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
Carson Palmer vs. New Orleans Saints: Palmer has been on fire in recent weeks, throwing for multiple touchdowns in three straight games and scoring 18-plus fantasy points in three of his last four overall. He's a tremendous option against the Saints, who have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks on the road (26.47 PPG) than any other team in the league.
Cam Newton vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Newton didn't get the job done last week for fantasy owners, but he should post a very nice line against the Buccaneers. In three career meetings against this NFC South foe, Newton has combined to score nine total touchdowns. The Bucs are also allowing an average of over 18 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road.
Tony Romo vs. Cleveland Browns: Romo has been playing well of late, scoring 16-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games. He should continue to roll up the stats against the Browns, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the road (21.17 PPG) this season. Their defense has also given up 16 touchdown passes overall to this point.
Andrew Luck at New England Patriots: Luck seems to be finding his stride in the stat sheets, scoring 16-plus fantasy points in four straight games. That includes two straight starts where he has scored multiple touchdowns. The Patriots have allowed an average of over 18 fantasy points per game to signal-callers on their home field, so Luck should post another nice line.
Sleeper alert - Andy Dalton at Kansas City Chiefs: Dalton is coming off a huge performance against the New York Giants, throwing four touchdown passes while putting up 23.76 fantasy points. He's a nice option this week against the Chiefs, who have surrendered 18 touchdown passes overall and an average of close to 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on their home field.
Quarterbacks - Sit of the week
Joe Flacco at Pittsburgh Steelers: Flacco was the top-scoring quarterback in fantasy football last week, but that was against the Raiders and on his home field. This week he faces a tough road contest against the Steelers, who have given up an average of 10.39 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at Heinz Field. Also, you just can't trust Flacco in any road contest.
Matt Schaub vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Schaub has a good matchup on paper, as the Jaguars have been brutal against the pass lately. However, the veteran has had no success against them in recent seasons. In fact, he has thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Jags just once in their last five meetings. Back in Week 2, Schaub put up just 7.50 fantasy points against them.
Alex Smith vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.): Assuming Smith is active on Monday night - he suffered a slight concussion last week - he's not someone you want to have in your starting lineup against the Bears. Their defense has been ferocious, allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the road. Smith is also just too inconsistent to trust in most leagues.
Sam Bradford vs. New York Jets: Bradford was very impressive against the Niners last week, throwing for 275 yards with two touchdowns while also putting up 19 fantasy points. I wouldn't count on another huge stat line, though, as this week's opponent, the Jets, have allowed 11 touchdowns and the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks overall this season.
Owners beware - Philip Rivers at Denver Broncos: Rivers is coming off one of his better fantasy lines of the season, but that was against the Buccaneers and their poor pass defense. This week he faces the Broncos, who forced Rivers into six turnovers and just 5.64 fantasy points back in Week 6.
Running backs - 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.
Running backs - 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.
Wide receivers- Start of the week
Steve Smith vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Smith's lack of production this year has been a point of frustration, but you have to play him when the matchup is favorable. That's the case against the Bucs, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers in road games (32.10 PPG). Smith has also had great success against them in his career.
Eric Decker vs. San Diego Chargers: Decker did a Houdini act in the stat sheets last week, scoring just 1.50 fantasy points in a win over the Carolina Panthers. Fear not, though, as he should bounce back against a Chargers defense that has given up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road. Start Decker and Demaryius Thomas.
Dez Bryant vs. Cleveland Browns: Bryant was just a fingertip away from posting double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games, and this week's matchup against the Browns makes him an attractive option. Their defense has given up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers on the road (32.23 PPG), so look for Bryant to make noise in Big D.
DeSean Jackson at Washington Redskins: The Eagles might have a new quarterback in rookie Nick Foles under center this weekend, but I'd still start Jackson and Jeremy Maclin as No. 3 fantasy wideouts against the Redskins. Their defense has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers at home (32.78 PPG) than any other team in the entire league.
Sleeper alert - Denarius Moore vs. New Orleans Saints: Moore is quickly shedding sleeper status and becoming a solid option in fantasy land. Owners should start both him and Darrius Heyward-Bey against the Saints, who have given up an average of 37 fantasy points per game to wide receivers on the road. That's the most of any defensive team in the NFL.
Wide receivers - Sit of the week
Danario Alexander at Denver Broncos: Alexander is one of the hottest names on the waiver wire after his huge performance against the Buccaneers. But fantasy owners shouldn't go out chasing points and consider him a must-start. In fact, this week's matchup against the Broncos makes Alexander and Malcom Floyd unattractive from a fantasy perspective.
