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Family, Football & When the Smoke Subsides

by Nate Polvogt

“Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dec. 30, 2021 this past Thursday is a day I will not soon forget. If you’ve watched the news recently, you have likely seen the destruction and devastation in my home state of Colorado. With high winds howling, a spark started a fire that would, over the course of 12 hours, rip through two towns. 

This wasn’t just any fire. With winds over 100 Miles Per Hour (MPH), it took off like a rocket. It grew so fast that many of the 30,000-plus people who were evacuated that day had minutes to get out of their houses. It jumped streets and it jumped highways. It was moving so quickly and conditions were so bad, first responders didn’t even try to fight it. They had to focus on getting everyone out alive. 

Watching it happen on the news in real-time felt like I was watching the apocalypse. Flames were tearing through neighborhoods. People were frantically running out of stores and businesses into a smoke-filled windstorm. As the sun set, you could actually see the flames from the end of our street off in the distance on a ridge. 

Over 1,100 homes and businesses were destroyed in the Colorado fires on Dec. 30, 2021.

The fire raged on until late Thursday evening when the wind finally died down. When all was said and done, this fire, dubbed the “Marshall Fire,” had burned over 6,000 acres in less than half a day, destroying more than 1,100 homes and businesses.

The town of Superior, Colorado tucked between Denver and Boulder, Colorado along US Highway 36 is almost completely gone. The amazing thing about all of this is that while two people are still considered missing, every other person has been accounted for. Loss of life was incredibly minimal, and given the scope of destruction, that’s a miracle.

I’m not one to ask people to donate to a specific cause. I feel that is a very personal decision. However, if you are feeling generous, the communities of Superior and Louisville, Colorado could use your help.

Our local NBC affiliate, Channel 9, is partnering with Community Foundation Boulder County and the Boulder County WildFire Fund through anchor Kyle Clark‘s Word Of Thanks initiative to raise money to help those affected by the fires. They have a long road ahead of them to get back to normal. Even $5 will help. 

With that said, there is no easy way to transition from a fatal fire seemingly in my backyard to a game I once also used to play in the backyard. But for the final time in the 2021 NFL regular, I’ll do just that.

As we rounded out 2021 this past weekend, so did many of us with our fantasy football seasons. If your league is over, as it stands, you’re either a league champion or you’re not. It is final. Even as crazy and unpredictable as this season was, it was still a lot of fun, whether or not you did bring home the hardware.

Now it’s time to take stock of your dynasty fantasy football squads and start getting them into shape for your next run at a title. This week I have, as always, two players I believe you should be targeting this off-season and one I would steer clear of. Let’s get to it in this week’s “Hot, Medium & Mild!”

Hot, Medium & Mild: Offseason Dynasty Targets

HOT — Ghost Pepper

Braxton Berrios (WR, New York Jets)

Make no mistake about it, the New York Jets are still a few seasons away from being even remotely relevant in the AFC East. New head coach Robert Saleh will certainly have his hands full with a terrible offensive line, a shaky soon-to-be second-year quarterback in Zach Wilson, among other things. 

Braxton Berrios has been the PPR WR17 since Week 14.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be excited about moving forward and that includes wide receiver, Braxton Berrios

Berrios, who will be heading into his fourth season in 2022, has been electric when given the chance in 2021. While the sample size is small, when he sees a snap share above 50 percent he is averaging 13.7 Points Per Reception (PPR) points per game. In his last two games, he has scored 15 and 24.7 PPR points. Both of those contests we’re close, with one being a win against Jacksonville and the other a near-win against Tampa Bay. 

Berrios has shown he can be effective when the Jets need it, and when they’ve used him more they’ve been a more efficient offense. That would lead me to believe he could be a key part of their offense in 2022 or someone else’s as he is set to be an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after next week. 

I’m willing to move a late-round rookie draft pick to acquire him if he’s not still on waivers. It’s not a huge price for what could be a huge acquisition if Berrios falls into the right situation. 

MEDIUM — Anaheim Pepper

Tre’ McKitty (TE, Los Angeles Chargers)

They drafted him because of his name, but you’re going to want to acquire him for his talent.  The Los Angeles Chargers aren’t exactly full-up with tight ends at the moment. Donald Parham and the aging Jared Cook have been serviceable, but this team will need an infusion of youth at the position come 2022. 

Tre’ McKitty is just what the doctor ordered. The rookie tight end out of the University of Georgia (UGA) hasn’t had many opportunities to highlight his skill set this season, but when called upon he has shown to be a reliable target and solid route-runner.  McKitty has managed to catch all but one of the seven targets thrown his way this season, including going three for three this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Justin Herbert seems to have a decent rapport with him, as well. 

In addition, Cook and Parham are set to be an UFA and an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA), respectively, heading into 2022. This could all point towards McKitty getting the nod from head coach Brandon Staley as the TE1 in Los Angeles next season. 

McKitty probably isn’t in a lot of people’s radars. I get it. Seven targets over 17 weeks really isn’t anything to get too excited about. However, the opportunity is there for him to excel next season and beyond. He may be on waivers still or at the bottom of taxi squads. Take your shot if he’s not rostered and put some feelers out of over-the-hill veterans if he is. It’s always worth a shot to make your team better, especially at a tough-to-find position like tight end.

MILD Green Bell Pepper

Gabriel Davis (WR, Buffalo Bills)

At the end of last season, I was all aboard the Gabriel Davis hype train. He rounded out the last 5 weeks of 2020 as a mid-WR3 and seemed primed for a breakout in 2021. I shouted from the rooftops that you should go out and get him as he was surely the WR2 in Buffalo moving forward. I’m a big enough person to admit when I was wrong, and with this one, I fell flat on my face. 

Gabriel Davis has 32 receptions, 510 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders were both effective when they were targeted this season. That definitely played a huge role in the lack of usage for Davis this season. We saw that when both were out injured, that Davis is still an effective playmaker in the Buffalo offense. 

The problem here is opportunity. He’s just not seeing much of it. While Sanders is an UFA heading into next season, Beasley is under contract through the end of 2022. This doesn’t bode well for Davis and I’m not willing to take a chance on a player who has burned me before. 

Could Davis have a breakout in 2022? Yes, anything is possible. The fact that two receivers in the back end of their careers were featured over him doesn’t give me much confidence though. Anywhere I have him rostered I’m looking to trade him away off the high hopes we saw in Week 15.

That’s it for me folks! I hope you enjoyed your fantasy football leagues this season! I’ll be here all offseason to entertain you and help you navigate the world of fantasy football!

And now, an end-of-season #dadjoke for everyone!

Which state should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move to?


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

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