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F&C's Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em—Week 1: Cowboys vs. Giants

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Tonight's match up between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants doesn't pose too many unanswered questions in fantasy football. The majority of the players drafted in your fantasy league either went in the top-5 rounds of the draft, or in the much later rounds, as fliers. But no matter where you selected a player, you have to examine his current situation to see if he's worth a start on your team. In fantasy football, match ups are key.

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo - QB - Start

If you drafted Romo, then you more than likely drafted him as a starter for your fantasy team. Against the New York Giants, he's a solid start. In Romo's last eight games against the Giants, he's gone 164-for-241 in pass attempts (68%) for 2,004 yds (8.3 YPA), 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He's also added two more rushing scores in that span. For a more recent sample, over the past four games against the Giants, he's put up 10 touchdowns compared to only a single interception. If you have him, start him.

Dez Bryant - WR - Start

If you drafted Bryant, you had two questions in your mind as you called out his name. First, will his knee (patella tendinitis) hold up? And second, will he be able to play effectively for all four quarters? Last season, Bryant was a lock to go missing during the second-half of the game.

All reports are that Bryant's knee is no longer a concern. He didn't miss any practice time this week. And while Bryant admitted earlier in the preseason that his conditioning was an issue last season, owner Jerry Jones says the third-year wideout has taken care of that problem. Bryant shouldn't perform his second-half disappearing act this season.

With tight end Jason Witten (spleen) out and Miles Austin just days away from returning from a chronic hamstring injury, Bryant is likely to see an influx of targets against a soft Giants secondary. Start him with confidence. 

Miles Austin - WR - Start

With every step Austin takes, his fantasy owners' anxiety level climbs higher and higher. Austin may just have the most brittle hamstrings in the NFL.

Austin has practiced all week in preparation for the NFL's season opener, so he's going to get the nod to start against the Giants. If his hamstrings hold up for all four quarters, then you have a WR3 with tremendous upside. If he takes a stride and falls to the ground, well then, you know what you drafted. That's the risk with Austin, and that's why you were able to grab him in the later rounds. 

You drafted Austin to start him, so in Week 1 he should be in your lineup. He's a good player to look to trade if he has a solid outing this week. Trade him away for a wide receiver with less risk.

Jason Witten - TE - Sit

While Witten showed as much heart as a guy can show by offering to sign a waiver in order to suit up tonight, the Cowboys won't agree to his proposal. Original reports were that the Cowboys would give Witten an extra week to heal his sliced up spleen, but Dallas has activated their No. 1 tight end tonight. It's a gutsy thing for Witten to do. It would be equally gutsy if you start him on your fantasy team. Sit him.

DeMarco Murray - RB - Sit

You may have drafted Murray in the first-round. You may also be shaking your head and mumbling profanities at your screen right now. But those mumblings are better done now, rather than when you're watching the game and witnessing the Giants' front seven demolish Dallas' leaky offensive line all night. 

Murray is a rarity in the game: a three-down back with an incapable backup (Felix Jones). He has what you look for in your fantasy players: opportunity. Or in fantasy football terms, touches. The more touches a player gets, the more opportunities he has to score. In Murray's case against the Giants' ferocious defensive line, those opportunities won't amount to much. Let him sit this one out.

Felix Jones - RB - Sit

If you drafted Felix Jones, I hope it was done by auto-pick. If you have him on your roster, you need to check out our Balancing Act article on who to pick up from the waiver wire. Drop Jones and pick up a player that can actually help you win games. So yeah, Jones gets a "sit" this week. 

New York Giants

Eli Manning - QB - Start

Prior to last season, Manning declared himself a top-5 quarterback in the league. During last season, he made a strong case for his ranking. While we still don't have him in the top-5, he's definitely worth a start this week against the Cowboys. 

Manning has put up solid numbers playing against Dallas (145-of-226 (64.2%) for 1,996 yards (8.83 YPA), 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions) over the last six games. Eli gets his No.1a target (Hakeem Nicks) back just in time for kickoff, which only raises Manning's value. With Ahmad Bradshaw nursing a hurting hoof, the Giants will lean on Manning to put points on the board. Manning has shown that he's more than capable to do so, so he makes for a solid start in Week 1.

Victor Cruz - WR - Start

With Cruz you just hope that last year wasn't a fluke. There's no good reason to sit him. Start him and hope he's worth his high-round pick.

Hakeem Nicks - WR - Start

Nicks is coming off foot surgery but looks ready to go for the opener tonight.

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If Nicks' foot doesn't bother him—which we don't think it will— he should be plenty effective. He will match up against rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne. With Nicks having practiced all week without any setbacks, he should have his way with the rookie defensive back. Start him.

Ahmad Bradshaw - RB - Start

Bradshaw missed the entire preseason but he still makes for a solid RB2 play in Week 1. There are concerns that rookie David Wilson will steal the job from Bradshaw after having a stellar preseason. Those concerns are overblown. The job is still Bradshaw's and he should be in line for plenty of touches tonight to make him a viable RB2. 

David Wilson - RB - Sit

The rookie's role is undefined at this point. Wilson makes for a sexy roster stash behind Bradshaw who has significant injury issues, but he's not a guy you play in Week 1. Sit him.

Good luck this week!

To see which players you should sit or start, check out our Week 1 rankings with "heads-up display" analysis.

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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Featured Writer

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).