Start 'Em, Sit 'Em 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.

Quarterbacks - Start of the week


Tony Romo vs. New Orleans Saints: Romo has been on absolute fire, ranking in the top five in fantasy points among all players in the last four weeks. I think his streak of statistical success will continue against the Saints, who have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks on the road than any other team.

Start 'em


Andrew Luck at Kansas City Chiefs: Luck hasn't posted huge or consistent fantasy numbers in the last few weeks, but it's still tough to look past this week's matchup against the Chiefs. Their defense has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks at home this season, so Luck should find success.

Russell Wilson vs. San Francisco 49ers: The Niners clearly have a stout defensive unit. But on the road, this team has allowed an average of close to 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. San Francisco has also given up 18-plus fantasy points to four of the seven signal-callers to face them on the road.

Joe Flacco vs. New York Giants: It's tough to trust Flacco, and you shouldn't start him unless you're devoid of reliable options. Still, he's been better at home from a statistical perspective. Furthermore, the Giants have allowed an average of over 17 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks on the road.

Sleeper alert - Sam Bradford at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you know that just five players have scored more fantasy points than Bradford over the last four weeks? It sounds odd, but it's true. For those owners in need of a quarterback, Bradford is worth a look against the Buccaneers and their poor pass defense.

Quarterbacks - Sit of the week


Philip Rivers at New York Jets: So much for Rivers and his regular December surge. He faltered last week against the Carolina Panthers, and his struggles will continue in New York. The Jets have allowed an average of fewer than 13 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at home, so keep Rivers sidelined.

Sit 'em


Josh Freeman vs. St. Louis Rams: Freeman disappointed a lot of fantasy football owners with his Scrooge-like performance against the Saints last week, and I can't trust him against the Rams. Believe it or not, but their defense has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the road this season.

Carson Palmer at Carolina Panthers: Palmer has floundered, scoring fewer than 15 fantasy points in three of his last four games. That's enough reason to bench him, but a matchup against the Panthers makes Palmer even more of a risk. Quarterbacks have averaged fewer than 15 fantasy points per game against them.

Jay Cutler at Arizona Cardinals: Cutler hasn't been a reliable option in fantasy football this season, and that trend should continue this week against the Cardinals. Their defense shut down Matthew Stafford last week and has now allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on their home field.

Owners beware - Eli Manning at Baltimore Ravens: Manning has been inconsistent in the second half of the season, scoring fewer than six fantasy points in four of his last seven starts. He's also averaged fewer than seven points in his last three road games, and the Ravens are very tough on quarterbacks at home.

Running backs - 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.

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.

Running backs - 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.

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.

Wide receivers - Start of the week


Cecil Shorts vs. New England Patriots: Shorts has been one of the best waiver-wire pick ups of the season, scoring double-digit fantasy points in five straight games and seven of his last eight overall. He has a great matchup against the Patriots, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wideouts.

Start 'em


Dez Bryant vs. New Orleans Saints: Bryant fought through his injured finger last week, scoring 11.90 fantasy points and his eighth touchdown in his last six contests. Barring a setback, he should remain in starting fantasy lineups against the Saints and their weak pass defense. Miles Austin is also a nice option.

Eric Decker vs. Cleveland Browns: Decker is coming off one of the best performances of this season, and a matchup against the Browns makes him a nice option in Week 16. Cleveland, which will put CB Joe Haden on Demaryius Thomas, has allowed more fantasy points to wideouts on the road than any other team.

Pierre Garcon at Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have struggled to stop opposing wideouts in recent weeks, allowing an average of close to 27 fantasy points to the position over the last five weeks. That makes Garcon, who has three touchdowns in his last four games, a nice option as a No. 2 or 3 receiver.

Sleeper alert - Danny Amendola at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Amendola returned from an injured heel with a vengeance last week, posting 58 yards, one score and 13.80 fantasy points. I'd keep him active in standard and PPR leagues against the Bucs, who have allowed the most fantasy points to wideouts at home.

Wide receivers - Sit of the week


Larry Fitzgerald vs. Chicago Bears: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Over the last four weeks, a total of 98 wide receivers have scored more fantasy points than Fitzgerald. 98! His fortunes are unlikely to change against the Bears, who have surrendered the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wideouts on the road.

