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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 4

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 Adrian Peterson will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

QB Byes: Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers

QB Start of the week


Robert Griffin III at Oakland Raiders: For as much as we have heard about his struggles on the field, Griffin III has scored 19-plus fantasy points in two of his first three starts of the season. He should continue that success against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of 21.41 fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2013 - that's the seventh-highest. (Maximum value: High-QB1)

QB Start 'em


Andrew Luck at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are a serious mess on both sides of the football heading into Week 4, making them a prime matchup for fantasy owners to exploit. That's certainly the case with Luck, who will go up against a defense that has allowed an average of over 21 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers this season. (Maximum value: High-QB1)

Tony Romo at San Diego Chargers: Romo was in the start 'em portion of this column last week, and he proceeded to throw three touchdown passes in a win over the St. Louis Rams. Up next is a date with the Chargers, who have given up more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other team in the league after three weeks. Expect a major shootout in San Diego. (Maximum value: Mid-QB1)

Philip Rivers vs. Dallas Cowboys: The fifth-highest scoring player based on fantasy points after three weeks, Rivers has had a surprisingly strong start to the 2013 campaign. He should post another nice stat line against the Cowboys, who have allowed an average of close to 22 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Consider Rivers a nice bye-week choice. (Maximum value: Mid-QB1)

Sleeper alert - Terrelle Pryor vs. Washington Redskins: Assuming Pryor clears concussion protocols and is under center for the Raiders, he'll be a tremendous sleeper candidate in Week 4. The Ohio State product goes up against the Redskins, who have surrendered eight touchdown passes and the second-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers in 2013. (Maximum value: Low-QB1)

QB Sit of the week


Eli Manning at Kansas City Chiefs: Anyone who watched the Giants offense (or lack thereof) last week should be terrified to start Manning and most of his teammates. One week after the entire roster was outscored by Cam Newton, the G-Men must now go to Kansas City to face one of the NFL's toughest defensive units. Keep Manning on your bench if possible. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

QB Sit 'em


Matt Schaub vs. Seattle Seahawks: Here's the deal, folks - any quarterback facing the Seahawks, even the elite players, will come with some level of risk. This week, that quarterback is Schaub. The inconsistent Texans field general should be considered no more than bench fodder this weekend - even if you're very desperate. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

Carson Palmer at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Palmer has had a bad start to the season, ranking a meager 29th in fantasy points among quarterbacks after three weeks. His fortunes aren't likely to be reversed against the Buccaneers, who held Drew Brees to under 13 fantasy points in their last home contest. Palmer's value is limited at best this weekend. (Maximum value: Low-QB2)

Geno Smith at Tennessee Titans: Smith showed flashes of potential last week, throwing for 331 yards with three total touchdowns and over 24 fantasy points. However, that doesn't make him someone to trust against a tough Titans defense. This unit has given up just 12.67 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and held Rivers to a meager 10.46 last week. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)

Owners beware - Jay Cutler at Detroit Lions: This might look like a good matchup, as the Lions have long been a poor defensive team. However, this new cast of cats has been tough on quarterbacks in 2013. In fact, opposing signal-callers have scored an average of just 10.37 fantasy points against them. That makes Cutler a far less attractive starter. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)


RB Byes: DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin

RB Start of the week


Trent Richardson at Jacksonville Jaguars Richardson had a nice start to his Colts career, scoring a touchdown in a win over the San Francisco 49ers. Next up is a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to runners. Consider Richardson a strong starting option. (Maximum value: Mid-RB1)

RB Start 'em


DeMarco Murray at San Diego Chargers: Murray recorded a solid stat line against the St. Louis Rams, rushing for 175 yards and one touchdown. Next up is a date with the Chargers, who rank a meager 28th against the run and have allowed an average of over five yards per carry. That's pretty good news for Murray. (Maximum value: Low-RB1)

Darren McFadden vs. Washington Redskins: McFadden is coming off a strange stat line - nine rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and one touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos. This week he goes up against the Redskins, who have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing runners. As long as McFadden is on the field, keep him active. (Maximum value: Low-RB1)

Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Indianapolis Colts: Jones-Drew's first two weeks left a lot to be desired in the stat sheets, but he did post a decent line against the Seattle Seahawks. He has a much more attractive matchup upcoming against the Colts, who have struggled to start the run in 2013. He's not the Jones-Drew of old, but he is a nice option this week. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

