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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 3

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.

QB Start of the week


Matthew Stafford at Washington Redskins: Stafford has had a nice start to the season, throwing for 635 yards and four touchdowns in two starts. He'll continue to find success against the Redskins, who have allowed 25-plus fantasy points to their first two opposing quarterbacks. In what figures to be a shootout at FedEx Field, Stafford is a strong fantasy starter. (Maximum value: High-QB1)

QB Start 'em


Cam Newton vs. New York Giants: After two weeks, 20 quarterbacks have more fantasy points than Newton. That's right, 20! But unless you have a very strong alternative at the position, I would keep the faith against the Giants. Their questionable defense has allowed an average of more than 18 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. (Maximum value: Mid-QB1)

Tony Romo vs. St. Louis Rams: Romo has not had a sparkling start in the fantasy football stat sheets, ranking barely among the 20-best quarterbacks based on points. Still, he's a nice option this week based on a matchup against the Rams. This unit has allowed 17-plus fantasy points to quarterbacks in each of its first two contests of the 2013 regular season. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)

Sam Bradford at Dallas Cowboys: Did you know that Bradford is fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com? It's sounds odd, but it's true. And with an upcoming game against the Cowboys, he's a viable starting option for owners who need a signal-caller. Dallas has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to the position after two weeks. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)

Sleeper alert - Andy Dalton vs. Green Bay Packers: Dalton looked plain awful on Monday night, throwing inaccurate passes all over the place in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Still, he ended with a respectable 16.20 fantasy points. This week he faces the Packers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks after two weeks. That makes Dalton a one-week start. (Maximum value: High-QB2)

QB Sit of the week


Jay Cutler at Pittsburgh Steelers: Cutler hasn't been bad this season, but he still turns the football over too much -- he's committed four turnovers in his first two starts. This week he goes to Heinz Field to face the Steelers, who have given up just one touchdown pass and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Keep Cutler on the fantasy sidelines. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

QB Sit 'em


Terrelle Pryor at Denver Broncos (Mon.): Yes, I am advising fantasy leaguers to bench Pryor. I love his skills and what he can do in fantasy leagues, but don't kid yourself -- Pryor is no more than a matchup-based starter right now. And with a tough road game against the Broncos up next on the schedule, the Ohio State product could be in for a rough night on Monday. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Chicago Bears: A total of 25 quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Roethlisberger after two weeks, and I don't see his statistical fortunes changing any time in the near future. This week he faces the Bears, who have surrendered three scores and an average of just 14.18 fantasy points to opposing signal-callers after two weeks. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

EJ Manuel at New York Jets: Manuel is coming off a huge come-from-behind win over the Carolina Panthers last week, but he still scored a pedestrian 15.14 fantasy points in the contest. Next on the schedule is a road game against the Jets, who have surrendered an average of just over 10 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Keep Manuel on your bench. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

Owners beware - Tom Brady vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Do you have Michael Vick? Stafford? Romo? Well, it's time to consider benching Brady. With a questionable corps of receivers, he's just 25th in fantasy points among quarterbacks after two weeks. Furthermore, he'll be facing an upgraded Buccaneers pass defense that just held Drew Brees to 12.88 fantasy points. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)


RB Start of the week


Chris Johnson vs. San Diego Chargers: Johnson hasn't had a huge start to the season, but I'm expecting him to explode this week against the Chargers. The Bolts have struggled to stop running backs, allowing an average of 166.5 scrimmage yards to the position in their first two games. Start Johnson as your No. 2 runner in this AFC battle in Tennessee. (Maximum value: High-RB1)

RB Start 'em


Reggie Bush at Washington Redskins: Bush is dealing with a sore knee and could be a question mark to face the Redskins. But regardless if it's Bush or Joique Bell, fantasy leaguers should start whichever running back is expected to start in this contest. Washington's defense has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs after two weeks. (Maximum value: High-RB1)

Frank Gore vs. Indianapolis Colts: Gore was in the sit 'em portion of this column last week, and he finished with a meager three points in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He should bounce back in a battle with the Colts, though. Indianapolis has allowed one 100-yard rusher (Terrelle Pryor) and two starting backs (Darren McFadden, Lamar Miller) to score touchdowns. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

DeMarco Murray vs. St. Louis Rams: Back in his rookie season, Murray rushed for a Cowboys-record 253 yards and one touchdown against this week's opponent, the Rams. And with coach Jason Garrett saying the Cowboys need to run the ball more, this is the perfect time to unleash the Oklahoma product. Consider him as viable No. 2 or 3 fantasy option this week. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

