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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 12

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


Doug Martin vs. Atlanta Falcons: Martin has been the highest-scoring running back in fantasy football over the last four weeks, and his recent string of success figures to continue against the Falcons. Gashed by LaRod Stephens-Howling for over 20 fantasy points last week, Atlanta has allowed just under 19 points to opposing runners on the road in 2012. Get Martin into your lineup and keep him there.

Start 'em


C.J. Spiller at Indianapolis Colts: Regardless of Fred Jackson's status, Spiller will be no worse than a solid No. 2 fantasy option against the Colts. Their defense continues to struggle against the run, allowing an average of just under 19 fantasy points to opposing backs on their home field. Indianapolis is also tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs overall.

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Frank Gore at New Orleans Saints: Gore continues to be a steady option for fantasy owners, ranking in the top 10 in points at his position in 2012. He's a terrific choice this week against the Saints, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs at home (24.56 PPG) in 2012. Overall, New Orleans has surrendered more rushing yards to running backs than any other team in the league.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Oakland Raiders: Don't look now, but the Law Firm has been holding court in fantasy land. He's scored double-digit fantasy points and one touchdown in two of his last three games, and that's despite losing some work to Cedric Peerman. I'd start him against the Raiders, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs on the road (21.38 PPG) in 2012.

Sleeper alert - Marcel Reece at Cincinnati Bengals: Barring a miraculous return from Darren McFadden or Mike Goodson (high ankle sprains), Reece should once again see most of the backfield touches for the Raiders this weekend. That bodes well for his overall fantasy value, as the Bengals have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs at home (21.70 PPG) this season.

Sit of the week


Reggie Bush vs. Seattle Seahawks: Remember how well Bush played down the stretch last season? Well, that was then and this is now. In 2012, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in just one of his last five games and has failed to score even seven points in seven of his last eight contests. The Seahawks have a tough run defense, so Bush isn't very likely to reverse his current fortunes this weekend.

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LaDainian Tomlinson joins the NFL Fantasy LIVE crew for his analysis of rookie Doug Martin after scoring 11-plus points in six straight games. (Click image for further analysis.)

Sit 'em


LaRod Stephens-Howling vs. St. Louis Rams: A fantasy star last week, the small but effective Stephens-Howling scored over 20 fantasy points against the Atlanta Falcons. His role is about to shrink, though, as Beanie Wells is scheduled to return from an extended absence. That means Stephens-Howling will move back into a committee role. The Rams don't have a good run defense, but "the Hyphen" is a risk.

James Starks at New York Giants: Starks is seeing most of the backfield touches for the Packers, and he's been more productive than Alex Green in the role. However, he has still scored just 14.10 fantasy points in his last two games. Starks also has a tough matchup this weekend against the Giants, who have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs overall (13.87 PPR) this season.

Mark Ingram vs. San Francisco 49ers: Ingram's stock is on the rise, as he's led the Saints in carries in two straight weeks and is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season. With that said, he could end up losing work if Darren Sproles returns from a hand injury. Ingram also has to face the Niners, who have given up fewer fantasy points to running backs on the road than any other team.

Owners beware - Michael Turner at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Turner has alternated good and bad stat lines in each of his last four games, and he's due for a stinker if that trend continues. The matchup doesn't bode well, as the Buccaneers have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs at home (12.62 PPG). Tampa Bay's run defense is among the 10 best in the NFL overall as well.

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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