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
Marques Colston vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Colston was hot earlier in the season, but he has averaged fewer than eight fantasy points over his last five games. I think he'll rebound this week, though, as Colston faces a great matchup against the Buccaneers. Their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road this season.
Steve Smith at San Diego Chargers: Smith has been on fire in recent weeks, posting a combined 229 yards and one touchdown in his last two games. He should remain productive against the Chargers, who have allowed a league-high 18 touchdown catches (tied with Saints) and the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers overall (tied with Patriots) this season.
Miles Austin vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers defensive backfield is ravaged with injuries to some of its top players, including CB Ike Taylor, which was evident last weekend in a loss to Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd and the Chargers. With or without Dez Bryant (finger) in the starting lineup, Austin should be active as a No. 2 or 3 wideout against Pittsburgh.
Danario Alexander vs. Carolina Panthers Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is all about the numbers, trends and matchups. But in the case of Alexander, it doesn't matter which team he faces. In his last five games, the veteran has posted double-digit fantasy points four times. What's more, Alexander has scored the fourth-most fantasy points at his position in the last four weeks.
Sleeper alert - Josh Gordon vs. Washington Redskins: Gordon hit a statistical slide a few weeks back, but he's been better over his last two games with 202 yards, one touchdown and 26.20 fantasy points. I think he'll keep up his recent hot streak against the Redskins, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road this season.
Sit of the week
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Detroit Lions: This week's matchup against the Lions isn't good or bad, but Fitzgerald's quarterback situation is a mess. That's been a huge factor in his drop in production and fantasy value. Over the last four weeks, a total of 103 wide receivers have put up more fantasy points than Fitzgerald. 103! I just can't play him in the postseason.
Steve Johnson vs. Seattle Seahawks (Toronto): Johnson has been a mediocre option in most standard leagues, scoring double-digit fantasy points just once since Week 7. His fortunes don't appear likely to change against CB Richard Sherman and the Seahawks, who have surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers overall this season.
Torrey Smith vs. Denver Broncos: Smith has been an all-or-nothing wideout for fantasy owners, and he's been on the nothing side of things over the last two weeks. So while playing at home is an advantage, it's tough to trust Smith as more than a No. 3 wideout or flex against CB Champ Bailey and the Broncos. Their defense has been tough on opposing receivers on the road.
Brandon Lloyd vs. San Francisco 49ers: Lloyd is coming off his best fantasy stat line of the season, but can he do it two weeks in a row? I have reservations, especially against the 49ers. Their defense has surrendered just one 100-yard receiver (Danny Amendola) after 14 weeks. Furthermore, San Francisco has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts on the road.
Owners beware - Pierre Garcon at Cleveland Browns: Garcon has been hotter than a D.C. sidewalk in the summer, scoring a touchdown in each of his last three games. So while it is hard to bench him, keep in mind that he'll be facing CB Joe Haden and a Browns defense that has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on their home field this year.