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Family, Football & Fandom

by Nate Polvogt

“Football is an honest game. It’s true to life. It’s a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life.” – Joe Namath 

When you’re a kid, it’s all about games. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey. But football, unlike any other childhood sport, was almost all-encompassing. You played until you were forced home for some ridiculous reason, like dinner. It was all you looked forward to all day at school. It was the whole point of recess. 

It was a passion. You would create teams, playbooks and jerseys. You pretended to be your favorite player – I was John Elway, throwing touchdowns to Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel, also known as the “Three Amigos.” You would have entire seasons, including playoffs, with two-man teams, battling it out in the front yard. 

When you weren’t playing football in the yard or the street, you played on a screen. When I was in elementary school, the neighbor kids came over every day before school to play “Tecmo Super Bow”l on our Nintendo. My dad and I played full seasons against each other in Tecmo, then in “Madden” as I got older. It was an obsession. 

From a young age, football was bred into us. It was a distraction from the seriousness of actual life. These men were larger-than-life. They were heroes, villains and everything in-between. The feats of physical ability were astounding and hero-worthy. 

As we got older, our fandom and love for the game shifted. We no longer played in the yard and spent less time in front of video game screens as life forced our focus elsewhere. 

Sundays started meaning more. We settled into the couch and watched every game we could watch. Monday Night Football was an event. Football was family and friends time. But, it seemed to lack the child-like involvement of pretending to be our favorite players and replaying our favorite moments in the grass. 

Fantasy football gives that back to us in a way. Our knees hurt from years of existing as our age catches up with us. We can’t reenact the athletic prowess of our idols and heroes on the field. But, we can draft them and hope they succeed in our lineups. It gives us a reason to be super fans again, building rosters full of players we love – and love to hate – with the ultimate goal of winning. It’s fun competition with friends, home leagues full of family, dynasty leagues that make you feel like a general manager striving towards building a juggernaut. It’s poring over stats and film while feeling involved in the game. 

And while on the subject of poring over stats, it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year: the fantasy football playoffs! If there was ever a time to pore over stats, that time is now. We have a lot going on yet again.

Drew Brees is down for at least a few weeks with a rib and lung injury, and it looks like the Bears are without Nick Foles as well. Quarterbacks are getting tough to gauge, but have no fear! I’m here to help!

Let’s get down to brass tacks here with this week’s “Hot, Medium and Mild: Quarterbacks Edition.”

HOT — Habañero

Jameis Winston: Atlanta at New Orleans

File this under things I never thought I’d be writing about in 2020. 

James Winston finished as the fantasy QB3 last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Yes, I really do believe that Jameis Winston is a great play this week. This is not a hot take. With Brees down until at least Week 14, the torch has been temporarily passed to Winston. Even with Alvin Kamara in the backfield, New Orleans has shown to be a pass-heavy offense, averaging 34.9 passing attempts per game. 

Winston has a new set of weapons with different traits than he’s had before. With the little time he had in Week 10 after Brees went down, Winston went six of 10 with 63 yards and a clean interception column. We know he has a dangerous arm. 

We know he has Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders and Kamara. And we know Sean Payton trusts him to run this offense. Week 11 against Atlanta will be a test he should pass with flying colors, and if you need a quarterback, I’d get on the Winston train.

MEDIUM — Hatch Green Chile

Alex Smith: Cincinnati at Washington

728 days. That’s how long it was between Alex Smith’s last two starts. To say it’s a miracle he’s back is an understatement. The man almost died, lost his leg, never walked again and was told he would never play football again. Then he just calmly and casually comes out in Week 10 and goes off like the Alex Smith of old and tosses for 390 yards on 55 attempts. He nearly led his team back from behind to beat Detroit. 

This is an emotional play for me that I think pays off. He’s motivated and has some solid weapons around him. Ron Rivera is a master. And as ridiculous as it sounds, Washington has a chance to win the NFC East. You can bet Smith wants this and will seize this opportunity to excel. 

MILD — Banana Pepper

Deshaun Watson: New England at Houston

Deshaun Watson is a phenomenal quarterback with more talent in his pinkie than I’ll ever have in my whole being. However, that doesn’t matter right now in Houston. The team has no identity and no consistent weapons. Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Will Fuller are all on the backside of their productive years and the backfield now relies solely on Duke Johnson

Watson, who is currently the QB7 and coming off a 14.1 fantasy point performance, is a casualty of a poorly-run franchise. Houston, sitting at 2-7, is a mess from top-to-bottom and are a long way from being relevant again. I would trade him for what you can right now and move on. I’m out on Watson the rest of this season and probably next. 

And there you have it. Take it or leave it, and good luck in Week 10!

I’m not done yet though. We still need a dad joke! And boy have I got a knee slapper for you today, my friends!

Why do you never see elephants hiding in trees? 

Because they’re so good at it.

As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @jenatejack2017.

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