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
Stevan Ridley vs. Indianapolis Colts: Ridley has had his ups and downs this season, but he's still the closest thing to a featured runner the Patriots have on their roster. He needs to be active in fantasy leagues this week, as Ridley faces a Colts defense that has surrendered an average of over 23 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs on the road.
Jamaal Charles vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Charles post his first nice stat line in awhile last week with 100 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Assuming the Chiefs continue to feed him the football, Charles should be in for another nice weekend. The Bengals have struggled to stop running backs all season, making the veteran a solid option.
Steven Jackson vs. New York Jets:Fantasy owners saw glimpses of the old Jackson last week, as he rumbled for 101 yards and one touchdown against a tough Niners defense. This week he faces the Jets, who have given up an average of over 20 fantasy points per game on the road this season. Look for Jackson to post a nice stat line in this inter-conference battle.
Felix Jones vs. Cleveland Browns: It's hard to trust Jones, who can be inconsistent and injury prone. However, he has averaged over 12 fantasy points in his last two games and has viable flex spot appeal against the Browns. This unit has given up an average of over 20 fantasy points per game to opposing runners on the road, making Jones a nice option.
Sleeper alert - Marcel Reece vs. New Orleans Saints: Barring a miraculous return from Darren McFadden (ankle), Reece should see most of the backfield touches for the Raiders this week. That bodes well for his fantasy value, as the Saints have given up more fantasy points to running backs on the road (23.53) than any other team in the league after 10 weeks.
Sit of the week
Ryan Mathews at Denver Broncos: Chances are you don't have the depth to bench Mathews, but owners with backfield depth should consider it. He has failed to score double-digit fantasy points since Week 5, and the Broncos held him to just 74 yards on the ground back in Week 6. Denver has also allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs at home.
Jonathan Stewart vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stewart's move to the top spot on the depth chart has not resulted in good fantasy numbers. In fact, he's failed to score more than eight fantasy points since Week 2. That's not good. His fortunes don't figure to change against the Buccaneers, who have given up just five rushing touchdowns to opposing runners this season.
Mikel Leshoure vs. Green Bay Packers: Leshoure has been all or nothing in the stat sheets this season. In fact, 59 percent of his fantasy point total has come in just two games. That is anything but consistent production. He's a risk against the Packers, who have allowed an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points to running backs over their last two contests.
Rashad Jennings at Houston Texans: Jennings has been a disappointment since taking over the starting job for Maurice Jones-Drew. The Liberty product has seen his fantasy points drop in each of his last three games, and a matchup against the Texans isn't favorable. Their defense has allowed an average of 12.74 fantasy points per game to runners at home.
Owners beware - Frank Gore vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.): I have Gore in one of my leagues, and chances are I will have to start him. Unfortunately, the Bears have not been a good matchup for opposing runners. In fact, this unit has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs on the road (11.48 PPG). That could mean a poor stat line for Gore.