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Roethlisberger headlines top fantasy starts for fantasy's fifth week

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups of the week and how those matchups will affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert highlights a player who's under the radar but could produce strong numbers based on the opponent. Owners beware highlights a player who's a regular starter in most fantasy leagues but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our weekly lineup rankings.

Start of the Week

Team Player Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger has been better than advertised from a fantasy perspective this season, and his success should continue in Week 5 against Detroit. Only the Titans have allowed more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than the Lions, who rank 25th in pass defense and have allowed 12 touchdown passes. Roethlisberger is a terrific option for owners who have any of the four star quarterbacks on bye this week.


Quarterbacks -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Houston Texans

Matt Schaub
Schaub, a preseason breakout candidate on NFL.com, is on pace to finally reach his statistical (and fantasy) potential. This is an especially good week to start him against the Cardinals defense which ranks 30th against the pass and has allowed an average of 280.3 passing YPG. Expect Schaub to put up solid numbers in what looks like an absolute shootout in the desert.


More quarterbacks with favorable matchups
1. Joe Flacco vs. Bengals: Quarterbacks have averaged more than 20 fantasy points against the Bengals.
2. Kurt Warner vs. Texans: Texans rank ninth in pass defense, but Warner should shine in a possible barnburner.
3. Donovan McNabb vs. Buccaneers: Quarterbacks have averaged more than 20 fantasy points against the Bucs.
4. Brett Favre at Rams: Good bye-week replacement; Rams allowing fifth-most fantasy points to QBs this season.
5. Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jaguars: Check injury status; Jaguars allowing an average of 22.1 fantasy points to QBs.

Sleeper alert: Matt Cassel vs. Cowboys: Viable bye-week starter; Cowboys rank 29th in pass defense.


Quarterbacks -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Cincinnati Bengals

Carson Palmer
Palmer has had his share of struggles this season, completing a career-low 57.7 percent of his passes after four games. His fortunes won't improve this week against the Ravens, who have held Palmer to an average of just 197.4 passing yards with four total touchdown passes in their last five meetings. Keep Palmer on the fantasy sidelines in this AFC North tilt unless you are desperate for a quarterback.


Team Player Analysis

Cleveland Browns

Derek Anderson
Anderson, a viable waiver-wire pickup, scored 20 fantasy points in last week's loss to the Bengals. However, owners shouldn't consider him a great option in Week 5. The Browns have traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets, leaving Anderson without a reliable receiving option. The Bills have also held the last two quarterbacks they've faced to a combined 15 fantasy points.


More quarterbacks with unfavorable matchups
1. Eli Manning vs. Raiders: Injured foot a cause for concern; Raiders have allowed just four touchdown passes.
2. Kyle Orton vs. Patriots: Patriots rank seventh in pass defense, allowing an average of 192.2 passing YPG.
3. Jake Delhomme vs. Redskins: Redskins have allowed an average of one TD pass per game.
4. Kerry Collins vs. Colts: Colts rank eighth in pass defense; allowed just two touchdown passes.
5. Kyle Boller vs. Vikings: Vikings have recorded a league-high 16 sacks this season.

Owners beware: Matt Ryan at 49ers: Hard to bench; 49ers defense allowing an average of one TD pass per game.


Running backs -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

New York Giants

Brandon Jacobs
Jacobs hasn't met his lofty fantasy expectations, averaging a very modest 8.5 fantasy points per game on NFL.com. He should boost that average this week, however, facing the Raiders defense which ranks 26th against the run. Look for the Giants to lean on Jacobs with Eli Manning nursing a foot injury in what could be a blowout at Giants Stadium.


Team Player Analysis

Denver Broncos

Knowshon Moreno
Moreno has started to show flashes of the skills that made him a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, scoring a touchdown in each of his last two contests. With Correll Buckhalter a question mark for Week 5, Moreno should see the lion's share of the carries against the Patriots defense, which surrendered five catches and 152 yards from scrimmage to Ravens running back Ray Rice.