Sit 'em


Steve Johnson at Miami Dolphins: Johnson is coming off a nice fantasy performance last weekend, but his career numbers against the Dolphins have not been good at all. He has fewer than 85 yards in all six meetings, no catches of 25-plus yards and has never scored a single touchdown against this AFC East opponent.

Michael Crabtree at Seattle Seahawks: Crabtree has been on fire in recent weeks, and he'll be a more attractive fantasy option if CB Richard Sherman is suspended. For now, though, the matchup is not an attractive one. The Seahawks have allowed fewer fantasy points to wideouts at home than any other NFL team.

Denarius Moore at Carolina Panthers: Moore was a nice option earlier this season, but his numbers have fallen off the map in recent weeks. In fact, he has failed to score double-digits in five straight contests. The Panthers have been tough on wideouts all season, so Moore is someone to keep on the sidelines.

Owners beware - Danario Alexander at New York Jets: Alexander was an enormous bust last week, failing to score a single fantasy point in a loss to the Panthers. Now he'll face off against CB Antonio Cromartie and a Jets defense that has surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to wideouts at home.

Tight ends - Start of the week


Tony Gonzalez at Detroit Lions (Sat.): Gonzalez has been a bit inconsistent in recent weeks, scoring fewer than seven fantasy points in three of his last five games. Still, he's a must-start against a Lions defense that has allowed eight touchdown catches and the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends overall.

Start 'em


Greg Olsen vs. Oakland Raiders: A top-five tight end, Olsen has scored 10-plus fantasy points in two of his last three games. Still, he's a free agent in 47.1 percent of NFL.com leagues. He remains a solid option against the Raiders, who have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends on the road.

Heath Miller vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Miller, who is tied for second in touchdown catches among tight ends with eight, has scored 15-plus points in two of his last three contests. The Virginia product also put up 53 yards, one touchdown and an impressive 13.30 fantasy points in his last game against the Bengals.

Dennis Pitta vs. New York Giants: Pitta, listed as a start 'em last week, put up two touchdowns in a loss to the Denver Broncos. He's also been the top scoring tight end in fantasy football over the last four weeks. A free agent in close to 80 percent of NFL.com leagues, Pitta is now a legitimate No. 1 option.

Sleeper alert - Kyle Rudolph at Houston Texans: Rudolph has disappeared in the last two weeks, but owners in need of a tight end could do worse based on the matchup. The Texans have allowed nine touchdowns (tied for second-most) and the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends, so Rudolph clearly has some value.

Tight ends - Sit of the week


Vernon Davis at Seattle Seahawks: Over the last four weeks, a total of 50 tight ends have scored more fantasy points than Davis. That's an amazing stat at a position that's been dreadful in 2012. The Seahawks have also allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends, so Davis is a serious risk this weekend.

Sit 'em


Martellus Bennett at Baltimore Ravens: Bennett is coming off one of his worst stat lines of the season, posting 15 yards against the Atlanta Falcons. This week he faces the Ravens, who have given up just two touchdowns (tied for the league low) and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Jacob Tamme vs. Cleveland Browns: Tamme has failed to score six-plus fantasy points in 10 of his last 12 games and was held to a meager 24 yards in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens. He should remain on fantasy benches against the Browns, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.

Scott Chandler at Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have been tough on tight ends, allowing just two touchdowns (tied for the league low) and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. In his last game against the Fins, the veteran was held to just 30 yards and no scores. Consider Chandler a major fantasy risk.

Owners beware - Jermaine Gresham at Pittsburgh Steelers: Gresham has been one of the best tight ends in fantasy football in 2012, so it's tough to bench him. Just keep in mind that his worst stat line of this year came against the Steelers, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to the position at home.

Kickers - Start of the week


Lawrence Tynes at Baltimore Ravens: Tynes gave fantasy owners a big, fat stocking full of coal (zero points) in last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but that shouldn't keep you from starting him against the Ravens. This unit has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers at home this season.

