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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em 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.

Quarterbacks - 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.

Start 'em


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.

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.

Sit 'em


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 starter 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.

Running backs - 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). His 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.

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.

Running backs - 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 of 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.

Wide receivers - Start of the week


DeSean Jackson at New Orleans Saints (Mon.): If you have either Jackson or Jeremy Maclin on your fantasy team, you need to start them in Week 9. The Saints rank 30th in pass defense and have allowed 13 touchdowns and the most fantasy points to wide receivers. So despite being inconsistent all year, this Eagles duo needs to be in your starting lineup.

Start 'em


Steve Smith vs. Washington Redskins: Smith posted his first nice stat line in several games with 118 yards against the Chicago Bears last week, and I think he'll have another solid total against the Redskins. Their defense has given up a total of 10 touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to wideouts, so get Smith active in this NFC competition.

Reggie Wayne vs. Miami Dolphins: Wayne has been a pleasant surprise in 2012, and he's been a solid option at home. In fact, the veteran has 46 targets in his last three games at Lucas Oil Stadium. Couple that with a matchup against the Dolphins, who have allowed the sixth-most receptions to wideouts, and it's clear why Wayne needs to be in your lineup.

Denarius Moore vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Moore has been like a Halloween treat in recent games, scoring the sixth-most fantasy points over the last two weeks. If that weren't enough to start him, you should also consider this weekend's matchup against the Buccaneers -- their defense has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to wideouts in 2012.

Sleeper alert - Lance Moore vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): Moore is another one of those players with an odd home versus road trend. When he plays at the Superdome, Moore is a serious stats machine. In fact, he has 190 yards and two scores in two home games this season. What's more, he has six touchdowns in his last six games on his home field.

Wide receivers - Sit of the week


Torrey Smith at Cleveland Browns: Forget that the Browns have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts in 2012. Look at the last two weeks with CB Joe Haden back in action -- no team has given up fewer fantasy points to the position. In two games against Browns and Haden in 2011, Smith had a combined two catches for 70 yards and no scores.

Sit 'em


Hakeem Nicks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: I'm not sure if he's still at less than 100 percent, but Nicks has failed to score six fantasy points in all but one of his games this season. Over the last three weeks, he has averaged 4.76 points. So while you likely have to start him, Nicks is no bet to thrive against a tough Steelers pass defense this week.

Santana Moss at Carolina Panthers: Moss has found the end zone at least once in his last two games, and he's emerged into the top option in the pass attack for rookie superstar Robert Griffin III. With that said, just keep in mind that he goes up against a Panthers defense this week that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.

Kenny Britt vs. Chicago Bears: Britt has been a disappointment in fantasy land, scoring fewer than four fantasy points in three of his last four games. That trend is likely to continue against the Bears, who have surrendered just 85 receptions (tied for 11th fewest) and a mere four touchdowns to opposing wide receivers to this point in the season.

Owners beware - Julio Jones vs. Dallas Cowboys (Mon.): You likely can't afford to sit Jones this week, and you shouldn't unless you're loaded at wideout. Just keep this in mind -- Jones has 107 yards and no touchdowns in three home games. Also, the Cowboys have allowed double-digit fantasy points to just one wide receiver (Brandon Marshall) in 2012.

Tight ends - Start of the week


Owen Daniels vs. Buffalo Bills: This is another one of those weeks where several good tight ends are on byes, so fantasy leaguers really need to stick with their most consistent options. That includes Daniels, who ranks fourth in fantasy points at the position and faces a Bills defense that ranks an unimpressive 29th in the league against the pass.

Start 'em


Tony Gonzalez vs. Dallas Cowboys (Mon.): The third highest-scoring tight end in fantasy football has struggled in recent weeks, but I expect him to see plenty of targets against the Cowboys. With Roddy White and Julio Jones facing top CBs Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, look for Matt Ryan to look to Gonzalez often if his wideouts can't get open.

Heath Miller at New York Giants: Miller, who is somehow still a free agent in almost 30 percent of NFL.com leagues, has found the end zone in five of his seven games and ranks among the top tight ends in fantasy football this season. That alone makes him a solid option against the Giants, who have surrendered the third-most yards to tight ends.

Greg Olsen vs. Washington Redskins: Need some help at the tight end position this week? Go out and grab Olsen, who is a free agent in more than 65 percent of NFL.com leagues. While he has been inconsistent overall, the veteran has a great matchup against the Redskins. Their defense has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Sleeper alert - Jermaine Gresham vs. Denver Broncos: Gresham, a free agent in around 85 percent of NFL.com leagues, is well worth a look as a one-week starter against the Broncos. Their defense is tied for the third-most touchdowns and has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, so Gresham will clearly be in a position to succeed.

Tight ends - Sit of the week


Jermichael Finley vs. Arizona Cardinals: Dennis Pitta. Joel Dreessen. Anthony Fasano. Those are just a few of the tight ends with more fantasy points than Finley. He's been a complete statistical disaster since Week 1, so much so that he's now being dropped in a lot of leagues. Keep him benched against the Cardinals, who are tough on tight ends.

Sit 'em


Brandon Pettigrew vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Pettigrew has been a real disappointment, posting fewer than eight fantasy points in all seven of his games. He's also averaged just five fantasy points in his last three games. His fortunes aren't likely to improve against the Jaguars, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to his position.

