The Week 7 start ’em, sit ’em slate begins with a Thursday Night Football showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
In other words, it starts with a faceoff between two teams with four combined wins and a fantasy situation owners might be better off fading in favor of a loaded weekend slate.
As a whole, Week 7 offers plenty of interesting scenarios for breakout performances and epic duds alike as matchups, injuries, bye weeks and more continue to play a large role in decisions.
Here’s a look at some of the common hurdles standing in an owner’s way this weekend and how to get over them.
Start: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. PHI)
Owners who shied away from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton thanks to the early injury to Kelvin Benjamin made a huge mistake.
Over five appearances, Newton has scored in double digits each game and reached 19 or more points twice using a combination of his legs and rocket arm to squeeze the most out of a receiving corps led by Ted Ginn.
Owners might hesitate again with Newton this weekend thanks to an encounter with the Philadelphia Eagles. After all, these Eagles have allowed more than 20 points to a quarterback just once and no more than two touchdowns in a game.
But this is Newton, who continues to play at an MVP level. The guy just traveled to Seattle and scored 19 points, so benching him in what looks like a rough matchup at home doesn’t make a lot of sense—it reeks of overthinking things.
Sit: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. BUF)
There’s an allure to starting Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles because he happens to be fantasy‘s sixth-highest scorer at the position.
In fact, Bortles is a great start most weeks thanks to his progression and growing crop of weapons around him. Week 7 is a no-go, though, thanks to a showdown with the Buffalo Bills.
Rex Ryan’s defense might receive an eye-popping number of flags, but it has held one set of quarterbacks to less than 10 points and only two have gone for more than 20.
Worst of all, Bortles just tossed three interceptions and has to play in London this weekend.
Start: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at WAS)
Don’t look now, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin sits as fantasy‘s sixth-highest scorer at the position.
There’s a bit of a negative connotation with Martin after a few injury-riddled years, but he’s gone for 19 and 33 points over his last two outings, the first of those a tough matchup with Newton’s Panthers.
Things don’t seem to get easier against Washington in Week 7, a team that has let up just three scores to backs in six appearances. But this tends not to matter as much for a back like Martin so long as he’s getting touches.
Coming out of the bye with the backfield once again his and only his, Martin needs to be in all lineups.
Sit: Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. PIT)
So much for the idea Charcandrick West could be fantasy’s next breakout star as the replacement for the injured Jamaal Charles.
Instead of seizing the starting job last weekend in Minnesota after showing promising signs since the preseason, West fell on his face with nine carries for 33 yards and then got benched in the fourth quarter after a fumble.
Things look terrible, then, going into a matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers and a defense that allows the second-fewest points to backs and has yet to give up a touchdown to the position.
With unpredictable usage from a coaching staff making odd decisions and a brutal matchup, there’s no reason to take another gamble on West.
Start: Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (vs. HOU)
Owners have every right to to be skeptical when it comes to Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry.
Landry saved what would have otherwise been a miserable fantasy outing last weekend with a rushing touchdown, going for 12 points to break a streak of two games without double-digit production.
Still, Landry’s running a ton of passing routes and remains the No. 1 wideout in Miami, where the Dolphins have gotten back to basics after a change at head coach. The Houston Texans have allowed five touchdowns to wideouts over their last three games and at least 12 catches in four straight, so Landry’s consistent workload should equate to another respectable day at least.
Sit: Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SEA)
San Francisco wideout Anquan Boldin remains a WR1 when the matchup is right and the passing game figures to function in a reliable matter.
Both of those boxes won’t have check marks Thursday night.
Boldin has a pair of double-digit outings to his name over his last two with Colin Kaepernick seeming to slowly figure things out. But these Seahawks, overall struggles or not, surrender the second-fewest points to wideouts this year and have given up just one score to the position—back in Week 2.
Over two appearances against the Seahawks last year, Boldin caught just five passes. It’s going to be a similar story Thursday.
Start: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (at DET)
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph hasn’t been the big-play threat some thought he would be before the season, but he’s a reliable producer at an unsteady position in the right situation.
Which he has this weekend when the Vikings visit the Detroit Lions.
The Lions have already allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season, including one to Rudolph back in Week 2. Rudolph seems to have Detroit’s number and scored a touchdown in Week 6, so look for him to once again post a big day against a familiar opponent.
Sit: Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints (at IND)
It’s hard to look away from a player who sits just outside the top 10 in scoring at his position, but owners will want to do so with New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson this week.
Watson has nine or more points in two of his last three outings, but his four before that totaled just seven points. He could keep exploding each week, sure, but it’s not a gamble owners should take as Watson faces off against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have allowed just one tight end to reach paydirt this year—Rob Gronkowski.
Watson is reliable more often than not, but he won’t do what Gronkowski did against a stingy unit.
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