Ask the Experts
Posted Oct. 07 at 11:11 PM
ASK THE EXPERTS appears weekly with answers to a new question being posted Thursday morning. How the guest experts responded when we asked them:
When, if ever, is it OK to bench your studs?
If my studs are playing well and living up to expectations, then I will normally start them regardless of the defensive prowess of the opponent. However, in my opinion, there is only a short list of studs that fall into the category of slam-dunk, every-week starter. It’s really a double-edge sword, because sometimes NFL teams are more motivated against top-shelf competition, while on other occasions they will play down to the level of lesser teams. Trying to figure out how an NFL game is going to unfold is one of the key factors that makes this hobby so much fun, and so frustrating all at the same time. Bottom line: if I burned an early draft choice on a player and they are competing at a high level, then they are going to be in my lineup 99 percent of the time.
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This really depends on A) the definition of "stud" and B) do you have a MUCH better matchup with one of your secondary players. Steven Jackson, Cedric Benson and Clinton Portis could, in some circles be considered studs. However, there have definitely been situations already this season in which these "studs" could definitely been benched in favor of better matchups for other players. For example Jerricho Cotchery versus the porous Titans pass defense was a much better call than Cedric Benson versus the Steelers. Again the question remains, is Cedric Benson a Stud? If the question is, "Is there a match up in which you would sit Adrian Peterson?" the answer, quite simply, is no.
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Unless they are not playing due to injury or benching (or it's week 17 and they are being rested), I NEVER bench my STUDs.... NEVER.
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My feeling is you set your best lineup every week based on current productivity and matchups at hand, not based on what you paid for your roster in August or where you drafted a player. The game is about adjusting quicker than your opponents; it's not about labels and stringent rules of thumb. When I hear owners say "I hate having depth, too many choices" or "the bye weeks bother me" what they're really saying is "I don't want to make tough decisions." The definition of a stud is fluid anyway. You drafted Steve Slaton as a stud, is he one now? Is Tom Brady an automatic play as he comes back from his knee injury? Not in my book he isn't, not right now, anyway. Don't play for the "most gut-acceptable loss", play for the most plausible win.
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If you're even considering benching them are they really studs? Probably not. Is LT a "stud" anymore? Certainly he needed to be benched last week. With a lack of parity in the NFL these days there are some really good teams and some really bad teams so match ups can mean that if you have depth you should absolutely consider sitting your studs. Or so called studs.
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I believe it comes down to your league format. If you are in a head to head league the answer is yes, bench your studs if there is an obvious bad matchup, Marques Colston and Andre Johnson from week #4 being the latest examples. If you owned Steve Smith of the Giants and left him on the bench for your studs, that's being a stubborn owner rather than a proactive winner. If your league is total points, never bench them; ride the bad games and good games out. That's why you drafted them in a total points league, not for their weekly production, for their season's production.
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Every situation is unique, of course, but I'd have a tough time benching most of my stud players, especially this early in the season. After all, you drafted them as "studs" for a reason, therefore giving up so soon is short-sighted. If a struggling player like, say, Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton, played the Baltimore Ravens last week instead of the Oakland Raiders, I probably would have benched him. You have to be flexible and not marry yourself to one philosophy.
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At this point in the season I think your top 2-3 picks are still a "must start" unless you have a major sleeper at the same position on your bench that is now a "must start". For instance last year I had Portis, R.Bush (In a PPR League) and Forte on my bench. I started Portis and Bush for about 4 weeks, then made Forte (my 8th round pick) to a "must start" around Week 4 and choose between Portis and Bush until Bush got injured. I think you have to give you fist few pics about 5-6 weeks, then make a move (unless you have a stud like a 2008 Forte on your bench). Also, remeber D. Williams didn't have one game in double digits for the first 5 weeks of 2008 and he finished as a top 5 RB. Don't give up too early on your stars.
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The general rule I always follow with quarterbacks and running backs is that I never bench my studs unless they are playing against a top three defense in their stadium. I’d have to think about it even then but for example I did not play Chris Johnson in week one because he was playing in Pittsburgh. It was the right move assuming you have a decent option to use. Wide receivers are different and I would never bench my stud because the consistency factor is low with them and typically the tougher matchups only exclude the other receivers from that team, not the stud wideout. Benching studs is mostly about having attractive alternatives which it hard. But a bottom line rule of thumb is to never bench your studs unless it is a RB or QB facing a top three defense in their stadium.
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The answer is it DEPENDS. In 99 out of 100 cases, NO never bench your studs because they are going to perform for you. Whether it is this week or next week, eventually they will produce and you do not want them on your bench when they go off for 30+ fantasy points. A good question is what defines your “stud”? Generally any player drafted in the first two or three rounds in my book. They were drafted high because you knew you could count on them. So when are the rare instances when you do not start the stud player? Injury issues would be one scenario. If he is questionable or doubtful with a significant injury (and not practicing on Friday is a good sign it is significant) then I would think about benching him. Even if he plays he may be limited. Another case is when something beyond his control will affect him-like weather or a week 17 game where he may be rested for the playoffs. Last year Kurt Warner went to play at NE in week 16 during a snow storm. Swirling winds are not good for a passer He should have been benched even though all the predictions were for a big day. He finished with 30 yards passing.
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This really depends on what kind of studs they are and what are the factors that are making them un-studly. A guy like LT and to some extent LJ has lost it in our book so he should be benched. On the other hand a guy like Houshmandzadeh is simply adjusting to a new QB, so that is generally just a matter of time in that case so we are more reluctant to recommend benching him. Bottom line, no one rule applies here.
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I'm such an amazing drafter that I usually have to bench one of my studs because there aren't enough lineup spots to go around. Just kidding. In all seriousness, it depends how broad we're being with the word. No, I'll never sit down Adrian Peterson, even with the Ravens and Steelers coming up, and Larry Fitzgerald or Drew Brees will only be benched during their bye weeks. But I've already benched Steve Slaton once this year (at Tennessee), and I also sat Marques Colston against the Jets. So I guess the answer is "No," but that's only because the number of actual fantasy studs gets smaller all the time.
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Posted by Michael Rogers | Oct. 08 at 04:04 PM
I'm surprised none of the experts addressed the relative "studliness" of one's player compared with that of the opposing defense, and/or defensive players. For example, I started Ochocinco Week 1 when the Bengals played Denver. But, that was because I didn't have a GOOD matchup for any of my non-studs. If I did, I would have benched Ochocinco Week 1 because he was going to be covered by Champ Bailey. But, overall, what is the point of filling out a roster? In my opinion, it's for more than just plugging guys in during bye weeks. It's for using guys during good matchups too (i.e., I would rather start almost any QB not named JaMarcus Russell if said QB is playing against the Titans right now, as opposed to a guy like Matt Ryan against even just a top 15 passing defense).
Posted by ROBERT JOHNSON | Oct. 14 at 10:41 AM
I have won 7 league titles in 20 years using the Scott P. approach. The key is to draft more than your fair share of studs at each position, and be fearless about exploiting matchups. Case in point -- last year, my QBs were Brees and Cutler. I platooned them all year, and hit most of their respective big weeks. The combo outscored either one of them separately by a surprisingly big margin. Sure I played the wrong one a few times, but it really didn't hurt that much! And natch, I racked up championship #7.
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