Ryan should fly high for fantasy owners in Week 12

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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.

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Kickers | Defenses

Start of the week

Matt Ryan vs. Vikings: Ryan has been hot in recent weeks, averaging 314 yards to go with six touchdowns in his last three games. He's also been solid at home with nine scores in five starts. No team allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Vikings, so Ryan is a terrific option.

Quarterbacks -- start 'em

Eli Manning at Saints (Mon.): Manning is coming off one of his worst fantasy performances of the season, scoring a mere 10.56 fantasy points in a loss to the Eagles. Despite that poor stat line, I'd continue to start him in what has a chance to be a high-scoring affair against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Ben Roethlisberger at Chiefs: The Chiefs have struggled to stop opposing quarterbacks lately, allowing multiple touchdowns to the position in each of the last three games. Couple that with Roethlisberger's immense career success against the Chiefs (636 yards, 5 TDs in two games), and he's a nice option.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about the fantasy value of Matt Leinart in his first start for Houston. (Click image for further analysis.)

Tim Tebow at Chargers: Is Tebow matchup-proof? Even against the Jets, he still scored close to 17 fantasy points. This week he has a much more favorable opponent, facing a Chargers defense that has given up an average of close to 17 fantasy points to quarterbacks. Consider Tebow a nice option in this AFC West battle.

Philip Rivers vs. Broncos: Rivers is having a difficult season based on his previously high standards, but you still have to start him when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against a Broncos defense that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Rivers had 17 points against them in Week 5.

Sleeper alert -- Mark Sanchez vs. Bills: Starting Sanchez in your fantasy leagues is a risk-reward proposition due to his lack of consistent numbers, but this week's matchup makes him worth a look. The Bills have been terrible against the pass of late, as the last two quarterbacks to face them combined for 41.4 fantasy points.

Quarterbacks -- sit 'em

Josh Freeman at Titans: Freeman is coming off a nice game against the Packers, but he's been inconsistent overall and hard to trust when the matchup isn't favorable. That's the case here, as he faces a Titans defense that's allowed an average of around 14 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks at home.

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Jets: Fitzpatrick had a fast start to the season, but he's been more like Trent Edwards than Jim Kelly in recent weeks. In fact, he has scored fewer than 11 fantasy points in five of his last seven games. Keep him on the pine against the Jets, who have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs.

Rex Grossman at Seahawks: Fantasy owners might be tempted to start Grossman after his 24.56-point performance last week, but that's not a good idea based on the matchups. Despite all the jokes about their defense, the Seahawks are tough at home and not a unit to take lightly. That makes Grossman a serious risk.

Andy Dalton vs. Browns: Dalton has been a nice surprise as a rookie -- he's scored more fantasy points than Jay Cutler and Flacco -- but he's still a gamble against the Browns. Despite their poor record, Cleveland's defense is tough against the pass. In fact, only the Ravens have allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Matt Leinart at Jaguars: Leinart, who has more intercpetions than touchdown passes in his pro career, is making his first start since 2009. He also has a tough matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed an average of fewer than 15 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Keep Leinart on the sidelines.

Owners beware -- Carson Palmer vs. Bears: Palmer has been one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football over the last three weeks, but don't be shocked if he fails to produce against the Bears. The last five signal-callers to face Chicago have averaged 10.40 fantasy points.

Running backs -- start 'em

Rashard Mendenhall at Chiefs: Mendenhall has been inconsistent this season, but he should post a nice stat line against the struggling Chiefs. Kansas City's defense has been awful against the run in recent weeks, and has allowed an average of close to 23 fantasy points to backs overall.

Chris Johnson vs. Buccaneers: What? Start Chris Johnson after he was terrible last week? The answer is yes. The Buccaneers have allowed a combined 107 fantasy points to running backs over the last three weeks, and that doesn't include B.J. Raji's rushing touchdown in Week 11. Based on this great matchup, I'd definitely start CJ2K.

