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
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Seahawks: Roethlisberger put up a big stinker against the Ravens last week, and his next opponent, the Seahawks, allowed just 13.16 fantasy points to Alex Smith. So how is Big Ben the start of the week? Simple -- the Niners have no pass attack, and the Steelers are going to be ticked off after getting hammered last week. I'd look for Roethlisberger to go for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Quarterbacks - start 'em
Matthew Stafford vs. Chiefs: Stafford was my top breakout candidate during the preseason, and he sure looked the part in dismantling the Buccaneers in Week 1. Now he'll face a home game against the Chiefs, who made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Jim Kelly in their home opener. Unless you have an elite quarterback on your roster, there is no reason not to start Stafford -- this kid is that good, and the Lions are throwing the ball a ton.
Matt Schaub at Dolphins: Did you happen to see what Tom Brady did to the Dolphins defense last week? If you missed it, he threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns. Now I'm not saying that Schaub is going to put up the same sort of numbers, he has no chance. But I guarantee that Texans coach Gary Kubiak looked at how the Pats spread the Fins out and exploited their defensive backfield. That's good news for Schaub and company.
Rex Grossman vs. Cardinals: I listed Grossman as a sleeper in this spot last week, and he put up 305 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Giants. Now the Florida product faces the Cardinals, who surrendered record-breaking numbers to rookie Cam Newton (422 yards, 3 TDs) in their opener. Grossman is an experienced veteran who is comfortable in coach Mike Shanahan's offense, so don't be afraid to start him for a second week.
Jay Cutler at Saints: Cutler can be inconsistent at times, but you have to roll the dice on him when the matchup is favorable. That's the case in Week 2, as Cutler and the Bears head to New Orleans to face a Saints defense that looked bad against the pass in Week 1. That was against Aaron Rodgers, granted, but Mike Martz should be able to spread the Saints out throughout the contest. This could be a real shootout in the Superdome.
Josh Freeman at Vikings: As bad as Freeman was last week, he still managed to score a respectable 14.56 fantasy points. Next on the schedule is a game against the Vikings, who allowed better than 17 fantasy points to Philip Rivers in the opener. With a defense that is playing at less than 100 percent, the Vikes suddenly seem like a unit that fantasy owners should target when looking at the matchups. That makes Freeman a nice option.
Sleeper alert - Mark Sanchez at Jaguars: A sleeper on NFL.com last week, Sanchez overcame a slow statistical start to post a solid 17.70 fantasy points in a win over the Cowboys. The GQ cover boy will get another nice matchup in Week 2, facing a Jaguars defense that allowed better than 17 fantasy points to Matt Hasselbeck in the opener. Look for Sanchez to find success against what is a questionable Jacksonville back four this week.
Quarterbacks - sit 'em
Matt Cassel at Lions: How bad was Cassel last week? Let's put it this way -- rookie Andy Dalton finished with more fantasy points, and he missed a good portion of the week due to injury! I wasn't a fan of Cassel in the preseason due to the departure of OC Charlie Weis, and I wouldn't start him now against an improved Lions defense that put Freeman through the ringer in their opener. Look for another bad line for Cassel in this game.
Sam Bradford at Giants (Mon.): There's no doubt that Bradford has major upside, but can you trust a quarterback who's less than 100 percent that also lost his top option in the pass attack? I can't. Sure, this is a great matchup on paper against the G-Men and their injury-riddled defense. But with Danny Amendola out and OT Jason Smith dealing with an injured ankle, I'd be concerned about Bradford's chances of putting up nice totals.
Chad Henne vs. Texans: Henne was awesome for the Fins and the 0.4 percent of NFL.com fantasy owners who started him last week. The question is, can he have another solid performance against a Texans pass defense that looked good in its first game under new DC Wade Phillips? OK, it was against Kerry Collins and a punchless Colts offense. But there's something to be said for confidence, which this unit now has -- so I'd beware of Henne.
