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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 16

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


Darren McFadden at Carolina Panthers: McFadden has averaged over 12 fantasy points in his last two games, and this week's matchup against the Panthers makes him an attractive No. 2 option. Their porous defense has given up an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to running backs overall in 2012.

Start 'em


Stevan Ridley at Jacksonville Jaguars: Ridley lost carries to Danny Woodhead last week after fumbling in wet conditions, but I still see him as the top runner in New England. In fact, I think he'll post a nice stat line against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs.

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DeMarco Murray vs. New Orleans Saints: Murray has been on fire since his return from an injured foot, scoring 13-plus fantasy points in each of his last three contests. He should remain productive against the Saints, who have surrendered more fantasy points to runners on the road than any team in the entire league.

Reggie Bush vs. Buffalo Bills: Bush did next to nothing against the Bills earlier this season, but that doesn't make this less favorable of a matchup. Buffalo has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs on the road, and Bush should see more work with Daniel Thomas out for the rest of the year.

Sleeper alert - Mikel Leshoure vs. Atlanta Falcons: Leshoure has been a consistent option in recent weeks, scoring double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games with four touchdowns in that time. The Falcons have struggled to stop the run all season, so consider Leshoure a viable No. 2 or flex option.

Sit of the week


Bryce Brown vs. Washington Redskins: The Eagles have announced that LeSean McCoy will return to start his week against the Redskins, leaving Brown to see more of a backup role. Considering that he was held to 5.70 fantasy points in his last two starts, it's pretty clear that Brown's time as a fantasy option is over.

Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press
Stevan Ridley didn't impress in Week 15, but that doesn't mean you should give up on him. (Click image for further analysis.)

Sit 'em


Shonn Greene vs. San Diego Chargers: Greene is on the verge of a 1,000-yard season, but he hasn't been reliable. In fact, the veteran has scored fewer than seven fantasy points in four of his last six games. What's more, the Chargers have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to runners on the road in 2012.

Beanie Wells vs. Chicago Bears: Wells came out of nowhere to score three touchdowns last week, so fantasy owners will be tempted to start him in Week 16. I would resist the temptation, though, as the Bears have allowed just four rushing touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.

Jonathan Dwyer vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Dwyer has been ineffective in the last four weeks, rushing for just 122 yards in that time. And while he is slated to start this week, Rashard Mendenhall will also be active and could steal some carries. The Bengals have also been tough on runners on the road, so bench Dwyer.

Owners beware - Steven Jackson at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jackson has been hot, scoring double-digit fantasy points in four straight games and five of his last six. So while you likely can't bench him, owners should temper expectations against a Buccaneers defense that has been solid against the run all season.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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