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.
Start of the week
Cam Newton vs. Washington Redskins: The fact that Newton is listed in this space proves how inconsistent he has been this season. However, I would start him with confidence this weekend against the Redskins. Their defense has been one of the most vulnerable to quarterbacks, allowing an average of just under 20 fantasy points per game to the position.
Ben Roethlisberger at New York Giants: Big Ben has had a tremendous start to the season for owners, ranking seventh overall in fantasy points at his position while scoring 14 or more points in all but one of his starts. This week he faces the Giants, who have given up 11 touchdown passes and an average of close to 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Michael Vick at New Orleans Saints (Mon.): I am assuming here, of course, that Vick will retain the top spot on the Eagles' depth chart this week. In that scenario, I think he puts up a scary good stat line against the Saints on Monday night. Their defense has been gashed all season, allowing 15 touchdown passes and the most fantasy points to signal-callers.
Andrew Luck vs. Miami Dolphins: Luck has been an absolute fantasy star on his home field as a rookie, averaging an impressive 22.52 fantasy points at Lucas Oil Stadium. I think his success continues against the Dolphins, who are strong against the run but have given up more than 16 fantasy points per game to field generals. That makes Luck an even better treat.
Sleeper alert - Josh Freeman at Oakland Raiders: Freeman has been a man on fire in recent weeks, posting a combined nine touchdowns and scoring 22-plus fantasy points in each of his last three games. He should continue to be a statistical monster against the Raiders, who have allowed 12 touchdown passes and an average of 17.58 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Sit of the week
Joe Flacco at Cleveland Browns: Flacco has been inconsistent at best this season, and his stats on the road have been mediocre. He's been bad in Cleveland as well, averaging a meager 166 passing yards with just four touchdown passes in four career games. The veteran quarterback needs to be on your fantasy bench in favor of a quarterback with a better matchup.
Christian Ponder at Seattle Seahawks: Ponder's stats have been much like a roller coaster ride this season, and an upcoming matchup against the Seahawks makes it tough to trust him. Their defense has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and just one (Tom Brady) has scored more than 12 fantasy points against them on their home field.
Ryan Fitzpatrick at Houston Texans: Fitzpatrick has been a viable fantasy starer in 2012, scoring 18-plus fantasy points in four games while throwing 15 touchdown passes. Still, it's tough to advise starting the Amish rifle in what is a difficult matchup against the Texans. Their defense has given up just seven touchdown passes to quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Chicago Bears: Hasselbeck will continue to start in the absence of Jake Locker, but he shouldn't be considered as such in fantasy land. He has scored 14-plus fantasy points just once all season, and this week's matchup against the Bears is a scary one. Their defense has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks after eight weeks.
Owners beware - Eli Manning vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manning has been in a bit of a slump, averaging 10.46 fantasy points in his last three games. While you shouldn't bench him without a solid alternative, also keep in mind that this week's opponent, the Steelers, have given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to signal-callers. That makes Manning a potential trick.