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Freeman, Blount can lead you to a fantasy championship

Start 'em, sit 'em is the ultimate look at weekly matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert features a player who's under the radar and could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a player who's a regular fantasy starter but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Josh Freeman vs. Seahawks: If I had told you at the start of the season that Freeman would lead you to a fantasy title, would you have believed me? Well, that could be the case this week, as the talented quarterback faces the Seahawks. Their defense has allowed an average of over 19 fantasy points per road game to opposing signal-callers.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Matt Schaub at Broncos: Schaub has heated up after a slow start to the season, averaging a stout 21 fantasy points on NFL.com in his last three games. The potential loss of Andre Johnson (ankle) hurts, but the Broncos defense has allowed 25 touchdown passes and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2010.

Jon Kitna at Cardinals (Sat.): Kitna has been a star for fantasy owners, scoring 15 or more fantasy points in five of his last six games. That includes three games where he scored 21-plus points. With a matchup against a bad Cardinals defense up next, Kitna could bring you the gift of a fantasy championship.

David Garrard vs. Redskins: Garrard isn't the "sexiest" name in fantasy football, but he is putting up nice numbers. In his last two games, he's scored a combined 38.12 fantasy points on NFL.com. The Redskins have struggled to stop the pass all season, so Garrard makes for a nice play if you need a quarterback.

Tim Tebow vs. Texans: Believe it or not, but Tebow scored the sixth-most fantasy points among all players on NFL.com last week. The talented rookie isn't an elite player in fantasy leagues, but he is a great sleeper against the Texans. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2010.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots: The Harvard product is coming off a nice performance in Week 15, posting better than 16 fantasy points against the Dolphins. Now he faces a Patriots defense that's given up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season - including 19.34 points to Packers backup Matt Flynn last week.

Sleeper alert - Rex Grossman at Jaguars: Grossman came into last week's game against the Cowboys as the butt of jokes in fantasy leagues, but no one was laughing after his four-touchdown performance. The Jaguars have allowed the third-most fantasy points to signal-callers, so Grossman has sudden value if you're in dire straits.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Jay Cutler vs. Jets: Cutler is coming off a solid stat line against the Vikings, but can you trust him to produce against the Jets? Outside of a one-week hiccup against Tom Brady, the Men in Green have allowed an average of fewer than 11 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks since Week 10. Start Cutler only with extreme caution.

Eli Manning at Packers: After a four-touchdown performance against the Eagles last week, Manning is clearly in the good graces of most fantasy owners. But to expect him to produce similar numbers against the Packers is difficult indeed -- their defense has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers this season.

Mark Sanchez at Bears: With a fantasy title at stake, it's not advised to start a quarterback as inconsistent as Sanchez if at all possible. Before his 14-point performance last week, the USC product had averaged a meager 5.8 fantasy points in his previous three starts. With a matchup against the Bears next, Sanchez needs to be benched.

Carson Palmer at Chargers: Palmer's fantasy value (and production) has taken a serious nosedive in recent weeks. He's failed to scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games, and now he'll be forced to face a stout Chargers defense without Terrell Owens. Clearly, Palmer should be avoided in all fantasy football leagues.

Matt Hasselbeck at Buccaneers: Hasselbeck started to show signs of fantasy life a few weeks back, throwing for 280-plus yards in three straight games. But over his last three starts, he's averaged an awful 4.1 fantasy points on NFL.com. Unless you're absolutely desperate in a two-quarterback league, give Hasselbeck a "bah humbug" and bench him.

Owners beware - Joe Flacco at Browns: Flacco is in the midst of his best statistical season, throwing for 3,395 yards with 23 touchdowns. However, he has been a far better fantasy option at home than on the road. What's more, the Browns have allowed an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season.

Running backs - start 'em

Ryan Torain at Jaguars: Torain is not the most durable runner, but when he's on the field he can make plays. That's been evident in the past two weeks, as he's put up 283 scrimmage yards and one touchdown. This week's favorable matchup against the Jaguars makes Torain a borderline No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter in many leagues.

LeGarrette Blount vs. Seahawks: Blount has shown major potential at the NFL level, and this week's matchup against the Seahawks makes him a nice option for fantasy owners. Their defense has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Blount should find success both on the ground and in the stat sheets.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis at Bills: The Law Firm has been one of the most underrated waiver-wire gems of the season, scoring a career-best 12 touchdowns as the lead back in New England. He should remain active in fantasy leagues against the Bills, who have surrendered an average of more than 20 fantasy points per game to running backs.

