Family, Football & Breathe
“Don’t spin your wheels and stress. Take a deep breath, center yourself and make a plan.” – Douglas Adams
Life can be an overwhelming task at times. The world pulls us in a million directions every waking minute of our day and sometimes even in our dreams. The older you get, the more the pull weighs on you. Work, family, friends, obligations with your children and the list goes on. At times – most of them, if we’re being honest – it’s impossible to keep up.
I’ll preface this by saying I understand my life is not anyone else’s. I have been insanely lucky to do what I do with whom I get to do it. As I sit at my laptop writing this, my wife Jen is not even 10 feet away at her desk, editing fantasy football content. We are a fantasy football house. That said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
I had no illusions writing would become a career. When I started writing, we were beginning a pandemic, and I didn’t have much else to do. But, over the next few months, I took on more significant roles with In-Between Media (IBT). First, I became the social media editor, then joined the podcast. Jen joined the team as well, editing and writing her own column.
The company continued to grow, and as such, Jen and I were doing more and more. Our days started to fill up with media work in addition to chasing an energetic three-year-old around. By the end of our first season of content creation, everything had changed. We wanted this to be our new path, our new career. We loved what we were doing and found a best friend in our editor-in-chief, Seth Woolcock.
Since that first season, we’ve only pushed harder to grow and make a place for ourselves in this industry.
But it hasn’t been easy.
As we’ve grown, we’ve taken on additional responsibilities at new companies while continuing to help Seth lead IBT. Our work days start as soon as we’ve sent our son Jackson off for the day. We run full speed six days a week, if not seven, sometimes until 9 or 10 p.m.
Working in the fantasy football industry is a dream for both of us. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. Constantly running with few breaks takes its toll, but the news cycle runs 24/7, and the pressure to keep up is real. As a result, we’ve become known for working on our vacations, always bringing our podcasting equipment and laptops. I couldn’t tell you the last time either of us had a full two straight days without some sort of obligation. These past few days, though, we took a breath.
We didn’t plan on our mini-staycation this weekend, but it happened. We woke up Saturday morning, and for the first time since February, Jen didn’t pick up any editing work. She usually does this around 6 a.m. as Jackson and I are sound asleep, then lays in bed thinking about editing until we all rise. However, on this particular Saturday morning, Jackson came to bed with us early, and we lounged until nearly 10 a.m. Then, we gardened. All-day. No football content. No business. Very little social media. It was just us, nine pepper plants, six tomato plants, a cucumber, a zucchini and an eggplant.
We rolled into Sunday and took our usual lazy day off. I sit here on Monday feeling refreshed. I don’t know the next time we’ll have an opportunity to come up for air, but I do know that I am thankful to be here, writing for you, my readers.
Whether you’re here for my life musings, the fantasy football advice, or both, I appreciate you taking time out of your lives to take in my thoughts. You make the stress worth it.
Hot, Medium & Mild: Second-Year Quarterbacks
What else is stressful is trying to make your dynasty fantasy football roster a contender heading into the 2022 season. So many parts and pieces have moved around, and with Organized Team Activities (OTAs) well underway. Overreactions are abounding among analysts, fantasy and otherwise.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on; I get it. So in this edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild,” I will let you take a breath and give you my thoughts on a few of the second-year quarterbacks and my outlook on them in 2022.
Let’s get to it!
HOT — Bishop’s Crown
Davis Mills (QB, Houston Texans)
The 2021 campaign was painful for the Houston Texans and their fanbase. There was drama, injuries and uncertainty on the way to a 4-12 record, good for second-to-last-place in the AFC South. This team is headed into rebuild mode with the departure of embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson and a new head coach in Lovie Smith. They did little in free agency on the offensive side, with the only notable addition being running back Marlon Mack. However, I am still bullish on second-year quarterback Davis Mills.
After Mills’ dynamic finish to the 2021 season, the team appears ready to commit to him as the starter in 2022. Amidst the chaos of last season, Mills was handed the starting job in Week 14 and then paced as the QB10 the rest of the way. In that final five-game stretch, he threw nine touchdowns versus two interceptions, completing 68.4 percent of his passes.
