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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 2

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Sleeper alert features an under-the-radar player who could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a regular fantasy starter who could fail to meet expectations based on the strength of his opponent. Obvious fantasy starters like Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster will not be featured in this column. For your final lineup decisions, be sure to check our weekly lineup rankings.

Start of the week


Patriots defense vs. Cardinals: New England's defense sure looked terrific in Week 1, scoring a solid 16 fantasy points against the Titans. This week brings a matchup against the Cardinals, who will have the mistake-prone Kevin Kolb under center with John Skelton (ankle) out of action. Surprisingly, the Patriots are still available in almost 30 percent of NFL.com leagues. Go out and get this unit now before it's to late.

Start 'em


Bengals defense vs. Cleveland Browns: If you base the Bengals' value on last week's performance against the Ravens, you'd think this unit should be left on the waiver wire. But considering this week's matchup against the Browns, the Queeny City cats are a viable starting option. Rookie Brandon Weeden looked like a deer in the headlights at times last week, so look for the Bengals to put pressure on him often.

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Texans defense at Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert might have looked good against the Vikings last week, but that team has one of the more vulnerable defenses in the league. That's not the case with the Texans, who scored 15 fantasy points in Week 1 and are now one of the better defenses in fantasy football. With Wade Phillips calling the shots, look for Houston's emergence among the top defenses to continue.

Sleeper alert - Raiders defense at Miami Dolphins: Oakland's defense was atrocious last week, scoring a single fantasy point in a Monday night loss to the Chargers. Still, this unit has some deep sleeper value in larger leagues against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins. The rookie was ineffective in his NFL debut, throwing for no touchdowns and three interceptions, so the Silver & Black could have a major advantage.

Sit of the week


Denver defense at Atlanta Falcons (Mon.): If we learned anything from the first week of the season, it's that Ryan and the Falcons are going to throw the football a ton. That was evident against the Chiefs, who were burned for 40 points and had a negative fantasy point total. So despite the fact that the Broncos had one of the highest points totals among fantasy defenses last week, this is still a unit to avoid in Week 2.

Sit 'em


Seahawks defense vs. Dallas Cowboys: This defense from the Great Northwest emerged into a solid option across the board last season, finishing an impressive seventh in fantasy points at the position after being left undrafted in most leagues. However, a matchup against Tony Romo and the Cowboys is not very attractive. That was obvious in Week 1, as the Giants defense scored four fantasy points against the Pokes.

Tony Dejak/Associated Press
Donovan McNabb evaluates if Mike Vick can bounce back after a poor Week 1 performance. (Click image for further analysis.)

Browns defense at Cincinnati Bengals: Fantasy owners looking to add a defense off the waiver wire might be considering the Browns, who were tied wth the Jets for the most fantasy points scored at the postion (19) last week. However, this unit will be at a big disadvantage without superstar CB Joe Haden (suspension) in a road game against what should be a fired-up Bengals team. Clearly, this is a defense to avoid.

Owners beware - Detroit defense at San Francisco 49ers: The Lions were anything but impressive on defense last week, scoring four fantasy points despite what looked like a great matchup against Sam Bradford and the Rams. That performance, coupled with a difficult road matchup against the Niners, makes Detroit's defense a bit of a risk. In fact, defenses facing them last season averaged the fourth-least 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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