More running backs with favorable matchups
1. Brian Westbrook vs. Buccaneers: Expected to start in Week 5; Buccaneers rank 30th in run defense.
2. Rashard Mendenhall at Lions: Will start if Willie Parker is out; Lions allowing average of 23.6 fantasy points to RBs.
3. Marion Barber at Chiefs: Expected to start in Week 5; Chiefs have allowed five touchdown runs.
4. Tim Hightower vs. Texans: Texans rank 29th in total run defense.
5. Marshawn Lynch vs. Browns: Browns have allowed an average of 31.6 fantasy points to RBs.

Sleeper alert: Jerome Harrison at Bills: Bills have allowed an average of 30 fantasy points to running backs.


Running backs -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Detroit Lions

Kevin Smith
Benching Smith during the bye weeks is hard unless you have serious backfield depth, but he could be facing an uphill battle in this week's game against Pittsburgh. The Steelers rank third in the league in run defense and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs. Bench him if you have a viable roster replacement.


Team Player Analysis

New York Jets

Thomas Jones
Jones has found the end zone three times this season, but he's averaging a modest 3.8 yards per carry and will fail to rush for even 1,000 yards based on his current numbers. He also has a tough matchup on Monday night against the Dolphins, who rank second in the league in run defense and are allowing an average of 61.0 rushing YPG. Keep Jones on the sidelines if you have better options.


More running backs with unfavorable matchups
1. Michael Turner at 49ers: Hard to bench; 49ers haven't allowed a touchdown run.
2. Cedric Benson at Ravens: Ravens rank first in run defense, allowing average of 59.5 rushing YPG this season.
3. Joseph Addai at Titans: Fantasy running backs average just more than 10 points per game against Titans.
4. Cadillac Williams at Eagles: Eagles defense fresh coming off bye; Williams averaging 8.8 fantasy points per game.
5. Michael Bush at Giants: Will share carries with Justin Fargas; Raiders rank 28th in rushing offense (88.8 YPG).

Owners beware: Steven Jackson vs. Vikings: Vikings haven't allowed a rushing touchdown this season.


Wide receivers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles

DeSean Jackson
Jackson is ranked ninth in fantasy points among wide receivers on NFL.com, even with a bye week mixed in. His success should continue this week against the Buccaneers, who have struggled to stop the pass. Not only do the Men in Pewter rank a middle-of-the-road 16th in receiving defense this season, but they've also surrendered nine touchdown catches in just four games.


Team Player Analysis

Seattle Seahawks

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Houshmandzadeh had a slow start to the season, but he exploded against the Colts last week for eight receptions and 103 yards. Now he faces a great matchup against the Jaguars, who rank 30th in receiving defense and have allowed an average of 287.5 YPG. Fantasy owners should consider Houshmandzadeh and his teammate, Nate Burleson, very nice starting options in Week 5.


More wide receivers with favorable matchups
1. Hines Ward at Lions: Lions rank 23rd in receiving defense; Ward and Santonio Holmes should both be active.
2. Derrick Mason vs. Bengals: Bengals have allowed an average of 20.6 points to receivers.
3. Dwayne Bowe vs. Cowboys: Cowboys rank 29th in receiving defense; check Bowe's status on the injury report.
4. Kevin Walter at Cardinals: Solid No. 3 fantasy wideout; Cardinals rank 31st in receiving defense.
5. Patrick Crayton at Chiefs: Chiefs have allowed an average of 24.5 fantasy points to receivers.

Sleeper alert: Pierre Garcon at Titans: Titans allowing more fantasy points to WRs than any other NFL defense.


Wide receivers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Bryant
Bryant is back on the fantasy radar after posting four catches and a touchdown in last week's loss to the Redskins. However, that's not enough to consider using him against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Bryant, who was targeted just five times last week, will struggle to produce good numbers in what could be a serious blowout. Don't consider him more than a desperation No. 3 fantasy option.


Team Player Analysis

Washington Redskins

Santana Moss
Moss is coming off two solid fantasy performances, so he'll be considered a viable No. 3 fantasy wideout this week. But based on his historical inconsistent level of production, not to mention a matchup against the Panthers and their sixth-ranked receiving defense, Moss could be in line for a tough week. Don't be shocked if his Week 5 totals are far less attractive than what he's produced in recent contests.


