Ryan can lead fantasy owners to a league championship

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

Matt Ryan at Saints (Mon.): Ryan has been in the holiday spirit lately, giving fantasy owners a ton of points in recent weeks. The Saints, who he torched back in Week 10, have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks overall, so Ryan is a terrific option.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Tim Tebow at Bills: Tebow has been fabulous since taking over the starting role in Denver, and this week's matchup against the Bills makes him a nice fantasy option once again. In fact, Buffalo has surrendered a combined 28 total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Mark Sanchez vs. Giants: Sanchez has alternated good and bad stat lines in each of his last eight games, and last week he was on the bad end of this interesting trend. Furthermore, the inconsistent USC product has a very nice matchup against the Giants in the battle for New York.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew discusses the value of Eli Manning this week against the New York Jets. (Click image for further analysis.)

Kyle Orton vs. Raiders: Orton, who is available in a ton of NFL.com leagues, is a legitimate starting option in fantasy leagues this week against the Raiders. Their defense has allowed 29 total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers this season.

Rex Grossman vs. Vikings: He might not be the most consistent quarterback, but Grossman is worth a look when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week against the Vikings, who have surrendered an average of 20.43 fantasy points to signal-callers -- that's most in the NFL.

Sleeper alert - Matt Moore at Patriots: Over their last four games, the Patriots have allowed an average of over 20 fantasy points to Tebow, Grossman, Dan Orlovsky and Vince Young. That makes Moore someone to start if you're in need at the quarterback position in championship week.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Eli Manning at Jets: If you survived Manning's 4.28-point dud last week against the Redskins, well, you might want to consider benching him against the Jets. Their defense has allowed a meager 13 touchdown passes and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Joe Flacco vs. Browns: Flacco has been a disappointment in fantasy land this season, and his fortunes aren't about to change against the Browns and their tough pass defense. Back in Week 13, Flacco scored an awful 4.22 fantasy points against them. There's no upside in the matchup.

Josh Freeman at Panthers: Much like Flacco, Freeman has not lived up to expectations in 2011. In fact, he's scored 15 or more fantasy points just twice since Week 6. And like the Grinch stealing the Whos' presents, starting Freeman could lead to your title chances disappearing.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Broncos: Fitzpatrick was someone to lean on earlier this season, but his lack of consistent production in recent weeks makes him tough to trust in championship week. The Broncos have also been better against the pass overall, so bench the Amish Rifle if possible.

Matt Hasselbeck vs. Jaguars: Hasselbeck has failed to finish each of the last two games, and there's no question the presence of Jake Locker looms once again. So even in what is a decent matchup on paper against the Jaguars, Hasselbeck is a making risk in title week.

Owners beware -- Carson Palmer at Chiefs: Aside from last week's game against Aaron Rodgers, who torches everyone, the Chiefs have allowed an average of fewer than 15 fantasy points to quarterbacks in their last five games at home. That makes Palmer a risk if you're alive for a league title.

Running backs - start 'em

Michael Bush at Chiefs: It might be tough to start Palmer against the Chiefs, but there's no such issue with Bush. A solid fantasy option since taking over for an injured Darren McFadden, the Louisville product is a solid fantasy option against Kansas City's 24th-ranked run defense.

Rashard Mendenhall vs. Rams: Mendenhall has been an inconsistent fantasy player in 2011, but he's still a viable option when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against a Rams defense that has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Willis McGahee at Bills: Barring a setback from his recent hamstring issues, McGahee is a terrific option in fantasy leagues this week against the Bills. Aside from allowing 17 total touchdowns, Buffalo's defense has also allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing runners.

LeGarrette Blount at Panthers: Blount is a risk based on his inconsistent numbers in recent weeks, but that doesn't change the fact that his matchup against the Panthers is a favorable one. Their defense has allowed 19 total touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to backs.

DeAngelo Williams vs. Buccaneers: Williams has recorded better totals in recent weeks, scoring double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games overall. The Buccaneers have given up the most points to runners in 2011, so Williams has flex-starter value this week.

Sleeper alert - Kahlil Bell at Packers (Sun.): Bell put up a nice stat line last week, and he's in line to see a ton of work against the Packers with Marion Barber out of action. Based on an imminent increase in backfield opportunities, Bell is worth using as a flex starter.

Running backs - sit 'em

Peyton Hillis at Ravens: Hillis had a solid stat line against the Cardinals, but he won't be a holiday treat for fantasy owners in Baltimore. The Ravens have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to runners, and their defense will be fired up after being embarrassed in San Diego.

Kevin Smith vs. Chargers: Though he did play against the Raiders last week, Smith's bum ankle still seemed to be an issue and a hindrance to his fantasy production. The Chargers have given up a mere five rushing touchdowns to runners in 2011, so Smith is a risk for fantasy owners.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Dolphins: The Law Firm has been unable to produce in recent weeks, scoring double-digit fantasy points just once in his last three games. He's also losing carries to Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley, which makes Green-Ellis even more of a gamble this week.

