- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 8, 2011

This is the first weekend of the playoffs in many leagues, including the only one in which I will make it that far. And at this point, finding something interesting to talk about is becoming increasingly difficult (although some might say the difficulty began with my first column).

I’ve avoided all year the lame advice columns on weekly matchups. If you need someone else’s advice on whether to play Mohamed Massaquoi or John Kuhn at the flex position, you either didn’t make the playoffs because your team is horrible, or you spend way too much time thinking about fantasy football, in which case you should probably stop reading right now and Google “constructive ways to spend one’s time” (I understand the irony of writing that here).

My point is that the worst thing you can do heading into the playoffs is to overthink things. (It’s really not my point but that of a co-worker and fellow team owner in the aforementioned league, although it’s a pretty fundamental idea and one I likely would have thought of eventually. OK, maybe not. My point within a point is that it’s important to give credit where it’s due.)

Unless you’re one of those annoying owners who makes 73 waiver moves during the season and lucks his/her way into the playoffs with a team that in no way resembles the one you started with, or even the one you had three weeks ago, you extended your season by sticking with a core group of players. Don’t mess with that now.

Sure, in almost every game ever played in fantasy football, owners can look back and bemoan the fact they played the wrong quarterback or running back or receiver or tight end or — you get the idea. But that’s part of the game. If you could predict 100 percent which players would perform better than others every week, you’d never lose. You’d also probably be thoroughly amused with yourself by naming every team you ever owned something stupid with “Nostradamus” in it, and have no friends.

Bench players are going to have big weeks. But if those weeks weren’t flukes, they wouldn’t be bench players. You might be upset for a few days if a waiver-wire pickup you’ve had warming your bench finally breaks out during a playoff week and you got nothing out of it. But if you decide to bench one of your top performers because you really like the matchup of a bench player, and that bench player performs like a bench player, you’ll be whining about it to the unfortunate people around you for years.

You cannot outsmart reality. Just because you think you’ll be the envy of every other owner if benching Tom Brady this week in favor of Joe Flacco (because you absolutely love his matchup with the Colts) works out, it does not change the fact that benching a dependable player in favor of an undependable player is a dumb decision. Most of the time, it won’t work out. And I say that as an owner who has Flacco as a backup. But I’m sticking with my best quarterback — a guy who hasn’t had the best season but who’s been much more consistent than Flacco — in crunch time. Playing matchups is fine when it comes to defenses and kickers, but it’s too much of a risk when it comes to primary roster spots.

If I lose with a lineup full of players that got me to the playoffs in the first place, there’s no shame in that. If I lose because I abandoned common sense at the worst possible time, then I deserve to spend the next three weeks not making eye contact with every other owner in the league.

Win (or lose) with who brung ya. It’s the honorable way to play.

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