Start, Sit & How I Met My Team
The year is 2035 – 15 years from today.
I’m settling into my recliner with a Busch Light hunting can in hand after a large Thanksgiving dinner, about to watch Ben Roethlisberger Jr. take his first Turkey Day snaps of his young career when my phone rings.
It’s Nate Polvogt, my right-hand man. He tells me that he loves my column this week, but as usual, I spelled Matthew Berry with only one “t.”
Recognizing my mistake, I quickly hang up the phone and let my wife and kids know that I have to pause the game for a few minutes while I go fix my typo. Used to my regular pausing and delaying the start of games, they all let out an annoyed groan.
Before I can proceed to my office, one of the kids asks me how I even met Nate and Jen, or Tom and Ally, or Chris and Elliot, and everyone that works at In-Between Media with me.
“Well, kids it’s an incredible story. The story of how I met my team. And we have to go back to 2016, 19 years ago to where it all began.”
Chris Hayes & Ally Mansfield
I first met Chris Hayes and Ally Mansfield in a place where all young, overly-enthusiastic writers meet – their college newspaper. They were the editors, the big shots if you will. They stood in front of retro-looking cubicles as I and Katie, my future girlfriend, sat there awkwardly in the sea of other newspaper newbies.
My relationship with Ally began as a love-hate kind of one. She was an intimidating editor, and I, being a buck-40-soaking-wet kid with glasses, made myself an easy target for her to bully. She consistently pressured me into taking the stories no one else wanted to write. Student Government Association (SGA) meetings, University Senate elections and if I was lucky, I got to write a story about the “Six O’Clock Series,” a weekly speaker forum.
But it was those lack-luster story topics, combined with the writing lessons I received from Chris, who was the copy editor at the time, that made me realize the type of hustle that comes with being a journalist and how far I had left to come.
By the middle of the spring semester of my freshman year, Ally and Chris invited Katie and me over to hangout. I can remember the night well. Some Busch Lights, cards, civil discourse and watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
A few weeks later, Chris and Ally were promoted to editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively, while Katie and I were also brought aboard the editorial staff. It seemed like really from that moment forward, the four of us became a great team.
As a staff during my junior year, we did everything together. We ate meals together, watched games with one another and let loose on the weekends together. Chris and Ally, both being the amazing individuals they are, helped me understand subject matters that, coming from a small town, I didn’t yet understand, setting me up for a better chance at long-term success in the industry.
If memory serves me correctly, the first impression I ever had of Tom Cuda, Ally’s then-boyfriend and now-husband, was him having cookies delivered to the newspaper office on a night he knew we were going to be there late. Because as I would later find out, that’s just the type of guy Tom is.
We began to get to know each other either on production nights when he would come to see Ally or at one of our frequent weekend gatherings.
Over Christmas break in 2017, Tom, Ally, Katie and I took a trip to New York City. And because Tom and I both had to drive together from the western part of the state to pick up the ladies on the east side, it allotted us the chance to spend a few hours in the car together, just us two. On the ride, I remember talking a lot about life – our similar experiences growing up and what we hoped the future might hold for us. The other topic we discussed that we both hoped would one day be in our future?
The following season, Tom invited me to play in my first dynasty league. And the next year (2019), I began hosting my own podcast. Tom eventually became my go-to guest, always coming on when called upon to share his fantasy knowledge and witty humor.
Following the 2019 regular season, I boarded a plane for the first time with Katie by my side to go see Tom and Ally, who had recently relocated to the Sunshine State of Florida. During our visit, Tom and I discussed more about the possibility of maybe one day doing the podcast together regularly.
And when I was furloughed in April due to the pandemic and knew that that was my opportunity to begin In-Between Media, Tom was the first person I called. As always, he was supportive of my venture and agreed to be my podcast co-host and first columnist at In-Between Media. Because you know, that’s just the type of guy Tom is.
It was June 29, less than a month after I had launched In-Between Media, when Nate Polvogt, a 38-year old Colorado native, direct messaged me on Twitter, responding to a tweet looking for writers.
A few days following our initial contact, Nate and I spoke on the phone when I told him about myself, the company’s mission and what I would expect from him if he came aboard as a writer. Probably after the first sentence I heard Nate speak, I knew the guy was legit.
And as anyone who’s reading this now knows, my initial impression of Nate was spot on. Because of his genuine authenticity and his consistent presence, Nate quickly became a fan-favorite in the fantasy industry, while also helping In-Between Media become a recognizable name.
His role in both my company and everyday life grew larger and larger as the season progressed. I eventually offered Nate the opportunity to become a regular co-host on the podcast with Tom and me – maybe initially pushing him outside of his comfort zone.
But he also did the same for me, by encouraging us to do a weekly Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) column and eventually live streaming our podcast’s recordings. Without Nate, there is no telling where both myself and In-Between Media would be.
