The riddle that the Indianapolis coaching staff faces, as tough as it is, gets dwarfed in comparison to what owners face. It sounds silly, but on a scale, making the decisions on players from 32 teams weighs quite a lot more.
With injury reports, news and matchup analysis still rolling out ahead of Thursday’s action, let’s take another look at some value verdicts between top names and break down some of the tougher start-sit decisions.
Start: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)
Fantasy‘s fourth-highest scorer at quarterback deserves love against the Detroit Lions.
There’s sure to be some pause from owners considering the Arizona Cardinals are on the road this week and Palmer makes the trip coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season.
Still, he’s scored 25, 21, 18 and 16 points, respectively, with 10 touchdowns. The Lions aren’t exactly world-beaters against quarterbacks, either, having allowed six touchdowns and an average of 18 points per game to the position.
This seems like more of a defensive matchup, but Palmer’s elite form will see him score among the top 10.
Sit: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr deserves to tout a higher ownership rate than his 47.6 percent thanks to 20- and 26-point outings after returning from a Week 1 injury.
Regardless, he’s a sit this week against the Denver Broncos. Carr lost an interception and a fumble to finish with 11 points against the iffy Chicago Bears last week. It’s an anomaly, but this matchup reeks.
The Broncos rank first among defenses against quarterbacks on average this year. The unit has allowed just two touchdowns and one team to sneak into double digits, with impressive performances against Joe Flacco, Alex Smith and Matthew Stafford.
Carr will have incredible days this year based on matchups. Just not this week.
Start: Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
Baltimore Ravens back Justin Forsett stumbled out of the gates and looked like one of fantasy’s bigger disappointments early this season. Last week in Pittsburgh, though, he posted his first double-digit outing with 27 carries for 150 yards and 15 points, his first time over the 15-attempt mark on the year.
Don’t expect it to stop now. Forsett gets the Cleveland Browns next, owners of a defense that has allowed 16 or more points to backs in three of four contests, including allowances of 27 and 28 points.
At home, Baltimore won’t want to air it out with Flacco often, especially if the ground game works well. It should, with Forsett finally appearing back to 2014 form.
Sit: Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NE)
It’s never easy to sit a guy like Joseph Randle, whom owners probably took pretty high in drafts based on the situation.
Randle has one big performance on the season, the 27-point outburst in Week 3 after three touchdowns on 14 attempts. The problem was how fluky it looked, as all the scores came in the first half.
In fact, that head coach Jason Garrett even has to field questions about Randle’s status says it all, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
It’s clear there are questions about the usage in Dallas, nothing but a terrible sign for Randle as he heads into an encounter with the New England Patriots. The defense has allowed an average of just 13.7 points to backs over three games, so Randle needs to sit on the bench this week.
Start: Rueben Randle, New York Giants (vs. SF)
There is another Randle worth a start, though.
This would be Rueben Randle of the New York Giants, who has nine points or more in each of his last two outings along with a touchdown in each contest.
Randle sees more action as the season wears on because defenses get so absorbed in stopping Odell Beckham Jr. With Victor Cruz still not practicing, it looks like he has a clear-cut path to acting as the No. 2 wideout again.
The situation peaks just when Randle gets his easiest matchup, too. The San Francisco 49ers are a mess, but especially when it comes to defending wideouts—they have allowed 32- and 46-point outings to the position this year, so Randle should make noise as the No. 2.
Sit: Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. ARI)
It seems fantasy owners continue to hold out hope on Lions wideout Golden Tate, he of an 87.9 ownership percentage.
It’s time to look elsewhere.
Tate has a pair of two-point performances this year, with a high of eight in Week 2. Stafford has not only been banged up, but he’s playing behind one of the league’s most porous lines and the attention goes to Calvin Johnson first and foremost.
The situation has left Tate out to dry, and it will again in a matchup with the Cardinals, who have allowed just two sets of wideout corps to score more than 20 points this season, an impressive number considering most teams have to throw against the unit in an effort to keep up with Palmer and Co.
Tate won’t see significant production against the battle-tested unit.
Start: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (vs. PIT)
Owners have been waiting for this moment: San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates returns from suspension this week and features an 85 ownership percentage.
Gates shouldn’t have any issues making an impact right out of the, well, gates. His first opponent of the season is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense has allowed a high of eight points to tight ends in the three weeks after New England managed 33 in Week 1.
Gates isn’t Rob Gronkowski, but he might be one of the closest things to him. He’s fresh, with plenty of film on how to exploit the Steelers under his belt, so look for him to post a major day.
Sit: Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (at GB)
It was right to expect big things from St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook this season.
He’s one of the league’s most physically gifted tight ends and got a new quarterback this year, but it just hasn’t turned into production, as he’s tallied 14 total points in four games.
Don’t expect a turnaround this week against the Green Bay Packers, regardless of whether the Rams will pass a lot while playing from behind. The Packers have allowed just two sets of tight ends to reach double digits this year, and Cook isn’t Martellus Bennett or Travis Kelce.
To make matters worse, Tavon Austin continues to emerge for the offense, placing Cook even further down the target totem pole.
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