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Manning has Giant appeal for fantasy owners in Week 9

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.

Byes: Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Vikings.

Start of the week

Eli Manning at Patriots: Manning is on pace to put up the best fantasy numbers of his career, and a matchup against the Patriots makes him that much more attractive. New England has struggled against the pass, allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. What's more, six of the last seven signal-callers to face them have scored 16-plus fantasy points.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Philip Rivers vs. Packers: What has happened to Rivers? He's thrown 11 interceptions and ranks an unimpressive 17th in fantasy points among quarterbacks after eight weeks. Despite his struggles, I'd keep him in your starting lineup against the Packers. The reigning Super Bowl champions have surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers.

Matt Ryan at Colts: Ryan hasn't lived up to the expectations of fantasy owners this season, ranking just 14th in points among quarterbacks. Still, this week's matchup against the Colts makes him someone to start. Indianapolis has allowed 15 touchdown passes and an average of 18.63 fantasy points to opposing field generals -- that's the third most in the league.

Josh Freeman at Saints: Freeman has been very inconsistent in 2011, but he's a player to consider this week against the Saints. In his last two games against this NFC South rival, Freeman has posted a combined 558 yards through the air with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That includes a 303-yard, two-touchdown performance against them in Week 6.

Tim Tebow at Raiders: Based on his ugly play over the last two weeks, Tebow has become a real risk. I'd still give him a shot against the Raiders, though, as their defense has allowed an average of more than 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. In his last start against Oakland, Tebow threw for 138 yards, rushed for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Sleeper alert - Matt Cassel vs. Dolphins: If you're in need of a quarterback this week, Cassel could be a great option off the waiver wire. The Southern California product has a spectacular matchup against the Dolphins, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers. Cassel is still a free agent in around 40 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Jets: Fitzpatrick is coming off a nice performance against the Redskins, throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Harvard product will have a much tougher time finding a high level of success against the Jets. No defense has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing signal-callers (7.33 PPG) than the Men in Green in 2011.

Joe Flacco at Steelers: Back in Week 1, Flacco threw for three touchdowns in a blowout win over the Steelers. But that was then, this is now. The veteran has averaged an awful 8.48 fantasy points in his last four starts, and Pittsburgh's defense isn't about to let Flacco beat them on their home field. I'd keep the Delaware product on the fantasy sidelines.

Jay Cutler at Eagles (Mon.): The Eagles defense is playing at a high level after a slow start, allowing an average of just over 10 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in their last three games. That's bad news for Cutler, who will have a tough time finding open receivers all night. This should be a great night for Matt Forte, but Cutler could struggle a ton.

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Bengals: Hasselbeck started the 2011 season with a few nice stat lines, but the loss of Kenny Britt has contributed to some poor numbers in recent weeks. In fact, he hasn't even averaged 10 fantasy points per game in his last three starts. That makes Hasselbeck someone to bench against the Bengals and their vastly underrated defensive unit.

Alex Smith at Redskins: Smith put together some nice stat lines earlier in the season, but he's been mediocre at best in recent weeks. In fact, the Utah product has scored a combined 18.78 fantasy points in his last two starts. That makes him an unattractive option against the Redskins, who have allowed just seven touchdown passes in their first seven games.

Owners beware - Matt Schaub vs. Browns: Everyone knows that the Jets and Ravens have been tough to throw on this season. But did you know that the Browns have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks? That's a nice little nugget and one that makes Schaub a risk from a fantasy perspective. Consider him a risk-reward fantasy option this weekend.

Running backs - start 'em

Beanie Wells vs. Rams: Despite the fact that his status was questionable due to a bum knee, Wells still put up a nice stat line last week against a formidable Ravens defense. Next on the schedule is a much easier matchup against the Rams, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to running backs in 2011. Barring a setback, Wells is a nice option.

Darren Sproles vs. Buccaneers: Sproles failed to produce good numbers in last week's shocking loss to the Rams, but he's still a nice choice for fantasy owners. This week the Kansas State product goes up against the Buccaneers, who have surrendered an average of close to 21 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Consider Sproles a solid flex starter.

LeGarrette Blount at Saints: Barring setbacks, Blount is expected to be back in the starting lineup this weekend. That's good news for fantasy owners, as Blount figures to see a ton of work with Earnest Graham done for the season. He also has a good matchup against the Saints, who have allowed an average of more than 18 fantasy points per game to runners.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Giants: Last week was one to forget for Green-Ellis, who posted a horrid 0.90 fantasy points in a loss to the Steelers. The Law Firm should rebound in Week 9, though, as he goes up against a Giants defense that has struggled to stop running backs. In fact, Big Blue has surrendered an average of 20.94 fantasy points to the position in 2011.

