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
Josh Freeman at New Orleans Saints: Freeman is a terrific fantasy option this week, as he faces a Saints defense that has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks overall than any other team in the league. Back in Week 7, Freeman ripped this unit for 420 yards, three scoring passes and 30.10 fantasy points. Expect another productive stat line for the veteran.
Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis Colts: Schaub has been inconsistent overall from a statistical perspective, but he has recorded 18-plus fantasy points in each of his last three home games. This week's matchup against the Colts is a favorable one, as their defense has allowed an average of close to 18 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks on the road.
Carson Palmer vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Palmer hasn't been the most consistent fantasy option in 2012, but he's a viable starter when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed 25 touchdown passes overall and an average of 18.22 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. That makes Palmer well worth a look.
Russell Wilson at Buffalo Bills (Toronto): Wilson didn't put up a good stat line last week, but he was rested for much of the second half in a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals. He should see a full game's worth of snaps against the Bills, who have given up 22 touchdown passes and an average of just under 18 fantasy points per game to signal-callers overall.
Sleeper alert - Colin Kaepernick at New England Patriots: Kaepernick, who is still a free agent in a ton of NFL.com leagues, has scored 17-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games and is now a legitimate option. The Patriots have given up an average of over 17 fantasy points per game to quarterback overall, so don't be afraid to start Kaepernick.
Quarterbacks - Sit of the week
Philip Rivers vs. Carolina Panthers: Rivers is coming off a nice stat line against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but can you trust him in the fantasy postseason? I'd be concerned, and this week's matchup against the Panthers isn't as favorable as you might think. In fact, Carolina has allowed an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road.
Jay Cutler vs. Green Bay Packers: Cutler is expected to play this week, but he's not a good option against the Packers. The veteran has averaged just 217 yards with seven touchdowns and 15 interceptions (a career high vs. one team) against Green Bay during his career with the Bears. He has also thrown for fewer than 225 yards in four of last six games against the Pack.
Joe Flacco vs. Denver Broncos: Flacco isn't on the road, so why is he a sit 'em? Well, he needs to have a good matchup to be trusted. That's not the case against the Denver Broncos, who have given up an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road. Also, Flacco scored just 7.42 fantasy points in his last home game (vs. Steelers).
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Seattle Seahawks (Toronto): Fitzpatrick has struggled in the stat sheets in recent weeks, posting 13-plus fantasy points just once in his last four starts. I'd keep him on the fantasy pine this weekend against the Seahawks, who have surrendered just 14 touchdown passes and the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks overall in 2012.
Owners beware - Eli Manning at Atlanta Falcons: This game in Atlanta could turn into a shootout, but the numbers don't bode well for Manning. In fact, the Falcons have allowed just 12.36 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at home. This unit also forced Eli's big brother, Peyton, to throw three interceptions and post his worst fantasy stat line of the whole year.
Running backs - Start of the week
C.J. Spiller vs. Seattle Seahawks (Toronto): Spiller was a fantasy disappointment last week, but he's in line to see more carries moving forward in the absence of Fred Jackson (knee, injured reserve). While the Seahawks have been pretty tough on the run overall, this unit has surrendered an average of close to 17 fantasy points per game to running backs on the road.
Darren McFadden vs. Kansas City Chiefs: McFadden has been tough to trust in 2012, but it's even harder not to like this week matchup against the Chiefs. Their defense has given up an average of 19.04 fantasy points per game to running backs overall, including 13.70 to McFadden back in Week 8. Even if he's just your flex, McFadden should be active in most fantasy leagues.
Reggie Bush vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: While he's been inconsistent in the stat sheets in 2012, Bush is still a tremendous option for fantasy owners this week. That's based on a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to backs overall. In fact, their defense has allowed over 26 points to the position in two straight games.
Shonn Greene at Tennessee Titans (Mon.): Greene has been losing some carries to Bilal Powell in recent weeks, but I'd still roll the dice with him as a flex starter against the Titans. Their defense has allowed 13 total touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so both Greene and Powell could be attractive options in Week 15.
Sleeper alert - Knowshon Moreno at Baltimore Ravens: Moreno has earned the featured backfield role in Denver, and his huge workload last week proves it. A viable fantasy flex starter across the board, he has a great matchup this week against a Ravens defense that has allowed an average of just under 20 fantasy points per game to runners on the road.
Running backs - Sit of the week
Michael Turner vs. New York Giants: Turner seems to find the end zone more often than not, and even more so when he's playing at the Georgia Dome. Just keep in mind that this week's matchup against the Giants isn't a favorable one. In fact, the defending Super Bowl champions have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs on the road (10.83 PPG).
