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
Andrew Luck vs. Buffalo Bills: Luck hah 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.
Quarterbacks - 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.
Running backs - 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.
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.
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.
Running backs - 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.
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.
Wide receivers - Start of the week
Randall Cobb at New York Giants: Believe it or not, but Cobb is the highest-scoring wide receiver in Green Bay based on fantasy points right now. He's also in the top 10 at the position with more points than Andre Johnson, Percy Harvin and Wes Welker. He needs to remain in fantasy lineups against the Giants, who have given up more fantasy points to wideouts at home than any other team in the NFL.
Reggie Wayne vs. Buffalo Bills: Wayne, who has had a rebirth with Andrew Luck under center, has put up an average of over 16 fantasy points in his last three home games. His statistical success should continue against the Bills, who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road (24.45 PPG) in 2012. Wayne needs to be active in all leagues, especially those PPR formats.
Hakeem Nicks vs. Green Bay Packers: Nicks has been a huge disappointment this season due to a combination of injuries and sagging stats. He's told the media that he's healthier than his been as year, though, and he dominated the Packers last season with a combined 14 catches, 253 yards and four touchdowns in two meetings. Even if he's just your third wideout, Nicks should be active on your fantasy team.
Steve Johnson at Indianapolis Colts: Johnson hasn't been a great option in standard leagues, but he has scored 13-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games in PPR formats. So if you get points for catches, the veteran remains a nice option against the Colts. Their defense has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, allowing an average of 26.80 points to the position overall.
Sleeper alert - Michael Crabtree at New Orleans Saints: Crabtree has been a bit more reliable in recent weeks, scoring double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games as defenses continue to focus on Vernon Davis. The veteran will serve as a nice No. 3 fantasy option against the Saints, who have given up more fantasy points to wide receivers overall (29.72 PPG) than any other NFL defense.
Wide receivers - Sit of the week
Mike Wallace at Cleveland Browns: First it was Ben Roethlisberger. Then it was Byron Leftwich. Both were injured in recent weeks, leaving the Steelers to give the reins of their offense to Charlie Batch. That's bad news for Wallace, who hasn't been all the great this season regardless. If CB Joe Haden returns to action, Wallace is all of the sudden an even riskier option for fantasy owners this week.
DeSean Jackson vs. Carolina Panthers (Mon.): I would like Jackson a touch more if Michael Vick were to return on Monday night, but Jackson remains a gamble overall. He's scored more than seven fantasy points just once in his last six games, and this week's matchup against the Panthers is a tough one. Their defense has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers on the road (18.33 PPG).
Mike Williams vs. Atlanta Falcons: Is Williams' run as a solid No. 3 fantasy wideout all but over? He's failed to score seven fantasy points in each of his last two games and three of his last five overall. The Syracuse product also has a tough matchup against the Falcons, who have given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts on the road (15.48 PPG) of any team in the entire league.
Malcom Floyd vs. Baltimore Ravens: Floyd had put up consecutive double-digit games before last week, when he had just 6.70 fantasy points in a loss to the Denver Broncos. He has a tough matchup coming up against the Ravens, who have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road (15.60 PPG). Floyd is also losing more targets to Danario Alexander in recent weeks.
Owners beware - Torrey Smith at San Diego Chargers: Remember what I said about Joe Flacco in the sit 'em portion of the quarterbacks? Well, Smith is directly connected to his quarterback. In five road games, the wideout has one touchdown and is averaging a mere 4.86 fantasy points per game. So while the Chargers don't have the best pass defense, this trend makes it tough to start Smith with confidence.
Tight ends - Start of the week
Brandon Myers at Cincinnati Bengals: Believe it or not, but Myers has been the third-highest scoring tight end (based on fantasy points) over the last four weeks. During that time, he has recorded 220 yards and three touchdowns. He's a nice addition and start for all owners, especially those who will be without Rob Gronkowski for the next several weeks. Myers is a free agent in most NFL.com leagues.
