Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups of the week and how those matchups will affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert highlights a player who's under the radar but could produce strong numbers based on the opponent. Owners beware highlights a player who's a regular starter in most fantasy leagues but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our weekly lineup rankings.

Start of the Week

Team Player Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers still have a shot to reach the NFL's postseason, so Roethlisberger is a safe option with a tremendous matchup against Miami. The Dolphins have allowed a combined five touchdown passes to the last two quarterbacks they've faced, and their defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the position overall. Look for Big Ben to find big success in this regular-season finale.


Quarterbacks -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Houston Texans

Matt Schaub
Schaub has turned into one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football. He has already put up career bests across the board, and this week's matchup against a Patriots team that has nothing to play for is favorable. In seven road games, the P-Men have allowed an average of over 250 passing yards. The Texans also have an outside shot to reach the postseason, so Schaub should be extremely motivated.


More quarterbacks with favorable matchups
1. Eli Manning at Vikings: Minnesota has allowed an average of 19.3 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2009.
2. Matt Ryan at Buccaneers: Tampa Bay has allowed an average of 17.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
3. Alex Smith at Rams: St. Louis has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points (19.3 PPG) to quarterbacks in 2009.
4. Vince Young at Seattle: Seattle has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points (19.7 PPG) to quarterbacks this season.
5. Jay Cutler at Lions: Quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points against Detroit than any other NFL team.

Sleeper alert: Chad Henne vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh has allowed 92 fantasy points to quarterbacks since Week 13.


Quarterbacks -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning
If you watched last week's contest against the Jets, you know that Manning is not going to play the entire game against Buffalo. In fact, he might be active for the first series or two before backup QB Curtis Painter replaces him under center. It's a disastrous situation to lose a quarterback of Manning's caliber in fantasy championships, but that's what can happen when teams clinch postseason berths so soon.


More quarterbacks with unfavorable matchups
1. Kurt Warner vs. Packers: Warner could see limited work if this game has no postseason implications in the NFC.
2. Carson Palmer at Jets: New York has allowed the fewest fantasy points (10.9 PPG) to quarterbacks this season.
3. Joe Flacco at Raiders: Oakland has allowed an average of just 188.0 passing yards per game at home in 2009.
4. Matt Cassel at Broncos: Quarterbacks have averaged the third-fewest fantasy points against Denver this season.
5. Matt Moore vs. Saints: New Orleans has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points (15.1 PPG) to quarterbacks.

Owners beware: Philip Rivers vs. Redskins: Risk-reward option; Rivers could be rested for part of Week 17.


Running backs -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Chicago Bears

Matt Forte
Forte has been a monumental bust in fantasy circles this season, but this week's matchup against the Lions makes him an attractive option. Detroit has allowed an average of 24.5 fantasy points per game to running backs, and Forte scored 19 points against them in Week 4. With a few solid backs being rested or limited in their finales due to clinched postseason berths, Forte should be active in most formats.


More running backs with favorable matchups
1. Frank Gore at Rams: St. Louis has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (24.2 PPG) to running backs this season.
2. Knowshon Moreno vs. Chiefs: Kansas City has allowed an average of 143.1 rushing yards per game on the road.
3. Jonathan Stewart vs. Saints: New Orleans has allowed an average of 21.1 fantasy points to running backs in 2009.
4. Jamaal Charles at Broncos: Denver has allowed an average of 128.3 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) per game at home.
5. Mike Bell at Panthers: Carolina has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points (21.3 PPG) to running backs this season.

Sleeper alert: Donald Brown at Bills: Buffalo has allowed the most fantasy points (26.0 PPG) to running backs.


Running backs -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Arizona Cardinals

Beanie Wells
Based on his success over the last three weeks, it's going to be hard to bench Wells in most fantasy leagues. But if you have backfield depth, you might want to consider it. The rookie is facing a tough Packers run defense in a game where he could be rested or limited. He's also dealing with a slight groin ailment that the team will monitor in a game that could be meaningless for the Cardinals.


More running backs with unfavorable matchups
1. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Redskins: Risk-reward option; Tomlinson could be rested or limited vs. Washington.
2. Joseph Addai at Bills: Buffalo ranks 32nd in run defense this season, but Addai could be rested in Week 17.
3. Marion Barber vs. Eagles: Barber has averaged just 42.8 rushing yards in his last five games vs. Philadelphia.
4. Brian Westbrook at Cowboys: Westbrook playing limited snaps; Dallas ranks fifth in run defense this season.
5. Darren McFadden vs. Ravens: Baltimore has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.

