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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 7

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, check our lineup rankings.

Byes - Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers

Quarterbacks - Start of the week


Eli Manning vs. Washington Redskins: Manning has started the season well in the stat sheets, ranking in the top 10 in fantasy points among quarterbacks. This week he has a great matchup against the Redskins, who have allowed a total of 14 touchdown passes and the fourth-most fantasy points to signal-callers. Look for Manning to be huge in this NFC East battle.

Start 'em


Andrew Luck vs. Cleveland Browns: Luck was a disappointment last week, posting his worst stat line of the entire season. Still, take a look at what he's done at home. In three games, he has six touchdown passes and has averaged a ridiculous 23.82 fantasy points. Couple that with a good matchup against the Browns, and the star rookie needs to be in your lineup.

Carson Palmer vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Palmer hasn't been the most consistent quarterback in all of fantasy football, but you can still use him during the bye weeks when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he'll go up against a Jaguars defense that has given up an average of over 20 fantasy points to per game on the road to signal-callers.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Tennessee Titans: After scoring 14-plus points in each of his first four games, including three with 18-plus, Fitzpatrick's totals have taken a nosedive. Still, it's hard to look past this week's matchup against the Titans. Their defense has been dreadful against the pass, allowing an average 20.67 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Sleeper alert - Josh Freeman vs. New Orleans Saints: I admit, starting Freeman is a leap of faith. He's been inconsistent at best, but the Kansas State product is coming off his best performance of the season and has a great matchup upcoming versus New Orleans. The Saints have surrendered 10 total touchdowns and the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (20.11 PPG).

Quarterbacks - Sit of the week


Joe Flacco at Houston Texans: If fantasy owners have learned anything about Flacco, it's that you can't trust him on the road. In fact, he has one touchdown pass or less in seven of his last eight games away from home. He's also thrown for fewer than 235 yards in his last five road contests. The Texans will be fired up to prove that last week was a fluke as well.

Sit 'em


Matt Schaub vs. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens defense is chock full of injuries, but I think that makes Arian Foster, and not Schaub, more attractive. It's also tough to trust a quarterback who has averaged just over 13 fantasy points per game and scored about a quarter of his total points in one contest. Even with six teams off, Schaub is tough to trust right now.

Sam Bradford vs. Green Bay Packers: It's tough for fantasy owners to set a starting lineup during the heavier bye weeks, but starting an inconsistent player like Bradford at quarterback is a risk. Outside of a huge game against the Washington Redskins, Bradford has also struggled at home with a combined 18.28 fantasy points (9.14 PPG) in this last two contests.

Christian Ponder vs. Arizona Cardinals: Did you know that Ponder has more fantasy pints than Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo? Regardless, it's hard to like this weekend's matchup against the Cardinals. These birds have been pretty tough on opposing signal-callers, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points (10.72 PPG) to the position.

Owners beware - Matthew Stafford at Chicago Bears: You shouldn't bench Stafford unless you have a reliable alternative at the position with a great matchup. With that being said, the Bears have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Stafford also threw for just one score with four interceptions in his last visit to Soldier Field.

Running backs - Start of the week


Chris Johnson at Buffalo Bills: Is it time to trust Johnson? Well, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games. The veteran also has a great matchup this weekend against the Bills, who have surrendered eight total touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. With six teams on a bye, CJ2K is a nice option.

Start 'em


Stevan Ridley vs. New York Jets: Ridley, who was in the sit' em portion of this column last week, posted one of his worst stat lines against the Seattle Seahawks. He should rebound against the Jets, as the Men in Green have been anything but good against the run. In fact, this unit has surrendered the second-most rushing yards and the ninth-most fantasy points to backs.

Doug Martin vs. New Orleans Saints: Martin has started to lose a few touches to LeGarrette Blount, but he's still the lead back in Tampa Bay and a nice option this weekend against the Saints. The rookie, who totaled 13.10 fantasy points in last week's win over the Kansas City Chiefs, goes up against a Saints defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to runners.

C.J. Spiller vs. Tennessee Titans: Spiller would be a must-start runner in all formats if he were a featured back, but the presence of Fred Jackson has hurt his value. Still, he's the most explosive offensive option on the roster and remains a nice choice when the matchup is favorable. The Titans have really struggled to stop the run in 2012, so look for Spiller to shine.