Mike Williams at Carolina Panthers: Williams has been a pleasant surprise, ranking in the top 20 in points at his position. However, I would not be surprised if he fails to produce against the Panthers. Their defense, which has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers at home, held the Syracuse product to just 7.20 points back in Week 1.
Cecil Shorts at Houston Texans: Much like Alexander, Shorts has been a hot name on the fantasy waiver wire. And like Alexander, this week's matchup is anything but favorable. Aside from that Week 6 debacle against the Green Bay Packers, the Texans defense has allowed no more than 16 fantasy points to wide receivers on their home field in 2012.
Josh Gordon at Dallas Cowboys: Gordon was on a nice hot streak earlier in the season, but he averaged just over four fantasy points in his last two games before the bye. This week he faces the Cowboys, who have surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers at home (18.27 PPG). That makes the rookie a massive fantasy risk.
Owners beware - Torrey Smith at Pittsburgh Steelers: It's tough to sit a player who is coming off a monster stat line. If you have wide receiver depth and can afford to make such a move, though, consider benching Smith. Only the Seahawks have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on their home field than the Steelers (14.08 PPG) in 2012.
Tight ends - Start of the week
Antonio Gates at Denver Broncos: Gates has been playing at a much higher statistical level in recent weeks, scoring a combined 22 fantasy points in his last two games. He should remain in your starting lineup against the Broncos, who have surrendered more fantasy points to tight ends (12.28 PPG) than any other team in the entire league after the first 10 weeks.
Brent Celek at Washington Redskins: Celek has not been a viable starter in the majority of fantasy leagues in recent weeks, but a matchup against the Redskins is just too good to pass up. No team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends at home (13.80 PPG) than Washington, which makes Celek someone to use as a one-week starter.
Greg Olsen vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A sleeper in last week's edition of Start 'Em, Sit' Em, Olsen is back in the start section based on this weekend's game against the Buccaneers. Their defense has allowed an average of just under nine fantasy points per game to tight ends on the road. Olsen is also the fourth-highest scoring tight end in the last four weeks.
Dustin Keller at St. Louis Rams: Keller posted a mediocre stat line last week, but it was his first bad line in his last three games. He should rebound against the Rams, who have allowed an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to tight ends at home in 2012. That makes the Purdue product a pretty viable one-week option for fantasy owners.
Sleeper alert - Dwayne Allen at New England Patriots: Looking for a deep sleeper at the tight end position? Consider Allen, who has a great matchup ahead in New England. The Patriots have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on their home field (12.45 PPG), and Allen should see more targets with Coby Fleener (shoulder) out of action.
Tight ends - Sit of the week
Jermichael Finley at Detroit Lions: Rated as a top-five tight end in countless fantasy football drafts this past summer, Finley has easily been the biggest disappointment at his position in 2012. He should continue to be benched against the Lions, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends at home (4.40 PPG) this season.
Jermaine Gresham at Kansas City Chiefs: Gresham has posted some nice totals in his last two games with a combined 18.30 fantasy points. However, he has also recorded fewer than 20 yards in two of his last three games. Furthermore, Gresham faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed an average of just 6.50 fantasy points to tight ends at home in 2012.
Dennis Pitta at Pittsburgh Steelers: Pitta had a terrific stat line in last week's win over the Oakland Raiders, but he'll face a significantly tougher task this weekend at Heinz Field. The Steelers have given up an average of fewer than six fantasy points per game to tight ends on their home field, so Pitta is no lock to post a solid stat line.
Jacob Tamme vs. San Diego Chargers: Tamme was considered a potential sleeper in the preseason, but he's done little to warrant even a starting spot in most fantasy formats. In fact, he has scored a combined 5.10 fantasy points in his last three games. The Chargers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends on the road as well.
Owners beware - Vernon Davis vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.): I know you can't afford to sit Davis in most cases, but he has disappeared in the stat sheets. In the last four weeks, a total of 37 tight ends have scored more fantasy points. That includes Craig Stevens, John Phillips and Ed Dickson! Things won't get any easier with the Bears coming to town.
Kickers - Start of the week
Shayne Graham vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Graham has posted mediocre totals in his last two games, but this week's matchup against the Jaguars is a favorable one. Jacksonville has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers in road games (10.25 PPG) and the seventh-most overall, so Graham should be in a good position to succeed in this AFC South contest.
