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Vick, Thomas should find fantasy success in Week 3

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

Michael Vick at Jaguars: Vick is a tremendous fantasy option this week against the Jaguars. Their defense has been one of the worst in the league against the pass, allowing an average of better than 17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Unless you have a truly elite signal-caller, Vick should be in your starting lineup.

Quarterbacks - Start 'Em

Donovan McNabb at Rams: McNabb has thrown just one touchdown pass this season, but he's on pace to finish with better than 4,500 passing yards. This week he'll face the Rams, who have allowed an average of over 250 passing yards per game to the Cardinals and Raiders. Look for McNabb to have a solid stat line in this NFC battle.

Matt Ryan at Saints: Ryan is coming off a nice performance in Week 2, posting three touchdown passes in a win over the Cardinals. While he might not reach that mark against the Saints, Ryan should still post solid totals in what could turn into a shootout at the Superdome. Consider Ryan a viable low-end fantasy starter.

Brett Favre vs. Lions: I know, Favre is a huge risk in fantasy leagues. He's looked every bit his 40 years and dearly misses Sidney Rice in the pass attack. Still, I'd stick with the old gunslinger this week against the Lions. After two contests, they've allowed an average of 21 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Carson Palmer at Panthers: Palmer is going to give fantasy owners headaches with his inconsistent level of production each week, but he's still worth starting when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week in Carolina, where he'll face a Panthers defense that's allowed the sixth-most points to signal-callers.

Joe Flacco vs. Browns: Two weeks into the season, and 32 quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Flacco. Still, I'd stick with him against the Browns if you lack an elite quarterback. In his lone home game against the AFC North rival last season, Flacco lit up the Browns for 342 yards and a 111.8 passer rating.

Sleeper alert -- Kyle Orton vs. Colts: Did you know that Orton has more fantasy points than Brady and Tony Romo after two weeks? Even without Brandon Marshall, he's remained a viable fantasy option. That will be the case this week against the Colts, who surrendered 277 yards and two touchdown passes to Orton last season.

Quarterbacks - Sit 'Em

Eli Manning vs. Titans: Manning does have five touchdown passes through two weeks, but he's also thrown four interceptions and ranks just 17th in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. Manning is a risk against the Titans, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points (5.5 PPG) to opposing field generals.

Vince Young at Giants: The Giants were lit up like a Christmas tree by Peyton Manning last week, but Young is certainly no Manning. What's more, it's hard to trust the Titans quarterback after he got the hook last week in a loss to the Steelers. Even if you're in a much deeper league, starting Young is risky business.

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Chargers: Hasselbeck currently ranks ninth in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com, but don't overrate him based on those numbers. He's thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and his two rushing scores won't be a trend throughout the season. I'd keep him on the pine against the Bolts.

Chad Henne vs. Jets: Henne wasn't able to muster much of a stat line last week against the Vikings, throwing for 114 yards and posting just 8.56 fantasy points. In Week 3, he faces another stout opponent at home against the Jets. Until he starts to put up better totals, Henne shouldn't be trusted in fantasy leagues.

Josh Freeman vs. Steelers: Did you know that Freeman has just 2.52 fewer fantasy points on NFL.com than Aaron Rodgers? He's certainly had a great start to the season and is clearly on the fantasy radar, but you want nothing to do with him this week. The reason? Freeman is facing S Troy Polamalu and the Steelers.

Owners beware -- Jay Cutler vs. Packers (Mon.): Cutler is coming off a great performance against the Cowboys and will be hard to bench in most leagues. Still, his matchup against the Packers on Monday night isn't favorable. If you have another viable option (like Vick), keep Cutler on the sidelines this week.

Running backs - Start 'Em

Pierre Thomas vs. Falcons: The Falcons have been anything but tough against the run, allowing an average of 19.5 fantasy points to opposing running backs. That's good news for Thomas, who will see even more chances to produce with Reggie Bush out of action. The Saints runner is a great start in all fantasy formats.

LeSean McCoy at Jaguars: McCoy exploited a great matchup against the Lions last week, scoring three touchdowns and 30.80 fantasy points on NFL.com. His level of production should remain high against the Jaguars, who have allowed an average of over 21 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs on the season.

Darren McFadden at Cardinals: How about McFadden looking like a star the last two weeks? He's seventh in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com and is now an attractive No. 2 option in most leagues. The Cardinals have been dreadful against the run to this point, so look for McFadden to have another strong week.

Tim Hightower vs. Raiders: With Beanie Wells out of action, Hightower has put up 29.80 fantasy points on NFL.com and appears to have secured the top spot on the depth chart for now. If Wells returns to face the Raiders, though, Hightower would lose a bit of his luster. He's still a viable fantasy option regardless.