Sleeper alert - Knowshon Moreno vs. Oakland Raiders (Mon.): Moreno is coming off a monster game against the Giants, scoring two touchdowns and over 20 fantasy points. He's a solid flex option against the Raiders, who have been strong against the run so far but have yet to face a team with the offensive firepower of the Broncos. Moreno makes for a nice starter. (Maximum value: Mid-RB2)

RB Sit of the week


Maurice Jones-Drew at Seattle Seahawks: A total of 44 running backs have scored more fantasy points than Jones-Drew this season. That's a ton. And when you consider he's dealing with a bad ankle and has to face the Seahawks in Seattle, well, he needs to be benched if at all possible. The Seahawks have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2013. (Maximum value: High-RB3)

RB Sit 'em


David Wilson at Carolina Panthers: Wilson has seen action in two games this season, and he's still at minus-0.40 fantasy points. Heck, even Brandon Jacobs has already outscored him. He's a tough sell right now as anything but a flex starter, especially against a Panthers defense that held Marshawn Lynch to just 5.20 points in their first home game of the year. (Maximum value: Mid-RB3)

James Starks at Cincinnati Bengals: Starks went off against the Redskins last week, posting 22.80 fantasy points in the absence of Eddie Lacy. But let's be honest, Washington's run defense is like swiss cheese. If Starks does draw the start in Week 3, expect him to see far less statistical success against a Bengals defense that is tougher to penetrate in the ground game. (Maximum value: High-RB3)

Montee Ball vs. Oakland Raiders (Mon.): Ball continues to see his share of the totes in Denver's backfield committee, but he lost a fumble last week and seems to be behind Knowshon Moreno when it comes to the team's pecking order. The rookie needs to be stashed on fantasy benches against the Raiders, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to runners. (Maximum value: Low-RB3)

Owners beware - Stevan Ridley vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you know that 47 running backs have scored more fantasy points than Ridley? And while it's tough to bench a player you took in either the second or third round, this week's matchup against the Buccaneers isn't favorable at all. Their defense has surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points to backs. (Maximum value: Low-RB2)


WR Start of the week


Anquan Boldin vs. Indianapolis Colts: Boldin has been an all-or-nothing fantasy wideout, posting a huge line in Week 1 before a stinker against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday night. I think his fortunes will change for the better against the Colts, who have allowed a touchdown to each of their first two opponents' No. 1 wideout. Start Boldin with confidence. (Maximum value: High-WR2)

WR Start 'em


Mike Wallace vs. Atlanta Falcons: The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? After doing nothing in Week 1 - and complaining about it - Wallace went off for 115 yards and one touchdown in a win over the Colts. Next up is a date with the Falcons, who have allowed four touchdowns and the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in their first two contests. (Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

Hakeem Nicks at Carolina Panthers: Nicks hasn't found the end zone at this juncture, but he has averaged close to 100 yards per game through the air. He has also held up well in terms of his health. This week the former Tar Heel travels to Carolina to face the Panthers, who have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers after two weeks. (Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

Julian Edelman vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If you're in a PPR league, Edelman needs to be in your starting lineup - even if it's just as a third wideout or flex starter. With Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski both dealing with injuries, Tom Brady will continue to look to the receiver he trusts most in the pass attack - these days, that's Edelman. (Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

Sleeper alert - Tavon Austin at Dallas Cowboys: Austin made a nice impact in Week 2, finding the end zone twice in a loss to the Falcons. So while he's not likely to be consistent in his rookie season, Austin now warrants consideration when the matchup is right. That's the case against the Cowboys, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wideouts. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

WR Sit of the week


Roddy White at Miami Dolphins: White's high ankle ailment continues to hamper him, as he has recorded a meager four combined fantasy points over his first two contests. Couple that with a matchup against the Dolphins, who have surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season, and it's very obvious that starting White is a major gamble. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

WR Sit 'em


Greg Jennings vs. Cleveland Browns: Jennings recorded a respectable 8.40 fantasy points last week, but you have to wonder if we're going to see a lot of so-so stat lines from him with Christian Ponder under center. He remains a shaky starting option against the Browns and CB Joe Haden, who has held down both Wallace and Torrey Smith in his first two contests. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

Cecil Shorts at Seattle Seahawks: There isn't one member of the Jaguars offensive roster I would trust as a starter this week. Even the most explosive offensive attacks seem to struggle in Seattle, where the stadium rocks the opposition like a hurricane (excuse the Scorpions reference). The Jags might have the worst offense in the NFL, so bench Shorts if possible. (Maximum value: Low-WR3)