Shaun Suisham vs. Baltimore Ravens: Quietly, Suisham has posted top-10 fantasy totals at his position this season. In fact, he has just 2.10 fewer points than Sebastian Janikowski. This week he faces the Ravens, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road (10.80 PPG). Suisham is still a free agent in most NFL.com leagues.
Connor Barth at Carolina Panthers: Much like Suisham, Barth has put together a nice season with 80 fantasy points after 10 weeks. Also a free agent in most leagues, the veteran faces a Panthers team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers at home (12.80 PPG). Consider Barth worthy if you need a one-week replacement at the position.
Sleeper alert - Mike Nugent at Kansas City Chiefs:Fantasy owners in deeper leagues looking for a one-week kicker option should consider Nugent, who is still a free agent in most formats. The veteran goes up against a Chiefs team that has surrendered more fantasy points to opposing kickers at home (13.00 PPG) than any other team in the entire league.
Kickers - Sit of the week
David Akers vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.): Sixteen. That's the total number of kickers who have more fantasy points than Akers after 10 weeks. He's also failed to put up double-digit points in each of his last four contests. The Bears have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to kickers on the road (6.00 PPG), so Akers is not in a good position to produce.
Dan Bailey vs. Cleveland Browns: Bailey has averaged a respectable nine fantasy points in his last four games, but this week's matchup against the Browns makes him a risk in fantasy land. The Browns have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers overall this season. This unit has also given up just 12 field-goal conversions to this point.
Jay Feely at Atlanta Falcons:Fantasy owners might see this matchup against the Falcons and think Feely has some value kicking in a dome. However, this unit has actually allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers at home (6.00 PPG) in 2012. Overall, these Dirty Birds have given up the second-fewest points to kickers in fantasy football.
Owners beware - Matt Prater vs. San Diego Chargers: Prater was in the start 'em portion of this column last week, and he responded with 12 fantasy points. This week the matchup dictates that you put him back on your bench. That's because the Chargers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road (4.75 PPG) this season.
Defense - Start of the week
Falcons defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: Atlanta's defense has failed to post good fantasy numbers in recent weeks. In fact, this unit has scored a combined 11 fantasy points in its last three games. I still like this weekend's matchup, though, as home defenses have combined to score the third-most fantasy points when going up against the Cardinals this season.
Redskins defense vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and rookie Nick Foles will be playing in his first NFL road game. If that's not enough to make you like the 'Skins in Week 11, consider that home defenses have scored more fantasy points against the Eagles than any other team in the entire league.
Bengals defense at Kansas City Chiefs: The Bengals clawed their way to a very solid 16 fantasy points against the Giants last week, and an upcoming matchup in Kansas City makes them a nice option again. No opposing defense has come into Arrowhead Stadium and scored fewer than nine fantasy points, so Cincinnati is clearly in a real position to succeed.
Sleeper alert - Rams defense vs. New York Jets: After a fast start, the Rams defense has taken a nosedive in recent weeks. In fact, this unit has posted a combined seven fantasy points in its last four games. Fortunately, a game against the Jets makes it a deep sleeper. Home defenses have combined to put up the fourth-most fantasy points against them.
Defense - Sit of the week
Chargers defense at Denver Broncos: The Bolts might be seventh in fantasy points among defense, but most of their production has come in three games. What's more, facing Peyton Manning and the Broncos is anything but favorable. In fact, defenses that have faced this offense on the road have combined to score the second-fewest fantasy points this season.
Colts defense at New England Patriots: The Colts were among my top 10 fantasy football defenses for Week 10, and they exploded for 20 fantasy points. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen against the Patriots. In fact, opposing defenses that have come to New England have combined to score the fourth-fewest fantasy points at the position in 2012.
Lions defense vs. Green Bay Packers: A top-10 fantasy defense in 2011, the Lions have been de-clawed in the stat sheets this season. This unit isn't even in the top 25 based on fantasy points, and a matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Green Bay Packers isn't at all attractive. Look elsewhere for a starting defense if at all possible this weekend.
Owners beware - Cardinals defense at Atlanta Falcons: The Cardinals defense has taken a downward turn in recent weeks, scoring a combined 25 fantasy points over the last five games. Things don't figure to improve against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, who are lighting up the scoreboard on a pretty regular basis. Keep these Red Birds on the fantasy sidelines.