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INDIANAPOLIS --- Setting your lineup week one is easy for most people. You're just starting the players you drafted first most of the time, but you should always be aware of good and bad match-ups.
Last season I started 10th round pick Mark Ingram in the season opener after his great preseason. 60 yards and two touchdowns later, I was a happy man.
This weekly fantasy article is organized to help give you in-depth lineup advice and also how to get ahead of the competition for next week's waiver wire.
I will grade my picks as the season goes on, looking for start picks to hit certain point thresholds (16 points for QBs, 10 points for RB and WRs). I want to meet or exceed those numbers for start recommendations. For sit recommendations, I want to stay below those numbers.
Week 1 Start 'Em
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (vs. NO) - The Saints defense has some questions marks, down a cornerback and safety to start the year. Palmer when healthy last season threw for 249 yards and at least two touchdowns in every game. That's QB1 numbers in 10 and 12 team leagues. I'm even debating starting Palmer this week in my league of record over Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.
Giants QB Eli Manning (@ DAL) - I know I just said I was thinking of starting Palmer over Manning, but it's not because Manning has a bad match-up. I just think Palmer has a really good one. The Cowboys lost top cornerback Orlando Scandrick. That's good news for Odell Beckham Jr. and Manning by association. Plus, Manning had 6 touchdowns and just 1 interception against the Cowboys in two games last year.
Bucs RB Doug Martin (vs. TEN) - Last year, I was high on Mark Ingram after he dropped weight and looked fantastic in the preseason. Doug Martin is this year's Mark Ingram to me. He's back to his rookie weight (ya know, when he rushed for 1,454 yards), and Tampa Bay is going to want their rookie quarterback slingin' it 40 times per game. The week 1 match-up is solid too. Start him as a flex or even RB2 this week.
Jets RB Chris Ivory (vs. CLE) - He was a mid to late round pick for you but should get flex consideration week 1. How many running backs are left in the NFL that are three-down backs? Not many, and Ivory has a pretty good match-up at home against Cleveland. Ivory rushed for 5.8 ypc in the preseason.
Cardinals WRs Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown (vs. NO) - For the same reasons you're starting Carson Palmer, start these guys. The Cardinals receivers had rough seasons last year, due mostly to poor quarterback play when Palmer went down. Guess what, he's back.
Colts WR Andre Johnson (@ BUF) - Johnson is a large man and has a size advantage on the Bills corners, especially if Pep Hamilton lines him up in the slot at times. I like this match-up the most for the Colts offense Sunday.
Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry (@WAS) - Washington was 32nd against fantasy wide receivers last season, and with rookie WR DeVante Parker only getting back to practice this week, I think Landry starts the season as Ryan Tannehill's favorite target.
Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin (@HOU) - Too many people dismissed Maclin during draft season, blaming the Chiefs past failures to get touchdowns to their wideouts on him. Maclin is talented. Alex Smith will look for him, and it's a good match-up against the Texans secondary.
TIGHT END WEEK 1 SLEEPER - Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (@OAK), Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (@SF)
Honorable Mention - Eagles QB Sam Bradford (impressed with his preseason, but want to see it for real before I put him in my lineup. Defenses don't game plan for Chip Kelly's unorthodox offense in the preseason)
Week 1 Sit 'Em
Panthers QB Cam Newton (@JAX) - This is my week 1 upset pick. I think the Jags beats the Panthers. Cam Newton will still hold solid fantasy value in 2015, but there's too many questions marks to start him week 1 after WR Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL. There are better QB options out there for you to start week 1 (Palmer, Flacco, Bridgewater)
Washington RB Alfred Morris (vs. MIA) - The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh to a solid defensive front, and Washington is liking rookie Matt Jones more and more to take some carries away from Morris. Bad combination.
Saints RB Mark Ingram (@ ARI) - Ingram will be the workhorse week 1 with C.J. Spiller out, but Khiry Robinson is also still in the mix for carries. The Cardinals were top-5 against fantasy running backs last season. You may need a lucky goal line carry from Ingram to make this fantasy day a success.
Cowboys RBs (vs. NYG) - Nobody has any idea how this workload will be divided between Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and the newly acquired Christine Michael.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (vs. DET) - Allen was incredibly inconsistent for fantasy last season, and even though TE Antonio Gates is suspended, I don't like the match-up. The only quarterbacks to score more than 20 fantasy points on the Lions last year were Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. That trickles down to the wide receiver numbers. Combine that with the emergence of Stevie Johnson in the slot for San Diego and Malcom Floyd, not Allen, being the primary deep threat, and I'm not sure Allen will have enough targets against Detroit.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins (vs. IND) - Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky did not rule out Vontae Davis blanketing Watkins in this game, a change from what Davis did last year staying on one side of the field.
Get ahead of the waiver wire curve next week and stash one of these guys away. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. But it only costs you your last bench spot.
QB Marcus Mariota
Cowboys RB Christine Michael
Saints RB Khiry Robinson
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (Thursday Night Game)
Chargers WR Stevie Johnson
Saints WR Brandon Coleman
Ravens WR Kamar Aiken (until Breshad Perriman is healthy)
Packers TE Richard Rodgers
Ravens TE Crockett Gilmore