A few months following In-Between Media’s launch, I reconnected with an old friend – Elliot Hicks. Like Chris and Ally – I met Elliot at our student newspaper when he served as our sports editor during my time as the paper’s editor-in-chief.
Like most do in the collegiate media circle, Elliot and I became good friends – often putting back a Busch Light or two after late nights at the office. But the thing that separated Elliot from a lot of those met during my collegiate years, aside from him being a masterful wordsmith, is that he’s real. He tells you how it is – good or bad. And I always enjoyed that about him.
Eventually, I introduced Elliot to a group of my friends that played in a fantasy NASCAR league – which Elliot would eventually win back-to-back championships in. So needless to say, when I wanted to expand In-Between Media into other sports, like NASCAR, I knew where to turn.
As Nate and my conversations grew more frequent and longer, a few weeks into the season I was introduced to his lovely wife, Jen Polvogt.
I knew early in meeting Jen that her confidence and personality defined what it took to be a female influencer in this space. Previously having hands-on work in the business side of a multi-million dollar company, Jen became my go-to when it came to business best practices.
But more than that, through our many late-night conversations, Jen, Nate and I – like all my other team members when we were at The Penn – became a great team. I’ve shared so much of myself with them, even some darker parts that I share with only very few. And they also filled me in on some of their stories that you just wouldn’t believe, but you can read all about in their columns.
All in all, Jen, Nate, Elliot, Tom, Ally and Chris embody what we are here at In-Between Media – a family. The type of one where when we get off a phone call or a Zoom meeting we say, “love you.”
Because it’s true. I love all of these people. They trusted me and came aboard this crazy journey with me as we began to break out in the fantasy sports industry, striving to be different by purely just being ourselves.
“And kids, that’s the crazy story of how I met my team.”
Now, let’s get to it.
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:
Taysom Hill (New Orleans): Despite Taysom Hill not having tight end eligibility anymore on ESPN, I’m still rolling him out in my quarterback slot here in Week 12.
His rushing floor will be there as he’s averaged 46.3 rushing yards over the last month. And his Week 12 opponent, the Denver Broncos, allow 5.1 yards per carry to opposing quarterbacks (ninth-most), which should help keep that floor safe. But this start goes back to trusting Sean Payton and the Saints as a whole, which I do mightily.
Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:
Daniel Jones (New York Giants): Daniel Jones, who’s currently QB23 on the season and averaging a whopping 13.7 points per game, has entered the streaming conversation this week as he faces the Bengals that are still recovering from the loss of Joe Burrow.
Despite the plus matchup against the Bengals’ bottom of the barrel defense that have allowed 22 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks (second-most), Jones has only finished as a QB1 once this season, in Week 7 against Philadelphia where he had an 80-yard run.
With the Giants trying to win with defense and a run game, I simply don’t trust putting Jones in lineups this week, despite the solid matchup.
Running Back I’d Start this Week:
James White (New England): When James White has seen 50 percent or more of the snaps (three games) he has finished as a top-30 running back. With Rex Burkhead out for the rest of the season, he’s a weekly flex play moving forward.
I like him specifically this week as the game flow suggests the Patriots will be trailing the Cardinals. Additionally, the Cardinals also allow a sound 8.3 yards per reception to opposing backs (fifth-most). If you’re simply looking for a safe RB option this week, White is your guy.
Running Back I’d Sit this Week:
Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco): We’re at the point in the season where it’s becoming more increasingly difficult to find a running back to sit each week. However, with Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jeff WIlson Jr. all set to return this week, I’m out on Jerick McKinnon in Week 12.
McKinnon has failed to reach double-digit PPR points in four of his last six outings. And the Rams, their opponent this week, hasn’t allowed a solid running back outing since Devin Singletary went for 16.1 PPR points in Week 3.
Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:
Cole Beasley (Buffalo): Quietly, Cole Beasley is having a career-year, on pace to break previous highs in receptions and yards. He’s averaging more PPR points per game than every-week starters like Kenny Golladay, Tee Higgins and Antonio Brown.
With John Brown still banged up, Beasley has an enticing matchup this week against the depleted Los Angeles Chargers’ defense. With Josh Allen likely needing to keep up with Justin Herbert on the other side, I like Cole Beasley to continue to provide solid fantasy production this week.
Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:
Christian Kirk (Arizona): Kyler Murray suffered some sort of AC joint injury in their Week 11 loss to the Seahawks. With Murray likely to still suit up on Sunday, the biggest casualty is likely to be Christina Kirk.
He’s been the WR54 over the last two weeks in extremely favorable matchups. It’s just hard to trust him this week knowing that Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty are still lurking for New England and that Murray isn’t at full-strength.
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.