Sleeper alert - Bilal Powell at Tennessee Titans: This isn't a good or bad matchup on paper - the Titans have allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to running backs - but I still like Powell as a flex starter this weekend. That's due to the expected absence of fellow running back Chris Ivory, who is once again dealing with an injured hamstring. (Maximum value: Mid-RB2)

RB Sit of the week


C.J. Spiller vs. Baltimore Ravens: If you drafted Spiller, chances are you don't have the depth to bench him. Just keep in mind, though, that he's dealing with a sore quadriceps and a tough matchup against the Ravens' fifth-ranked run defense awaits. Baltimore has also allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. (Maximum value: High-RB2)

RB Sit 'em


David Wilson at Kansas City Chiefs: Wilson's name is among the first that come to mind when fantasy owners think of the biggest running back disappointments after three weeks. In an offense that has been dreadful, it's tough to advise starting Wilson against the Chiefs - their defense has allowed an average of just 13.43 fantasy points to runners. (Maximum value: Mid-RB3)

Ryan Mathews vs. Dallas Cowboys: Outside of a fortunate touchdown catch in Week 1, Mathews has been invisible in the stat sheets. In fact, he's losing carries to both Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead in a new backfield committee. He should be on your bench if possible this week, as the Cowboys have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to backs. (Maximum value: High-RB3)

Rashard Mendenhall at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mendenhall has been an all-or-nothing fantasy running back this season, and I expect him to be closer to the nothing side this week. The Buccaneers field one of the league's most ferocious defenses, allowing no touchdowns and an average of fewer than 15 fantasy points to opposing runners this season. (Maximum value: Low-RB3)

Owners beware - Stevan Ridley at Atlanta Falcons: If you have Ridley on your fantasy team, well, I don't have to tell you how bad his numbers have been this season. And with a tough matchup against the Falcons up next, Ridley is no lock to see his fortunes reversed. Atlanta has allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards to running backs this season. (Maximum value: Low-RB2)


WR Byes: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones

WR Start of the week


Torrey Smith at Buffalo Bills: Smith is on pace to post career highs in both receptions and yardage after three weeks. While he hasn't found the end zone, the touchdowns could come as soon as this week against the Bills. Their defense is tied for allowing the most scores to wideouts while surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. (Maximum value: Low-WR1)

WR Start 'em


Reggie Wayne at Jacksonville Jaguars: Wayne hasn't scored a touchdown in his last six games against the Jaguars, but that hasn't stopped him from posting strong numbers. In fact, he's had 11 or more targets in each of his last three games against Jacksonville - those targets have produced at least eight receptions in all three of those meetings. (Maximum value: High-WR2)

Pierre Garcon at Oakland Raiders: Garcon is making headlines for some of the comments he has made about his quarterback, Robert Griffin III, but that hasn't altered their connection on the field. These two should hook up often in Oakland, as the Raiders have surrendered the most receptions and the seventh-most yards to opposing wide receivers. (Maximum value: High-WR2)

Eric Decker vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Remember when everyone was freaking out about Decker after Week 1? Well, he's been the eighth-best wide receiver in fantasy football over the last two weeks. He should continue to produce against the Eagles, who have allowed five touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid-WR2)

Sleeper alert - Julian Edelman at Atlanta Falcons: Edelman hasn't been great in standard leagues, but you can do much worse than starting him in PPR formats. This week he'll go up against the Falcons, who are tied for the most touchdowns allowed to wideouts and have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to the position this season. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

WR Sit of the week


Roddy White vs. New England Patriots: White (ankle) played a season-high 47 snaps in Week 3, but he was still used as a decoy in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Until he starts to show flashes of his old self, you simply can't trust him. What's more, White faces a Patriots defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wideouts. (Maximum value: Low-WR3)

WR Sit 'em


Greg Jennings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (London): Jennings just isn't the same player, both on the field and in fantasy football, without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. That's been evident in his stats from the first three weeks. And with a game against the Steelers and CB Ike Taylor up next, there's no bloody way I'd start Jennings. (Maximum value: Low-WR3)

Santonio Holmes at Tennessee Titans: Holmes is back on the fantasy radar after a monster performance against the Bills, but can you trust him against the Titans? I'm not so sure about that. Last week, their defense held the San Diego Chargers wide receivers to a combined 4.1 fantasy points. Start Holmes with extreme caution this week. (Maximum value: Low-WR3)

