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Saints running back Pierre Thomas has been one of the hottest players in fantasy football in recent weeks.


Start of the Week

Team Player Analysis

New Orleans Saints

Pierre Thomas
Thomas has become a fantasy superstar in recent weeks, and he's a must-start against Detroit. The Lions rank dead last in the league against the run, and no defense has allowed more rushing touchdowns (26). Thomas will also see most of the work with Reggie Bush out for the season, so Thomas should shine at Ford Field.


Quarterbacks -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers
Believe it or not, but Rodgers is tied with Kurt Warner for second in fantasy points on NFL.com. His run of success will continue on Monday night, as he battles the Bears defense which is ranked 28th against the pass. Furthermore, no team has allowed more passing yards per game at home (268.1) than the Monsters of the Midway.


Team Player Analysis

New England Patriots

Matt Cassel
Cassel put up an inspirational performance last week in Oakland, throwing four touchdown passes just a few days after the death of his father. He should record another nice stat line in fantasy football's championship week, as Cassel faces the Cardinals defense which has surrendered a league-high 31 touchdown passes this season.


More quarterbacks with favorable matchups
Drew Brees at Detroit, Brett Favre at Seattle, Tyler Thigpen vs. Miami, Matt Schaub at Oakland, Kurt Warner at New England.

Sleeper alert: Dan Orlovsky vs. New Orleans.


Quarterbacks -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger
Fantasy leaguers with quarterback depth should consider benching Roethlisberger this week. Sure, the Titans have lost DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth, but their pass defense still ranks an impressive fifth overall. What's more, it's just become very hard to trust Big Ben when he's been such an inconsistent performer in 2008.


Team Player Analysis

New York Giants

Eli Manning
Manning has a habit of going into a tailspin late in the season, and it looks like he's at it again. He's thrown two touchdown passes with three interceptions in his last three starts, and he's really missing the presence of Plaxico Burress in the pass attack. The veteran also has a tough matchup against the Panthers, so keep him on the sidelines.


More quarterbacks with unfavorable matchups
Jake Delhomme at N.Y. Giants, Joe Flacco at Dallas (Sat.), David Garrard vs. Indianapolis (Thur.), Donovan McNabb at Washington, Matt Ryan at Minnesota.

Owners beware: Philip Rivers at Tampa Bay.


Running backs -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Houston Texans

Steve Slaton
Slaton has become a fantasy football hero in recent weeks, rushing for 100 or more yards in three of his last four starts. The rookie has an extremely favorable matchup next on the schedule, facing the Raiders defense which is allowing an average of close to 170 rushing yards per game. That makes Slaton a must-start runner across the board.


More running backs with favorable matchups
Ronnie Brown at Kansas City, Matt Forte vs. Green Bay (Mon.), Thomas Jones at Seattle, Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Indianapolis (Thur.), Marshawn Lynch at Denver.

Sleeper alert: Cedric Benson at Cleveland.


Running backs -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Dallas Cowboys

Marion Barber
Barber is expected to play on Saturday night, but he's someone to avoid in fantasy leagues. He's clearly not at 100 percent, and the emergence of Tashard Choice will mean fewer carries for the Barbarian. He also faces the Ravens defense which ranks third against the run, so Barber should be reserved if at all possible this week.


Team Player Analysis

Arizona Cardinals

Tim Hightower
Hightower was a hot name in fantasy circles earlier in the season, but he's been colder than ice in recent weeks. The rookie back has averaged a mere 22.8 rushing yards in his last six games, so he's an enormous risk against the Patriots in fantasy championships. The P-Men are tied for the sixth-fewest rushing touchdowns allowed in 2008.


More running backs with unfavorable matchups
Ryan Grant at Chicago (Mon.), Brandon Jacobs vs. Carolina, Chris Johnson vs. Pittsburgh, Larry Johnson vs. Miami, Le'Ron McClain at Dallas (Sat.).

Owners beware: Clinton Portis vs. Philadelphia.


Wide receivers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson
Megatron has transformed from a talented rookie with potential into an absolute stud for the Lions and fantasy leaguers alike. Despite having a new quarterback seemingly every week, Johnson has still posted 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's a must-start wideout this week against the Saints, who field the league's 26th-ranked pass defense.


Team Player Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Bryant
It's amazing to think that Bryant didn't play a single snap last season. The veteran has turned into an absolute fantasy monster, scoring 61 points in his last three games on NFL.com. That includes a 200-yard, two-touchdown explosion in Week 14. He's a great play this week against the Chargers -- they're ranked 30th in receiving yards allowed.


More wide receivers with favorable matchups
Anquan Boldin at New England, Dwayne Bowe vs. Miami, Marques Colston at Detroit, Randy Moss vs. Arizona, Reggie Wayne at Jacksonville (Thur.).

Sleeper alert: Deion Branch vs. N.Y. Jets.


Wide receivers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Cincinnati Bengals

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Houshmandzadeh has been a nice option in PPR leagues, but he's been far less reliable in standard formats. In fact, he's averaged an awful 3.2 fantasy points in his last five games in those leagues. Houshmandzadeh has also scored double digits once in his last nine games. Fantasy leaguers should start him with real caution.


