About this time every year in Indiana, a unique college town in rural Western Pennsylvania, something fills the air.
A buzz, produced by a mixture of anticipation and excitement, sweeps from the Oak Grove to Philadelphia Street. One that only the return of 10,000 undergraduate students to a small town can bring.
This nostalgic feeling pushes us through late August and early September. And before we know it, we’re fully submerged in the swing of the semester, and summer is just a distant memory.
But before we fully break out the hooded sweatshirts and cornucopia decor, I’d like to shine one more light on just a little more summertime.
As for me, this unforgettable summer served as a pivoting point from my fleeting youth to the rest of my adult life.
Flashback to last May, at the conclusion of my junior year spring semester. I found myself alone after both my friends and girlfriend parted for home or new adventures.
Most of my friends’ time in Indiana had come to an end following their graduations. And Katie was heading to the Big Apple for the summer, chasing her dreams as an editorial intern for the American Society of Magazine Editors.
And I would be spending the summer doing maintenance and media work for IUP’s Student Co-op Recreation Park, after turning down a last-minute offer to spend the summer in Nashville at a magazine company.
While working in Nashville was once a dream of mine, it now felt distant. And for some odd reason, I felt like Indiana is where I needed to be.
It was there, at that moment, sitting in a half-empty college house that I realized this would probably be the final summer of my youth before I was hopefully a full-time professional and leaving the classroom behind for good.
I promised myself that while I would continue to dig roots in Indiana, my college community that became home, I would explore what else the world had to offer.
During the week, I’d work… a lot – the Co-op Parks during the day and serving at Tom’s Pizza and Restaurant at night.
But, on the weekends, I’d travel.
Sometimes it was just visiting family, catching a ball game in the ‘Burgh, or camping at the lake with some old friends.
But then there were the moments I found myself watching fireworks on a peer in Connecticut, on a cliff in Rhode Island or on a rooftop deck in Queens, overlooking New York City.
Regardless of if it was fishing off a jetty with Uncle Greg or just sitting on my deck in Indiana with Chris, I made the most out of it.
And weirdly enough, no matter how lost or in-between I felt at times this summer, I always found my way back, to this.
And fantasy football.
So, let’s get to it.
Quarterback I’d Start this Week:
Russell Wilson (Seattle): Even though Russell Wilson is typically a slow starter to the season, coming off brand-new contract and facing a Cincinnati defense that allowed the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks last season, it’s hard not to love him off the rip.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has said he wants both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny to be more involved in the passing game this season. If that’s the case here in Week 1, Wilson should be a top-10 quarterback this week as he looks to lead Seattle back to the postseason.
Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami): In 2018, nobody would have expected Ryan “Fitzmagic” to score 42.3 fantasy points in Week 1. But playing against a weak New Orleans pass defense in a shootout with talented offensive weapons helps.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say Fitzpatrick does not get more than 40 points again in Week 1 this season. Now, with arguably his best weapon in Kenny Stills gone via trade and playing with what feels to be the leftover, non-matching Legos of the NFL against a good Baltimore defense, I’m out on the Harvard grad this week and declaring the end of “Fitzmagic” to start the season.
Running Back I’d Start this Week:
James Conner (Pittsburgh): The Steelers will be traveling to New England to play a prime-time Sunday night game against their conference rival.
We’ve seen New England, dating back as far as last year’s postseason, attempt to run a power style offense, with the goal in mind to control the time of possession.
To combat with the Patriots, the Steelers will have to do the same. With Big Ben not having regular season playing time to get acquainted with his new targets, I expect a heavy dose of James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, both on the ground and through the air, Sunday night as Pittsburgh looks to defeat the Patriots.
Running Back I’d Sit this Week:
Derrius Guice (Washington): Derrius Guice is a talented, second-year back, coming off a torn ACL that robbed him of his rookie season.
And while I think could have legitimate value down the road, going up against a Philadelphia defense that was top-12 against opposing running backs last season at home is a tough task for anyone, let alone for someone with zero NFL snaps under their belt.
I could be dead wrong on this one. Guice could come out and light the world on fire. But in a divisional game where veterans Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson are healthy and fighting for touches, he’s a wait-and-see for me.
Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:
Dede Westbrook (Jacksonville): Let’s face it – unless Nick Foles continues his extraordinary magic he had in Philadelphia, he and his Jaguars should by trailing the majority of the opener against Kansas City.
While it may be a bad day in Jacksonville, it doesn’t mean it will be for the third-year wideout.
Dede Westbrook is coming off a season where he paced all Jacksonville receivers with 66 receptions and has already shown a great connection with his new quarterback in the preseason. Consider him a mid-tier WR2 and a high-end flex play this week.
Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:
Sterling Shepard (New York Giants): Typically, you’d think you’d want to play a team’s unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver. But when that receiver’s quarterback is Eli Manning, playing in a tough divisional game in Dallas, you should probably do everything to avoid it.
After missing all of the preseason with a broken thumb and playing against a Cowboys defense that ranked sixth against opposing receivers and only got better, I’m sitting Sterling Shepard this week.
This column was originally featured at ThePenn.org September 5, 2019.
If you have a feel-good story that you would like to share for an opportunity to be featured in an upcoming edition of “Start, Sit & Seth,” please reach out.
And for more fantasy football and uplifting content, you can find me on Twitter @Between_SethFF.