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
Owen Daniels at New England Patriots (Mon.): Daniels, who has re-emerged into a top fantasy option at his position in 2012, is a must-start option this week against the Patriots. Their defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends at home this season. The P-Men are also tied for the third-most touchdown catches allowed to tight ends overall.
Aaron Hernandez vs. Houston Texans (Mon.): Hernandez hasn't been great in his return from an injured ankle, but he's going to see more than his share of targets this week with both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on the sidelines. The Texans have also allowed an average of right around eight fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, so start Hernandez.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Chicago Bears: In the absence of Percy Harvin, Rudolph has become the top option in the red zone for Christian Ponder. In fact, the Notre Dame product has scored one touchdown and double-digit fantasy points in three straight games while Harvin has been on the sidelines. Rudolph needs to be considered a No. 1 fantasy option while he's on a hot streak.
Jermichael Finley vs. Detroit Lions: Finley has been a major disappointment in fantasy circles, but this week's matchup against the Lions makes him a legitimate option. Their defense has given up the third-most fantasy points to tight ends on the road (10.35 PPG) in 2012. What's more, Finley posted 66 yards and scored one touchdown against them back in Week 11.
Sleeper alert - Dennis Pitta at Washington Redskins: Pitta has alternated good and bad stat lines in recent contests, and he's on the positive side of that trend this week. He also has a great matchup against the Redskins, who have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends at home than any other team in the league. Pitta is a free agent in a ton of NFL.com leagues.
Sit of the week
Brandon Pettigrew at Green Bay Packers: Pettigrew could see more targets with the duo of Ryan Broyles and Titus Young on injured reserve, but I don't like this matchup. The Packers have held him to 27 or fewer yards in three of their last four meetings, and he's never scored a touchdown in his career against them. Green Bay has also been tough on tight ends overall this year.
Vernon Davis vs. Miami Dolphins: I'm putting Davis here with the hope that I jinx him and he posts a huge stat line (yes, I have him in an important league). Let's look at his latest totals though. Aside from his 14.30-point performance against the Chicago Bears, Davis has not scored more than four points in a game since Week 5! Start Davis with extreme caution.
Jared Cook at Indianapolis Colts: Cook hasn't lived up to expectations, ranking just 16th in fantasy points among tight ends. I don't see this week's matchup against the Colts as his turning point either, as their defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends at home. Not to mention, Cook scored just 4.5 fantasy points against them in Week 8.
Tony Moeaki at Cleveland Browns: Moeaki has posted some good stat lines in recent weeks, none better than his 11.40-point performance against the Carolina Panthers. Still, I can't trust him to remain hot against the Browns. Their defense has allowed just three scoring catches and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends overall this season.
Owners beware - Antonio Gates at Pittsburgh Steelers: Gates has scored a combined 7.90 fantasy points in his last three games, so he's been anything but reliable in recent weeks. His struggles could continue against the Steelers, who have been tough on tight ends. In fact, this unit has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position at home this season.