Are you ready for some football?
That’s a rhetorical question, because if you’re reading this article, we’re assuming you were happy to see NFL football return Thursday night. That Super Bowl rematch was just the tip of the iceberg, though, as 30 more teams will battle it out Sunday and Monday.
Week 1 is crucial for fantasy owners looking to start off on the right foot. The opener also can be a bit tricky, as owners might feel compelled to start players they took higher on their draft boards as some form of self-validation.
But matchups still reign supreme in the fantasy world, and Week 1 is no different. With that in mind, here’s our first installment of Starts and Sits.
Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Washington Redskins. Believe it or not, Cousins was a top-10 fantasy QB last season, and he opens his 2016 campaign Monday night against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that gave up the third-most passing yards in the NFL last season.
Ryan Mathews, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles. Mathews is the new lead back in town, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm and a matchup against the Cleveland Browns’ weak run defense, expect Philly to feed him early and often.
James White, Running Back, New England Patriots. The Arizona Cardinals are stout against the run, but there’s a good chance White makes hay in the passing game, where replacement quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be looking his way on checkdowns. White’s value is even higher in PPR formats.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Rams. Todd Gurley can’t get every yard from scrimmage, and Austin amassed 181 total yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers over the teams’ two matchups last season.
Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders. Crabtree has developed into more than just a sorry receiver in Oakland, and he gets a juicy Week 1 matchup against a porous New Orleans Saints passing defense at the Superdome.
Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals. Coming off a shaky preseason, Palmer gets a tough matchup against a tough Patriots defense that boasts a strong pass rush and solid secondary. Palmer certainly is capable of producing, but we just don’t trust him.
Matt Jones, Running Back, Redskins. Jones already is dealing with a bum shoulder, and undrafted rookie Robert Kelley could steal some of his carries after a stellar preseason. The Steelers are better against the run than the pass, so don’t expect much from Jones.
Melvin Gordon, Running Back, San Diego Chargers. Gordon could be in line for a bounce-back sophomore campaign, but the matchup just isn’t great on the road against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that allowed just 98.2 rushing yards per game last season.
Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Eagles. See Mathews, Ryan. The other Matthews should accumulate targets as Philly’s No. 1 receiver, but he’ll also draw Browns cornerback Joe Haden and has Carson Wentz throwing him the ball in his first NFL start. Steer clear if you can.
Kamar Aiken, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens’ offense as a whole is a bit of an enigma, and even though Aiken is listed as a starter on the depth chart, a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills’ strong secondary raises some red flags.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images