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Ear to the Ground: No Safety Net

by Bo McBrayer

“Ear to the Ground” is a year-round column from the stylings of Bo McBrayer blending the spice of life with fantasy football advice in the form of a dynasty trade value chart good for the next month. Join him this week as he talks value changes and offers his advice for Weeks 11-14.

According to my mom, I was a good kid. Her baby boy stayed out of trouble for the most part, opting to get lost in worlds much brighter than the real one. 

The same marital bickering echoed through the walls of our house as everyone else. Mom and Dad called it quits when I was in first or second grade. Mom had spent a pretty penny on A-Z Encyclopedia Britannica. I read it front to back a few times. Sports Illustrated came in the mail, as did ESPN The Magazine and Wildlife Fact Files. I had my nose in every word, every chart and picture. Grandma’s old cookbooks were next if I got bored.

California Gold Rush

The Sacramento River Valley was a key location in the 1849 California Gold Rush.

I never enjoyed being present. I could paint any life I wanted in my mind. It was better.

Rural northern California, specifically the northern Sacramento River Valley, was completely underwater millions of years ago. The fertile soil and temperate climate leave no mystery as to why so much of America’s fresh food supply originates from this crucible.

My neighbors were the walnut trees in the adjacent orchard and the birds that relied on them. I would toss the baseball into the air and try to catch it in my worn-out Rawlings glove with Tony Gwynn’s signature stamped on it. Sometimes it would glance off a branch and force a reactionary improv basket catch like Willie Mays. That was life; self-reliant and uninhibited by the environment that brought me up.

Understanding Privilege

I’ve always had a safety net, though. My folks would take me in if I ever hit rock bottom, at least for a little while. I could reach for those faraway galaxies and land like a feather on something with a thread count if I fell. I am blessed with immense privilege. To pretend I’m the same as someone else would only be a lie to appease my own ego. 

I have a wife and daughter, four pets and own a home. I have a career that provides medical insurance. It was a life I built myself, but my route to earning contentment and stability was a road that is cared for and repaved often. Just like growing up in a modest community, I am insulated from the inherent risks that accompany failure. 

Stay Hungry

Lawrence Jackson Jr. is a content creator for NBC Sports Edge. I met him at The Fantasy Football Expo in Canton this past summer. He is immensely talented and has paved his own way in the fantasy football industry, even now sharing TV airspace with Matthew Berry himself. I admit I was jealous and upset when he was selected over me for a full-time position. I was happy for him; I enjoy his work immensely.

The part that I couldn’t get over was that he was achieving something I had also dreamed of. We chatted over food and drinks for a little while. I shared some of my hot sauce and shared my feelings about trying to “make it.” I lamented about being hesitant to go all-out and break into full-time work in the fantasy space, leaving my cozy confines. He listened, paused with a distant look, then hit me with one sentence that completely changed my worldview.

“I don’t have anything to fall back on.”

A rush of different emotions came over me – Guilt and shame, followed by empathy and a strange calm. Where I would have normally had a funny quip in retort, I was locked in stunned silence for what felt like an awkward length of time. I honestly can’t remember what I said next. I know we finished the conversation soon after. It was as if my entire trip to Canton was so I could learn that lesson. 

No matter where you come from, get where you’re going like you can’t go back. 

Don’t Lose Your Dinosaur

There are few people in my life that have earned more of my respect than Lawrence. Since that moment, I have pushed myself past limits that were only there because I put them there to protect myself. I enjoy my work in fantasy football immensely. It brings me joy. I hope my content continues to pass along that joy to those who consume my work. If it makes me happy, I can handle it. I will grind harder and continue to sharpen my blades. There will always be someone out there who is hungrier and shares the same passion, but you don’t have to accept it in complacency. 

Creating fantasy football content allows me to project a different persona, one that subsequently highlights the parts of myself I actually like. I can detach from the real world around me and “log in” to tap into a world that likes all the same things as me. It’s the same as when I was a kid and my parents were fighting, except my Neverland takes me away from the numbing grind of corporate retail and adulthood stress. Think happy thoughts, right?

Dynasty Trade Value Chart: Comers, Stayers & Goers

With as many dynasty leagues I have joined (26!), it’s as if my life is running perfectly parallel to the ebbs and flows of the NFL calendar. “Families are always rising and falling in America,” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The players I’m trying to flip or keep to build a dynastic championship fantasy team range from rising stars to surprises at their peak.

The ones I am looking to make a trade for, hold or trade away from Weeks 11-14 at each position are noted on a dynasty trade value chart below:

Dynasty Disposition
Position Buy Hold Sell
QB Justin Herbert (LAC) Kyler Murray (ARI) Dak Prescott (DAL)
RB Breece Hall (NYJ) D’Andre Swift (DET) Jonathan Taylor (IND)
WR Garrett Wilson (NYJ) Jerry Jeudy (DEN) DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)
TE Kyle Pitts (ATL) Dalton Schultz (DAL) Cole Kmet (CHI)

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