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
Andrew Luck vs. Tennessee Titans: Luck is coming off a monster stat line against the Detroit Lions, and this week's matchup against the Titans makes him an attractive fantasy option once again. Their defense has allowed 24 touchdown passes this season, which is tied for second most in the league. Luck also scored just under 17 fantasy points against them back in Week 8.
Josh Freeman vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Freeman is a terrific fantasy option this week, as he faces an Eagles defense that has allowed 25-plus fantasy points to quarterbacks in each of the last three weeks. What's more, this defense has surrendered 15-plus fantasy points to field generals in each of their last seven games. Look for Freeman to join that list this week.
Eli Manning vs. New Orleans Saints: Manning has been anything but consistent over the last several weeks, but I still like him against the Saints. Their defense has allowed more fantasy points to quarterback on the road (22.16 PPG) than any other team in the league, which makes Manning quite an interesting choice. He could be in for a solid fantasy line for sure.
Russell Wilson vs. Arizona Cardinals: This week's matchup against the Cardinals isn't good on paper, but look at Wilson's recent totals. He has scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games, once of which came on the against the Chicago Bears. Wilson has also put up 16-plus fantasy points in each of his last three games at home, so he's been consistent.
Sleeper alert - Colin Kaepernick vs. Miami Dolphins: Kaepernick had a mediocre stat line last week, but I'm sticking with him against the Dolphins. While this unit can be tough on the run, the Fish have also allowed the fifth-most passing yards and an average of just under 17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. That makes the Nevada product a viable sleeper pick.
Quarterbacks - Sit of the week
Philip Rivers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 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 six of his last seven games. The Steelers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks at home, so the matchup isn't very good for Rivers either.
Joe Flacco at Washington Redskins: Flacco does have a good matchup on paper, but he's a real risk on the road. In fact, he has scored 15-plus fantasy points just once in six starts away from home this season. Furthermore, he needed an overtime period to find that level of success against the San Diego Chargers. I just can't recommend Flacco in this contest.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. St. Louis Rams: You might look at this matchup and think that the Amish rifle is a nice start. Think again. The Rams have actually been pretty stout against the pass in road contests, allowing an average of just over 13 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. That makes Fitzpatrick more of a risk in the first round of the postseason.
Chad Henne vs. New York Jets: Henne has seen his fantasy point totals decline in each of the last three weeks, and I think that trend will continue against the Jets. Their defense has been tough against opposing quarterbacks, allowing an average of right around 13 fantasy points per game to the position overall. That makes it tough to trust Henne as a starter.
Owners beware - Tony Romo at Cincinnati Bengals: I have Romo in several leagues, and I am playing him ... but I have some concern about it. The Bengals have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on their home field. What's more, Peyton Manning is the lone signal-caller to score more than 14 fantasy points against them overall since Week 7.
Running backs - Start of the week
C.J. Spiller vs. St. Louis Rams: Spiller saw fewer touches than Fred Jackson last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that was due to the wet weather conditions. I think he'll lead his team in touches against the Rams, who have allowed the third-most total touchdowns and an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs overall.
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. New Orleans Saints: Bradshaw has produced two nice stat lines in a row, including a 103-yard performance last week against the Washington Redskins. He's also back to dominating the touches with Andre Brown out, so Bradshaw is a safer fantasy option. The vet also has a great matchup against a Saints defense that hasn't been able to stop the run.
Steven Jackson at Buffalo Bills: Jackson, who is in a contract year, has been playing well in recent weeks. In fact, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games. He's a solid fantasy option against the Bills, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to running backs at home this season. Consider Jackson a nice No. 2 option.
Michael Turner at Carolina Panthers: Turner has not been the most consistent runner in fantasy land, but he still has a nose for the end zone and remains a nice option against a weak opponent. That's the case against the Panthers, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to backs overall. Turner also put up 23.10 fantasy points against them back in Week 4.
Sleeper alert - Shonn Greene at Jacksonville Jaguars: Greene has been losing some carries to Bilal Powell in recent weeks, but I'd still roll the dice with him as a flex starter against the Jaguars. Their defense has allowed 13 total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and the Jets will need to run to find success this week.
