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NFL Draft Predictions & Takes 2023 + The Story of Tim Kalinowski

Start, Sit & A Take On Everything

by Seth Woolcock

​​“Start, Sit & Seth” is the original column of In-Between Media, bridging feel-good lifestyle advice with redraft fantasy football analysis. Consistently following Seth Woolcock’s journey as a young creator, this series is now in its sixth season. Join him in this edition as he shares the unique story of sports betting analyst and TikTok sensation Tim Kalinowski, plus his NFL Draft predictions and takes.

Peering past the ring lights, microphone and the ability to seemingly be plugged in 24/7, what makes a fantasy sports or sports betting content creator?

Takes – and, well, having an opinion on just about everything.

That’s something I was fully aware of when I entered the arena in the latter side of my college years. Between the $1 downtown drinks and learning everything I could about journalism and communications, I was just thankful my columns caught a few eyeballs and my podcasts were in a few ears.

But today – nearly five years later – I fully acknowledge it. The best analysts across sports media are the ones who have a take on quite possibly everything. From critiquing the way Adam Schefter Griddys to the correct way to load the dishwasher, there’s an opinion to be had, and the best have it.

Though the NFL offseason gives us plenty of conversation through Free Agency, trade rumors and the NFL Draft, it can be tough not to put down your sword of takes for a moment. It’s something I battle with, often finding myself in a “take slump” as we await the final outcome of Draft Day.

So to break out of this take funk, I sought out someone who knows a thing or two about them.

A Marblehead Minute

Directly across the bay from the historic town of Salem, Mass., is Marblehead, an old revolutionary village where the downtown cobblestone roads are filled with local shops, seafood restaurants and dive bars. 

It’s there we find Tim Kalinowski, a 24-year-old production and content specialist for The Action Network, one of the major players in the sports betting media industry.

Online – with nearly 40,000 followers on TikTok – Tim is a goofy, Boston-accented, sports-obsessed dude in his 20s. Offline, Tim is a goofy, Boston-accented, sports-obsessed dude in his 20s.

“I’ll say this [about growing up in Marblehead], I have the same 12 best friends from kindergarten that are my same 12 best friends today,” Tim said in an April 5 interview. “I grew up playing sports all the time. That was the group, and we’re all still friends to this day. We just rip each other. We’re just that group of guys.”

NFL Draft Predictions & Takes 2023 + The Story of Tim Kalinowski

Tim and his friends as kids pose for a picture after playing hockey.

Perhaps Tim was always destined for a life filled with sports. His mom was a tennis player at Clemson University. His uncle played football and baseball at Harvard University, famous for kicking a game-winning field goal vs. Yale in the ‘70s. Even Tim’s grandfather was a basketball player at Boston University (BU), eventually serving as a multi-sport high school coach and later as the athletic director.

In fact, Tim’s grandfather would pick him up from school every day. After pulling into the driveway, he would roll out a basketball and challenge him to hit 50 free throws before going inside. 

“I was like, ‘Grampy, I don’t even play basketball,’” Tim said. “And he was like, ‘Well, you should know how to hit a free throw.’ And I thought, ‘you know what, you’re damn right I should.’”

Yes, Tim’s upbringing was fully immersed in the world of sports. However, his success as an analyst and creator didn’t come without putting in the work.

Putting in the Work

After his senior year of high school, Tim took a post-grad year to play hockey at Phillips Exeter Academy, a highly selective boarding school often known as a feeder school for Harvard. He followed that with a year of playing junior hockey, another important step in playing collegiately.

In March 2018, Tim was recruited and waitlisted to play on the club hockey team at Syracuse University. 

“I was very disappointed to be waitlisted, so I wrote a letter almost every day to the dean of admissions,” Tim said. “… In June, they said, ‘We’ll take you, but second-semester admission. We’ll see you Jan. 7.’

In the meantime, Tim picked up a construction gig and went about his summer, waiting out his time. But on Aug. 27, 2018, Syracuse called and informs him of a no-show, asking if he could be there by Monday – five days from then – to start class.

“I said ‘sure,’” Tim said.

But just because he was now on the campus didn’t mean it was smooth sailing from there. To get into his preferred college of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Tim had to get a 4.0 GPA his freshman year.