Team Player Analysis

Washington Redskins

Santana Moss
Moss had a nice game last week against the Bengals, posting 72 yards, one touchdown and 13 fantasy points in what was a surprising loss. But in his previous five games, Moss averaged a mere 3.4 points. Want another reason to bench the Redskins wideout? He didn't catch a single pass in his last game against the Eagles.


More wide receivers with unfavorable matchups
Santonio Holmes at Tennessee, DeSean Jackson at Washington, Vincent Jackson at Tampa Bay, Derrick Mason at Dallas (Sat.), Terrell Owens vs. Baltimore (Sat.).

Owners beware: Brandon Marshall vs. Buffalo.


Tight ends -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Seattle Seahawks

John Carlson
Carlson has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners as rookie -- he's on pace to finish the season with close to 60 receptions and 686 yards. He should improve those projections this week against the Jets. The Men in Green rank 31st in receiving yards allowed and have struggled to hold down opposing tight ends all season long.


Team Player Analysis

New York Jets

Dustin Keller
Keller's been in a statistical slide over the last two weeks, catching just five passes for 49 yards with no touchdowns. Still, the rookie has value as a fantasy starter based on this week's matchup in Seattle. The Seahawks rank dead last in the league in receiving yards allowed, so Keller should bounce back in this inter-conference battle.


More tight ends with favorable matchups
Dallas Clark at Jacksonville (Thur.), Chris Cooley vs. Philadelphia, Zach Miller vs. Houston, Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Atlanta, Jeremy Shockey at Detroit.

Sleeper alert: Jerramy Stevens vs. San Diego.


Tight ends -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Baltimore Ravens

Todd Heap
Consider this a formal warning against starting anyone in a Ravens uniform (not counting their defense). The Cowboys defense has been impenetrable in recent weeks, holding their last three opponents to an average of 12.7 points per game. Heap, who has been a real disappointment in fantasy leagues, is someone to avoid at all costs.


Team Player Analysis

San Francisco 49ers

Vernon Davis
The offense of Mike Martz has drained most of the fantasy value Davis held heading into the season. He's scored 39 fantasy points on NFL.com -- that's fewer than backups like Martellus Bennett and David Martin -- so don't be tempted to use Davis even against St. Louis. He had one catch (it was a touchdown) against the Rams in Week 11.


More tight ends with unfavorable matchups
Kevin Boss vs. Carolina, Marcedes Lewis vs. Indianapolis (Thur.), Heath Miller at Tennessee, Tony Scheffler vs. Buffalo, L.J. Smith at Washington.

Owners beware: Jason Witten vs. Baltimore (Sat.).


Kickers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

St. Louis Rams

Josh Brown
Fantasy leaguers looking for a kicker this week should take a chance on Brown. The strong-legged veteran hasn't met expectations this season, but he's got a great matchup against a 49ers team that's tied for the third-most field-goals allowed this season. Furthermore, Brown had a solid 12 fantasy points against them back in Week 11.


More kickers with favorable matchups
Matt Bryant vs. San Diego, Dan Carpenter at Kansas City, Stephen Gostkowski vs. Arizona, Joe Nedney at St. Louis, Matt Prater vs. Buffalo.

Sleeper alert: Garrett Hartley at Detroit.


Kickers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Carolina Panthers

John Kasay
Kasay is coming off one of his best performances of the season, scoring 14 fantasy points in a win over the Broncos. But based on the numbers, the veteran is someone to avoid in championship week. Kasay faces a Giants defense that's tied for the fewest field-goals allowed. Plus, it's never fun to kick at the Meadowlands in December.


More kickers with unfavorable matchups
Nick Folk vs. Baltimore (Sat.), Nate Kaeding at Tampa Bay, Ryan Longwell vs. Atlanta, Neil Rackers at New England, Jeff Reed at Tennessee.

Owners beware: David Akers at Washington.


Defenses -- Start 'Em

Team Player

Texans defense
The Texans defense hasn't been much of a fantasy option this season, but they've been hot in recent weeks with double-digit points in three of the last four games. Playing the Raiders is always a huge advantage for the value of a defense, so this unit could be an enormous surprise in Week 16. If you need a defense, the Texans are worth a shot.


More defenses with favorable matchups
Cowboys defense vs. Baltimore (Sat.), Eagles defense at Washington, Jets defense at Seattle, Ravens defense at Dallas (Sat.), Steelers defense at Tennessee.

Sleeper alert: Panthers defense at N.Y. Giants.


Defenses -- Sit 'Em

Team Player

Cardinals defense
Anyone who watched Arizona's defense fold like a house of "Cards" last week should know better than to trust it this week. No unit has allowed more touchdown passes this season, so Matt Cassel, Randy Moss and the Patriots should have a lot of success on Sunday afternoon. Unless you're desperate, keep the Cardinals on the sidelines.


More defenses with unfavorable matchups
Bears defense vs. Green Bay (Mon.), Chargers defense at Tampa Bay, Dolphins defense at Kansas City, Redskins defense vs. Philadelphia, Seahawks defense vs. N.Y. Jets.

Owners beware: Colts defense at Jacksonville (Thur.).


Have a burning question for Michael Fabiano on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!

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