While Mack was the only addition of note to the backfield, the Texans have wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Chris Conley returning. They also added dynamic Alabama wide receiver John Metchie in the second round of the NFL Draft. Mills has an opportunity to keep rolling with the teammates who helped him finish last season strong. Cooks is a perennial 1,000-yard receiver. Collins and Conely both showed flashes of what they could do last season, as did then-rookie tight end Brevin Jordan.
No one expects this team to be good from a real football standpoint, but that doesn’t apply to our world of fantasy football. The Texans’ backfield includes a player making a comeback from an Achilles tear (Mack), an aging Rex Burkhead and rookie Dameon Pierce. This upcoming season, it will be surprising if they don’t lean pass-heavy, giving Mills plenty of opportunities to put up big fantasy numbers. His current FantasyPros Dynasty Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR) sits at QB24, so acquiring him shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive. You should be able to offer up a mid-round rookie draft pick to get him on your roster.
MEDIUM — Sport Pepper
Justin Fields (QB, Chicago Bears)
The verdict is still out on Chicago Bears’ second-year quarterback Justin Fields. The 2021 season proved difficult for the rookie out of THE Ohio State University. He got limited chances to prove himself on a team with no clear direction. Former head coach Matt Nagy’s indecisiveness about the position did him no favors, flopping between Fields and veterans Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.
In 10 starts last season, Fields threw 10 interceptions versus seven touchdowns while only completing 58 percent of his passes. His saving grace in fantasy was his rushing upside, where he rushed the ball 72 times for 420 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.83 Yards Per Carry (YPC).
Most of the time, he looked uncomfortable behind a poor offensive line and erratic, non-sensical playcalling from Nagy and company. Fields never had a chance in 2021, but things are looking up for him heading into 2022. New head coach Matt Eberflus has removed any doubt about his role in Chicago moving forward, making it clear he will be the starter.
As a result, Fields will have the entire offseason to further deepen his rapport with incumbent tight end Cole Kmet and wide receiver Darnell Mooney. In addition, David Montgomery is heading into the season healthy, and second-year running back Khalil Herbert figures to be more involved in the offense in 2022.
Fields will now have no excuse for poor play moving forward. The offense will be more geared towards his skill set than under Nagy. It’s almost a given we will see him get more involved in the rushing attack, including usage in the red zone. His ceiling is a QB1, and his floor is within the QB2-tier range. I chose to feature him as my medium player only because the cost to acquire him in dynasty is higher than Mills. You can get him, but it will cost you a late-first to an early second-round pick in most leagues. However, I’m not sure we won’t look back in two years and see that value as a steal.
MILD — Sweet Cherry Pepper
Zach Wilson (QB, New York Jets)
Zach Wilson is another case of supreme disappointment in what was supposed to be an electric rookie campaign. The Jets selected Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and unlike Fields, he was the clear-cut starter in New York from day one. While the weapons in the offense around him were somewhat questionable, it was expected the mobile gunslinger would make the best of it and creep within the QB2 tier in his first season.
He had a solid start to 2021, managing 18.3 fantasy points against the Carolina Panthers. However, it became clear Wilson was in over his head in the ensuing weeks. Fantasy output aside, Wilson showed poor decision-making skills in and out of the pocket. His inability to get rid of the ball quickly led to him being sacked 44 times, third-most in the league. This was a major factor in what landed him as the overall QB30.
The addition of Breece Hall will help take some of the pressure off. However, should he prove an effective option out of the backfield, it could also eat into Wilson’s opportunities, including the rushing upside that has many analysts and managers excited.
I’m not saying I am all the way out on Wilson until the end. I think his raw skill-set translates well in the NFL if he can polish it. The addition of Hall and wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the draft signals the team is willing to build around him. With the added weapons and a year under his belt, I will need to see massive improvement from him in 2022 to have any desire to roster him in the future.
No column would be complete without a #DadJoke! So here is a new-ish spin on an old classic!
How many telemarketers does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, but he has to do it during dinner.
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @NatePolvogt.