Felix Jones at Cardinals (Sat.): A versatile runner out of Arkansas, Jones has been putting up consistently good fantasy stat lines in the last four weeks. Next on the schedule is a date with the Cardinals, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs. That makes Jones and Tashard Choice very attractive options.

Ronnie Brown vs. Lions: Brown has been a major disappointment this season, rushing for a mere 683 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. But if you're in serious need at the running back or flex positions, he's worth a look against the Lions. Their defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing runners in 2010.

Sleeper alert - Rashad Jennings vs. Redskins: With Maurice Jones-Drew listed as doubtful with a bum knee, Jennings becomes a very solid fantasy option in Week 16. Not only should he see most of the carries, but Jennings also has a favorable matchup against a weak Redskins run defense ahead. The Libery product is a viable No. 2 option.

Running backs - sit 'em

Matt Forte vs. Jets: Forte has been a very inconsistent option for fantasy owners this season, and his numbers over the last two weeks have left people feeling like a kid with coal left in his Christmas stocking. While it's still hard to bench him, don't be shocked if Forte fails to produce against the Jets and their solid run defense.

Jonathan Stewart vs. Steelers (Thurs.): Stewart has been a yardage monster in recent weeks, posting an average of 115 rushing yards in his last four games. But in a Thursday night game against the Steelers, his numbers seem destined to fall. No defense has surrendered fewer fantasy points to running backs than the new Steel Curtain.

LaDainian Tomlinson at Bears: Remember when everyone was singing the praises of Tomlinson earlier in the season? Well, he's starting to look like the washed-up back of 2009 again. In his last four games, L.T. has averaged 5.8 fantasy points. He needs to be benched against the Bears and their ultra-formidable run defense if possible.

Brandon Jacobs at Packers: Jacobs had been on a hot streak heading into last week's game against the Eagles, but he mustered just 3.4 fantasy points in the loss. Next on the slate is a date with the Packers, who have allowed an average of just 11.5 fantasy points per game to running backs. That makes Jacobs a major risk in championship week.

Pierre Thomas at Falcons (Mon.): Thomas, who had missed most of the season due to an injured ankle, has returned to action without much fanfare. In fact, he's scored a combined 8.8 fantasy points in his two games on NFL.com. With a game against a tough Falcons run defense up next, Thomas still needs to be on fantasy benches.

Owners beware - Peyton Hillis vs. Ravens: It's hard to bench Hillis, especially when you consider his huge numbers against the Ravens in Week 3. But if you have backfield depth, it's worth considering. Whether he's slowing down or defenses are just keying in to stop him, Hillis has averaged just 8.6 fantasy points in his last three games.

Wide receivers - start 'em

DeSean Jackson vs. Vikings: Unless you're in a league that rewards return yards and touchdowns, Jackson has scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last five games. However, he should still remain active against the Vikings - their defense has struggled to stop the pass in recent weeks, so Jackson should have a nice stat line.

Vincent Jackson at Bengals: Jackson returned to fantasy relevance with a bang last week, posting five catches for 112 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the 49ers. Now that it looks like he's back at 100 percent, the talented wideout needs to be active in all leagues against the Bengals and their inconsistent pass defense.

Mike Williams vs. Seahawks: Has there been a better rookie this season than Williams? He's been a staple in fantasy lineups for most of the season, and his stat-line success should continue against the Seahawks. Their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, so Williams is a solid option in Week 16.

Steve Johnson vs. Patriots: Whether you call him Steve, Stevie or the player who blamed God for a dropped pass against the Steelers, Johnson has been one of the best free-agent pickups of the season. With a favorable matchup against the Patriots next on the schedule, he should remain active in most leagues during championship week.

Santana Moss at Jaguars: Moss continued his career dominance of the Cowboys last week, scoring two touchdowns and 19.10 fantasy points on NFL.com. Fantasy owners should continue to lean on the former Miami Hurricane against the Jaguars - their defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in 2010.

Sleeper alert - Lance Moore at Falcons (Mon.): It's almost impossible to predict which Saints wideout (other than Marques Colston) will post the best stat line from one game to the next, but Moore gets the edge this week. In his last game against the Falcons (Week 3), he recorded six catches, 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Chad Ochocinco vs. Chargers: The Bengals official website reports that Ochocinco will play in only half of the team's offensive snaps this week due to painful bone spurs in his ankle. That news, along with a terrible matchup against the Chargers and their formidable defense, makes the veteran wideout a must-sit across the board this week.