Donovan McNabb vs. Buccaneers: I'm not sure what has happened to McNabb, but he looked like a shell of his former self against the Chargers last week. Granted, the Bolts did have the NFL's best defense in 2010. But to put up 39 passing yards in a game for a quarterback like McNabb is an embarrassment. Until he can turn things around, there's no way McNabb should be even close to anyone's starting lineup this weekend against the Bucs.
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Ravens: Hasselbeck put up a nice stat line against the Jaguars last week, but keep in mind that 80 yards and one of his two touchdown passes came on a lucky flip pass that Kenny Britt caught and took to the house. The veteran won't be as lucky against the Ravens, who held Roethlisberger to a mere 6.1 fantasy points in Week 1. That might be a good prediction for what Hasselbeck scores against them this weekend.
Owners beware - Cam Newton vs. Packers: Bench Newton after he scored 30.68 fantasy points in his first-ever NFL start? Am I nuts? Maybe a little, but that start came against a terrible Cardinals pass defense that allowed Steve Smith to get open all afternoon. If Newton can have a great stat line against the Super Bowl champion Packers, I'll give him more fantasy respect. But for now, I'd keep him on the sidelines in most leagues.
Running backs - start 'em
Peyton Hillis at Colts: Hillis' first stat line of the season was anything but impressive, as he rolled for just 57 rushing yards and failed to score a touchdown against the Bengals of all teams. But now is not the time to lose faith in the Madden cover man. In fact, Hillis should be active across the board against a Colts defense that hasn't been able to stop the run in what seems like forever -- Ben Tate proved that in Week 1.
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Rams (Mon.): In his first game of the 2011 season, Bradshaw posted an unimpressive 11.4 fantasy points in a win over the Redskins. Of course, the G-Men were forced to throw the football often, so he saw a mere 13 carries in the contest. That number should increase on Monday night, though, as Bradshaw faces a questionable Rams defense that surrendered 27.10 fantasy points to the Eagles running backs in their opener.
Beanie Wells at Redskins: One of my favorite preseason sleepers, Wells scored the sixth-most fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com in Week 1. With no one to steal backfield carries in the offense for coach Ken Whisenhunt, the Ohio State product should continue to shine between the white lines. The Redskins, who can be vulnerable to the run, won't be a major obstacle as Wells takes one step closer to being a fantasy stalwart.
Tim Hightower vs. Cardinals: The Cardinals allowed just eight fantasy points to the Panthers running backs last week, but that wasn't as impressive a feat when you consider that Newton was throwing the ball with so much success. Hightower, who will be very motivated to stick it to the team that traded him after the lockout, should find plenty of holes in the line of scrimmage and utilize his skills as a one-cut runner all afternoon.
Cedric Benson at Broncos: Benson opened the regular season on a high note, rushing for 121 yards and one touchdown in what you would call a surprising win over the Browns. Now the veteran out of Texas goes up against the Broncos, who surrendered 28 fantasy points to the Raiders running backs in their Monday night opener. That's good news for Benson, who should be considered a viable No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter across the board.
Sleeper alert - James Starks at Panthers: It looks like the Packers are leaning toward using Starks as the more prominent back in their rotation, as he saw 45 snaps in their Week 1 opener against the Saints compared to 16 for Ryan Grant. With a favorable matchup against the Panthers next on the slate, Starks is suddenly worth a look as a potential flex starter in most leagues. He's clearly a better option than Grant right now.
Running backs - sit 'em
Shonn Greene at Jaguars: Greene was thoroughly unimpressive in his season debut, rushing for 2.6 yards per carry while scoring an awful 3.3 fantasy points and being outplayed by LaDainian Tomlinson for most of the contest. I'm not sold on the Jaguars run defense being as good as their Week 1 numbers -- Chris Johnson seemed to be limited as he came back from a holdout -- but starting Greene comes with risk until he makes a little noise.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Packers: I'm officially worried about Williams, who did nothing against a bad Cardinals defense and is now in a major statistical funk. He hasn't rushed for 100 yards in his last 10 games and has scored one touchdown since Nov. 8, 2009. (No, that's not a misprint.) With Jonathan Stewart stealing carries and a matchup against the Packers next on the schedule, it's hard to advise starting the veteran back.
