The hardest internal roster decisions for fantasy football managers to make boil down to three words: start or sit.
As simple and straightforward as it sounds, seasoned players know it's the type of tricky call that can wreck sleep schedules and spawn a seemingly endless loop of tinkering.
Do you really sit that early draft pick for that tough-on-paper matchup? Is it time to awaken to that sneaky sleeper you've been waiting to unleash against an exploitable defense?
Unfortunately, these decisions are team- and league-dependent, so we can't provide a catch-all, universal guide to roster management. What we can (and will) do, though, is provide a few helpful hints by way of our top start-or-sit recommendations for Week 7.
Start: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Detroit Lions)
One look at the game log might lead you to believe there's no telling whether you're going to get Matty Ice or Matty Ice-Cold any given week. But it's not as complicated (or unpredictable) as it seems.
Sure, Ryan recently sputtered through a three-week stretch where he delivered just one touchdown pass total. But in his other three outings, he averaged 364.7 passing yards and 3.3 touchdown tosses. Want to know his super-secret formula for success? He had a healthy Julio Jones in his monster outings and either no Jones or no Jones for a full half in the others.
Fantasy football can be simple like that, folks. Jones came back in a big way last weekend (eight receptions for 137 yards and two scores), and he's ready to keep rolling.
"Lean on me. You can lean on me throughout the game, everything—I'm ready to go," Jones told reporters. "It's a great feeling."
An almost equally great feeling is knowing Ryan now draws a Detroit defense allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, per Yahoo Sports. And, since Atlanta's aerial defense is even leakier (more fantasy points allowed per game to passers than anyone), this has serious shootout potential.
Sit: Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Carr enters this contest red-hot and had the Raiders' passing offense steamrolling before their Week 6 bye. In his previous two outings before the break, he totaled 658 passing yards with five touchdowns against a single interception.
Why on earth, then, are we saying not to play him? Because he's going against a Tampa Bay defense that silences even the highest-caliber quarterbacks.
Drew Brees, a two-time AP Offensive Player of the Year, and Aaron Rodgers, a two-time MVP, have both gone head-to-head with the Bucs this season. These two Hall of Fame-bound signal-callers totaled 320 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions between them in the two contests.
Are you really ready to bet on Carr bucking the trend against a defense surrendering the third-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks? How about if you knew there's a chance he'll be missing all five of his starting offensive linemen? And even if four of them do play—right tackle Trent Brown is definitely out—they will be doing so after missing practice since Wednesday?
Stay far, far away from the Raiders passing game in this one.
Sit: Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (at New England Patriots)
With Raheem Mostert headed to injured reserve, the door is theoretically open for McKinnon to grab hold of San Francisco's vacated RB1 designation.
McKinnon's trademark burst has been seldom-seen this season, which probably should've been expected considering he lost the past two campaigns to injury. While his 41 carries have delivered 211 yards, 55 of them came on a single play. Remove that from the equation, and you're left with a pretty pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry.
San Francisco also has a crowded running back group even without Mostert or Tevin Coleman. The Niners gave more work to rookie JaMycal Hasty (nine carries for 37 yards) than McKinnon (six for 18) last week, and now Jeff Wilson Jr. might re-enter the mix, too.
If that wasn't all worrisome enough, this matchup is absolutely brutal. The Patriots have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, and it's somewhat surprising they're even that high. They've only given up one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown to running backs all season and haven't been scored on by the position since Week 2.