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Family, Football & Us Against the World

by Nate Polvogt

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

After a week off and a guest writing appearance from everyone’s favorite hot sauce and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) guru, Bo McBrayer, I’m back and ready to head into the holidays and the fantasy football playoffs!

Taking this past week off was much needed, apparently even more than I realized. As my wife Jen and I walked out the door last Saturday to head south of the border, we realized it had been almost 18 full months since either of us had over 2 days free of some sort of content or fantasy football-related business. That’s a lot of days and hours filling our brains with football. It had taken a toll neither of us realized until we hit the ground in Cancun, Mexico. 

Yes, this is a dream for both of us. Writing about football in any capacity would make my 12-year-old self not only proud but in awe of where I ended up. That doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. Trying to launch a brand (@32in32FF) proved to be far more challenging than expected. Couple that with helping In-Between Media Founder and Editor-In-Chief Seth Woolcock continue to build a company, the other ventures we’ve found ourselves involved in, on top of raising a kid and maintaining a home, and it’s a lot. 

This trip afforded us the opportunity to reset. We had time to rethink our approach in some aspects, refocus our efforts in others and realize what is, and is not, important long-term. It was a chance to gain perspective without the usual outside noise fogging our judgment. 

It was also a chance for us to reconnect as a married couple. Anyone who has children knows that this can be nearly impossible. Our little humans require constant attention and effort. If it’s not a dirty diaper or a mess on the floor, it’s making them a healthy meal they inevitably won’t eat, trying to get them to take a nap for your own sanity or a litany of other frustrating tasks. By the end of most days, you simply don’t have the energy left for each other. 

This isn’t to say we were disconnected in any sort of concerning fashion. We have always been good at checking in with each other no matter how hectic things are. We operate as a team and generally do remain on the same page about most things. Sometimes, you just need a reminder of why you’re here. It wasn’t by chance that we built this life together. 

We were lucky enough to be traveling with friends, which afforded us some amazing opportunities to be together just the two of us. The little things have a way of getting lost in the noise, like the way you can laugh at something that probably isn’t funny to most people, but to the two of you, it’s hilarious. Or how a simple look can be an entire paragraph. We got to remember that before all of this, it was just us against the world. 

Heading into the fantasy playoffs, you might feel like it’s you against the world. This has been a crazy season and you should be proud of what you’ve managed to accomplish. Given the uncertainty all season long, it was no small task to get here. But now what?

Sure, your team was good enough to make it to the dance floor, but the work doesn’t stop here. This is no time to let your guard down and float along. There is still work to be done and that includes making smart decisions on the waiver wire. This week I’ll highlight a few players that, while they’re not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination, could provide some help where you need it.

What are we even waiting for? It’s time for some “Hot, Medium & Mild!”

Hot, Medium & Mild: Round No. 1

HOT — Datil

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, Detroit Lions)

It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions are an all-around bad football team. Between poor quarterback play, a leaky defense and a sub-par offensive line, there hasn’t been much to be excited about. Amon-Ra St. Brown, however, is starting to show why a lot of us in the fantasy football industry were high on him heading into the season. After a slow start where he averaged only 6.9 Points Per Reception (PPR) fantasy points through 11 games, he has started to take off. 

In those first 11 contests, St. Brown didn’t see more than 8 targets or score a touchdown. The last two weeks have been markedly different. He has seen 24 targets (12 in each game), which he has converted into 18 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers are good enough to make him the overall PPR WR7 in that span, ahead of receivers like Mike Evans, Ja’Marr Chase and Davante Adams

With T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift both injured and questionable for Week 15, that doesn’t leave much in the way of options for the Lions’ offense. Outside of Kalif Raymond and possibly Jamaal Williams, it’s going to yet again be the St. Brown show. While the Week 15 Matchup against Arizona isn’t ideal, the following two games are against Atlanta and Seattle, both defenses that are hurting in the secondary. St. Brown should at least see enough volume over all three matchups to get you a double-digit fantasy point output. He’s worth a hard look and a roster addition if you need a wide receiver to get you through. 

MEDIUM Bulgarian Carrot

Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks)

I am again coming to you with Rashaad Penny. This time it’s different, I promise. When I wrote about him heading into Week 7, he was fresh off the Injured Reserve (IR) and hopes were high that he could fill in for the injured Chris Carson. What came after was a string of disappointing outings where he just simply wasn’t being utilized or was injured. Alex Collins seemed to have taken over the backfield and Penny became an afterthought. 

Fast forward to Week 14 and, oh boy, how things have changed. Against a Houston defense that had been steadily improving all season, he finally got his chance to carry the majority of the workload, and was it a thing of beauty. Penny exploded with 16 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns, good for 26.8 PPR points. If you took a flier on him earlier in the season, it has finally paid off. If you didn’t and he is still available in your league, he could be just what you need to ease your running back woes.

Penny is still rostered in only 8.9 percent of ESPN leagues. While he probably won’t be an inexpensive add depending on your league, he could make the difference between advancing or landing in the consolation bracket. With his fantasy playoff matchups against the Rams, Bears and Lions, if he is on the field, he should be a boom candidate. Adding him to your roster is worth the risk if you’re chasing points at running back. 

MILD  Anaheim

Gabriel Davis (WR, Buffalo Bills)

I know I’m not alone in my disappointment with Gabriel Davis‘ fantasy production in 2021. I was as high on him heading into this season as anyone. He had a solid finish to the 2020 season and there was no reason to believe he would slow down. In a pass-heavy offense such as the one in Buffalo, it stood to reason that a talented receiver like Davis would excel. It just never materialized. 

Gabriel Davis is the PPR WR22 for Weeks 13-14.

Through the first 13 weeks, Davis saw no more than five targets in any one game. Furthermore, he had only one game with more than 50 receiving yards (105 in Week 10). The only games in which he was even remotely fantasy relevant came when he managed to catch one of his three touchdowns on the season. Because of this, many managers who had drafted him have since released him into the land of waivers, where he sits in 97.5 percent of ESPN leagues. 

Week 14 saw something we hadn’t seen from Davis in 2021. Against Tampa Bay and following the injury and departure of Emmanuel Sanders, he had season highs in snap share (83 percent), targets (eight) and catches (five).

The key here is the absence of Sanders. Sanders is nursing a mild knee sprain and is doubtful for Week 15, but likely to play Week 16 and beyond. With upcoming games against Carolina and New England, there is no guarantee Davis can replicate the production we saw last week. If you are desperate, Davis is a solid dart throw, but nothing more. 

And there you have it, folks. Take it or leave it and good luck in round one of the fantasy playoffs! 

And now, the #dadjoke. We’re almost two full seasons into this column and I still haven’t run out of material. You’re welcome. 

What do you call it when a snowman throws a tantrum?

A meltdown.

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

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