Mark Ingram vs. Bears: I think Ingram is going to be the best fantasy runner in the Saints backfield by season's end, but right now it's tough to use him as more than a flex starter. He rushed for a mere 40 yards against the Packers and was third in terms of snaps played behind Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. His role as a goal-line back makes it tough to bench him altogether, but Ingram is a risk against a tough Bears defense.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis vs. Chargers:Danny Woodhead, not Green-Ellis, led the Patriots in carries in the team's opening night win over the Dolphins. And he didn't just inch out the Law Firm, either -- Woodhead doubled his number of rushing attempts. If that's not enough to make you bench Green-Ellis, also consider that he's going up against a Chargers defense that held Adrian Peterson to a mere 98 rushing yards in Week 1.
Marshawn Lynch at Steelers: Don't be fooled by Ray Rice's impressive stat line against the Steelers last week -- this defense is still stout, and they'll prove it in their home opener against the Seahawks. With a questionable line in front of him and no help from Tarvaris Jackson and the pass attack, Lynch is going to be bottled up at Heinz Field. I'd avoid the veteran at all costs in what could be a blowout.
Owners beware - Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Jets: Most fantasy owners, including myself, can't afford to bench a player of MJD's caliber unless your backfield is loaded. Keep in mind, though, that coach Rex Ryan and the Jets are going to focus on stopping Jones-Drew in an offense with minimal offensive weapons. With CB Darrelle Revis covering Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis at less than 100 percent, "Pocket Hercules" could have a tough day.
Wide receivers - start 'em
Vincent Jackson at Patriots:Eddie Royal. Jason Avant. Darrius Heyward-Bey. Those are just some of the wideouts who scored more fantasy points than Jackson last week. But it's not time to panic or put him on your bench. In fact, this is a great week to start the veteran receiver against a Patriots defense that looked awful against the pass on Monday night. In a game that should light up the scoreboard, look for Jackson to shine.
Santonio Holmes at Jaguars: The Jags allowed a huge stat line to Britt in their opener, as he scored the third-most fantasy points among wideouts. That's due in large part to the team's suspect defensive backfield, which will no doubt be exploited by the Men in Green this weekend. That means big things from Holmes, who is clearly the team's best offensive playmaker. Keep tabs on his health status (knee, quad) before starting him, however.
Kenny Britt vs. Ravens: As I mentioned above, Britt is coming off a huge statistical performance against the Jaguars. But this week's matchup against the Ravens makes him more of a risk, right? Actually, I don't see it like that. The Ravens are far superior as a run defense, so I'd be shocked if Titans OC Chris Palmer didn't take several chances downfield and use Britt's size and athleticism to the offense's overall advantage.
Santana Moss vs. Cardinals: Moss had a respectable start to the season, catching six of the eight passes thrown in his direction for 76 yards in a win over the Giants. I think he can improve on those numbers and add a touchdown against the Cardinals, who made Steve Smith look like he had found the fantasy fountain of youth during the lockout. With Rex Grossman under center, Moss is a nice No. 2 or 3 fantasy option in most formats.
Mario Manningham vs. Rams (Mon.): Manningham posted a mediocre 49 yards against the Redskins, but I'd still keep the faith in this former Michigan Wolverine. Not only does he have a nice matchup against the Rams on Monday night, but Manningham might also be the top option in the pass attack for Eli Manning if Hakeem Nicks' bum knee keeps him out of action. Regardless, owners should keep Manningham in their starting lineup in Week 2.
