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Family, Football & Cheers to You

by Nate Polvogt

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this:  We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson

As we close out another trip around the sun, many of us will also be closing out the 2021 fantasy football season with a majority of league championships happening this weekend, Week 17.

Though I’ll have another edition of “Family Football & This Adventure We Call Life” out next Tuesday for the Week 18’ers, and one more later in January, I wanted to dedicate this column to all those who help make it special.

I am thankful to have an opportunity to write and even more thankful to have an audience who reads it. The insanity of life and the wildly unpredictable fantasy football landscape combined to test my abilities as a writer, analyst and fantasy football manager. 

As we all prepare for a fresh slate in 2022, I also want to thank a few people who have made my time in the fantasy football industry incredible. Our accomplishments and happiness are not ours alone. Without those around us lifting us up and supporting us, we would be nowhere. Whether you are a writer, analyst, parent, teacher, lawyer, doctor or any other profession, this is true. We all need help; a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or someone out there who motivates and inspires us – Whether they know it or not. 

First and foremost, my wife, Jen, has made my journey and sanity in life a possibility. I was a mess when I met her 15 years ago. She believed in me and stuck it through even when it wasn’t easy. I don’t think she’ll ever really know how much that has meant to me. My anxiety issues are no secret, and I cannot imagine it has been an easy road to navigate. I will forever be thankful to have her as my partner in life and this wild fantasy football industry. Saying “I love you” never seems enough for what she has done for me. 

Second, the team here at In-Between Media. They have truly become family. Without Seth Woolcock taking a chance, it’s likely that I’m not writing anywhere, for anyone. Not only Seth but the rest of the team, as well. This group lifts each other up. We support each other, not just with our craft, but with everyday life. Some of my best friends are a part of this group. They have made an unpredictable year not just manageable, but fun. 

I’d also like to shout out my brothers and co-hosts of “Coming Off The Edge,”  James Kriess, Jeff Bell and Corey Spala. This show is a big reason why Tuesdays are one of my favorite days of the week. We began it as a way to assure we got to all hang out once a week and it has blossomed into something I am very proud to be a part of. They have all pushed me to be better, not just with fantasy advice and analysis, but as a person, as well. I am a better person for knowing all of them and am excited to see what we can do! 

I’d be remorse to not mention three of my best friends in this industry, Jay Felicio, Scott Rinear and C.H. Herms. Together, we vent, we complain, we strategize and we laugh. Each of these men has been such a fantastic support group as a team and individually, as well. No matter what is happening in the world, I know I can always drop in and they will be there to listen. I consider them all amongst my closest friends and wouldn’t want to be on this journey without them. 

There are so many more people who have impacted my life in 2021. If I write about them all, this would become a novel. Please know I appreciate everyone I have come across in the last year. I look forward to heading into 2022 and making more connections, more friends and pumping out more solid content to make your day and fantasy rosters better! 

As we look back on 2021, we also look forward to the fantasy football championship weekend! If you managed to get your team(s) this far, congratulations! You should be extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished. Out of my 20-plus leagues, I was able to scratch and claw my way to the promised land in three. It was no small feat. 

At this point, you’ve got your team. There are very few moves to be made. Trade deadlines have passed and waivers are essentially useless. Players worth their weight this week are rostered.

With that in mind, instead of my usual “Hot, Medium & Mild” focusing on waiver additions, I’m going to again look at three players and what I think they might be worth heading into 2022 for your dynasty teams. Let’s get to it!

Hot, Medium & Mild: Early 2022 Dynasty Buys

HOT — Red Savina Habañero

Davis Mills (QB, Houston Texans)

The Houston Texans began this season as the laughing stock of the NFL. It was a fair assessment given the questionable handling of the DeShaun Watson situation, granting J.J. Watt his release and the running back room full of names who hadn’t been superstars in a few years.

Davis Mills has been the QB8 since Week 14.

As it turned out, the season progressed and Houston got better. Much better than anyone probably imagined. A big part of that was rookie quarterback, Davis Mills

With a Week 2 injury to starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Mills got an opportunity early in the season to show what he had. As expected with any rookie player, there were growing pains. In his first six starts in Weeks 3 through 8, he averaged 10.9 fantasy points per game.

However, after getting the nod as the starter full-time in Week 14 against the Seattle Seahawks, Mills has quietly been the fantasy QB8 in that three-game span. 

Houston has four picks in the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, including what looks to be the third-overall pick. They will be looking to upgrade their offensive and defensive lines early, as well as grabbing more skill players. This is a team set to be much improved over their 2021 showing.

The asking price for Mills could be high depending on your league and league mates, but this is a roster addition that could pay dividends for years to come. I’m OK with giving up a late first, or early second-round rookie draft pick in superflex leagues to acquire him. You may have to stack picks (throw in a third-round pick) or add a seasoned veteran (Baker Mayfield, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr), but it should be well worth it. 

MEDIUM — Thai Pepper

Jerry Jeudy (WR, Denver Broncos)

In hindsight, the expectations for sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy may have been unrealistic. Not only did he have to compete for targets with Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam, but he also had Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback. Bridgewater isn’t known as a quarterback who stretches the field, which is Jeudy’s specialty. He also dealt with injuries that kept him off the field for six of the first seven weeks of the season. 

Things are going to be changing in Denver this offseason. Head coach, Vic Fangio, and offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, appear to be on their way out. Consensus opinion has been all season long that this team is just a quarterback away from being an elite AFC team. General manager, Greg Paton, appears primed to go after a big-name quarterback via trade (Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson), which will change this Broncos for the better. 

Any receiver in Denver should be a buy this offseason. Jeudy is my favorite of the bunch. He is the quickest, sharpest and most talented wideout on this team. He should rebound from a poor showing this season in a big way. While others are out zigging to acquire Patrick and Sutton, you should zag and snag Jeudy at the lowest price he’ll be in dynasty format for a very long time. 

MILD  Peppadew

Laviska Shenault (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)

It’s no secret I’ve been on “#TeamViska” since he entered the league last season. Some of that was my University of Colorado fandom and some of it was his talent. With the changing of the guard in Jacksonville and the addition of “generational” rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, I had Laviska Shenault pegged to be a league-winner-level player. Whoopsie. 

There were certainly questions about Urban Meyer being a head coach at the NFL level, but I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the mess that ensued. That certainly played a role in Shenault’s poor showing in 2021, but that wasn’t all to blame. There were questions all season long about how healthy he really was. That seems to be a theme, as he also struggled with injuries in 2020. That concern could easily carry over into the 2022 season. 

Jacksonville also drafted running back Travis Etienne, who spent the season on Injured Reserve (IR) after suffering a Lisfranc injury in preseason. With Etienne primed to return strong next season and a new coaching staff on the way in, I don’t have a lot of faith that Shenault will rebound. This is a good time to find someone in your league who still believes in the soon-to-be third-year wide receiver and cut ties. At this point, the risk outweighs the reward. Get anything you can for him and move on. 

That’s all for me, folks! It has been a pleasure delivering fantasy advice to you in 2021. Have a safe and fun New Year!

And, of course, the #dadjoke with a New York City theme for New Year’s Eve!

Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?

Of course! Buildings can’t jump.

As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @JeNateJackFF.

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