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Family, Football & Shiny Things

by Nate Polvogt

“Don’t get seduced by the next shiny thing, because you’ll get caught up chasing shiny things and that will keep you from addressing what you really need to accomplish.” – Joe Tripodi

Technology can be absolutely mesmerizing. It seems something comes out every day that will, in theory, make our lives easier and more interactive. We live in an ever-changing landscape where the current state of technology isn’t enough. There’s always something to be changed, upgraded or improved upon. 

We’ve all fallen into this trap at times, myself included. My trap was feeling the need to have a “smart home.” It’s all the rage these days, but I was enthralled in the very early stages of the current technology. 

It all started with the release of the very first Amazon Echo. I mean, who doesn’t want a smart speaker that listens to you and obeys your commands? I purchased one for our home within weeks of its release. It could do everything. It was like having a personal assistant, almost something out of “The Jetsons.” It kept a shopping list, played music at my behest, reminded me to do tasks and so much more. It felt like the thing I had always needed in my life had finally arrived. 

It took its place in our kitchen – the literal hub of our home. It was beautiful, unexpectedly responsive and always listening. The sound quality for this seemingly tiny cylinder was truly astonishing. But it wasn’t enough. As the technology expanded and accessories became available, I couldn’t help myself. 

The invention of the Wink Hub was the next innovation that I felt like had been created just for me. If you are not familiar, the Wink Hub, and the many hubs on the market now like it, are marketed as the answer for full-home automation. It can control anything you can link to it via Z-Wave or WiFi technology. 

Obviously I went out and bought one as quickly as I could, along with all the necessary accessories to allow me to be as lazy as humanly possible. I outfitted our entire main floor with smart light bulbs. Yes, smart light bulbs. Once linked to the hub, and the hub linked to the Echo, all I had to do was say the word, and it was lights on or lights off. 

It didn’t stop there. The Wink Hub also allows for full control of your garage door, front door locks, window blinds, sprinkler system, microwaves, fridges, ovens and really anything else you can think of. It sounds crazy because it is. 

My wife, Jen, cut me off at the front door locks, which was probably a good idea. But for now, it was enough for me. I set up schedules for everything, and groups for events like bedtime. Through the Echo, all I had to do was say “goodnight,” and it would turn off all lights, make sure the front door was locked and the garage door was closed. It knew when we left the house, based on GPS, as well as when we arrived home. 

It had taken all the work out of menial tasks like turning off lights and making sure the front door was locked. I had purchased the smaller Echo Dots and placed them in every room in the house. Our home was now a well-oiled tech machine that essentially ran itself. What a relief! 

Of course, as tech likes to do, it started to get glitchy a few months down the road.  Some of the lights went offline. The garage door responded every third attempt. My schedules went awry. As it turned out, home convenience required constant maintenance. Not so convenient after all. 

Over the next 5 years, things would continue to be disconnected and reconnected, fail and get replaced, or become obvious that it was, in fact, not practical for a myriad of reasons. A good example:  Whenever you lose power and it’s restored, every light in the house turns on. Even at 3 a.m. when you were dead asleep. 

And then, finally, it happened. Things stopped reconnecting to the hub or just all together stopped working. The convenience of it all was no longer convenient. The ease wasn’t easy at all. 

A few months back, Wink, which was barely working now, moved to a subscription service. We would now have to pay every month for its use in our home. The end of an era. Almost as quickly as I had automated as much of our home as possible it came to an end. We are now a smart home no more. 

The lesson I learned from all of this, aside from wasting hundreds of dollars on things that no longer function as intended, is that just because it’s shiny and new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. 

This is true in life and dynasty fantasy football. Shiny and new doesn’t always mean the old way is obsolete. Whether it’s a light bulb or a running back you’ve been rostering this off-season in anticipation of an increased workload, there is always context to its/their value, real or perceived. Let’s talk about it in this week’s edition of “Decoding Dynasty.”

Decoding Dynasty: Early Free Agency Overreaction Edition

If you haven’t been living in a cave for the last week, you know what a frenzy the beginning of NFL free agency, aka the new league year, has been. It didn’t start off tame, with New England making the biggest initial splash almost immediately in signing Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. We’ve also seen Aaron Jones unexpectedly return to Green Bay, Chris Carson staying in Seattle, Kenny Golloday going to the New York Giants and many more signings in this relatively short span. 

The overreaction has been as expected amongst dynasty managers. Jones staying in Green Bay obviously means AJ Dillon is now a non-factor on your roster. Carson clearly will make Rashad Penny irrelevant. And why did New England bring in two high-end free agent tight ends? Better sell them while you still can. 

I’m here to tell you, all of it could be true, and none of it could be true, just like the concept of a fully-connected “smart” house. Football is a rough and tumble sport. Injuries happen, players fall out of favor with a coach, offensive schemes change. In fact, we have no clue what the actual impact of any of these signings is long-term. 

Let’s touch on a few situations I’ve seen massive overreactions to which I think maybe we need to pump the brakes on. 

Jamaal Williams (RB, Detroit)

Jamaal Williams signing with the Detroit Lions has set off a firestorm of “D’Andre Swift is losing stock” takes. But is that true? Let’s look at his 2020 stats. 

Jamaal Williams recently signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions worth up to $7.5 million.

In his final season in Green Bay, Williams exceeded only a 50 percent snap share four times in 15 appearances. He saw some usage in the passing game, especially in Week 4 against Atlanta where he saw eight targets and had 95 yards receiving. Outside of that, Williams main job was to spell Jones. He eclipsed 10 carries in a game just four times.

Looking at those stats and understanding that D’Andre Swift is seen as the future of the Detroit franchise at running back, it is safe to assume that Williams will serve a similar, possibly slightly expanded role compared to his time in Green Bay. Don’t “panic sell” Swift. 

Williams is essentially a back-up  and an insurance policy should Swift miss any time. If you have managers in your league who are concerned about Swift’s usage, take advantage of that and get him rostered before they realize their mistake. 

Jared Cook (TE, Los Angeles Chargers)

This is one I really don’t understand. The minute Los Angeles announced they would not pursue re-signing Henry it appointed automatic TE1 value to Donald Parham. I saw him go as high as the sixth round in a start-up a few weeks back. 

Enter Jared Cook. 

Jared Cook recently signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers worth up to $6 million.

Cook is a soon-to-be 34-year-old tight end on a relatively young roster for the Chargers. He is a career journeyman who has played for five teams in his 12-year career, never exceeding 70 catches or 900 yards receiving. He did find relevance as a red-zone target in 2019 and 2020 in New Orleans while also seeing near-career lows in receptions (37) and receiving yards (504) in this past campaign. 

Parham on the other hand is a soon-to-be 24-year-old, 6’8″ second-year tight end who managed to snag three touchdown catches in very limited playing time behind Henry. In Weeks 16 and 17, Parham saw himself featured a bit more, getting season highs in targets (four and three) and receiving yards (47 and 37), while also snagging a touchdown. 

Cook is nothing more than a veteran tight end who has been brought in to add depth and a locker room presence on a young team. Is Parham a sure thing? Absolutely not. No one in the NFL is. Should you be looking to dump him because of the Jared Cook signing? Absolutely not. 

While the focus of my columns has changed for the offseason, my love of dad jokes has not! So, here we go:

I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon. I’ll let you know which comes first.

As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @jenatejack2017.

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