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One of the biggest challenges of managing a fantasy football team is submitting to the weekly sit-or-start crucible. And trying to decide who to sit and who to start is even tougher the very first week of the season, when you have nothing to go on but last year's performances and your own hunches.
The hardest sit-or-start decision I'm facing this week revolves around Torrey Smith. The fantasy football world seems to be in almost universal agreement that Smith is going to have a breakout year. He's a very fast, young receiver who made some big plays last year mostly as the No. 2 target for Joe Flacco, but the departure of Anquan Boldin and an injury to Dennis Pitta, combined with Smith's obvious talent and growing experience, make him a clear No. 1 who should get the ball often throughout the season.
Smith, however, squares off in the NFL's first Week 1 match-up on Thursday night against the traditionally tough Denver secondary. There is a chance veteran cornerback Champ Bailey won't be playing, but Denver's defense overall was tied for the NFL lead in sacks last year, and was fourth in fewest points allowed. I'm also wondering if Smith himself will be a little jittery in his first stint as his team's clear No. 1 target.
One of my alternatives to starting Smith is T.Y. Hilton, a much-hyped fantasy sleeper who is only a No. 3 receiver for the Colts, but in a few games late last year looked more like a No. 1.5. Hilton is facing off against an epically terrible Oakland team (bad even by recent Oakland standards). Hilton is forecast for fewer fantasy points than Smith this week, which is fitting for his presumed role in the offense, but I'm sure I'm not the only fantasy team owner having a tingly feeling that Hilton will torch the Raiders for 150 yards and two TDs.
It's a long season, but I would hate to start it off with a loss where the difference proves to be my decision to start one of these guys and sit the other. My gut is telling me to stick with Smith, who essentially is guaranteed to see more passes than any other receiver on his team. What would you do?
* Bleacher Report likes the entire Indianapolis offense fantasy-wise vs. the Raiders.
* SI.com has some early waiver wire advice if you already hate your team.
* Fansided says you don't need a back-up fantasy QB.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.