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Start, Sit & Just Commit

by Seth Woolcock

Whether you’re a millennial, Gen-Z or like me – somewhere between the two – the word commitment is often first met with resistance.

More times than not, we shy away from having something to be responsible for. Additional work, relationships – heck, we protect our Saturday mornings like they’re our prized possessions. Lately, as the seasons have shifted and most days I work from sunrise until it sets again, I myself have wondered why I’ve committed to such a taxing lifestyle. 

Intending to rediscover why I’ve devoted myself to so much – a job at a top research university, running a business at age 23 and nearly a dozen fantasy football teams to manage – I reached out to someone who exudes that drive to hustle.

Nate Steis, 25, is now regarded as one of the up-and-coming media moguls in Western Pennsylvania and has shown more commitment to his craft than you’ll see in most current college classes with all the students combined. It wasn’t always a straightforward road to success for Nate, but rather one filled with meanders and manholes.

It all began in a small town on the southeast edge of the Allegany National Forest – fewer than 20 miles away from where I grew up.

Ridgway, PA, to Lakeside

Nate had a similar childhood to a lot of late-‘90s, early-2000s kids. He had a supportive family that took a vacation or two every year to an amusement park or the beach. He fell in love with athletics at an early age. By high school, he was a tri-sport athlete for the Ridgway Elkers.

However, despite his “jock” label, Nate was friends with just about everyone in his 63-person class, from the football players to the thespians.

After his high school graduation in 2015, Nate enrolled at Penn State Behrend in Erie, to pursue a business economics degree. Sitting in the auditorium during a freshman seminar his first semester on campus, Nate quickly realized that economics might not be for him.

“I let all the professors speak during the first few weeks of that seminar, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do,’” Nate said in a Nov. 17 interview. “I felt like everything in there, I wasn’t smart enough to do. I had an honest conversation with one of the professors in my class.”

After speaking with his professor, Nate realized that his communication and sales skills, in addition to his enjoyment of writing, were more suited for a degree in marketing, rather than economics.

Nate and his friends pose for a photo in front of the Penn State sign in State College, Pa., in April 2017.

Following the switch to marketing, Nate made the most out of his undergraduate experience, getting involved in just about every way he could amongst the tight-knit Behrend campus that welcomed roughly 4,300 students then. Everything Nate did, serving as the basketball team’s manager, the marketing club’s president and writing for the campus newspaper, he seemed to do it with pure joy – despite the lake-effect snow showers he’d trek through between buildings.

Like high school, Nate had several friends groups from his various affiliations. Together they enjoyed downtown Erie commodities like Erie BayHawks basketball and Erie SeaWolves baseball games and some of its classic social spots like the Plymouth Tavern.

Though he had been writing for the Behrend Beacon, Behrend’s campus newspaper, since he was a freshman, it wasn’t until his third year that Nate truly started to embrace his identity as a writer. 

“The first time I thought I was going to be a writer was probably not until my junior year of college,” Nate said. “Until then, it was kind of something that I did for fun. It was a cool way to stay connected to sports and share my knowledge… Then junior year of college, a flip just switched.”

After Nate transitioned from doing general NFL and NCAA football and basketball pieces to more in-depth personal features that required him to interview others, he realized that writing was something he could simply not live without. 

In May 2018, he began freelancing for newspapers near his hometown, including the Ridgway Record, the Kane Republican and the St. Mary’s Daily Press. From then until the following September, Nate wrote 40 articles combined for the publications, mostly focusing on college athletics.

Graduate School (Part One & Two), Insurance & Entrepreneurship 

As the caps fell on graduation day at Behrend in May 2019, Nate prepared for the next chapter of his life. He applied to some entry-level jobs in the area and graduate school at both Edinboro and Mercyhurst University. 

Mercyhurst, located in Erie, was the first to get back to him. He began interning there in the summer as he prepared to begin graduate school there in the fall. Only by the time the semester was within shouting distance, Nate didn’t feel the job or the school was the right fit and decided to walk away.

“No question, leaving grad school (part one), was the hardest decision I ever had to make.” 

Following his departure from graduate school, Nate struggled to find a job at first, but he eventually got hired by Erie Insurance’s talent-acquisition department to be a recruiter for their internship program.

“It was a life-changing experience because I got to do something completely new using my business degree and using my ability to talk to people.”

Nate worked at Erie Insurance until his contract expire in March 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company went on a hiring freeze and was unable to sign Nate back, leaving him to rely solely on his freelancing.  

“I went through a week or two where I was probably the saddest I’ve been, maybe in my entire life,” Nate said. “It was awful. I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t doing much of anything. I just looked at the world around me and I said, ‘You know, there may be this pandemic, but there’s still so much that you can do to impact the world, despite all the negative things that are going on.’”

Nate poses for a photo in DuBois, Pa., in April 2019.

This led Nate to create his own media company, Western PA Sports Blog. After launching in the Summer of 2020, Nate wrote a few articles here and there. But by August 2020, and after being motivated by great speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Nate decided to begin publishing stories daily.

He did this by finding hundreds of athletes and coaches with ties to Western Pennsylvania on college’s athletics pages and messaging them on Instagram every night for three hours before he went to bed. Since then, Nate has shared the stories of 400 college athletes and coaches from Western Pennsylvania. He has done this in addition to writing more than 400 stories for more than a half-dozen newspapers and publications in Western Pennsylvania.

“I’m in this business for the right reasons,” Nate said. “More than anything, I care about being a positive media member that people go to and rely on. That’s what I care about. It gives me a feeling of importance that I’m doing something to not only impact the subjects that I’m writing about, but it can impact the team or university they’re a part of, the job they work at, the company they work for, their children or their spouse.”

