Manning could be a fantasy football giant in Week 4

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at weekly matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy team. Sleeper alert features a player who's under the radar and could produce good numbers. Owners beware features a player who's a regular fantasy starter but could fail to meet expectations. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Eli Manning at Cardinals: Manning shocked the world with a huge performance against the Eagles last week, despite the fact that two of his top wide receivers were out. With Mario Manningham back and a game against the Cardinals next, Manning is a terrific fantasy option. The Red Birds have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks - start 'em

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Bengals: Fitzpatrick has started the season like a house afire, throwing for 841 yards and nine touchdown passes. Next on the schedule is a meeting with the Bengals, who have been solid against quarterbacks on paper but have yet to face a signal-caller of Fitzpatrick's caliber. Keep him active while he's white hot.

Matt Schaub vs. Steelers: The Steelers have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, so how can Schaub be a start 'em? Well, this once Steel Curtain has faced Tarvaris Jackson and Kerry Collins among their three opponents. The one legit signal-caller they have faced, Joe Flacco, lit them up for 20.96 fantasy points in Week 1.

Cam Newton at Bears: Newton didn't put up enormous numbers in Week 3, but the fact that he scored 15.02 fantasy points on NFL.com in a game that was marred with heavy rain is quite notable. Next on the schedule is a road game at Soldier Field, where he'll face a Bears defense that has allowed an average of close to 300 passing yards per game.

Matt Ryan at Seahawks: Ryan has been a major disappointment, ranking a pedestrian 21st in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. I still like him against the Seahawks, though. Their pass defense is ranked 10th in the league, but Ben Roethlisberger and Kevin Kolb averaged a stout 275 passing yards against them the last two weeks.

Sleeper alert - Rex Grossman at Rams: The favorable matchups continue for Grossman, as he'll face the defensively deficient Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Coach Steve Spagnuolo's team has allowed an average of 21.72 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks as the fourth-highest total in the NFL after three weeks.

Quarterbacks - sit 'em

Joe Flacco vs. Jets: Flacco has alternated good and bad fantasy performances -- if this trend continues, he'll put up a stinker against the Jets. That's not out of the question, either, as the Men in Green have allowed the fewest fantasy points (7.59 PPG) to opposing signal-callers. I'd expect more of Ray Rice and less of Flacco.

Josh Freeman vs. Colts (Mon.): It has not been a memorable start to the season for Freeman, who ranks 22nd in points at his position on NFL.com. This week he'll face the Colts, who have given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Until Freeman shows some real signs of life, it's a good idea to keep him sidelined.

Kevin Kolb vs. Giants: Despite all of the injuries the Giants have suffered on the defensive side of the football, quarterbacks are still averaging a mediocre 13.49 fantasy points against them. That's bad news for Kolb, who has also seen a decline in fantasy production in each of his first three games as the starter in Arizona.

Matt Hasselbeck at Browns: Hasselbeck has scored an impressive 51.98 fantasy points, but he's lost his top receiving option with Kenny Britt now out of action. Believe it or not, 44 percent of Hasselbeck's passing yards and all of his touchdown passes in his first two starts went to Britt. I'd keep him on the sidelines.

Sam Bradford vs. Redskins: You can't talk about disappointing quarterbacks without mentioning Bradford, who has been outscored by 28 of his fellow signal-callers (even Andy Dalton and Tarvaris Jackson have more fantasy points). This week he'll face a tough Redskins defense, making Bradford a risky proposition for owners.

Owners beware - Tony Romo vs. Lions: Romo put in a gutty performance against the Redskins, but he also failed to score double-digit fantasy points in the contest. With Miles Austin still sidelined and a date with the aggressive Lions pass rush up next, it's hard to envision a scenario where Romo makes a major fantasy impact.

Running backs - start 'em

Fred Jackson at Bengals: He's not Thurman Thomas just yet, but Jackson is proving to be a terrific back -- both on the field and in fantasy circles. On pace for 1,600-plus rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns, the Coe College product figures to find continued success against a questionable Bengals run defense.

Tim Hightower at Rams: A preseason sleeper on NFL.com, Hightower is 11th in fantasy points among runners after three weeks. He could improve on that status against the Rams, who have surrendered an average of 25.33 fantasy points to backs -- that's the fourth-most in the league. Consider Hightower a viable No. 2 option.

