Family, Football & So It Begins
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” ― Marc Anthony
Football season is almost here! It’s an exciting time for anyone who enjoys the sport in any form, fantasy or otherwise. For myself – and our household – it also brings anxiety. Stress. A feeling of being overwhelmed. I am by no means complaining. I don’t think my wife, Jen Polvogt, would either. It’s just a lot.
Last year at this time, we were novices at this whole fantasy football analyst gig. In-Between Media was very young. We had a small, close-knit staff that looks nothing like our staff now. We’ve become a larger company with more moving parts, sponsors, shows and responsibilities. More spreadsheets and documents. Just more.
All that said, I’m ecstatic to be here in all of the stress and anxiety. This has been a dream of mine for most of my life. I’m a sports junkie. Working in the sports world in any capacity is amazing. Getting to do that work in the fantasy football industry is just a cherry on top.
My goal this season is to give you the best fantasy football advice to help you win championships, with a side of real life. All the stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed is worth it. I love what I do and I cannot wait to continue my journey for this 2021 season and beyond!
Something else that causes stress and anxiety is none other than fantasy football waiver wires. For the 2021 season, my goal here every week is to lessen that impact on you, the fantasy football manager, by helping you make good decisions and targeting players with the most potential upside. It isn’t always easy and we won’t always be right, but that’s the nature of the game. All week, we’re making educated guesses to put ourselves in the best possible position to win. Welcome to “Hot, Medium & Mild” for the 2021 season!
Hot, Medium & Mild: Ready for Week 1
HOT — Scotcheñero
Randall Cobb (WR, Green Bay Packers)
I know what you’re thinking. “Nate, this isn’t 2014.” I know, believe me. The grey hair in my beard can attest to that. I’m not expecting another 91 reception, 1,287-yard, 12-touchdown season from Randall Cobb. No one is. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value as an early waiver wire add. This is what I would call a “let’s see what we have” acquisition. Cobb is being reunited with an old teammate in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, on his old team, the Green Bay Packers, at the behest of Rodgers himself. That means something.
Davante Adams is the WR1 in Green Bay. No one is disputing that. Cobb, however, could provide high-end WR3/Flex upside for a very low price. Last season in Houston, Cobb was on the field for 10 games. In those ten contests, he managed 38 catches on 48 targets for 441 receiving yards and three touchdowns. With his old friend Rodgers back tossing him the ball, I expect Cobb to provide solid value all season long.
Seeing as he is rostered in only 31.5 percent of leagues on Sleeper, chances are he is available in your league. If you are in a league with a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB), don’t break the bank to get Cobb. Spend three percent or less of your budget and feel thrifty! You won’t regret it.
MEDIUM — Anaheim Pepper
Blake Jarwin (TE, Dallas Cowboys)
2020 was a huge disappointment for Blake Jarwin, who went down in Week 1 with a torn ACL. He had emerged as the TE1 heading into last season after showing what he could do when called upon in 2019. With the emergence of Dalton Shultz in his absence, there are certainly questions about what level of productivity we can expect from him. Not to mention, quarterback Dak Prescott has a plethora of other targets in that Dallas offense.
That said, tight end is a very thin position for fantasy football, so reaching outside of the consensus top three players at the position (Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle) is likely required to get any value from there. Jarwin is a reach, but not as much as you might think. Shultz has been hampered by an ankle injury for a large portion of the preseason and saw little action. Additionally, most reports out of camp have highlighted the more dynamic nature of Jarwin’s play over Shultz. While Shultz is expected to be ready to play this week, I fully expect Jarwin to handle the majority of the passing work at the tight end position for Dallas.
Chances are you already have your TE1 locked and loaded for Week 1. Jarwin is probably not someone you will want to be relying on out of the gate. However, he is certainly worth a bench stash for the first few games to see how he figures into the offense and if he is worth keeping. He is only rostered in 9.8 percent of ESPN leagues, so you know he’s out there for the taking.
Don’t spend much in FAAB or waiver priority to acquire Jarwin. I would be willing to bet you could get him with a zero-dollar bid or off free agency. As I stated previously, the majority of teams have their TE1.
MEDIUM — Ancho Pepper
Sam Darnold (QB, Carolina Panthers)
New team, who ‘dis?
Likely Adam Gase, the ruiner of teams and quarterbacks. First, it was Miami and Ryan Tannehill. Next up it was the New York Jets and Sam Darnold. Gase was let go by New York after the 2020 season and is now in the process of ruining a high school football program.
Darnold meanwhile is on to greener pastures after being traded to Carolina this past offseason. With a new coaching staff and offensive scheme courtesy of head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady, I fully expect to see the Darnold we all thought we would see when New York selected him third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Brady is known as someone who gets the most out of his quarterbacks. Another win for Darnold is he now has Christian McCaffrey as his RB1, which is an enormous upgrade to anyone he had in New York during his tenure there. Maybe most importantly, he is free of Gase. Three points total.
Darnold is only rostered in six percent of leagues on Sleeper. I am chalking this up to recency bias. As with a new system, better skill position players and a familiar face in receiver Robby Anderson, he is primed to break out in a big way.
There will certainly be an adjustment period. He is not someone I want to rely on for the first few weeks of the season. If you have the roster flexibility to add a second quarterback, Darnold is your guy. If he can improve his accuracy and decision-making in a considerably better offense, we could see him as a top-15 fantasy quarterback this season. That’s a steal off the waiver wire.
MILD — Banana Pepper
Bryan Edwards WR, Las Vegas Raiders)
There is a reason Bryan Edwards is only rostered in 14.5 percent of ESPN leagues, and his name is Darren Waller. It’s no secret that Waller is the No. 1 receiving target in the Las Vegas offense. Outside of Waller, head coach, Jon Gruden, has loaded up on talented pass-catching running backs and appears to be primed to give second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs a shot at becoming the WR1. With Ruggs likely assuming the role vacated by Nelson Agholor, seems to leave Edwards out in the cold.
Outside of the running back position, not a whole lot has changed in Las Vegas. Gruden is still Gruden. In other words, he’s been living off of his reputation from a decade-and-a-half ago. It seems as though we can expect Edwards at best to put up numbers similar or less than what Ruggs did last season. Don’t waste a roster spot on someone who has little chance to provide fantasy value this season.
And that’s it for the first “Hot, Medium & Mild” of the 2021 season. Doesn’t it feel good?
You can take my advice or leave it. That’s up to you. Whatever you decide, good luck in Week 1!
And now, it’s #dadjoke time!
I lost my job at the bank on my first day. A woman asked me to check her balance, so I pushed her over.
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @JeNateJackFF.