Cedric Benson at Titans: Benson is back from a one-game, league-imposed suspension, and this week's matchup against the Titans makes him a viable No. 2 or 3 fantasy runner across the board. Tennessee's defense has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so the Bengals will no doubt lean on Benson on the offensive side of the football.

Sleeper alert - Michael Bush vs. Broncos: Darren McFadden is dealing with a foot injury that has his status for Week 9 in question, so Bush could wind up seeing a ton of carries against the Broncos. He has the tools be a solid fantasy starter in a prominent role, and the Broncos can be vulnerable to effective running backs. If McFadden is indeed inactive, Bush is a nice No. 2 runner.

Running backs - sit 'em

Chris Johnson vs. Bengals: I hope that putting Johnson in the sit 'em portion of this column causes some sort of reversal of his fortunes, because he's killing the title hopes and dreams of owners. He's a terrible 29th in fantasy points at his position, and Javon Ringer saw more touches in Week 8. The Bengals defense is also stout, so CJ2K is a real risk.

Chris Ogbonnaya at Texans: Peyton Hillis, who is proving that the Madden curse is in fact real, is out with a bad hamstring. That leaves Ogbonnaya to see the lion's share of carries this weekend in Houston. The Texans have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2011, so he's a desperation flex play at best.

Marshawn Lynch at Cowboys: LeSean McCoy ran all over the Cowboys last Sunday night, but Lynch is not McCoy -- and the Pokes are going to be a little ticked off after what was a total embarrassment. This unit has been stout against the run overall, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, so Lynch is no guarantee to find success.

Ryan Grant at Chargers: The Packers backfield has been a major headache from a fantasy perspective, but it's been James Starks, not Grant, who has seen more touches. In fact, the veteran out of Notre Dame has put up double-digit carries just once this season. The Chargers can be tough against the run, so Grant is someone to keep on the sidelines.

Ryan Torain vs. 49ers: Since he rushed for 135 yards and one touchdown against the Rams in Week 4, Torain has a combined 31 rushing yards and is averaging a gross 1.5 yards per carry. If that weren't enough to make you sit Torain, consider that he's also facing the 49ers -- no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Owners beware - Rashard Mendenhall vs. Ravens: Mendenhall has been a train wreck the last two weeks, rushing for a combined 102 yards with no touchdowns as the Steelers have started to throw the ball more often. In a matchup against the Ravens, who have held him to a combined 169 rushing yards in their last three meetings, Mendenhall is a major gamble.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Dwayne Bowe vs. Dolphins: Bowe has failed to score double-digit fantasy points in two straight games, but now's not the time to bench him. In fact, the Louisiana State product is a great start based on this week's favorable home matchup against the Dolphins -- their defense has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in 2011.

Charlie Riedel/AP
The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about the value of Matt Cassel heading into Week 9. (Click image for further analysis.)

Marques Colston vs. Buccaneers: Colston, along with most of his Saints teammates, posted a poor stat line last week in St. Louis. But with a favorable matchup against the Buccaneers up next, he should remain active in fantasy leagues. In his last game against Tampa Bay (Week 6), the veteran out of Hofstra had seven catches, 118 yards and one touchdown.

Pierre Garcon vs. Falcons: If I told you after Week 2 that Garcon would be a top-10 fantasy wideout to start the month of November, you would have fitted me for a straitjacket. But that's the case for the veteran wideout, who has a tremendous rapport with Curtis Painter and a favorable matchup against the Falcons. He's a solid No. 2 fantasy option.

Brandon Lloyd at Cardinals: Despite the absence of Sam Bradford, Lloyd was still able to produce double-digit fantasy points in last week's win over the Rams. Fantasy owners should keep him in their starting lineup in Week 9 as well, since the veteran faces a Cardinals defense that has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.

Julio Jones at Colts: Jones is expected to return to action this week after missing two games with a bum hamstring, and he couldn't come back at a better time for fantasy owners. The rookie will face off against the Colts, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Consider Jones a viable No. 2 option or flex starter.