Ryan Mathews/Mike Tolbert vs. Dolphins: In the last two games, Mathews has become the Chargers featured back -- he's seen 43 touches in that time, compared to Tolbert's 24. If Mathews (hamstring) is active, it's a good idea to ride him while he's hot. But if the Fresno State product is out of action, owners should lean on Tolbert.

Cedric Benson vs. Bills: Benson will not be suspended for this week's game against the Bills, so he becomes a terrific option from a fantasy perspective. Buffalo's defense has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to runners, which makes him a nice bet to post good totals. Benson will be a solid No. 2 back or flex starter.

Sleeper alert - James Starks vs. Broncos: With Ryan Grant ailing, Starks is in line to see a ton of carries against the Broncos. In fact, he should see the featured role for coach Mike McCarthy. That's good news for the Buffalo product, who faces a Denver defense that can be vulnerable to the run. He's a nice flex option.

Running backs - sit 'em

Felix Jones vs. Lions: It's odd to write, but the Lions are now a defense you want to avoid in fantasy matchups. Through three weeks, this unit has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. That's bad news for Jones, who looked good against the Redskins but continues to deal with a bum shoulder.

Ben Tate vs. Steelers: The return of Arian Foster from an injured hamstring has Tate's value in a state of decline. Even if last year's fantasy star is limited in Week 4, Tate still won't see enough touches to make him safe to start in most leagues, especially against the Steelers. I'd keep the Auburn product on the fantasy pine.

DeAngelo Williams at Bears: I'm officially worried about Williams, who has done a Houdini act in the first three weeks of the season. He hasn't rushed for 100 yards in his last 12 games and has one touchdown since Nov. 8, 2009. (No, that's not a misprint). Jonathan Stewart is now the better of the Panthers' two fantasy backs.

Mark Ingram at Jaguars: Ingram has yet to make a major impact as a rookie, averaging 5.5 fantasy points on NFL.com. He'll continue to share the workload with Darren Sproles (the only Saints back to trust) and Pierre Thomas, and a matchup against the Jaguars and their suddenly impressive run defense isn't favorable.

Knowshon Moreno at Packers: Moreno was active last week for the Broncos, but it was Willis McGahee who saw most of the backfield burn for coach John Fox. Whether the Georgia product is more involved in the offense this week remains to be seen, but fantasy leaguers simply can't trust him -- especially against the Packers.

Owners beware - Shonn Greene at Ravens: Greene, ranked 26th in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com, is someone to avoid this week. Not only is he losing snaps to LaDainian Tomlinson on passing downs, but he's also going up against a Ravens defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to backs.

Wide receivers - start 'em

Hakeem Nicks at Cardinals: Over the last two weeks, Nicks has scored a combined 12.3 fantasy points on NFL.com. But now's not the time to throw in the towel on the Giants wideout. In fact, he's still a must-start against the Cardinals and their vulnerable pass defense. Be sure to keep him in your lineup moving forward.

DeSean Jackson vs. 49ers: What do Victor Cruz, Jabar Gaffney, Early Doucet and Brian Hartline have in common? They all have more fantasy points than Jackson. But much like the case with Nicks, it's not time to pull the plug. Instead, keep Jackson active against the Niners and their vulnerable pass defense this week.

Santonio Holmes at Ravens: Have you ever heard the old saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease?" Holmes complained about the offense after last week's loss to the Raiders. so I expect him to get his looks against the Ravens. Their defense has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to wideouts, so keep Holmes active.

Santana Moss at Rams: Moss is off to a nice start in 2011, ranking 24th in fantasy points among wide receivers on NFL.com. He should add to his status against the Rams, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points (30.17 PPG) to opposing wide receivers. Consider the veteran a borderline No. 2 or 3 option this week.

Percy Harvin at Chiefs: If there's a week where you should roll the dice on Harvin, it's this week against the Chiefs. Their pass defense has been questionable at best, and CB Brandon Flowers is dealing with an ankle injury. Harvin, who was involved in 74.5 percent of the offensive snaps last week, is a nice No. 3 option.

Sleeper alert - Denarius Moore vs. Patriots: Moore had just 34 receiving yards against the Jets last week, but his stat line was saved by a 23-yard touchdown run on a reverse. A talented playmaker, the rookie out of Tennessee has some obvious deep-league sleeper appeal against the Patriots and their questionable pass defense.

