Family, Football & A Look Back
“Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.” – Langston Hughes
Life comes at you fast.
If you had told me two years ago that anyone besides my wife, Jen, would care about my opinions on life or fantasy football, I would have called you crazy. It wasn’t that I felt my thoughts were wrong or my knowledge was lacking; it was the idea that someone would bother to take the time to find out.
Couple that with the fact I had zero writing experience or podcasting background, and you can see where I am coming from.
I don’t know if it was the boredom of being locked down at the beginning of a pandemic, a brief and uncharacteristic boost of confidence or both that led me to respond to In-Between Media founder Seth Woolcock‘s tweet looking for writers. It doesn’t matter now because it seems to have been fate knocking at my door. I didn’t know it then, but this was where I was meant to be.
I’ve learned much about myself since I reached out to Seth on that hot June evening in 2020.
As I’ve discussed, creating content focused on fantasy football is a dream. However, I had no idea how impactful writing about my life and experiences would be.
I spent the better part of my first 38 years on Earth feeling like I didn’t belong. I was awkward, quiet and brooding. I was very temperamental and mad at the world. I had no self-confidence. I didn’t believe anyone, including Jen, cared about me enough to stick around long-term, no matter how much they proved otherwise. I felt disposable and alone in my head.
I found that I wasn’t alone when I started writing about it. I realized I was one of thousands upon thousands of people who felt the same way. I started to open up and let go of the darkness. I began believing the people around me when they said they cared. There was light.
I’m not perfect, or even close to it. I still have bad days when I feel like I don’t belong. I still get cranky and can be unbearable to be around at times. I am a constant work-in-progress. The difference now is that I have an entire community as a support system.
I am not alone.
Looking back, I am so thankful for this journey. Having the opportunity to do all of this alongside my best friend and wife has brought us closer than we were before. As a result, I’m a better husband and father, making us a better team. I genuinely believe our marriage is stronger now than it’s ever been.
The best thing to come from all of this is simple; I believe in myself like I never have. I push myself to get out of my comfort zone daily, doing things I never imagined possible. I’ve learned to ignore the noise and just be me. The rest will take care of itself.
If you are reading this and know what I’m talking about, hopefully, you too know you’re not alone. Life is hard, no matter who you are or where you’re at in your journey. Always know there is someone out there who feels the same as you, struggles like you and wants to feel better, just like you. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to someone to talk, get advice or help. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable, but it could change your life.
Like life, fantasy football can be stressful and confusing. It can be panic-inducing and make you question every decision you’ve ever made. OK, maybe that’s a tad extreme, but it’s not far off. Yes, this is a game, and it’s supposed to be fun, but winning your league is the ultimate goal.
That journey starts with your drafts, which likely are complete now, or soon will be. Unfortunately, the team you see in front of you now will not be what you see at the season’s end. Instead, players will get injured, benched, or just flat-out underperform.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get into it in this week’s edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild: HOT Early Waiver Wire Targets.”
Hot, Medium & Mild: HOT Early Waiver Wire Targets
While we are still a week and a half away from opening night and the start of the fantasy football season, it’s never too early to start scanning waivers for undervalued players that have a chance to pop. Finding a player who can add depth to your roster and provide spot-start value in a pinch can be the difference between winning and losing in any given week. This is where championships are won.
This week I have two wide receivers I believe can significantly impact their teams yet are mainly going undrafted in most 12-team redraft leagues. Of course, risk is involved with any waiver-wire acquisition, but the danger here is minimal at their current value.
HOT — White Bullet Habanero
Van Jefferson (WR, Los Angeles Rams)
The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams are heading into the 2022 season as one of the top teams in the NFC. Despite losing offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell to the Minnesota Vikings, little will likely change for this high-powered offense. This is good news for receivers Cooper Kupp and the newly acquired Allen Robinson, but wide receiver Van Jefferson seems to be a forgotten entity among fantasy managers.
There is always a concern that a WR3 in any NFL offense has an uphill battle to gain fantasy relevance. In most situations, that is a very valid worry. However, the Rams ran three-receiver sets more than any other team last season, an astounding 86 percent of snaps. Though O’Connell is gone, head coach Sean McVay has given us no reason to believe that will change. In this offense last season, Jefferson earned 89 targets playing behind Kupp and either Robert Woods or Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ).
With Woods and Beckham gone, and an older and more road-worn Robinson now in blue and yellow, it appears Jefferson has a clear-cut path to again finish in the Points Per Reception (PPR) WR3 tier. He also has the potential to creep up into the back end of the WR2 group. He is currently only rostered in 14 percent of ESPN leagues, so chances are good he will be floating around waivers early on in your league.
Don’t go crazy with your Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) or a high waiver wire priority. It will probably be a bit later in the season if he manages to creep up in value. Get ahead of the pack and spend five percent or less of your budget on him. If you find yourself with high waiver wire priority, try to grab him once he hits free agency.
HOT — Prairie Fire Pepper
Marvin Jones (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jacksonville Jaguars caused a stir this offseason when they signed free agent wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72-million contract. Kirk, who played primarily out of the slot last season in Arizona, became the de facto WR1 in Jacksonville to many, thanks to the massive, eye-popping contract. Thanks to the hype, many fantasy managers have left veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones for dead, which could be a mistake.
While 2021 was a mess of a season for the Jaguars, there were a few bright spots, one of them being Jones. He led the team in every major receiving category, including a career-high in targets (120). Despite the ineptitude of the Urban Meyer-led squad and a rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, he still finished as the PPR WR33.
It would be surprising to see Jones finish lower than a WR3 tier talent this season. Eliminating an injury-shortened 2018 season in Detroit, 2021 was Jones’ worst season since 2016. He is also primarily an outside receiver, so there may be limited competition for snaps from Kirk.
Additionally, with the news of the Laviska Shenault Jr. trade to Carolina, it makes sense that Jones will be in for a similar workload as last season.
Currently, Jones is rostered in 39 percent of ESPN leagues. He is currently being drafted as the WR60 (159.3 overall) on ESPN. He is a solid late-round dart throw if you have yet to draft and may be on the waiver wire, depending on your league.
That’s all for me, folks! I hope you find my spicy and not-so-spicy advice and notes useful. Until next time!
My column wouldn’t be complete without a corny #DadJoke, and this week I found one that hits close to home.
I wish my gray hair started in Las Vegas because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @NatePolvogt.