“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 2 waiver wire fracas in his third season of writing and with the pride of being hot on 2021 league-winner Rashaad Penny early.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Satchel Paige
It’s been a hectic, exciting and fulfilling six months since I turned 40. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I haven’t had much time to consider hitting the significant milestone of middle age. We’ve been too busy parenting, working, and traveling for me to sit with it.
If we’re being honest, I didn’t think much about it beforehand, either.
Youth Is Wasted on the Young
When I was in my 20s, I was obsessed with age. I was terrified of turning 30 for most of the decade, believing it would instantly make me boring and lame. As I approached my actual birthday, however, something clicked that it was just a number, and I let go of the worry.
I made the best of my 30s. I spent it married to my best friend, Jen. We laughed, cried and generally had a great time. We threw some fantastic parties and traveled to some amazing places. And we got the greatest gift of all; our son Jackson. I grew in ways I never imagined possible; I became confident and gained self-worth, quit caring as much about other people and focused on my family.
Over the Hill
As I approached the big 4-0, I think both Jen and I were too busy and too happy with our lives to care much or focus on it. My body started breaking down – my knees anyways – in my mid-30s, thanks to years of athletic participation and physically demanding jobs. I was balding, but that started when I was in my mid-20s. Everything that is supposed to start in your fourth decade on this planet had already mostly started for me.
To add to it, Jackson was born six months ahead of my 35th birthday. So halfway through the decade, I got the most excellent distraction of all. If you have kids, you know what I mean. If you don’t, it’s simple: Nothing matters as much as it did before kids. Your job as a human being shifts from keeping yourself alive to keeping this tiny little you alive and well. Their happiness trumps everything else.
Sometimes it’s harder to get perspective in life when you’re younger. You haven’t seen as much, done as much or felt as much as some. As you get older, it’s easier to prioritize your life. Things come into focus. It’s an incredible thing, not something to fear.
Our lives are destined to end eventually. You will start to have friends pass away and loved ones’ health decline. Nieces and nephews will grow up and go away to college, and kids will send off to Kindergarten. Time goes by infinitely faster, no matter how hard you try to slow it down. It’s useless to worry about time and an arbitrary number attached to your existence that you have zero control over. Instead, enjoy your time here and make the most of it. That means something different for everyone. For me, it’s time with family, being a better father and husband and enjoying my work here in the fantasy football industry.
Tonight before you go to bed, think about your “what.”
• What can you do to enjoy your time here?
• What do you want your legacy to be?
I, for one, want to leave a legacy of giving league-winning fantasy football advice. It’s not always easy sorting through the stats and drowning out the noise, but it’s fun. I pride myself on giving you my best every week, and this edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 2 Waiver Wire RBs” is no different.
There’s no reason to wait on the Week 2 waiver wire info, so let’s get to it.
Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 2 Waiver Wire RBs
We’re a week into the season, and it’s already been a crazy ride. We had three overtime games, a tie, a monsoon game and one of the weirdest weeks to be a fantasy football manager in recent memory. Running back Cam Akers, someone who went off the board as early as the third round in fantasy drafts just a few weeks ago, had three carries for zero yards. AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones combined for just 95 yards rushing and crushing Green Bay loss. The New York Giants beat the Tennessee Titans, and Patrick Mahomes didn’t miss a beat in the post-Tyreek Hill era. It was wild indeed.
We also saw intriguing and unexpected running back stat lines in Week 1, making some managers want to run to the waiver wire and acquire the “surprise breakout” players. Some of what we saw is sustainable and deserves your attention approaching your team’s Week 2 waiver wire; some of it was a flash in the pan.
So in this week’s “Hot, Medium & Mild,” I have two running backs I think you should kick the tires on and one I would stay away from at all costs.
HOT — Ghost Pepper
Khalil Herbert (RB, Chicago Bears)
If this past week was any indication, and despite the monsoon in the Windy City, I believe it was, the Chicago Bears offense will stay primarily on the ground this season. On Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears ran the ball on 66.1 percent of offensive snaps, or 37 times compared to 19 passing plays. That’s good news for anyone who has David Montgomery rostered. But don’t forget about Khalil Herbert.
