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
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.
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.