Sleeper alert - Robert Meachem vs. Bears: Meachem had a nice start to the season, catching five passes for 70 yards with one touchdown against the Packers. Now that Marques Colston is out and Lance Moore is a major question mark, the Tennessee product should see more than his share of targets in the offense from Drew Brees. While the matchup against the Bears is a tough one, it's hard not to use Meachem as a solid No. 3 fantasy option.
Wide receivers - sit 'em
Chad Ochocinco vs. Chargers: Ochocinco might want to get back to work on OCNN, because his time as a viable fantasy option appears to be OVER. He played in just 18 of the Patriots 80 offensive snaps in Week 1 and was no better than the fifth-best option in the pass attack for Tom Brady. Until he shows some signs of knowing the offense or developing a rapport with his quarterback, Ochocinco needs to be left on the fantasy sidelines.
Mike Thomas vs. Jets: When Thomas lines up on the field this week, he's going to be looking Revis Island right in the face. And this island isn't an enjoyable destination for wide receivers. Thomas, who caught eight passes against the Titans, might struggle to haul in even half that total with Luke McCown under center and a stud like Revis blanketing him all afternoon. Thomas has no business being in starting lineups as a result.
Mike Sims-Walker vs. Giants (Mon.): Sims-Walker was invisible in his Rams debut, catching one pass for five yards while being targeted a mere four times. The Giants defense is at far less than 100 percent, but it should put more focus on keeping Sims-Walker from making an impact with Danny Amendola out of action. While I wouldn't give up on him just yet, MSW needs to do something on the field before fantasy owners can trust him.
Austin Collie vs. Browns: A preseason sleeper until the news about Peyton Manning came down, Collie didn't catch a single pass while being targeted just three times against the Texans. This week's matchup against the Browns isn't unattractive, but it's hard to roll the dice with Collie coming off such a bad week -- especially with Kerry Collins under center. He's no more than a risk-reward No. 3 fantasy wideout in larger leagues.
Julio Jones vs. Eagles: One of the top rookie wideouts in the league, Jones saw six targets and posted 71 yards in a loss to the Bears last week. Now he has an even tougher task, facing the Eagles and a corps of cornerbacks that includes Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel. While this game could turn into a shootout at the Georgia Dome, it's hard to look past what will be a daunting matchup for Jones.
Owners beware - Dwayne Bowe at Lions: It's tough to bench a player of Bowe's caliber, but how's this for a little statistical nugget? In his last six games dating back to last season, the talented L.S.U. product has scored seven or more fantasy points just once. When you also consider that Matt Cassel hasn't played well -- and the Lions defense will pressure him often -- it's pretty hard to predict a big game from Bowe in Week 2.
Tight ends - start 'em
Rob Gronkowski vs. Chargers: When was the last time a team had two viable fantasy starters at the tight end position? Well, that's the case in New England with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez who finished in the top three in fantasy points among tight ends in Week 1. The Chargers have struggled to keep the position in check in recent years, so it's a good idea to keep this dynamic fantasy duo active in what could be a serious shootout.
Owens Daniels at Dolphins: Daniels didn't have the most impressive stat line to begin the season, catching one pass for 12 yards and leaving fantasy owners with little to show for starting him. I'd keep him active in Week 2, however, as the veteran will face a Dolphins defense that allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends in the opener. With Kevin Walter injured, I'd look for Daniels to see more targets and post a nice stat line.
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Chiefs: Did you happen to notice what Scott Chandler (who?) did against the Chiefs last week? That two-touchdown performance makes Pettigrew an attractive option this week. Pettigrew, who had a sure touchdown fall through his hands against the Buccaneers, still recorded a decent stat line (four catches, 57 yards) overall. He'll be even better in Week 2, so consider him a low-end No. 1 fantasy option with upside.
Sleeper alert - Greg Olsen at Packers: Olsen was targeted six times and put up a respectable 78 yards in his first game with the Panthers, as Cam Newton looked to him often in the pass attack. This week's opponent, the Packers, have a more formidable defense but tend to struggle against tight ends. That was apparent in Week 1, as Jimmy Graham scored 11.60 fantasy points in the opener. If you need a tight end, Olsen is worth a look.