Wide receivers - sit 'em

Dwayne Bowe vs. Vikings: It's tough to sit a player like Bowe, and you shouldn't unless you have depth at wide receiver. But before last week, the Vikings had held the opposition's No. 1 wideout to a combined 3.10 fantasy points. Calvin Johnson did light them up last week, but clearly Bowe is no Megatron in fantasy land.

Anquan Boldin vs. Jets: Anquan, welcome to Revis Island. If you're like most wide receivers, your stay won't be pleasant. The Jets might have some problems against the run this season, but their pass defense is still one of the league's best. That's bad news for Boldin, who will battle CB Darrelle Revis all night long.

Mike Williams vs. Colts (Mon.): Don't look now, but Williams might be in the beginning stages of a sophomore slump for fantasy owners. He's hauled in just 10 passes after three weeks, and 27 wide receivers have more targets to this point. Consider him no more than a No. 3 option against the Colts on Monday Night Football.

Sidney Rice vs. Falcons: Rice made a triumphant return to the gridiron last week, catching eight passes for 109 yards in a win over the Cardinals. Of course, Arizona has one of the most vulnerable pass defenses in the league. The Falcons need a win this week, so look for their defense to step up and keep Rice in check.

Nate Washington at Browns: Washington was one of the top pick ups off the waiver wire this week, but that doesn't mean you should start him against the Browns. CB Joe Haden is turning into one of the league's top cornerbacks, and Britt is no longer on the field to draw defenses. That's not good for Washington's value.

Owners beware - Brandon Lloyd at Packers: The Packers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, so Lloyd's matchup is favorable on paper. But with CB Tramon Williams back on the field and Dom Capers calling the defensive shots, Green Bay isn't about to let Lloyd beat them. He's a shaky fantasy play.

Tight ends - start 'em

Jimmy Graham at Jaguars: Graham, a preseason sleeper on NFL.com, has more than met expectations this season. In fact, he's fourth in fantasy points at his position. With a favorable matchup against the Jaguars on the horizon, it's going to be difficult to keep Graham out of your starting lineup.

Vernon Davis at Eagles: Davis rebounded from a terrible start to the season, posting 114 yards in a win over the Bengals. Now the unquestioned top option in the pass attack for Alex Smith, Davis should continue to see his share of targets against an Eagles defense that's typically struggled to stop opposing tight ends.

Greg Olsen at Bears: Ranked 10th in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com, Olsen has become a popular target in the pass attack for Newton. Next on the slate is a revenge game of sorts, as Olsen will face the team that traded him, the Bears. Their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Sleeper alert - Jermaine Gresham vs. Bills:Fantasy owners looking for a one-week option at tight end should consider Gresham. Tied for seventh at his position with 21 targets, the Oklahoma product has become a reliable option for rookie Andy Dalton. Gresham also faces a Bills defense that struggles against the pass.

Tight ends - sit 'em

Kellen Winslow vs. Colts (Mon.): Winslow has had an unspectacular start to the 2011 season, scoring a combined 13 fantasy points in his first three games. What's more disturbing is that rookie Luke Stocker is starting to see more targets in the pass attack. At this point, Winslow needs to be on the fantasy sidelines.

Marcedes Lewis vs. Saints: Lewis was one of fantasy's top-scoring tight ends in 2010. But this season, a combined 44 players at his position have scored more fantasy points. The Saints have been vulnerable to tight ends, but can Blaine Gabbert get the Jags into a position to use Lewis in the red zone? It won't be often.

Chris Cooley at Rams: Is Cooley back on the fantasy radar after being targeted more times than Fred Davis last week? I doubt it. In fact, I'd still start the USC product ahead of Cooley if given the option. The Rams have also allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year, making Cooley even less attractive.

Owners beware - Dallas Clark at Buccaneers (Mon.): Clark has been a major disappointment with Kerry Collins under center, so how do you think he'll fare if the Colts have to use Curtis Painter? I wouldn't drop Clark altogether, but the loss of Peyton Manning has turned him from fantasy superstar and into a mere mortal.

Kickers - start 'em

Jason Hanson at Cowboys: Hanson, 41, has shown that even the oldest kickers can make an impact in fantasy land. In fact, he's posted consecutive double-digit performances. With the Lions offense clicking on all cylinders and a matchup against the Cowboys next, Hanson needs to be added and active across all leagues.

