The best and also most excruciating part of fantasy football is deciding which players to bench and which to start. Sure, certain players—Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson, to name a few—will never leave your starting lineup, but most players are benchable at some point in the season.
Maybe it's a matchup against a stout defense. Maybe it's that the player's style makes him hard to trust. Maybe a wide receiver is facing a shutdown corner.
Whatever the case may be, these players deserve extra scrutiny. Let's take a look at a few players surely giving owners headaches heading into Week 2 and determine whether you should start them or sit them in fantasy.
The Niners and the Seahawks have two of the best defenses in the NFL, meaning plenty of fantasy owners are asking themselves whether they should start Kaepernick or Wilson, or bench them for other options.
Start them both.
In Kaepernick's one meeting against the Seahawks last season (in Seattle), he threw for 244 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while also rushing for 31 yards. The Niners were blown out, but Kaepernick still managed 14 fantasy points in standard leagues, and the Niners will surely play better than they did in the 42-13 drubbing.
Meanwhile, Wilson was pretty horrific in his first start against the Niners (9-of-23, 122 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, 10 rushing yards) but torched them for four touchdown passes in the Week 16 blowout at home. In all, he finished with 22 fantasy points.
If you have a really good backup for either of these players—think Eli Manning or Michael Vick—then sitting either is an option. But if you are thinking about benching them for the likes of a Philip Rivers or Andy Dalton, slow your roll.
Both of these players will produce points this week. They're too good to be totally shut down.
My Take: Start 'Em
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Johnson is a tough call this week. Obviously, if you drafted him you probably used a late first-round or early second-round pick to select him, so you probably can't afford to sit him. But you also know that the Houston Texans are tough against the run and that Johnson has managed 100 yards rushing or more just twice against them in their last six meetings.
The Texans held the San Diego Chargers to 80 rushing yards in the opener, though the Chargers' running backs did catch six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. For Johnson, the key for his fantasy value is whether he'll be a factor in the passing game, something that didn't happen last week, as he wasn't even targeted once.
If you have a deep group of running backs and a very solid flex option, you might want to think about sitting Johnson this week. But since you probably can't afford to do so in deeper leagues, don't expect much more than decent flex production from the speedy back.
My Take: Sit 'Em
Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Smith has a tough matchup against cornerback Joe Haden this week. Haden held Mike Wallace to one reception for 15 yards in the opener. Now, the talented corner will likely be tasked with taking Smith out of the Baltimore offense.
Torrey Smith is a ______ this week.
When these teams played last year in November—Haden missed their first meeting—Smith had just four receptions for 46 yards, though he did beat Haden for a 19-yard touchdown.
Smith is Baltimore's top option in the passing game, no doubt about it, but Haden is one of the top corners in the league. If you have a deep crop of wide receiver options, you might want to think about sitting Smith this week.
My Take: Sit 'Em
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
You can take a chance on Rudolph if you like, but last week proved the axiom that has become true for Rudolph—if he doesn't score a touchdown, he doesn't produce at all for fantasy owners.
Rudolph had just two catches for 27 yards against the Detroit Lions, and now the Vikings face an even better defense in the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Bears allowed 10 receptions for 82 yards to the Cincinnati Bengals tight ends a week ago, but that was split between two players—Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham.
If you want to bet on Rudolph scoring a touchdown, by all means, start him. But if you don't trust he'll reach the end zone, there are better options available to you.
My Take: Start 'Em