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2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 10

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Week 10 marks the unofficial start to the second half of the NFL regular season. Eight games remain until the NFL’s postseason, but it’s fewer than that when you take into consideration the start of your fantasy league’s playoffs. Week 10 also means that fantasy owners begin their stretch run without the services of Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb, the Arizona and Green Bay DSTs, among others.

Have no fear, Athlon Sports is here to help you make all of those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 10 Positional Rankings

Week 10 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington

Sneaky Start of the Week
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay vs. San Diego
Vincent Jackson is Tampa Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver and No. 8 at his position in fantasy scoring, but don’t discount the Buccaneers’ “other” starting wideout, Williams. While Jackson has a huge advantage on Williams when it comes to receiving yards (710 to 504), Williams has just two fewer receptions (29 to 31) and one less touchdown (5 to 6) than his well-paid teammate.

To put it another way, Williams is No. 22 among receivers in fantasy scoring, ahead of the likes of Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, DaSean Jackson and Torrey Smith, to name a few. Williams has scored 13.4 or more fantasy points five times, while managing 5.6 or fewer only twice.

With as well as Josh Freeman has been throwing the ball lately (11 TDs, 1 INT in his last four games), there should be enough passes for both Jackson and Williams to be viable starting options. On top of that, the Buccaneers host San Diego this Sunday. The Chargers are allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including 11 touchdown receptions.

This matchup also finds Jackson facing off against his former team. While Jackson will probably have a little extra juice headed into this game, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chargers a little more fired up than usual either, as the defense attempts to limit the amount of damage done by their former teammate. The extra attention paid to Jackson, may present more opportunities for Williams, who is averaging 17.4 yards per reception.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Cincinnati
Just when you thought Nicks may finally be over the hump with the issues related to his ankle/foot, word comes out that he experienced more swelling in his knee this week. The good news is that he was able to return to practice on Thursday, albeit in a limited fashion, and, for what it's worth, he has said he will play Sunday.

Injuries have consistently been an issue for Nicks, who broke his right foot back in May. He started in Week 1, but missed three games after experiencing soreness with his foot/ankle while also dealing with the knee issue. He’s played in the last four games, and while it appears he will continue that streak Sunday in Cincinnati, his owners have no doubt gotten a little tired of the will-he-or-won’t-he guessing game about his playing status.

If the injury bug and his constant “Questionable” or "Game-Time" designation haven’t been enough of a headache, there’s also the matter of Nicks’ lack of production. In Week 2 against Tampa Bay, he caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. In the other five games he’s played, he’s had a total of 17 receptions for 191 yards and no scores.

It also doesn't help that Eli Manning has been struggling lately too. He has only two touchdown passes compared to four interceptions in his last four games. I don’t really worry about this week’s matchup against Cincinnati as it applies to Manning’s outlook, but I do think this would be a good week to give Nicks a break and not worry about the will-he-or-won’t-he decision. Just put him on your bench and check back with him in two weeks (Giants are on bye in Week 11).

Quarterbacks
START

Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) at New England
Fitzpatrick had his best game of the season back in Week 4. Despite throwing four interceptions, he also piled up 350 yards passing and four touchdowns. Who was that game against? You guessed it, New England, who the Bills are playing in Foxboro this Sunday. As good as the Patriots’ defense has been against the run, the unit is 28th against the pass and is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. If this game looks anything like the 52-28 affair it was in Week 4, don’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick puts up similar, if not slightly better, numbers.

Alex Smith (SF) vs. St. Louis
Smith played arguably his best game of the season in Week 8 on “Monday Night Football” in Arizona. He only missed one of his 19 pass attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Now coming off of the bye, Smith and the 49ers host NFC West division rival St. Louis. The Rams’ defense has held up pretty well, but gave up 304 yards passing to Tom Brady and 45 points to the Patriots in London in Week 8. Even though the Rams are also coming off of a bye and no one will ever mistake Smith for Brady, I see no reason why he can’t repeat his Week 8 numbers against the Rams. Especially considering I think the 49ers’ defense at home will do its part to give the offense plenty of chances to put points on the board.

Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. Tennessee
Tannehill didn’t let a bruised quad/knee keep him off of the field last week against Indianapolis. Not only that, he put up his second-highest yardage total of the season, as he had 290 passing yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss to the Colts. Another week away from sustaining the injury, Tannehill should be back to near 100 percent health this Sunday against Tennessee. And what better opponent to get “healthy” against than the Titans, who have allowed 20 touchdown passes and the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Tannehill may be a rookie, but keep in mind that the fewest fantasy points the Titans have surrendered to a starting quarterback thus far is 18.3 to Matthew Stafford in Week 3. Don’t’ forget, when it comes a start/sit designation here, 16 points is considered start-worthy for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

SIT
Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. New York Giants
Dalton is just outside of the top 10 for fantasy scoring at his position, and he’s posted four games of 26 or more points. My concern with him is that he has a tendency to produce based on his opponent. By that I mean he has done a good job of feasting on teams with weak defenses, as his top performances have been against Washington, Cleveland (twice) and Jacksonville. On the other hand, he hasn’t fared as well against defenses that can bring consistent pressure, like Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh. The Giants (25 sacks) certainly fall into the latter category, and even though they are the road team, I like the defense this week (see below) to play with a chip on its shoulder, following last week’s disappointing home loss to the Steelers. Dalton can thank the schedule-maker for being cast in the role of prey this Sunday.

Matt Schaub (HOU) at Chicago
The Bears may be just 16th in the league in pass defense, but anyone who has watched the Monsters of the Midway play this season knows that this is merely a number. They are tied for the league lead in interceptions with 17 and have returned seven of them for touchdowns. The defense has scored more touchdowns on interception returns than it has allowed (six) to quarterbacks. The Texans run the ball more than they throw it anyway, which already makes Schaub more of a matchup guy than every-week starter. To that end, can you think of a worse matchup for him than this?

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Houston
While Cutler’s defense may be getting all the attention and blowing away the competition when it comes to fantasy scoring, Houston’s D, which he will face on Sunday, is certainly no slouch. The Texans are third overall in total defense (Bears are 6th), second against the rush and fourth versus the pass and in scoring defense. Statistically speaking, the Bears are only better than the Texans in scoring defense and takeaways. Cutler may be coming off of a three-touchdown game against Tennessee, but the only similarities between the Titans and the Texans is that they both play in the AFC South, have ties to Texas and their team names start with the letter T. When it comes to their respective defenses, there are no similarities just as there is no good reason, other than if you have no other option, to start Cutler this week against the Texans.