Week 14 fantasy football: Can you live with it?
By BRYAN RUBIN
College Contributor Network
Week 14 marks the commencement of fantasy football playoffs where we crown the true champion of each league. Regular season win totals are thrown out the window along with any other upcoming Sunday afternoon plans you had, besides allowing NFL RedZone to hypnotize you with seven captivating hours of commercial-free football.
If you've been eliminated, the feeling is nothing but bitter disappointment and regret. But hey, at least you can allot your full attention to studying for finals now (disclaimer: Fan Duel. Don't even think about it. Your GPA is much more important than a five dollar 50/50 contest. And your parents will agree. Stick to the books.)
If you've qualified for the three-week showdown and still have a reason to set your lineup this week, then congrats. What a feeling it is to finish in the top six of a league. Between the bragging rights, personal satisfaction and potential payday to result from your valiant effort, you are walking tall this week.
But if you lose this week, the glory of making the playoffs will vanish into a black hole faster than JaMarcus Russell's career. And then you'll have to actually start paying attention to your fantasy basketball team that you consistently forget to change your lineup for because fantasy basketball is almost as exciting as real basketball, which is only exciting when there are five minutes left in every fourth quarter and you have NBA League Pass.
At the end of the day (or season) only one person will end up victorious. If you're not first, you're last. You may have been able to procrastinate completing your schoolwork all semester, but with the playoffs beginning tonight, you can't afford to waste any time. It's time to get to work and bring home that 'ship.
In the playoffs, it's easy to get caught up in the moment. You begin to doubt what got you here and question whether your squad is truly championship worthy. That's why my fantasy football credo is very plain and simple: do what got you here. Don't get cute. If you lose, can you live with your decision?
If you made the postseason, chances are you start an above-average quarterback. If you have an Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, obviously you're rolling with them regardless of their shadily tough matchups this weekend. But the credo comes into play when you stumble into the playoffs with a Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez or Tony Romo at the helm of your team.
It's easy to doubt any one of these three guys on a given Sunday. So when you notice Ryan Fitzpatrick, coming off a 358-yard, six-touchdown performance in Week 13, is an available free agent and playing at Jacksonville on Sunday, it's hard to resist temptation. But if you lose because you started Fitzpatrick over Ryan can you live with it? Chances are probably not.
On the contrary, don't be afraid to veer away from starting big name players on your roster over rising bench stars. For instance, Indianapolis Colts running back Daniel Herron is a solid play since his practical takeover of the starting job from Trent Richardson, who is allergic to yards after contact. You have no reason to bench him for a name like Frank Gore, Ryan Matthews or Steven Jackson. Can you live with losing because you started Herron over Gore? I most certainly could. Same with a Jordan Reed over a Jason Witten or Travis Kelce. The rewards outweigh the risks. And the risks are worth the rewards.
At this point, it's just you and the five other owners in your league. Two probably have byes and the other four are battling to reach the semi-finals. The waiver wire won't help you at this point and neither will second guessing yourself. Because it's playoff time. It's sink or swim. Do-or-die. Pass or fail. There are no participation trophies for competing in a fantasy league, but it can end up being an exhilarating ride if you make it all the way.
The journey to the prestigious promise land starts -- tonight.
Bryan Rubin is a senior at Syracuse University. He once ate Chipotle three times in one day and woke up at 3:46 a.m. on a Wednesday morning to make a roster move to his fantasy football team (while his friends were sleeping) to avoid wasting his No. 1 waiver claim. Follow him on Twitter: @bryan_rubin