More wide receivers with unfavorable matchups
1. Braylon Edwards at Dolphins (Mon.): Could be limited due to a lack of knowledge of the Jets' offensive playbook.
2. Mohamed Massaquoi at Bills: Hot free agent, but could struggle without Edwards drawing defensive attention.
3. Ted Ginn Jr. vs. Jets (Mon.): Has two fantasy points since Week 2; Jets rank fourth in total receiving defense.
4. Eddie Royal vs. Patriots: Has just four fantasy points all season; Patriots rank eighth in total receiving defense.
5. Laveranues Coles at Ravens: Losing targets to Andre Caldwell; has scored five fantasy points since Week 2.

Owners beware: Steve Smith vs. Raiders: Hard to bench; facing Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha could limit numbers.


Tight ends -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Indianapolis Colts

Dallas Clark
Consider this your official calling to arms (Peyton Manning's, in this case) to start prominent Colt receivers. The Titans have allowed more fantasy points to wideouts than any other defense, and they've been almost as porous against opposing tight ends. That's extremely good news for Clark, who has become a must-start option in all formats. Expect him to post another solid stat line on Sunday Night Football.


Team Player Analysis

San Francisco 49ers

Vernon Davis
Davis has produced 10 catches, 139 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Those numbers have moved him up to third among tight ends in fantasy points on NFL.com, behind only Clark and Antonio Gates. The veteran out of Maryland should now be seen as a solid starter against the Falcons, who enter the week ranked 24th in the league in receiving defense this season.


More tight ends with favorable matchups
1. Brent Celek vs. Buccaneers: Ranks fourth in fantasy points among tight ends.
2. Owen Daniels at Cardinals: Cardinals allowing an average of over 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
3. Heath Miller at Lions: Lions allowing an average of over 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season.
4. Dustin Keller at Dolphins (Mon.): Dolphins have allowed 320 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends.
5. Visanthe Shiancoe at Rams: Rams have allowed 239 yards and three touchdowns to tight ends.

Sleeper alert: Marcedes Lewis vs. Seahawks: Viable bye-week replacement; two touchdown catches in last three games.


Tight ends -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Oakland Raiders

Zach Miller
Miller had a fast start to the season with six catches and 96 yards in a loss to the Chargers, but he's been held to just five catches for 50 yards with no touchdowns in his past three games. With no legitimate threats to defend at wide receiver, defenses are doubling Miller in an effort to stop the lone reliable option for JaMarcus Russell. Leave Miller on the bench until the Raiders make some adjustments.


Team Player Analysis

Denver Broncos

Tony Scheffler
Scheffler, once a viable fantasy starter in all formats, has become virtually invisible in the offense of coach Josh McDaniels. The veteran tight end has hauled in just six passes for 71 yards this season. This week's opponent, the Patriots, rank eighth in total receiving defense. Scheffler is still far too much of a risk to consider using outside of much larger fantasy leagues.


More tight ends with unfavorable matchups
1. John Carlson vs. Jaguars: Jaguars have allowed 21 receptions, 169 yards, one TD to tight ends this season.
2. Kevin Boss vs. Raiders: Dealing with a sore ankle; could be limited against Raiders' 11th-ranked pass defense.
3. Bo Scaife vs. Colts: Three catches, 25 yards since Week 1.
4. Benjamin Watson at Patriots: Six catches, 97 yards, no touchdowns since Week 1.
5. Anthony Fasano vs. Jets (Mon.): Jets have allowed 17 receptions, 161 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends.

Owners beware: Kellen Winslow at Eagles: Eagles allowing average of 3.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends.


Kickers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Dallas Cowboys

Nick Folk
Folk is having a good (but not great) start to the season, but he could put up major numbers this weekend in Kansas City. Kickers have averaged close to 10 points against the Chiefs. Folk is well worth a look as a one-week starter in fantasy football leagues with 12-plus teams.