LeGarrette Blount at Titans: Much like Mendenhall, Blount has been one of the more perplexing fantasy players. But when the matchup is favorable, it's hard not to start him. This week, he faces his former team, the Titans, who have allowed an average of close to 19 fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Beanie Wells at Rams: Good fantasy running backs are tough to find right now. So despite the fact that he's scored a combined 10.60 fantasy points in his last three games, Wells still needs to active based on a great matchup against the Rams. Their defense has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Shonn Greene vs. Bills: Barring a setback in his return from a rib ailment, Greene should be in the backfield this weekend for a great matchup against the Bills. Their defense has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Greene is well worth a look as a No. 2 runner or flex starter.

Sleeper alert -- Jonathan Stewart at Colts: Whether you have Stewart or DeAngelo Williams on your fantasy team, owners should consider each of them viable flex starters against the Colts. Their defense has been awful against the run, allowing 11 total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Running backs -- sit 'em

BenJarvus Green-Ellis at Eagles: The Law Firm hasn't been the same reliable fantasy back he was a season ago, failing to score a touchdown in his last five games. And while the Eagles haven't been great against the run overall, their defense has allowed just one rushing score since Week 5. Consider him a risky flex play at best.

Jackie Battle vs. Steelers: Battle had some sporadic success earlier this season, but he's scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last five games. He's also losing carries to Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster, and this week's matchup against the Steelers is anything but favorable.

Toby Gerhart at Falcons: With Adrian Peterson likely out, Gerhart would draw the start for the Vikings in what promises to be a tough road game. Atlanta has been stout against the run, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. So unless you're in dire straits, look elsewhere.

Chris Ogbonnaya at Bengals: Ogbonnaya has rushed for better than 200 yards and one touchdown in his last two games. But Browns coach Pat Shurmur said that he'll start Montario Hardesty, not Ogbonnaya, assuming Hardesty is back at 100 percent. In that scenario, Ogbonnaya becomes a major fantasy risk this week.

Ryan Torain at Seahawks: If you can figure out who will see the majority of the carries in Washington each week, please let us know. Coach Mike Shanahan hates our fantasy teams, clearly, making it nearly impossible to start Torain or Roy Helu. Plus, the Seahawks have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to runners.

Owners beware -- Willis McGahee at Chargers: McGahee is coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season, scoring minus-0.20 fantasy points in a win over the Jets. What's more, he's scored single-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games. That makes him a risk against the Chargers, who have allowed six touchdowns to runners.

Wide receivers -- start 'em

Steve Smith at Colts: Any time your fantasy players are going up against the Colts, you have to get most of them active. That means Cam Newton, Williams, Stewart and Smith are all tremendous options. Indianapolis has allowed the third-most fantasy points to wideouts, so look for Smith to make an impact.

DeSean Jackson vs. Patriots: The Eagles have been a disappointment this season, and Jackson has also struggled. The good news is that Vince Young looked to him often last week. Jackson also has a great matchup against the Patriots, who have given up the most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Brandon Lloyd vs. Cardinals: Lloyd has averaged just 53.8 yards in his last five games, but he's still scored double-digit fantasy points (including three touchdowns) in three of his last four. His success should continue against the Cardinals, who have surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points and the second-most yards to wideouts.

Victor Cruz at Saints (Mon.): How's this for a surprising stat: Cruz has scored the ninth-most fantasy points among wide receivers, and he wasn't even drafted in most leagues. He's a solid option against the Saints in what could be a high-scoring game, so consider Cruz as a terrific No. 2 fantasy option in Week 12.

Antonio Brown at Chiefs: Did you know that Brown, not Mike Wallace, has led the Steelers in targets in their last three games? He's also scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games before the team's bye week. Consider him a solid No. 3 fantasy wideout against the Chiefs.

Sleeper alert -- Percy Harvin at Falcons: With Peterson out of action, I expect Harvin to see more touches against the Falcons. And while Atlanta has been great against the run, their defense has given up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. I'd start Harvin as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy option.