Sidney Rice at Houston Texans: Last week, Rice scored two touchdowns and finished with the fourth-most fantasy points among wide receivers. Nice performance, but that was at home against the lowly Jaguars. I'm expecting his numbers to fall this week, as he faces a much tougher Texans pass defense on the road. Keep Rice on the fantasy sidelines. (Maximum value: High-WR3)

Owners beware - Larry Fitzgerald at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Over the last two weeks, 61 wide receivers have scored more fantasy points than Fitzgerald. That's due in part to a bum hamstring that seems to be hampering him. Next up is a date with the Buccaneers and shutdown CB Darrelle Revis, which makes Fitzgerald a real risk in most fantasy leagues. (Maximum value: High-WR3)


TE Byes: Greg Olsen, Jermichael Finley

TE Start of the week


Jason Witten at San Diego Chargers: Over the last two weeks, Witten has failed to produce strong totals in fantasy land with a combined 7.90 points. He should come out of his statistical hibernation in Week 4, though, as the Chargers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Start Witten with confidence this week. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

TE Start 'em


Julius Thomas vs. Philadelphia Eagles: One of the best waiver-wire pickups in fantasy football during the early portion of this season, Thomas has compiled the third-most fantasy points among tight ends. He should continue to see his share of targets against the Eagles, who have allowed the fourth-most yards to tight ends over the last two weeks. (Maximum value: High-TE1)

Tony Gonzalez vs. New England Patriots: Gonzalez has struggled over the last two weeks, ranking an unimpressive 39th in fantasy points among tight ends in that time. Still, it's tough to bench a player of his caliber despite what looks like a bad matchup on paper against the Patriots. New England has yet to play a team with an elite tight end. (Maximum value: Mid-TE1)

Antonio Gates vs. Dallas Cowboys: Gates isn't going to re-emerge into an elite fantasy option, but he has been serviceable to start the season. In fact, he ranks eighth in points at his position after three weeks. Next up is a date with the Cowboys, who have allowed the third-most catches and the eighth-most yards to tight ends in 2013. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

Sleeper alert - Brent Celek at Denver Broncos: The Broncos haven't allowed a touchdown to a tight end this season, but their defense has allowed the second-most receptions and the third-most yards to the position after three weeks. So if you're desperate for a one-week replacement at tight end, the numbers suggest he's well worth the risk. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

TE Sit of the week


Owen Daniels vs. Seattle Seahawks: It's tough to bench a tight end like Daniels, who ranks in the top five in fantasy points at his position after three weeks. Just keep in mind that this week's game against the Seahawks isn't at all favorable. Their defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Low-TE1)

TE Sit 'em


Kyle Rudolph at Pittsburgh Steelers (London): If Rudolph doesn't score a touchdown, chances are he's not going to help your fantasy football team. That makes him a risk-reward proposition - even more so when the matchup isn't favorable. That's the case this week against the Steelers, who have yet to allow a tight end to score a touchdown. (Maximum value: High-TE2)

Jermaine Gresham at Cleveland Browns: Gresham and Tyler Eifert have all but cancelled each other out in terms of their individual fantasy value, as the duo has combined to score a mere 22.80 fantasy points. Couple that with a matchup against the Browns, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, and Gresham is a risk. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Zach Miller at Houston Texans: Miller scored an impressive two touchdowns last week in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he also recorded just five yards in the contest. He'll find it much tougher to score against the Texans, who have surrendered an average of under six fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Mid-TE2)

Owners beware - Brandon Myers at Kansas City Chiefs: Myers was in the sit 'em portion of this column last week - he went on to score 3.30 fantasy points. He's not likely to rebound greatly against the Chiefs, who have been tough on tight ends. In fact, the position has averaged a meager 3.33 fantasy points when facing Kansas City in 2013. (Maximum value: High-TE2)


K Byes: Graham Gano, Mason Crosby

K Start of the week


Matt Prater vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Tied for the fantasy league lead in points among kickers, Prater has emerged into an elite option at his position. Keep him active this week, as Prater and the Broncos will face an Eagles defense that has surrendered an average of over 10 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers after three contests. (Maximum value: High-K1)

K Start 'em


Dan Bailey at San Diego Chargers: Bailey, a free agent in more than 25 percent of NFL.com leagues, needs to be owned in all formats. Tied with Prater for the lead in fantasy points among kickers, Bailey's success should continue against the Chargers - their defense has allowed an average of 10 fantasy points to kickers over the last two weeks. (Maximum value: High-K1)

