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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses for Week 8

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 - Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans

Start of the week


Packers defense vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Packers have been mediocre in fantasy land, and the loss of DB Charles Woodson won't help this unit. However, facing a Jaguars offense that will be playing a backup at quarterback and running back bodes well. Defenses going up against this lackluster offense have also averaged the seventh-most fantasy points after seven weeks.

Start 'em


Seahawks defense at Detroit Lions: These aren't the same explosive Lions from one season ago, so it's not as taboo to play the opposing defense. This week it's the Seahawks, who rank in the top seven in fantasy points at the position. Defenses facing the Lions have also combined to score the second-most points, so there's no reason not to like the Hawks this weekend.

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Falcons defense at Philadelphia Eagles: The Falcons defense has been a nice surprise, ranking fifth in points at the position. Their success should continue against Michael Vick and the turnover-prone Eagles. Opposing defenses facing this offense have combined to average the third-most fantasy points. Atlanta is still available in 49.9 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Sleeper alert - Giants defense at Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have major offensive line issues and some real question marks in their backfield due to injuries, so this is a really good week to start the opportunistic Giants defense. What's more, opposing defenses facing Tony Romo and the Pokes have combined to score the fourth-most fantasy points in 2012.

Sit of the week


Rams defense vs. New England Patriots (London): Coach Jeff Fisher has the Rams playing hard on defense, but this unit is still a matchup-based option. When you consider this week's game across the pond against Tom Brady and the Patriots, well, that is anything but a good matchup. Defenses facing the P-Men have combined to score the second-fewest fantasy points.

Sit 'em


Eagles defense vs. Atlanta Falcons: For all of the talent the Eagles have on their roster, this defense has been almost non-existent from a fantasy perspective. In fact, this unit ranks 27th in points! I would keep them on the bench against the Falcons, who have one of the league's most feared offensive attacks and should be set to explode coming off a bye week.

Margaret Bowles/Associated Press
The NFL Fantasy LIVE crew examine if now is the time to drop your Panthers' running backs and look for other options. (Click image for further analysis.)

Broncos defense vs. New Orleans Saints: You might not know it, but the Broncos are eighth in fantasy points among defenses after seven weeks. However, I still wouldn't start them against Drew Brees and the Saints. Opposing defenses going up against this explosive offense have combined to average the fifth-fewest fantasy points, and a shootout is a virtual guarantee.

Owners beware - Steelers defense vs. Washington Redskins: The Steelers defense hasn't been a good fantasy option in 2012, ranking a mere 24th in points at the position. Couple that with a matchup against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, and sitting this defense is the move to make. Defenses facing the Skins have combined to score the eighth-fewest 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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