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 Arian Foster will not be featured in this column. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.
Quarterbacks - Start of the week
Cam Newton at Kansas City Chiefs: Newton is once again in the good graces of fantasy football owners, scoring 18-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games overall. He should be in all starting lineups against the Chiefs, who have surrendered an average of over 18 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on their home field.
Tony Romo vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles defense has been awful in recent weeks, allowing over 30 fantasy points to quarterbacks in their last two games. What's more, opposing signal-callers have scored 15-plus fantasy points against them in their last six games overall. That makes Romo well worth starting in most fantasy leagues this week.
Andy Dalton at San Diego Chargers: Dalton has been on absolute fire for owners in recent weeks, putting up 20-plus fantasy points in three straight games. The Chargers also have allowed 20 or more fantasy points to each of the last three quarterbacks to face them, so Dalton has a chance to keep up the stat-sheet success in this AFC battle.
Matt Schaub at Tennessee Titans: Schaub has not been the most consistent player in fantasy land, but he has scored 18-plus points in three of his last five starts overall. He also has a great matchup this weekend against the Titans, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to quarterback on their home field this season.
Sleeper alert - Colin Kaepernick at St. Louis Rams: Kaepernick has scored close to 40 combined fantasy points in his last two games, so his value is on the rise. Assuming he remains atop the 49ers' depth chart, he should post a great total against a Rams defense that has allowed an average of 17.82 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks at home.
Quarterbacks - Sit of the week
Philip Rivers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: If we have learned anything about Rivers this season, it's that you can't trust him to post good totals. In fact, he's posted fewer than 15 fantasy points in five of his last six games. The Bengals have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks overall, so the matchup isn't good for Rivers either.
Josh Freeman at Denver Broncos: It's very hard to bench a quarterback who has been as good as Freeman, and you shouldn't do it without a viable alternative. Just keep in mind that the Broncos defense has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers, so Freeman is no lock to rebound from last week's weak stat line.
Joe Flacco vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Flacco has been a good fantasy option at home overall, but this week's matchup against the Steelers makes him a risk. In four career home games against them, the veteran has averaged just 224 yards with five touchdowns. Pittsburgh has also had one of the toughest defenses against quarterbacks in 2012.
Russell Wilson at Chicago Bears: A sleeper last week, Wilson had a terrific stat line with over 20 fantasy points against the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, he's likely to struggle this week against the Bears. Their defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks at home, so Wilson could be in for a difficult afternoon.
Owners beware - Eli Manning at Washington Redskins: This is a great matchup on paper, as the Redskins have been brutal against the pass in 2012. Just keep these nuggets in mind - Manning has 13 touchdown passes in 16 career games against the Skins. He also has just eight scoring passes and six interceptions in eight career games in Washington.
Running backs - Start of the week
Trent Richardson at Oakland Raiders: Anyone who saw BenJarvus Green-Ellis run all over the Raiders last week know how vulnerable that unit is to backs. That makes Richardson an absolute must-start in all fantasy leagues. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs at home, so look for T-Rich to run wild.
C.J. Spiller vs. Jacksonville Jaguars:Bills coach Chan Gailey named Spiller his starter this week, adding that he should also see 60 percent of the snaps. That's more than enough for the explosive Clemson product, who faces a Jaguars defense that has surrendered 12 total touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs overall.
Mikel Leshoure vs. Indianapolis Colts: Leshoure has been more consistent in recent weeks, scoring double digits in three of his last four games while scoring a combined five touchdowns in those contests. I'd start him as a No. 2 back or flex against the Colts, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to running backs on the road in 2012.
Beanie Wells at New York Jets: Wells returned to action with a bang last week, scoring two touchdowns and double-digit fantasy points against the St. Louis Rams. He'll remain a viable flex option this weekend against the Men in Green, who have surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs (22.43 PPG) at MetLife Stadium.
