Blount can lead fantasy owners to a postseason berth

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Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL 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 based on the strength of his opponent. Obvious fantasy starters like Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson are not featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our weekly lineup rankings.

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

Start of the week

LeGarrette Blount vs. Panthers: Blount has been on fire, rushing for 210 yards and one touchdown in his last two games. His success should continue against the Panthers, who have allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any team in the league. Consider Blount a viable No. 1 runner.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Eli Manning vs. Packers: Manning, who ranks sixth in fantasy points among quarterbacks, has been a tremendous value. He's a great option against the Packers, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers. Look for Manning to throw it quite often this weekend.

Matthew Stafford at Saints: Stafford has alternated good and bad fantasy performances, but this week he's in line for a nice stat line against the Saints. Their defense has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so look for the Georgia product to thrive in a potential shootout.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about the rising fantasy value of Roy Helu and whether to start him in Week 13. (Click image for further analysis.)

Tim Tebow at Vikings: Of course I'm going to tell you to start Tebow! He continues to put up good numbers in fantasy land, averaging 18.80 fantasy points in his last four games. This week he faces a Vikings defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and an average of 17.72 point to running backs in 2011.

Matt Ryan at Texans: On paper, this is a bad matchup for Ryan. But look at the quarterbacks the Texans have faced -- Kerry Collins, Chad Henne, Blaine Gabbert (2), Colt McCoy and Jason Campbell (to name a few) aren't an elite list. As a result, I wouldn't be afraid to start the red-hot Ryan if you have been rolling with him.

Matt Moore vs. Raiders: Moore has been a nice option off the waiver wire in recent weeks, and an upcoming matchup against the Raiders makes him a nice fantasy starter. The Silver & Black have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so don't be afraid to swim with the Dolphins signal-caller based on the matchup.

Sleeper alert - Caleb Hanie vs. Chiefs: Matt "Money" Smith of NFL Fantasy LIVE pointed out that Hanie scored 17.16 fantasy points last week -- despite tossing three interceptions. He also ran for 50 yards, giving him added value in fantasy land. Hanie is a viable deep-league or two-quarterback format option.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Carson Palmer at Dolphins: The Dolphins have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks overall, but this unit has been far more formidable in recent weeks. In fact, opposing signal-callers have averaged an awful 9.39 fantasy points against them in their last four games. Beware Palmer this week.

Joe Flacco at Browns: Flacco is barely in the top 20 among quarterbacks based on fantasy points, and this week's road matchup against the Browns isn't favorable. Cleveland has the top-rated pass defense and has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to signal-callers. Keep Flacco on the bench.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Titans: Is the Fitz-magic back? It was last week in a good performance against the Jets. Next on the schedule is a date with the Titans, who have allowed an average of just over 14 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. It's also hard to trust Fitzpatrick at this point.

Andy Dalton at Steelers: Did you know that Dalton has just 4.76 fewer fantasy points than Michael Vick? So while the rookie has played well, he's not someone to start against the Steelers. Their defense has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, so look for another possible option.

Sam Bradford at 49ers: Bradford has not lived up to expectations -- he's barely in the top 30 in fantasy points among quarterbacks -- and this week's contest in San Francisco won't improve his fortunes. While the Niners are better against the run, their defense hasn't been a pushover against the pass.

Owners beware - Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals: If you have a quarterback with a better matchup, you should consider benching Roethlisberger. The Bengals have held him to one or fewer touchdown passes in their last six meetings, and Big Ben scored just 11.60 fantasy points against them in Week 10.

Running backs - start 'em

Chris Johnson at Bills: Is CJ2K back to the stud runner we know and love? He sure looked like it against the Buccaneers. The East Carolina product has another great matchup upcoming, as the Bills have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to backs. Keep Johnson in your lineup.

Willis McGahee at Vikings: The Broncos will continue to run the football a ton with Tebow under center, and McGahee has found some success when he touches the football 15-plus times. While the Vikes rank a solid ninth against the run, their defense has also allowed 10 touchdowns to backs.

Reggie Bush vs. Raiders: Bush has remained free of injuries and retained the top spot on the Dolphins depth chart. He's also been a nice fantasy option, and this week's matchup against the Raiders makes him a solid choice. Their defense has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Colts: The Law Firm is back on track, scoring a combined 27 fantasy points over the last two weeks. I'd keep him active as a potential flex starter against the Colts, who have given up 13 total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Sleeper alert - DeAngelo Williams at Buccaneers: Whether you have Williams or Jonathan Stewart, it's a good idea to start your Panthers running backs. The Bucs have been dreadful against the run over their last four games, surrendering well over 120 combined fantasy points to running backs in that time.

Running backs - sit 'em

Peyton Hillis vs. Ravens: Hillis made a surprise return last week, but his numbers were mediocre at best. Next on the schedule is a date with the Ravens, who have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to runners. Unless you're hurting for a flex starter, Hillis should be benched.

