One of the questions I often receive has to do with matchups. That is, how important are matchups when you are determining who to start? Should you be concerned if Aaron Rodgers is playing the Jets on the road? Should you sit him and start your QB2 who is playing New England at home?
While there is no sure fire answer to the issue, I follow the following guidelines. Tier 1 players start every game. Tier 1 players in shallow leagues would be those listed in the Top 40 or 50 on our Football 101 list. Tier 1 players in deeper leagues would be Top 60 to Top 80. At a minimum half of your players should be worth starting every game. More is better.
Simply determine a core group of players who will start every week. Don’t over think it. Just start them. The core players would be QB1, RB1 and WR1 in shallow leagues. Add in RB2, WR2 and even TE1 in deep leagues.
OK, so the Tier 1 is simple. What about the Tier 2 players (Flex, WR3, etc.) This one is a little tougher but I default to the player who is performing better – unless the matchup is really rugged. Even then, I usually start the better player. After all, cream rises to the top.
I also default to the player over the matchup for another reason. Have you ever started a lower ranked player because he had a great matchup that week – and he totally bombed? I have. From a pure team management point of view, I would rather miss out on a good performance by the lesser player than kick myself for not starting the better player. Not a very good reason? Well, I’m just saying…….
My favorite approach: Determine a ‘rotating’ position(s) in your starting lineup. For example, if you have a team with 9 offensive starters, make the 9th position a rotating matchup position. That way you ‘run with your horses’, play a little matchup roulette for fun, and have an overall plan for managing your team – which makes Sunday morning angst a thing of the past.
Do not start Tier 3 players regardless of the matchup. They are bench fillers. They are on your bench to fill bye weeks and protect you in case of injury. They are not there to utilize for favorable matchups.
BTW, speaking of bench players, you know to never have two kickers or even two defenses, right? OK, two defenses is fine during a bye week and in special circumstances. Two kickers would be a very unusual, very short term situation. Couldn’t you get a RB or WR to provide a little depth at a more important position?
Bottom line: Have a plan and stick to it. Start your Tier 1 players every week regardless of matchup. Determine how many ‘matchup slots’ your team will have and stick to it. Life is always better with a plan…….
For this article, we did not discuss individual defensive player management. IDP management is reviewed in another article on the website.