The importance of doing your homework before making critical roster decisions at this stage of the fantasy football season is incredibly high.
Making the wrong choices on who to start and who to bench could result in your team missing the playoffs in your league. The best way to approach these decisions is to start the most reliable players, the ones who produce consistently and are guaranteed to get plenty of touches (carries and receptions) in their offense.
Let’s take a look at some of the most difficult start ‘em, sit ‘em decisions in Week 10.
Zac Stacy, RB: Start vs. Colts
Stacy has rushed for 100 yards in each of the last two weeks and he’s also getting plenty of carries. In Week 9, he ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries versus a good Titans defense, while also catching six passes for 51 yards.
As a running back who features prominently in the passing and rushing attacks for St. Louis, and also gets goal-line carries because of his impressive size and strength, Stacy is a must-start this week. He also has a good matchup against a Colts defense that’s allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game this year.
Jake Locker, QB: Start vs. Jaguars
Locker has been a better fantasy quarterback than anticipated, and he’s also managed to protect the football with eight touchdown passes and just three interceptions. It also helps that he has several quality pass-catchers in the Titans offense, including underrated wide receiver Kendall Wright.
But the real reason to start Locker this week is his fantastic matchup against the Jaguars, arguably the worst team in pro football. Jacksonville has allowed 16 passing touchdowns this season, while tallying the second-fewest sacks and the least amount of interceptions in the NFL. Expect a fantastic, turnover-free performance from Locker on Sunday.
Eli Manning, QB: Start vs. Raiders
Manning has been awful this season and still leads the league with 15 interceptions. However, both he and the Giants have looked better in their last two games, and against a poor Oakland team on Sunday, the former Super Bowl MVP is a good start in two-quarterback leagues.
The Raiders rank 23rd in passing yards allowed per game and have given up 17 passing touchdowns this year. They also don’t have a good pass rush, which should give Manning enough time in the pocket to find an open receiver. Without a stable rushing attack, expect Manning to throw early and often on Sunday for a Giants team that could still make the playoffs despite starting out 0-6.
Colin Kaepernick, QB: Sit vs. Panthers
Kaepernick’s play has improved a bit of late, but he’s still not a good start against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Panthers have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, and if Kaepernick isn’t able to be productive on the ground, he’s unlikely to tally a lot of fantasy points because he’s averaged only 167.4 yards passing in his last seven games.
Carolina has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (seven) in the league, and it has intercepted 12 passes, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL. Kaepernick’s inability to pass for more than 200 yards consistently, in addition to an incredibly tough matchup is enough for fantasy owners to bench him in Week 10.
Ray Rice, RB: Sit vs. Bengals
Sitting a player that many fantasy owners drafted in the first round isn’t easy, but Rice is a risky start given his recent production and workload in the Ravens offense. He’s rushed for over 45 yards in only one game this season, and he’s received more than 15 carries one time. With Baltimore losing four of their last five games and trailing early often, the offense has been forced to throw the ball more than it would like. This has resulted in fewer rushes for Rice.
Against a strong Cincinnati defense that has a lot of size on the defensive line and ranks 10th against the run, Rice should be placed on your bench this week.
Mike Wallace, WR: Sit vs. Buccaneers
Fantasy owners are regretting their decision to draft Wallace in his first season as the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiver. He hasn’t been the deep threat in the passing game he was in Pittsburgh, and his touchdown drought is currently at six games. In that span, Wallace has averaged only 4.3 receptions per game.
He also has a poor matchup in Week 10 against Darrelle Revis, who’s arguably the best cover corner in the game and capable of taking Wallace completely out of the picture. Until Wallace proves that he’s able to be productive on a consistent basis, starting him is too much of a risk at this juncture of the fantasy season.