Mike Williams at New England Patriots: The Buccaneers are dealing with question marks in their pass attack, trade rumors about their quarterback and a tough upcoming matchup in Foxboro. After two weeks, New England has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Williams also has just 61 yards on the season, which is less than mediocre. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

Owners beware - Antonio Brown vs. Chicago Bears: Brown was a breakout candidate in the preseason, but the struggles of the Steelers offense has made it tough to trust him against a formidable team. That's the case this week, as the Bears and their tough pass defense come to town. If you have to start Brown, make him a third wide receiver - and temper expectations. (Maximum value: High-WR3)


TE Start of the week


Greg Olsen vs. New York Giants: Olsen is coming off a nice stat line in Week 2, and his upcoming matchup against the Giants is one of the most favorable among tight ends. In their first two games, the G-Men have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including two strong performances from Jason Witten and Julius Thomas. That makes Olsen a nice option. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

TE Start 'em


Tony Gonzalez at Miami Dolphins: Gonzalez hasn't had a fast start to the season, and his 33-yard performance last week might have soured some owners. However, there's no need to panic when it comes to the future Hall of Famer. The Falcons will throw more with Steven Jackson out, and the Dolphins have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

Jordan Cameron at Minnesota Vikings: The good matchups keep coming for Cameron, who now ranks fifth in fantasy points among tight ends and is now a legitimate No. 1 option. Next on the schedule is a date with the Vikings, who have allowed an average of over 13 fantasy points per game to tight ends - including a pair of touchdowns to Martellus Bennett last week. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

Owen Daniels at Baltimore Ravens: The fourth-best tight end in fantasy football based on points after the first two weeks of 2013, Daniels has become one of the best draft bargains at his position. He should continue to shine in the stat sheets against the Ravens, who have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends after two weeks of action. (Maximum value: Mid-TE1)

Sleeper alert - Martellus Bennett at Pittsburgh Steelers: When was the last time the Bears had a legitimate No. 1 tight end in fantasy football? It's been awhile, but Bennett is making his mark at the start of 2013. The third-best tight end in the league based on fantasy points right now, Bennett has a nice matchup against the Steelers up next on the schedule. (Maximum value: Mid-TE1)

TE Sit of the week


Kyle Rudolph vs. Cleveland Browns: Rudolph found the end zone last week, but his lack of yardage makes him a major risk-reward proposition in fantasy leagues. So while it might be tough to put a player like Rudolph on the bench, keep in mind that he also has a tough matchup against the Browns - they have allowed an average of four fantasy points to tight ends. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

TE Sit 'em


Heath Miller vs. Chicago Bears: Miller is reportedly close to returning from a major knee reconstruction, but he is not a fantasy player to trust at this point. Playing in a Sunday night game, Miller is an even greater risk if he's a late inactive - leaving fantasy owners with limited alternatives. He could have value later, but not at this time. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Fred Davis vs. Detroit Lions: Davis, who is in a contract year, has been a major disappointment after two weeks. In fact, he isn't even the top scoring tight end on the Redskins - Jordan Reed has more points. If that weren't enough to bench Davis, also consider that the Lions have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends after the first two weeks. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Charles Clay vs. Atlanta Falcons: Clay was a hot name on the waiver wire this week, as he's coming off a 109-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, the tight end out of Tulsa needs to prove to be more consistent in the stat sheets before he warrants a starting role on fantasy teams. He's merely a player to watch right now. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Owners beware - Brandon Myers at Carolina Panthers: Myers has had a nice start to the season, scoring a combined 20 fantasy points in his first two games. However, he could struggle to produce in the stat sheets this week when he faces the Panthers. Their defense has allowed an average of just 2.60 fantasy points to opposing tight ends in their first two games. (Maximum value: High-TE2)


K Start of the week


Stephen Gostkowski vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 10th-ranked kicker in fantasy football based on points, Gostkowski has averaged nine points in his first two games. He should improve on that total against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this season. That includes surrendering a total of six field-goal conversions. (Maximum value: High-K1)

K Start 'em


Garrett Hartley vs. Arizona Cardinals: Is this finally the season Hartley reaches his fantasy potential? He's done well after two weeks, scoring 21 points while ranking second in the league at the position based on most fantasy scoring systems. This week's contest against the Cardinals smacks of a shootout, so Hartley should have plenty of opportunities to score. (Maximum value: High-K1)

Steven Hauschka vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Let's face it - the Jaguars have the worst offense in the entire NFL at this point in the season. However, their defense isn't terrible. So much like last week against the Raiders, this unit bent enough to give Sebastian Janikowski a number of scoring chances. That should be the case for Hauschka, who is a very nice option. (Maximum value: Mid-K1)

