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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em for Week 8

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: Joe Flacco, Jake Locker, Andrew Luck, Josh McCown, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub

Start of the week


Matthew Stafford vs. Dallas Cowboys: Stafford has been on fire, posting 1,109 yards, 10 total touchdowns and the third most points in fantasy football over the last four weeks. His success should continue against the Cowboys, who have surrendered 14 touchdown passes and the third-most fantasy points (20.75 PPG) to opposing quarterbacks. (Maximum value: High QB1)

QB Start 'em


Robert Griffin III at Denver Broncos: He's back! Over the last two weeks, only four quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Griffin III. What's more, he has rushed for 161 yards in that time -- that's more than seven running backs! Keep him active against the Broncos, who allow more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any team. (Maximum value: High QB1)

Colin Kaepernick at Jacksonville Jaguars (London): Kaepernick has not had the best start to the season, but he's starting to turn things around with a combined 36.64 fantasy points (including 86 rushing yards) over the last two weeks. He's a strong start against the Jaguars, who are allowing 19.21 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)

Michael Vick vs. New York Giants: With six teams on a bye, Vick is going to be back on the No. 1 fantasy quarterback radar. Barring a setback with his bum hamstring, he'll be under center against a Big Blue defense that has given up 14 touchdown passes and an average of over 20 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers this season. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)

Sleeper alert - Ben Roethlisberger at Oakland Raiders: Big Ben is an unimpressive 23rd in fantasy points among quarterbacks, but he does have a great matchup in Week 8. He's thrown for 275-plus yards in each of his four career meetings against the Raiders. Plus Roethlisberger has eight total scores in his last two games against Oakland. (Maximum value: Low QB1)

QB Sit of the week


Terrelle Pryor vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Everyone knows I'm a huge fan of Pryor, but not when the matchup isn't favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against a Steelers defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points (14.25 PPG) to quarterbacks on the road. Even with six teams on a bye, it's tough to advise starting Pryor. (Maximum value: Mid QB2)

QB Sit 'em


Russell Wilson at St. Louis Rams (Mon.): Want a strange trend? Wilson is averaging fewer than 13 fantasy points per game in even-numbered weeks. Here's another little nugget for you -- over the last four weeks, the Rams have allowed an average of (you guessed it) fewer than 13 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Just a little food for thought. (Maximum value: High QB2)

Alex Smith vs. Cleveland Browns: Smith might have had a nice start to the season, but his fantasy production has slowed in recent weeks. In fact, 19 quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points since Week 6. I would keep him on the bench against the Browns, who have allowed an average of just over 15 fantasy points to signal-callers in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid QB2)

Geno Smith at Cincinnati Bengals: Smith scored over 20 fantasy points last weekend, but take a look at this trend -- in odd-numbered weeks, he's averaging 20.54 points per game. That's impressive. In even-numbered weeks, though, Smith is averaging an awful 5.78 points. Going into Week 8 against a tough Bengals defense, I'd keep him reserved. (Maximum value: Low QB2)

Owners beware - Tom Brady vs. Miami Dolphins: As someone who owns Brady, I'm hoping I give him the old fantasy jinx by putting him in the sit 'em portion of this column. His numbers are hard to ignore, though, as he's a mere 21st in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Geno Smith, Jake Locker and even Alex Smith all have more points right now. (Maximum value: Low QB1)


RB Byes: Donald Brown, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Bernard Pierce, Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, Ben Tate, Danny Woodhead

RB Start of the week


Eddie Lacy at Minnesota Vikings: Lacy is getting his groove on as a rookie, scoring close to 30 combined fantasy points over his last two games. He should continue to thrive against the Vikings, who have surrendered 916 scrimmage yards, eight total scores and more fantasy points (22.93 PPG) to running backs than any other team in the NFL. (Maximum value: Mid RB1)

RB Start 'em


Knowshon Moreno vs. Washington Redskins: Has there been a better bargain in fantasy football than Moreno? One of the top runners in the league, the Georgia product has a strong matchup ahead against the Redskins. Their defense has surrendered the second-most fantasy points (22.83 PPG) to opposing running backs after the first seven weeks. (Maximum value: High RB1)

Frank Gore at Jacksonville Jaguars (London): Gore is like the Energizer Bunny -- the dude just keeps on going. The veteran has found the end zone four times in his last four games, and a contest against the Jaguars bodes well for this week. Their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points (22.76 PPG) to running backs this season. (Maximum value: Low RB1)

Stevan Ridley vs. Miami Dolphins: Ridley appears to be back in the good graces of fantasy owners, scoring three touchdowns in his last two games. He'll look to extend that streak of success against the Dolphins, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy points (21.27 PPG) to opposing running backs. Consider Ridley a No. 1 fantasy runner. (Maximum value: High RB2)