Tight ends - sit 'em
Brent Celek at Falcons: So much for getting Celek more involved in the offense this season. He was targeted three times in the opener, caught one pass and scored a mere 1.3 fantasy points on NFL.com. Those totals are a far cry from his 2009 totals, when he was considered one of the top tight ends in fantasy football. Until Michael Vick starts looking in his direction -- if he does at all -- Celek needs to be on the fantasy sidelines.
Zach Miller at Steelers: I have made it no secret that I want nothing to do with anyone in a Seahawks uniform. That includes Miller, who was targeted four times and finished with a mere two catches for 19 yards. In a game that could turn into a blowout against a Steelers team that was embarrassed on national television in Week 1, there's no reason to consider Miller in a prominent role for your team at this point -- or maybe ever.
Scott Chandler vs. Raiders: Chandler came out of nowhere to become the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football last week. So why in the world would you bench him? Well, Chandler's five catches against the Chiefs were more than he had produced in his entire career, and the two touchdowns were also his first scores. Until he puts together a few nice stat lines and shows a level of consistent production, I wouldn't trust Chandler.
Owners beware - Chris Cooley vs. Cardinals: Last week, Cooley was targeted just three times and finished with a meager 2.10 fantasy points. By comparison, Fred Davis saw six targets and went over 100 yards through the air. So despite the fact that Cooley might be the bigger name in fantasy land, it's the USC product whose value is on the rise. At this point, Cooley needs to be placed on the fantasy sidelines until further notice.
Kickers - start 'em
David Akers at Cowboys: Akers led all kickers in fantasy points last week, scoring an impressive 15 against the Seahawks. That's not to suggest that he'll put up another huge stat line against the Cowboys, but this is a team that's been known to allow a bunch of points to kickers. Consider Week 1, when the Pokes surrendered 13 fantasy points to Nick Folk on Sunday night. Akers is still a free agent in a lot of NFL.com leagues as well.
Alex Henery at Falcons: A rookie out of Nebraska, Henery opened the season with a mediocre seven fantasy points in a win over the Rams. Still, he's got a nice matchup ahead against a Falcons defense that gave up a ton of fantasy points to Robbie Gould last week. With Michael Vick at the helm and motivated to produce against his former team, Henery should see more than his share of opportunities to score points for fantasy leaguers.
Jason Hanson vs. Chiefs: Hanson, 41, opened his 20th NFL season with a solid nine fantasy points in a win over the Buccaneers. This week he'll be back on the turf at Ford Field against the Chiefs, who were ripped to shreds by Fitzpatrick and have lost SS Eric Berry for the season. With Stafford slinging the ball often, Hanson should find himself in a position to produce. He's still available in almost 90 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Sleeper alert - Shaun Suisham vs. Seahawks: There isn't a single member of the Steelers that isn't an attractive start in fantasy leagues, at least on some level, this week. That includes Suisham, who faces a Seahawks team that allowed more fantasy points to kickers than any other team in the league last week. So if you're searching the waiver wire and need a one-week option at the position, Suisham is well worth a look.
Kickers - sit 'em
Josh Scobee vs. Jets: Scobee was a surprise top producer among kickers last week, scoring 10 fantasy points as the Jaguars took out the Titans. But if you think he'll be able to duplicate that total against the Jets, well, you could be disappointed. Luke McCown and the offense will have a tough time moving the football against the Men in Green, who surrendered a meager six fantasy points to Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey in the opener.
Adam Vinatieri vs. Browns: A future Hall of Famer, Vinatieri suffered through a dreadful first week of the season. Not only did he score just one fantasy point, but he also missed the lone field goal he attempted in a loss to the Texans. With Kerry Collins at the helm and the promise of numerous scoring opportunities out the window, Vinatieri has quickly become a much less attractive option for fantasy owners early this season.
