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Family, Football & Fútbol

by Nate Polvogt

“Family, Football & This Adventure We Call Life” is a year-round column by Nate Polvogt that shares a Colorado dad’s outlook on life and his weekly advice for fantasy football waiver wire pickups. Nate enters the Week 3 waiver wire fracas in his third season of writing and with the pride of being hot on 2021 league-winner Rashaad Penny early.

“Parents are always asking me, ‘Can you watch my boy play? Do you think he can go pro? Do you think he can get a scholarship?’… They should be more concerned that their children are having fun. – Jorge Campos

One of the joys of being a parent is when your kids start showing an interest in playing sports. Of course, this is even more profound if you’re someone who played themselves as a youth. This weekend marked that moment for our family when Jackson suited up and took the field for his first soccer game. 

Excited Kiddo

Last fall, we enrolled Jackson in a soccer program at our local rec center called Mighty Mites. It was held inside a fieldhouse that is part of a massive soccer complex. The program is geared toward children under five to learn the basics of the sport. But, in reality, it was 20 mini-humans running around in a herd chasing a ball for 30 precious and hilarious minutes. There was little organization, but the kids all had a blast. Jackson looked forward to it every week, and once the program was over, he talked about wanting to play again frequently. 

It’s no secret we had a busy summer, and because of that, Jackson wasn’t enrolled in his usual plethora of youth programs. His lone extracurricular activity had been taekwondo, but that was coming to a close, with school starting soon. We knew we needed to get him involved in something, and as fate would have it, we got a flyer in the mail from the local soccer club. We took the sign, and Jen got him signed up to play in the five-and-six-year-old division.

To say Jackson was excited would be an understatement. It reached peak hype this past week as his first game approached. Then, finally, Saturday, game day, came. His first words upon waking up were, “Is it almost time for my soccer game?” – a question he asked no less than 100 times before we finally arrived at the fields.

Unprepared Parents

Strike One

When Jen signed Jackson up, one of the things we needed to do was order his uniform. This is a serious youth soccer club with standard uniforms at a low price of $58 plus $10 in shipping. The purchase info, however, wasn’t provided until two weeks ago. So we ordered them as soon as we could but to no avail. As of this writing, we still haven’t received it. So he had to play his first game in black cargo shorts and a white Puerto Vallarta t-shirt. 

It was a bummer he didn’t get his cool Colorado Edge uniform for his first game, but only to us. Jackson, of course, didn’t care about that. 

Crisis averted. 

Strike Two

We got him dressed, loaded him up and off we went. In a few short minutes, we arrived. Pulling in and finding parking was a mess, as we knew it would be. Nearly every spot was taken, and we had no idea where Jackon’s field was. We had a number for it, but it meant nothing to us as newbies to the soccer parent game. Finally, after a few minutes of wandering, we figured it out and snagged a relatively close spot. We unloaded Jackson, strapped on his shinguards and off we went, ready for soccer. 

As we approached field number eight, it became apparent very quickly we looked the part of the newbies. Every family there had wagons for their camping chairs and umbrellas and coolers. One family had a 10-foot square pop-up shade; another had a half-tent-looking shade with a base. Smart ones – everyone but us – brought at least one blanket. Furthermore, once we found his coach and figured out which team was, we realized every kid on his team had brought their own soccer ball except Jackson. 

We came to the field with his water bottle, no chair or blanket, no shade and nothing to drink for ourselves on a nearly 90-degree day. 

Strike Three

To add insult to injury, Jackson was the only kid on the field without soccer cleats. We asked more than one friend of ours if they thought he needed them, and everyone said no. When he played indoor soccer, he just wore sneakers, and he’s five, right? It seemed like overkill. It was not. Fear not, they’re ordered.

Strike Three 

Let’s Play!

Fortunately, at five years old, Jackson didn’t notice that mom and dad dropped the ball. Instead, he focused on playing soccer. He had been waiting for weeks, and the time was finally here. 