Running backs - Sit of the week
Ryan Mathews at Pittsburgh Steelers: My ride on the Ryan Mathews bandwagon is at an end. The talented runner hasn't posted double-digit fantasy points since Week 5, and a difficult matchup against the Steelers doesn't bode well for a reversal of fortunes. In fact, no defense has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs at home than Pittsburgh.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Atlanta Falcons: On paper, this is a good matchup. But here's my question - can you trust Williams in Round 1 of the fantasy postseason? Even with Jonathan Stewart out of action, the veteran out of Memphis has scored a combined 10.70 fantasy points in his last three games. Williams couldn't even exploit a poor Chiefs run defense in Week 13.
Beanie Wells at Seattle Seahawks: Wells was a fantasy flop last week, posting meager totals against what has been a poor Jets run defense. I'd keep him on the bench against the Seahawks, who have allowed fewer than 16 fantasy points to running backs in every home game that wasn't against Adrian Peterson. Unless you're desperate for a starter, Wells should be benched.
Alex Green vs. Detroit Lions: It looks like Green is once again the featured back in Green Bay, as James Starks suffered an injured knee last weekend. While that improves his overall value, does anyone remember how poorly he played in that role earlier in the year? Green also faces a Lions defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to backs on the road.
Owners beware - Reggie Bush at San Francisco 49ers: Bush has had just one good stat line in recent weeks, and an upcoming matchup against the Niners is not favorable. Since 2011, their defense has allowed an average of 75 rushing yards, 6.66 fantasy points and no touchdowns to runners the week after a loss. San Francisco lost last week, so Bush is likely to lose now.
Wide receivers - Start of the week
Marques Colston at New York Giants: Colston was hot earlier in the season, but he has averaged just eight fantasy points over his last four games. I think he'll rebound this week, though, as Colston faces a great matchup against the Giants. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers at home than the G-Men, making Colston a very attractive starter.
Randall Cobb vs. Detroit Lions:Jordy Nelson is dealing with a bum hamstring, and Greg Jennings has just one game under his belt after an extended absence from the gridiron due to an injured groin. That's good news for Cobb, who should see more than his share of targets in the pass attack from Aaron Rodgers. This game could be a shootout, so look for Cobb to produce.
Hakeem Nicks vs. New Orleans Saints: Nicks has been a major disappointment in standard leagues, scoring double-digit fantasy points just once since Week 2. He has seen an up tick in catches, though, catches 19 passes in the last three weeks. Nicks also has a tremendous matchup against the Saints, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers on the road.
Torrey Smith at Washington Redskins: While I don't trust Joe Flacco on the road, that doesn't mean Smith isn't a viable fantasy starter. It's tough to ignore his matchup against the Redskins, who have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers at home. The Skins have also allowed the second-most yards to wideouts overall, so Smith should do well.
Sleeper alert - Jeremy Maclin at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Maclin has been difficult to trust this season, but I'd roll the dice on him against the Buccaneers. Their defense has given the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers at home and the most overall. Nick Foles will look to Maclin often with DeSean Jackson out of action, so he's a viable No. 3 option.
Wide receivers - Sit of the week
Larry Fitzgerald at Seattle Seahawks: It's tough to bench Fitzgerald, but look at the numbers. A total of 37 wide receivers have more fantasy points than the struggling star. He has a combined five catches, 65 yards and no touchdowns in his last three games, and there's no end in sight to his statistical decline. The return of John Skelton is a positive, but a small one.
Miles Austin at Cincinnati Bengals: Austin scored 10.60 fantasy points last weekend against the Eagles, but that was his first double-digit performance since Week 8. What's more, Austin has scored once in his last five games. Another reason to fear him is a matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts at home.
Dwayne Bowe at Cleveland Browns: Want two reasons to bench Bowe? Brady Quinn and Joe Haden. Bowe has been a fantasy disaster in recent weeks, scoring no more than 6.50 points in a single game since Week 4. The Browns have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wideouts at home this season, and Haden is a big part of that statistic. That makes Bowe a real risk.
