Home Columns Decisions, Decisions: Fresh Struggles

Decisions, Decisions: Fresh Struggles

by Mike Tulanko

The best part about life is the struggles. Struggles come in all shapes, sizes and stress levels. Tiny speed bumps that we roll over intuitively and massive caverns which we tensely feel our way through in darkness have something in common: the resolution. 

Resolutions are different from successes. Not every struggle is a success story, and yet all of them have an endpoint. Whether that endpoint is favorable to you or not, it exists. 

Are struggles the best part of life though?

Struggle is how we learn. Struggle is how we grow. Struggle lifts us to new highs and teaches us about the lows. Struggle helps us define ourselves. Wouldn’t life be boring without the struggles? Yep!

Hitting Refresh

So what do you do when you get your resolution? One beautiful thing about the game we all play together is that there is always a chance to hit refresh. It’s what every format has in common. Redraft, dynasty and daily fantasy football players all get to glean valuable information and apply the learning. 

A refresh can take many forms. It can be sending away a bunch of big names in dynasty to get some new players on your squad. Sometimes it’s challenging your assumptions about a strategy you think is inferior.

Or it’s as simple as forgetting the more distant past and formulating how you feel about players today.

Decisions, Decisions: Players Pushing Reset

To help you do just that, my final analysis of season one of “Decisions, Decisions,” will focus on players who have moved past their struggles to intriguing resolutions. 

The Ascension of… Hunter Renfrow (WR, Las Vegas Raiders)

Hunter Renfrow has stumbled his way into Points Per Reception (PPR) WR1 scoring territory in the 2021 fantasy season. The 2019 fifth-round pick out of Clemson reset his own fate by seizing opportunities. 

Hunter Renfrow finished ninth in the NFL in receptions (103).

At the end of the 2020 season, there was a minuscule buzz around him as a player to have on a deep dynasty bench. This year he pulled in 103 catches, 1038 yards and 9 touchdowns. Darren Waller’s extended absence surely opened the lane to the touchdowns. 

What was interesting to see though is that even before Waller was iffy in the lineup and the Henry Ruggs incident took him out of the NFL, Renfrow was still the most highly-targeted WR in Las Vegas. 

You hear that fantasy success is about talent meeting opportunity, and Renfrow was just one example of this being true in 2021. His route running keeps improving year over year and clearly, the trust from Derek Carr and the coaching staff is growing each year too. While I would be surprised to see Renfrow as a WR1 again next year, he could find himself in mid-WR2 territory for some time. 

I’m betting there will be a window of opportunity to get him on your squad for a reasonable amount of risk. This is especially true if Brian Edwards takes another step forward, or if the Raiders get a big-name free agent or draft pick at WR for next season. 

Derrick Henry (RB, Tennessee Titans)

Derrick Henry was out for half of the fantasy season. How did he pound the reset button when he wasn’t even pounding the rock? It’s simple… and subtle. 

The question you need to ask is “How does a player who was out for half the season end up as RB22 in ESPN PPR scoring?” The nature of the running back position has been changing for a while, but there is no stronger evidence of that shift than Henry this year. 

While having a roster full of starting running backs feels safe on the surface, in application it is becoming less and less necessary. Henry is a force of nature on the field. There is no denying it. 

Yet it feels like there are more and more value-friendly backs in the top 24 every year. For instance:  Cordarrelle Patterson, Joe Mixon and James Conner were all PPR RB1s, and there were plenty of people who had them left for dead (maybe not entirely in Mixon’s case) at draft time. 

The State of the Tight End

Since we are on the topic of being forgotten, it’s time to talk tight ends. This position is admittedly not very deep. What is interesting to me about tight ends is that the range of points for PPR TE3-TE12 is equivalent to PPR RB16-29 in non-tight end premium scoring. 

This is significant because there are plenty of players who are digging deep into the RB3s and RB4s, before considering drafting a top-12-caliber tight end. 

And while the tight end revolution isn’t here yet, it seems like it’s worth taking a shot on some of the younger tight end talent out there than banking on a tier of RBs who you know what their ceiling is. Also worth noting is that good tight ends typically stick around in the league longer than their RB companions. 

Don’t abandon running backs altogether to wave the banner for the tight end uprising, but consider the talent you are looking at when it’s your turn to pick. But there’s no reason to shy away from Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesicki when you are staring at players like Michael Carter or the flavor of the week in San Francisco. 

Parting Wisdom

“It’s our struggles that define us. And the hardships we endure. Your spirit can’t be broken now. You’ve come too far.” – Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed “You’re Never Alone”)

Make today a great day! And don’t forget to be awesome (DFTBA)!


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