Sleeper alert - Felix Jones at Carolina Panthers: The Cowboys have ruled DeMarco Murray out for Week 7 with an injured foot, so Jones is now the top back on the depth chart. He was solid in Murray's absence last week, and an upcoming matchup against the Panthers makes Jones a strong choice. Carolina has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Running backs - Sit of the week


Steven Jackson vs. Green Bay Packers: Did you know that 27 running backs have more fantasy points than Jackson this season? He's now mired in a backfield committee with Daryl Richardson, and this weekend's matchup against the Packers is anything but favorable. Their defense has held opposing running backs to an average of 76.6 rushing yards in their last three games.

Sit 'em


Mark Ingram at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Yes, you might be desperate for a running back with six teams on a bye. But you can't be that desperate to start Ingram in what is a tough matchup. The Alabama product has done a Houdini act in the stat sheets, and the Buccaneers have allowed an average of just 12.38 fantasy points per game to opposing runners this year.

Mikel Leshoure at Chicago Bears (Mon.): Leshoure is entrenched as the top back in Detroit after the recent report that Jahvid Best (concussions) still hasn't been cleared to return to the field. However, the Illinois product will have a tough time finding room to roam against the Bears. Their defense has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to runneing backs in 2012.

William Powell at Minnesota Vikings: Powell, the new top runner in Arizona, was a popular name on the waiver wire this week. But while he is still worth adding in most leagues, I wouldn't trust him as even a flex starter against the Vikings. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Powell is better off left on the fantasy sidelines.

Owners beware - Shonn Greene at New England Patriots: I must be mad to suggest sitting Greene, right? After all, he just scored 34.10 fantasy points in Week 6! Well, that total is more than he had posted in his previous five games combined! That also came against the Colts, not the Patriots. New England is stout against the run, so Greene could be in for a very tough afternoon.

Wide receivers - Start of the week


Vincent Jackson vs. New Orleans Saints: Jackson went off against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, recording 66 yards and two touchdowns. He has now found the end zone in three of his last four games, and this week's game against the Saints is favorable for both Jackson and teammate Mike Williams. New Orleans has allowed the third-most fantasy points to wideouts.

Start 'em


Reggie Wayne vs. Cleveland Browns: Wayne has a tough matchup on paper this week against Browns CB Joe Haden, but how tough is it exactly? After all, A.J. Green posted 135 yards and two touchdowns against him last week. Since the Browns have given up the second-most fantasy points to wideouts overall, I find it tough to bench Wayne in this matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Hakeem Nicks vs. Washington Redskins: Nicks scored 25.90 fantasy points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. In this other two games, Nicks has a combined 8.20 points. Still, he's a solid start (barring a setback with his knee) against the Redskins. Their defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, so don't be afraid to start him.

Kenny Britt at Buffalo Bills: Britt had his best stat line of the season in Week 6, posting 12.20 fantasy points in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now that he's re-gained confidence in his legs and is seeing more targets in the offense, it's time to get Britt back in your starting lineup. It also doesn't hurt that the Bills have been terrible against the pass.

Sleeper alert - Denarius Moore vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Moore has quietly averaged better than 11 fantasy points in his last three games. That includes a 104-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6. The Jaguars have allowed an average of more than 25 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts on the road, so Moore is a nice option.

Wide receivers - Sit of the week


Antonio Brown at Cincinnati Bengals: Brown has had a mediocre start to the season, ranking 42nd in fantasy points among wide receivers. And while it's tough to bench him, keep in mind that his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has not thrown for more than one score in Cincinnati since 2008. The Bengals have also allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Sit 'em


Brandon Lloyd vs. New York Jets: Jets CB Darrelle Revis might be out for the season with an injured knee, but his teammate, CB Antonio Cromartie, has been pretty tough in his absence. That's bad news for Lloyd, who could see plenty of him in what will be an important AFC East matchup. Overall, the Jets have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.

James Jones at St. Louis Rams: Jones has been one of the hottest wide receivers in fantasy football, so you shouldn't bench him unless you have a solid alternative. Owners should keep in mind, though, that Jones and Jordy Nelson have to face a tough duo of cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins and a Rams defense that has been hard on wide receivers.

Andre Roberts at Minnesota Vikings: Roberts has scored four touchdowns this season, but look at his totals. Outside of a hgue game against the Miami Dolphins, Roberts has scored single-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games. That's not good, and neither is a matchup against a Vikings defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.

