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 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: The top rookie running back in fantasy football, Richardson's breakout performance came earlier this season against, you guessed it, the Bengals. The Alabama product went for over 140 total yards and found the end zone twice, scoring 26.50 fantasy points in the process. He's a must-start runner in all leagues this week.
Michael Turner vs. Oakland Raiders: Reports of Turner's demise were greatly exaggerated, and I was one of the fantasy analysts who doubted him. But after five weeks, he's 12th in fantasy points among running backs. He should be active in most leagues against the Raiders, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to runners. Turner also thrives at home.
Reggie Bush vs. St. Louis Rams: The Rams held Ryan Williams and the Cardinals' runners to minimal stats in Week 5, but the Cardinals' can't run the ball to save their life. On the flip side, Bush has become a solid option for fantasy owners and the centerpiece of the Dolphins' offense. Expect him to post a nice stat line against this average St. Louis run defense.
Willis McGahee at San Diego Chargers: Surprisingly, McGahee rans in the top 15 in fantasy points among runners. This week he faces the Chargers, a team he has posted good totals against in the past. In fact, McGahee rushed for 100-plus yards in two games against them last season. The Bolts have also allowed four runners to score double-digit fantasy points in 2012.
Sleeper alert- BenJarvus Green-Ellis at Browns: The Law Firm has been a disappointment this season, but I would still start him against the Browns. Cleveland fields one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and Green-Ellis figures to see plenty of work with Bernard Scott out for the season. Consider him a nice No. 2 runner or flex option this weekend.
Sit of the week
Steven Jackson at Miami Dolphins: Did you know that 30 running backs, including backup Brandon Bolden, have more fantasy points than Jackson this season? He's become a shell of his former statistical self, and this week's road matchup against the Dolphins is anything but favorable. Miami has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to runners in 2012.
Ahmad Bradshaw at San Francisco 49ers: Bench Bradshaw? He had 200 rushing yards and a touchdown last week! Well, last week he didn't face the 49ers. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs, and no back has scored a touchdown against them in 2012. If you are forced to start Bradshaw, don't expect much in terms of numbers.
Fred Jackson in Arizona Cardinals: Jackson, one of the top-scoring running backs in fantasy football last season, has failed to make an impact in 2012. In fact, the veteran has scored a combined 9.30 fantasy points in his last two games. He's also losing carries to C.J. Spiller, and this weekend's matchup against the Cardinals is anything but favorable.
Alex Green at Houston Texans: Green is the favorite to start in place of Cedric Benson, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy will go with the hot hand between Green and James Starks. That makes this backfield a risk, and that's without the prospect of facing the Texans. Their defense has surrendered the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Owners beware - Stevan Ridley at Seattle Seahawks: Ridley has been a statistical monster in 2012, ranking fifth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com. So while it is tough to sit him during the bye weeks, keep in mind that the L.S.U. product has to face a Seahawks defense that has allowed an average of just 9.02 fantasy points per game to runners.