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Fantasy football: Start/sit tips for playoff matchups

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Getting your lineup right is critical

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks
Julio Jones
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

If you’re still reading this senseless drivel every week, that means you’ve made the fantasy football playoffs. NICE. Now the real stress/anxiety/paralysis begins. We are officially in “sudden death” mode, which makes lineup construction that much more important, and for that same reason, much harder.

The NFL is doing us no favors this week, as there are many tough matchups for some of the top players at their position. This leads to the toughest question a fantasy player has to face,

“Do I bench a year long stalwart for my team due to a bad matchup/injury in the first round of the playoffs?!?!”

The old adage is to run with the horses that got you there, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. The goal of this article is to identify some top players that have cause for concern, and potential players that I’d consider starting in their place. GIANT (accidental bad pun) disclaimer: go with your gut. Use the “experts” rankings to help your thought process, but this is your team. Trust in the GM that got them this far. And don’t bench anyone that I mention unless YOU believe it is the prudent move. Godspeed this weekend FFers!

Julio Jones, WR, ATL

I know. And you’re right ... play Julio. BUT, there are concerns. Jones has turf toe, which is not minor when you’re a top 10 size/speed freak in the world. I can’t recall a position player bouncing back from turf toe in one week and having no side effects. Making matters worse, Atlanta plays in the late afternoon game Sunday, and having a backup plan is a must. If he is deployed as a decoy or OUT, your playoffs are probably over. You’d have to have serious WR depth to considering benching Julio, but if I had guys like Doug Baldwin, Terrelle Pryor, or Michael Thomas as my WR3 or flex play, I’d at least consider starting them in Julio’s place.

Cam Newton, QB, CAR

I don’t own Cam anywhere, which is probably why I have some week 14 byes. The problem with benching Cam though is his immense upside. My guess is after week 3, Cam owners were licking their chops at a week 14 home matchup against the Chargers. Fast forward a few months, and now you’re considering benching him for Marcus Mariota or Tyrod Taylor. Cam has been volatile, is feuding with his coach, and the Panthers are already out of the playoff hunt. With all that said, he could easily put up 30-40 points this Sunday, and seal you a trip to the semi’s. Tough call indeed.

Jay Ajayi, RB, MIA and Jeremy Hill, RB, CLE

I’m using my brother for this example, mainly because he’s been texting me since Tuesday about his RB choices. He needs three out of Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, Thomas Rawls, Jeremy Hill, and Fat Rob Kelley. Good problem to have ... until this week. I absolutely hate having such difficult lineup decisions in the playoffs, which is why I try to trade away all my depth in November for studs, and hope no one gets hurt. The problem with having this many choices at a position is the potential regret of starting the wrong player. In this scenario, based on talent, Gordon/Ajayi/Rawls seem like the no-brainers. And they might be, but the matchups aren’t ideal. Rawls was a monster last week, but we don’t know which Packers run defense will show up. Ajayi gets a home matchup against the Cardinals number one run defense. Gordon is the obvious play at Carolina. On the other hand, Hill gets the Browns league worst run defense, but he also went for 32 yards on 23 carries last week. Kelley has slowed of late, but the Eagles defense has packed it in the last month.