Sleeper alert - Bryce Brown at Dallas Cowboys: Brown went off last week, leading all runners in fantasy points in the absence of LeSean McCoy. Assuming McCoy is out once again, Brown is a terrific option against the Cowboys. Their sagging defense has allowed 16-plus fantasy points to running backs in each of their last four games overall.
Running backs - Sit of the week
Shonn Greene vs. Arizona Cardinals: Greene has fallen into a deep statistical slumber, scoring fewer than seven fantasy points in each of his last three games while also losing carries to Bilal Powell. The Cardinals have given up just five rushing touchdowns to running backs all season, so Greene isn't in a good position to reverse his fortunes.
Ryan Mathews vs. Cincinnati Bengals: This week's matchup against the Bengals isn't favorable or unfavorable, but you just can't trust Mathews as anything more than a risk-reward flex option. He's scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in each of his last six games and hasn't scored a single touchdown since Week 5. The bloom is off the rose right now.
Knowshon Moreno vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Moreno posted a nice stat line last week, scoring 11.10 fantasy points in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, an upcoming matchup against the Buccaneers isn't as favorable. No defense in the league has allowed fewer rushing yards to running backs, so Moreno is lock to find success again.
Rashard Mendenhall at Baltimore Ravens: Reports out of Pittsburgh suggest that Mendenhall has fallen to third on the Steelers depth chart behind Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, so he needs to be benched (or even released) in fantasy leagues. In fact, it's hard to trust any one of the three Steelers running backs in what has become a committee.
Owners beware - Steven Jackson vs. San Francisco 49ers: I know, Jackson went off for the 101 rushing yards, one touchdown and 18.70 fantasy points against the Niners in Week 10. However, I don't see him having a second big stat line against a defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on the road in 2012.
Wide receivers - Start of the week
Dez Bryant vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Bryant, the start of the week in Week 12, is back in the saddle with a nice matchup against the Eagles. The third-highest scoring player at his position in the last four weeks, Bryant should see plenty of targets against the Eagles with Miles Austin injured. He had 14.70 fantasy points against them in Week 10.
Hakeem Nicks at Washington Redskins: Nicks appears to be healthier than he's been all season long, posting a combined 21.20 fantasy points in his last two games. The Redskins have given up the third-most fantasy points to wideouts at home this season, and Nicks has at least five catches in each of his last three meetings against them overall.
Eric Decker vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Decker's stock has tumbled in recent weeks, as he's failed to score more than 8.50 fantasy points in three straight contests. I'd still start him against the Buccaneers, though. Their defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers on the road, so Decker has a good chance to succeed.
Steve Johnson vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Johnson has been a nice PPR option in recent weeks, catching a combined 18 passes for 271 yards over his last three games. While he hasn't found the end zone since Week 7, Johnson does face a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts on the road this season.
Sleeper alert - Cecil Shorts at Buffalo Bills: Can you even consider Shorts a sleeper anymore? Regardless, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and five of his last six overall. The Bills have given up 14 touchdowns to wideouts this season - that's tied for the seventh-most in the NFL - so Shorts needs to be active.
Wide receivers - Sit of the week
Larry Fitzgerald at New York Jets: It's tough to bench Fitzgerald, but look at the numbers. A total of 48 wide receivers, including Brandon Stokley and Donald Jones, have more fantasy points. He has averaged 3.8 catches, 39.4 yards and scored one touchdown over the last five weeks too. Oh, and Ryan Lindley remains the Cardinals quarterback. Ouch.
Dwayne Bowe vs. Carolina Panthers: Want two reasons to bench Bowe? Brady and Quinn. You get the idea. Bowe has been a fantasy disaster in recent weeks, scoring no more than 6.50 points in a single game since Week 4. The Panthers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers on the road, which is just another reason to bench Bowe.
Jeremy Maclin at Dallas Cowboys: I know, Maclin's best fantasy stat line in the last five weeks has come against the Cowboys. But with DeSean Jackson out for the season, Maclin is going to see a lot of CB Brandon Carr this week. And unless Michael Vick returns to action, rookie Nick Foles will get the call once again. That's not good for Maclin.
