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.
Start of the week
Matt Ryan at Washington Redskins: How good has Ryan been this season? Well, Robert Griffin III is the lone player in the entire league to score more fantasy points after four weeks. This week, the Boston College product goes up against a Redskins defense that has allowed 10 touchdown passes and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers. Consider Ryan an absolute must start.
Peyton Manning at New England Patriots: Manning is back! Or at least he sure looked like it in last week's blowout win over the Oakland Raiders. Next on the schedule is a road date with the Patriots, who have allowed an average of more than 19 fantasy points to quarterbacks. In their last two games, the P-Men have surrendered a combined 48.98 fantasy points (24.49 PPG) to signal-callers.
Eli Manning vs. Cleveland Browns: Manning is on pace to record a ridiculous 5,280 yards and 28 touchdown passes based on his current totals. He should increase that rate of production against the Browns, who have struggled to stop the pass in the absence of their superstar CB Joe Haden. In fact, their defense has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing signal-callers in 2012.
Philip Rivers at New Orleans Saints: Rivers has not had a good start to the season. That's obvious if you look at the numbers, as he's 21st in fantasy points among quarterbacks after four weeks. Still, I'd give him the nod if you don't have an elite option based on this week's matchup against the Saints. Their defense has been brutal, allowing an average of 20.60 points to quarterbacks.
Sleeper alert - Andy Dalton vs. Miami Dolphins:Aaron Rodgers. Matthew Stafford. Michael Vick. Both Mannings. Those are just a few of the quarterbacks with fewer fantasy points than Dalton. The Texas Christian product has averaged well over 20 fantasy points in his last three games, so don't be afraid to start him against a Dolphins defense that ranks just 19th in total pass defense.
Sit of the week
Matt Schaub at New York Jets (Mon.): The Jets defense has become a Swiss cheese unit when it comes to stopping the run. After four weeks, the Men in Green have allowed the second-most rushing yards and the sixth-most fantasy points to runners. On the flip side, the Jets have allowed the ninth-fewest points to quarterbacks. That means a huge night for Arian Foster. Not so much for Schaub.
Ryan Fitzpatrick at San Francisco 49ers: Fitzpatrick is one of the top eight quarterbacks in fantasy football based on points, but he also leads the NFL in interceptions. He could add to the latter category against the 49ers, who have allowed an average of just 15.18 fantasy points to quarterbacks. This unit also held Matthew Stafford to 12.20 points in its lone home game of the season.
Jay Cutler at Jacksonville Jaguars: Cutler is coming off a good stat line against the Dallas Cowboys, posting 17 fantasy points in a Monday night win. However, he's been inconsistent overall this season. In fact, he scored a combined 9.36 fantasy points in his previous two starts. The Jaguars have allowed just four touchdown passes in their first four games, so Cutler could post a meager line.
Matt Cassel vs. Baltimore Ravens: Cassel had a hot start to the season, scoring a combined 34.86 fantasy points against the Atlanta Falcons and Bills. Since then, he's had two forgettable performance and could soon start losing some snaps to Brady Quinn. Not good. Cassel also has a brutal matchup against the Ravens, who have allowed an average of 14.21 fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Owners beware - Ben Roethlisberger vs. Philadelphia Eagles: It's tough to bench a player like Roethlisberger during the bye weeks, and you shouldn't do it unless you have a viable alternative. Just keep in mind that the Eagles have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2012. Also, their defense has held Big Ben to under 185 passing yards in two career meetings.