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Start, Sit & Adjusting Your Sails

by Seth Woolcock

We spend the majority of our younger years planning preparing for our futures. Yet, we talk so little about adjusting if things don’t go as we drew them up.

We overvalue expectations of perfection, as most growth occurs when we’re adapting, changing to the environment and the challenges around us. 

Writing now, on the brink of flux in my own life (more on this in a few weeks), I long for relatability and guidance from someone who’s been there before. Someone who too has found themselves, just by writing and talking about the NFL and the elaborate game played around it.

For this, flashback to 2014 a simpler time when echoes of Bastille’s “Pompeii” and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” flooded the streets from every-other tavern.

Chicago, May 2014

In the Windy City, David (Dave) Kluge, 24 then, was getting ready to take his dog, Oskar, to the dog park. At the time, Dave was an ambitious salesman, waiting out his start date for an offer he had just accepted at Schneider National.

Dave and Emily ride in the back of a cab in Chicago on Aug. 22, 2014.

Born and raised in and around the city, it was just supposed to be like any other day for Dave. Only he had connected with a girl named Emily on Tinder earlier in the day. In conversation, he mentioned that he was heading to the dog park, one that just so happened to be just two blocks away from the restaurant that Emily worked at.

“You know, neither of us were really looking for a relationship at that time,” Dave said in a Dec. 13 interview.

Despite both of them having their guards up at first, they let their senses of humor lead the way. When Emily got there, she attempted to get in through the dog-proof fence but struggled a bit. 

They recognized each other, and Dave said, “Hey, just so you know, I’ve seen dogs get into that gate before,” prompting a shared laugh. It was almost instant that the two knew they had something special, and from that day on, they made a very conscious effort to nurture it. 

Emily moved in a few weeks later, and the next four years were as Dave describes it, a “whirlwind of social events,” integrating both his and Emily’s friend groups in the city.

Moving Mountains

Growing up, Dave always had a fascination with Colorado and the peaks within it. Perhaps he viewed it as a scenic getaway from some of the struggles he had endured early on in life.

What felt like a usual childhood, quickly got shaken up when Dave moved to the suburbs. Suddenly even at his young age – Dave could see the wealth gap between families, as he looked out from his family’s small apartment to his classmates’ mansions on the other side of town.

At the age of 12, Dave’s parents divorced. Following the divorce, Dave learned his dad wasn’t his biological father, but rather his mom’s best friend that had helped raise him and married his mom after he was born.

Heartbreakingly, Dave’s father emancipated him after the divorce, eventually leading Dave to track down his biological father. Just like it usually happens in most of these situations, Dave didn’t like what he found once he did find him.

In high school, Dave found himself immersed in the teenage party scene –  a place that is all too familiar to a lot of us who faced adversity at a young age. An escape. 

Dave’s mom found a bottle of alcohol in the house following an early 16th birthday party he and his friends had thrown. Dave’s mother being upset escalated to him into a panic attack, locking himself in his room and eventually making an attempt on his own life. The police broke down the door, and Dave jumped from the second-floor window and hit the ground running.

Eventually, Dave was taken into custody and spent the next two weeks, including his 16th birthday, in inpatient therapy. Dave was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. After an additional 30-day outpatient program, Dave was back home where he would finish high school.

Dave’s mother thought Dave’s issue with mental wellness stemmed from teenage hormones. So ultimately, Dave was untreated from the age of 16 until well after he moved into the city following graduation. This led to him experiencing frequent panic attacks from the age of 22 until 25, when he sought out therapy. Therapy eventually brought Dave to seek medical help from a professional, which helped limit the panic attacks.

Dave overcame mountains as a young man. Yet nothing gave him the feeling that he felt when he and Emily hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain, right outside of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I was out of shape, a smoker, overweight and drinking at the time,” Dave said. “We climbed this big mountain and just felt incredible standing on top of it, like a euphoric moment.”

