Start, Sit & Inspiring Somebody
Inspiring an individual is like lighting a fire – it’s a chain reaction.
You do it, partially hoping that one day the person you inspired will in return inspire somebody else, making the world a better place because of it.
Growing up, I was the typical kid that every school has. A little awkward, overly apologetic and someone who was whoever I needed to be to fit in. Yet, because of my passion for writing and sports, paired with my naturally unathletic genes, dreamed of one day, leaving my rural hometown in pursuit of a career at a major sports media company.
However, after a series of unforeseen, life-changing events that transpired in my late teenage years, my sites shifted. I tempered my expectations and tried to set “more-realistic goals.”
I enrolled at a state school, studying journalism and public relations, only an hour on a two-lane road from home. It was there, in that little college town in the middle of nowhere that over the next three-and-a-half years I slowly began to find myself – discovering new passions and reigniting the flame of old ones.
After years of studying under outstanding faculty and seeing my college newspaper from every point of view possible; writer, editor, editor-in-chief, sponsorship coordinator – I felt I knew enough to one day begin my own media company.
But, with not having the immediate time to dedicate myself to beginning that journey, I settled for a full-time job in the advertising department of a suburban magazine company across the state following graduation in December.
From there, I continued to adapt to the 40-hour workweek and my new surroundings, while continuing to write part-time for a fantasy football website – once again putting my dreams on hold.
That was until the current COVID-19 pandemic and like millions of Americans, I was furloughed from my full-time job.
With a new-found sense of freedom and that same passion from when I was young, burning once again at full-force, with a heavy heart I left Dynasty Football Factory (DFF).
And while I’ll never forget DFF and the kind souls there for giving me a shot and helping me find my footing in the fantasy sports media landscape, I finally felt ready to officially develop and launch this – In-Between Media.
Here at In-Between Media, not only are we dedicated to bringing readers advice about both life, and the commodities we’re passionate about within it, including fantasy sports. But we’re here to tell real stories, inspiring our readers to take those dreams back off the shelf while leaving them with an optimistic and feel-good mindset.
One person who inspired me along the way, and continues to inspire others by storytelling is Jason Romano, former ESPN and Emmy-Award winning producer and senior manager.
In February 2017, after 17 years of creating and producing content for shows like “SportsCenter,” “Monday Night Football” and “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” Jason left ESPN to follow his own passion of sports ministry.
Shortly after, Jason helped launch the “Sports Spectrum Podcast,” a show he continues to host and produce that focuses on allowing others to share stories about the intersection of sports and faith.
More than three years later, and even admist a global pandemic, Jason continues to story tell.
Fortunately, he’s used to working from home as he’s been doing it since he left ESPN, interviewing different people in the world of sports regularly asking them about the most important thing in their life – a question he never got to ask before “Sports Spectrum.”
However, he is adjusting to having his teenage daughter home all the time and not traveling to speak, all while remaining thankful for the extra time he has been able to spend with his family.
And although the world has changed probably far more than he ever thought it would since he left the worldwide leader in sports, Jason remains confident upon his journey.
“When you make moves, and you step into spaces that aren’t very familiar or comfortable at first, that’s a good sign that it’s probably something you need to walk into and walk through,” Jason said in a May 21 phone interview. “I would encourage people to not be afraid. Take chances. Follow your hearts and if you’re people of faith, follow where God may be leading them.”
It’s safe to say that since Jason launched and began hosting the “Sports Spectrum Podcast” he has successfully found that intersection between faith and sports that he was searching for – interviewing hundreds of notable names, including NFL players like Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, David Johnson and Daniel Jones.
The show currently has a 5/5 rating on Apple podcasts, more than 24,000 followers on Twitter and 5,500 subscribers on YouTube.
However, Jason doesn’t measure success in numbers, always remembering what he calls his “secret sauce.”
“Remembering It’s not about you is the most important lesson I can give any person in their life as they strive to do whatever it is they want to do,” he said. “It’s, for people of faith, is about God. If they’re not, it’s about others. And for people of faith, it’s also about others.”
In addition to telling others’ stories through audio, Jason has also shared his own stories through writing. In 2018, he published his book “Live to Forgive” the story of forgiving his alcoholic father.
