Family, Football & It’s Complicated

“There’s no limit to how complicated things can get, on account of one thing always leading to another.” ― E.B. White

Being a sports fan is a complicated thing. If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very personal. We are all fans of teams or players for different reasons. It could be as simple as sticking with your hometown team. Or, it could be more complicated, like my love for the Boston Red Sox stemming from my father’s passion for the team when I was a kid.

I’ve found myself a fan of a wide array of teams over the years for different reasons. As a Colorado native, there are some obvious teams to root for. You cannot be a Coloradoan without being a Denver Broncos fan. The same goes for the Denver Nuggets. It gets a little different, depending on your age when it comes to the Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rockies. 

Growing up, we didn’t have either of those franchises. The Rockies came in 1993. I was 11-years-old and had a well-established love for baseball when they arrived as an expansion franchise. When the Avalanche arrived in 1995, I was in love with the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. 

When the Rockies arrived, of course, I was going to root for them. But it wasn’t the same. The Red Sox is a franchise steeped in history, albeit a painful one prior to 2004. And when you become a fan, you can’t just lose that. Especially given the hate I’ve received for being a fan. You have to stand steadfast. I’ve had people try to start fights with me at bars because I was wearing Red Sox paraphernalia. I’ve been told to move back to Boston on multiple occasions. But I’ve never wavered. 

It was a different story with the Red Wings. Especially after the 1996-1997 season playoffs which saw Avalanche forward, Claude Lemeiux cross-check Red Wings center Kris Draper in the back, setting off a rivalry for the ages. Lines were drawn in the sand and I picked my side. I’ve been a die-hard Avalanche fan ever since. 

There are other teams I have a low-key love for. I fell hard for the mid-’90’s Cleveland Guardians, thanks to Orel Hershiser, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel. Then there is the Pittsburgh Steelers, courtesy of former players such as quarterback Kordell Stewart, linebacker Chad Brown and safety Ronnie Bradford. I’m now also a Cleveland Browns fan because of my father-in-law (I’m aware this doesn’t make sense given my Steelers love, but I don’t care. Deal with it). 

There are so many reasons we choose to be fans of the things we do, whether it’s sports or something else. It’s not always cut-and-dry. It’s complicated. I’ve been told I’m crazy, disloyal, misplaced and much, much worse ― all because of my fandom. No matter how hard someone wants to try, it’s too deep into my being to change now. It won’t happen. Nor should it. We get to root for who we want. It’s no one else’s decision. As weird as it may seem, we all have our reasons. Own it.

Fandom isn’t just for teams. We apply it to players in sports, as well. And that includes fantasy football. Players we love and won’t apologize for, no matter how weird or silly it seems. We draft them higher than anyone else would be willing to. We keep them rostered and refuse to trade them, for better or worse.

However, if your goal is to win, the time will come when you may need to move off that player if a championship is your goal. 

Week 1 showed us that our favorites from last season might not be so pretty this season. Jacksonville running back James Robinson no longer looks like the Cinderella he did in 2020. Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler went opening Sunday without a single target in the passing game.

It was a rough way to start the season for a lot of fantasy managers. So, what to do now? Let’s get to it in this week’s edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild!”

Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 2 – The Quarterback Edition

I think it’s fair to say there was a lot we didn’t see coming in Week 1. In San Francisco, rookie running back Trey Sermon, a third-round pick, was a healthy scratch, while rookie running back Elijah Mitchell, a sixth-round pick, exploded in relief of an injured Raheem Mostert. Quarterbacks, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers were bad, and conversely, Jameis Winston was really good, five passing touchdowns good. 

So, what now? First of all, it was only Week 1. We had one less preseason game, which is one less opportunity to sharpen the knife after a season of contactless drills against teammates. We also have new coaches and new offensive schemes. There are new players on new rosters. Teammates are still building the chemistry necessary to succeed in team sports.

Take a deep breath and relax. Here are some waiver adds and passes for you to consider as we march on into Week 2!

HOT — Bishop’s Crown

Mac Jones (QB, New England Patriots)

I’ve been hot on Mac Jones, the rookie quarterback out of the University of Alabama, since before the NFL Draft in April. If you read this column regularly, you know I’ve written about him before. I won’t stop until he gets the respect he deserves, and after his Week 1 performance against the Miami Dolphins, it should be coming soon. 

Jones didn’t put up huge numbers. He managed 15.2 Points Per Reception (PPR) fantasy points on 281 passing yards and a touchdown, which was good enough to make him the QB23. While that isn’t anything special, this is:  In his NFL debut, he completed 74.4 percent of his passes and didn’t throw an interception.  

This kid is special. He is going to be a lot better than people realize a lot sooner than people are planning on. He is only rostered in 22.1 percent of ESPN leagues, so Jones is a value right now, but he won’t be in a couple of weeks. Spend no or a low waiver-priority claim or amount of Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) to get him now. 

MEDIUM — Fajita Pepper

Taylor Heinicke (QB, Washington Football Team)

Taylor Heinicke completed 11 out of 15 passing attempts for 122 yards and one touchdown in Week 1.

Ryan Fitzpatrick came into this season, his 18th NFL campaign, with possibly one of the best offenses he’s ever had around him and hopes to lead the Washington Football Team to a second consecutive NFC East title. All that came crashing down this past weekend when Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation against the Los Angeles Chargers and will miss at least six weeks but could be done for the entire season. 

Enter Taylor Heinicke. The 28-year-old quarterback will be leading Washington in Fitzpatrick’s absence. We got a small two-game sample of Heinicke last season when he managed 16 fantasy points in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers and looked decent in his lone playoff start, throwing for 308 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The sample size is admittedly small, but the fact of the matter is, if you’re needy at quarterback, Heinicke is a decent option to fill that gap. 

He has the luxury of being surrounded by talent. Washington has a great running back corps in Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, as well as talented receivers like Terry McLaurin and Dyami Brown and is backed by one of the best defenses in football. The elements are all there for him to succeed. This isn’t a sure thing. But considering he won’t be on many managers’ radars, he’s worth grabbing off waivers in deeper or super-flex leagues.

MILD — Sport Pepper 

Tyrod Taylor (QB, Houston Texans)

Absolutely no one saw Tyrod Taylor lighting it up in Week 1 this season, yet here we are. He exploded for 23.6 fantasy points against the Jacksonville Jaguars, amassing 291 passing yards and two touchdowns. Chances are you didn’t benefit from it as he is only rostered in 4.5 percent of ESPN leagues. In my opinion, it should stay that way. 

The chances Taylor can replicate his Week 1 performance are slim. Houston’s next four games are against the Cleveland Browns, the Carolina Panthers, the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. All of these teams have a markedly better defense than their previous opponent, Jacksonville.

He was bolstered by an unexpected quality performance from newly acquired running back, Mark Ingram, who managed 14.5 PPR fantasy points. Don’t waste your FAAB or a roster spot on Tyrod Taylor. 

And there you have it, folks. Take it or leave it and good luck in Week 2!

And now, the dad joke, because no column of mine would be complete without it.

My wife said I was immature. So I told her to get out of my fort.

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