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.
Start of the week
Patriots defense vs. Cleveland Browns: The Patriots were a disappointment for fantasy leaguers last week, but I would stick with them this week against the Browns. Cleveland's quarterback situation is a mess, and opposing defenses have combined to score the most fantasy points (19.3 PPG) against them over the last four weeks. (Maximum value: High DEF1)
Chiefs defense at Washington Redskins: The Chiefs used to be the unquestioned best defense in fantasy land, but this unit has struggled over the last several weeks. Still, owners should consider them a viable option against the Redskins -- defenses have combined to score the sixth-most fantasy points (9.5 PPG) against Washington this season. (Maximum value: Mid DEF1)
Ravens defense vs. Minnesota Vikings: The Ravens have alternated good and bad stat lines in the last five weeks. If this odd trend continues, this week will be a good time to start them. The matchup is quite favorable on paper too, as the Vikings have been one of the most favorable teams for home fantasy defenses based on points.(Maximum value: Low DEF1)
Sleeper alert - Raiders defense at New York Jets:Geno Smith has been an absolute turnover machine under center, making most defenses facing the Jets a viable option. In fact, defenses have combined to post the second-most fantasy points (13.3 PPG) against the Men in Green since Week 10. That makes the Raiders worth a look. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)
Sit of the week
Lions defense at Philadelphia Eagles: No defense scored more fantasy points last week than the Lions, who had 22 against the Green Bay Packers. With that said, owners can't expect the same sort of production in Philadelphia. In fact, defenses have combined to record the sixth-fewest fantasy points against the Eagles since Week 10. (Maximum value: Low DEF1)
Dolphins defense at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Dolphins were a sleeper in this column last week and responded with 17 fantasy points. Unfortunately, this week's matchup against a much tougher opponent isn't at all favorable. Defenses have combined to record a combined four fantasy points against the Steelers in the last four weeks. (Maximum value: High DEF2)
Titans defense at Denver Broncos: The Titans had some fantasy value earlier this season, but this unit hasn't scored more than seven fantasy points in a single game since Week 6. That streak is likely to continue against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who have been like kryptonite to the powers of fantasy defenses the entire season. (Maximum value: Low DEF2)
Owners beware - Panthers defense at New Orleans Saints: The Panthers have been fantasy gold this season, scoring the second-most points among defensive units. However, owners should keep in mind that opposing road defenses have combined to score the fewest fantasy points (1.6 PPG) when facing the Saints offense in 2013. (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**!