Nate also returned to graduate school at the beginning of the 2020 semester, this time at Edinboro University, roughly 30 minutes south of Erie. During the 2020-2021 academic year, he worked for the sports information office there, despite the lack of sports being played due to the pandemic. This year, he works for the university’s student campus media office, where he’s the assistant sales manager, selling ads for various media platforms. He also does color commentary and play-by-play for different athletic events that air on WFSE FM 88.9, Fighting Scots Radio.

Commitment: Case Closed

Despite everything, despite the topsy-turviness that came throughout his story, Nate now finds himself right where he was meant to be. And while I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason, I know that Nate’s accomplishments did not come without an incredible amount of both commitment and sacrifice.

“You know there’s gonna come a time in your life when it’s going to be too late or pretty close to too late,” he said. “You’re not going to want to look back and say, ‘I had a chance to do this. I had a chance to ask a girl out. I had a chance to be my own boss. I had a chance to go to grad school or get a Ph.D.’… You have to focus on the now. So many people find themselves stuck in the past or looking onto the future. Focus on what’s in front of you now because you’re not going to have it in the future.” 

As another pink autumn sky falls into a dark winter night, and I’m still right here – writing – I’ll recall Nate’s advice. I’ll focus on what’s in front of me, and I’ll remember that the long hours now are simply just a tradeoff for the years of regret I would have faced later in life if I didn’t give my own media career a shot.

So whether you’re struggling to ask that person you’ve been hanging out with to be your significant other, want to change jobs or simply need to make a trade to shake up your fantasy football team – just commit.

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:

Joe Burrow (Cincinnati):  Quarterbacks have been increasingly streaky this season in the NFL. However, second-year QB Joe Burrow has finished as a QB1 in 44 percent of his starts this season and three of his last four games prior to the Bengals’ Week 10 bye.

After a week of rest and recovery, Burrow and the 5-4 Bengals travel to Las Vegas to battle the Raiders, who are just starting their annual second-half collapse. Last week they were gashed by Patrick Mahomes for 406 yards and five touchdowns as he completed 35 of his 50 pass attempts.

While Burrow isn’t Mahomes and we shouldn’t expect those numbers, the Bengals have enough offensive firepower to take advantage of a thin defensive roster on a short week. Burrow’s a QB1 for me off the bye which should lead productive days for his pass-catchers, as well.

Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:

Kirk Cousins (Minnesota):  I came around to Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins late in the offseason and have consistently written about him as one of my favorite quarterback streamers week-in and week-out. Here in Week 11 against the Packers, however, is not one of those weeks.

Everyone knows that Cousins struggles in prime time. But, did you know that he also struggles against the Packers since Matt LaFleur has been at the helm since 2018? In his four games against LaFleur, Cousins has just one game where he finished with more than 10.5 fantasy points.

The Packers’ defense is on a true heater, allowing more than 200 passing yards just once in their last three games and one touchdown to four interceptions. The quarterbacks they faced during that span? Kyler Murray, Mahomes and Russell Wilson. It’s a hard pass for me here.

Running Back I’d Start this Week:

Mark Ingram (New Orleans):  If you’re in need of a feel-good story and a nice running back play in Week 11, look no further than Mark Ingram. Ingram returned to the Saints in a trade earlier this season and has also returned to form, averaging 16.1 PPR points per game in his two games with New Orleans.

With Alvin Kamara still not practicing yet this week with an MCL sprain, it looks like Ingram will carry the load for the Saints once again against the Eagles. Philadelphia is a bottom-nine defense against the position, surrendering an average of 103 rushing yards and one touchdown, in addition to 6.8 receptions per game to RBs. Somehow in 2022, Ingram is mid-range RB2 and should be in lineups this week.

Running Back I’d Sit this Week:

Eagles’ Running Backs (Philadelphia):  Staying with the same game, the Eagles’ running back situation has been a mess for fantasy managers this season, despite their recent success as a team running the ball. Miles Sanders could return this week, dampening all hope for any relevance for one Philadelphia back.

In the last three weeks, none of the running backs, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott or Kenneth Gainwell, have seen more than 45 percent of the snaps, meaning it’s a full-fledged committee. Head coach Nick Sirianni alluded that this could still be the case even upon Sanders’ return.

This week the Eagles will face the Saints defense that is allowing a frightening 2.8 Yards Per Carry (YPC) to the running back position. On the road, with a committee-approach, against a stout run defense, is something I want no part of ever, especially this late into the season.

Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:

Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis):  Fantasy managers of Micahel Pittman Jr. may be panicking here a bit this week with T.Y. Hilton back healthy for the Colts and the team facing the No.1 defense against receivers on the year, the Buffalo Bills.

This start selection is to calm those nerves. Pittman Jr. is currently the PPR WR8 this season and the WR3 over the past month. Despite Hilton being active last week, Pittman took five targets for five receptions and 71 yards. Hilton took five targets for just one reception and five yards. 

Carson Wentz is going to need to use Pittman Jr. and his efficiency to keep up with the Bills. And the Bills defense has cracked a bit over the past month, playing less like the best defense in the league and more just like a good defense. A.J. Brown, DeVante Parker and Elijah Moore all had quality games against them. So why can’t Pittman Jr.?

Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:

Kenny Golladay (New York Giants):  As a fantasy industry, I think it’s about time we stop allowing Kenny Golladay to be mentioned as a start-worthy receiver this season. Yes, there have been injuries that have pushed him down to the PPR WR77 on the season, but he’s also the WR72 on a points-per-game basis – behind his teammates Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney.

His opponent this week, Tampa Bay, has been anything but a cakewalk for receivers this year, despite being banged up in the secondary. Over the last month, the Buccaneers rank top-10 against the position and have allowed just two touchdowns to them. I’m looking elsewhere this week and at least for the remainder of this season.

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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