This week, six NFL teams are on their bye. Next week, six more teams will rest. That means even fewer options than usual for fantasy owners.
It also means some teams who are in the middle of the pack in your league might be dropping valuable players on their bye that could help your depth. Scan the waiver wire carefully, as owners who may have been trying to stash certain players will dump them, hoping to sneak them through waivers for a week, while adding bye-week fill-ins at positions like kicker, defense, tight end or even quarterback, but many owners eschew carrying back-ups. If you're in a position to do so, try to snatch up value players, even if you don't necessarily need them. Who knows, you may even be able to trade them back to the owner who dropped them for something valuable to you.
But generally speaking, these next two weeks are going to be tough. Especially at the running back position. Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Ryan Mathews, Chris Johnson and Trent Richardson are all on byes this week. While some of those players have performed well under expectations, they were still guys you had in your line-up every week because they offer value in volume. Compound that with injury (Doug Martin) and uncertainty (Steven Jackson, DeMarco Murray) and the options are even fewer this week.
With that in mind, I'm not going to do the standard "sits" this week, because how can I recommend you sit a guy when there may not be any other viable options? So instead of condemning these players to take a seat, I'll instead ask you to "scale back" your expectations.
Start 'em if you got 'em
QB Robert Griffin III. Playing against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, stinging from their first loss of the season, expect this one to be a video-game style shootout. RG3 should get to throw the ball all over the lot and now that he's running again, might be able to pick up some ground yardage too. He's back to being the 'Skins best weapon and a legit QB1 again.
RB Eddie Lacy. This will likely be the last time the Packers' rookie runner shows up on this list. Over the last three games, he's carried the ball at least 22 times and last week, added 5 receptions. He's run for 99, 120 and 82 yards during those three games. He's a bona fide RB1 at this point in a year when not many running backs are honest-to-goodness RB1s. He also has a nice stretch of match-ups with Minnesota this week, followed by the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Vikings again, Lions and Falcons. Get on board now.
WR Pierre Garcon. See RG3. He should be another benefactor of the shoot out versus Denver.
WR Jarrett Boykin. Taking a flier on him last week paid off, this week you go ahead and start him with confidence against Minnesota's sieve-like defense with James Jones and Jermichael Finley still out.
TE Jordan Reed. Sensing a pattern? Get your Redskins pass-catchers into your line-up this week.
Scale 'em back
QB Ben Roethlisberger. You might not have much choice if you're an Andrew Luck or Philip Rivers owner, but Big Ben hasn't put up huge numbers lately, despite the Steelers playing better as a team. And the Raiders haven't been half-bad against opposing fantasy QBs this year.
RB Zac Stacy. Here's a perfect example of why I don't want to call this the "sit" column. Stacy has a horrible match-up against one of the NFL's best defenses in Seattle, and has Kellen Clemens lining up at QB, which means the defense might not even respect the pass. Yet, with the RB landscape so barren, if you own him, you're probably starting him (I am) and hoping for the best. Still, I can't get excited about this.
WR Harry Douglas. I'm steadfast in my belief that Douglas won't hold up as Matt Ryan's top target, despite exploding last week. I expect the Falcons to try to lean on their running game a bit more with Steven Jackson back.
WR Denarious Moore. He's been great this season, catching a touchdown in every game Terrelle Pryor has started. He has a tough match-up against Steelers CB Ike Taylor this week though, who has limited opposing No. 1 wide receivers all season.
TE Jordan Cameron. He'll be catching passes from his third different quarterback this week and the Chiefs are not very tight end friendly. He's still a top 12 guy, but don't be shocked if he ends up with a 3 for 35 line or something similar.
Taking a flier
QB Russell Wilson. Likely drafted as a QB1, Wilson struggled a bit earlier in the season but has been getting more consistent. He has a juicy match-up against St. Louis, but you wonder how much of the Seattle offense will just be handing off to Marshawn Lynch? Still, Wilson should finish in the top 12 this week.
RB Andre Ellington. Rashard Mendenhall didn't practice this week and could sit today. While the Cardinals want to be careful with the undersized Ellington, he's been their most productive back with his limited touches, and he's especially strong in PPR leagues.
WR Golden Tate/Sidney Rice. If you need a WR3, one of these two isn't a bad bet against St. Louis. The problem is the Seahawks don't have a clear-cut No. 1 WR, so hope whichever one you pick comes through.
TE Charles Clay. New England has been pretty tough against opposing tight ends, but Clay is more of an H-back and keeps finding ways to score in the red zone. He's a total upside play, as you hope for a touchdown, since he probably won't see many targets in the open field.