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Start or Sit? 5 Ways to Tell if Your Stud Player Will Break Out This Week

The football season has started, and for the next 17 weeks, you're going to break into cold sweats and anxiously pull your hair out of your skull (assuming you have hair) debating whether to sit or start your studs. OK, so it's not that extreme, but it's pretty damn important if you pay attention to your fantasy team more than your kids.

The consensus among fantasy players is that you never sit your studs. Even if they've had a bad stretch of weeks, you stick with them. This is much easier said than done, though, considering a bunch of money and a huge trophy is on the line. With that said, there are ways to tell if your stud will be a dud or if he'll have a break-out week. Here's five of them.

Examine the Matchups

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One of the most important things to take into account when you're debating whether to sit or start a stud player is to examine the matchup (and sometimes the betting odds will tell you everything you need to know about this). If the player in question is a running back, take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing defense. Perhaps the defense is great against defending the pass but isn't so stellar at defending the run. In this case, you'd likely want to start your stud based only on the matchup he's facing this week.

Review Past Performances

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Whether it's reviewing last season's performances against the same team (if applicable) or reviewing the last three to five performances prior to this week, it's important to take how well the running back has played into consideration. If he runs into a team he's consistently played well against in past seasons, then maybe you should start him. If he hasn't played well in recent weeks, perhaps it's time to cut the emotional ties (quit being hopeful) and look for a better option.

Consider Injury Factors

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Injuries are a critical factor to fantasy football, and many people win or lose their leagues based on what players have become hurt and for how long. Whether your running back has a sprained index finger, someone on his offensive line has a bruised shoulder, or one of the best run-stuffers on the opposing defense is out for the season, it's vital to keep track of breaking news, assess the situation quickly, and act accordingly. Remember to take every injury and the severity into account before making a game-time decision.

Determine How Well the Team is Playing

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Whether it's the running back's team or the opposing team, remember to take how well (or how poorly) a team is doing into consideration. If your running back's offensive line has the push of an army tank, chances are you should stand behind your running back and start him. Also, if the running back's team has blown out its competition, you'd want to start your running back because he's likely to run a lot when the team is up multiple scores.

Contrarily, if your running back's team is horrible, then you probably want to stay away from starting him unless it's obvious he's the workhorse and is going to get touches no matter what. In this case, if a team is always struggling to come from behind, it's likely the team is pass happy and avoiding the run all together. Although you can't predict the future when determining whether to start your stud, you can use the past to better help you decide.

Factor in Other Variables

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Whether it's looking up the weather forecast, following what Las Vegas odds makers have to say, or basing your decision on a remarkable run you watched your player score on while watching the game, there are countless other factors fantasy experts take into account. Whatever the case, make sure the sources you're using are credible. If you're basing your decision on a hunch, make sure it's strong enough so you'll be OK if it's wrong.

Fantasy football season is here. How are you treating your stud players?

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