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Family, Football & Spring Has Sprung

by Nate Polvogt

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:  If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet

Spring has sprung. What had been dead, brown and colorless for the last six or so months is starting to show signs of life, with greens and pinks and reds beginning to peek out. The cold bite in the air turns to a cool crispness welcoming warmer weather. The snow has turned to rain, the sun is up later and you can smell life coming back.

The transition from winter to spring is my favorite time of year. I am used to the cold, dry, dead winters, but I do not enjoy them. So when we roll into September, there is an air of sadness, knowing the warm summer evenings will soon be gone. The next six months are a patience test for a family who loves the outdoors. We do our best not to dwell on the cold weather, dirty snow and general dullness in the winter months. Instead, we eagerly await that first warm spring afternoon. 

This spring is different than any other. It feels like we’ve come out of the dark, depressing winter season into spring and are finally starting to see some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel we’ve been traversing for more than two years. Life abounds. Along with flowers blooming and trees budding, the world is slowly returning to the most “normal” state we’ve had since March of 2020. This is a special spring.

I urge you to get outside and enjoy the warmth, sun and loved ones. Hope is in the air; breathe it in. The sun is shining bright; let it hit your skin (with sunscreen). Nature is returning from a long winter’s nap; be in it. Life is short; get back to enjoying it. Today is an opportunity for a fresh start; take it. 

Spring is also the time to bring those dynasty fantasy football squads out of hibernation if you haven’t already. Organized team activities startup for most NFL teams in the next few weeks, if they haven’t already begun. We have landing spots for rookies, the majority of free agency has settled and most managers are ready to start adding rookies and veterans to bolster rosters.

This is the season to make your teams better. This is where you separate yourself from the rest of your league. So I think it’s time to get back into an old favorite, “Hot, Medium, and Mild: Rookie Edition.”   

Hot, Medium & Mild: Rookie Edition

The NFL Draft is complete, so you know what that means; it’s Dynasty rookie draft season! After months of conjecture and, if we’re being honest, guessing, wishing and hoping, we finally know where these players will be suiting up in 2022. The draft was a wild ride, which should have been no surprise given the insanity of free agency.

We had quarterback Malik Willis, originally projected as a possible top-10 pick, fall to the Tenessee Titans in the third round. There was a flurry of trades once we got out of the top-10 picks seeing two marquee wide receivers changing teams. It was a head-spinning experience to say the least. 

Ahead of your upcoming rookie drafts, it’s essential to know what you can expect as far as roles go for these players. Widely heralded tight end Trey McBride, from Colorado State, found himself alongside Zach Ertz in Arizona, which doesn’t bode well for his immediate ability to have an impact in fantasy football.

In this edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild,” I will give you three rookies whose stock changed for me based on their landing spot. So let’s get to it!

HOT — Carolina Reaper

James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)

Heading into this draft, there may not have been a team that needed a change of pace at running back more than the Buffalo Bills. The tandem Devin Singletary and Zack Moss were lackluster in 2021, combining for 1,215 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

The most efficient rusher on the team was quarterback Josh Allen, who averaged 6.3 Yards Per Carry (YPC) on his way to 738 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, both second on the team. After a failed attempt to land Washington running back J.D. McKissic, the Bills addressed their need in the draft, selecting Georgia running back James Cook with the 63rd overall pick. 

James Cook was the third RB selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.

We learned for ceratin with the effort to land McKissic that Buffalo is looking to add a dynamic pass-catching back, something this offense has not had since LeSean McCoy in 2018, Allen’s rookie season. While Cook is viewed as under-sized, especially compared to his older brother, Dalvin Cook, he makes up for it in pure athletic ability.

In his senior season at Georgia, he caught all 27 passes thrown his way. Cook isn’t going to blow you away between the tackles, but his ability to get the edge and cut upfield fits Buffalo’s style of play. He averaged 6.4 YPC in 2021, showing he can plug into the Bills’ offense as a dual threat. 