Sleeper alert - Peyton Hillis at Philadelphia Eagles: You're not seeing things -- Hillis is now back on the fantasy radar after a good performance against the Vikings last Monday night. If Brandon Jacobs is forced to miss another game with his bum hamstring, Hillis would be a viable fantasy flex starter with six teams on a bye. Amazing. (Maximum value: High RB3)

RB Sit of the week


Zac Stacy vs. Seattle Seahawks (Mon.): Stacy is coming off the best fantasy game of his career, posting 14.70 fantasy points. Now the question is, can he do it against the Seahawks? Seattle has been tough on running backs, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position (12.80 PPG) this season. If you start Stacy, temper expectations. (Maximum value: Mid RB3)

RB Sit 'em


Chris Ivory at Cincinnati Bengals: Ivory went off last weekend, rushing for 104 yards on 34 carries in a win over the New England Patriots. However, he's going to have a much tougher task ahead of him in Week 8. The Bengals have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points (12.2 PPG) to opposing backs, so Ivory's stats could crash back to Earth. (Maximum value: High RB3)

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. New York Jets: The Law Firm has struggled this season, scoring fewer than nine fantasy points in all but one of his seven games. His fortunes aren't likely to improve this week against the Jets, who have surrendered the seventh-fewest fantasy points (13.41 PPG) to running backs. This makes Giovani Bernard a risk as well. (Maximum value: Low RB3)

Willis McGahee at Kansas City Chiefs: McGahee's value looked like it was on the rise in Week 5, as he rushed for 72 yards and scored a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills. Since then, he has put up a combined 7.80 fantasy points. The Chiefs have allowed the fewest fantasy points (8.75 PPG) to runners at home, so keep McGahee on the fantasy bench. (Maximum value: Mid RB3)

Owners beware - Maurice Jones-Drew vs. San Francisco 49ers (London): How bad have things been for Jones-Drew? Well, he's 28th in fantasy points among runners and is averaging a meager 3.1 yards per carry. This week he'll struggle against the Niners, who have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points (14.28 PPG) to runners over the last four weeks. (Maximum value: Low RB2)


WR Byes: Keenan Allen, Marlon Brown, Vincent Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Torrey Smith, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright

WR Start of the week


Eric Decker vs. Washington Redskins: Decker has been fantastic in recent weeks, scoring just under 48 fantasy points in his last four games. He should remain active against the Redskins, who have been a virtual cornucopia of fantasy points to wideouts -- their defense has surrendered the seventh-most points (25.73 PPG) to the position. (Maximum value: Mid WR1)

WR Start 'em


Larry Fitzgerald vs. Atlanta Falcons: Fitzgerald has been a disappointment, but with six teams on a bye and a good matchup against the Falcons, he should be active this week. Only the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos have surrendered more fantasy points (28.25 PPG) to wide receivers, so look for Fitzgerald to shine. (Maximum value: Low WR1)

Pierre Garcon at Denver Broncos: Garcon has gone through a rough patch, ranking a mere 45th in fantasy points among wide receivers over the last four weeks. Still, it's hard to ignore what is a huge matchup against the Broncos. After seven weeks, Denver's defensive unit has allowed the third-most fantasy points (28.73 PPG) to wide receivers. (Maximum value: High WR2)

Marques Colston vs. Buffalo Bills: If Colston is on your fantasy team, you know how much he has struggled this season. But with a great matchup against the Bills next on the schedule, he's still a player to start in fantasy leagues. Over the last two weeks, no defensive team has allowed more fantasy points (35.90 PPG) to wide receivers. (Maximum value: High WR2)

Sleeper alert - Harry Douglas at Arizona Cardinals: With Julio Jones out for the season and Roddy White a question mark for Week 8, Douglas is now in line to play a more prominent role in the pass attack for Atlanta. He proved he can handle his new increased duties last week, recording 149 yards, one touchdown and 20.90 fantasy points. (Maximum value: Mid WR2)

WR Sit of the week


Steve Johnson at New Orleans Saints: Over the last four weeks, 95 wide receivers (including three members of the Bills) have scored more fantasy points than Johnson. If that weren't enough reason to keep him on the sideline, also consider that the Saints have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points (16.56 PPG) to wideouts at home.(Maximum value: Mid WR3)

WR Sit 'em


Denarius Moore vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Moore has been an underrated fantasy asset this season, but facing Steelers CB Ike Taylor is not a favorable scenario. A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Torrey Smith have all had subpar stat lines this season when going up against this tough cover corner, so Moore's expectations should be tempered. (Maximum value: Mid WR3)