Owners beware: Ricky Williams vs. Steelers: Check injury status; Pittsburgh ranks third in rushing defense in 2009.


Wide receivers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Atlanta Falcons

Roddy White
White is coming off one of his best fantasy performances of the season, posting 139 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Bills. He should have another nice stat line against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (21.8 PPG) to wide receivers this season. With QB Matt Ryan back at the helm of the offense, owners should start White with confidence in this NFC South clash.


More wide receivers with favorable matchups
1. Brandon Marshall vs. Chiefs: Marshall scored a solid 15 fantasy points in his last game vs. Kansas City (Week 13).
2. Sidney Rice vs. Giants: The last four No. 1 wideouts to face New York have averaged 14.0 fantasy points per game.
3. Calvin Johnson vs. Bears: Chicago has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (21.4 PPG) to wide receivers.
4. Santonio Holmes at Dolphins: Wide receivers have scored the sixth-most fantasy points (21.8 PPG) against Miami.
5. Michael Crabtree at Rams: St. Louis has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points (21.3 PPG) to wide receivers.

Sleeper alert: Devin Aromashodu at Lions: Detroit has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.


Wide receivers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Cincinnati Bengals

Chad Ochocinco
I know, you're supposed to start all of your studs in the fantasy postseason. And if I had Ochocinco and no legitimate options to replace him, I would keep him active. But in a game where he'll go up against Jets CB Darrelle Revis, even a wideout as good as Ochocinco is a risk. Furthermore, there's a chance that coach Marvin Lewis could rest some of this starters, including Ochocinco, in the second half.


More wide receivers with unfavorable matchups
1. Marques Colston at Panthers: Hard to bench; Carolina has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wideouts.
2. Braylon Edwards vs. Bengals: Cincinnati has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2009.
3. Vincent Jackson vs. Redskins: Jackson could be rested or limited for part of the game against Washington.
4. Dwayne Bowe at Broncos: Bowe will face CB Champ Bailey; No touchdowns in last three games vs. Denver.
5. Roy E. Williams vs. Eagles: Williams was held to one catch for five yards in his last game vs. Philadelphia (Week 9).

Owners beware: Reggie Wayne at Bills: Wayne will likely be rested or limited for most of the contest against Buffalo.


Tight ends -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten
Witten has been a PPR dream for fantasy owners in recent weeks, posting a combined 29 catches in his last four games. His success should continue against the Eagles, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points (9.8 PPG) to tight ends this season. Furthermore, Witten has averaged six catches in his last seven games against this NFC East opponent. Look for Witten to thrive in this important battle.


More tight ends with favorable matchups
1. Brent Celek at Cowboys: Celek has averaged 12.3 fantasy points and scored two touchdowns since Week 14.
2. Kellen Winslow vs. Falcons: Winslow had seven catches for 81 yards in his last game against Atlanta (Week 12).
3. Jermichael Finley at Cardinals: Arizona has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points (8.0 PPG) to tight ends.
4. Greg Olsen at Lions: Detroit has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (8.6 PPG) to tight ends this season.
5. Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Giants: Tight ends have scored more fantasy points against New York than any NFL team.

Sleeper alert: Kevin Boss at Vikings: Minnesota has allowed an average of 9.6 fantasy points to tight ends in 2009.


Tight ends -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates
It's only in Week 17 with the Chargers locked into the No 2 seed in the AFC postseason that Gates will land in the sit 'em portion of this column. But with nothing to gain by playing his starters, chances are that coach Norv Turner will limit his most prominent players. That list includes Gates, who is a huge risk for owners based on his potential to see limited time on the field. Keep him benched if possible.


More tight ends with unfavorable matchups
1. Dallas Clark at Bills: Risk-reward option; Clark is very likely to be rested or limited against Buffalo in Week 17.
2. Jeremy Shockey at Panthers: Carolina ranks fourth in fewest receiving yards allowed (209.8 YPG, 14 TDs).
3. Tony Scheffler vs. Chiefs: Kansas City has allowed an average of 48.7 yards per game to tight ends in 2009.
4. Todd Heap at Raiders: Oakland has allowed an average of 5.5 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season.
5. Zach Miller vs. Ravens: Baltimore has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points (5.8 PPG) to tight ends in 2009.

Owners beware: Tony Gonzalez at Buccaneers: Gonzalez could be either limited or out due to an injured calf.