And he did.

“To be honest, I had a long journey to get to Syracuse,” Tim said. “Syracuse helped me get my job. I met my girlfriend at Syracuse. But I had a really hard time at Syracuse… I’m kind of an old soul. I didn’t fit in with the party atmosphere. I didn’t totally fit into being a full-blown journalist because I want to be myself – I can’t not inject my opinion… not inject a fun joke and kinda keep it light.” 

Trying to break away from being the “same cookie cutter clone” of past Syracuse journalists, Tim took in an eight-week internship with The Action Network heading into his 2021 senior year. Tim did enough to prove himself that by the time he returned to Syracuse in the fall, he was on monthly contracts with Action. 

By that November, Tim was tasked with finding someone to help start and grow the company’s TikTok presence. So instead of finding someone for the role, the Massachusetts native downloaded the app for the first time and went to work. 

He made three mock videos and sent them up the line, asking if that’s what they were looking for. Ultimately, the job was his, and within a couple of months, he grew the account to more than 30,000 followers.

New England Sensation

After graduating in the spring of 2022, Tim signed full-time to Action. While taking some time before settling into his new role, he created his own TikTok with the idea of posting other content that didn’t fit under the Action umbrella. 

“Making content is hard for me,” Tim said. “I don’t love it, and it’s kind of uncomfortable.”

To make himself stick to it, Tim “wrote a check he couldn’t really cash,” launching the “90 Takes of Summer.” By forcing himself to post every day, Tim grew his following from 2,000 followers to 20,000 by the end of it.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tim said. “People were coming up to me in bars in Boston, asking if I was the 90 Takes guy. I couldn’t believe that it kind of became a thing… and it was all based off me forcing myself to post.”

Every day Tim would find something to make a take about, often walking around the house and wondering, “What can I yell about today?”

Similar to our content here at In-Between Media (IBT), Tim has a knack for creating for just about everyone, whether you’re a sports fan or not. Everything from how to make a proper screwdriver to ranting about how if you don’t like seafood, you need to grow up; Tim talks about it.

“Every 24-year-old kid wants to talk about sports – that’s the dream,” Tim said. “… While I would like to think that my opinion matters, everyone’s doing that. Who the hell cares what Tim in Marblehead – this 24-year-old on his parent’s couch – cares about if there are too many NHL Winter Classics?”

Tim’s angle is to share where he’s coming from with his lifestyle takes so people knew who he is – someone who could laugh at himself – when considering his sports take. The audience knows he’s not taking himself that seriously and Tim’s just having fun along the way. 

Trust in the Takes

Though Tim’s consistency and unique approach to takes is, in part, what led to his rapid success, he isn’t just throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Tim Kalinowski

Tim at the NASCAR Championship Race in Phoenix on Nov. 6

“I believe everything I say,” Tim said. “Some of it’s funny. You have to understand what is a light-hearted type of take. And somewhere deep down, I do believe it.”.

Whether it’s the obvious difference between Coke and Pepsi or that it feels good to say your guilty pleasure out loud, Tim firmly believes everything he puts out there. 

Apparently, others believe too. 

Tim’s I-made-it moment came in November when he did an ad deal with NASCAR in the fall, sending him to the championship race in Phoenix for free, offering him a VIP experience. 

“To me, that meant that they had to see more than a follower count,” Tim said. “They must’ve thought I actually care. And I do. I love NASCAR.”

The Makings of a Great Take Artist

While Tim’s journey in the sports betting media industry is really only in its beginning stages, this 24-year-old on his parents’ couch taught me and others the makings of a great take artist:  conviction, consistency and – maybe most importantly – not taking yourself too seriously.

Tim, myself and probably others in this business will always battle with “toeing the line of feeling our opinion matters more than others and being competitive in growing a following.”

Yet we’ll wake up every day, do it the right way and have a damn good time doing it. 

That includes today as I take a slightly different approach with the bottom portion of my column, trading my usual offseason fantasy football risers and fades for my 2023 NFL Draft predictions and takes.

You can consider them when placing your wagers, preparing for dynasty rookie drafts and best balls or just having a better overall experience when taking in the excitement.

Alright, and here we go.

NFL Draft Takes

It’s a Better Event Than the Super Bowl

Look, the Super Bowl is great and all, but the Draft is where we football nerds come into full form. 