DeAngelo Williams at San Diego Chargers: Williams put up a nice stat line last week with 112 scrimmage yards and one touchdown against the Falcons. However, it was the first time he has been in double-digits since Week 4. The Chargers have also been tough at home against running backs, allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position this season.
Beanie Wells vs. Detroit Lions: Wells was a fantasy flop last week, posting meager totals against what has been a poor Jets run defense. I'd keep him on the bench against the Seahawks, who have allowed fewer than 16 fantasy points to running backs in every home game that wasn't against Adrian Peterson. Unless you're desperate for a starter, Wells should be benched.
Vick Ballard at Houston Texans: Ballard has taken over the top spot on the depth chart with Donald Brown done for the season, but I'd be afraid to start him even as a flex player in Week 15. The Texans have an overrated pass defense, but their run defense is stout. In fact, Houston has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing runners at home in 2012.
Owners beware - Matt Forte vs. Green Bay Packers: Chances are you can't afford to bench Forte during the fantasy postseason, and you shouldn't without solid alternatives. Just keep this in mind. Forte has never rushed for 100 yards against the Packers. Ever. What's more, the veteran out of Tulane has scored just one touchdown against them in his whole career.
Wide receivers - 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 it's 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.
Wide receivers - 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.
Tight ends - Start of the week
Owen Daniels vs. Indianapolis Colts: Daniels, who has re-emerged into a top fantasy option at his position, has put up a few mediocre stat lines over the last two weeks. However, I still think you have to start him against the Colts. This unit has struggled against tight ends in recent weeks, allowing an average of 15.15 fantasy points to the position since Week 11.
Brandon Myers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: I know, Myers was a major disappointment last week against the Broncos. That doesn't change the fact that he's been a pretty productive option on his home field overall this season. Furthermore, Myers is facing a Chiefs defense that has given up an average of close to eight fantasy points per game to tight ends overall in 2012.
Martellus Bennett at Atlanta Falcons: Don't look now, but Bennett is getting hot right in time for the fantasy postseason. He has scored the second-most fantasy points among tight ends in the last two weeks, and an upcoming matchup against the Falcons is favorable. Their defense has given up an average of close to eight fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Dennis Pitta vs. Denver Broncos: Pitta has been pretty inconsistent this season, but he does make for a viable matchup-based starter if you're hurting at tight end. This week he faces the Broncos, who have given up more fantasy points to the position on the road than any other team in the league. Pitta is still a free agent in most leagues on NFL.com as well.
Sleeper alert - Dallas Clark at New Orleans Saints: While he isn't an elite tight end in fantasy land like he was during his time in Indianapolis, Clark has re-emerged into a useful matchup option. This week he faces the Saints, who have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends. Clark also put up 11.10 fantasy points against New Orleans back in Week 7.
Tight ends - Sit of the week
Jermichael Finley at Chicago Bears: Finley's value rose for about a New York minute after a nice Week 11 stat line, but since then he's scored a combined 12.70 fantasy points. That makes it tough to trust him against the Bears, who held Finley to just 26 yards and 0.60 fantasy points back in Week 2. Unless you have limited alternatives, consider Finley a real risk.
Heath Miller at Dallas Cowboys: Miller is going to be active in most fantasy leagues, especially when you consider the current inconsistent state of his position. Just keep in mind that the Cowboys have been tough on tight ends this season. In fact, this unit has surrendered fewer than eight fantasy points to the position in 10 of its last 11 games overall.
Jacob Tamme at Baltimore Ravens: Tamme appeared to be getting back into the fantasy mix with good stat lines in Weeks 12-13, but he put up just 2.40 fantasy points last week and now faces a tough road matchup against the Ravens. Their defense has given up four touchdowns and the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends overall after 14 weeks.
Scott Chandler vs. Seattle Seahawks (Toronto): Lee Smith isn't just a former Major League Baseball closer. He's also a current Bills tight end, and he's seeing more red-zone targets in recent weeks. That makes Chandler a less attractive fantasy choice - so does a game against the Seahawks. Their defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Owners beware - Greg Olsen at San Diego Chargers: Olsen is the fifth-best tight end in fantasy football based on points, so you likely have him in your starting lineup. Be aware, though, that the Chargers have given up just four touchdowns and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends overall in 2012. As a result, expectations for Olsen should be tempered.
Kickers - Start of the week
Connor Barth at New Orleans Saints: Believe it or not, but Barth has come out and become a top-notch kicker in fantasy land this season. He's been on fire in recent weeks, scoring an average of just under 10 points in his last four games. The Saints have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to kickers at home, so Barth should find continued success.
