I remember back in high school when my basketball coach would bench a good player. Maybe he saw something we didn’t. Like every time we played those Bulldogs, our point guard fought their point guard. Or when we played the teeny tiny Lady Monarchs, we suddenly didn’t need our very tall but very glass handed center quite so desperately.Carey

But however nonsensical or spotty his decision seemed, the one constant was that we never knew how good the benchwarmers could have been. Sure, they MIGHT have played loose while the star fouled out, or hit that buzzer beater when the second stringer missed. But there was never a way to know for sure.

Theses fantasy benchwarmers, on the other hand, are the worst. Their only purpose—beyond plugging my bye week holes—is to torture me. They’re here to run up numbers below the line so I can see just what a terrible manager I am. I can’t just feel a little uneasy as my opponent runs up the score while I wait for my few afternoon guys to play. No! I have to ALSO watch as Amari Cooper (benched because his quarterback has a cold and they’re playing a pretty tough defense) racks up 25 points, not one of which gets applied to my weekly score.

This Crystal Football Effect is like being a teacher while simultaneously seeing your career as a hedge fund manager (yes!), a pro soccer player (yes, please), and a surgeon (not your thing) unfold before your eyes. Like ending up with the second chair JV French hornist while also seeing your life with the Swiss diplomat’s son you met at model UN.

The whole point of “the road not taken” is that you never have to see your mistakes played out for you on the endless Sports Center loop.

For this reason, my new theory on setting my line-up is just pick the best guy. Unless their quarterback’s head fell off his shoulders at the end of the last game, or they’re playing against the actual Avengers, my best guys play and my bench sits there quietly thinking about the model UN. And I promise, the stats of my bench will be the be

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Meredith Short
Writer, Packer Fan, Utterly Underqualified Fantasy Football Consultant. Growing up in Green Bay made Meredith into a life-long Packer devotee and consumer of cheese curds. She was a three-sport athlete until college and fancied herself a real sports aficionado—right up until the night she met her future husband, the Rainman of sports trivia. The same night she met Voodoo Brown, she fell for Chris, winner of beer pong, spouter of sports stats, and the only dude at the bar with a collared shirt. She tech writes for the government, has published a comic and a book, and writes grants for non-profits—qualifying her not one iota to write sports. Today, she watches football, engaged in the action and occasionally commenting on Jordy’s forearms or so-and-so having a pretty good season, while Chris runs phone, laptop, and multi-screen TV tracking every number trackable. And this year, they’re both playing fantasy. Will his hard work and savant status win out or will this be like Preakness 2004 when she picked every race based on cutest horse name or prettiest silk? And won. Watch and learn. Or at least watch.

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