Justin Tucker at Buffalo Bills: Tucker has had a modest start to the season, averaging just over seven fantasy points in his first three games. He has a nice matchup this week against the Bills, who have surrendered an average of 10 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Look for Tucker to produce a nice stat line in Buffalo. (Maximum value: Mid-K1)

Sleeper alert - Ryan Succop vs. New York Giants: A free agent in more than 90 percent of NFL.com leagues, Succop has some sleeper value as a one-week starter against the Giants. Kickers have combined to average 11 fantasy points per game to kickers, which is tied with the Buccaneers for the most in the NFL. That makes Succop a viable option. (Maximum value: Low-K1)

K Sit of the week


Randy Bullock vs. Seattle Seahawks: A preseason sleeper among kickers, Bullock ranks an unimpressive 25th in fantasy points at his position after three weeks. His fortunes don't figure to improve much in Week 4, as he'll face a Seahawks defense that has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to Bullock's position. Keep him on the sidelines. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

K Sit 'em


Josh Brown at Kansas City Chiefs: Over the last two weeks, Brown has been among the worst-scoring kickers in fantasy football. That's due in large part to a Giants offense that has looked awful, and is showing no signs of reversing gears on its misfortunes. Owned in over 80 percent of NFL.com leagues, Brown should be benched (or released) for Week 4. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

Nick Folk at Tennessee Titans: Folk has alternated good and bad stat lines to start the season, and he's due to struggle based on that trend. Another reason to be concerned about the Jets kicker is a date with the Titans. Tied with the New Orleans Saints, Tennessee is one of two teams to allow the fewest fantasy points per game to kickers in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid-K2)

Owners beware - Matt Bryant vs. New England Patriots: Bryant is coming off a strong stat line in Miami, scoring an impressive 13 fantasy points after combining to record just 12 in his previous two starts. This week's matchup is problematic, though, as the Patriots have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers this season. (Maximum value: Low-K1)


DEF Byes: Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers

DEF Start of the week


Chiefs defense vs. New York Giants: The top-ranked defense in fantasy football, the Chiefs have the most favorable matchup possible this weekend against the suddenly hapless Giants. Defenses have combined to score the most fantasy points when facing Eli Manning and the G-Men, making Kansas City's team a virtual must-start option in leagues. (Maximum value: High-DEF1)

DEF Start 'em


Broncos defense vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Broncos have had a bit of a slow start to the season, ranking a mediocre 15th in fantasy points among defenses after three weeks. The arrow is pointing up for this unit though, as a matchup against the Eagles is favorable - defenses have scored an average of 12 fantasy points per game against them. (Maximum value: Mid-DEF1)

Bengals defense at Cleveland Browns: In standard NFL.com leagues, the Bengals defense has averaged a very respectable 10 fantasy points. That trend of attractive stat lines should continue against Brian Hoyer and the Browns this weekend - defenses facing them have combined to scored the fourth-most fantasy points at this point in the season. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

Sleeper alert - Buccaneers defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: Available in more than 80 percent of NFL.com leagues, the Buccaneers are tied for ninth in fantasy points among defenses after three weeks. If you're in need at the position this week, the Bucs make sense against a Cardinals offense that has really struggled to perform well in recent weeks. (Maximum value: Low-DEF1)

DEF Sit of the week


Eagles defense at Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning is on an absolute tear - he's on pace to throw for more than 60 touchdowns based on his current totals - so starting the defense opposing him isn't a very good idea. That's an understatement. That defensive unit this week is the Eagles, who will be in for a very long afternoon in the Mile High City. (Maximum value: Low-DEF2)

DEF Sit 'em


Giants defense at Kansas City Chiefs: The Giants offense isn't the only part of the team struggling in the stat sheets - their defense has also been dreadful. Couple that with a matchup against the Chiefs, and the G-Men need to be sidelined this week. Defenses have combined to score the fourth-fewest fantasy points at the position versus Kansas City. (Maximum value: Low-DEF2)

Texans defense vs. Seattle Seahawks: The Texans have not had a strong start to the 2013 campaign on defense, scoring just 18 fantasy points in their first three games. Things won't get easier this weekend, as Russell Wilson and the Seahawks come to town. Defenses have combined to average just 5.33 points per game when facing Seattle's offensive attack. (Maximum value: Mid-DEF2)

Owners beware - Patriots defense at Atlanta Falcons: The Patriots hold the eighth-best defense in fantasy football based on the numbers, but this game in Atlanta is anything but a good matchup. The Falcons have been tough to score fantasy points on this season, as defenses have combined to score the third-fewest in the league after three games. (Maximum value: High-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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