Start 'em


Sebastian Janikowski at Carolina Panthers: Janikowski kicked a lot of fantasy footballers into their league's championship, scoring a ridiculous 19 fantasy points against the Kansas City Chiefs. He should remain active in Carolina, as the Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing kickers at home.

Dan Bailey vs. New Orleans Saints: Who is the top-scoring kicker in fantasy football over the last four weeks? It's not Stephen Gostkowski, Janikowski or even Matt Prater. It's Bailey, who has averaged 10 fantasy points in that time. In what should be a shootout against the Saints, Bailey remains a nice option.

Sleeper alert - Shayne Graham vs. Minnesota Vikings: A free agent in close to 75 percent of leagues on NFL.com, Graham has developed into a top-10 option at his position. In fact, he's scored the fourth-most points among kickers in the last four weeks. Graham is a very nice choice at home against the Vikings.

Kickers - Sit of the week


David Akers at Seattle Seahawks: The top-scoring kicker in fantasy football in each of the last two years, Akers has fallen out of the top 10 in 2012. This week he has a very unfavorable matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed fewer fantasy points to kickers than any other NFL team this season.

Sit 'em


Greg Zuerlein at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Remember when "Legatron" was the hottest name among fantasy football kickers? Well, he's scored eight or more fantasy points just twice in his last 10 games. Zuerlein also faces a Bucs defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to kickers at home in 2012.

Phil Dawson at Denver Broncos: Dawson is having a nice fantasy season, but he's been a bit too inconsistent to start in recent weeks. In fact, he's scored fewer than nine fantasy points in three of his last four games. The Broncos have been tough on opposing kickers this season, so Dawson is someone to bench.

Owners beware - Blair Walsh at Houston Texans: Walsh had one of the best fantasy performances from a kicker in recent years last week, posting 24 fantasy points. So while he is tough to bench in most leagues, keep in mind that the Texans have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers overall.

Defense - Start of the week


Patriots defense at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Patriots have struggled to score defensive fantasy points in recent weeks, posting a combined 12 over their last three games. Still, this unit is a solid option against the Jaguars. Opposing road defenses have combined to score the most fantasy points against them.

Start 'em


Jets defense vs. San Diego Chargers: Both the Jets and Chargers defenses are attractive fantasy options this week. Opposing units facing the Jets have combined to score the fourth-most fantasy points, while facing Philip Rivers and the Chargers has been good enough for the sixth-most points among defenses.

Redskins defense at Philadelphia Eagles: A free-agent unit in most NFL.com leagues heading into Week 16, the Redskins are worth starting if you don't have an elite defense. Opposing defensive teams have combined to score the third-most fantasy points when facing rookie Nick Foles and the Eagles this season.

Sleeper alert - Colts defense at Kansas City Chiefs The Chiefs are already without Dwayne Bowe, and second-string quarterback Brady Quinn will start in Week 16. Considering defenses have combined to score the most fantasy points against K.C., it's obvious that the Colts have major sleeper appeal.

Defense - Sit of the week


Ravens defense vs. New York Giants: Over the last four weeks, a total of 23 defenses have scored more fantasy points than the Ravens. If that stat is not enough to concern owners, then also consider that opposing defenses facing the Giants have combined to score the fifth-fewest fantasy points this season.

Sit 'em


Saints defense at Dallas Cowboys: The Saints scored the second-most fantasy points among defensive units last week, but that's not enough reason to start them in Week 16 against the Cowboys. In fact, no defense facing Tony Romo and Dallas has scored more than seven fantasy points against them since Week 8.

Titans defense at Green Bay Packers: The Titans put up a huge stat line against the hapless Jets last week, but Mark Sanchez isn't the starting quarterback for the Packers. That quarterback would be Aaron Rodgers, and he's far less prone to turnovers and much more dangerous to opposing fantasy defenses.

Owners beware - 49ers defense at Seattle Seahawks: The Niners defense scored 11 fantasy points against the Seahawks back in Week 7, but that was in the Bay Area. Defenses have combined to score the fourth-fewest fantasy points when facing Russell Wilson and the Hawks on their home field, so the Niners are a risk.

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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