Owners beware - Steve Smith vs. Dallas Cowboys: Chances are you have to start Smith with six teams on a bye. Just keep your statistical expectations in check against the Cowboys and their solid pass defense. Outside of Brandon Marshall, no other No. 1 wide receiver from an opposing team has scored double-digit fantasy points against Dallas' talented cornerbacks.

Tight ends - Start of the week


Aaron Hernandez vs. New York Jets: Despite seeing limited snaps last week, Hernandez still scored nine fantasy points in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. With one game under his belt after a recent ankle ailment, not to mention a favorable matchup against a Jets defense that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Hernandez is a pretty nice option.

Start 'em


Jason Witten at Carolina Panthers: Witten had a dreadful start to the season, scoring a combined 7.60 fantasy points in the first three weeks. He's turning things around in his last two games, though, posting 26 fantasy points in standard leagues. Get him in your lineup against a Panthers defense that has allowed an average of over eight fantasy points per game to tight ends.

Heath Miller at Cincinnati Bengals: There aren't a lot of reliable tight ends with good matchups on paper this weekend, and with six teams on a bye you're going to need to play your best player available. Miller fits the bill, as he's sixth in fantasy points at his position. The Bengals have also allowed an average of over eight fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2012.

Scott Chandler vs. Tennessee Titans: If Chandler doesn't score a touchdown, well, he's basically worthless to your fantasy team. Luckily, this week he goes up against a Titans defense that has allowed the most receptions, yards, touchdowns and fantasy points to opposing tight ends. That makes Chandler worth a roll of the dice, as his chances of finding the end zone seem good.

Sleeper alert - Martellus Bennett vs. Washington Redskins: Bennett opened the season on absolute fire, scoring 10 or more fantasy points in each of his first three games. Since then, he's scored a combined 3.90 points. Not good. Still, he's a legitimate option if you're in dire straits against a Redskins defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Tight ends - Sit of the week


Jermichael Finley at St. Louis Rams: Finley scored a solid 10.70 fantasy points way back in Week 1. Since then, he's averaged a terrible 2.86 points over his last five games. With an admittedly poor rapport with Aaron Rodgers and a bad matchup against the Rams, Finley needs to be on your bench. St. Louis has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Sit 'em


Fred Davis at New York Giants: While Davis has been more involved in the Redskins pass attack in recent weeks, he's still averaging a modest 52 yards a game and hasn't scored a single touchdown. Couple that with a matchup against the Giants, and Davis is an obvious risk. New York's defense has surrendered no touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Brandon Pettigrew at Chicago Bears (Mon.): Unless you're in a PPR league, starting Pettigrew with confidence is tough. He's 19th in fantasy points among tight ends and has just one touchdown on the season. What's more, he has averaged just 2.75 catches, 21.5 yards and scored one lone touchdown in his last four games against the Bears. Those are some pretty lifeless numbers.

Dennis Pitta at Houston Texans: One of the hottest tight ends in fantasy football to start the season, Pitta's numbers and value have taken a nose dive. Over the last four weeks, he's recorded just 105 yards and one touchdown. When you also consider how Joe Flacco has struggled on the road, it's tough to start Pitta with any confidence against the Texans' tough defense.

Owners beware - Kyle Rudolph vs. Arizona Cardinals: There's a good chance you can't afford to bench Rudolph, and you shouldn't unless you have a great alternative. Just keep in mind that this weekend's matchup against the Cardinals is anything but favorable. Their defense has allowed just two touchdowns and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Kickers - Start of the week


Robbie Gould vs. Detroit Lions: One of the better kickers in fantasy football, Gould has averaged just under 10 fantasy points per game and should find continued success against the Lions on "Monday Night Football". Detroit has given up 13 field goals, including five from 40-49 yards, and an average of 10.60 fantasy points to kickers. That's the fourth-most in the entire league.

Start 'em


Lawrence Tynes vs. Washington Redskins: You might not know it, but Tynes is the highest-scoring kicker in fantasy football after six weeks - and he's still a free agent in plenty of NFL.com leagues. Couple that little nugget with a nice matchup against the Redskins, and Tynes is a fine option. Washington has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season.

Sebastian Janikowski vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The man nicknamed "Sea Bass" is just 22nd in fantasy points among kickers to this point in the season, but this week's matchup against the Jaguars makes him quite an attractive option. Jacksonville's defense has been a great matchup for kickers in fantasy land, as the position has averaged a solid 10 fantasy points per game against them.