More kickers with favorable matchups
1. Lawrence Tynes vs. Raiders: Hasn't been consistent, but Tynes still ranks first in fantasy points among kickers.
2. David Akers vs. Buccaneers: Bucs have allowed eight field-goal conversion this season, tied for most in the NFL.
3. Adam Vinatieri at Titans: Has scored 28 fantasy points in last three games.
4. Jeff Reed at Lions: Kicking on turf; Lions allowing an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to kickers.
5. Steven Hauschka vs. Bengals: Viable bye-week replacement; Bengals have allowed seven field-goal conversions.

Sleeper alert: Jay Feely at Dolphins (Mon.): Dolphins tied for the most field-goal conversions (8) allowed this season.


Kickers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Detroit Lions

Jason Hanson
Hanson has put up some decent numbers for fantasy owners this season despite his age. That being said, he should still be benched this week against defending champion Pittsburgh. The Steelers defense is tied with several other teams for the fewest field-goal conversions allowed (3) this season, so Hanson won't have many opportunities to produce in what could be a one-sided contest.


More kickers with unfavorable matchups
1. Jason Elam at 49ers Averaging just 5.6 fantasy points per game.
2. Olindo Mare vs. Jaguars: Jaguars are tied with several teams for the fewest field-goal conversions allowed (3).
3. Dan Carpenter vs. Jets (Mon.): Jets have allowed an average of just 5.5 fantasy points to kickers.
4. Sebastian Janikowski at Giants: Giants have allowed an average of just 4.3 fantasy points per game to kickers.
5. Josh Brown vs. Vikings Rams offense not scoring points (6.0 PPG), and Vikings rank 11th in total defense.

Owners beware: Matt Prater vs. Patriots: Patriots allowing an average of six fantasy points per game to kickers.


Defenses -- Start 'Em

Team Player

Vikings defense
Talk about the ultimate no-brainer for fantasy owners. The Vikings defense is coming off a solid performance on Monday night against the Packers, and now they'll face the Rams offense which is averaging six points per game. In a season that has seen several defensive units put up big fantasy points (like the 49ers in Week 4), don't be shocked to see the Vikes absolutely dominated the hapless Rams this weekend.


More defenses with favorable matchups
1. Giants defense vs. Raiders: Raiders rank 32nd in total offense (208.5 YPG); averaging 10.5 PPG this season.
2. Eagles defense vs. Buccaneers: Bucs rank 27th in total offense (279.5 YPG); averaging 13.5 PPR in four weeks.
3. Ravens defense vs. Bengals: Bengals have some offensive weapons, but unit can be prone to turnovers as well.
4. Jets defense at Dolphins (Mon.): Dolphins could struggle to move the football vs. stout Men in Green defense.
5. Redskins defense at Panthers: Panthers have a league-worst minus-8 takeaway/giveaway ratio this season.

Sleeper alert: Bills defense vs. Browns: Browns offense averaging a mere 12.2 points per game this season.


Defenses -- Sit 'Em

Team Player

Titans defense
Talk about a complete reversal of fantasy value. The Titans were considered a solid No. 1 fantasy defense last season with DT Albert Haynesworth in the middle of their line. Now without the big man or former coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Titans now rank 25th in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com. A date with Peyton Manning and the Colts high-octane offense won't soon cure what ails them, either.


More defenses with unfavorable matchups
1. Bengals defense at Ravens: Suddenly explosive Ravens offense averaging 31.0 points, 413.5 yards per game.
2. Seahawks defense vs. Jaguars: Defenses facing the Jaguars averaging just six fantasy points per game in 2009.
3. Dolphins defense vs. Jets (Mon.) Despite 28-point output in Week 4, Dolphins still a very risky fantasy defense.
4. Cardinals defense vs. Texans: Game could be a shootout; defenses averaging seven fantasy points vs. Texans.
5. Buccaneers defense at Eagles: Buccaneers rank 29th in fantasy points (26.0) among defenses on NFL.com.

Owners beware: Broncos defense vs. Patriots: Defenses averaging just 6.5 fantasy points against Patriots.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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