Clinton Portis at Rams: I don't trust Portis a ton, but he can be a useful flex option this week based on his matchup against the Rams. Their defense is one of the league's weakest units against the run, and Portis should see most of the carries for coach Mike Shanahan with Larry Johnson no longer on the team.

Sleeper alert -- Mike Tolbert at Seahawks: With Ryan Mathews dealing with a bum ankle, Tolbert is in line to see a lot of carries against a weak Seahawks defense. He put up 82 yards and two scores last week, and that was without seeing the first-team reps in practice. Tolbert is the prime fantasy sleeper of the week.

Running backs - Sit 'Em

Cadillac Williams vs. Steelers: Rule No. 1 in playing the matchups among running backs: If the player faces the Steelers, you sit him! The Steel Curtain shut down superstar Chris Johnson last week and has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing runners. That means you should park the Cadillac in the garage this week.

Jerome Harrison at Ravens: Remember that Browns running back that put up huge numbers at the end of last season? That was Harrison, right? Well, you wouldn't know it by his numbers through two weeks. Based on his recent lack of production and a matchup against the Ravens, Harrison should be parked right next to the Cadillac.

C.J. Spiller at Patriots: Does anyone know who will see the most carries for Buffalo on a weekly basis? Spiller had just one carry last week and took a backseat to Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. This backfield is a confusing mess, so avoid Spiller until he starts seeing more regular touches in the hapless Bills offense.

Brandon Jacobs vs. Titans: If you're rewarded fantasy points for long tossing your helmet into the stands, than Jacobs is your guy. But in the real world of fantasy football, he's no more than waiver wire fodder as a backup behind Ahmad Bradshaw. There's just no way you can trust this bruising runner on your fantasy team.

Jamaal Charles vs. 49ers: Thomas Jones saw 22 carries last week against the Browns. Charles saw 11. I know, I don't get it either. But coach Todd Haley has elected to go with Jones as his starter while leaving the far more talented Charles in a reserve role. That makes it hard to start Charles as more than a flex player this week.

Owners beware - Ronnie Brown vs. Jets: The Jets are tough against the run, allowing an average of just 7.5 fantasy points to opposing runners this season. What's more, Brown has rushed for a mere 181 yards (45. 2 YPG) in his last four games against the Men in Green. If you can afford to bench him, it's advised.

Wide receivers - Start 'Em

DeSean Jackson at Jaguars: Last week, I told you that all of your prominent Eagles should be active against the Lions. Well, the same holds true this week in their game in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have been vulnerable to opposing wide receivers, so Jackson should put up a second straight monster stat line for fantasy leaguers.

Marques Colston vs. Falcons: Colston has had a slow start to the fantasy season, posting just 12.90 fantasy points on NFL.com. Still, he's a nice option this week against the Falcons, who have allowed the wideout to average six catches in their last five meetings. Colston also scored in both games against the Falcons in 2009.

Chad Ochocinco at Panthers: Ochocinco was a beast in Week 1, but his numbers against the Ravens were less than stellar. He should rebound against the Panthers, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. The dynamic duo of Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are viable fantasy starters as a result.

Malcom Floyd at Seahawks: Floyd has become the Chargers' top wideout in the absence of Vincent Jackson, who is now in danger of missing several more weeks after not being traded. With a matchup against the Seahawks and their vulnerable defense next on the schedule, Floyd should find success and remains a No. 2 fantasy receiver.

Santana Moss at Rams: Moss has become McNabb's go-to wideout in Washington, as the two have hooked up 16 times in their first two games together. That bodes well for Moss this week against the Rams, who don't exactly have the best pass defense in the league. He's a viable No. 2 fantasy wideouts based on this favorable matchup.

Mark Clayton vs. Redskins: Since joining the Rams, Clayton has hauled in 12 passes and caught two touchdowns as the main option in the passing game for rookie Sam Bradford. It's a good idea to use him while he's hot, especially against the Redskins. They've given up more fantasy points to wideouts than any other team this season.

Sleeper alert -- Louis Murphy at Cardinals: Fantasy owners looking for a deep sleeper should consider Murphy, who's coming off a solid 91-yard, one-touchdown game against the Rams. He has a nice rapport with new starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, and this week's road matchup against the Cardinals is a very favorable one.

Wide receivers - Sit 'Em

Michael Crabtree at Chiefs: Last week, I expressed some concerns about Crabtree's lack of production and advised owners to sit him. Well, I'm even more worried about him now than I was last week. Crabtree has been invisible in the 49ers pass attack and is clearly a risk for fantasy owners even against a questionable Chiefs defense.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Browns: Remember when Houshmandzadeh was one of the best wideouts in fantasy football? That seems like an eternity ago, though, as he's been held to one catch for 27 yards in two games with the Ravens. Even against the Browns, you simply can't trust Houshmandzadeh to be a productive fantasy wideout.

