Any fantasy football owner knows the pain of watching someone on his or her bench go off on an NFL Sunday while the player chosen to start in his place struggles.
Some offensive playmakers will present owners with difficult decisions to make in Week 11. How these toss-up calls ultimately break will determine fantasy football matchups across the country.
Let’s take a look at some of the toughest decisions facing owners this week.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
That’s right, the league’s top quarterback—at least for fantasy purposes this season—is something of a question mark this week.
Manning has been dealing with an ankle injury, and what’s more, he will be facing the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
You can be sure that Manning will be on the field for this showdown with the AFC West and possibly the No. 1 seed in the playoffs on the line, but how limiting will his injury be against the formidable Kansas City front seven?
Manning isn’t exactly a running quarterback and doesn’t earn owners points with his legs, so worrying about that is off the table. However, Kansas City leads the league in sacks (36), so if Manning’s mobility is an issue, he will be hit hard and often, which could impact his effectiveness.
For what it’s worth, ESPN fantasy expert Matthew Berry isn’t too worried about Manning’s injury.
There are reasons for concern, but Berry’s confidence underscores the bottom line here—it’s Manning, the top fantasy quarterback in the league right now.
Unless he is a late scratch on Sunday, he needs to be in your lineup.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is one of the best teams in the NFL, and it will become even more formidable on Sunday when playmaking receiver Percy Harvin is activated for the first time this season.
Outside of the fact that he has a history of being a touchdown and yardage machine when he is on the field, the good news if you are a Harvin owner is that he will have opportunities in the passing game with Sidney Rice out for the year with a torn ACL.
What’s more, Minnesota ranks 29th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and Harvin should be plenty motivated against his former team.
Despite a vulnerable opposing defense and extra motivation, Harvin owners should wait a week before inserting him into their lineups. Seattle relies on the run more than any team in the league (first in rushing yards per game, 24th in passing yards), so targets may be an issue.
It is also always a risk to throw someone in your lineup after he missed extended time with injury.
Take a wait-and-see approach with Harvin.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
At the beginning of the year, owning almost any New York player made you something of a fantasy punch line, but the Jets have surprised this season.
Running back Chris Ivory continued the theme of surprise by gashing the Saints for a season-high 139 rushing yards and a touchdown. He still only has 369 yards on the season, but there is a chance he turned the corner with his performance against his former team.
Ivory will be going up against a Buffalo defense that ranks 22nd in the league in rushing yards allowed. The Bills are floundering and have lost five of six, including three in a row.
Sometimes, fantasy football decisions simply come down to who the opponent is for your player. That is the case here.
The Jets will jump out to a lead against the struggling Bills and manage the clock by riding Ivory. Stick with the hot hand after last week.