Week 1: Start or Sit

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Today marks the first release of our start or sit column, where we take an in-depth look at the games slated for this weekend and give you an idea of who we think is going to shine and who is going to bomb.

I'm not going to tell you that you need to start Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson because I really shouldn't have to. Even if I told you to bench Tom Brady this weekend you'd be absolutely mental to do so and probably wouldn't anyway.

Every Thursday we'll have the start and sit column available so you'll always be prepared heading into the weekend.

If you have any questions about your lineup, send me an email at molsen@chicagosuntimes.com and between Ricky and myself we'll do the best we can to help you out.

Otherwise, good luck this weekend.


Must starts: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Drew Brees


Donovan McNabb - Eagles vs. Rams - After suffering through another injury plagued season in 2007, McNabb's knee looks as healthy as it's ever been and fantasy owners are simply giddy about it.

McNabb has proven over the years that he's capable of turning in beastly fantasy performances and his first one of the season will come on the very first week. The Rams are, how do I say this nicely, not very good.

At all.

I'm predicting at least two passing touchdowns with a very good chance that he'll run one in as well. The knock is he doesn't have many receivers, but with Brian Westbrook in the backfield he really doesn't even need one.

Jon Kitna - Lions vs. Atlanta - Despite losing Mike Martz as an offensive coordinator, Kitna still figures to be a pretty reliable fantasy option this season. He starts the year with a very nice matchup against the rebuilding Falcons and their rag-tag secondary. He won't have too much trouble finding Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams in open space and should toss a couple of TDs.

Carson Palmer - Bengals vs. Baltimore - This isn't so much as a vote of confidence in Palmer as it is a complete lack of confidence in the Bengals ground attack. Newly minted starting running back Chris Perry will be fighting a losing battle all day and Palmer will have to air it out to get the win.

Kurt Warner - Cardinals vs. 49ers - If there's one thing we know about Warner it's that he can air it out with the best of them. And he'll definitely get his chance to do just that when the Cards' roll into San Francisco on Sunday.

Warner should have a great chance of repeating the stats he put up against the 49ers last year (484 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT). Start him with confidence.


Aaron Rodgers - Packers vs. Vikings - I'm sure Aaron Rodgers would have taken any other matchup for his first ever regular season start.

Imagine the amount of pressure on this kid to produce at Lambeau against a divisional rival and a perennial Super Bowl contender to boot?

This is a huge game in only the first week of the season and the stage will have its effects on Rodgers. But he's also got to worry about a Vikings defense that figures to end up as one of the best in the league.

Maybe next week kid.

Matt Schaub -Texans vs. Steelers - Talk about another tough opening week situation on the road against the Steelers.

I'm a huge fan of Matt Schaub, but not for this game. The stats would probably tell you different because last year the Steelers were prone to giving up big points and turning what would normally be close games into shootouts. But the Texans have absolutely nobody they can trust in the running game and Schaub will be under heavy pressure all day from the Steelers D.

Vince Young - Titans vs. Jaguars - What does Vince Young do?

Vince Young wins football games.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he wins you fantasy football games. As a dual threat on the field, Young occasionally deserves a start in particular matchups. But the Jaguars are definitely not one of them.

It's going to be one of those 6-for-13, 85 yds TD, INT days and you definitely don't a piece of that.

Running Backs

Must starts: LaDanian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson (Min), Joseph Addai, Brian Westbrook, Steven Jackson


Michael Turner - Falcons vs. Lions - With the departure of Shaun Rogers the behemoth, this Lions defense figures to be even less effective against the run.

Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan is going to be depending upon Michael Turner to help him shoulder the load this season and the former Northern Illinois back will deliver in week one.

Look for Turner to break off at least one run of thirty yards or more and a multiple touchdown day wouldn't be too much of a shocker.

Thomas Jones - Jets vs. Dolphins - The first thing people always assume with Brett Favre is that he instantly makes the wide receivers better. But what they fail to recognize is that he also provides a huge boost to any running back that lines up next to him.