Braylon Edwards at Dolphins: Edwards will not start against the Dolphins after being arrested for a DWI earlier in the week. How much he plays remains a question mark, so there's no real need to take a chance on him in your fantasy league. If you start a Jets receiver, it should be Jerricho Cotchery and/or Dustin Keller.

Bernard Berrian vs. Lions: Sure, Berrian's matchup this week against the Lions is very favorable. But he simply hasn't been on the same page as Favre and shouldn't be trusted to produce. What's more, Berrian is dealing with a sore knee that could further limit his effectiveness. He's someone to avoid if at all possible.

Lee Evans at Patriots: Evans has more name value than actual fantasy value based on one huge season (2006) in his career. Since 2007, he's averaged just 826 yards and five touchdowns as the Bills' top wideout. Evans, who was held without a catch last week, is close to becoming waiver-wire fodder Keep him on the sidelines.

Owners beware -- Dwayne Bowe vs. 49ers: So much for all the preseason talk about Bowe being ready to make a major impact in the Chiefs offense. Through two weeks, he's caught a total of five passes for 58 yards and is yet to find the end zone. At best, Bowe is a very risky No. 3 fantasy wideout against a tough Niners defense.

Tight ends - Start 'Em

Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Lions: If we've learned one thing about the Vikings passing game it's that Favre clearly trusts Shiancoe as one of his most reliable options. In 18 games with Favre at the helm of the offense, Shiancoe has scored 12 touchdowns. He'll have plenty of chances to shine against the vulnerable Lions defense.

Chris Cooley at Rams: Cooley has been one of the better draft bargains after two weeks, posting 144 yards and one touchdown in the Redskins offense. Much like McNabb and Moss, Cooley is a terrific option for fantasy leaguers against the Rams. He's clearly a top-10 player at his position and should be active in most formats.

Brent Celek at Jaguars: Celek, one of the top tight ends in fantasy football, has left a bad taste in the mouths of owners after two weeks. Still, that's no reason to lose faith, especially with a matchup against the Jaguars next on the schedule. Their defense has allowed an average of 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends.

Tony Gonzalez at Saints: If you drafted Gonzalez, his lack of production has been hard to swallow. After two weeks, he's scored fewer fantasy points than Evan Moore and Dante Rosario. I'd still keep him active, however, against a Saints defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Marcedes Lewis vs. Eagles: I'm not a huge fan of Lewis, but he is fourth in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com and deserves some consideration in larger leagues. This week he faces the Eagles, who have struggled to stop opposing tight ends in recent seasons. Consider Lewis a nice low-end fantasy starter in Week 3.

Sleeper alert -- John Carlson vs. Chargers: Carlson was targeted 10 times and caught five passes against the Broncos, so he's clearly getting more burn in the passing game under coach Pete Carroll. If you need a tight end this week, he's well worth a look against the Chargers. Carlson is still a free agent in most NFL.com leagues.

Tight ends - Sit 'Em

Owen Daniels vs. Cowboys: Daniels, who continues to recover from knee surgery, has been absolutely non-existent for fantasy owners after two weeks. While he does have a good matchup against the Cowboys, it's hard to trust Daniels right now. Consider him a low-end option at best, at least until his numbers start to improve.

Jeremy Shockey vs. Falcons: Remember when Shockey was considered one of the elite tight ends in all of fantasy football? Now he's no more than a reserve, even in a high-powered Saints offense. In fact, he hasn't even scored a touchdown since last October. Unless you're in dire straits, Shockey should be benched across the board.

Todd Heap vs. Browns: Facing the Browns seems to be a favorable matchup on paper, right? Well, that hasn't been the case for Heap. In his last five games against the AFC North opponent, Heap has a combined 14 catches with no touchdowns and has averaged a mere 30.4 yards. Those aren't the sort of numbers fantasy owners want.

Greg Olsen vs. Packers (Mon.) Olsen did score a touchdown last week in Dallas, but it was the only catch he had in the contest. He's also seen just eight targets in the first two weeks and is hard to trust as part of Mike Martz's offense. The fact that he's facing a tough Packers defense on Monday night makes him less attractive.

Tony Scheffler at Vikings: Nate Burleson could miss this week's game with a bum ankle, so the Vikings should be able to put a defensive back on Scheffler and keep him out of the offense. That's what happened last week, as Brandon Pettigrew, not Scheffler, was the more productive option. Scheffler should be reserved in Week 3.

Owners beware -- Kellen Winslow vs. Steelers: Playing the Steelers has been a statistical death sentence for their opponents this season, so no one on the Buccaneers roster should be trusted in Week 3. That includes Winslow, who could be slowed by a defense that's allowed an average of just three fantasy points to tight ends.

