Start Em Sit Em

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 9

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 Adrian Peterson will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the week

Eddie Lacy vs. Chicago Bears: Lacy is getting his groove on in the stat sheets lately, scoring 56.20 combined fantasy points over the last four weeks. He should continue to thrive on Monday night against the Bears, who have surrendered more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league since Week 5. (Maximum value: High RB1)

Start 'em

DeMarco Murray vs. Minnesota Vikings: Murray (knee) is expected to return to the Cowboys backfield this weekend, and he should also be back in fantasy football lineups. The Oklahoma product has a favorable matchup against the Vikings, who have allowed more fantasy points (26.2 PPG) to opposing running backs on the road than any team. (Maximum value: High RB2)

Ryan Mathews at Washington Redskins: Mathews is on a hot streak, scoring 10-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games. That includes a 17-point explosion against the Jacksonville Jaguars before San Diego's bye. He's a nice option versus the Redskins, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points (25.4 PPG) to backs at home. (Maximum value: High RB2)

Stevan Ridley vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Invisible in the stat sheets earlier in the season, Ridley has scored a combined 48.20 fantasy points over the last four weeks and is back in the good graces of owners. He's a solid start against the Steelers, who have given up the seventh-most fantasy points (21.3 PPG) to running backs on the road. (Maximum value: High RB2)

Sleeper alert - Zac Stacy vs. Tennessee Titans: Stacy has been on real fire, scoring double-digit fantasy points in two straight games against two tough foes (Carolina, Seattle). He has a much easier matchup this week against the Titans, so get him into your starting lineup. Barring any setbacks in his return from a mild ankle ailment, Stacy is a strong option. (Maximum value: Low RB1)

Sit of the week

Trent Richardson at Houston Texans: Richardson's value was supposed to increase with the Colts, but he's done a nosedive instead. He's posted double-digit fantasy points just once with his new team, and that was against the lowly Jaguars. With a far more difficult matchup against the Texans ahead, Richardson is tough to trust for Week 9. (Maximum value: Mid RB2)

Sit 'em

DeAngelo Williams vs. Atlanta Falcons: Sitting Williams has less to do about the matchup and more to do with the return of Jonathan Stewart. In a backfield that is now swollen with Williams, Stewart and Mike Tolbert, not to mention a running quarterback in Cam Newton, it tough to promote anyone as more than a very weak flex starter. (Maximum value: High RB3)

Pierre Thomas at New York Jets: Thomas has been seeing more burn in the Saints offensive attack in recent weeks, but the increased work hasn't meant a major rise in his fantasy production. The veteran should be considered a risk against the Jets, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points (12.63 PPG) to opposing running backs. (Maximum value: Mid RB2)

Mike James at Seattle Seahawks: James will continue to start in the absence of an injured Doug Martin (shoulder), but starting for the Buccaneers and starting for your fantasy team are two different scenarios. Seattle's defense is absolutely nasty at home, allowing the fewest fantasy points (9.13 PPG) to opposing running backs this season.(Maximum value: Low RB3)

Owners beware - Steven Jackson at Carolina Panthers: Jackson returned last week after missing time with an injured hamstring, but you wouldn't know it based on his lack of production (1.30 fantasy points). The Panthers have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (10.5 PPG) to runners at home, so Jackson could be more trick than treat. (Maximum value: Mid RB2)

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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