Ryan Grant vs. Bears: Grant has scored a combined 31.90 fantasy points over the last two weeks, but an upcoming matchup against the Bears makes him a potential fantasy Grinch. Chicago's defense is eighth against the run and has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs.

Toby Gerhart at Redskins: Yes, Gerhart scored more fantasy points than Adrian Peterson last week, but will it happen two weeks in a row? And do you really want to sit a stud like A.D. in your championship week for a backup? At best, Gerhart is a deep-league flex starter against the Redskins.

Owners beware - Marshawn Lynch vs. 49ers: How do you bench a back who has scored 12 touchdowns in the last 10 games? Well you don't, unless you have backfield depth. Just keep in mind that the Niners have allowed no rushing touchdowns and the fewest fantasy points to backs.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Brandon Marshall at Patriots: He hasn't been a reliable fantasy option, but Marshall is a viable starter -- especially against weaker opponents. That's the case against the Patriots, who have allowed the most fantasy points to wideouts. Marshall had 139 yards against them in Week 1.

Dwayne Bowe vs. Raiders: Bowe has failed to score double-digit fantasy points in his last nine games, so he's no lock to find success. But with Orton under center and a great matchup against the Raiders next on the schedule, the veteran wideout is well worth starting in title week.

Julio Jones at Saints (Mon.): Jones is back at 100 percent and making mincemeat of the opposition, scoring a combined 37.50 fantasy points in his last two games. The rookie star should remain active against the Saints in what promises to become a serious shootout at the Superdome.

Santonio Holmes vs. Giants: While he has averaged just 43 yards per game this season, Holmes has still retained some fantasy value with a solid eight touchdowns. The Ohio State product has starting appeal this week, as he faces a Giants defense that's allowed 18 touchdowns to wideouts.

Santana Moss vs. Vikings: Moss, who has scored in two straight games, has a chance to make it three in a row against the Vikings and their 30th-ranked pass defense. Minnesota has also allowed the third-most fantasy points to wideouts, which makes Moss that much more attractive an option.

Sleeper alert - Demaryius Thomas at Bills: Thomas is still a free agent in countless leagues, which is a surprise considering his recent streak of production. Over the last three weeks, the Georgia Tech product has posted a combined 52.3 fantasy points. Consider him a viable No. 3 wideout.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Stevie Johnson vs. Broncos: Johnson is dealing with a groin injury, and this week's matchup against the Broncos and CB Champ Bailey is anything but favorable. In fact, Bailey has helped limit the likes of Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes to six or fewer fantasy points in recent weeks.

DeSean Jackson at Cowboys: It's time to realize that Jackson just isn't a good fantasy option. He's scored double-digit points once in his last eight games, and he's scored just twice since Week 5. So unless you're in real need of a wideout, Jackson isn't someone to trust in title week.

Percy Harvin at Redskins: The trend of Harvin posting mediocre numbers when Adrian Peterson is active continued, as he scored less than one fantasy point in Week 15. And while it's still hard to bench him, keep in mind that Harvin also faces a Redskins defense that's tough on wideouts.

Michael Crabtree at Seahawks: Crabtree has been a better fantasy option this season, but he's still scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last four games. This week he has a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Brandon Lloyd at Steelers: Lloyd has disappeared from the stat sheets, posting a combined 15.80 fantasy points in his last three games. With Kellen Clemens under center and a tough matchup against the Steelers and CB Ike Taylor up next, Lloyd will be hard pressed to turn things around.

Owners beware - Hakeem Nicks at Jets: Nicks is too valuable to sit in most leagues, but keep in mind that he could see a whole lot of Jets CB Darrelle Revis this weekend. What's more, the Jets have allowed just nine touchdown catches and the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Tight ends - start 'em

Jermichael Finley vs. Bears: In his first game without Greg Jennings, Finley led the Packers with 83 receiving yards -- and he could have had more if not for a few drops. Regardless, he has a great matchup up next against a Bears defense that has surrendered eight touchdowns to tight ends.

Brent Celek at Cowboys: Celek has been on fire, catching at least four passes in eight of his last nine games. A free agent in countless leagues, the veteran also ripped the Cowboys for seven catches, 94 yards and one touchdown back in Week 8. Consider Celek a top-10 option at his position.

Dustin Keller vs. Giants: Keller might not be the most consistent tight end, but he's worth a look in 12-team leagues against the Giants. Their defense is tied for the third-most touchdown catches allowed to tight ends and have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to the position in 2011.

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The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew discusses whether it's time to bench the red-hot Marshawn Lynch vs. the 49ers. (Click image for further analysis.)

Sleeper alert - Jared Cook vs. Jaguars: Cook is no lock for fantasy success, but he did post nine catches and 103 yards in last week's loss to the Colts. What's more, coach Mike Munchak said that he wants to keep Cook more involved in the offense moving forward. That makes him a deep-league option.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Greg Olsen vs. Buccaneers: How's this for a stat: Olsen has scored fewer than three fantasy points in five of his last six games! He's also found the end zone just once in that time. Lastly, Olsen posted a meager 21 yards and no scores in his last game against this week's opponent, the Buccaneers.