We didn’t expect his immediate confusion at not walking to the fieldhouse to play indoors. He was surprisingly upset by it. He wasn’t a fan of playing on natural grass in the hot Indian summer air, void of air conditioning and artificial turf. Nevertheless, to his credit, he powered on with little resistance and joined his team for warm-ups.  

Watching the kids “practice” was a swift sign that this would be a wildly unorganized yet entertaining contest.

The teams are comprised of seven players, three on the field at a time. The field is tiny; maybe 30 yards end to end. The goals are pint-sized, and there are no goalies. They also allow free substitution over the whole of the two 20-minute halves. 

The game match started with Jackson on the pitch. It became clear early he had zero idea what he was doing. There had been no actual pregame instruction, and it was obvious that everyone else on the field had played the previous season. Couple that with him being the youngest player on the field, and he was at an instant disadvantage.

Kids just don’t care, though. 

It took him a few minutes of frustration and anguish to get the hang of it. When his team scored the first goal, he stomped his foot on the ground in anger, not understanding it was a good thing. Then when the other team scored their first goal, he cried a little and walked over to us on the sideline.

Proud Parents

By the end of the game, after a few tears, bumps and bruises, I’ll be damned if the kid wasn’t one of the better players out there. He finished three goals, tacked on at least five assists and had a great time learning a new sport.

I was so proud of Jackson for taking adversity and turning it around. He became a better soccer player, but he also became a better human being. That’s the thing about sports; it’s not just about winning or losing. It’s about the life lessons we learn along the way – patience, perseverance and teamwork. It’s about enjoying the experience and making memories and friends that will last a lifetime. 

I hope Jackson continues participating in athletics throughout his childhood and life, but we will never force it. Sports are supposed to be fun. He is welcome to walk away when they stop being enjoyable. Until that time comes, if it ever does, I hope he soakes it all in and squeezes as much fun out of it as he can. 

On to Football

I always try to take my own advice, and this column is no different. I say it all the time; fantasy football should be fun, and if it’s not, it might be time to stop playing. It’s a game within a game we play to feel more connected to the teams and players we love. But, it can be hard to enjoy it sometimes, especially when you feel like your winning aspirations are fading away thanks to injuries and underperforming players. 

There are two things you can do to bring the fun back even when your hopes are dwindling:

• Remember, it’s just a game, and enjoy the games without looking at your lineups.
• Be an active manager and work the waiver wire to improve your squad’s chances of making a title run.

The first option is up to you. I can help with the second one. 

Let’s get down to brass tacks in this week’s edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild.”

Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 3 Wide Receivers

We are two weeks into the NFL season, and we’re already feeling the sting of underperforming players and injuries to big names. Receiving corps were hit the hardest.  Chicago’s pass-catching duo of tight end Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney have combined for 2.4 Points Per Reception (PPR) points, with Kmet seeing only two targets to Mooney’s five. Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman and the Chargers Keenan Allen both were inactive in Week 2, and the Broncos’ wideout Jerry Jeudy exited early on Sunday against the Texans with a rib injury.

It’s tough going right now, but lucky for you, there’s hope. This week, I’m highlighting two receivers that could provide injury relief to your depleted pass-catching corps, and one I wouldn’t waste my waiver wire capital on.

HOT — Rocoto Pepper

DeAndre Carter (WR, Los Angeles Chargers)

It can be hard to get excited about a wide receiver in a corps with Allen and Mike Williams. Throw in wide receiver Joshua Palmer and running back Austin Ekeler; it seems downright impossible. However, this Los Angeles Chargers offense is one of the league’s most pass-heavy teams, and wide receiver Deandre Carter has proven he deserves to be involved in this high-powered attack. 

DeAndre Carter is currently the PPR WR37.

Through the first two games of 2022 – one with Kennan Allen on the field, one without – Carter has received seven targets, turning them into six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Given the other pass-catchers around him, those are solid stats for the seven-year veteran. His PFF.com offensive grade (79.1) is currently eighth among all wide receivers, ahead of Allen, Williams, Palmer, Jaylen Waddle, Michael Thomas and Davante Adams, the highest grade of his career by far. He’s been impressive thus far, and it’s hard to ignore.

