Family, Football & Grief
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy
This past weekend, the fantasy football community lost a titan of a human being. As some may know, Mike Tagliere, FantasyPros’ lead NFL writer, analyst and podcast host, lost his battle with COVID-19 on Friday. While I never personally had any interactions with Mike, I saw who he was through his work and conversations amongst the fantasy football industry. I felt like I knew him without ever actually knowing him.
Death sucks. It’s an inevitable part of life, but one we all wish we could avoid. My life has been full of it. It started at a young age for me. The first impactful death I remember was our neighbor, Mr. Shaver. He was a mentor to me when I was very young. In fact, I still have a wooden model airplane he built for me when I was in kindergarten. He saw me struggling to make something out of scrap wood one day and took it upon himself to make something far superior and show me how he made it.
I will never forget the day he died. I had gone to my Saturday bowling league just up the street. It was a typical day. I was terrible at bowling, but it was fun nonetheless. There was nothing notable about the competition. I probably lost miserably.
We meandered home afterward, no later than 11:00 a.m. that morning. As we approached our house, we saw flashing lights. We walked inside and saw the lights behind our house. I walked into our backyard, curious as any 5-year-old boy would be, only to see a paramedic in the Shaver’s backyard.
My parents walked to the fence, which was a short, five-foot-tall at best, chain link contraption from the 1960s. After a brief discussion, my mom walked back to our patio, where I stood waiting impatiently.
The news hit like a ton of bricks. Mr. Shaver, my friend from over-the-fence, my mentor, my buddy, had passed away that morning from a heart attack. The tears came instantly. I didn’t understand. I remember, very distinctly, telling my mother that it wasn’t fair. Why would God take him from us?
At 5 years old, death doesn’t make sense. One day someone is there, laughing, conversing, helping and building. The next moment, they are gone forever. It felt like a cruel joke. How could he just be gone, without a “goodbye” or even a “see ya later!”? I was absolutely heartbroken.
As the years have gone by, I’ve had plenty more of that. Family friends, aunts, uncles and my grandfather, who, to this day, I haven’t recovered from his death. It never gets easier, no matter how much older, wiser or hardened we become. And that’s OK.
Grief is an innate human emotion. It’s wholly unavoidable. We feel it whether we want to or not. In writing this column, a whole world of emotions from people in my life I have lost has flooded back into my brain. And those emotions stored somewhere inside will never fully go away. That’s the beautiful thing about the human condition.
The sadness helps us remember because it won’t allow us to forget. We can recall little things, like the kindness of helping us build a model airplane or the conversations with your grandfather about family and how to live your life. The grief becomes a part of who we are and the lessons it carries with it are invaluable. The memories stay with us and we get to pass those on to the ones we love.
Mike impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of people with his words and actions. No one is perfect, and while I am sure Mike had his faults, in his passing, none of that matters. We get to remember the good things. The way these people positively impacted our lives. How they held us up, pushed us forward and gave us advice and anecdotes that shaped our lives.
I will be sad for those I’ve lost until the day I am one of those who are gone. My only hope and I think we can all agree on this, is that when we leave this world, our impact is the same as those who have gone before us. Those who showed us the way. The ones who shined a light on the path to living a meaningful life.
It feels almost insignificant at this point to talk football. The fantasy football community lost an icon this past weekend, someone who shaped many of the voices giving you the advice you use to set your lineups every week during the season. He was certainly someone I looked up to.
Though I cannot speak for him or his family, All I can say is, when I’m gone, I hope the impact I make on those who chose to read my writing is a fraction of what Mike left us. And I feel like he would want us to carry on doing the thing that he loved most.
With a heavy heart and a grateful soul, I hope I do him proud and give you solid advice this week that he would give his seal of approval to. I will continue to strive for that as long as you will allow me to be in this space that he made accessible for people like me.
And now let’s get to it in this week’s “Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 4.”
Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 4 – Sleepers No More
HOT — Seven Pot Brain Strain
Tim Patrick (WR, Denver Broncos)
As I started writing this portion of my column, I was going to write about how Tim Patrick is currently filling the need at receiver for Denver, vacated by Jerry Jeudy and was hopeful that he could still cement that role upon Jeudy’s return.