Sleeper alert - Victor Cruz at Patriots: Cruz has been quite the waiver-wire find for fantasy owners this season. Outside of one bad stat line against the Bills, he's posted great numbers over the last five games. Next on the schedule is a date with the Patriots, who have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other team in the league.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Anquan Boldin at Steelers: It's tough to bench Boldin, who's been on absolute fire and has had success against the Steelers in the past. Just keep this in mind -- CB Ike Taylor has been keeping opposing wideouts in check for most of this season. In fact, no opposing No. 1 receiver has scored double-digit points against the Steel Curtain since Week 1.

Sidney Rice at Cowboys: Rice posted 102 yards against the Bengals last week, so he'll be active in most fantasy leagues. Keep in mind, though, that the Cowboys have been tough on opposing No. 1 wideouts. Outside of Calvin Johnson, no wide receiver who tops his team's depth chart has scored more than 10.50 fantasy points against them this season.

Michael Crabtree at Redskins: Crabtree has started to find his place in the 49ers pass attack, catching a combined 14 passes with one touchdown in his last two games. Still, this week's matchup against the Redskins is a difficult one. Washington's defense has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points and just two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers.

Plaxico Burress at Bills: Burress isn't far removed from a huge stat line, posting three touchdowns and 20.50 fantasy points against the Chargers in Week 7. However, keep in mind that he had averaged an awful 5.1 fantasy points in his previous four games. Also, this week's opponent, the Bills, have allowed just five touchdowns to wide receivers in 2011.

Nate Washington vs. Bengals: Washington had a nice stat line last week against the Colts and their suspect pass defense, but his success likely won't continue. In fact, this week's matchup against the Bengals is a difficult one. Cincinnati's defense has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points and just three touchdowns to opposing wideouts.

Owners beware - Steve Johnson at Jets: Johnson is on pace for another 1,000-yard season for both the Bills and fantasy owners alike, but he'll be hard pressed to post great numbers against the Jets. In fact, the last four No. 1 wideouts to face CB Darrelle Revis and the Men in Green have averaged fewer than seven fantasy points per game.

Tight ends - start 'em

Owen Daniels vs. Browns: Daniels is back at 100 percent and producing between the white lines for fantasy owners. At this point, he's scored the seventh-most points at his position as one of Schaub's top offensive options. He's a nice choice this weekend against the Browns, who have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Fred Davis vs. 49ers: Davis injured his ankle in a loss to the Bills, so you'll need to monitor him up until the weekend. In the event that the Southern California product is active, he'll be a nice option against the 49ers. The Skins won't establish a running game against LB Patrick Willis and crew, so Davis should see plenty of targets.

Kellen Winslow at Saints: There aren't a lot of mid-tier tight ends with good matchups this week, so Winslow is worth a roll of the dice. The Saints have allowed an average of over eight fantasy points per game to tight ends, and Winslow has had five or more catches in two of his last three games against them. He's a nice PPR option in Week 9.

Sleeper alert - Brent Celek vs. Bears (Mon.): Celek had disappeared from the fantasy radar for awhile, but he's back in the mix after scoring a touchdown in two straight games. The Cincinnati product is still a bit of a risk, but he's well worth using against the Bears as a one-week option. No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Dallas Clark vs. Falcons: Is Clark back as a legitimate fantasy option? He is seeing more targets from Painter in recent weeks, but an upcoming matchup against the Falcons is anything but favorable. Atlanta's defense has allowed just one touchdown catch and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, so Clark remains a fantasy risk.



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Scott Chandler vs. Jets: Shockingly, Chandler is in the top 10 in fantasy points among tight ends based on the strength of his six touchdowns. But in the five games before he scored twice against the Skins, Chandler averaged barely over three fantasy points. What's more, this week's opponent, the Jets, have allowed one touchdown to tight ends.

Heath Miller vs. Ravens: Miller has put up some decent numbers in recent weeks, scoring a touchdown in three of his last four games. But against the Ravens, he could be in for a rough afternoon in the stat book. Their defense has been extremely tough on tight ends, allowing an average of just 2.53 fantasy points to the position this season.

Owners beware - Dustin Keller at Bills: Keller's matchup against the Bills is good on paper, as their defense has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends. But consider this -- Keller has put up an average of two receptions and 17.1 yards in his six career games against Buffalo. He's also scored in just one of those contests.

Kickers - start 'em

Sebastian Janikowski vs. Broncos: Janikowski, who is a free agent in close to 20 percent of NFL.com leagues, is expected to return to action this week against the Broncos. It's a great matchup for Sea Bass, as Denver has allowed more fantasy points to kickers than any other team in the league. Barring a setback, Janikowski is a must start.