Dennis Pitta at Cleveland Browns: Remember when Pitta looked like a fantasy sleeper earlier in the season? Well, he's been asleep over his last three games with a combined 8.80 fantasy points. Next on the schedule is a date with the Browns, who have allowed two touchdowns and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. That's bad news for Pitta.

Anthony Fasano at Indianapolis Colts: Sure, Fasano has found the end zone in each of his last two games. But even with those scores, he has averaged mediocre numbers because of his pedestrian reception and yardage totals. Keep him on the bench against the Colts, who have allowed one touchdown and the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Owners beware - Brent Celek at New Orleans Saints (Mon.): This looks like a tremendous matchup on paper, as the Saints rank 30th in pass defense in 2012. However, did you know that this unit has also allowed just one touchdown and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends? If you do start Celek, don't expect him to put up a monster stat line.

Kickers - Start of the week


Jason Hanson at Jacksonville Jaguars: Hanson is a respectable 11th in fantasy points among kickers, and I think he'll move upward even further after this week's game against the Jaguars. This unit has allowed 16 field goals and an average of 10 fantasy points per game to kickers, so Hanson should see plenty of opportunities to score points.

Start 'em


Robbie Gould at Tennessee Titans: Gould has been quiet in the last two weeks, scoring a combined 12 fantasy points in wins over the Lions and Carolina Panthers. He should rebound this weekend, though, as he faces a Titans defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers. Gould is a free agent in 60 percent of leagues.

Connor Barth at Oakland Raiders: Barth, a free agent in most leagues on NFL.com, has scored a respectable 64 fantasy points in seven games this season. Consider him a solid option against the Raiders, who have allowed 18 field goals (including four of 50-plus yards) and the most fantasy points (11.57 PPG) to opposing kickers this season.

Sleeper alert - Garrett Hartley vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): If you want to roll the dice on a kicker with some matchup upside this week, take a look at Hartley. A free agent in more than 40 percent of NFL.com leagues, the veteran faces an Eagles team that has allowed 19 field goals and the third-most fantasy points to kickers in 2012.

Kickers - Sit of the week


Dan Bailey at Atlanta Falcons (Mon.): Bailey has been a pretty nice option for fantasy leaguers over the last three weeks, scoring a combined 32 fantasy points. Still, it's hard to recommended him on Monday night against the Falcons. Their defense has given up just six field-goal conversions and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers.

Sit 'em


Rob Bironas vs. Chicago Bears: One of the more inconsistent kickers in fantasy land, Bironas has scored seven or fewer fantasy points in four of his last six games and ranks a mediocre 18th in points at his position after eight weeks. He's likely to remain more trick than treat against the Bears, who have given up an average of 6.86 fantasy points to kickers.

Mike Nugent vs. Denver Broncos: Nugent started the season well, scoring at least seven fantasy points in each of his first five games. Since then, however, the veteran has averaged under six points. If that weren't enough to keep Nugent on the sidelines, also keep in mind that the Broncos have given up an average of 6.29 fantasy points to kickers.

Owners beware - Justin Tucker at Cleveland Browns: Tucker, a top-10 fantasy kicker to this point in the season, has a tough matchup this week against the Browns. Their defense has given up an average of fewer than seven fantasy points per game to opposing kickers. What's more, Tucker scored just five fantasy points against Cleveland back in Week 4.

Defenses - Start of the week


Packers defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: Did you happen to watch the Cardinals' offense (or lack there of) and dreadful line play last Monday? That's all you need to know about why the Packers are such an attractive fantasy option this week on their home field. Overall, defenses have combined to score the fifth-most fantasy points against Arizona.

Start 'em


Lions defense at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Lions' defense has taken a drastic turn in the wrong direction from a fantasy perspective this season, but it's tough not to like this week's matchup against the Jaguars. Opposing defenses have combined to put up the sixth-most fantasy points against Blaine Gabbert and Jacksonville's punchless offense.

Falcons defense vs. Dallas Cowboys (Mon.): When you consider the number of turnovers that Tony Romo has committed this season, it's no wonder that defenses have scored so many fantasy points against the Cowboys. In fact, only the Chiefs have been a better option for opposing fantasy defenses. Atlanta is a free agent in plenty of NFL.com leagues.

Sleeper alert - Broncos defense at Cincinnati Bengals: The Broncos defense has been hot as of late from a fantasy perspective, posting two touchdowns, five sacks and five interceptions in their last two games. With Andy Dalton not playing well lately and turning the ball over more often, Denver's defense should be able to make some plays in Week 9.

Defenses - Sit of the week


Cardinals defense at Green Bay Packers: The Cardinals rank a very solid sixth in fantasy points among defenses, so it's pretty tough to bench them. However, this weekend's matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is a tough one. Opposing defenses have combined to put up an average of just 5.75 fantasy points per game against them in 2012.

Sit 'em


Eagles defense at New Orleans Saints (Mon.): 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 Drew Brees and the Saints, who still have one of the league's most feared offensive attacks.

Bills defense at Houston Texans: Remember all of those defensive moves the Bills made this past offseason? Well, that hasn't worked out so well after the first eight weeks. This unit ranks an awful 22nd in fantasy points at the position, and this week's road matchup against the Texans isn't favorable at all. Keep the Bills on the sidelines this week.

Owners beware - Steelers defense at New York Giants: The Steelers' defense hasn't been a good fantasy option, ranking just 24th in points at the position. Couple that with a road matchup against Eli Manning and the Giants, and sitting this defense is the move to make. Defenses facing the G-Men have combined to score the second-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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