Shayne Graham vs. Indianapolis Colts: Graham is coming off one of his worst stat lines of the season, scoring just two points in a loss to the New England Patriots. Fear not, though, as Graham has a great matchup against the Colts next on the schedule. Indianapolis has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to kickers on the road, making Graham a fine start once again.
Phil Dawson vs. Washington Redskins: Dawson is in the midst of one of his best fantasy seasons, ranking seventh in points among kickers. I think his success will continue against the Redskins, who have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road. Dawson is a free agent in plenty of NFL.com leagues, so grab him if you need a starter.
Sleeper alert - Nick Novak vs. Carolina Panthers: Novak is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season, scoring 12 points in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He should build on that success against the Panthers, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road. Much like Dawson, Novak is a free agent in a ton of leagues.
Kickers - Sit of the week
Mason Crosby at Chicago Bears: Crosby ranks an unimpressive 24th in fantasy points among kickers, but he's still owned in more than 70 percent of NFL.com leagues. That's due in large part to his "name" value. I'd put him on the bench this week, though, as Crosby faces a Bears team that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to kickers at home this year.
Rob Bironas vs. New York Jets (Mon.): Bironas, a former fantasy star, has alternated good and bad stat lines in each of the last three weeks. He's due to be on the bad side of that trend in Week 15, and a matchup against the Jets isn't favorable. The Men in Green have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road, so Bironas could struggle.
Steven Hauschka at Buffalo Bills (Toronto): Hauschka was the top-scoring kicker in all of fantasy football last week, posting 16.00 points against the Arizona Cardinals. While that is a solid total, this week's matchup against the Bills is far less favorable. In fact, this unit has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to kickers in home games after 14 weeks.
Owners beware - Justin Tucker vs. Denver Broncos: Tucker has emerged into a top-10 fantasy kicker, but he's scored 10 or more fantasy points just once in his last four games. The rookie also has a tough matchup against the Broncos, who have surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers on the road in 2012. That makes Tucker a serious risk.
Defense - Start of the week
Lions defense at Arizona Cardinals: If we have learned anything in the last few weeks, it's that the Cardinals are the single best matchup for fantasy defenses. Just ask anyone who started the Seahawks last week - the start of the week defense - and received a ridiculous 41 fantasy points. The Lions will be the hottest defensive addition off the waiver wire.
Jets defense at Tennessee Titans (Mon.): The Men in Green have been hot in the fantasy stat sheets on defense, scoring double-digit points in four of their last five games. That includes back-to-back 11-point performances in the last two weeks. Opposing road defenses have combined to score the fifth-most fantasy points against the Titans, so start the Jets.
Rams defense vs. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have Adrian Peterson on offense and well, not much else. Christian Ponder has been inconsistent and plain bad in recent weeks, and his top target in the pass attack, Percy Harvin, is done for the season. So while the Rams don't have what you would call an elite defense, this is a nice option from a fantasy perspective.
Sleeper alert - Dolphins defense vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Dolphins defense has not been what you would call an effective fantasy option for most of this season, but I like this week's matchup against Chad Henne and the Jaguars. Defenses have combined to score the seventh-most fantasy points against Jacksonville overall, so the Fins are a viable choice.
Defense - Sit of the week
Ravens defense vs. Denver Broncos: It's tough to bench a top-10 fantasy defense, but this is not a good matchup for the Ravens. In fact, opposing defenses that have faced Peyton Manning and the Broncos have combined to score an average of just 5.54 fantasy points. With so many other options on the waiver wire, it makes sense to pass on Baltimore this weekend.
Falcons defense vs. New York Giants: The Falcons defense has been much more effective at home than on the road in 2012, but that doesn't change the fact that this week's matchup is not a favorable one. In fact, opposing defenses have combined to score the third-fewest fantasy points when facing Eli Manning and the Giants. As a result, keep the Falcons on the bench.
Chargers defense vs. Carolina Panthers: The eighth-best defensive unit based on fantasy points, the Chargers have scored double-digits in three of their last four games. It's still tough to trust this unit against a red-hot Cam Newton, though, as opposing home defenses have combined to score the sixth-fewest fantasy points when facing the Panthers.
Owners beware - Bears defense vs. Green Bay Packers: Remember when the Bears defense was one of the elite "players" in fantasy football? Well, injuries have caught up to this team in a big way. In fact, Chicago has scored double-digits just once since Week 9. Facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers isn't what I would call a favorable matchup, so beware the Bears.