Fantasy playoffs are top of mind for many of you reading this, with normally routine roster decisions becoming more magnified. I've seen a higher-than-normal number of start/sit questions on Twitter this weekend, many of which were very challenging! Complicated questions often don't have easy solutions, so I'll try to share some factors that I normally take into consideration.
Player valuation. In a normal week, I would suggest that you never bench your elite players. These are players capable of better results than the average player, even in a slump. At least if you lose, you can say you did it with your best players and not be left with the feeling that Canada had after the 1998 Olympics when Gretzky was left out of the shootout.
Specific categories. However, there are certain instances where it might make more sense to bench a stud for a specific category specialist. For example, you might start Tanner Jeannot over a better scorer if the scoring categories have already been decided but hits are close. Your best players might be the reason you are playing for a championship, but don't be afraid to use all the tools in your box either.
Matchups. Who is playing in net for the opponent? Conversely, which team is your goaltender facing? Obviously, anything can happen in a game, but you draft a top player for results over an entire season. If they are facing an unusually tough matchup, then you might have to consider benching them. Back-to-backs and home/road splits could also come into play.
Recent play. Who is holding the hot stick? Players produce when they are confident and in a rhythm. This might also relate to better linemates and/or an increase in icetime or power-play time. Player valuation is always changing.
Gut feeling. It's easy to fall into the trap of analysis paralysis, which happens when we receive an overwhelming amount of information to the point that it's impossible to make a decision. At that point, you might have to assume that the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. Or just take a step back and trust your gut and go with your initial take.