It hits home for anyone who grew up in a less-than-formidable situation. I, myself have frequented struggles I faced in my youth in my writings, always sharing an important lesson learned. Jason uses his story to help others forgive when they’ve been hurt by a loved one.
“The most important thing I think is when we tell our story if it helps one person than it is worth telling. And if we know it can help another person and we don’t tell the story than we’re being selfish” he said.
And he didn’t stop there. In his upcoming book, set to release July 28, “The Uniform of Leadership: Lessons on True Success from My ESPN Life” Jason shares timeless lessons of leadership through the unique stories that he experienced during his time at ESPN.
“Stories really impact people’s lives,” he said. “It’s one thing to interview a person and ask how they’re doing. But when I say, ‘take me to a moment, take me to a place where you experience X, Y and Z,’ man, you’re ears perk up and that’s when you listen and wonder what this story is about. And it’s going to encourage you because transparency is in so many ways a place of healing that can help others.”
And isn’t that what storytelling is all about, helping others?
A big thank you to Jason, among others, for sharing these countless empowering stories and inspiring me. It is because of the kindhearted souls like him that I, still that small-town kid, just more grown-up now, felt confident enough to finally walk through that door and chase my own dreams.
As I officially launch In-Between Media I will remember, to not get caught up in the numbers, that this is not about me and that if I can just help one person, then all the blood, sweat and tears I pour into this will be well worth it.
Now, Let’s get to it.
The following start/sit selections are based off not only stats, trends and film research, but also to the current Average Draft Position (ADP) each player currently has in a Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft League.
Quarterback I’d Start this Season With:
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati): Heisman Trophy Winner and first-overall pick Joe Burrow has gone undrafted in the two latest redraft mocks (14 Round/12 Team Redraft Mock & 15 Round/12 Team Redraft Mock) I’ve done with fellow fantasy analysts.
He unquestionably has one of the deepest wide receiver groups in the league with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Auden Tate and second-round rookie Tee Higgins.
Although Cincinnati’s 2.9 passing touchdown percentage ranked 31st in the NFL, they had the sixth most passing attempts last season because of how often they were trailing.
At LSU last season, Burrow had an 11.3 passing touchdown percentage in addition to having a surprising 115 rushing attempts and five touchdowns for the Tigers.
Since 2012, two of the three number one overall quarterbacks selected that have played a full season have posted a QB1 finish. The only one who didn’t was Jameis Winston who finished as QB13 in 2015.
History, talent surrounding him, probable high volume and a higher-than-expected rushing floor could make Burrow a value back-end QB1 here in 2020.
Quarterback I’d Leave Sitting:
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): Drafting quarterback Jordan Love in the first round and running back A.J. Dillon in the second round, makes it seem like the Green Bay Packers’ offseason has been all about taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands.
Rodgers was an inconsistent QB9 last season, in a year where 14 different teams made changes at their quarterback position. But his current ADP still has him going him as a top-10 guy.
With his best non-running back targets not named Davante Adams slotted to be former undrafted free agent Allen Lazard and second-year tight end Jace Sternberger, it looks like Matt LaFleur is going with a run-heavy approach, hoping to be this season’s 49ers.
Lower volume, an aging arm, a shortage of weapons and a still relatively-high ADP lands Rodgers on this season’s sit list.
Running Back I’d Start this Season With:
D’Andre Swift (Detroit): The last time Detroit finished in the top half of the league in rushing yards was in 1998, Barry Sanders’ final season. But, I think that’s about to change with a solid one-two punch of rookie D’Andre Swift and third-year Kerryon Johnson.
After only playing 18 games and rushing for just over 1000 yards during that span, it was becoming increasingly hard to see Johnson as more than a change-of-pace back. And that was before Detroit spent a second-round pick on Swift.
I think with head coach Matt Patricia fighting for his job this season, Swift, who’s coming off back-to-back 1000 yard seasons for the Georgia Bulldogs, will be the feature back for Detroit. He should see upwards of 200 carries in addition to bringing in a handful of receptions each week. At a minimum, he’s a low-end RB2, which warrants his current ADP.
If you can scoop Swift and need additional running back depth later in the draft, don’t be afraid to grab Johnson too. He will have a fantasy-relevant role. And if he stays healthy, he could be a worthy flex that’s going for the price of an RB4.
