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Start, Sit & Following Your Own Path

by Seth Woolcock

When you’re young, it’s difficult to recognize the power that different paths have in our lives. In the moment, it can be easy to lose track of the importance of each decision and how each one leads us somewhere. 

However, there are some people cunning enough to recognize the force their chosen lane has. You’ll know when you meet them, as they often have a certain charisma – a confidence – to them. And if you blink long enough, they’ll simply pass you by as they head in their own direction. 

Autumn Dorsey, 22, a digital photo editor for the NBA, is one of these people.

Northeast Philadelphia Born & Raised

Long before Autumn was working for the Association or capturing photos for some of the biggest names in hip-hop, she was just like a lot of us – a kid – just trying to find her way while navigating the hand that she was given.

After being the victim of domestic abuse, Autumn’s mom became a single mother trying to provide for her five kids. Being the oldest, Autumn was called into action at 10-years-old to help her mother raise her siblings. While Autumn says she didn’t have a terrible life –  there was food to eat and clothes to wear each day – she saw how hard her mom worked to provide for them, causing her to grow up fast.

Autumn took her gritty attitude to the courts of Philadelphia, where she played basketball into high school. It was there that she found her love for photography. Autumn had two good friends in high school, Daniel and Kafiq, who dressed “cool” and enjoyed taking pictures of themselves in their unique clothing. 

“One day after school, I suggested that we do a photoshoot downtown,” Autumn said in a Nov. 11 interview. “At the time, all I had was my iPhone 5C. That was the first photoshoot I can remember that I did, and after that, I just wanted to keep going. It was something about the fact that those pictures told a story, not only about the clothes but about the scenery we took those pictures around.”

Growing up, Autumn wanted to be a writer, but she “lacked the patience” it required and disliked English class. Photography became her own way to tell stories, with just her camera, some light and a steady hand. In 2016, her junior year of high school, Autumn’s mom gifted her first camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR.

Not Your Average College Experience

After graduating from high school, Autumn traveled across the state to attend the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to pursue a degree in communications media and a professional photography certificate.

Freshman year, Autumn learned everything she could about creating and mastering photography. Outside of the classroom, she spent most of her time with four friends from high school that she knew or alone in her dorm, focusing on her goals. There she spent countless hours learning more about photography and reaching out to athletes, car companies and musicians, asking to shoot for them.

By her sophomore year, all of her friends left IUP, allowing her even more alone time. To pick up a side gig, she began shooting for The Penn, IUP’s student newspaper. This is also the time I first met Autumn in my introductory photography class. 

When I first saw her photos in a class sharing session, I knew she was different from the rest of us. While most of our photos looked like they were shot by someone who had just picked up a camera and put it in manual mode for the first time, Autumn’s looked like a seasoned veteran had taken them. 

I was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper then. So when I had a new opening for our photo editor position, Autumn was one of the first people I thought of. In our initial interview, though she was still rather quiet, my suspicions were confirmed. Photography wasn’t just a hobby or a means of payment to this girl – it was her whole damn life.

From there, I had the pleasure to work alongside and befriend Autumn, watching her do her thing along the way. By then, Autumn’s networking paid off, and she began shooting for artists like Jay-Z, Ja Rule and Common.

“Sophomore year was the craziest time of my life,” she said. “I was 20 years old, sitting next to Jay-Z. It was absolutely insane, but ‘insane’ doesn’t even cover it honestly.”

The Takeoff: From Juice Wrld to NBA All-Star Weekend

Up to this point in her career, Autumn had mostly only shot concerts from the photo pit. But on May 15, 2019, at the Skyline Stage in Philadelphia, the late rapper Juice Wrld invited her to take pictures backstage. 

From there, whether she was shooting a show, a game or a line of vehicles, every moment in Autumn’s career became even more of a “wow” moment.

Autumn returned to The Penn her junior year, still constantly traveling on the weekends for gigs. It came to a head in early 2020 when she was invited to shoot the NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. There she was able to shoot some of basketball’s and the entertainment industry’s biggest names like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, J. Cole and Spike Lee.

“Basketball is something I’ve always been really passionate about,” she said. “Being in the WNBA was my dream in high school. Then so many people told me I couldn’t because of my height and how impossible it was. So I gave up on it. Being a photographer at All-Star Weekend allowed me to live that dream without actually playing the game of basketball.”

Following All-Star Weekend, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our country, putting a pause on sports, concerts and Autumn’s blossoming career. 

“It was the worst time of my life,” she said. “Photography is my life. It’s who I am, and for almost two years during COVID, I had to stop being me.”

Despite it all – the pandemic taking away a part of her life and affecting her internship with the WNBA and her entire senior year of college – she persevered. This fall, after graduating in the spring and applying to more than 50 jobs, Autumn was hired full-time by the NBA as a digital photo editor. She got the call just as she was about to start a job at her siblings’ school.

“That moment taught me a huge lesson,” she said “Every ‘no’ is not bad. Denial may be leading you to your next ‘yes.’ Have patience. Things may take a while. You may want to give up and settle, but you never know when something will work out for you. It could be when you least expect it.”

At just 22, Autumn now has what many would consider a dream job, along with her dream car – a Tesla Model 3 that she bought for herself after graduation. Yet, she’s far from being satisfied. Autumn’s long-term goal is to become the second female and first Black-female team photographer in the NBA. 