Justin Blackmon vs. New York Jets: Just a few weeks ago, Blackmon was one of the hot names off the fantasy waiver wire. That was before he put up a nine-yard stinker last week in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. This week he faces the Jets and CB Antonio Cromartie, who has become a top cover cornerback. Even if Cecil Shorts is out, I don't trust Blackmon this weekend.
Owners beware - Mike Wallace vs. San Diego Chargers: The return of Ben Roethlisberger makes Wallace a bit more attractive. Still, the wideout has scored double-digit fantasy points just once in his last seven games and is averaging a dreadful 3.27 points in his last four contests. If you do decide to start Wallace, don't expect a big statistical output.
Tight ends - Start of the week
Owen Daniels at New England Patriots (Mon.): Daniels, who has re-emerged into a top fantasy option at his position in 2012, is a must-start option this week against the Patriots. Their defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends at home this season. The P-Men are also tied for the third-most touchdown catches allowed to tight ends overall.
Aaron Hernandez vs. Houston Texans (Mon.): Hernandez hasn't been great in his return from an injured ankle, but he's going to see more than his share of targets this week with both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on the sidelines. The Texans have also allowed an average of right around eight fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, so start Hernandez.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Chicago Bears: In the absence of Percy Harvin, Rudolph has become the top option in the red zone for Christian Ponder. In fact, the Notre Dame product has scored one touchdown and double-digit fantasy points in three straight games while Harvin has been on the sidelines. Rudolph needs to be considered a No. 1 fantasy option while he's on a hot streak.
Jermichael Finley vs. Detroit Lions: Finley has been a major disappointment in fantasy circles, but this week's matchup against the Lions makes him a legitimate option. Their defense has given up the third-most fantasy points to tight ends on the road (10.35 PPG) in 2012. What's more, Finley posted 66 yards and scored one touchdown against them back in Week 11.
Sleeper alert - Dennis Pitta at Washington Redskins: Pitta has alternated good and bad stat lines in recent contests, and he's on the positive side of that trend this week. He also has a great matchup against the Redskins, who have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends at home than any other team in the league. Pitta is a free agent in a ton of NFL.com leagues.
Tight ends - Sit of the week
Brandon Pettigrew at Green Bay Packers: Pettigrew could see more targets with the duo of Ryan Broyles and Titus Young on injured reserve, but I don't like this matchup. The Packers have held him to 27 or fewer yards in three of their last four meetings, and he's never scored a touchdown in his career against them. Green Bay has also been tough on tight ends overall this year.
Vernon Davis vs. Miami Dolphins: I'm putting Davis here with the hope that I jinx him and he posts a huge stat line (yes, I have him in an important league). Let's look at his latest totals though. Aside from his 14.30-point performance against the Chicago Bears, Davis has not scored more than four points in a game since Week 5! Start Davis with extreme caution.
Jared Cook at Indianapolis Colts: Cook hasn't lived up to expectations, ranking just 16th in fantasy points among tight ends. I don't see this week's matchup against the Colts as his turning point either, as their defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends at home. Not to mention, Cook scored just 4.5 fantasy points against them in Week 8.
Tony Moeaki at Cleveland Browns: Moeaki has posted some good stat lines in recent weeks, none better than his 11.40-point performance against the Carolina Panthers. Still, I can't trust him to remain hot against the Browns. Their defense has allowed just three scoring catches and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends overall this season.
Owners beware - Antonio Gates at Pittsburgh Steelers: Gates has scored a combined 7.90 fantasy points in his last three games, so he's been anything but reliable in recent weeks. His struggles could continue against the Steelers, who have been tough on tight ends. In fact, this unit has given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position at home this season.
Kickers - Start of the week
Matt Bryant at Carolina Panthers: Bryant has emerged into one of the top kickers in all of fantasy football, averaging an impressive 10.58 fantasy points per game. His success should continue against the Panthers, who have allowed the most points to kickers overall. Bryant also put up 12 fantasy points against Carolina in their first meeting of the season.
Justin Tucker at Washington Redskins: One of the five best kickers based on fantasy points, Tucker has emerged into a solid option for owners in 2012. He's a tremendous option in Week 14 against the Redskins, who have surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers overall. Tucker is still a free agent in plenty of NFL.com leagues as well.