Wide receivers -- sit 'em

Sidney Rice vs. Redskins: Rice has been an inconsistent option for fantasy owners, scoring one lone touchdown and double-digit fantasy points just twice since Week 4. Based on a matchup against the Redskins, his statistical fortunes won't change here -- their defense has allowed just four touchdowns to wide receivers.

Jerome Simpson vs. Browns: Simpson went off against the Ravens last week, posting 152 yards in the absence of A.J. Green. Even if the rookie is out again, don't be shocked to see the veteran struggle against CB Joe Haden and the Browns -- their defense ranks No. 1 in the entire league against the pass.

Steve Johnson at Jets: What has happened to the Bills? After a fast start to the season, the offense has become far less productive from a fantasy perspective. If that weren't enough reason to put him on the bench, also consider that Johnson will spend this holiday weekend on Revis Island. He's a major risk overall.

Reggie Wayne vs. Panthers: Wayne has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football, and neither Curtis Painter nor Dan Orlovsky is going to help him get out of his statistical slide. It's also not a promising matchup against the Panthers, who have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

Mike Williams at Titans: Williams is coming off a terrific fantasy performance against the Packers, posting seven catches for 83 yards and one touchdown. Regardless, I'd keep him on the bench against CB Cortland Finnegan and the Titans -- their pass defense has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Owners beware -- Dwayne Bowe vs. Steelers: Bowe had seven catches with Tyler Palko under center last week, but that was against the league's worst pass defense. This week he'll face the Steelers, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts. That makes Bowe a serious risk.

Tight ends -- start 'em

Owen Daniels at Jaguars: Daniels has been one of the better tight ends in fantasy land this season, and there's little doubt he'll continue to see targets from Matt Leinart on check downs and intermediate passes. He also has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Fred Davis at Seahawks: Davis hasn't been the most consistent tight end, but he does rank sixth in fantasy points and remains a nice option in most formats. This week, he faces a road game against the Seahawks, who have allowed an average of close to nine fantasy points to tight ends.

Kellen Winslow at Titans: Winslow has been far more effective in fantasy land in recent weeks, posting a combined 16 catches for 194 yards and one score in his last three games. He's also found the end zone in two of his last four contests overall. Consider Winslow a low-end No. 1 tight end against the Titans.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about Jerome Simpson and whether he should be active in Week 12. (Click image for further analysis.)

Sleeper alert -- Jacob Tamme vs. Panthers: Barring the return of Dallas Clark, Tamme has real value for owners. He posted a solid 75 yards before the Colts' bye week, and now he faces a solid matchup against the Panthers -- their defense has surrendered an average of close to nine fantasy points to tight ends.

Tight ends -- sit 'em

Dustin Keller vs. Bills: Despite another hot start, Keller is once again taking a nosedive. He's failed to score seven or more fantasy points in every game since Week 3, and has been held without a touchdown reception since Week 2. He's closing in on being mere waiver-wire fodder.

Jake Ballard at Saints (Mon.): Ballard was a hot waiver-wire add earlier this season, but he's struggled with drops and declining stats in recent weeks. In fact, he's posted a combined 48 yards in his last two games and has found the end zone just once in his last five contests overall.

Marcedes Lewis vs. Texans: You might have seen Lewis' seven-catch performance against the Browns last week and thought, "He's back!" Well, I wouldn't go that far. It was the first time all season he's caught more than four balls, and Lewis still hasn't found the end zone. He's someone to bench against a tough Texans unit.

Owners beware -- Greg Olsen at Colts: Olsen might be a top-10 fantasy tight end, but he's seen his numbers sag lately. In his last six games, he has scored double-digit fantasy points once -- he's also scored fewer than five points four times. That makes him a risk against a Colts defense that has been tough on tight ends.

Kickers -- start 'em

Nick Novak vs. Broncos: Novak has been a terrific replacement for both the Chargers and fantasy owners alike, and this week's matchup against the Broncos makes him a tremendous option. Denver has given up the fourth-most fantasy points overall to opposing kickers, including 19 points to Novak earlier this season.