Brandon Lloyd at Miami Dolphins: I thought Lloyd would thrive once again under OC Josh McDaniels. Instead, he has scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last seven contests. While he would have a bit more value if the Patriots were without Julian Edelman, it's tough to start Lloyd with any kind of confidence at this point in time.
Owners beware - Mike Wallace at Baltimore Ravens: Barring a miraculous return, Ben Roethlisberger is going to miss another contest. That's bad news for Wallace, who has been invisible in the stat sheets over the last three weeks. What's more, the Ravens held him to just 24 yards and 0.40 fantasy points back in Week 11. Proceed with caution.
Tight ends - Start of the week
Owen Daniels at Tennessee Titans: Daniels, who has re-emerged into a top fantasy option at his position, is a must-start this week against the Titans. Their defense has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points and eight touchdown catches to tight ends overall. Daniels also smashed them for 13.20 fantasy points back in Week 4.
Antonio Gates vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Gates posted back-to-back double-digit fantasy point totals in Weeks 9-10, only to score a combined three fantasy points in his last two games. That's frustration for owners! I'd stick with him, though, as the Bengals have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the road this season.
Jermaine Gresham at San Diego Chargers: While his numbers aren't eye popping, Gresham has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among tight ends over the last four weeks. The Chargers have allowed the ninth-most points to the position at home, which is enough for me to consider Gresham a pretty nice option at what has become a porous tight end spot.
Dallas Clark at Denver Broncos: Look who's back? Clark, a former fantasy star, has recorded six-plus fantasy points in three straight games (that's good for a tight end this season). The Broncos have allowed the most fantasy points to the position overall, and Clark should be motivated to face his old quarterback, Peyton Manning, this weekend.
Sleeper alert - Martellus Bennett at Washington Redskins:Fantasy owners desperate for a tight end should give Bennett a look off waivers. No team has allowed more fantasy points to the position in home games than the Redskins (11.86 PPG). What's more, Bennett put up a solid 7.9 fantasy points against them in their first meeting of the season.
Tight ends - Sit of the week
Brandon Pettigrew vs. Indianapolis Colts: Pettigrew has had a forgettable fantasy season in standard leagues, scoring nine or more fantasy points just once. He's also scored fewer than six fantasy points in five of his last seven contests. The Colts have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends overall, so Pettigrew is a real risk.
Heath Miller at Baltimore Ravens: Miller had been one of the best tight ends in fantasy land a few weeks ago, but that was before Ben Roethlisberger's absence. Over the last four weeks, the veteran has averaged a meager 4.50 fantasy points while failing to find the end zone even one time. The Ravens also held him to just 22 yards back in Week 11.
Brent Celek at Dallas Cowboys: Celek put up 157 yards against the Baltimore Ravens back in Week 2. Since then, he has averaged 34 yards and has found the end zone once. Among those performance was a 3.1-point dud against this week's opponent, the Cowboys. Simply put, it's almost impossible to trust Celek as a fantasy starter at this point in time.
Dennis Pitta vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Pitta has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games, so his value is back on the rise overall. However, it's still tough to recommend him this week against the AFC North rival Steelers. Their defense has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends overall this season.
Owners beware - Brandon Myers vs. Cleveland Browns: It's tough to bench Myers, who has scored the second-most fantasy points at his position over the last four weeks. Just keep in mind that the Browns have allowed just two scores and the fewest fantasy points to tight ends overall in 2012. That makes Myers somewhat of a risk as a No. 1 option.
Kickers - Start of the week
Shayne Graham at Tennessee Titans: Graham has quietly become a nice option in fantasy leagues. He ranks in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position, though he remains a free agent in most leagues on NFL.com. He has a nice matchup against the Titans, who have given up more fantasy points to kickers at home than any other team in the entire NFL.
Lawrence Tynes at Washington Redskins: Tynes, shockingly still a free agent in more than 30 percent of NFL.com leagues right now, is the top-scoring kicker based on fantasy points. He should continue to find success against the Redskins, who have allowed 22 field-goal conversions and the seventh-most fantasy points to kickers in 2012.
