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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 3

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 LeSean McCoy will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Note: All starts and sits in this column are based on NFL.com's standard scoring system (non-PPR).

Start of the week

Stevan Ridley vs. Oakland Raiders: I know, trying to predict who is going to see the touches in New England's backfield is close to impossible. (Thanks, Bill Belichick for hating our fantasy teams). Still, I'm keeping Ridley (and Shane Vereen) active against the Raiders. Their defense has surrendered the third-most fantasy points (28.90 PPG) to opposing runners after two weeks.

Start 'em

Rashad Jennings vs. Houston Texans: Jennings has had a nice start to the season, posting 205 scrimmage yards with one touchdown and 24.50 fantasy points. He's also seeing the lion's share of the backfield touches in New York with 42 after two games. I like him against the Texans, who have allowed an average of close to 18 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2014.

Joique Bell vs. Green Bay Packers: Bell has had an inconsistent start to the season from a fantasy football perspective, but he's still quite an attractive No. 2 running back or flex starter this weekend. That's due in large part to a favorable matchup against the Packers, who have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points (27.70 PPG) to opposing running backs so far this season.

Ahmad Bradshaw at Jacksonville Jaguars: How's this for a stat: Bradshaw, who is still a free agent in most NFL.com leagues, has more fantasy points than all but seven running backs after two weeks. He's proven to be a better and more explosive runner than Trent Richardson, and this week's matchup against the Jaguars is favorable. Consider Bradshaw a nice flex starter across the board.

Sleeper alert - Knile Davis at Miami Dolphins: If Jamaal Charles (ankle) is out, Davis will take over the featured backfield role for coach Andy Reid. That's huge for his future fantasy appeal and makes him a virtual must-start runner in Miami. In their last nine home games, the Dolphins have surrendered 130-plus rushing yards six times to go along with nine rushing touchdowns.

Sit of the week

Montee Ball at Seattle Seahawks: It's going to be tough to sit Ball, who was a first- or second-round pick in most drafts, but this week's matchup in Seattle is anything but favorable. Over their last 13 home games, the Seahawks have allowed just one 100-yard runner and a mere three rushing touchdowns. That includes games vs. Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Chris Johnson.

Sit 'em

Frank Gore at Arizona Cardinals: Speaking of Gore, this week's matchup against the Cardinals makes him a risk in fantasy land. After two weeks, a mere two defenses have surrendered fewer fantasy points to running backs than Arizona. Furthermore, Gore has rushed for fewer than 75 yards with just one rushing touchdown in each of his last five road games against this NFC West opponent.

Toby Gerhart vs. Indianapolis Colts Gerhart has been a disappointment, scoring a combined 7.40 fantasy points in his first two games as the top back in Jacksonville. This week's matchup against the Colts looks good on paper, but 33 percent of the 57 fantasy points their defense has allowed to runners has come in the form of receiving yards. Gerhart is more of a pounder, and still a risk.

Jonathan Stewart vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Stewart has a good matchup against the Steelers, who have struggled to stop running backs this season. But with veteran DeAngelo Williams expected to come back from an injured thigh, Stewart is almost guaranteed to see his touches decline in this matchup. Fantasy owners should be able to do better than Stewart, even as a potential flex starter.

Owners beware - C.J. Spiller vs. San Diego Chargers: To be honest, there isn't a big-name runner with a bad matchup outside of Ball who I would sit this week. I will give you a bit of a warning on Spiller, though. In his last 12 home games, he has rushed for 100-plus yards just once and has found the end zone just twice. That sort of trend makes Spiller more of a flex option.

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!

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