Sleeper alert - Graham Gano vs. New York Giants: If you're one of those fantasy owners who likes to stream kickers, well, Gano is someone to consider. This week he faces the Giants, who have given up more fantasy points to kickers than any other team in the National Football League. Gano is still a free agent in over 99 percent of NFL.com leagues at this point. (Maximum value: Low-K1)

K Sit of the week


Matt Bryant at Miami Dolphins: A fantasy starter in recent seasons, Bryant has had a slow start to 2013 with a combined 12 fantasy points in two games. His fortunes don't figure to change against the Dolphins, who have been tough on kickers. In fact, the new-look 'Fins have allowed just 12 fantasy points to the position after two weeks. Consider Bryant a risk. (Maximum value: Low-K1)

K Sit 'em


Greg Zuerlein at Dallas Cowboys: Zuerlein has had a nice start to 2013, scoring 19 fantasy points - that's tied for the fourth-most in the league after two weeks. However, don't be shocked if he sees a drop in production against the Cowboys. Their defense has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to kickers, including a mere five last week against the Chiefs. (Maximum value: High-K2)

Adam Vinatieri at San Francisco 49ers: Once an elite fantasy kicker, Vinatieri now has more name value than actual value. He ranks an unimpressive 26th in fantasy points among kickers so far this season, and a matchup in San Francisco against a tough Niners defense isn't going to improve his fantasy value. Vinatieri should not be in most fantasy starting lineups. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

Owners beware - Justin Tucker vs. Houston Texans: It's been a tough start for Tucker, who ranks just 25th in fantasy points among kickers (11 points in two games). Next up is a matchup against the Texans, who have been tough on kickers. In fact, Houston has surrendered a mere six fantasy points per game to the position. That makes Tucker a risk heading into Week 3. (Maximum value: Low-K1)


DEF Start of the week


Vikings defense vs. Cleveland Browns: Brian Hoyer is starting at quarterback for the Browns. Let me say that again ... Brian Hoyer is starting at quarterback for the Browns. So with the presence of Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon aside, this offense could struggle to produce against the Vikings on their home field. This is a strong streaming choice for owners. (Maximum value: High-DEF1)

DEF Start 'em


Broncos defense vs. Oakland Raiders (Mon.): I'm on record as being a fan of Terrelle Pryor from a fantasy standpoint, but let's face it - he does tend to turn the football over too much. Enter the Broncos, who scored 15 fantasy points in Week 2 and will be in line for another solid outing against the Raiders. This unit needs to be started in all leagues this week. (Maximum value: High-DEF1)

Patriots defense vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 10th-rated defense based on fantasy points after the first two weeks, the Patriots are doing on defense what their offense can't seem to accomplish - scoring points. That trend should continue against the Buccaneers, who have a potential mess brewing in the locker room with turnover-prone quarterback Josh Freeman. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

Sleeper alert - Bills defense at New York Jets: No matter the opponent, the defense facing the Jets is going to see an uptick in fantasy value. Enter the Bills, who rank eighth in fantasy points at defense and should find success against rookie quarterback Geno Smith this weekend. Buffalo's defense is available in plenty of leagues on NFL.com heading into the week. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

DEF Sit of the week


Bengals defense vs. Green Bay Packers: The Bengals field one of the better fantasy defenses in the league, but facing Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense makes it far less attractive from a fantasy standpoint. In fact, opposing defenses facing Green Bay have combined to score the second-fewest fantasy points at the position after the first two weeks. (Maximum value: High-DEF2)

DEF Sit 'em


Rams defense at Dallas Cowboys: The Rams have upside among fantasy defenses, but at this point, the team has scored a mere 11 combined points in two games. Their chances of a reversal of fortunes are not good against the Cowboys in what figures to be a high-scoring game at the Jerry Dome. There are much better options to consider than St. Louis this weekend. (Maximum value: High-DEF2)

Titans defense vs. San Diego Chargers: Shockingly, the Titans have scored the fifth-most fantasy points among defenses after the first two weeks of the season. However, it's tough to like the matchup this weekend against a hot Chargers offense. Don't let the numbers fool you - Tennessee is not a unit you should be starting in most fantasy leagues this week. (Maximum value: Mid-DEF2)

Owners beware - Steelers defense vs. Chicago Bears (Mon.): Remember when the Steelers defense was an absolute lock in fantasy starting lineups? Well, that just isn't the case these days. So even in a game against a turnover-prone quarterback like Jay Cutler, and even on their home field, it's hard to trust this edition of the Steel Curtain in fantasy football. (Maximum value: Low-DEF2)


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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