Dwayne Bowe vs. Cleveland Browns: A total of 54 wide receivers have scored more fantasy points than Bowe this season! His fortunes aren't likely to change against the Browns, who have surrendered the eighth-fewest fantasy points (17.36 PPG) to wideouts this season. Bowe is also a good bet to be stuck facing stud CB Joe Haden all afternoon. (Maximum value: Low WR3)

Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Miami Dolphins: Thompkins is a respectable 27th in fantasy points among wide receivers, but he's scored fewer than two fantasy points in two of his last three games. This week, he has a tough matchup against the Dolphins -- their defense has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points (14.96 PPG) to wideouts on the road. (Maximum value: Mid WR3)

Owners beware - Mike Wallace at New England Patriots: Wallace has sort of been what we expected in Miami, and it hasn't been so good. He's 50th in points among wide receivers, and this week's game in New England is anything but favorable. The Patriots have surrendered the seventh-fewest fantasy points (16.33 PPG) to wideouts at home. (Maximum value: Low WR2)


TE Byes: Martellus Bennett, Dallas Clark, Coby Fleener, Antonio Gates, Garrett Graham, Delanie Walker

TE Start of the week


Tony Gonzalez at Arizona Cardinals: Gonzalez disappointed fantasy owners last week with a mere three fantasy points in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his fortunes will improve against the Cardinals. After seven weeks, no defense has allowed more fantasy points (16.3 PPG) to opposing tight ends. Consider Gonzalez a must-start. (Maximum value: High TE1)

TE Start 'em


Jason Witten at Detroit Lions: Outside of a 18.10-point performance against the Denver Broncos in Week 5, Witten has failed to score seven fantasy points in a game since the season opener. The good news is that this week he faces the Lions -- their defense has surrendered an average of 9.53 fantasy points per game to tight ends at home. (Maximum value: High TE1)

Heath Miller at Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have allowed an average of just under seven fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, so this isn't a monster matchup on paper. Still, Miller has recorded at least 70 yards or one touchdown catch in each of his last three games. He's also a very trusted option for Ben Roethlisberger. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

Kyle Rudolph vs. Green Bay Packers: Rudolph is one of the most inconsistent tight ends in fantasy football, but with six teams on a bye it's tough to ignore this week's matchup against the Packers. Their defense has surrendered the seventh-most yards, five touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points (12.02 PPG) to opposing tight ends.(Maximum value: Low TE1)

Sleeper alert - Jordan Reed at Denver Broncos: Reed has been hot as of late, scoring the second-most fantasy points among tight ends over the last two weeks. I think his success will continue in Denver, where he'll face a Broncos team that has surrendered an average of just under 10 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

TE Sit of the week


Jared Cook vs. Seattle Seahawks (Mon.): Cook scored an impressive 24.10 fantasy points in Week 1. Since then, he has scored a combined 20.3 points -- that's an average of just 3.4 per game. His fortunes aren't likely to improve very much against the Seahawks. He'll also be catching passes from career backup quarterback Kellen Clemens. (Maximum value: Mid TE2)

TE Sit 'em


Brent Celek vs. New York Giants: Once considered a fantasy starter, Celek's value has taken a nosedive this season. He's just 24th in points among tight ends and has failed to score six points in five of his last six games. Celek has also scored just one touchdown in his last five games against the Giants, making him even less attractive. (Maximum value: Low TE2)

Brandon Myers at Philadelphia Eagles: Myers had a nice start to the season, scoring a combined 20 fantasy points in his first two games. Since then, the veteran hasn't posted more than 3.50 points in a game and has been shut out altogether twice. The Eagles have been pretty tough on tight ends too, making Myers someone to bench in Week 8. (Maximum value: Mid TE2)

Zach Miller at St. Louis Rams (Mon.): Miller found the end zone last week against the Cardinals, which opened some eyes in fantasy land. However, it was his first touchdown in three weeks and only the second time all season he's scored more than five fantasy points. Unless you're in dire straits, starting Miller this week is not advised. (Maximum value: Mid TE2)

Owners beware - Jordan Cameron at Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron has been an elite No. 1 tight end for owners, and you shouldn't bench him unless you also have a great alternative. Just keep in mind that the Chiefs have allowed no touchdown catches, the fewest yards and fantasy points (2.73 PPG) to opposing tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Mid TE2)


K Byes: Rob Bironas, Randy Bullock, Robbie Gould, Nick Novak, Justin Tucker, Adam Vinatieri

K Start of the week


Alex Henery vs. New York Giants: Henery has hit a bit of a skid, scoring a combined 10 fantasy points over the last two weeks. Still, he's an attractive option against a Giants defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to kickers. Furthermore, Henery scored an impressive 18 fantasy points against Big Blue back in Week 5. (Maximum value: High K1)

K Start 'em


Dan Bailey at Detroit Lions: While his numbers have fallen off a bit over the last two weeks (12 fantasy points combined), Bailey remains a very nice option for owners based on a favorable matchup against the Lions. Over the last four weeks, Detroit has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points (11.00 PPG) to opposing kickers. (Maximum value: High K1)

