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.
Start of the week
Philip Rivers vs. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders defense has been absolutely dreadful in recent action, surrendering the second-most fantasy points (22.6 PPG) to opposing quarterbacks in their last four games. That's good news for Rivers, who has thrown eight touchdown passes in four career December meetings against the Silver and Black. (Maximum value: High QB1)
Jay Cutler at Philadelphia Eagles: Cutler returned to action last week, scoring nearly 20 fantasy points in a win over the Cleveland Browns. He's a solid option in Philadelphia, as the Eagles have surrendered 17-plus fantasy points to three of the last four quarterbacks they've faced, including 29.2 points to Matt Cassel last weekend. (Maximum value: High QB1)
Colin Kaepernick vs. Atlanta Falcons (Mon.): Kaepernick is heating up in the stat sheets for fantasy owners, scoring 17-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games. His recent hot streak should continue against the Falcons, who have allowed 30 scores and the fifth-most fantasy points (18.8 PPG) to opposing quarterbacks this season. (Maximum value: High QB1)
Andy Dalton vs. Minnesota Vikings: Since Week 12, there hasn't been a better fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks than the Vikings. Their defensive unit has allowed more fantasy points (25.7 PPG) to the position than any other team in that time, so Dalton is a nice option for owners without an elite quarterback in championship week. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)
Sleeper alert - Kirk Cousins vs. Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys defense is historically awful this season, so I would have a lot of confidence in starting Cousins if you're in need at quarterback. This defense has surrendered more fantasy points (23.7 PPG) to opposing signal-callers on the road than any other team in the entire league in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)
Sit of the week
Matt Ryan at San Francisco 49ers (Mon.): Ryan is in the midst of one of his worst statistical stretches, and things don't look to improve much on the road against the Niners. In fact, their defense has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points (12.3 PPG) to opposing quarterbacks at home this season, so keep Ryan on the fantasy sidelines. (Maximum value: High QB2)
Tony Romo at Washington Redskins: This week's matchup against the Redskins is a favorable one ... or is it? Romo has never thrown for 300 yards in his career in Washington, and he's put up the same number of interceptions (6) as touchdown passes (6) in his last three meetings against them overall. Just some food for thought. (Maximum value: Low QB1)
Carson Palmer at Seattle Seahawks: Palmer's numbers have started to recede in recent weeks, as his fantasy totals have declined in each of the last five weeks. That trend could continue in Seattle, which is where fantasy points go to die. No team has surrendered fewer points (8.7 PPG) to opposing quarterbacks at home than the Seahawks. (Maximum value: Low QB2)
Eli Manning at Detroit Lions: Manning has been dreadful this season, and a matchup against the Lions isn't going to reverse his fortunes. In fact, Detroit has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (11.4 PPG) to quarterbacks on their home field. That's bad news for Manning, who is barely even an option in two-quarterback formats. (Maximum value: Mid QB2)
Owners beware - Tom Brady at Baltimore Ravens: Brady is tough to bench in title week, and you shouldn't do it without a legitimate replacement. Just keep in mind that he has struggled against the Ravens in his career. In eight starts including the playoffs, Brady has thrown for an average of 253.4 yards with eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)
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!