Sleeper alert - Connor Barth vs. New Orleans Saints: Barth, a free agent in more than 90 percent of NFL.com leagues, is 12th in fantasy points among kickers and is a nice under-the-radar option against the Saints. Their defense has surrendered an average of 10 fantasy points per game to opposing booters, so Barth has some appeal in what could be a high-scoring affair in Tampa.

Kickers - Sit of the week


Mason Crosby at St. Louis Rams: Crosby entered the season as one of the top kickers in fantasy football, and he's still owned in more than 90 percent of NFL.com leagues. However, the veteran is just 27th in fantasy points at his position and is borderline waiver-wire fodder at this point. Crosby faces a Rams defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to kickers.

Sit 'em


Mike Nugent vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Nugent had been a viable fantasy starter earlier in the season, but his totals have dropped off in recent weeks. In fact, he's scored a combined 13 fantasy points in his last two games and hasn't posted double digits since Week 2. The Steelers have allowed an average of just seven fantasy points per game to kickers, so keep Nugent on the bench.

Nick Folk at New England Patriots: Folk opened the regular season on a high note with double-digit fantasy points in two of his first three games. Since then, he has scored a combined 10 fantasy points including a doughnut in Week 4. His fortunes don't figure to improve against the Patriots, who have surrendered an average of 5.83 fantasy points to opposing kickers this season.

Owners beware - Justin Tucker at Houston Texans: Tucker has emerged into one of the better kickers in fantasy football as a rookie, ranking eighth in points at his position after six weeks. However, he could be in for a tough weekend in Houston against the Texans. Their defense has allowed just 5.17 fantasy points per game to kickers, which is tied for the second fewest in 2012.

Defense - Start of the week


Vikings defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: The Vikings defense has been a surprise in fantasy land this season, ranking among the top 12 units based on fantasy points after six weeks. Defenses facing the Cardinals and their porous offensive line have averaged close to 10 fantasy points per game, so starting these Purple People Eaters is well worth considering if you need a defense.

Start 'em


Patriots defense vs. New York Jets: The Patriots will be fired up after last week's loss to the Seattle Seahawks, so look for a big effort at home against the Jets. Mark Sanchez is no stranger to turning the football over, so the P-Men will no doubt be aggressive in trying to shut him down. This is also a huge AFC East battle, so New England will no doubt bring it's "A" game.

Steelers defense at Cincinnati Bengals: The Steelers defense has not been a factor in fantasy land this season, scoring the seventh-fewest fantasy points at the position. Still, you can do worse during the bye weeks than roll the dice on them against Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Defenses have combined to score the sixth-most fantasy points against these cats from the Queen City.

Sleeper alert - Panthers defense vs. Dallas Cowboys: With six different teams on a bye, chances are you could be forced to start a defense you wouldn't have started otherwise. Enter the Panthers, who face a Dallas Cowboys team that has struggled to protect Tony Romo all year. What's more, opposing defenses facing the Boys from Big D have scored the second-most fantasy points.

Defense - Sit of the week


Jets defense at New England Patriots: The Men in Green put up a solid stat line last week, scoring 16 fantasy points in a blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts. However, that's not likely to be the case in New England. Opposing defenses that have gone up against Tom Brady's offense have combined to score the second-fewest fantasy points this season. That's not good.

Sit 'em


Giants defense vs. Washington Redskins: Much like the Jets, the G-Men put up a monster stat line (19 fantasy points) in Week 6. So while you might be tempted to start them again with six teams on a bye, just keep in mind that defenses going up against Robert Griffin III and the upstart Redskins offense have combined to score the fourth-fewest fantasy points in 2012.

Saints defense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You might look at this week's matchup against the Bucs and think the Saints could be a sleeper unit. Well, think again. Opposing defenses have combined to score an average of just 6.20 fantasy points per game against Josh Freeman and crew. What's more, New Orleans ranks a meager 25th in fantasy points among defensive units in 2012.

Owners beware - Ravens defense at Houston Texans: The Ravens defense suffered two huge losses last week, as LB Ray Lewis (triceps) and CB Lardarius Webb (knee) were lost for the season. With LB Terrell Suggs also still out, this unit now has little to offer from a fantasy perspective. This weekend's AFC road matchup against the Texans isn't very favorable either.

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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