Some things are too obvious.
Owners know to go with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson no matter what, regardless of whether he ends up getting them 329 yards or 29. That’s not up for debate.
When it comes to start ’em, sit ’em scenarios, only the toughest decisions need an examination. With fantasy juggernauts like Denver, Detroit and a host of others kicking back on a bye week, these decisions are more important than usual.
Here are a few scenarios owners should be aware of in a week that will surely divide the best from the rest.
Start ‘Em: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Russell Wilson has been an up-and-down producer for owners this year, and he likely has not lived up to his high draft position just yet.
Wilson has thrown for over 300 yards just once and tossed multiple touchdowns in four games—not exactly the elite No. 1 quarterback production some may have expected.
That will change in Week 9, as Wilson has a favorable matchup against Tampa Bay, which touts a defense that surrenders the eighth-most fantasy points to the position.
Wilson may have receiver Percy Harvin back in the fold, but owners should not base their decision on his status—Wilson will produce regardless.
Sit ‘Em Week: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Joe Flacco is a fantasy wasteland.
Not that owners necessarily expected Flacco to produce big fantasy numbers, but many took a flier on the $100 million man just in case.
Flacco has responded with just two games in which he has tossed multiple touchdowns, and he has completed just 59.5 percent of his passes. Against the No. 6 Browns pass defense, with just 216.8 yards allowed per game, owners must steer clear of Flacco once again.
Start ‘Em: Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers vs. Washington Redskins
As ESPN hints, Ryan Mathews is finally in the midst of a quality year:
Ryan Mathews is only NFL player with consecutive 100-yd rushing gms this season (19 occurrences of back-to-back 100-yd rush gms last season)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 29, 2013
Mathews averages over four yards per carry, and while he’s scored just one touchdown, the Fresno State product has morphed into a reliable matchup-based fantasy option after injuries marred his first three years in the NFL.
Now Mathews encounters the defense that allows the most fantasy points in the NFL to his position. It’s not out of the question to think Mathews could make it three straight games with 100 yards.
Sit ‘Em Week: Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
Steven Jackson has been a complete dud in his new home.
Jackson came at a relatively steep cost for owners because it was widely thought he would have massive running lanes as defenses focused on the high-flying Atlanta passing attack.
Instead, Jackson has played in three games all year and is coming off of a six-yard performance on 11 carries. Now Jackson has to hit the road and take on Carolina, owner of the NFL’s No. 2 run defense with just 79.3 yards surrendered per carry.
Start ‘Em: Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
What a find rookie Terrance Williams has been for fantasy owners.
Williams has stepped in for the oft-injured Miles Austin and brought in 26 receptions for 444 yards and four touchdowns. Even upon Austin’s return (if ever at this point), Williams has solidified himself with targets from quarterback Tony Romo.
The Vikings rank in the bottom three of the NFL against the pass, so Willims is in for a huge day. Of course the majority of the targets will go to Dez Bryant, but Williams has shown a big-play ability that is hard to ignore.
Sit ‘Em Week: Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Danny Amendola has disappeared, but he has had some help along the way.
Amendola returned in Week 8 against Miami and caught just three passes for 15 yards. On the year, Amendola has 174 yards to his name.
So much for Amendola blowing up with Tom Brady, who has thrown just nine touchdowns this season. Now the duo faces Pittsburgh and the second best pass defense in the NFL.
Avoid at all costs.