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
Andrew Luck vs. Buffalo Bills: Luck had a bit of a setback in his rise to fantasy stardom last week, scoring a mediocre 13.76 fantasy points in part because of his three interceptions. However, the rookie remains a solid option this week against the Bills. He's been productive at home, and the Bills have allowed an average of just under 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road.
Matt Ryan at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan put up a real stinker last week against the Arizona Cardinals, throwing five interceptions while scoring 1.74 fantasy points. I'd stick with him, though, as the Boston College product faces a Bucs defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks at home (18.10 PPG). Overall, no defense has given up more passing yards this season.
Cam Newton at Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): If Newton is on your fantasy football team, you know how much of a roller-coster ride this season has been for him in the stat sheets. It's tough not to like him on Monday night against the Eagles, though, as their defense has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks at home (17.86 PPG). That makes Newton a much nicer option for owners.
Andy Dalton vs. Oakland Raiders: Dalton is coming off a huge performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, scoring three touchdowns while putting up 24.50 fantasy points. It was his second straight game with 20-plus points. He's a nice option against the Raiders, who have allowed 20 touchdown passes overall and an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road.
Sleeper Alert - Colin Kaepernick at New Orleans Saints: Kaepernick is coming off a solid stat line against the Chicago Bears, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Now the starter for coach Jim Harbaugh, he's a terrific fantasy sleeper against the Saints. Their defense has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks overall and the third-most fantasy points to the position on their home field.
Sit of the week
Joe Flacco at San Diego Chargers: To put it bluntly, Flacco stinks on the road. In his five starts away from Baltimore, he has averaged 176.6 passing yards with a combined three touchdown passes and four interceptions. The Chargers are a middle of the road 17th in pass defense and have allowed an average of around 15 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at home, but I just don't trust Flacco.
Carson Palmer at Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer has scored 16-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games and will be motivated to face his former team, the Bengals. Just keep in mind that Cincinnati's defense has been tough on quarterbacks on its home field. In fact, opposing signal-callers are averaging just over 13 fantasy points per game while playing in the Queen City this season.
Sam Bradford at Arizona Cardinals: Bradford, listed in the sit' em portion of this column last week, put up just 11.50 fantasy points in a loss to the New York Jets. His fortunes don't figure to improve against the Cardinals, who just held Matt Ryan to fewer than two fantasy points in Week 11. Arizona has also allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterback at home in 2012.
Christian Ponder at Chicago Bears: Ponder put up a respectable total in his last start with two touchdowns and over 17 fantasy points. Of course, that was at home against the Detroit Lions. This week he faces a Bears defense that will be salty after being embarrassed by Kaepernick last week. Oh, and Ponder will have to do it on the road. There's nothing good here to suggest Ponder won't struggle mightily.
Owners beware - Philip Rivers vs. Baltimore Ravens: Outside of his 21.98-point performance against the Buccaneers, Rivers has failed to score 15 fantasy points in a game since Week 5. That trend is likely to continue against the Ravens, who have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the road (11.58 PPG). You just can't trust Rivers at this important part of the year.