Chi-Town to Colorado

Despite leaving just about everything and everyone they had ever known back in Illinois, Dave and Emily, relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado, in the summer of 2018.

With a more laid-back lifestyle in Colorado, the couple found more time for some of their passions. Emily found herself lost in seas of flower and fruit, creating homemade pies and pastries, while Dave dove into fantasy football content with his platform of choice at the time being Reddit.

In 2019, after writing full-length articles on Reddit for some time, Dave was approached by FantasyPros to join their staff as a news desk writer. At the time, he didn’t realize the true competitive nature of the industry and gave it a go. Quickly, he fell in love with analyzing the game professionally as much as he did playing it.

Dave and Emily pose for a photo amongst the snow in Fort Collins, Co., on March 14.

“Deep down, I just love so many things about fantasy football,” Dave said. “I’m a very competitive person, I am a results-oriented person and somebody who doesn’t like to be wrong. I’m someone who becomes obsessive with just about everything I do, whether it is reading, mountain climbing or listening to jazz music, you name it. Once I find something I like, I put my entire soul and energy into it.”

After seeing his name published with Fantasy Pros, Dave was inspired that this was something that he could do full-time. When COVID-19 hit, he made the decision to leave Schneider National to pursue this passion.

“The only way for me to really push myself in this career is to just cut the safety net from underneath me,” he said. “If I don’t have this job to fall back on. if I don’t have this consistent income coming in it’s going to make me hungry, and it’s going to force me to push myself really hard in the industry.”

When he left, he gave himself three years to make an impact in this industry, waking up each day and putting himself and his analysis out there for the world to see. In just 18 months – less than half the time Dave allowed himself – it looks like he’s accomplished maybe even more than what he set out to do.

In February, he was hired as an advertising director, staff writer and podcast host by Footballguys, one of the companies he grew up idolizing. 

To general consumers, it’s easy to notice how Dave has been instrumental in creating new and exciting content for the company while bringing another relatable face to the forefront of the industry.

Last month, Dave hosted the first-ever “#FFTwitter Movember Podathon” on Footballguys’ YouTube channel, which allowed myself and 20+ other fantasy football content creators the opportunity to share our mental health stories.

The Art of Adjusting

Any of Dave’s 15,000 Twitter followers should be happy to know that since he’s moved to Fort Collins and has been immersed in Colorado nature, his amount of panic attacks has decreased dramatically. 

As for Emily, she began her own bakery, Hills Have Pies, in 2020, where she continues her love for the art of pastries.

Together, the two were married in Rocky Mountain National Park in June of 2020. They honeymooned by spending 28 days living out of their car, climbing mountains and sitting around a fire every night reading to each other under the stars.

When the work is done, you can usually find the Kluges either out getting dirty hiking, rock climbing or whitewater rafting or dressing up for one of their “hot dates” as they call it.

“I think getting comfortable in life is one of the most dangerous things that you can do,” Dave said. “When you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, that’s usually when special things happen.”

There’s a lot of truth behind that. Dave and Emily help prove that getting pushed outside of our comfort zone – whether it’s dating someone new or leaving a job – can often lead us to the most extraordinary of places.

We must remember this when it also comes to the game of fantasy football. Just in the time of writing this column, I’ve lost my tight end, T.J. Hockenson, to a season-ending surgery while simultaneously the NFL is trying to navigate their worst COVID-19 outbreak to date.

Both in life and fantasy football – especially this playoff season – you will be tested, forced to adapt. Don’t just ride out the storm and waste any opportunities you have. Adjust your sails.

Alright, and here we go.

The following start/sit selections are based on stats, trends and film research, reflecting value in Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft Leagues.

Quarterback I’d Start this Week:

Tua Tagovailoa (Miami):  It’s another brutal week to try to stream the quarterback position, leaving second-year pro Tua Tagovailoa as one of the only viable options I trust enough to start in fantasy football playoffs.

