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Start 'em, Sit 'em for Week 17

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 Start of the week


Nick Foles at Dallas Cowboys: (Maximum value: High QB1) Over the last four weeks of the season, only Peyton Manning has scored more fantasy points than Foles among quarterbacks. He's got a plus matchup in a must-win game this week against the Cowboys, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points (21.4 PPG) to signal-callers. (Maximum value: High QB1)

QB Start 'em


Matthew Stafford at Minnesota Vikings: Let's be honest ... Stafford has put coal in the stockings of fantasy owners over the last few weeks. Still, it's hard to bench the veteran when the matchup is this favorable. Since Week 13, the Vikings have allowed 12 touchdown passes and the most fantasy points (26.8 PPG) to opposing field generals. (Maximum value: High QB1)

Jay Cutler vs. Green Bay Packers: Cutler disappointed fantasy leaguers last week, but he's still a viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback. The Bears are in a must-win situation on their home field versus the Packers, who have surrendered an average of close to 18 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers. Keep him in your Week 17 lineups. (Maximum value: Mid QB1)

Sleeper alert - Terrelle Pryor vs. Denver Broncos: Pryor will start the season finale for the Raiders, so he's a tremendous sleeper in fantasy land. The last time the versatile quarterback out of Ohio State faced the Broncos, he scored 18.8 fantasy points. Pryor is now on the waiver wire in most fantasy leagues, so go grab him where needed. (Maximum value: Low QB1)

QB Sit of the week


Matt Ryan vs. Carolina Panthers: Ryan was impressive on Monday night, throwing for 348 yards with two touchdowns while scoring 17.9 fantasy points. He's been a disappointment overall, though, and a matchup against the Panthers isn't at all favorable. Their defense has surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points (11.8 PPG) to quarterbacks. (Maximum value: High QB2)

QB Sit 'em


Carson Palmer vs. San Francisco 49ers: Palmer was hot a few weeks ago, but he's seen his fantasy production drop in each of his last six consecutive starts. He figures to be held in check again in what should be a defensive battle against the Niners, who have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (12.7 PPG) to quarterbacks in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid QB2)

Joe Flacco at Cincinnati Bengals: Flacco has floundered in the stat sheets this season, scoring 15-plus fantasy points just once in his last seven starts. He could make it seven of eight in what is a tough road game against the Bengals, who surrendered 140 passing yards, a mere eight fantasy points and picked Flacco twice back in Week 10. (Maximum value: Mid QB2)

Owners beware - Alex Smith at San Diego Chargers: Despite last week's bad stat line, Smith has been pretty solid in the second half of the fantasy season. Still, reports that Chiefs coach Andy Reid could rest his starters in San Diego makes it almost impossible to start Smith with much confidence. Owners should now seek alternatives. (Maximum value: High QB2)


RB Start of the week


Eddie Lacy at Chicago Bears: Whether it is Lacy (ankle) or James Starks, it's tough not to love this week's matchup against the Bears. Their defense has been awful against the run, allowing more fantasy points to running backs (24.5 PPG) than any other team in the NFL. Look for the Packers to run a ton in this pivotal NFC North battle. (Maximum value: High RB1)

RB Start 'em


Reggie Bush at Minnesota Vikings: Bush didn't exactly endear himself to fantasy owners last week, as he lost a fumble and appeared to be benched in a loss to the New York Giants. Still, it's tough not to start him against the Vikings. Back in Week 1, Bush recorded 191 scrimmage yards, one touchdown and 25.1 fantasy points against them. (Maximum value: High RB1)

Le'Veon Bell vs. Cleveland Browns: Over the last four weeks, the Browns have surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points (23.6 PPG) to opposing running backs. That's good news for Bell, who has been a real star in fantasy land. He's scored a combined 61.2 fantasy points since Week 13 and should continue to thrive in what is a strong matchup. (Maximum value: Mid RB1)

Sleeper alert - Knile Davis at San Diego Chargers: If Reid decides to rest his starters, Davis would see a ton of touches in the absence of Jamaal Charles. So while the Chargers have been tough on running backs overall, the potential for a major workload makes Davis a viable option if you're looking for a viable sleeper among running backs. (Maximum value: Mid RB2)

RB Sit of the week


Ray Rice at Cincinnati Bengals: Rice has been a massive disappointment in the stat sheets, ranking 27th in fantasy points among running backs. Not good for a first-rounder. He could continue to put up stinkers this week against the Bengals, who held Rice to a mere 30 rushing yards, no touchdowns and just 5.6 fantasy points back in Week 10. (Maximum value: High RB2)

RB Sit 'em


Steven Jackson at Carolina Panthers: Jackson has been on a statistical tear, scoring 10-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games. Regardless, fantasy owners need to keep in mind that this week's matchup in Carolina is a brutal one. Their defense has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points (12.3 PPG) to running backs at home. (Maximum value: High RB2)