We saw flashes of the talented Herbert in 2021. When Montgomery went down in Week 5, Herbert carried the load, averaging 13.5 Point Per Reception (PPR) points per game over the five-game span. This past week, herbert saw nine carries to Montgomery’s 17 but outrushed him 45 yards to 26 and scored the only team rushing touchdown. Herbert was also more efficient, averaging five Yards Per Carry (YPC) versus Montgomery’s 1.7 YPC.
The rushing duties will likely remain a three-way committee in 2022, split between Fields, Montgomery and Herbert. However, with what we saw yesterday, Herbert is the one running back who appears likely to make the most of every opportunity, including some of the red zone work. He won’t be an RB1 but could sneak into RB3 territory and be a solid weekly FLEX player who should see his volume increase if he continues to impress.
As with most of my hot or medium picks, don’t break the bank to acquire Herbert. If you can’t acquire him for six percent or less of your Free Agency Acquisition Budget (FAAB), steer clear. Every player has a cap, no matter the upside. He could be a FLEX play, but unless injuries change the situation, he is unlikely to even creep into the RB2 tier.
MEDIUM — Anaheim Pepper
Rex Burkhead (RB, Houston Texans)
I know, it was supposed to be Dameon Pierce. With running back Marlon Mack released ahead of the season, it seemed Pierce had a clear line to the majority of the running back volume for the Houston Texans. However, veteran back Rex Burkhead doesn’t appear ready to concede to the 22-year-old out of the University of Florida.
Last season, Burkhead emerged as the Texans RB1 down the stretch, ahead of fellow veterans David Johnson and Royce Freeman. He finished as the overall PPR RB9 from Week 14 on, seeing an average 61 percent snap share. This coincided with rookie quarterback Davis Mills taking over signal calling duties.
Houston is riding with Mills again this season, and in Week 1, Burkhead saw a 71 percent snap share. He was second on the team in targets with eight, led in carries with 14 and led in rushing yards with 40. The talented Pierce will undoubtedly see an increase over his 29 percent snap share as the season rolls on, but this is Burkhead’s backfield for now. While he isn’t the dynamic rusher that Pierce can be, he is far and away the better pass-catcher of the two.
Heading into a Week 2 match-up against what should be a stout Denver defense, Burkhead should again lead this running back corps in opportunities. Mills will be under pressure early, and Burkhead gives him a quick out. After Denver, Houston plays in Chicago, the Los Angeles Chargers at home and at the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Burkhead may be a medium-term rental, he’s worth throwing two to four percent of your FAAB on or using a middle-of-the-road priority in your league’s Week 2 waiver wire. He will be a solid flex play through at least Week 5 ahead of the Texans’ bye in Week 6.
MILD — Green Bell Pepper
Dontrell Hilliard (RB, Tennessee Titans)
It’s easy to get excited about a player we didn’t expect to blow up Week 1 having an outstanding performance. Tennessee running back Dontrell Hilliard provided one of those games this past week in a 21-20 loss to the New York Giants.
While elite RB1 Derrick Henry had a quiet game, rushing for 82 yards on 21 carries, Hilliard had a memorable day. He turned four targets from quarterback Ryan Tannehill into three catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns. That was good for 21.9 PPR points. Talk about efficiency.
You may be considering making Hilliard a Week 2 waiver wire pickup. He is currently only rostered in four percent of ESPN leagues, so it’s an attainable goal. Don’t do it.
Week 1 breakouts are always fun but can be deceiving, especially in a situation like this. 20-plus FPS is nothing to shake a stick at, but this is something unlikely to occur for Hilliard again. He only saw an 18 percent snap share, two carries for eight yards and four passing targets. That’s not much volume. That’s more along the lines of “right place, right time.”
If you’re desperate for running back help, besides the two players mentioned above, you can also go after San Francisco back Jeff Wilson or Baltimore running back Kenyan Drake. Both will see significantly more volume than Hilliard moving forward.
I hope you find my spicy and not-so-spicy waiver wire pickups and notes useful. Until next time!
Week 1 was rough for many fantasy managers, so here is a corny #DadJoke to brighten your spirits!
Two muffins are baking in an oven.
One of them looks to the other and says, “Phew, it’s getting hot in here!”
The other looks back and says, “Ack! A talking muffin!”