David Akers at Redskins: A change of scenery hasn't deterred Akers from a fantasy perspective, as he enters this week as one of the more productive kickers in the league. That trend should continue against the Redskins, who surrendered nearly nine fantasy points per game to kickers. Look for the left-footed Akers to post a nice stat line.

Dan Bailey vs. Seahawks: Left undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Bailey has emerged into a legitimate No. 1 kicker in all leagues. This week he faces the Seahawks, who have surrendered an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to kickers. Available in more than 50 percent of NFL.com leagues, Bailey is a terrific option for owners.

Sleeper alert - Matt Bryant at Colts: Bryant hasn't been as good as advertised in the preseason, ranking 20th in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. Still, this week's matchup against the Colts makes him a viable starting option. Indianapolis has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing kickers, so Bryant has some appeal.

Kickers - sit 'em

Robbie Gould at Eagles (Mon.): Gould ranks a solid eighth in fantasy points among kickers after the first eight weeks of the season, so he'll be active in most fantasy leagues. Just keep in mind that this week's opponent, the Eagles, have been tough on kickers. In fact, Philadelphia has held the position to the second-fewest fantasy points.

Nick Novak vs. Packers: Novak has been fantastic since taking over for the injured Nate Kaeding, scoring double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games. Don't be shocked, though, if he fails to reach that mark against the Packers -- their defense has allowed an average of just 6.71 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers in 2011.

Rob Bironas vs. Bengals: The top-scoring kicker in Week 8, Bironas was no doubt a hot pickup at the position. However, he has a pretty tough assignment next on the schedule facing a Bengals defense that has given up an average of 6.71 fantasy points per game to kickers. Bironas is a matchup starter in fantasy land, so don't expect big numbers.

Owners beware - Billy Cundiff at Steelers: Cundiff has made quite a name for himself this season, ranking in the top six in fantasy points at his position after eight weeks. With that said, he's going to be hard pressed to produce a big stat line against the Steelers -- their defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers.

Defenses - start 'em

49ers defense at Redskins: The Niners have become a fantasy-point scoring machine on defense this season, ranking third at the position behind the Lions and Ravens. The success of this unit should continue against John Beck and the Redskins, who have lost their No. 1 running back and wide receiver and were shut out by the Bills one week ago.

Cowboys defense vs. Seahawks: Coordinator Rob Ryan is going to have his troops fired up after being pummeled and embarrassed in Philadelphia, so look for the Cowboys to come out guns blazing. What's more, this week's opponent is very favorable -- defenses facing the Seahawks have averaged the most fantasy points at the position in 2011.

Raiders defense vs. Broncos: Tebow's matchup against the Raiders is good on paper, but the Silver & Black are also an attractive starting option based on the numbers. Defenses facing the Broncos have combined to put up the third-most fantasy points at the position, so the Raiders have starting value. This unit is widely available on NFL.com.

Sleeper alert - Falcons defense at Colts: Where, oh where are you Peyton Manning? Rather than being a feared offense, the Colts are now a team you want to target in the matchups -- defenses facing Indianapolis have posted the fourth-most fantasy points at the position. That makes the Falcons a viable starting option across the board in Week 9.

Evan Pinkus/AP
The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew tries to figure out some of the NFL's running back rotations, including Reggie Bush and the Dolphins. (More...)

Defenses - sit 'em

Giants defense at Patriots: The Giants are ranked in the top 10 among defenses based on fantasy points this year, but facing Tom Brady and the Patriots is enough to make any unit less of an option. So far this season, opposing defenses facing New England's prolific offense have scored the sixth-fewest fantasy points at the position.

Redskins defense vs. 49ers: Earlier this season, the Redskins had some starting appeal in fantasy land. But since scoring 13 points against the Rams in Week 4, this unit has averaged a meager 5.3 fantasy points. Things won't improve against Frank Gore and the 49ers, who have been tough for fantasy defenses to score against in 2011.

Chargers defense vs. Packers: The Chargers were a top-10 fantasy defense during the 2010 season. Now, this unit ranks an awful 27th in fantasy points at the position. If that wasn't enough to keep them on the bench, this week's matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers certainly does the trick. Bench the Bolts until further notice.

Owners beware - Jets defense at Bills: What, bench the Jets defense? Well, consider this little nugget -- no team defense including the Patriots, Bengals, Eagles or Giants has scored more than seven fantasy points in a game against Fitzpatrick and crew. So while the Jets are an elite fantasy defense, don't be shocked if this is a bad week.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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