Connor Barth vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Believe it or not, but Barth has come out and become a top-four kicker in fantasy land this season. He's been on fire in recent weeks, scoring an average of 11.25 fantasy points in his last four games. The Eagles have given up a pile of fantasy points to kickers, so Barth is once again in a good position to find success.
Sleeper alert - Adam Vinatieri vs. Tennessee Titans: Vinatieri hasn't been the most reliable kicker in fantasy football, but you can use him when the matchup is favorable. That's the case this week, as he goes up against a Titans team that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers overall (9.75 PPG). Vinatieri is a free agent in most leagues.
Kickers - Sit of the week
Greg Zuerlein at Buffalo Bills: Zuerlein posted 10 fantasy points last week in a win over the San Francisco 49ers, but that was his first double-digit performance since Week 7. His totals could come crashing back down to earth this week against the Bills, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to kickers at home in 2012. That makes "Legatron" a real risk.
Nick Novak at Pittsburgh Steelers: Novak was a popular sleeper once Nate Kaeding went down with an injury, but he's failed to meet expectations. In fact, the veteran hasn't scored double-digit points in a game since Week 4. His fortunes aren't likely to change against the Steelers, who have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to kickers at home this year.
Alex Henery at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Henery has averaged a solid 9.50 fantasy points in his last two weeks, but his string of success could come to an end against the Buccaneers. Their defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing kickers at home and just 15 field-goal conversions overall. That makes Henery someone to avoid if at all possible.
Owners beware - Blair Walsh vs. Chicago Bears: Walsh has developed into a nice fantasy option, ranking in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. However, this week's game against the Bears is not a favorable one. Chicago has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to kickers overall and held Walsh to just four fantasy points earlier this season.
Defenses - Start of the week
Seahawks defense vs. Arizona Cardinals: If you have the Seahawks defense on your 2012 fantasy roster, consider it a must start this weekend. Teams had been feasting on the Cardinals offense (or lack thereof) and Ryan Lindley, scoring a combined 46 fantasy points over the last three weeks. I don't think the return of John Skelton makes this matchup any less favorable.
Browns defense vs. Kansas City Chiefs: While this unit has been inconsistent overall, the Browns still have a pretty respectable defense from a fantasy perspective. In fact, I'd start them against the Chiefs in what is a very favorable matchup. Opposing home defenses that have faced this offense have combined to score the second-most fantasy points this season.
Buccaneers defense vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The Buccaneers don't have an elite defense from a fantasy perspective, but it's tough not to love this week's matchup against the Eagles. With rookie Nick Foles under center and limited offensive options, this team has been one to target in the defensive matchups in recent weeks. The Bucs are available in most leagues.
Sleeper alert - Jaguars defense vs. New York Jets: If you have watched the Jets on offense this season, you know exactly why I have the Jaguars listed as a sleeper. Opposing defenses have combined to score the fourth-most fantasy points against the Men in Green this season, and that's with Mark Sanchez at quarterback. He'll remain the starter this weekend too.
Defenses - Sit of the week
Texans defense at New England Patriots (Mon.): The Texans defense is coming off a huge fantasy performance, scoring 22 points in a win over the Tennessee Titans. However, a similar stat line can't be expected against the Patriots on Monday night. In fact, opposing defenses facing the Patriots in New England have averaged less than two fantasy points per game.
Cardinals defense at Seattle Seahawks: Like the Texans, the Cardinals are coming off a huge fantasy line in Week 13. And, like Houston, this week's matchup is a whole lot tougher. Defenses that have faced Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Seattle have combined to average fewer than five fantasy points per game, so look elsewhere for a defensive solution.
Eagles defense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What has happened to the Eagles? In less than two seasons, this unit has gone from being projected as a top fantasy defense to becoming an absolute mess. There's no break in sight, either, as Philadelphia faces a Buccaneers offense next on the schedule that has not been a good matchup for opposing defenses this season.
Owners beware - Ravens defense at Washington Redskins: Despite all of their injuries, the Ravens have still remained a nice fantasy option this season. Still, facing Robert Griffin III on the road is not an attractive matchup. In fact, opposing defenses that have faced the Skins have combined to score the fifth-fewest fantasy points at the position overall in 2012.