Cook will work into this offense almost immediately, most likely relegating Singletary and Moss to secondary roles by mid-season, if not sooner. His dynamic playmaking ability out of multiple sets will create mismatches in coverage that Allen has shown he can use to his advantage. Overall, Cook looks to be a long-term fixture in Buffalo, barring injury. He is ranked as the rookie RB3 per FantasyPros, and that could prove to be a steal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish 2022 ahead of rookie darlings Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker III. Of course, you’ll have to grab him somewhere in the first round of your rookie drafts, but you’ll thank yourself later. 

MEDIUM — Thai Pepper

Malik Willis (QB, Tennessee Titans)

It’s rare to see a player’s draft stock fall as hard as Liberty University quarterback Willis’ did just over a week ago. He was projected to go somewhere in the first round, as high as No. 1 overall if Jacksonville had traded the pick away. Instead, the Tennessee Titans finally selected the raw but talented quarterback with the 86th overall pick. While this was a steal for the Titans, it was a massive hit to his fantasy football value in the eyes of many. He will now be sitting behind Ryan Tannehill, a veteran quarterback with little interest in giving up his job or mentoring the rookie. With Tannehill under contract through the end of the 2023 season, it will likely be at least two seasons before we even get a glimpse of him barring injury. 

Malik Willis rushed for 29 TDs in college.

Dynasty format fantasy football is a format where we hedge bets on unproven talent at every turn. Willis is a risk, especially given that he has been the third quarterback off the board in the majority of rookie drafts thus far. However, he feels a little less risky if you look at his college stats. Yes, Willis played at a smaller university and against less talent than if he had stayed at Auburn, but he also had less talent around him. In his two full seasons as the starter, he had a 62.4 completion percentage on 618 attempts. That’s just a touch below the NFL average completion percentage of 64.8. Not bad for someone who is considered a raw talent. 

Willis excels as a mobile quarterback. He rushed the ball 338 times for 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns in those two seasons. That’s almost cheat code-level rushing production from a quarterback. Couple that with his passing efficiency and a few years to refine his skills and you could be looking at a future fantasy QB1. Considering he’s currently going in the third round of most rookie drafts, he’s worth rostering and stashing on a taxi squad. If his Average Draft Position (ADP) goes any higher, I may balk at the value, but that appears unlikely.      

MILD Peperoncino

Skyy Moore (WR – Kansas City Cheifs)

The NFL community lost their minds when Kansas City traded franchise wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami ahead of the draft. It sparked instant conversations about how the team would replace the elusive speedster who had been an anchor of their offense. Some viewed the free-agent signing of Juju Smith-Schuster as an attempt to fill this void, and the same was said about Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Then, with the 54th pick in the draft, they selected Western Michigan wide receiver, Skyy Moore. The fantasy community subsequently lost their minds. 

Skyy Moore had 2,494 total scrimmage yards in college.

I’ve seen people comparing Moore to Hill, skyrocketing his dynasty value up to the WR6 in this class, ahead of George Pickens, Christian Watson and John Metchie. I’ve written about him and like his skill set. However, his current value is out of control. The fallacy is trying to compare a wide receiver with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash to a man who is nicknamed “Cheetah.”

Moore had a nice stat line his senior season, catching 95 passes for nearly 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to see that volume in Kansas City in 2022, sitting behind Schuster-Smith, Valdez-Scantling, and Travis Kelce. You can think of him as the Byron Pringle of this offense. 

Patrick Mahomes isn’t a quarterback who spreads the ball around. In previous years, the fantasy-relevant names in Kansas City have been Mahomes, Hill and Kelce. While Moore could command decent volume, the more likely scenario is that Moore takes a back seat in the offensive game plan for the foreseeable future. Unless his ADP drops considerably, Moore is a trap in rookie drafts. His ceiling is likely closer to a back-end WR2 than anywhere near WR1 territory. That’s not an exciting outlook for a player you’ll have to draft in the first round of rookie drafts to roster.  

That’s all for me, folks! I’m glad to be back, giving you my spicy and not-so-spicy advice and notes. Until next time!

Did you think I was going to forget about the #dadjoke? I would never! Here is a good one for a spring chuckle:

Why couldn’t the little flower ride a bike? 

It didn’t have any petals.

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

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