Many of the toughest decisions a fantasy football owner must make during the course of a season involve figuring out when to bench stars. It's never easy to sit a reliable player, but poor matchups or recent struggles can often make it a necessity to build the best lineup.
Ultimately, there are only a handful players who are truly must-start options. The likes of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski should always be in the lineup. Otherwise, every player should be open for debate.
With that in mind, let's examine a trio of stars who have been assets for owners at times throughout the year, but should be left on the fantasy sidelines for Week 13. They could still help during the playoffs, though, so don't totally give up on them.
Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Last season, any quarterback facing the New Orleans Saints was a worthy fantasy start. That's not the case now as the Saints have made significant strides on defense. They rank fifth in total yards allowed and third against the pass, at less than 200 yards per game.
The other thing working against Wilson on Monday night is Seattle's likely game plan. The Seahawks don't want to get into a shootout with Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints passing attack. Their best chance of getting a win is leaning heavily on the ground game to pick up yards and use the clock.
So even though Wilson has emerged as a top-10 fantasy quarterback with a string of two-touchdown games, this is one of the few scenarios where the risk outweighs the potential reward. The Saints defense should be able to keep him in check.
Stevan Ridley (New England Patriots)
Heading into New England's Week 10 bye, Ridley had scored at least one touchdown and 11 fantasy points in four straight games. In a season where consistent running back production has been hard to come by, it made him a valuable commodity.
He wasn't able to maintain that momentum coming out off the break. He's lost a fumble in each of the past two games, which has led the Patriots to give other backs an opportunity. It's created a logjam with Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount all stealing touches from Ridley.
Even though owners might be eager to give him another chance against the Houston Texans' 22nd-ranked rush defense, there are simply too many variables in play. It's not even clear how much playing time he'll get, which poses too much risk in a key week.
Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints)
There are two key factors working against Colston in Week 13. Most importantly, he's facing a Seattle Seahawks defense that ranks second against the pass at barely over 180 yards per game. The unit will pose a tough test, even for the Saints' offense.
The other problem is the large number of targets Brees is working with. The star quarterback likes to work the ball around, getting several different players involved in the offense to keep opponents on their heels. That makes it difficult for any single player to have a monster day.
Colston will still have strong weeks, as he did in Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys, but consistency remains an issue. Fantasy owners should pick their spots with him down the stretch. Facing the Seahawks isn't a good spot.