Steven Hauschka at St. Louis Rams (Mon.): Hauschka has been on fire, scoring a combined 45 fantasy points in his last four games -- only Adam Vinatieri has had more points among kickers in that time. He should remain active against the Rams, who have allowed an average of 10.50 fantasy points to the position in the last two weeks. (Maximum value: Mid K1)

Sleeper alert - Sebastian Janikowski vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Janikowski has not been good this season -- he ranks 30th in fantasy points among kickers -- but he's worth a roll of the dice with six teams on a bye. SeaBass goes up against the Steelers, who have given up an average of close to 10 fantasy points per game to kickers in 2013. (Maximum value: Low K1)

K Sit of the week


Greg Zuerlein at Seattle Seahawks (Mon.): The man called "Legatron" has been mediocre at best this season, ranking just inside the top 25 among kickers based on fantasy points. He doesn't figure to make a huge impact this week against the Seahawks, either. Their defense has allowed an average of 6.25 fantasy points per game to kickers. (Maximum value: Mid K2)

K Sit 'em


Nick Folk at Cincinnati Bengals: Folk was a hero for fantasy owners who started him last week, as he scored 12 points in a win over the New England Patriots. However, he won't be in a good position to find success in back-to-back weeks. The Bengals defense has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points (7.29 PPG) to opposing kickers in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid K2)

Caleb Sturgis at New England Patriots: While he had a fast start to the season, Sturgis has seen his numbers fall in recent weeks. In fact, 28 kickers have more points since Week 4. The Patriots have surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points (5.33 PPG) to opposing kickers on their home field, so Sturgis is someone to bench in Week 8. (Maximum value: Mid K2)

Owners beware - Blair Walsh vs. Green Bay Packers: Walsh is one of the better kickers in fantasy football, but he's hit a rough stretch with just five points in his last two games combined. His struggles could continue against the Packers, who have given up an average of just 5.50 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers this season. (Maximum value: Low K1)


DEF Byes: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans

DEF Start of the week


Bengals defense vs. New York Jets: Geno Smith has an odd trend of putting up stinkers in even-numbered weeks, which is good news for the Bengals in Week 8. Home defenses have combined to score the second-most fantasy points (10.0 PPG) when facing the Jets, so this could be a nice weekend for these Queen City cats. (Maximum value: High DEF1)

DEF Start 'em


Packers defense at Minnesota Vikings: The Packers defense has not been a strong option this season, ranking a mere 22nd in fantasy points. Still, facing Christian Ponder and the Vikings makes this unit a nice streaming option for Week 8. Defenses have scored an average of 11 fantasy points per game against Minnesota over the last two weeks. (Maximum value: Mid DEF1)

Steelers defense at Oakland Raiders: This is not the same Steelers defense that used to dominate both on the field and in fantasy football. However, a matchup against the Raiders does make this unit a viable option during the upcoming bye weeks. Defenses have combined to score the second-most fantasy points against Oakland since Week 4. (Maximum value: Mid DEF1)

Sleeper alert - Saints defense vs. Buffalo Bills: The Saints are fresh off a bye week and playing at home against Thaddeus Lewis and a Bills offense that has some real question marks. Opposing defenses have combined to score an average of 10 fantasy points per game against Buffalo over the last two weeks, so streaming the Saints makes sense. (Maximum value: Mid DEF1)

DEF Sit of the week


Cardinals defense vs. Atlanta Falcons: If we have learned one thing about the Falcons this season, it's that opposing defenses just don't score fantasy points against them. In fact, opposing units have combined to score the second-fewest fantasy points (3.83 PPG) when facing Matt Ryan and crew. That's clearly bad news for the Cardinals. (Maximum value: Low DEF2)

DEF Sit 'em


Bills defense at New Orleans Saints: The Bills defense has scored a respectable 64 fantasy points this season -- that's just six fewer than the Chicago Bears -- but this is still not a team to start against the Saints. Defensive units going up against this explosive offense have averaged a mediocre five fantasy points per game this season. (Maximum value: Low DEF2)

Vikings defense vs. Green Bay Packers: The Vikings were in the start 'em portion of this column last week and finished with 10 fantasy points. Unfortunately, this isn't a team you're going to want to start again based on the matchup -- opposing defenses facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have combined to average just 5.67 fantasy points. (Maximum value: Low DEF2)

Owners beware - Cowboys defense at Detroit Lions: Did you know the Cowboys were third in fantasy points among defenses? That's impressive, but still not enough to keep them out of the sit 'em spot among defensive units. Only one defense has scored more than eight fantasy points against the Lions, and that was all the way back in Week 1. (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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