Lamar Miller vs. New York Jets: A sleeper heading into the 2013 campaign, Miller has been mostly asleep in the stat sheets this season. In fact, he's barely among the top 40 running backs based on fantasy points. This week he faces the Jets, who have surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points (13.7 PPG) to opposing running backs in 2013. (Maximum value: High RB3)

Owners beware - Frank Gore at Arizona Cardinals: It's tough to bench a star like Gore, and you shouldn't do it unless you have a legitimate alternative. Just keep in mind that his week's matchup versus the Cardinals isn't favorable -- their defense has surrendered the fewest fantasy points (11.6 PPG) to opposing running backs this season. (Maximum value: Low RB1)


WR Start of the week


Alshon Jeffery vs. Green Bay Packers: Jeffery has developed into one of the best young wide receivers in fantasy football, and this weekend's NFC North battle against the Packers makes him an even more attractive option. Green Bay has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points (27.7 PPG) to opposing wide receivers over the last four weeks. (Maximum value: High WR1)

WR Start 'em


DeSean Jackson at Dallas Cowboys: Jackson was held to just 21 yards in a loss to the Cowboys earlier in the season, but that was then and this is now. Dallas' defense has been dreadful in recent weeks, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over their last four games. Look for Jackson to have a very merry Week 17. (Maximum value: Mid WR1)

Julian Edelman vs. Buffalo Bills: The last time Edelman faced off against the Bills was back in Week 1, and he shredded them for 79 yards, two touchdowns and 19.9 fantasy points. Buffalo's defense hasn't been much better against opposing wideouts since, surrendering 18 touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points to the position overall. (Maximum value: High WR2)

Sleeper alert - Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Detroit Lions: Patterson has been listed here for several weeks, and he's scored one touchdown from scrimmage in each of his last four games. Not a bad sleeper! This week he goes up against the Lions, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points (26.7 PPG) to opposing wide receivers this season. (Maximum value: High WR3)

WR Sit of the week


Marques Colston vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Colston has seen his fantasy production decline in each of his last three games, culminating in a 6.3-point performance against the Panthers. This week he goes up against CB Darrelle Revis and the Buccaneers, who held Colston to 63 yards and no touchdowns in their first meeting of the season (Week 2). (Maximum value: High WR2)

WR Sit 'em


Anquan Boldin at Arizona Cardinals: Boldin is coming off a 72-yard, one-touchdown performance on Monday against the Falcons, but fantasy owners can't expect the same level of production this week in Arizona. The Redbirds have a fierce pass defense, surrendering the fifth-fewest fantasy points (18.0 PPG) to opposing wide receivers this season. (Maximum value: Mid WR2)

Hakeem Nicks vs. Washington Redskins: You might think this is a favorable matchup, but the Redskins have actually allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points (16.6 PPG) to opposing wide receivers over the last four weeks. That's bad news for Nicks, who hasn't scored a touchdown all season and is among the top fantasy disappointments at wide receiver. (Maximum value: Mid WR3)

Owners beware - Torrey Smith at Cincinnati Bengals: Over the last three weeks, Smith has failed to score more than seven fantasy points in a game. Furthermore, he's found the end zone just one time since Week 12. The Bengals have a lot on the line on their home field, so don't be shocked to see Smith struggle to produce a nice stat line this week. (Maximum value: High WR2)


TE Start of the week


Vernon Davis at Arizona Cardinals: If you played Davis last week, you know he gave you a big, fat zero in the stat sheets. Don't fret, though, as he's almost guaranteed to bounce back against an Arizona team that has been awful against tight ends. The last time Davis faced them (Week 6), he went off for two touchdowns and 30 fantasy points. (Maximum value: High TE1)

TE Start 'em


Harrison: Week 17 Power Rankings
As we approach a wild and woolly final week of the regular season, Elliot Harrison takes stock of all 32 teams. READ

Charles Clay vs. New York Jets: An underrated option at tight end, Clay ranks seventh in fantasy points at his position with 716 yards and seven total touchdowns. He's a nice option this week in a game with postseason implications, as the Jets have allowed an average of close to nine fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

Delanie Walker vs. Houston Texans: Walker hasn't been the most consistent tight end in fantasy land, but he can be a useful option when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against a Texans defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points (11.4 PPG) to opposing tight ends over the last four weekends. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

Sleeper alert - Andrew Quarless at Chicago Bears: You might not know it, but Quarless has been a top-10 tight end based on fantasy points over the last four weeks. He's a nice sleeper option this weekend in Chicago, as the Bears' struggling defense has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points (9.1 PPG) to opposing tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

TE Sit of the week


Dennis Pitta at Cincinnati Bengals: I was excited about Pitta's return to action a few weeks back, but he's been close to invisible in the stat sheets over the last two games (5.8 points). Next on the schedule is a date with the Bengals, who have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (5.1 PPG) to opposing tight ends since Week 13. (Maximum value: Low TE1)