Jermaine Gresham vs. Oakland Raiders: Gresham can be inconsistent, but he has produced at least 6.90 fantasy points in three consecutive contests. That includes a 108-yard performance against the Denver Broncos in Week 9. This week he'll go up against the Raiders, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the road (9.94 PPG). Gresham is also a free agent in plenty of leagues.
Marcedes Lewis at Tennessee Titans: I don't love Lewis because he's been so inconsistent, but the numbers this week are very attractive. Not only is he coming off the best fantasy line of the season, but Lewis also faces a Titans defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends at home (13.10 PPG). He's still a free agent in more than 90 percent of NFL.com leagues too.
Dallas Clark vs. Atlanta Falcons: If you really need help at tight end, Clark is a viable option in Week 12. He's no longer an elite fantasy option but, he has found the end zone in three of his last five games, including two straight, and the Falcons have allowed an average of close to eight fantasy points per game to tight ends. That makes Clark worth a dice roll in most leagues for Week 12.
Sleeper alert - Tony Moeaki vs. Denver Broncos: Owners in deeper leagues who are in dire straits at the tight end position should consider grabbing Moeaki off the waiver wire. He has scored 5.70 or more fantasy points in three straight games and has a great matchup against the Broncos. Their defense has given up more fantasy points to tight ends on the road (14.28 PPG) than any other team in the league.
Tight ends - Sit of the week
Kyle Rudolph at Chicago Bears: Rudolph's last game was a solid one in the stat sheets, as he scored a touchdown and 12.40 fantasy points in a win over the Detroit Lions. The numbers suggest that he's a risk this week, though, as the Bears have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the road (4.54 PPG) in 2012. Rudolph would be a bit more attractive if Percy Harvin were out.
Greg Olsen at Philadelphia Eagles (Mon.): Olsen might be in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position, but he has not been consistent at all. In fact, the veteran has scored five or fewer fantasy points in five of his last six games. The Eagles have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends overall (6.50 PPG), so Olsen is no lock to put up good totals in this Monday night battle.
Brent Celek vs. Carolina Panthers (Mon.): Celek put up 157 yards against the Baltimore Ravens back in Week 2. Since then, he has averaged a mere 35.8 yards and has found the end zone just once. The Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the road (5.38 PPG) this season, so the matchup isn't favorable at all. Even if Michael Vick returns, Celek remains a huge risk
Scott Chandler at Indianapolis Colts: Outside of his 12.50-point performance against the New England Patriots in Week 10, Chandler has failed to score six or more fantasy points in a game since Week 4 (also against the Patriots). The veteran also has a tough matchup against the Colts, who have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends at home (3.76 PPG) after the first 11 weeks.
Owners beware - Heath Miller at Cleveland Browns: Miller had emerged as a top tight end in fantasy land, but his numbers have taken a nosedive in the last three weeks. In that time, he has put up an average of just 3.9 fantasy points and hasn't scored a touchdown. With Charlie Batch under center and a tough matchup against the Browns (5.23 FPPG to tight ends), Miller is not in a good position to produce.
Kickers - Start of the week
Matt Prater at Kansas City Chiefs: Prater is on a hot streak, scoring a combined 24 fantasy points in his last two games. He should continue to thrive against the Chiefs, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers at home (11.20 PPG). In a game that should be high scoring, at least for the Broncos, Prater should have more than his share of opportunities to put up points.
David Akers at New Orleans Saints: Akers has seen his fantasy stock fall this season, as he ranks just 14th in fantasy points at his position after the first 11 weeks. Still, he's coming off a nice 12-point performance against the Chicago Bears and now has a great matchup against the Saints up next. This unit has given up the third-most fantasy points to kickers at home (11.40 PPG) this season.
Rob Bironas at Jacksonville Jaguars: Bironas is no longer among the elite kickers in fantasy football, but he can still produce when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against the Jaguars on their home field. Outside of the Oakland Raiders, no team has given up more fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road than Jacksonville after the first 11 weeks.