In the games he’s finished this season, Tagovailoa is averaging 18.7 fantasy points per game, which is tied for QB12 on a points-per-game basis with Joe Burrow.

The Jets’ defense has softened some as of late, giving both Gardner Minshew and Taysom Hill QB1 finishes in their last two games. Even with receiver Jaylen Waddle possibly out this week due to testing positive COVID-19, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki should be reliable enough targets for Tagovailoa to get the job done.

Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:

Derek Carr (Las Vegas):  Derek Carr is getting some love in leagues now that his opposing quarterback is now likely Nick Mullens, after both Cleveland quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum tested positive for COVID-19 this week. He has a higher starting percentage in ESPN leagues than Tagovailoa, Jimmy Garoppolo and even Ben Roethlisberger, who I prefer this week.

Carr’s had two QB1 performances since the Raiders’ Week 8 bye, with the rest of his performances resulting in 12.4 or fewer fantasy points. It’s hard to imagine that this week in Cleveland with near-freezing temperatures projected, that Carr will have one of his stronger performances.

The Browns have been the second-best defense over the last month, limiting opposing quarterbacks to an average of 8.3 fantasy points per game. There’s too much to risk here in Week 15 to trust a shaky Carr and Raiders team.

Running Back I’d Start this Week:

D’Onta Foreman (Tennessee):  I’m going back to the well this week with Titans’ running back D’Onta Foreman. Foreman provided fantasy managers with 14.2 PPR points last week on 13 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown, in addition to two receptions for 15 yards. I think he does it again on Sunday.

Foreman’s 4.4 Yards Per Carry (YPC) look like the best the Titans have right now. And they’ll need to against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which have been far and away the best matchups for opposing running backs over the past month. Just in the past four games, they’ve allowed a total of 532 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns to the position.

With receiver A.J. Brown still down, I expect there to be more-than-enough volume for Foreman to be worth the start in the Steel City.

Running Back I’d Sit this Week:

AJ Dillon (Green Bay):  While Foreman benefits from the best recent matchup for the position, I’m downgrading AJ Dillon this week as he faces the worst-recent matchup, the Baltimore Ravens, this week.

Over the past month, Baltimore has allowed a combined 361 total yards to the position and no touchdowns. In the 11 games where backfield mate Aaron Jones has finished healthy, only four times (or 36 percent of the time) has Dillon scored double-digit fantasy points. Against this strong front-seven led by linebacker Patrick Queens, those odds are pushed down even lower for me, not making Dillon worth the spot in your playoff lineup this week aside from pure desperation.

Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:

Van Jefferson (Los Angeles Rams):  It’s been a strong sophomore showing for Rams’ receiver Van Jefferson, who’s posted 41 receptions, 679 yards and six touchdowns, with another month of the season left to play.

With Robert Woods out for the season and Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) likely out this week due to, you guessed it, a positive COVID-19 test, Jefferson is a fringe WR2 with upside. Since Week 11, he’s the PPR WR11 and has averaged 6.7 targets per game during that span.

He should see a bump in targets this week against the Seattle Seahawks. Though the Seahawks have been better as of late against the position, Brandin Cooks had a nice game last week, and Brandon Aiyuk and Terry McLaurin had solid floors against the Seahawks with lesser quarterbacks than Russell Wilson. With so many injuries and positive COVID-19 tests, don’t be afraid to roll out Jefferson if you need a pivot.

Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:

Jamison Crowder (New York Jets):  We’ve been waiting for Jamison Crowder to breakout since Corey Davis was first injured in Week 7. Yet it was Elijah Moore who stepped up in his absence. With Moore and Davis out last week and for the majority of what remains of the season – expectation rose again – just to be let down with 4.9 PPR points. 

I’m staying clear of the Jets’ passing game as a whole until rookie quarterback Zach Wilson can complete closer to 60 percent of his passes and average more than one touchdown pass every 1.5 games. The Jets facing Miami’s recently tough secondary just seals the deal for me here in the first round of the fantasy football playoffs.

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.

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