By: Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Mark Strotman (AKA, the three best friends anyone could have)
Welcome to another year of CSNChicago.com's Start'em and Sit'em, where three totally unqualified guys give their take on the best and worst plays in the upcoming fantasy football week.
We're not experts, but then again, how can anybody truly be an "expert" at fantasy football? This is a game of luck and nobody can predict the future.
We don't have special powers, but we are pretty obsessed with fantasy sports. Just ask our girlfriends...if we had any.
Every week, each of us will comprise a trio of players with the best matchups or situations on tap for the week ahead and a corresponding trio of guys who are most likely to run into a metaphorical brick wall.
[RELATED: 40 players to stay away from]
And because we're men and we love perpetuating stereotypes, we, of course, turned this into a competition. Why not?
Our scoring system is as follows (using ESPN standard scoring):
5 points if a player scores 25+ points
4: 20-24 points
5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points
So without further ado, here are our picks for Week 1:
Defending champ don't need no intro.
[MORE: 11 players who are past their prime]
We're back for yet another season of below-average puns, pop-culture references and, of course, fantasy football help. If you think you'd like to win your league this year, look no further than the defending champion of last year's Start 'Em, Sit 'Em. I think I've got the inside track on matchups, injuries and, OK, a little luck. Good luck to everyone this season, and thanks for reading us.
Carson Palmer, QB -- ARI (at STL)
Who knows whether Palmer can lead the Cardinals to the playoffs this year (unlikely), but his fantasy numbers should be solid with a stable running back in Rashard Mendenall and one of the more underrated fantasy wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. Against an average Rams secondary, I like Palmer to put up QB1 numbers this week. Just don't expect it each week, even if he can stay healthy.
Darren McFadden, RB -- OAK (at IND)
Week 1 is the best week of the year for Run DMC owners, because they know he's healthy. Odds are if you gambled on McFadden in the fourth round of your draft you're going to play him anyways, but against a porous Colts defense and an inexperienced QB (Terrelle Pryor) running the show, expect a heavy dose of McFadden on Sunday.
Greg Jennings, WR -- MIN (at DET)
The Vikings' new No. 1 wide receiver should find himself in a shootout this week. Matthew Stafford and the Lions are poised to throw early and often, which could run up the score against a Vikings team that will always start with the run, but may be forced to end with the pass. If Christian Ponder has made improvements like I believe he has, Jennings will be a steal in most drafts by season's end. Get him in your lineups.
SIT 'EM NOW. JUST DO IT. SIT THEM. I SAID SIT.
Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (vs. KC)
Shorts is one of those players who you drafted because you love his upside. He's a threat to go for huge yards and a score on any given play and, like he did last year, may win you a week or two on his own. But Sunday he'll go up against a Chiefs defense that ranks as one of the best in the league. There will be plenty of time to use Shorts this year, just not this Sunday.
[ALSO: Top 10 fantasy football sleepers]
Eddie Lacy, RB -- GB (at SF)
Perhaps only Nick Saban and his mother love watching Eddie Lacy play more than me, but this will not be a fun matchup for him. There's no better front seven in the NFL than the one in San Francisco, and I expect the Packers to have to throw the ball to move it downfield. If Lacy is your RB2 you've got to play him, but you can find a better flex than the rookie bulldozer.
DeSean Jackson, WR -- PHI (at WAS)
You're just going to have to trust me on this one. Jackson looked spectacular in preseason and Chip Kelly's offense is just waiting for him to take over, but I think once defenses gameplan for it, it'll take a few weeks for the team to adjust. If you have a better flex play, take it. Jackson's numbers will rise as Kelly's offense becomes more complex. Week 1 isn't that time.
(Last season: Finished as the 1st loser in our competition. Not this year boys.)
The best week of sports is upon us: the start of fantasy football season. It's the only time when everybody in your league feels that they have a realistic chance of winning the league championship.
Last year, Strotman got lucky in our start/sit competition and we've had to watch him brag about his title in the office for the past nine months.
Maybe Mark will decide to take a risk in 2013 by starting players outside of Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.
But then again, Packers fans aren't usually risk takers.
If you're still reading my trash talking, then go ahead and look at my picks for week 1:
Jay Cutler, QB -- CHI (vs. CIN)
The Bears fan in me may be coming out on this choice, but I see No. 6 having a big game against the Bengals this weekend. The Bears have a new offense under Marc Trestman and the Bengals defense doesn't have much film to gameplan for. The last two seasons, Cutler has thrown for 654 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1. Scared about Cincinnati ferocious defense? Don't be on Sunday and get Cutler in your lineup. You will be thanking me three hours after kickoff.
[RELATED: Top 150 fantasy players from Rotoworld]
David Wilson, RB -- NYG (at DAL)
Mr. Wilson is the clear cut starter in New York and this is his time to shine. I've got him in two of my fantasy leagues so I may be a little biased here, but I expect him to be a Top 5 back in 2013. Giants-Cowboys games usually end up in a shootout and I expect Wilson to rack up plenty of yards and a few goal line chances. I would be shocked to see anything less than 15 fantasy points out of Wilson on Sunday night.