I’m not going to pretend Carter is about to set the league on fire. In his previous seven seasons with three different teams, Carter’s career bests came last season in Washington, where he had 24 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns. However, Carter has never been on a team with a quarterback as dynamic as Justin Herbert or as pass-heavy as the Chargers. He could have his best campaign yet and be a reliable flex play the rest of the season. 

You’re not going to need to break the bank to acquire Carter. You can spend less than two percent of your Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB), and there’s no need to waste high waiver wire priority to get him on your roster. Most of your league mates are distracted by Noah Brown, Nelson Agholor and Greg Dortch.    

MEDIUM — Rooster Spur Pepper

Montrell Washington (WR, Denver Broncos)

If the first thing you thought when reading Montrell Washington was “who?” you’re not alone. The rookie wide receiver out of Samford, a fifth-round pick, is someone that no one thought much about. This Denver Broncos team appeared loaded at the receiver position heading into this season, but injuries can change everything. First, Tim Patrick went down early in camp, tearing his ACL and ending his season. Then, this past week, Jerry Jeudy suffered a rib injury against Houston, totaling one catch for 11 yards.

Montrell Washington had 17 TDs at Samford.

The Broncos’ offense has sputtered through their first two games, looking flat and out of sync. This team desperately needs a spark, and if Jeudy misses the Week 3 Sunday night contest against San Francisco, Washington is a sneaky candidate to get increased volume.

This is a case where a player who made the 53-man roster as a special teams player has put themselves in a position to get into the fold on offense. Washington has had a chance to show his speed and agility as a kick and punt returner, averaging 12.4 yards per return on punts (fifth overall) and 17 on kick-off returns (ninth overall).

He saw his first offensive snaps of the regular season against the Texans, getting one carry for 19 yards and one target. In the preseason, however, Washington saw 54 snaps, 41 out of the slot. He caught four of his six targets for 33 yards and added two carries for seven yards. 

Washington could be someone who could provide some flash in an offense that has been anything but that so far in 2022. He is likely to see primarily short routes and screens, but he could quickly turn those into big plays with his speed. This isn’t a smash play, but the upside for the price is undeniable. You’ll likely be the only person in your league considering him, making this a solid acquisition for free. If you don’t feel it this week or don’t need a wide receiver right now, he could be floating on most waiver wires for at least a few more weeks.      

MILD — Shishito pepper

Nelson Agholor (WR, New England Patriots)

When it comes down to it, Agholor is one of those boom/bust-type wide receivers. Every season he has a few games where he looks electric and tricks fantasy managers into using high waiver priority or a significant percentage of their FAAB to roster him. Inevitably, those managers regret spending capital on a player who might replicate that performance twice the rest of the season. 

Nelson Algholor finished Week 2 as the PPR WR10

Week 2 was a boom week for Agholor. He caught all six targets for 110 receiving yards and a touchdown. If you had him rostered and starting, congratulations on the 23 PPR points. Looking ahead to a Week 3 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, it’s tempting to make a bid for Agholor on the waiver wire. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovialoa threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns against this Ravens’ defense last week. However, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is not Tagovialoa, and New England is not Miami. Also, four of his six touchdowns came in the fourth quarter of an unbelievable comeback win. 

I wish I could tell you this season will be different for Agholor, but history tells us it won’t. In eight NFL seasons, two ended with more than 90 targets and only three with more than 80. His best fantasy football finish in those seasons was the PPR WR22 in 2017 with the Eagles. His 2022 season will likely be more like 2021, where he finished as the WR71. There may be some patch-ups down the line where he makes sense as a weekly streamer, but this isn’t one of those weeks.  

I hope you find my spicy and not-so-spicy waiver wire pickups and notes useful. Until next time!

Fall is in the air, so I figured it was appropriate to end this week’s column with an autumn-themed #DadJoke:

What’s the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?

Pumpkin Pi.

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

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