Hines Ward vs. Panthers (Thurs.): Ward is in the midst of one of his worst statistical seasons, posting a mere 672 yards and four touchdowns after 14 games. While a matchup against the Panthers seems favorable, keep in mind that their defense has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

Sidney Rice at Eagles: Unless word comes down before your lineup deadline that Brett Favre will start for the Vikings, I don't see how you can start Rice (or any Vikings wideout) with confidence. The prospect of rookie Joe Webb being under center is an unattractive one, especially in a hostile environment like Philadelphia.

Braylon Edwards at Bears: Edwards had 100 yards in last week's win over the Steelers, but he had done quite the Houdini act in the previous three weeks. With Sanchez playing at an inconsistent level and a road game against a tough Bears defense, there's no way you can trust Edwards to produce in what could be a low-scoring affair.

Michael Crabtree at Rams: What in the world has happened to Crabtree? In his last three games, he's averaged a miserable 2.1 fantasy points on NFL.com. That includes a 1.7 flop last week against the Chargers. The Rams haven't been great against the pass this season, but they're formidable enough to keep Crabtree from posting good totals.

Owners beware - Dwayne Bowe vs. Titans: Remember when Bowe was putting up enormous numbers for fantasy owners? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? In his last three games, Bowe has scored a combined 5.6 fantasy points on NFL.com. While it's likely hard to bench him, Bowe has gone from a must-start player to a major risk.

Tight ends - start 'em

Kevin Boss at Packers: Boss isn't the most consistent tight end in fantasy football, but he has scored a touchdown in five of his last seven games, including one last week against the Eagles. With Steve Smith out and a great matchup against the Packers next on the slate, Boss makes for a viable fantasy starter if you need a No. 1 tight end.

Chris Cooley at Jaguars: Cooley has found the end zone just three times this season, but he's still ranks sixth in overall fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. The veteran out of Utah State should remain active this week against the Jaguars - their defense has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Owen Daniels at Broncos: After missing several games with an injured hamstring, Daniels is back on the fantasy radar. He's hauled in nine passes over the last two weeks, and a game against the Broncos just adds to his value. Their defensive unit has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2010.

Rob Gronkowski at Bills: Should you start Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez? It's a tough call, but the latter has alternated bad and good stat lines for four straight weeks. If that continues, Hernandez will falter while Gronkowski thrives in what is a great matchup against the Bills.

Visanthe Shiancoe at Eagles: If you're in a much deeper league and need a tight end, consider Shiancoe off the waiver wire. He'll be a safety net of sorts for the inexperienced Webb, and no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Eagles. It's a desperation move to be sure, but Shiancoe is worth a look.

Sleeper alert - Jimmy Graham at Falcons (Mon.): Fantasy owners in need of a sleeper tight end should take a chance on Graham. The rookie is coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Ravens, and he's still a free agent in most NFL.com leagues. Monday night's game against the Falcons could be a shootout, so Graham has some value.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Dustin Keller at Bears: If anyone knows where Keller has gone in his last nine games, please tell his fantasy owners. He's been in an extended draught in the stat sheets, scoring a combined 35.4 points since Week 4. With a matchup against the Monsters of the Midway next on the schedule, Keller is someone you simply can't trust to produce.

Benjamin Watson vs. Ravens: Watson has alternated good and bad stat lines over the last three weeks, so it appears he's due for a stinker. The Ravens did allow two scores to Graham last week, but overall their defense has still allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. That makes Watson an unattractive option in smaller leagues.

Brandon Pettigrew at Dolphins: Pettigrew had been on pace to post great numbers this season, but he's hit a major slide in recent weeks. Over his last four games, he has compiled an average of just 3.5 fantasy points on NFL.com. The Dolphins have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, so Pettigrew is clearly a risky option.

Brent Celek vs. Vikings: Celek is coming off a great stat line against the Giants, scoring 13.2 fantasy points on NFL.com. However, he caught only two passes in that contest. What's more, Celek is being targeted an average of just four targets per game since Week 11. That makes him a serious roll of the dice during championship week.

Anthony Fasano vs. Lions: If you think facing the Lions defense is advantageous for every offensive position, think again. While this unit has surrendered a ton of fantasy points to running backs, it's also allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. That makes the already risky Fasano nearly unstartable this week.

Owners beware - Kellen Winslow vs. Seahawks: Winslow has scored a touchdown in two of his last four games, but he's also averaged a mere three receptions in those contests. This week Winslow faces the Seahawks, who have a dreadful defense but have still surrendered an average of just 5.2 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Kickers - start 'em

Josh Brown vs. 49ers: Brown, who wasn't even drafted in most leagues, has scored the fourth-most fantasy points among kickers on NFL.com. He's been particularly solid over his last four games, averaging close to 11 fantasy points. Brown should continue to thrive against the 49ers, who have allowed 26 field-goal conversions this season.

