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Family, Football & Fresh Beats

by Nate Polvogt

“Every day, every year, every new season is a reset from the last, and you are still hungry for success, to do things better and better.” – Fernando Alonso

Time flies when you’re having fun, or so the saying goes. I find this to be true today as I close out my second season of “Family, Football & This Adventure We Call Life.” It’s hard to believe we are staring down the barrel of the NFL Conference Championship weekend, yet here we are. 

It seems like just yesterday we were arguing Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence without having seen either take a single NFL snap. It has been a wild, crazy, unpredictable and above-all-else, fun season. We had football despite a continuing global pandemic as slowly the world seems to be returning towards some sort of normalcy. 

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to write this column every week. Like all good things, however, it must come to an end – for now. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my life and philosophies with you, my readers, but now it’s time for me to tackle a new challenge. 

It is no secret that I am passionate about music. No genre is off-limits to my ears. On any given day I might go from rocking out to Rage Against the Machine to bumping Wu-Tang Clan and Atmosphere, straight into Duffy or Rex Orange County. Every song has its place in my life. Every note is important. Music is a soundtrack to our lives; a window into our souls. This off-season, I’m going to open up that window and let you in. 

I am excited for the opportunity to change things up a bit and write about another thing I love. I will be doing music reviews – some old, some new – with the goal of turning you on to some new music you’ve never heard before or maybe reminding you of an old favorite collecting dust on your shelf. 

I’ll not only talk about the quality of musicianship but what these songs and albums mean to me; how they’ve shaped me, how they fit into my life or how a new track makes me feel. It’s going to be a fun ride and I cannot wait to bring my musical tastes to you! 

I’m not just switching up my lifestyle content for the off-season, folks. I will be transitioning from my usual “Hot, Medium & Mild” into some dynasty deep dives. I want to give you some players who aren’t on most dynasty managers’ radar and who could have significant upside going into the 2022 season. These are deep roster adds who should be cheap to acquire. There is no guarantee these players will pay off, but no risk, no reward. 

As a temporary farewell to my pepper-themed waiver wire series, I want to look back on where I was right and where I was wrong for the 2021 season. Accountability is important no matter where you are in life, and fantasy football advice is no different. So, without further adieu, let’s get into this week’s “Hot, Medium & Mild: 2021 Receipts Edition!”

Hot, Medium & Mild: 2021 Receipts Edition

HOT — Scotch Bonnet

Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks)

When the 2021 season started, all eyes were on Seattle running back Chris Carson. Hopes were high for what ultimately ended up being a disappointing, injury-riddled season where he didn’t see a snap after Week 4. The Seahawks entered into a rotation of running backs with Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer over the next few weeks as some – myself included – anxiously awaited the return of Rashaad Penny for a Week 7 match-up against New Orleans. 

I wrote about Penny ahead of the Week 7 contest against the Saints with tempered expectations. It stood to reason he wouldn’t be thrown in full speed right away. In his first four games back, with two games missed in-between due to injury, Penny managed only 25 touches for 70 yards and no touchdowns. 

In his six starts in 2021, Rashaad Penny managed 749 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

What he managed after those four games is more what I expected to see. From Week 14 on, Penny had 92 carries (23 and 25 in Weeks 17 and 18), 671 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers amounted to 110.2 Points Per Reception (PPR) fantasy points (22 PPR points per game) which made him the overall RB1 in that span. 

If you managed to roster Penny when he returned from Injured Reserve (IR), there is a good chance he was a huge part of your success late in the 2021 fantasy season. He helped me narrowly win two championships. 

What does this mean for him moving forward? With Chris Carson under contract through the 2023 season, it seems likely Rashaad Penny will leave Seattle and enter free agency. There are teams in need of a powerful running back like him. A few places that come to mind are Buffalo, Houston and Atlanta. I’m holding him in dynasty formats unless a trade offer comes across that I cannot refuse. I’m also keeping my eye on him for redraft season depending on his landing spot. 

MEDIUM — Aurora Pepper

Tyrod Taylor (QB, Houston Texans)

After a Week 1 performance from Tyrod Taylor that netted him 22.6 fantasy points on 291 yards passing and two touchdowns, fantasy managers were chomping at the bit to acquire the Texans quarterback. At the time, he was only rostered in 4.5 percent ESPN leagues. He was easily attainable and given what he showed, it seemed like a solid bet he could provide definite upside in 2021. Not so fast. 

While it was an impressive performance, it was also against a hapless Jacksonville squad. At the time, we didn’t know just how bad things were for the Jaguars. The fact that a journeyman quarterback who hasn’t started more than six games in a season since 2017 and had not put up a double-digit fantasy point total since Week 1 of 2018 was able to shred them should have been a clue. I didn’t buy the hype after one game. My exact words in my Week 2 column we’re this; “Don’t waste your [Free Agent Acquisition Budget] (FAAB) or a roster spot on Tyrod Taylor.” 

As it turns out, I was right. While Taylor did end up starting six games, he was benched in favor of rookie quarterback Davis Mills following a wrist injury against Indianapolis in Week 13. In those six games, he averaged 14.1 fantasy points per game. He certainly wasn’t worth rostering this past season and with his impending free agency, I won’t be rushing to roster him in any fantasy football format for 2022. 

MILD Melrose Pepper

Adrian Peterson (RB, Free Agent)

Heading into Week 9, fresh off the news that running back Derrick Henry was out indefinitely, the Tennessee Titans signed running back Adrian Peterson. Feelings amongst the football talking heads we’re mixed. Some believed we were about to see a Roger Clemens-esque mid-season savior-type showing from Peterson, while some believed it was all hype and no substance. Regretfully, I was in the camp of the former. 

I’ll admit I was blinded by Peterson having been an elite-level running back for most of his career. That, coupled with an offense that seemed to be able to run the ball at will, made me think he was going to be a possible league-winning addition in fantasy football. We all can’t be perfect, right? 

Peterson was easily my biggest waiver wire miss. He was released by Tennessee after Week 11 having never carried the ball over 10 times in the three games he was active. He was then signed by Seattle where he managed 11 carries for 16 yards and a touchdown in his only action for the Seahawks. Peterson was eventually placed on IR due to a lingering back injury, ending his season. 

Peterson has stated he would like to play in 2022. The chances he gets signed, let alone somewhere he would see any significant snap share or volume, are slim. As a dynasty asset, he is droppable. As a redraft asset, he will be untouchable for now. While it would have been a great story, the reality is, Peterson is a soon-to-be 37-year-old running back with a myriad of aches and pains. His time of being a relevant player at the professional level is likely over. 

Thank you to everyone who read my column all season and has supported my work. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I hope my advice led you to the promised land. I’ll be back in a few weeks with some music for your ears and deep dive acquisitions for your dynasty squads!

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the #dadjoke! I had to give you one more chuckle at something that’s only funny because it’s so bad. 

Where do pirates get their hooks? 

Second-hand stores.

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

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