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Us fantasy folks have a mantra that gets repeated ad nauseam throughout the season. "Start your studs" is the standard cliché you hear when it comes to making obvious lineup decisions. No one should be starting the likes of Derek Carr over Aaron Rodgers just because Carr has an easy matchup...or should they?

That's what we'll be addressing here. Maybe not that specific lineup decision, but there are some fantasy superstars who are walking into a brutal matchup in the fantasy playoffs.

Before I start telling you to blow up your entire lineup (I'm not going to) I should state that the "start your studs" model works more often than not. Please, for the love of all things fantasy, don't play yourself out of the playoffs. Don't overthink it. Just take a closer look at who else is available to you. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at some potential sits in this all-important week.

 

Stars Worth Fading

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

The aforementioned Aaron Rodgers is the name that will garner the most attention this week. I am far from the first one to address whether or not he should be benched on the road in Chicago, nor will I be the last. The 2018 version of Rodgers has not been the Rodgers of old. Whether that's due to his knee injury earlier in the year, or questionable play-calling from former coach Mike McCarthy, his numbers are down from a fantasy perspective.

Add in Green Bay's toughest game of the year at Chicago and this is poor timing for fantasy playoffs. You're not benching Rodgers outright based on these factors alone. He's still QB9 on the year so it's not like he's killing you. But I will say that if you're sitting on someone like Dak Prescott or Lamar Jackson, players who have excelled in soft matchups, you're better off taking the streaming route.

I'm in a league where I do not have a backup for Rodgers and the waiver options are the likes of Josh Allen and Case Keenum. That's when you should pump the breaks. You don't need to stoop that low. After all, if you look at how the Bears have defended fantasy quarterbacks this season, you'll notice that the QB with the most points was Brock Osweiler with 26. Rodgers was second with 23.1. This isn't a must-bench, simply a situation where you should consider other options just in case a better one is out there.

Sony Michel (RB, NE)

Since returning from his knee injury early in the year, Sony Michel has only topped 100 yards once in four games with just one touchdown over that span. In fact, both his 133-yard outing and a score came in the same game against the Jets. The Patriots continue to lean on James White in the passing game extensively, eating into Michel's workload in the process.

Michel draws the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, a team that is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. I know what you're thinking: the Patriots are matchup proof, Tom Brady has Mike Tomlin's number, etc. But why risk it if you don't have to? Why force yourself into playing someone in a tough matchup with a limited workload?

Michel had been a "set it and forget it" type of back a few weeks ago, but now is not that time. You're better off going with a red-hot Derrick Henry in an easy matchup versus the Giants. Or Doug Martin against the Bengals, the league's worst defense against opposing fantasy running backs. Consensus rankings have Michel in the low-teens, but I would venture as far down to the mid-twenties before leaving in my lineup.

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)

This one flat out pains me. Kenny Golladay has been as popular as it gets amongst the fantasy football nerds, myself included. He's cooled off a bit over the last few weeks and now faces a very underrated Buffalo defense. The Bills are giving up just 28.8 total fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, a rate that is third-best in the league.

This is a tough matchup for the Lions as a whole. You're better served using Curtis Samuel in a superb matchup, Sterling Shepard regardless if Odell Beckham Jr. plays, or Larry Fitzgerald in a game that could be high scoring.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, PHI)

Perhaps this a bit of an obvious name this week but it warrants a discussion nonetheless. Since beginning his season back in Week 4, Alshon Jeffery comes in at WR24 on the year. You might be thinking that's not quite that bad as that still makes him a flex play. But if you take his more recent numbers and consider just Weeks 8-14, you'll come to learn that he is only WR57 over that span. He has taken a significant step down late in the season and he just lost his starting quarterback.

Carson Wentz is unlikely to play due to a back injury, forcing Nick Foles under center. I'm willing to go much lower down the rankings in benching Alshon. I'm talking Dede Westbrook and Dante Pettis territory, someone who has been on a bit of a tear. I'd find a receiver who's put together a couple strong outings in a row and leave Alshon on the bench.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)

I almost didn't bother throwing in a tight end this week thanks to the dreadfulness of the position. I then decided I should at least mention one who has name recognition. Kyle Rudolph ranks as TE14 on the season which is a lot worse than it sounds. As I said, tight end is a wasteland. If you don't have a top-five option, you're probably in a rough spot.

Unless you are truly desperate for a starter, you can probably cut bait with Rudolph entirely. Another cliché take on fantasy is that when it comes to tight ends 6-12, all you're hoping for is a score, something Rudolph hasn't done since Week 3 against the Bills. I'd suggest rolling the dice on a more trendy name such as Ian Thomas, C.J. Uzomah, or Vernon Davis with Jordan Reed likely out this week.

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