It starts on a Thursday, so you know it will be a good time. Then it becomes a weekend-long affair that has something for both college and NFL football fans. 

You don’t feel obligated to watch commercials during the Draft and can fill the breaks by scrolling or Tweeting your opinion on the selections. You don’t have to call in a week ahead to get a pizza at a decent time. Plus, if you’re not attending the event in person, hardly anyone will want to get together, providing a distraction-free watching environment. Like it or not, I’ll take the Draft over the Super Bowl any day of the week.

Trades Make Draft Day More Fun

Go watch the 2014 film “Draft Day” or our spoof of it, and tell me that trades don’t make the Draft more fun. 

Will Eagles fans ever forget when general manager Howie Roseman traded the No. 18 and No. 101 overall picks for perennial Pro Bowl WR A.J. Brown just last year? Or how about in 2017 when the Kansas City Chiefs used the No 27 overall, a third-rounder and a 2018 first-round pick to trade up to No. 10 overall to draft Patrick Mahomes? Magical.

The wheelin’, the dealin’, it all makes for a special and wildly unpredictable weekend.

The Big Ten Is the Second-Best College Football Conference

There’s no denying that the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is the best college football conference in the nation. But the conversation doesn’t even begin until No. 3, and I don’t care what the Big-12 and Pacific-12 (PAC-12) pundits have to say about that. 

Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Michigan are some of the true blue bloods of College Football, and it’ll show on Draft day. Three Ohio State players will go off the board in the first half of day one, likely joined by five to six other Big Ten players.

Over 8.5 Big Ten players drafted in the first round is going for -240 right now. I’m not afraid to lay the juice there. I’ll also be targeting the likes of Stroud and Smith-Njigba in redraft formats, plus the University of Nebraska’s Trey Palmer later in dynasty rookie drafts. 

NFL Draft Predictions:

Jaxon Smith-Njigba Will Be a Houston Texan

Houston’s receiver corps currently features Robert Woods, Nico Collins and Noah Brown. This is quite possibly the weakest WR room in the league. The Texans have two picks within the top-12 picks, meaning they can pair a rookie quarterback with Jaxon Smith-Njigba. If the Texans do take C.J. Stroud, Smith-Njigba’s college QB, it’s even more certain he goes at No. 12 overall.

At some sportsbooks that are already offering NFL Draft props, you can get Smith-Njigba to go Under pick 12 at +185. That’s a bet I’m willing to make. 

In fantasy football leagues, Houston may not be the most appealing landing spot for Smith-Njigba. But aside from newly-signed tight end Dalton Schultz, whose on a one-year deal, the Ohio State product would be the only show in town. He has immediate Points Per Reception (PPR) WR2 upside in Space City.

The Cincinnati Bengals Will Draft a Tight End First

The Bengals threw the ball the sixth-most in the NFL last season. With question marks surrounding Joe Mixon’s tenure and a defense that lost a lot of difference-makers in Free Agency, I think that number increases.

To beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, they must fight fire with fire by drafting a potential premiere tight end. If Dalton Kincaid is there at the Bengals’ pick No. 28, I believe it’s an auto smash.

At the University of Utah in his senior year, Kincaid sported a 34.1 percent College Dominator (his percentage of the team’s total offensive production). He looked unguardable at times, like against the University of Southern California (USC), when he went for 16 receptions, 234 yards and one TD. Teaming up with Joe Burrow would give Kindcaid immediate top-five TE upside. 

You can get the Bengals to draft a tight end first at +130.

Someone Trades Back Into Round No. 1 to Draft Hendon Hooker

Hendon Hooker threw 27 TDs to just two INTs to put “Rocky Top” back on the map this season before tearing his ACL. Hooker also rushed for 10 rushing TDs and over 1,000 rushing yards combined in the last two seasons.

That type of dual-skillset will be appealing to a team that misses out on the top flight of QB talent and wants to trade back in at the end of the first round. Such teams include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders.

Hooker could provide long-term fantasy football value in dynasty leagues if he lands on either of these teams. You can currently get Over 4.5 QBs drafted in the first round for +100.

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 feel-good content, you can find me on Twitter @Between_SethFF.

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