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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 9

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 - New England Patriots, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers

Start of the week


Alfred Morris vs. Carolina Panthers: Morris was able to muster just 5.90 fantasy points last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that wouldn't keep me from starting him in Week 9. He has a terrific matchup against the Panthers, who have given up eight rushing touchdowns and an average of 20.91 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.

Start 'em


Doug Martin at Oakland Raiders: Over the last four weeks, Martin has been the top-scoring running back based on fantasy points (64.70). He should be a scream of a starter against the Raiders, who have given up an average of more than 18 fantasy points per game to runners. Fantasy owners should continue to ride the Boise State product while he's this hot.

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Willis McGahee at Cincinnati Bengals: McGahee, who is on the wrong side of 30 for a running back, is on pace for a remarkable 1,477 rushing yards and nine touchdowns based on his current totals. He should increase those projections against the Bengals, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to runners. That makes McGahee a real treat this week.

Reggie Bush at Indianapolis Colts: Bush hasn't produced at a high level in recent weeks, scoring single-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games. That should change against the Colts, though, as their defense has allowed eight rushing touchdowns and the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Keep the faith in Bush this weekend.

Sleeper alert - Mikel Leshoure at Jacksonville Jaguars: Leshoure has not been productive lately, and Joique Bell has seen more touches out of the backfield in recent weeks. Still, the Illinois product is worth a roll of the dice as a flex option against the Jaguars. Their defense has allowed eight touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to backs.

Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press
Jamaal Charles is coming off a one-point performance in Week 8, but does that spell doom for his fantasy future? (Click image for further analysis.)

Sit of the week


Fred Jackson at Houston Texans: Jackson has been solid for owners in his last two games, scoring a combined 30.30 fantasy points. Unfortunately, it's tough to envision a scenario where he puts up good numbers against the Texans. Fresh off a bye week, this defense has allowed no rushing scores and the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing runners.

Sit 'em


BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Denver Broncos: This isn't a favorable or unfavorable matchup for Green-Ellis, as the Broncos rank 14th in run defense. However, his lack of production is a major issue. He's failed to score double-digit fantasy points since Week 2 and hasn't scored over seven points in his last three games. That makes the Law Firm a possible trick.

Donald Brown vs. Miami Dolphins: Brown looked good in his return from a minor knee procedure, rushing for 80 yards on 14 carries last week. He still lost carries to Vick Ballard, though, and this week's matchup against the Dolphins makes him a runner to avoid. The Fins have allowed a mere two rushing touchdowns and the ninth-fewest fantasy points to runners.

Alex Green vs. Arizona Cardinals: Green continues to be the lead back for the Pack, but he's done next to nothing with his increased touches. As a result, there's been talk that James Starks could see more work out of the backfield against the Cardinals. Regardless, Green is just too much of a risk to start in most fantasy leagues - even as a simple flex option.

Owners beware - Chris Johnson vs. Chicago Bears: Johnson has been playing well in recent weeks, and chances are you don't have the backfield depth to bench him. Just keep in mind that his totals could take a nosedive against the Bears. Their great defense has allowed just one rushing touchdown and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

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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