Shonn Greene at Redskins: While this week's matchup against the Redskins seems favorable on paper, I don't trust Greene. He's failed to score double-digit fantasy points in his last four games and has no touchdowns since Week 5. Whether or not LaDainian Tomlinson returns, I'd beware of Greene.

Mike Tolbert at Jaguars (Mon.): Tolbert has been ice cold in recent weeks, scoring a combined 17.4 fantasy points in his last three games. This week's matchup against the Jaguars isn't favorable, either -- their defense has allowed an average of just 14 fantasy points to opposing runners at home.

James Starks at Giants: Starks has been a major disappointment, ranking 33rd in fantasy points at his position. In an offense that throws the ball a ton, he rarely sees enough opportunities to find success -- and with a game against the Giants next on the schedule, it's best to let the Buffalo product sit down.

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

Owners beware - Steven Jackson at 49ers: No matter how good the runner, the 49ers have shut them down this season. No defense has allowed fewer fantasy points to backs (the team hasn't surrendered a rushing touchdown), so it's a good idea to bench Jackson if you have alternatives.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Victor Cruz vs. Packers: Cruz has scored the fourth-most fantasy points among wide receivers this season, and he wasn't even drafted in most leagues. He's a solid option against the Packers in what could be a high-scoring game at MetLife Stadium, so consider Cruz a No. 1 option.

Jordy Nelson at Giants: Nelson had a bad stat line in Week 12, but that's no reason to bench him against the Giants. Their defense has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, so Rodgers will no doubt look to exploit that weakness often. Consider Nelson a strong No. 2 wideout.

Eric Decker at Vikings: Decker has been one of the better pickups off the waiver wire this season. The top option in the offense when Tebow throws the football, he has scored a touchdown in four straight games. The Vikings have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts, so Decker has appeal.

Michael Crabtree vs. Rams: Crabtree has caught at least five passes in five of his last six games dating back to mid-October, so he's on a roll. He's a nice option with added PPR value this week against the Rams, who have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.

Reggie Wayne at Patriots: Wayne rose from the fantasy doldrums last week, posting 122 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. And while he's no lock to duplicate those totals again, he does have a nice matchup against the Patriots -- their defense has allowed more fantasy points to wideouts than any team.

Sleeper alert - Deion Branch vs. Colts: If you're looking for a No. 3 fantasy wideout or flex starter this week, Branch is worth a roll of the dice. He's scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games, and the Colts have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to wideouts.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Stevie Johnson vs. Titans: Johnson had a pleasant stay on Revis Island last week, but that doesn't make him a must-start against the Titans. In fact, CB Cortland Finnegan has been one of the top cover men and is a huge reason Tennessee has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Anquan Boldin at Browns: It's hard to bench a player like Boldin, but owners who have depth at wide receiver should consider it. The Browns have the NFL's top-rated pass defense and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to wideouts, so Boldin could be in for a less-than-stellar stat line.

Santonio Holmes at Redskins: Holmes has not been a very reliable option, and his numbers over the last five weeks have been mediocre at best. In that time, he's posted 40 or more yards once. The Redskins have been tough on opposing wideouts, so Holmes is no lock to bust out of his statistical slide.

Mike Williams vs. Panthers: Over the last two weeks, Williams has 13 catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. So while he's been on a hot streak, this week's game against the Panthers is a tough one -- their defense has allowed eight touchdowns and the eighth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Santana Moss vs. Jets: Moss' return to action was forgettable, as he scored 2.9 fantasy points against the Seahawks. Things don't figure to improve much this week, as he'll go up against CB Darrelle Revis and a Jets defense that has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to receivers.

Owners beware - Dwayne Bowe at Bears: Bowe would be far less of a risk if the Chiefs go with Kyle Orton this week, but the matchup in Chicago is tough regardless. The Bears have surrendered five touchdown catches to wide receivers, so Bowe's prospects aren't good.

Tight ends - start 'em

Aaron Hernandez vs. Colts: The Colts don't allow a lot of fantasy points to tight ends, but Hernandez is more of a wideout based on how he's used in the offense. And with the state of the Colts pass defense, he should be considered a No. 1 tight end. He's no Rob Gronkowski, but Hernandez is solid.

Fred Davis vs. Jets: Did you know that Davis has more fantasy points than Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis? I'd keep him active against the Jets, who have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to tight ends. With Revis on Moss, Davis should see his share of opportunities.

Kellen Winslow vs. Panthers: If you get points for catches, Winslow has value as a No. 1 tight end. He's hauled in a combined 21 passes in his last four games and is being targeted often in the pass attack. Though his lack of touchdowns hurts, Winslow is a threat for double digits in PPR formats.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew talks about what you should do with Andre Johnson after his disappointing return. (Click image for further analysis.)

Sleeper alert - Scott Chandler vs. Titans: Trying to predict what Chandler will do from one week to the next is difficult, but he has posted a combined 121 yards in his last two games and next faces a favorable tilt against the Titans. Tennessee's defense has given up an average of close to nine fantasy points to tight ends.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Owen Daniels vs. Falcons: Daniels has been a major disappointment in recent weeks, scoring a combined 9.40 fantasy points in his last three games. He's also failed to score a touchdown since Week 4. This week he goes up against the Falcons, who have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2011.