Jermaine Gresham vs. Cardinals: Outside of a solid performance against the Browns in Week 12, Gresham has all but disappeared from the fantasy landscape in the second half of the season. The Cardinals have given up the eight-fewest fantasy points to tight ends as well, so Gresham should be benched.

Kellen Winslow at Panthers: Winslow does have more starting value in PPR leagues in championship week, but he's a much riskier option in standard formats against the Panthers. Their defense has allowed just four touchdowns to tight ends and held Winslow to a mere 4.1 fantasy points in Week 13.

Owners beware - Vernon Davis at Seahawks: It's tough to bench Davis in championship week, but keep this in mind. Over their last five games, the Seahawks have surrendered fewer than three fantasy points to tight ends four times. Seattle also held Davis to 4.7 points in Week 1.

Kickers - start 'em

Mason Crosby vs. Bears (Sun.): Crosby was naughty last week, scoring a meager two fantasy points in a loss to the Chiefs. That's no reason to believe he won't be nice on Christmas, however, as he faces a Bears team that has surrendered an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to kickers.

Nick Novak at Lions: Novak is coming off a 10-point performance against the Ravens, and this week's matchup at Ford Field makes him a solid option once again. The Lions are tied for third in giving up the most field goals and tied for fourth in allowing the most fantasy points to kickers in 2011.

Mike Nugent vs. Cardinals: Nugent, who ranks 12th in fantasy points among kickers on NFL.com, is a nice option this week against the Cardinals. Tied for the most field-goal conversions allowed, Arizona has also surrendered 29 extra points and the third-most fantasy points to opposing kickers.

Sleeper alert - Shaun Suisham vs. Rams: If you're in need of a kicker for championship week, consider adding Suisham off the waiver wire. He has a great matchup against the Rams, who have surrendered 27 field-goal conversions and the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season.

Kickers - sit 'em

Sebastian Janikowski at Chiefs: It's hard to bench Janikowski, especially after his 11-point performance last week against the Lions. Just remember that the Chiefs have allowed a mere 19 field-goal conversions and an average of fewer than seven fantasy points per game to opposing kickers in 2011.

Rob Bironas vs. Jaguars: The Jaguars have given up more touchdowns and fewer field goals in recent weeks, which is part of the reason their defense has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to kickers. Bironas, who scored just two points against them in Week 1, is a much riskier option as a result.

Dan Carpenter at Patriots: Thinking of starting Carpenter after his 12-point performance last week? Well, you might want to re-consider. The Patriots have allowed just 19 field-goal conversions and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers, making Carpenter a less-than-attractive starter.

Owners beware - Robbie Gould at Packers (Sun.): With Jay Cutler and Matt Forte out and Josh McCown expected to start, the Bears offense could be hard pressed to score points this week. That's bad news for Gould, who could see his scoring opportunities become limited in Week 16.

Defenses - start 'em

Steelers defense vs. Rams: A total of 27 defenses scored more fantasy points than the Steelers last week, but that's no reason to bench them against Clemens and the Rams. In fact, opposing defensive units facing St. Louis' sagging offense have combined to score the most fantasy points at the position.

Ravens defense vs. Browns: The Ravens scored minus-one fantasy points on NFL.com in Week 15, so this unit will be more than a little motivated to take out their frustrations on Seneca Wallace and the Browns. In what should be a bounce-back contest at home, look for Baltimore's defense to post good totals.

Titans defense vs. Jaguars: Over the last four weeks, defensive units facing rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars' poor offense have averaged close to 10 fantasy points. That makes the Titans a very nice option in fantasy championship week. This unit is still available in many leagues.

Sleeper alert - Chiefs defense vs. Raiders: The Chiefs defense tends to perform better at home, and Palmer has been no stranger to turning the football over during his career. That makes this defensive unit an interesting option for fantasy owners looking for a deep sleeper at the position this week.

Defenses - sit 'em

Cowboys defense vs. Eagles: The Eagles offense is back on track with Michael Vick under center, making it a unit to avoid in terms of fantasy matchups. Enter the Cowboys, who scored a mere three fantasy points in their last meeting of the season. Keep the Pokes on the fantasy sidelines this weekend.

Lions defense vs. Chargers: The Lions defense has been an inconsistent option in recent weeks, and a matchup against the Chargers in what could be a high-scoring game is anything but favorable. What's more, this unit has scored double-digit fantasy points once in it's last six games overall.

Falcons defense at Saints: One of the rules of defensive matchups is to avoid facing Drew Brees and the Saints offense at all costs. That's the case with the Falcons, who failed to score a single fantasy point in their last meeting with New Orleans. There are far better options in fantasy title week.

Owners beware - Bears defense at Packers: The Bears rank an impressive second in fantasy points among defenses on NFL.com, but can you trust this unit against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? In their first meeting of the season, these Monsters of the Midway scored a mere six fantasy points against Green Bay.

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!