Sleeper alert - Mike Nugent vs. Oakland Raiders: Fantasy owners in deep leagues in need of a kicker should consider Nugent, who is still a free agent in most formats. He has a nice matchup against the Raiders, who have allowed more fantasy points to kickers on the road than any other team in the league. In what could end up being a high-scoring game, Nugent should see more than his share of scoring opportunities.
Kickers - Sit of the week
Garrett Hartley vs. San Francisco 49ers: Hartley has been a major disappointment in fantasy land, ranking 28th in fantasy points among kickers despite playing behind an explosive offense. He also hasn't scored double-digit points in a single game since Week 2. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to kickers on the road (3.25 PPG) than the Niners, so Hartley's fortunes aren't likely to improve.
Shaun Suisham at Cleveland Browns: Suisham started the season well from a fantasy perspective, but he's failed to score double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games. This week he goes up against the Browns, who have given up 15 field-goal conversions overall and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers at home (5.60 PPG) this season. Keep Suisham on the sidelines this weekend.
Connor Barth vs. Atlanta Falcons: Barth was in the start 'em portion of this column last week, and he responded with a very respectable nine fantasy points. And while he has been pretty hot in recent games, Barth's matchup against the Falcons this weekend is not favorable. In fact, Atlanta has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road (5.20 PPG) this season.
Owners beware - Greg Zuerlein at Arizona Cardinals: "Legatron" has slowed down in recent weeks, putting up a combined eight fantasy points in his last three games. He's also scored double-digit points just once in his last six contests. The Cards also held Zuerlein to just seven fantasy points in their first meeting of the 2012 season, so the rookie appears to be a real risk based on the numbers.
Defense - Start of the week
Broncos defense at Kansas City Chiefs: The Broncos have been terrific in fantasy land, ranking second in points among defenses on the strength of their six total touchdowns. This unit should continue to shine against the Chiefs, who have been fantasy gold for opposing defenses. In fact, defenses have combined to score more fantasy points against Kansas City than any other team in the entire league.
Seahawks defense at Miami Dolphins: The Seahawks defense has become a value option in fantasy football, and a matchup against the Dolphins makes it an attractive option this week. Rookie Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are still making more than their share of mistakes, as opposing defenses have averaged close to 10 fantasy points per game against them. That makes these Hawks a solid option.
Ravens defense at San Diego Chargers: The Ravens have lost several of their best defensive players, including star LB Ray Lewis, but this unit remains among the top five in fantasy points at the position. Opposing defenses have combined to score the fifth-most fantasy points when facing the Chargers on their home field, so consider the Ravens a solid option even at their current depleted state.
Sleeper alert - Cardinals defense vs. St. Louis Rams: The Cardinals defense is coming off a nice fantasy stat line, posting a solid 14 fantasy points in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. This week they'll face the Rams, who have been a good matchup overall for opposing defenses. In fact, the competition has combined to score close to 10 fantasy points per game at home when facing Sam Bradford and crew.
Defense - Sit of the week
Falcons defense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: These Dirty Birds rank among the top 11 defenses in fantasy football after 11 weeks, but starting them against the Buccaneers isn't advised. Their offense is on fire under Josh Freeman, and opposing defenses have combined to score the fourth-fewest fantasy points against the Bucs on their home field. There are better options on the waiver wire this week.
Bills defense at Indianapolis Colts: Much like you should start Luck when he's on his home field, you should typically sit most defenses that face him. This week that team is the Bills, who have under performed all season long. What's more, defensive units facing Luck and his teammates at Lucas Oil Stadium have combined to score a meager 3.40 fantasy points per game. That's the fifth-fewest in the NFL.
Saints defense vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Saints defense has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of their last three games, including 14 points last week against the Oakland Raiders. Of course, things won't be that simple against the Niners. Opposing defenses have combined to score just 6.30 fantasy points against San Francisco overall, so don't look for New Orleans to put up a nice total.
Owners beware - Giants defense vs. Green Bay Packers: Much like their pals from New York, the Giants are facing a terrific quarterback and a bad matchup on the defensive side of the football. In fact, defenses that have faced Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have combined to score the eighth-fewest fantasy points at the position. So as good as the G-Men have been, it's tough to start them this weekend.