Dan Bailey vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Bailey has been on fire of late, scoring the second-most fantasy points at his position over the last four weeks. His success should continue against the Eagles, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers. Bailey is also still a free agent in over 25 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Sleeper alert - Rian Lindell vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: If you want to take a chance on a kicker off the waiver wire this week, consider Lindell. He has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed an average of over nine fantasy points to kickers on the road and over 10 points to the position overall. Lindell is on most waiver wires.
Kickers - Sit of the week
Greg Zuerlein vs. San Francisco 49ers: "Legatron" has slowed down in recent weeks, putting up a combined 15 fantasy points in his last four games. He's also scored double-digit points just once in his last six contests. The Niners have given up the fewest fantasy points to kickers on the road, so a change of fortunes doesn't seem imminent.
Rob Bironas vs. Houston Texans: Bironas was listed as a start 'em last week, and he responded with a solid 13 fantasy points. Unfortunately, this week's matchup against the Texans isn't a favorable one. In fact, Houston has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to kickers on the road. Bironas also had just two points against them in Week 4.
Mike Nugent at San Diego Chargers: Nugent, also listed as a start 'em last week, posted a terrific 12 fantasy points. But like Bironas, he's just a matchup-based starter. This week, Nugent faces a Chargers team that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers overall. That means it's back to the waiver wire for Nugent.
Owners beware - Connor Barth at Denver Broncos: Barth has been fantastic in fantasy land, ranking sixth in points at his position after 12 weeks. Just keep in mind that this week's matchup against the Broncos is a difficult one. This unit is tied with the Browns for the fewest fantasy points allowed to kickers at home so far this season.
Defense - Start of the week
Jets defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: As long as Ryan Lindley is the quarterback in Arizona, the Cardinals are going to be a great matchup for opposing fantasy defenses. That was apparent last week, as the St. Louis Rams scored 23 fantasy points against them. This week Lindley faces the Jets, who should be active in all fantasy leagues.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Cowboys defense hasn't been consistent in terms of fantasy points, but it's tough not to like this weekend's matchup against the Eagles. Opposing defenses have combined to score the second-most fantasy points when facing this team. Also, the 'Boys put up 24 points against them back in Week 10.
Cardinals defense at New York Jets: The Jets defense has a great matchup against Lindley and the Cardinals, but Arizona's defense is also a stellar option in fantasy leagues against Mark Sanchez's offense. Opposing defenses that have faced the Men in Green at MetLife Stadium have combined to score the sixth-most fantasy points this season.
Sleeper alert - Panthers defense at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs continue to stroll out Brady Quinn under center, so opposing defenses should continue to feast in the fantasy stat sheets. In fact, opposing defensive units have combined to score the third-most fantasy points at the position when facing the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Defense - Sit of the week
Steelers defense at Baltimore Ravens: Remember when the Steelers had a great fantasy defense? Well, this unit is just 25th in fantasy points at the position right now. Opposing defenses that have faced the Ravens in Baltimore have put up an average of one fantasy point per game, so clearly this version of the Steel Curtain needs to be sidelined.
Rams defense vs. San Francisco 49ers: As I mentioned earlier, the Rams put up a huge total last week against the Cardinals. Too bad the Niners come to town this week. Opposing defenses playing on their home field have combined to average a mediocre 6.40 fantasy points when facing the 49ers, so don't look for St. Louis to make much noise.
Bills defense vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Opposing defenses facing the Jaguars have combined to score the eighth-most fantasy points at the position overall. However, home defenses have put up the fourth fewest versus Jacksonville. Strange trend, right? Regardless, the Jags offense has been much better with Chad Henne under center.
Owners beware - Giants defense at Washington Redskins: The G-Men have one of the top-scoring defenses in fantasy land right now, but this week's matchup against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins isn't favorable. In fact, opposing defenses have combined to score the fifth-fewest fantasy points when facing Washington overall this season.