Matt Bryant vs. Vikings: Bryant had a slow start, but he's starting to turn on the fantasy afterburners with a combined 22 points over his last two games. With a matchup against the Vikings, Bryant is a solid fantasy choice -- no team has allowed more fantasy points to kickers than Minnesota.

Olindo Mare at Colts: Mare was once considered an elite fantasy option, but now he's mostly a matchup-based starter in deeper leagues. Fortunately, this week's game against the Colts makes him well worth a look -- Indianapolis has given up an average of 8.8 fantasy points to kickers.

Sleeper alert -- Steven Hauschka vs. Redskins: If you're looking for a deep sleeper, Hauschka fits the bill based on this week's matchup against the Redskins. After 11 weeks, Washington has given up the second-most fantasy points to kickers. Hauschka is still a free agent in most NFL.com leagues as well.

Kickers -- sit 'em

Alex Henery vs. Patriots: Henery has been on a major slide, scoring a combined 16 fantasy points in his last three games. His fortunes aren't likely to change against the Patriots, who have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers. Look elsewhere if you need a starter.

Nick Folk vs. Bills: Despite a nice start to the season, Folk is out of the top 10 in points among kickers. In fact, he has double-digit point totals once in his last eight contests and is unlikely to find success against the Bills. Their defense has allowed an average of 6.90 fantasy points to kickers.

Adam Vinatieri vs. Panthers: Vinatieri actually has a favorable matchup on paper this week against the Panthers, but you can't start a kicker who plays behind an offense that can't move the football. Plus, Vinatieri hasn't scored double-digit fantasy points in a game since Week 2.

Owners beware -- Robbie Gould at Raiders: Gould has been on fire in recent weeks, averaging 12 fantasy points in his last three games. However, the Raiders have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to kickers, so don't be surprised if the veteran has a down week.

Defenses -- start 'em

Steelers defense at Chiefs: Did you see what the Patriots defense did to Palko and the Chiefs? That's enough for me to promote the Steelers as one of the best defensive options. Fresh off a bye, the Steel Curtain should be rested and ready to go against a team that's heading in the wrong direction.

Texans defense at Jaguars: Coordinator Wade Phillips has made a huge difference for the Texans, both on the field and in fantasy land. This unit has scored the seventh-most fantasy points, and this week's game against rookie Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars is a favorable one.

Cardinals defense at Rams: The Cardinals haven't been consistent on defense, but this unit still has matchup-based value. That's the case this week, as defenses facing the Rams have scored the most fantasy points. The Cards also scored an impressive 16 fantasy points against them back in Week 9.

Sleeper alert -- Seahawks defense vs. Redskins: The Seahawks are barely in the top 20 among fantasy defenses, but it's tough not to like this week's matchup against the Redskins. Defensive units facing Washington have scored the fifth-most fantasy points, and Seattle is a solid home team.

Defenses -- sit 'em

Eagles defense vs. Patriots: No matter the value of the defensive unit, facing the Patriots will land it in the sit 'em portion of this column. That's the case for the Eagles, as they'll face Brady and a New England offense that has been tough on fantasy defenses. Look elsewhere if you need a starting option.

Patriots defense at Eagles: New England's defense is among the NFL's worst in terms of allowing yards, making it a risky option in fantasy land -- especially in a road game against the Eagles. Even if Michael Vick is out, don't be surprised if the Patriots struggle to stop this offense on Sunday afternoon.

Vikings defense at Falcons: With Peterson on the sidelines, the Vikings offense is going to have a tough time moving the football. That means their defense is going to be on the field a ton against Ryan and a Falcons offense that is getting into a groove. There are better options to be had them these Purple People Eaters.

Owners beware -- Giants defense at Saints (Mon.): The G-Men might be in the top 12 in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com, but it's hard to recommend starting them against Brees and the Saints. In fact, defensive units facing New Orleans have averaged an awful five fantasy points.

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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