Then, just a few hours ago the news broke that Denver wide receiver KJ Hamler will now miss the rest of this season with a torn ACL. I think it’s safe to say you need to be adding Patrick right now.
Teddy Bridgewater has been a godsend for this Denver offense. He has elevated the Broncos’ passing game to a level we haven’t seen in years. Now, down two receivers, only one of which will return in 2021, Patrick will become an integral part of this offense. Not to say that he wasn’t already considering he is averaging 13.8 Points Per Reception (PPR) points per game.
As Denver continues to impress, and with Patrick now the solidified WR2 in that offense, it only stands to reason he will excel, even upon the return of Jeudy.
Patrick has already managed two touchdown catches so far, and is seeing an average of 4.3 targets per game. That should increase now as he becomes one of two legitimate deep threats for Bridgewater. He is rostered in only 21 percent of ESPN leagues, so he’s most likely out there for the taking.
If you have any need at wide receiver right now, you should go out and get him. Managers with higher waiver priority will most likely land him ahead of you but take a shot regardless. In leagues using Free Agency Acquisition Budget (FAAB), don’t break the bank, but know that whatever you spend on him should pay off barring injury.
MEDIUM — Manzano
Dawson Knox (TE, Buffalo Bills)
As s fantasy manager, I don’t have to tell you how thin the tight end landscape is. Coming into the season, if you didn’t grab one of the four big names ― Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller or T.J. Hockenson ― you were probably punting on drafting the position altogether until the later rounds.
So, when someone like Buffalo tight end Dawson Knox emerges as a threat, you want to get him on your roster. Surprisingly, he is only rostered in 4.4 percent of ESPN leagues. While he hasn’t had a “huge” game yet, every week his numbers are getting better. He is seeing an increase in his involvement week over week, going from a 56 percent snap share in Week 1 to a 78 percent snap share in Week 3.
Most importantly, he has been a red zone target for quarterback Josh Allen. In the last two games, he’s snagged a touchdown in each of those contests. His 14.9 fantasy points were good enough to make him the TE9 on the week, which isn’t bad for a player nobody drafted.
The best part is, he shouldn’t be difficult to acquire. There is a good chance that he will be available when waivers clear on Wednesday, whether your league uses FAAB or waiver priority.
MILD — Melrose
Peyton Barber (RB, Las Vegas Raiders)
I feel like a broken record saying this, but the Las Vegas backfield is a mess. Many thought we would see Kenyan Drake be relevant this week in the second-straight absence of Josh Jacobs. But that’s apparently not the case if Peyton Barber has anything to say about it.
Barber, who was signed by Las Vegas on Sept. 4 from the Washington practice squad, has now seen action two consecutive weeks. He is now the team’s leading rusher after notching 111 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, in addition to three catches for 31 yards, in Week 3. Is he now the clear-cut RB1 in Las Vegas we’ve been hoping would emerge? Not so fast.
Remember that Barber was relegated to the Washington Football Team’s practice squad after the end of the preseason. Also, remember that Jon Gruden is a wild card and next week we could see a return to a more pass-heavy offense. Jacobs will be back eventually, as well, making it unlikely we see this kind of opportunity or output from Barber again this season.
Unless you are desperate at running back, which is a possibility given the injuries and disappointment we’ve seen at the position so far this season, stay away from Barber. He isn’t worth wasting waiver priority or FAAB on this week. Is there a slim chance he becomes the lead back in Las Vegas if Jacobs’ absence were to extend? Yes, anything is possible.
However, for now, cool your jets and look elsewhere for added running back depth.
And there you have it, folks. Take it or leave it and good luck in Week 4!
This was a somber column and I think we should pick up our spirits and finish it off with a laugh! As I like to do every week, let’s get in a #dadjoke before I say adiós!
“I got carded at a liquor store, and my Blockbuster card accidentally fell out. The cashier said never mind.”
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @JeNateJackFF.