Running Back I’d Leave Sitting:
Derrius Guice (Washington): Even after only a combined 42 rushing attempts in two seasons for Derrius Guice, the once-highly touted LSU product is still being drafted as a mid-tier RB3 in PPR formats.
Saying Washington’s running back room is over-crowded right now would be an understatement. They currently roster Guice, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Barber, J.D. McKissic, former Stanford standout Bryce Love and third-round rookie Antonio Gibson, all of whom could be competing for playing time on other teams.
Guice has shown flashes when healthy, scoring three total touchdowns in five career games and he is the favorite to be the lead back in Washington come Week 1. So, the upside is there.
But, with the injury risked baked in and a definite running-back-by-committee coming in Washington, Guice is too rich for my blood.
Wide Receiver I’d Start this Season With:
Justin Jefferson (Minnesota): With the departures of Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, there are 110 vacated targets up for grab in Minnesota. And while you have to think Adam Thielen, who was injured for six games last season and Irv Smith Jr., a young ascending tight end, will take a good amount of those, there still may be enough volume and opportunity available to make Justin Jefferson the number one rookie receiver here in 2020.
Jefferson’s not flashy and doesn’t have the game-changing speed that Diggs does. But he is a legit possession reviver through and through. With he and Thielen both being interchangeable in the slot, and Dalvin Cook opening up the play-action, Jefferson could be a PPR beast with the potential to get open for a deep shot from Cousins.
Although rookie receivers typically don’t take off until the second half of the season, Jefferson’s likely-immediate starting role on a veteran Mike Zimmer-lead team makes him well worth his current ADP and might make him one of this season’s biggest sleepers come August.
Wide Receiver I’d Leave Sitting:
Mecole Hardman (Kansas City): I get the appeal of Mecole Hardman heading into his sophomore season. He’s a 2019 second-round pick, on the defending Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback.
However, while I love the eventual talent and potential of Hardman, he’s still at least a year away from being a weekly fantasy-relevant asset.
Last season, one where Tyreek hill missed four games due to injury, Hardman only saw 41 targets but managed to score 6 touchdowns. Like his veteran counterpart, Hardman’s eventual ceiling will be reached due to big plays and high touchdown numbers, not pure volume.
But with the Chiefs adding a new pass-catching option in rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson both returning to the team and Harman scoring four points or less in 50 percent of his games last season, his current ADP of somewhere around the tenth round is not worth the barren floor he possesses— even if it comes with occasional week-winning upside.
Tight End Start I’d Start this Season With:
Darren Waller (Las Vegas): Despite that the tight end position has been a desolate landscape for years in fantasy football, 2019-breakout Darren Waller is still going at a fair ADP of somewhere in the sixth or seventh round.
Yes, there are a lot of tight end breakout candidates this season, more than usual, perhaps. And the Raiders did add a plethora of receiving options in the draft.
But Waller, who had 117 targets last season (third-most at the potion) is still a safe bet to lead Las Vegas in targets this season. Even if that number dips slightly, his 3.3 percent touchdown rate and three total scores should come up to put him back in the same high-end TE1 mix.
Given the recent history of the position, it’s not a bad thing anymore to roster two tight ends heading into Week 1. If Waller starts to fall in those middle rounds, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and then grab another breakout-candidate for free towards the conclusion of drafts. If you hit on both, you can either trade one for more value later, once other owners lose their starter to injury, or roll-out the rarely seen, but often formidable, two-tight end starting lineup.
Tight End I’d Leave Sitting:
Evan Engram (New York Giants): The next tight end off the board, following Waller in most leagues come August will be Evan Engram, who will be entering his fourth season with the New York Giants. But should it be?
Since a stellar rookie season in 2017 where he finished as the TE5, Engram has had two seasons where he’s been plagued by injury but averages double-digit fantasy points when healthy.
But, with the Giants now having a more complete offense, Engram is going to have more competition for targets. Darius Slayton splashed his rookie season and looks to take another step forward. Golden Tate will get full season after being suspended for four games last year. And Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley are both back healthy.
In addition to the steep ADP, injury risk and competition for targets, the opening schedule for the Giants also has me shying away from Engram. They’ll get the loaded defenses of Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco to kick things off which could push Engrams’ perceived value down a tier, making you regret spending the mid-round pick on him.
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.