T.Y. Hilton, WR -- IND (vs. OAK)
This will be the first of many times you will see T.Y. Hilton in my weekly start/sit choices. I can't stress how high my expectations are for Hilton this season. Forgot Darrius Heyward-Bay being No. 2 on the Colts depth chart. Hilton will see plenty of targets. He's a home run threat every single team he touches the ball. The Raiders defense is SOFT and I expect Hilton to burn somebody on Sunday for a big score. Insert him in your lineup quickly. He won't be a sleeper candidate much longer.
Cam Newton, QB -- CAR (vs. SEA)
Newton bounced back in the second half in 2012 after a poor start to his sophomore campaign. He was a Top 5 QB selection in most fantasy drafts this year, but Week 1 isn't the time you should have him in your lineup. With Seattle - the best defense in the NFL - coming to town, rest him this week and play whoever your QB2 is, unless it's Geno Smith.
Trent Richardson, RB -- CLE (vs. MIA)
Don't get me wrong, I like Richardson a lot, but this isn't the week. The Dolphins have talent on their front seven, and are underrated by far too many people around the NFL. I also see Ryan Tannehill having a big game and the Browns will be forced to throw most of the day. Richardson may get a garbage touchdown at some point, but that's all I expect.
Danny Amendola, WR -- NE (at BUF)
The Patriots decided to let go Wes Welker in the offseason for a younger clone in Danny Amendola. I like what he brings to the Patriots, but everybody knows Bill Belichick likes to spread the wealth. I see Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld being Tom Brady's go-to guys this weekend with the Bills defense keying in on stopping Amendola and Stevan Ridley.
(Last season: Finished 3rd of 3 in this stupid competition, but who cares, because that's in the past. All that matters is the present and the future. Or something really wise and thought-provoking like that.)
I could start this off by sharing with you all how I fared in my five fantasy football leagues last year, but I know none of you care, so I'll get right into this year (I won a championship by the way. It was awesome.).
Like everybody else, I went into the fantasy draft season with a bunch of favorites (some may call them "sleepers") and a list of guys I wanted to avoid. Some of my sleepers had good reasons (Larry Fitzgerald actually has a real, live NFL quarterback throwing to him again), and some were completely unfounded (Giovani Bernard looks awesome on "Hard Knocks," so he instantly became my new favorite running back).
[ROTOWORLD: Complete fantasy football coverage]
But this is Week 1. You want sure things. If you're ridiculously confident in a sleeper, by all means, start him. Otherwise, this is the week to go with your must-start guys. Nobody knows yet how Bernard will fit in the Bengals' system once the regular season actually kicks off. Do you really want to start him and risk a horrible day until his exact role becomes clear?
As much as we would like it to be, preseason isn't much indication of what the regular season will hold. Just because Bernard got goal-line duties in exhibition games doesn't mean he'll bump bruiser Benjarvus Green-Ellis out of those TD chances when games start to count.
Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (at DAL)
These two teams always wind up in a shootout when they meet. I'm betting Manning wasn't chosen as a starting QB in most leagues, but for those poor saps that are stuck with him and no clearly better option, rest assured a good game awaits.
Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (vs. CIN)
I know Cincy's front four is really freaking good, but I think Forte will have a great day nonetheless. Why? Because Marc Trestman, that's why. We've all heard how the new Bears heard coach utilizes his running backs: Lots of action in the passing game and plenty of receptions. Geno Atkins can't catch up to Forte in the open field.
Hakeem Nicks, WR -- NYG (at DAL)
Eli's got to throw it to somebody, right? It seems everybody and their grandmother is down on Victor Cruz this year and Nicks may be in line for a bounceback season. As of Wednesday, he was not listed on the Giants' injury report, which may be the first time that's happened since Strotman was still at Marquette, prowling for college girls.
Robert Griffin (THE THIRD, 3, III), QB -- WAS (vs. PHI)
Look, I'm not saying he's going to be bad. I'm sure he'll be plenty good. But there are so many question marks surrounding him, so why not play it safe and keep him on your bench? If you're smart, you drafted another halfway decent QB along with RG3, so play that dude instead.
LeSean McCoy, RB -- PHI (at WAS)
Again, I'm sure he'll be plenty good this season. But there are so many reasons to pause. Shady McCoy is coming off his worst fantasy season (which was marred by injury) and is in a brand-new offense. Like, never-before-seen-in-the-NFL new. Let's wait one week and make sure Chip Kelly's fast-paced college offense works in the pros, too.
Pierre Garcon, WR -- WAS (vs. PHI)
Well, apparently I like nobody in this Redskins-Eagles game. Garcon is overrated. he can't stay healthy and he is far from a consistent fantasy option. Everybody's waiting for a breakout campaign, but what if it never comes? I reckon you have better WR options on your team, so go with those guys Week 1. (I also reckon that I'm going to use "I reckon" quite a bit more through these Start/Sit, because apparently I'm Southern now.)