I know that Tom Brady achieved an interesting little milestone this past weekend. Something about 100,000 yards during his career. That's nice. But did you know that my fantasy team achieved 100 percent of its lineup potential for the second time in three weeks? That means I started the very best lineup I could have from my roster, again! The website even praised me for it, so I know it's a big deal.
The big takeaway is that Brady is headed for Canton, and I'm headed for trouble. If you're not conflicted over lineup decisions, something is very wrong.
We've all had times when we've been unsure who to start. We look for data, expert opinions, search our feelings like meditative Jedi, and even scour weather reports. It's one guy or the other, and we need to make the right move. And if you're like me, you remember the times when you got it wrong more than the other way around. You might be conflicted over several positions at once and feel frustrated that you have to deal with it every week.
But that conflict is a good sign for your team. It means you have depth. You have more potential starters than starting positions, and multiple guys who can produce at a high level for you. You might not always choose the right one, but the fact that you need to make a choice shows that you did something right on draft day or through the waiver wire. In contrast, if you only have a couple of productive running backs or receivers, you don't have that problem. You know you'll pick the right guys and not spend a moment debating over lineup decisions. Sounds great, right?
In reality, it's not. You have who you have, and that's it. You have no other options, no plan B, no opportunity to tinker with your starters. If they produce every week, great. But if they go into a slump, you're sunk. If they get hurt, you're doomed. And when things go south, there's nowhere to turn. It might lead to fewer headaches, but also fewer trips to the playoffs.
There are only so many ways to gauge how your team is doing. Your record is an obvious one, but it doesn't always reveal how good (or bad) things really are. But if you have comparable talent at the same position, that's a sign that you have the depth to compete over the long haul. And I'm not saying you have multiple RB1s just sitting around. But you have different guys you can imagine starting, so you have options. It might cause you grief when you have to decide, but it's better than having no other choices and simply playing the only cards you have.
So if/when you make the wrong call between two players, don't fret about it. If you're only hitting 75 percent of your potential points each week, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at this game. It means you have enough players to make it through the rest of the bye weeks, injuries, slumps, and whatever else the rest of the season throws your way. You might have to deal with the stress of choosing between multiple players, but you'll often be doing it when other managers' seasons are over.
I hate making those decisions, which usually means looking at previous games for consistency, how well their team is doing, and the weather outlook for that week (including wind in some cases). But it’s not just concern over making the wrong decision. It’s because I have a terrible habit of looking back and checking if it was the difference between winning and losing. There’s no benefit to doing that, but my general manager can’t help but torture my head coach with that information, and then thinking about it throughout the following week.
But this year I wish I had that dilemma. I have two startable running backs, for example. That’s it. What good is my 100 percent potential points when they’re both on the bye in a couple of weeks? Losing a game is one thing. Knowing your team is likely headed for a beating down the road, and there’s nothing you can do about it, is something else entirely.
So if you’re lamenting a bad decision that cost you a game, believe me: It could be worse. Be glad you have the extra talent on your roster, and keep making the decisions to the best of your ability. You’ll make the right ones many weeks, and it will pay off for you. Good luck this week.
Do you have lineup dilemmas each week, or do you have just enough players to field a competitive team? Who are the guys who are on the bubble each week for you, and who’s burned you the most? What criteria do you use to decide between players? Share your thoughts below.