TE Sit 'em


Jared Cook at Seattle Seahawks: Cook has been a massive disappointment in the stat sheets for fantasy owners, scoring double-digit fantasy points just one time since Week 1. He'll be hard pressed to produce this week against the Seahawks, who have been tough on tight ends and held Cook to a mere 31 yards in their last meeting (Week 8). (Maximum value: Mid TE2)

Zach Miller vs. St. Louis Rams: Miller was listed as a sleeper in this space last week, and he found the end zone in a loss to the Cardinals. This week's matchup isn't as favorable, though, as the Rams have been tough on tight ends. In fact, their defense has surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (5.9 PPG) to the position in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid TE2)

Owners beware - Marcedes Lewis at Indianapolis Colts: Over the last four weeks, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez are the lone tight ends to score more fantasy points than Lewis at the tight end spot. Still, owners should still keep in mind that the Colts have surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points (6.0 PPG) to tight ends this season. (Maximum value: Low TE1)


K Start of the week


Blair Walsh vs. Detroit Lions: Walsh hasn't been quite as productive in the stat sheets this season as he was as a rookie, but he's still a very viable fantasy option when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this weekend, as the Lions have allowed more fantasy points (10.4 PPG) to opposing kickers than any other team in the league. (Maximum value: High K1)

K Start 'em


Graham Gano at Atlanta Falcons: A free agent in more than 85 percent of NFL.com leagues heading into Week 17, Gano has some definite starting appeal this week based on a favorable matchup against the Falcons. This unit has been quite vulnerable to kickers, surrendering the second-most fantasy points (10.1 PPG) to the position this year. (Maximum value: Mid K1)

Sleeper alert - Shayne Graham vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Over the last four weeks, the Buccaneers have allowed an average of close to 11 fantasy points per game to kickers. That's good news for the value of Graham, who was signed last week to take over the kicking duties in New Orleans. The veteran is a free agent in most NFL.com leagues. (Maximum value: Mid K1)

K Sit of the week


Jay Feely vs. San Francisco 49ers: Feely has had some shining moments for the Cardinals and fantasy leaguers this season, but starting him against a tough Niners defense still isn't the best idea this weekend. This unit has been ultra tough on kickers, surrendering an average of just five fantasy points per game in the last four weeks. (Maximum value: High K2)

K Sit 'em


Greg Zuerlein vs. Seattle Seahawks: Legatron is coming off a monster performance, scoring 13 fantasy points against the Buccaneers last week. Still, an upcoming matchup against the Seahawks makes him a risk this weekend. Seattle's defense has been tough on kickers, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (6.5 PPG) to the position in 2013. (Maximum value: Mid K2)

Owners beware - Dan Bailey vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Aside from his monstrous 22-point performance in Week 15, Bailey hasn't scored more than seven fantasy points in a game since Week 9. The Eagles, who have been tough on opposing kickers over the last four weeks, also held Bailey to a mere five fantasy points in a game earlier this season. (Maximum value: Mid K1)


DEF Start of the week


Dolphins defense vs. New York Jets: The Jets have been a different (and far worse) team on the road, so streaming the Dolphins defense this week makes sense. The last three home defenses to face the Men in Green have scored a combined 48 fantasy points. What's more, the Dolphins scored 17 points against this unit just a few weeks ago. (Maximum value: Mid DEF1)

DEF Start 'em


Steelers defense vs. Cleveland Browns: The Steelers still have a glimmer of postseason hope, while the Browns are looking ahead to the offseason. Couple that with the fact that opposing defenses have combined to score the sixth-most fantasy points (10.1 PPG) against the Browns, and starting the Steel Curtain this weekend makes sense. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)

Sleeper alert - Titans defense vs. Houston Texans: Tennessee's defense is tough to trust in fantasy land, but this week's game against the Texans makes this unit a viable sleeper candidate across the board. Opposing defenses have combined to score the second-most fantasy points (11.9 PPG) when playing Houston's offense this season. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)

DEF Sit of the week


Chiefs defense at San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are playing for their postseason lives, while reports out of Kansas City suggest the Chiefs could rest some of their starters in what is a meaningless game in terms of their postseason seeding. That makes fantasy football's top-scoring defensive team a major risk this weekend. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)

DEF Sit 'em


Buccaneers defense at New Orleans Saints: The last time the Buccaneers faced the Saints, their defense scored an impressive 15 fantasy points. That was back in Week 2, though, and it was also in Tampa Bay. This week will be a different tale, as the Bucs battle Drew Brees in New Orleans in what is an important contest for the Saints. (Maximum value: Mid DEF2)

Owners beware - Cardinals defense vs. San Francisco 49ers: It's tough to bench a valuable defense like the Cardinals, but the numbers suggest this is a tough matchup. In fact, opposing defenses have combined to score an average of just 5.3 fantasy points per game against the Niners this season. That the fourth-fewest in the league. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)


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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