before the early games kick off. It's often those decisions on fringe players that make the difference between winning and losing.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a group of players who belong in the starting lineup and another group who should ride the pine for the season openers. A deeper dive is taken into certain players owners are likely debating as time ticks down.
Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles)
Vick was one of the most underrated options during the fantasy-draft season, and that remains the case heading into Week 1. He's a perfect fit for what Chip Kelly is trying to do in Philadelphia and gets to face a shaky Washington Redskins secondary in the opener.
The biggest key for Vick is the pace of play. At times, the Eagles offense is going to move at warp speed, which equals more opportunities to create fantasy magic. And he's going to do it with his arm and legs, which is a bonus.
Yes, injuries are always a concern with him. But he's healthy right now and is going to get plenty of chances to make plays against a Redskins defense that will struggle to slow him down if he's anywhere near his best. He should approach 20 points in standard leagues.
Zach Sudfeld (New England Patriots)
Rob Gronkowski is making progress toward his return for the Patriots but is listed as out for the opener against the division-rival Buffalo Bills. That opens for door for Sudfeld to build off his strong showing in training camp and the preseason.
His value is going to fluctuate throughout the season depending on Gronkowski's health. That said, when he's slotted in as the top tight end—as he will in Week 1—he's a top-10 tight end option. Tom Brady loves to use his TEs, especially in the red zone.
Sudfeld's value is bolstered even more by the fact he gets to face a Bills defense that is trending in the wrong direction. He should be able to reel in a handful of catches for about 70 yards and a touchdown— very solid numbers for the position.
Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals)
Bernard possesses plenty of talent and could become a fantasy stalwart by season's end. For now, however, the best option for fantasy owners is keeping him on the bench until the situation between him and BenJarvus Green-Ellis clears up.
Running back committees are always a pain, but never more than in Week 1. In those situations, it's hard to glean much information from the preseason. Fantasy owners have to wait until the games actually count to see how the coaching staff is going to handle it.
So keep Bernard on the bench and track the Bengals game closely. Check out which back is getting the carries around the goal line and who's making a bigger impact on passing downs. The situation should become more clear for Week 2.
Tavon Austin (St. Louis Rams)
The Rams liked Austin enough to draft him with the eighth overall pick. There's no doubting his electric playmaking ability, and he should develop into a valuable fantasy commodity. But it's going to take some time before that happens.
Much like Bernard, taking a wait-and-see approach is the best way to go. Week 1 is for known assets, even if they don't have as much upside. As the season goes on, it will become a lot more obvious when Austin will be worth starting.
The other factor working against him is a solid Arizona Cardinals defense. The unit is going to make sure Austin isn't able to run free like he did so often at West Virginia. It's all part of the learning curve he's just starting to go through.