Kickers - Start 'Em

Neil Rackers vs. Cowboys: There was a time when Rackers was the top kicker in fantasy football. Now in Houston, he's trying to re-claim that status. Rackers is the third-best kicker in terms of fantasy points right now, and this week's matchup against the Cowboys is a favorable one. He's also still a free agent in a lot of leagues.

Rob Bironas at Giants: Bironas is off to a bit of a slow start from a fantasy perspective, averaging just 5.5 fantasy points in his first two games. Still, the strong-legged kicker is a nice option for owners this week against the Giants. They've surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers to this point.

Sebastian Janikowski at Cardinals: Fantasy owners, it's time to break out Sea Bass! The left-footed kicker ranks seventh in fantasy points at his position after two weeks, and a game against the Cardinals is a very favorable one. Their defense has allowed an average of nine fantasy points to opposing kickers this season.

Sleeper alert -- Graham Gano at Rams: Believe it or not, but Gano has scored more fantasy points than all but seven NFL kickers this season. While he might not have a big name and isn't well know in fantasy circles, Gano does have some sleeper appeal against the Rams. He's worth a look if you're searching for a one-week option.

Kickers - Sit 'Em

John Kasay vs. Bengals: Kasay opened the season with an outstanding 12-point performance, but he was held to just one point against the Buccaneers in Week 2. With questions about the offense and rookie Jimmy Clausen at the helm, it could be another rough week for the veteran. Keep him on the sidelines if at all possible.

David Buehler at Texans: Buehler has a big leg, but his accuracy remains an issue. He's missed some makeable field goals in his first two weeks and is on a very short leash moving forward. Until he can string together a few good starts and prove to be a consistent option, Buehler is better left to the waiver wire.

Dan Carpenter vs. Jets: The Dolphins offense hasn't been very fruitful under Henne, scoring a mere 25 points in two weeks. That's been bad news for Carpenter, who has nine fantasy points and sagging fantasy appeal. He could struggle again this week, facing a Jets defense that held him to a combined two field goals in 2009.

Owners beware -- Jay Feely vs. Raiders: A viable fantasy starter last season, Feely has started the 2010 campaign on a very sour note with a total of just six fantasy points. He doesn't figure to be much better against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of just five fantasy points to opposing kickers in their two games.

Defenses - Start 'Em

Bengals defense at Panthers: As I mentioned in my note on Kasay, Clausen will make his first start at the NFL level this week against the Bengals. Their defense looked much better in Week 2 during a win over the Ravens, and facing a very inexperienced quarterback should mean good things are ahead for this aggressive unit.

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Patriots defense vs. Bills: The Bills are led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Evans and a trio of running backs that couldn't produce against the Dolphins or Packers. Those factoids alone make the Patriots a must start in fantasy football leagues, especially when they're on their home field. Look for the P-Men to dominate in Week 3.

Chargers at Seahawks: The Chargers have scored the eighth-most fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com, and this week's matchup against the Seahawks is a favorable one. Hasselbeck has been a turnover machine, and the Seahawks offense isn't exactly going to scare anyone. As a result, start the Bolts and look for a fantasy charge.

Sleeper alert -- Redskins defense at Rams: Start the Redskins after they were ripped by the Texans? Really? Well against Bradford and a punchless Rams offense, this unit actually has starting value in leagues with 12-plus teams. If you play the matchups on defense each week, the Redskins make a whole lot of sense.

Defenses - Sit 'Em

Falcons defense at Saints: You don't need to be a brain surgeon to know why the Falcons defense is a risk this week. Facing Drew Brees and the Saints explosive offense on the road is enough to make most defenses look terrible from a fantasy perspective, so it's a good idea to keep these Dirty Birds benched this week.

Bears defense vs. Packers (Mon.): Much like the Saints, the Packers offense can turn even some of the best fantasy defenses to dust. That's the case with the Bears, who must face Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of offensive weapons. Even with DE Julius Peppers in the mix, you can't trust the Bears to stop the Pack on Monday night.

Broncos defense vs. Colts: The Broncos finished in the top 10 in fantasy points on NFL.com last week, but that was against the Seahawks. Now against Peyton Manning and the Colts, this is a unit to avoid. With CB Champ Bailey at less than 100 percent, this unit is even less attractive in the majority of fantasy leagues.

Owners beware -- Cowboys defense at Texans: What has happened to the Boys from Big D? After giving up a ton of points to the Bears last week, this unit isn't a good bet to bounce back on the road against Matt Schaub and an electric Texans offense. In some leagues, the Cowboys defense could end up being waiver-wire fodder.

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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