To view and support Autumn’s work, visit her website.

Paths: A Proposition

Autumn’s story speaks to the part in all of us that dares to be something different. It reminds us that while the path at times may be lonely, it will be that much more fulfilling when you reach your goals if you’re authentic to yourself.

I implore you to continue to push the envelope and remember that every action that you take leads you down a certain road. Allow it to not just only be the right road, but your road.

When it comes to fantasy football, act no different. Don’t be afraid to go against consensus rankings. Get creative with your lineups. If you want to go in a different direction and do something non-conventional like start two tight ends in your lineups, do it. Just remember to own it, no matter the outcome.

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:

Russell Wilson (Seattle):  It’s been a tough past month for the Seahawks and fantasy managers without Russell Wilson, who was battling a finger injury. But let us rejoice as Wilson is set to be activated off the Injured Reserve (IR) before Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

Usually, I would follow the analytics and leave a quarterback coming back from injury on my bench in the first week to feel it out. However, this decision is about “manalytics” and believing in Wilson the player.

Green Bay’s defense has also been solid against the position over the last month. But with two weeks to prepare, Wilson, who’s averaged 19.9 fantasy points per game (11th most in the league) this season, is a strong candidate for a QB1 finish. Expect at least a few deep shots to both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett Sunday. And if a few connect, enjoy.

Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:

Derek Carr (Las Vegas):  Derek Carr is a streaky quarterback and is always difficult to trust, especially this late into the season. After a hot start, he’s currently the QB17, only topping 15 fantasy points in two of his last five games.

Last week without receiver Henry Ruggs, Carr lacked juice at times, completing 30 of 46 attempts for 296 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. On the surface, Kansas City looks like a nice matchup and a rebound opportunity for Carr. However, over the last month, the Chiefs have tightened up some, allowing just 14.1 PPR points per game to opposing QBs, and a total of five touchdowns to four interceptions.

Until the Raiders decide whether it’ll be Zay Jones or the freshly-signed DeSean Jackson targeted on deep-balls, I’m out on Carr in anything but a perfect matchup.

Running Back I’d Start this Week:

Elijah Mitchell (San Francisco):  Elijah Mitchell has been rock-solid for fantasy managers who grabbed him late in drafts or burned waiver priority after Week 1 to get him. In games he’s played, Mitchell has averaged 14.8 rushing attempts to go along with 1.5 targets per game.

Mitchell’s secure role as the No. 1 back in San Francisco has him currently lodged as the PPR RB21 on a points-per-game basis. This week he and the 3-5 49ers take on the divisional rival Los Angeles Rams. Despite having to run through or around Aaron Donald, I like Mitchell’s chances here.

The Rams rank 16h against opposing backs over the past month, and that’s been against aging backs like Devontae Booker, Rex Burkhead and Adrian Peterson. San Francisco’s only way to possibly pull the upset is to control the time of possession and keep the ball away from the Rams’ potent offense. Mitchell is the key to that and should be in fantasy lineups here in Week 10.

Running Back I’d Sit this Week:

Mike Davis (Atlanta):  Despite scoring under two PPR points in two of the past three weeks, Mike Davis is still ranked inside the top-36 in experts’ rankings and is being started in lineups. Why is a true mystery to me.

Davis has seen some volume this season in the depleted Atlanta offense but has done absolutely nothing to capitalize on it, averaging 3.2 Yards Per Carry (YPC) and an anemic 4.8 Yards Per Reception (YPR).

This week he faces the Dallas Cowboys, which have also been a middle-of-the-road defense against the position as of late. The Cowboys’ defense isn’t weak enough to give a bump to the position. With Davis’s ceiling being around a season-high 13 PPR points and a floor of one PPR point, the risk of starting him is simply not justified.

Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:

Tyler Lockett (Seattle):  The “manalytics” of Wilson’s return also crept into my decision to start seventh-year receiver Lockett. Though Lockett remains one of fantasy football’s streakiest receivers, scoring more than 26 PPR points three times this season and fewer than 11 PPR points in his other five games, I think he gets it done here in Week 10.

The matchup with the Green Bay Packers would usually bring shut-down cornerback Jaire Alexander along with it. But with Alexander on IR, Kevin King remains the lone, experienced cornerback on the team. 

King has done a decent job limiting the No. 1 receiving options on teams. Just last week he held Tyreek Hill to 7.3 PPR points. With most of the coverage likely going to fellow wideout Metcalf, I expect Lockett to have some easy receptions, making him worthwhile the start in Wilson’s return.

Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:

Elijah Moore (New York Jets):  I received hate from New York Jets fans this offseason for not ranking rookie Elijah Moore in redraft leagues. So I’m ready to hear it again, dubbing him as my sit selection, despite his recent breakout.

Over the past three weeks, Moore has been the PPR WR8, capitalizing on an average of 6.7 targets per game. However, that was playing against two favorable pass defenses, the Colts and the Bengals, the last two weeks. This week he has the vaunted Buffalo Bills opposing him.

Any way you look at it – the last two weeks, the last month or the whole season – the Bills have been a top-five defense against receivers. I’m expecting “legendary” backup quarterback Mike White to refer back to his old habit and play check-down ball with running backs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson. I’d start both the backs before I’d consider starting Moore or really any Jets receiver this week.

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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