Jermaine Gresham at Steelers: Gresham has been a touchdown machine, scoring in four of his last six games. However, he's no lock to find continued success against the Steelers and their formidable pass defense. Pittsburgh has surrendered just 548 yards and a combined four touchdowns to tight ends this season.

Greg Olsen at Buccaneers: Olsen has fallen off the map, scoring 7.20 fantasy points in his last three games. He's also recorded double-digit points once in his last seven contests. So while the Bucs have struggled to stop tight ends, Olsen is tough to trust.

Owners beware - Vernon Davis vs. Rams: No team in the league has allowed fewer fantasy points to tight ends than the Rams, who have stifled Finley and Jimmy Graham among their victims. That's bad news for Davis, who is tough to sit but clearly no lock to put up a solid stat line.

Kickers - start 'em

John Kasay vs. Lions: Kasay has posted nice fantasy numbers in his first season with the Saints. His statistical success should continue against the Lions, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers. Kasay is a free agent in close to 40 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Dan Bailey at Cardinals: Bailey has made an instant impact as a rookie, posting the second-most fantasy points at his position. He also has a great matchup up next, as the Cardinals have given up 23 field-goal conversions and the fourth-most fantasy points to kickers.

Stephen Gostkowski vs. Colts: Gostkowski has started to heat up, scoring 43 fantasy points over his last four games. This week he faces a Colts team that hasn't been able to stop anyone on the defensive side of the football, so Gostkowski should see plenty of opportunities.

Sleeper alert - Matt Prater at Vikings: Prater has done little to warrant a starting spot on fantasy teams, but a matchup against the Vikings makes him worth a look. Minnesota has allowed more fantasy points to kickers than any other team in the league, so Prater has some appeal.

Kickers - sit 'em

Nick Novak at Jaguars (Mon.): Novak has done a fine job filling in for Nate Kaeding, but fantasy owners should relieve themselves of him this week. The Jaguars have allowed 14 field-goal conversions and the fewest fantasy points to kickers, so Novak's matchup isn't favorable.

Adam Vinatieri at Patriots: You might think that Vinatieri would have motivation facing his former team, but the Colts don't get into the red zone often enough for him to produce on a consistent basis. What's more, the Patriots have allowed an average of fewer than seven fantasy points to kickers.

Mike Nugent at Steelers: Nugent has been a top-12 fantasy kicker this season, and his 11-point effort last week might make owners consider starting him. However, the Steelers have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to his position. Nugent also scored five points against them in Week 10.

Owners beware - Rob Bironas at Bills: Bironas recorded 13 fantasy points last week and has posted double-digit production in two of his last three games. But based on this week's matchup, Bironas is someone to avoid. The Bills have allowed an average of 6.64 fantasy points to kickers.

Defenses - start 'em

49ers defense vs. Rams: The Niners have emerged as one of the better defenses in fantasy football, and a matchup against the Rams makes them a must-start. Defensive units facing St. Louis have scored the most fantasy points at the position, so LB Patrick Willis and crew should find gold.

Patriots defense vs. Colts: The Colts will turn to Dan Orlovsky this week, but it doesn't matter much from a fantasy perspective -- defenses facing Indianapolis have still found a ton of success. That's good news for the Patriots, who are still available in around 30 percent of NFL.com leagues.



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Cowboys defense at Cardinals: Over the last four weeks, the Cowboys defense has averaged 11 fantasy points -- that includes seven sacks in the last two games. That level of success should continue against the Cardinals -- defenses facing this team have scored the fifth-most fantasy points at the position.

Sleeper alert - Chargers defense at Jaguars (Mon.): The Chargers have been nonexistent from a fantasy perspective on the defensive side of the football. In fact, only the Colts have scored fewer fantasy points at the position. But if you're in desperate need, it's worth adding them against Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars.

Defenses - sit 'em

Giants defense vs. Packers: The first rule in playing the defensive matchups is to never start a defense against Rodgers and the Packers. As a result, you'll want to keep Big Blue on the sideline. Defenses facing Green Bay have scored the fewest fantasy points at the position.

Lions defense at Saints: The second rule of playing defensive matchups is to avoid Brees and the Saints. Just ask the Giants, who were pounded for 49 points in New Orleans. Next on the schedule is a date with the Lions, who will be without DT Ndamukong Suh and are not a recommended option.

Raiders defense at Dolphins: The Dolphins have been no pushovers in recent weeks, as Moore and Bush have made a real impact on the offensive side. That's bad news for the Raiders, who have been far too inconsistent to trust during the final week of the fantasy regular season.

Owners beware - Texans defense vs. Falcons: Ryan and the Falcons are playing well, and the prospect of T.J. Yates under center could mean a lot of three and outs for Houston. Such a scenario would keep the Texans defense on the field a lot. It might be best to look elsewhere for a defense.

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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