Neil Rackers vs. Steelers: Once considered the top fantasy kicker as a member of the Cardinals, Rackers is back among the elite players at his position. The veteran has converted on nine field goals in three weeks and should add to his solid totals against the Steelers. Rackers should be active in most formats.

Rob Bironas at Browns: Unlike Hanson and Rackers, Bironas has not had the best start to 2011. He's 20th in fantasy points at his position while hitting just 71.4 percent of his field goal attempts. Still, Bironas is worth a roll of the dice against the Browns -- no team has allowed more fantasy points to kickers.

Sleeper alert - Connor Barth vs. Colts (Mon.): If you need to add a kicker off the waiver wire and Hanson isn't available, take a chance on Barth. He's ranked 13th in points at his position, and this week's opponent, the Colts, are tied for fifth in allowing the most fantasy points to opposing kickers this year.

Kickers - sit 'em

Matt Bryant at Seahawks: Bryant was highly ranked from a fantasy perspective during the preseason, but he's an awful 25th in points at his position after three weeks. The Seahawks have allowed an average of around eight fantasy points to kickers this season, so owners should be able to find a better option for Week 4.

Nick Folk at Ravens: Folk, who finished in the top five in fantasy points at his position last season, is once again among the league leaders. However, this week's road matchup against the Ravens is anything but favorable. In fact, they have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers after three weeks.

Alex Henery vs. 49ers: Without question, Henery has the potential to be a No. 1 fantasy kicker. But after three weeks, he's just 16th in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. Couple that with a matchup against the 49ers, who have been tough on kickers in 2011, and Henery clearly becomes someone to avoid in Week 4.

Owners beware - Robbie Gould vs. Panthers: A veteran from Penn State, Gould has averaged a meager six fantasy points over the last two weeks. What's more, he's just 15th in fantasy points at his position. The Panthers have allowed an average of 7.33 fantasy points to kickers, so the matchup isn't favorable either.

Defenses - start 'em

Falcons defense at Seahawks: Last season, any defense that faced the Panthers was considered to have a great matchup. Now it's the Seahawks, who have no semblance of an offense and can make any defense look like great. This week the Falcons are visiting the Great Northwest, so don't be shy about starting this unit.

Redskins defense at Rams: The Rams offense hasn't been as explosive as we thought it would be under new coordinator Josh McDaniels. In fact, opposing defenses facing them have averaged the second-most fantasy points at the position after three weeks. Enter the Redskins, who have starting value based on his matchup.

Buccaneers defense vs. Colts (Mon.): Whether it's Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky, the Colts offense is going to continue to sputter along in the absence of Peyton Manning. That makes the Buccaneers a nice starting option from a defensive perspective, especially in front of a national TV audience.

Sleeper alert - Vikings defense at Chiefs: Remember when the Vikings were one of the elite defenses in fantasy football? That was then and this is now, but at least for one week I'd roll with the new Purple People Eaters. Defenses facing the Chiefs have averaged the fifth-most fantasy points at the position.

Defenses - sit 'em

Patriots defense at Raiders: The Patriots were the top-scoring defense in fantasy football last season. After the first three weeks of 2011, this unit is an awful 22nd at the position on NFL.com. Facing the Raiders and Darren McFadden isn't an attractive prospect, either, so keep the P-Men out of your lineup.

49ers defense at Eagles: Did you know that the Niners are tied with the Ravens as the top-scoring defensive unit on NFL.com? Still, I'd keep this team on the sidelines against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. With Michael Vick expected to start, you likely won't find fantasy gold with this unit in Week 4.

Cowboys defense vs. Lions: How's this for a stat -- after three weeks, defensive teams facing the Lions have averaged the fifth-fewest fantasy points. That's right, the Lions! This stat is bad news for the Cowboys, who will struggle to stop Matthew Stafford and an offense that's becoming one of the NFL's elite.

Owners beware - Steelers defense at Texans: Sit the Steelers defense? Well, I think you have to consider it. This unit is just 19th in fantasy points at the position on NFL.com, and this week's matchup in Houston is not at all attractive. In fact, defenses facing the Texans have scored minimal fantasy points.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com or tweet it at Michael_Fabiano!

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