The pairing of Favre and Jones seems to be a perfect match. Jones is equally capable of pounding it between the tackles and running the screen pass to perfection. Until Favre gets a good grip on the Jets playbook, the running game is going to be the focus and Thomas Jones fantasy owners everywhere should take notice.

Selvin Young - Broncos vs. Raiders - Lane Kiffin most certainly has one of the best secondaries in all of football.

But the Raiders run defense is simply atrocious.

Last year they gave up an average of 145.9 yards per game and allowed a total of 24 total rushing touchdowns, worst in the league with the next closest team being the Lions with 19.

Young is a great play here.


Larry Johnson - Chiefs vs. Patriots - It's going to be an ugly night for the Chiefs as they square off against the defending AFC champion Patriots. Tough to sit your second or third round pick but for now you're going to have to.

Ryan Grant - Packers vs. Vikings - The Vikings have the best run defense in the NFL and Grant is going to experience that first hand on Monday night. It's the same situation LJ owners are facing this week so I understand it'll be tough to sit him but don't say I didn't warn you.

Chris Perry - Bengals vs. Ravens - Eventually you'll be able to use Perry on a consistent basis as the Bengals must have seen enough in him to let Rudi Johnson go. But Perry has the pleasure of meeting up with the Ravens this Sunday and that's nearly an automatic ticket to the pine.

Wide Receivers

Must starts: Randy Moss, Terrel Owens, Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne


Patrick Crayton - Cowboys vs. Browns - The second fiddle at the wide receiver for the Cowboys will always draw favorable matchups due to the constant attention being paid to T.O. every week.

This is a nice spot for Crayton simply because this game features two quarterbacks who love to air it out and Crayton should be good for at least one score.

Santonio Holmes - Steelers vs. Texans - I went in to every draft this offseason targeting Holmes and walked away from each one empty handed.

It's no secret people are expecting big things from this kid and it starts in week one against a soft, banged up Texans secondary. Big Ben has found his game breaking threat and will exploit it every chance he gets.

Plaxico Burress - Giants vs. Redskins - If there's one thing that Plaxico loves it's the spotlight.

And nowhere will it be shining brighter than tonight against the Redskins in the opener of the 2008 NFL season.

This start is an automatic.

Anthony Gonzalez - Colts vs. Bears - After watching the Bears play the Cover-2 defense for the past couple years it has become apparent that the softest spot for the offense to attack is about eight yards in front of the quarterback on a pass play.

Watch for Manning to hit Gonzalez on quick slants over the middle as he'll find plenty of room to run after making the catch. The heir apparent to Marvin Harrison is going to be a solid fantasy contributor this season.


Dwayne Bowe - Chiefs vs. Patriots - The problem here isn't necessarily Bowe, it's his quarterback Brodie Croyle. True the Pats' secondary lost Assante Samuel and is starting to show its age, but shutting down Bowe shouldn't present too much of a problem.

Bernard Berrian - Vikings vs. Packers - Tavaris Jackson is still hurt. Berrian isn't 100% and the Vikings are playing in Lambeau Field.

No good.

Santana Moss - Redskins vs. Giants - Playing against the G-Men at home in their first game after winning the Super Bowl does not bode well for the Redskins offense.

Throw in the fact that there's a new offensive scheme and a horrendous preseason showing and you'll find there's not much to like about Washington's passing game.

Tight Ends

Must starts: Antonio Gates, Chris Cooley, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jason Witten


Owen Daniels - Texans vs. Steelers - Outside of Andre Johnson, Daniels is QB Matt Schaub's most trusted target. He'll definitely get his looks in the red zone, provided the Texans actually get there.

Greg Olsen - Bears I'm sure Olsen ended up on a lot of Bears fans fantasy rosters this season and eventually that might prove to be a good pick. But leave him on the bench this week. The Bears are still trying to figure out how to use him.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on September 4, 2008 9:37 AM.

Giants vs. Redskins: Who do you start? was the previous entry in this blog.

Fantasy Mailbag: Favre over Brees? is the next entry in this blog.

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