Kickers -- Start 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Denver Broncos

Matt Prater
Prater has been a fantasy monster in recent weeks, scoring 10 or more points in four of his last five games. His streak of success should continue against the Chiefs, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (9.4 PPG) to kickers this season. That includes a 15-point output from Prater back in Week 13. The Broncos kicker should be considered a viable top-10 option at his position in Week 17.


More kickers with favorable matchups
1. Nate Kaeding vs. Redskins: Washington has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points (8.1 PPG) to kickers in 2009.
2. Rob Bironas at Seahawks: Seattle has allowed an average close to eight fantasy points per game to kickers.
3. Billy Cundiff at Raiders: Oakland has allowed the third-most fantasy points (9.4 PPG) to kickers this season.
4. Robbie Gould at Lions: Gould scored a total of 14 fantasy points in his last game against Detroit (Week 4).
5. Jeff Reed at Dolphins: Miami has allowed an average of 9.5 fantasy points per game (30/36 FGA) to kickers.

Sleeper alert: Josh Scobee at Browns: Cleveland has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to kickers in 2009.


Kickers -- Sit 'Em

Team Player Analysis

Oakland Raiders

Sebastian Janikowski
Janikowski has been on fire for fantasy leaguers in recent weeks, averaging 10.5 fantasy points in his last four games and hitting a 61-yarder against the Browns. But despite his recent success on the field, the man nicknamed "Sea Bass" is still a risk against the Ravens. Their defense has allowed an average of just 6.4 fantasy points to kickers this season, which ties for the ninth-fewest in the league.


More kickers with unfavorable matchups
1. Ryan Longwell vs. Giants: New York has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points (5.9 PPG, 15/18 FGA) to kickers.
2. Garrett Hartley at Panthers: Carolina has allowed an average of 6.2 fantasy points per game to kickers in 2009.
3. Shayne Graham at Jets: New York has surrendered an average of 5.7 fantasy points per game to kickers in 2009.
4. Kris Brown vs. Patriots: New England has allowed the fewest fantasy points (5.1 PPG) to kickers this season.
5. Mike Nugent vs. Packers: Green Bay has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points (5.3 PPG) to kickers.

Owners beware: Lawrence Tynes at Vikings: Minnesota has allowed an average of 6.6 fantasy points to kickers.


Defenses -- Start 'Em

Team Player

49ers defense
If you're in need of a defensive unit to start in Week 17, the 49ers are a solid option against the St. Louis Rams. Outside of RB Steven Jackson, the Rams are devoid of any offensive firepower with QB Keith Null at the helm. Furthermore, they've averaged a mere 14.1 points per game on the road this season. I see the Niners as a top-five option.


More defenses with favorable matchups
1. Ravens defense at Raiders: Defenses facing Oakland have scored the sixth-most fantasy points this season.
2. Broncos defense vs. Chiefs: Kansas City has averaged just 16.1 PPG and 264.3 total YPG on the road this season.
3. Chargers defense vs. Redskins: Defenses facing Washington have scored the fourth-most fantasy points in 2009.
4. Titans defense at Seahawks: Seattle has allowed 38 sacks and thrown 18 interceptions in 15 games this season.
5. Colts defense at Bills: Defenses facing Buffalo have scored the third-most fantasy points per game in 2009.

Sleeper alert: Bears defense at Lions: Defenses facing Detroit have scored the second-most fantasy points.


Defenses -- Sit 'Em

Team Player

Panthers defense
The Panthers defense has played well in recent weeks, averaging 18 points on NFL.com over its last two games. But based on a matchup against the Saints, this unit should be reserved in most leagues. No team has scored more points on the road than New Orleans, which has averaged 35.1 points and 408.1 total yards per game.


More defenses with unfavorable matchups
1. Giants defense at Vikings: Defenses facing Minnesota have scored just 8.1 fantasy points per game in 2009.
2. Cardinals defense vs. Packers: Green Bay has averaged 29.9 PPG and 409.0 total YPG on the road this season.
3. Steelers defense at Dolphins: Miami has averaged a solid 27.6 PPG and 377.0 total YPG at home in 2009.
4. Cowboys defense vs. Eagles: Philadelphia has averaged 28.6 PPG, 343.6 YPG in road games this season.
5. Seahawks defense vs. Titans: Defenses facing Tennessee have scored the fourth-fewest fantasy points in 2009.

Owners beware: Eagles defense at Cowboys: Dallas has averaged 25.0 PPG and 392.7 YPG at home this season.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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