Family, Football & What If
“Don’t spend your life wondering ‘what if’ and worrying over something you have no control. What’s done is done. Looking backward will cause you to miss out on new blessings ahead. Move on.” – Germany Kent
Life is full of “what if’s.” It’s human nature to wonder how different our lives would be if we had made a different decision or chosen a different path. “If only I had done ‘X’ I might be doing ‘Y’ right now instead of being where I am.” No matter how hard we try, this question will always sneak into our brains.
For me, this question goes back to 1995 when I was in eighth grade. Believe it or not, I was a talented athlete in multiple sports back in the day. If there had been a lettering program in middle school, I would have had a fancy jacket decorated with pins and patches. I averaged a triple-double over my final season of basketball, was a gold-glove caliber third baseman and was surprisingly good at volleyball.
Towards the end of the school year, I was offered a full-ride athletic and academic scholarship to a private, and somewhat prestigious, Catholic high school. I was guaranteed a spot on the varsity squad in the basketball and baseball programs and was being heavily recruited to play football. It was flattering and overwhelming all at the same time. It was an incredible opportunity to get an amazing education as well as continue playing sports at a high level. There was no way I could turn it down.
At this point, I had already attended a Catholic school for 9 years. Private education was all I had ever known. It wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it was the opposite. I was almost 2 years ahead of my public school counterparts academically. The school was also smaller, so it was like a big family.
The sense of community was evident. Most of the kids who attended this specific school were the second or third-generation to have done so. While that sounds pretty amazing, it could also be very isolating. I felt like there was a whole world out there I knew nothing about. I was afraid if I didn’t pivot, I would miss out on it completely. So, I turned down the scholarship and, instead, enrolled in a public high school.
What I didn’t know was, in a large school, the individual tends to get lost in the crowd. It was clear on my first day of high school I was a nobody. There were 1,500 kids packed into one building, most of which had known each other since they were very young. They had established relationships with each other. They had siblings who had come before them, making their faces familiar to faculty and coaches.
My first day of baseball tryouts was a nightmare. Everyone knew everyone else. I felt like the weird kid who walked into the wrong class. I had to work a hundred times harder than anyone else and switch positions from third base to pitcher, just to make the freshman team. I was benched in favor of other kids with established relationships, regardless of talent. It was a painful season and demotivating for me in general. I tore my rotator cuff that season because I had no business pitching and, ultimately, ended my high school athletic career.
Any dreams I had of getting to the next level were gone just like that.
There are times I regret not taking that scholarship. I wonder if I had just stayed the course, where I would be now. Would I have actually gone to college and graduated? Could I have made it as a professional athlete?
While I will never know the answer to those questions, I do know this: I am here now, with an amazing wife, an incredible son and happier than I could have ever imagined at this point in my life. Passing up that scholarship has realistically made my path here far more difficult, but all the things that led me here have made me who I am. I have zero regrets.
There are plenty of “what ifs” when it comes to fantasy football, as well, especially this season. Those “what ifs,” just like in the real world, don’t matter now. We are where we are and we have to make the best of what we have. That’s becoming more difficult as the season goes on and waiver wires get thinner and thinner. Ironically, as the fantasy football playoffs approach, it’s never been more important to make smart roster decisions to help get you to the promised land, a fantasy football championship.
In this week’s edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild,” I’m going to be focusing on a few dart throws to consider rostering. These are players with the potential to be situationally relevant and who can fill a need for a week in a pinch. It’s where we are and it’s about all we can do. Let’s get down to it!
Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 11
HOT — Seven Pot Brain Strain
Dan Arnold (TE, Jacksonville Jaguars)
It’s fair to say most fantasy managers have been endlessly frustrated with the tight end position this season. I am no exception. Outside of Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry and Mark Andrews, there has been little consistency. Enter Dan Arnold, the fifth-year tight end who started the season in Carolina and has come on strong since being traded to Jacksonville.
Given the difficulties at the position in fantasy, it’s surprising he has managed to fly under the radar this long. Since Week 8, Arnold has been the Points Per Reception (PPR) TE3, averaging 12.8 PPR points per game. In that span, he leads the team in targets (24), catches (17) and receiving yards (195). Outside of cornerback-turned-wide receiver Jamal Agnew, it appears Arnold won’t have much competition for targets the rest of this season. He’s become a safety outlet for Lawrence and isn’t touchdown-dependent.
Believe it or not, Arnold is rostered in only 27.3 percent of ESPN leagues. That’s criminally low for a player who provides consistency at a position that lacks it. The upcoming schedule doesn’t really matter in this case. Jacksonville is fighting an uphill battle every week and he will be someone who sees volume, regardless. If you need a tight end or a solid weekly flex play, get him now while you can. He’s absolutely worth a portion of the Free Agency Acquisition Budget (FAAB) you have left or using a high waiver wire priority to get him on your roster and in your lineups.
MEDIUM — Cheiro Roxa
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, New England Patriots)
I think it’s safe to say I am a huge fan of Patriots’ running back Rhamondre Stevenson. I had him pegged to breakout much earlier in the season (You win some and you lose some). While I don’t think we’re quite to the point of saying he’s broken out, we’re getting closer. Last week against a decent Cleveland defense, Stevenson got the chance to handle the majority of the backfield work with running back Damien Harris still in concussion protocol. And he did not disappoint.
Not only did he amaze on the ground, getting 20 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns, he also managed four catches on five targets. All of that was good for 27.4 PPR points. With Harris more than likely back for a Week 11 contest against the stumbling Atlanta Falcons, the chances he sees that kind of volume again are slim.
However, unlike Stevenson, Harris has not factored into the passing attack for New England this season, having not seen more than three targets in a game.
Stevenson certainly showed head coach, Bill Belichick, and offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, that he is more than capable of being used both through the air and on the ground. This is also a New England team primed to make a run at a playoff spot, so it will be all-hands-on-deck moving forward. He will be a factor on this squad, albeit with a lower ceiling than we saw in Week 10.
With that expectation set, he could be a nice waiver wire add for your playoff push. He is rostered in just 28.4 percent of ESPN leagues, so there is a decent chance he is available in your league. With the lack of quality running backs available, grab him before he’s gone.
MILD — Santa Fe Grande
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers)
Cam Newton is back and I’m as excited as anyone to see what he has left in the tank. We got a glimpse last week when we saw him rush for one touchdown and throw for another in a limited role. It has a lot of fantasy managers running to the waiver wire to snag him before anyone else. Unfortunately, That, my friends, may be a mistake.
Newton returning to the team that he started his career with is an amazing, feel-good story and I’m here for it. I do believe it’s a good move for a team struggling at the quarterback position and with leadership in general.
That said, it’s unlikely we will see a version of him that is much different from what we saw in New England in 2020. In that campaign, he averaged just 177.1 passing yards per game and threw only eight touchdown passes. He did have enormous rushing upside. He found the end zone on the ground 12 times, but that was in an offense that didn’t feature running back Christian McCaffrey.
Newton’s ceiling is capped in Carolina. They still have a putrid offensive line, which is bad news for a battered, aging quarterback who went unsigned for the first 9 weeks of the NFL season.
After multiple throwing shoulder injuries, it’s fair to question what his arm strength and accuracy will look like. I’m not rostering him in any circumstance in a single-quarterback league outside of an absolute emergency. Even then, you can find better options with higher upside on waivers, unless your league is incredibly deep.
And there you have it, folks. Take it or leave it and good luck in Week 11!
I’ve got jokes, people! Specifically a #dadjoke, of course.
I once had a dream I was floating in an ocean of orange soda. It was more of a Fanta sea.
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @JeNateJackFF.