Friends and Family Matters

It's playoff time in fantasy football, and most owners who qualified are asking themselves the same question: "Who should I start?"

Across the web, experts' feedback sections are being flooded.

Braylon Edwards(notes) or Roy Williams? Pick two of three: Pierre Thomas(notes), Ricky Williams(notes) and LaDainian Tomlinson(notes). Alex Smith or Matt Hasselbeck(notes)?

Poor Paul Bourdett.

If there is an NFL Man of the Year equivalent in fantasy football, "The Pick-Up Artist" should begin preparing his acceptance speech now. He plugged through the comment area of this week's column like a champ. Well done.

Amidst the barrage, it's easy to forget the experts are making these same decisions in their own leagues.

In particular, the 14-team Yahoo! Friends and Family League is down to four, and which owner sets the right starting lineup could determine the look of next week's championship.

Setting a lineup is easier for some than others.

Roto Experts' Scott Engel, the No. 1 seed, said he had only one real lineup decision to make this week, and it wasn't much of one. He has his choice between Kurt Warner(notes) (at Det) or Brett Favre(notes) (at Car) and is going with the former.

"I really don't have any major lineup choices, but Warner is no certainty over Favre," Engel said via email. "If that game gets ugly quick, he could be pulled."

The remaining three have more to consider.

To show the nature and logic that goes into a sit-or-start playoff decision, I asked No.4 seed Scott Pianowski to show his work when it comes to his Week 15 starting lineup. I'll do the same leading up to my matchup with No. 3 Andy Behrens.

Pianowski had two starting positions in flux. The first was at quarterback with Tony Romo(notes) (at NO) and Vince Young(notes) (Mia), who he started twice in the past three weeks.

"Tony Romo over Vince Young seems like a no-brainer to me; I'm expecting pinball scoring in New Orleans on Saturday night," said Pianowski, who ended up cutting Young Friday afternoon. "It's interesting that Scott's team has two Dallas targets in Miles Austin(notes) and Roy Williams; if Romo wants to focus on his tight ends and running backs for most of the night, fine with me."

Pianowski then had to decide his flex starter between Maurice Morris(notes) (Ari), Kevin Faulk(notes) (at Buf) and Leonard Weaver(notes) (SF). Actually, he still does.

"I haven't made a final flex decision, and I probably won't until Sunday," Pianowski said "Given the underdog position I'm in, this is all about identifying the highest upside. Zeroes don't really matter. I have to figure if there's any possible path to a "20" in here.

"I like how Weaver's playing but his touch count is far from guaranteed and the Niners defense looks pretty legit. Morris is a starter but will the Lions keep running the ball if they fall behind three scores in the first half? Faulk could be a sneaky sleeper, given the weather in Buffalo and that horrendous Bills rushing defense. I'm still fiddling around with it."

As for my team, I had two decisions to make, and both are subject to change by Sunday's game times.

At flex, I'm leaning toward Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) (at Was) over Arian Foster(notes) (at Stl).

Foster's matchup is obviously superior, and he's starting. I love that, but I fear the length of coach Gary Kubiak's leash should Foster cough up the ball or blow an assignment in pass protection. Foster is still very raw, as Thursday's practice reminded us. It feels like his opportunity is based less on what he's shown and more on what his teammates haven't.

He has the upside of being a big-time play, but with everything on the line, I just don't trust him.

Bradshaw ran hard last week, and he's a guy I've liked for months as opposed to minutes. It'll also be more fun personally to have a player going on Monday night, and that's enough for me.

I'm not considering starting LeSean McCoy(notes). This could just be the 8-year-old in me talking, but I think the Eagles' goal-line package is stupid.

My other decision is at WR3 between Roddy White(notes) (at NYJ) and Joshua Cribbs(notes) (at KC). It's difficult to bench a Pro Bowl receiver for a Cleveland Brown, but I have enough respect for Darrelle Revis(notes) to be leaning in that direction.

I don't want to be "too cute" with who I start, and that's what benching White for Cribbs looks like, but it doesn't seem fair. Cribbs looked great at Pittsburgh last week, and unlike with White, I don't have to worry about the ball not being in his hands. He's also an option for the team inside the 5-yard line out of the Wildcat, so at worst, he has a decent chance to score.

Then again, White is a big-name Pro Bowler who helped get me here. Decisions, decisions …

Hey, Pick-Up Artist?

Working the wire
The following section catalogs the transactions made in the Friends and Family League following each week of the regular season. Every owner has a $100 free agent acquisition budget for the year to be used on players clearing waivers

The move: Engel dropped Bernard Scott(notes) and added Mike Hart(notes).
The logic: With home-field advantage already clinched, coach Jim Caldwell won't hesitate to rest any injured starters. Joseph Addai(notes) is banged up, and if that cuts into his Week 16 workload, Hart will pick up the work.

The move: I dropped Brian Westbrook(notes) for Mike Nugent(notes).
The logic: Nothing like unloading your first-round draft pick for a kicker. I had been holding out hope that Westbrook would be of use in the playoffs, but that's just not realistic. If Westbrook plays next week and another owner feels like starting him with McCoy and Weaver around, be my guest.

Other adds: Houston defense, Faulk, Foster, Cribbs, Morris, Deion Branch(notes), Jason Campbell(notes)

Other drops: Tennessee defense, Torry Holt(notes), Davone Bess(notes), Kevin Smith(notes), Josh Morgan(notes), Sammy Morris(notes), Young.

What to Read Next