Jay Feely at Redskins: Outside of his monster performance against the Broncos last season, Feely hasn't been a very reliable fantasy kicker over his last several campaigns. He started 2011 on a low note with just four fantasy points in a win over the Panthers, and he might not do much better against the Redskins. Washington's defense surrendered just two fantasy points to the Giants and kicker Lawrence Tynes in their opening game.
Owners beware - Rob Bironas vs. Ravens: Once considered a viable No. 1 fantasy kicker, Bironas finished 13th in points at his position last season and opened the 2011 campaign with a two point stinker in a loss to the Jaguars. Bironas, who missed his only field-goal attempt in that contest, could be hard pressed to make an impact in Week 2 against LB Ray Lewis and the Ravens. They surrendered just one fantasy point to Suisham in Week 1.
Defenses - start 'em
Steelers defense vs. Seahawks: Did you start the Steelers defense last week and find yourself staring at a big, fat minus-three points? Well, that might be even more reason to stick with the Steel Curtain in Week 2. Not only will this unit be fired up to erase the memory of what was an embarrassing loss to the Ravens, but this week's matchup against mistake-prone Tarvaris Jackson and the hapless Seahawks offense is more than attractive.
Lions defense vs. Chiefs: The Lions defense didn't have the best start to the season from a fantasy perspective, scoring just seven points on NFL.com. That number should increase in Week 2, however, as DT Ndamukong Suh and his teammates face a Chiefs offense that scored a meager seven points against a far less formidable Bills squad. This should be a breakout performance for coach Jim Schwartz's crew, so don't be afraid to start them.
Cowboys defense vs. 49ers: While it's true that the Cowboys defensive backfield is littered with injuries, it's also true that this week's opponent, the 49ers, have some issues of their own on offense. Alex Smith and his squad couldn't move the ball on their home field against a mediocre Seahawks defense, so it's hard not to like the Pokes to rebound from a tough loss to the Jets. Their defense is still available in many leagues.
Sleeper alert - Buccaneers defense at Vikings: If you watched McNabb and the Vikings pass attack flounder last week, it's pretty apparent why the Buccaneers have some sleeper appeal in fantasy land. The veteran quarterback threw for 39 yards (no, that's not a misprint) and finished with a miserable passer rating of 47.9. I'd look for the Bucs to pressure McNabb often, which should result in opportunities to score for owners.
Defenses - sit 'em
Falcons defense vs. Eagles: The Falcons were supposed to be improved on the defensive side of the football with the addition of DE Ray Edwards, but instead it was picked apart by Cutler in the opener. Now these Dirty Birds head home to face Vick, who will no doubt be looking to make a statement in front of the fans in Atlanta. In a game that could turn into a major shootout, starting the Falcons defense is a very risky proposition.
Chargers defense at Patriots: The Bolts might have had the top-rated defense in the NFL last season, but the numbers go out the window -- and usually on to the scoreboard -- when the Chargers and Patriots hook up. With Tom Brady coming off a ridiculous 517-yard, four-touchdown performance and the New England defense surrendering 416 yards and three scores to Chad Henne, it's pretty tough to start either of these defenses in Week 2.
Chiefs defense at Lions: Remember when the Chiefs were considered an up-and-coming defense with the addition of Berry? Well, the talented safety is gone for the season with a torn ACL -- and this unit is coming off being shredded by a Bills offense that put 41 points on the board. With a tough road matchup against Stafford and an upstart Lions offense next on the schedule, the Chiefs should be far from fantasy lineups this weekend.
Owners beware - Bears defense at Saints: No one would argue that it's tough to bench the Bears defense, especially after it put up 24 fantasy points in a huge win over the Falcons. However, this week's game against the Saints is anything but favorable. Drew Brees and his talented offense will be looking to make a statement in their first home game, especially after losing the opener in Green Bay, so the Bears defense could disappoint.