Fantasy Football Advice: Week 1

Posted Sep 4, 2014's Matt Lutovsky provides early-season fantasy football advice and the best lineup combinations for Week One.

For more fantasy football analysis, follow Matt Lutovsky on Twitter (@MLutovsky) and listen to the Sporting News Fantasy Football Podcast: Week 1 Preview.

Don't do it.

Seriously, don't do it.

I know you want to do it, but don't. You're better than that – better prepared, better educated and better looking (you devil, you).

I'm talking about benching one of your star players in Week 1 because you think they have a bad matchup.

Every year we do this dance, and every year we get a better understanding of why John Lithgow's character in “Footloose” wanted to outlaw dancing in his tiny Midwestern town. It's dangerous.

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Look, I get it. You're a fantasy football owner. You haven't had a team to tinker with for eight months. You felt like you were the smartest guy in the room during your draft, and now you want to carry that feeling over to Week 1. That's fine, but think about this: If all those picks you made were so smart, then why immediately turn your back on a second-, third-, or fourth-rounder? All because the team they're playing was good last year?

There are definitely some matchups we can reasonably assume are better than others, but everyone contemplating benching Aaron Rodgers or starting multiple rookies needs to pump the brakes. You drafted certain players to be starters, and you should probably trust your instincts and let them start.

If you don't, you're basically admitting you're an idiot – much like John Lithgow's character did at the end of “Footloose”.

But, because I know you still think you can beat the system, I'm highlighting risks you should considering taking and risks you most definitely shouldn't. Take my advice, don't take it – whatever.

Packers at Seahawks

Yes, the Seahawks had the best defense in the NFL last year. And, yes, it will probably be one of the best this year. But that doesn't mean you should bench all your Packers. Remember, Green Bay is still one of the best offenses, so unless you're loaded at WR and can afford sitting Jordy Nelson, play 'em all.

Vikings at Rams

The Rams were TE kryptonite last year, so it's possible you have a better option than Kyle Rudolph. Don't force it, though. He'll be a focal point of the Vikings' offense, so he's still capable of posting starter-worthy numbers.

Saints at Falcons

Week 1 shootouts are the best kind of shootouts. Is that enough reason to play any of the less-than-inspiring running backs both teams employ? Probably not, but Pierre Thomas is the best bet for total yards. And godspeed with Brandin Cooks. He could get two touches; he could get 10. Analysis like that is why I get paid the big bucks.

Bills at Bears

Sammy Watkins was probably drafted as a WR3, but you don't need to play him – not until we see what the Bills offense is actually capable of. Sure, you'll be mad when Watkins breaks off an 85-yard catch-and-run, but you can blame it on me. It's cool.

Titans at Chiefs

Bishop Sankey – great first name, terrible last name. And he's also expected to play second fiddle to Shonn Greene this week. You don't want to be starting Shonn Greene's backup, do you? I mean, you don't even want to be starting Shonn Greene ...

Patriots at Dolphins

I trust *zero* Patriots other than Rob Gronkowski, and that includes Tom Brady. Sure, I'd probably start Brady just because he's so dreamy, but New England is capable of anything, including taking a knee on the first play of the game. Go ahead, start Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen if you think you're smarter than Bill Belichick. He would actually enjoy that.

Raiders at Jets

Start Maurice Jones-Drew. Start Chris Johnson. Start Eric Decker. That's it.

Jaguars at Eagles

Is Philadelphia's D/ST a worthwhile streaming play? I vote “yes”, but I still think Toby Gerhart and Cecil Shorts III can have good games based purely on volume/big-play chances.  Philadelphia's defense can also make big plays, and Chad Henne seemingly enjoys getting sacked and throwing interceptions (a terrible trait for an NFL quarterback), so this is a win-win.

Browns at Steelers

Are you worried about anyone here? Maybe Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron, but Cameron will get a ton of targets, so he's fine. Tate is on that RB2/flex bubble anyway, so go ahead and play someone over him if you really want, but keep in mind Pittsburgh was merely average against the run last year.

Bengals at Ravens

The thing about Bernard Pierce is he might not be very good. The Bengals have proven to be very good against the run over the past two years. Volume is great, but talent is better. Pierce is a “hold-your-nose” flex.

Redskins at Texans

Something weird is gonna happen in this game. And if I had to bet, I'd say it's going to involve Robert Griffin III. And if I had to double down on my bet, I'd say it's going to involve either J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney (or both) chasing him down like a lion stalking a gazelle on Discovery Channel. I'd want to see RGIII in Washington's new offense before handing him the keys to my fantasy team. Have you seen what those lions do to those poor gazelles? They eat them!

49ers at Cowboys

That vaunted 49ers defense isn't quite as scary without Aldon Smith (suspension) and NaVorro Bowman (knee), but starting Tony Romo is always scary. He should be fine in this matchup, though. If anything, this game has major shootout potential, and Romo usually puts up good fantasy stats while ultimately losing in real life, which certain sports networks talk about nonstop because they think people like us care. Newsflash: People like us only care about our fantasy teams, and as far as we're concerned, Tony Romo is a (bleepin') winner.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Could you be less excited about this game? I suppose there's intrigue about whether a banged-up, receiver-less Cam Newton is worth starting, and, honestly, he might not be. If you drafted, say, Russell Wilson or Philip Rivers as your backup, I'd give them a shot over Newton this week. That Panthers' offense still has something to prove.

Colts at Broncos

Wes Welker is out, so that means … umm … no one is sure, actually. I think it means Andre Caldwell is a legit sleeper, but I wouldn't take a chance on Caldwell in Week 1. And I definitely wouldn't gamble on Cody Latimer, which a lot of fantasy football hipsters seem to want to do. Keep it simple, hipsters.

Giants at Lions

If you own Joique Bell, strap yourself in for at least 13 “Should I start Joique Bell this week?” tete-a-tetes this season. I wouldn't make a point to start him over a superior player with a seemingly bad matchup, like Doug Martin, but I would start him over an “eh” player with a bad matchup, like Ryan Mathews.

Chargers at Cardinals

I've thought Ladarius Green has been overrated all preseason, but I kinda like him in Week 1. Arizona allowed four more fantasy points per game to TEs than anyone else last year. Some of that has to carry over, right? Antonio Gates is still the starter, but Green will get some chances to make big plays.