Neil Rackers at Broncos: Rackers has failed to score double-digit fantasy points in each of his last six games, but he still ranks a solid 10th in points among kickers on NFL.com. He could improve that status further against the Broncos, who have allowed an average of close to 10 fantasy points per game to his position in 2010.

Shaun Suisham at Panthers (Thurs.): He might not be the biggest name among fantasy kickers, but Suisham has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his last four games on NFL.com. With an upcoming matchup against the Panthers, who have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to kickers, Suisham is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Sleeper alert - David Buehler at Cardinals (Sat.): Buehler, a preseason sleeper among kickers on NFL.com, ranks an impressive eighth in fantasy points at his position with 15 weeks in the books. He's a very attractive option against the Cardinals - their defense has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season.

Kickers - sit 'em

Nick Folk at Bears: Folk has struggled to produce at a high level for fantasy owners in recent weeks, averaging a mere 5.75 fantasy points on NFL.com in his last four games. With a matchup against the Bears at windy and cold Solider Field next on the schedule, Folk is someone to avoid with a fantasy championship hanging in the balance.

Lawrence Tynes at Packers: Despite the fact that the Giants offense has been putting up high point totals on a regular basis, Tynes hasn't benefitted in the stat sheets. In fact, he's posted double-digit fantasy points just once in his last six games. That's not the sort of production fantasy owners need with a title on the line.

Garrett Hartley at Falcons (Mon.): The top-rated fantasy kicker on countless preseason rank lists, Hartley doesn't even rank in the top 20 in points at his position on NFL.com right now. Based on this week's game against the Falcons, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to kickers in 2010, Hartley isn't likely to put up a big stat line.

Owners beware - Rob Bironas at Chiefs: Bironas has been one of the better kickers in fantasy football in past seasons, but he's been mostly unreliable in 2010. He's scored double-digit fantasy points just once since Week 8 while averaging a mere 5.2 fantasy in those contests. Clearly, there are better options than Bironas.

Defenses - start 'em

Eagles defense vs. Vikings: With Favre likely out, Tarvaris Jackson on injured reserve and Adrian Peterson a question mark, the Vikings offense is in a world of hurt. That was apparent this past Monday, as the Bears defense scored 21 fantasy points against them. That's good news for the Eagles, who will pressure Webb all night long.

Chargers defense at Bengals: The Chargers rank fifth among fantasy defenses on NFL.com, so this unit already has a ton of value. But against the Bengals, the Bolts is a must-start unit. With Palmer throwing interceptions, Owens out and Ochocinco expected to be limited, the Chargers should pile up the fantasy points this weekend.

Ravens defense at Browns: The Ravens defense has been a disappointment from a fantasy perspective overall, but this unit has been better in recent weeks. In fact, the purple and black have averaged close to 12 fantasy points in its last five games. With a date against the Browns up next, the Ravens have some low-end starting appeal.

Sleeper alert - Cowboys defense at Cardinals (Sat.): The Cowboys might give up a lot of yards and points to the Cardinals on Christmas Day, but there's no doubt that they'll also compile a ton of sacks and turnovers facing rookie quarterback John Skelton. That makes this version of the Doomsday defense an option in fantasy championships.

Defenses - sit 'em

Falcons defense vs. Saints (Mon.): If your league's scoring system penalizes for points and yards allowed, then the Falcons defense is a very unattractive option this weekend. In their first game of the season against Drew Brees and the powerful Saints offense, these Dirty Birds scored a mediocre eight fantasy points on NFL.com.

Vikings defense at Eagles: Remember when the Vikings fielded one of the best defenses in fantasy football? Well, that hasn't been the case this season. This unit isn't even in the top 25 among defense on NFL.com, and facing Vick and the Eagles offense couldn't be less favorable of a matchup. Bench or drop the Vikings altogether.

Raiders defense at Colts: The Silver & Black can be a viable matchup-based option among fantasy defenses, but facing Peyton Manning and the Colts isn't what you would call favorable. In fact, defenses facing this explosive offense have combined to average the fourth-fewest fantasy points. Keep the Raiders on the fantasy sidelines.

Owners beware - Giants defense at Packers: The G-Men might be ranked sixth in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com, but that doesn't make them a must-start unit when facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The expected return of the star quarterback from a concussion makes the Giants defense a very risky option in Week 16.

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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