Tonight's the night as the Denver Broncos host the Carolina Panthers in a rematch of the 2016 Super Bowl to kickoff the NFL season. You'll have to decide which players from this game you're going to start on your fantasy team. Since it is the first game of the season this isn't going to be an easy choice, but let's take a look and see what we've got. Now depending on the size of your league and the way it's scored your choices could be different, but for a straight up league let's break things down.

At quarterback Cam Newton is the best fantasy quarterback in the game and he's a must start even against what should be a tough Denver defense. You have to think that Newton is looking for a little payback after the poor performance he had against the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Newton = start.

Peyton Manning is retired, Mark Sanchez was signed as a free agent, but was cut. That means the starting quarterback for the Broncos is Trevor Siemian. Siemian is in his second year with the Broncos. He took one snap last season and it was a kneel down. He makes his NFL debut against one of the top defenses in the NFL  I don't have the confidence in Siemain to start him this week. Siemain = bench.

Now I'm in a 20 team league and Jonathan Stewart was the first running back I drafted; so he's a "must" start for me. If I had a deeper running back core I might give Stewart a week off and see if his Week 2 match up is better. I am confident enough in Stewart to play him. He has a tough match up, but I think that his ability in the passing game will help you score some points. Let's just hope that Mike Tolbert doesn't steal a short touchdown run from Stewart.  Stewart = start.

C.J. Anderson is very much like Stewart in this game. Monte Ball was cut last season and Ronnie Hillman was let go in final cuts this season; so Anderson is the #1 running back. He should get the bulk of the carries which will give him the chance to pout up numbers for your fantasy team. Anderson is also a very effective receiver out of the backfield and can pick you up points in the passing game.  Just like Stewart Anderson owners have to hope that well liked rookie Devontae Booker doesn't steal a short touchdown run from him. Anderson = start.

All the Panthers receivers are healthy to start the season. Of course just because they're healthy doesn't make them good plays this week. Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn Jr, Devin Funchess and Corey "Philly" Brown are the guys Newton will be throwing the football to. Denver has one of if not the best secondary in the NFL and I'm not sold on this group of Panthers wide receivers. Benjamin was a 1000 yard receiver as a rookie and caught 9 touchdown passes. He missed all of last season with a knee injury. He's a big target and works well with Newton. Ginn Jr. is a speedster who started to break out a little with the Panthers last season. Funchess caught 31 balls as a rookie last season; adding 5 touchdowns. Brown is the 4th guy and return man and I don't think he'll be a factor unless it's as a returner. Benjamin = start, Ginn Jr. = bench, Funchess = bench and Brown = bench.

Siemain and the Broncos receivers won't have to deal with Josh Norman in the Carolina secondary. Norman signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent this off season. Denver has a top pair of wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Cody Latimer is the 3rd receiver, but has never found his spot in this offense.  Thomas did rack up his 4th 1000 yard season in 2016, but his touchdowns dropped to 6. Sanders also had a 1000 yard season and 6 touchdowns last season. It is being reported that Sanders won't play tonight due to an illness. If you're a Sanders owner you'll want to do your research on that to see what his status is. I'm going with Thomas = start, Sanders = bench and Latimer = bench.

Greg Olsen has his 2nd 1000 yard season in a row last season with 7 touchdowns. Olsen has found his way into the upper echelon of NFL tight ends and was Newton's top target last season with all the Panthers injuries. Now Olsen is on the injury report as questionable, but should be go to go tonight. If you drafted Olsen you may only have a back up tight end on your roster as a bye week filler; so it may make your choice easy. I'm going with Olsen = start

Virgil Green is the Broncos starter at tight end. He's always been more of a blocking tight end and may be used to tonight to give Siemain extra protection. Green had a career high 12 receptions last season with 1 touchdown. While those numbers may go up this season; I'm hoping you have another tight end on your roster. Green = bench.

Carolina has one of the best defenses in the NFL and it probably went off the board very early in most fantasy drafts. To add to that there kicker Graham Gano scored 146 points last season. Ginn Jr. is a dangerous punt returner and I've always wondered why he doesn't get more chances to return kickoffs. If you drafted the Carolina Defense/Special Teams early or maybe even as the first Defense/Special teams off the board your choice is easy, but either way I think; Carolina Defense/Special Teams = start.

Denver also has one of the top defenses in the NFL and while I believe that Carolina's Defense/Special teams was probably drafted before Denver's I'm sure Denver's Defense's Special Team was taken soon after that. Brandon McManus scored 125 points last season making 97.2% of hid field goals. Veteran Jordan Norwood looks like he'll get the first shot at returning kickoffs and punts, but don't expect much out of the Broncos return game. Just like Carolina; with where you drafted Denver's Defense/Special Team it's an easy choice. Denver's Defense/Special Teams = start.

Hopefully this helps you put your line up together for Week 1. Good luck and we'll come back tomorrow and see how we did.  

Thanks for reading  and feel free to leave your comments.

Published by John Burke