As playoff races across the fantasy football world begin to heat up, the decisions owners make on their borderline starters become more important. Making the correct calls can be the difference between making the postseason or missing out.
Ultimately, it normally comes down to one or two key decisions. Between must-start options, bye weeks and injuries, a vast majority of a lineup virtually fills itself out. But it's those remaining slots that are so crucial to building a winning squad.
With that in mind, let's examine where some fringe fantasy assets at each position belong heading into Week 7. The lists are followed by analysis of a few of the trickiest decisions owners are likely debating as Sunday approaches.
Start 'Em or Sit 'Em?
|Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 7|
|Position||Start 'Em||Sit 'Em|
|QB||Andrew Luck (IND)||Colin Kaepernick (SF)|
|RB||Eddie Lacy (GB)||Willis McGahee (CLE)|
|WR||Steve Smith (CAR)||Brian Hartline (MIA)|
|TE||Kyle Rudolph (MIN)||Brandon Myers (NYG)|
|K||Shaun Suisham (PIT)||Phil Dawson (SF)|
|D||New England Patriots||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Fantasy Week 7|
Breaking Down Tough Decisions
Sit: Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)
Kaepernick is coming off his best fantasy outing since his 30-point outburst in Week 1 but still managed only a middling score of 15 in standard formats last week. The lack of big performances makes it difficult to rely on him despite his dual-threat upside.
The biggest problem is San Francisco's return to its usual offensive approach. After allowing Kaepernick to take advantage of a shaky Green Bay Packers secondary in Week 1, the team has returned to a run-heavy attack, which makes it tough to put up fantasy-worthy passing stats.
This means Kaepernick is nothing more than a matchup play moving forward. In Week 7, the 49ers go up against a Tennessee Titans defense that ranks inside the top 10 against the pass and hasn't allowed a touchdown through the air in the past two games.
Start: Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
In Week 6, Smith found the end zone for the first time since the season opener. He finished with just 21 yards on five catches, however, which probably has fantasy owners hesitating about whether they should reinsert him in their starting lineups.
The best news for Smith has nothing to do with his individual play. It is the strong showing by quarterback Cam Newton, who finally looked like the dynamic fantasy option he was projected to be coming into the season.
With Newton back on the rise, Smith should see his numbers elevate as well. With opposing defenses, including the 23rd-ranked St. Louis Rams this week, needing to pay closer attention to Brandon LaFell, the door opens for the team's reliable veteran to get back in the good graces of fantasy owners.
Start: Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)
Rudolph entered the team's Week 5 bye with just 14 total fantasy points, and 10 of them came in one game. Furthermore, he hadn't made more than five catches in any game, making the preseason fantasy hype seem like it was completely off base.
But it appears the Vikings made getting the talented tight end more involved in the offense a priority during the week off. Last week, he made nine grabs for 97 yards and a touchdown, more than doubling his scoring total for the season.
The strong rebound performance brings Rudolph back on the fantasy radar, especially since the tight end position is so weak overall. With Minnesota facing the New York Giants and their 20th-ranked pass defense, he should have a second straight solid game.