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Start, Sit & Lessons From the Fish Bowl

by Seth Woolcock

July 2020

As the fireworks faded from a bizarre Independence Day, it was as if time stood still. For the first days in more than 5 years, I finally had just that – time.

After being furloughed from a magazine company in suburban Eastern Pennsylvania – my first job since graduating college just a few months before – I found tranquility in finally being able to slow down and reflect. This new sense of time to myself inevitably led to the creation of In-Between Media.

It also gave me time to prepare for my debut appearance in the Scott Fish Bowl (SFB), specifically dubbed SFBX last season for its 10th season. For those unfamiliar with SFB, it is the premier pro-am fantasy football league in the world, founded and managed by the likes of Scott Fish.

Fish, a 2020 recipient of the Matthew Berry Game Changer Award presented by the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA), is one of the founding fathers in the industry who is recognized as the first Developmental (Devy) fantasy football content creator.

He is also responsible for taking the fantasy football industry from a relatively non-contributor to charity to an industry that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities every year. Fish’s charity Fantasy Cares directly provides toys to children in need around Christmas time.

To play in SFBX last season was a pivoting point for my career as an analyst and helped me connect amazing people in the fantasy sports industry, while also proving myself, playing against them.

Being laid off, I had more time than ever to prepare for a draft. I studied the scoring, discovered trends and mock drafted as much as possible. It paid off as my team was better than expected, making it to the quarter-finals, and ultimately being two points short of the semis with a real shot of advancing to the finals.

I was carried by mid-to-late round picks Darren Waller, Tom Brady, David Montgomery, Justin Jefferson and Justin Herbert. In all reality, it was a dream of a rookie season that just fell short. In the end, whiffs on picks that I was confident in, like Zach Ertz and Michael Gallup, matched with the inconsistent play of my first two picks, Ezekiel Elliott and Josh Jacobs, was just too much to overcome.

Either way, I went home happy knowing I gave it my all, learned a ton and made new memories and acquaintances.

Present Day

With life in the U.S. now returning to what feels like normalcy, the pace has also returned to an all-time high. Full-time jobs followed by content creation and commitments on the weekend make for a busy and sometimes rushed-feeling lifestyle.

Personally, sometimes it feels that even just at age 23 I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. At times, I feel as if I need to slow down, while at others I feel I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing: chasing my dreams.

However, unlike many who have lofty goals – some would say perhaps too lofty – my goals are not specifically measurable. Rather, just a sense that when it’s all over for me, I hope I’m remembered as someone who just tried to make a difference in the world with my words, inspiring a more optimistic and thoughtful culture.

But that bright-eyed kid I felt like a year ago can feel distant at times. A string of recent unfortunate events and bad breaks has left my hopeful mindset flickering. Now that SFB11 is almost officially here, I wanted to take time to once again reflect and hopefully recapture the amazing feeling that should come with this time of year.

Scott Fish and SFB have given so much to so many. Amongst it all, it’s taught people lessons about both life and fantasy football. To discover some of the best lessons it’s taught, I ventured to discover what was the biggest lesson others have learned from previous Fish Bowls. Here are a few of the best:

Be Your Own Fish

“Have fun and enjoy the ride … There is no set blueprint for success so don’t be afraid to be a salmon in this fishbowl,” said Kevin Payne.

Plan Projects Accordingly & “She Sheds” Are In

“If someone in your division is building a ‘she-shed,’ it will slow down the draft tremendously,” said Byron Watkins. “But we all got great laughs from it, and it’s the thing I remember most about the draft.”

Soak It Up

“Enjoy every moment – inside or outside of the game,” said Stephen Johnson, ChiCitySports.com media manager. “I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people thanks to SFB. And honestly, If you don’t enjoy every piece of what goes into the chats, the interactions, the charity, you aren’t fully enjoying what it’s all about.”

Shoot the Moon

“Value is nothing. You can’t trade, so forget about value. There’s no such thing as a ‘reach.’ Get your guys. Look beyond Week 1. Chase the scoring,” said John Hogue, host of “The SuperFlex SuperShow” and “Super Flex City” and writer at Dynasty League Football (DLF).

“Shoot for the moon,” he said. “You won’t beat 1,919 other people without taking chances that no one else will take.”

My No. 1 Lesson Learned from SFB

Ride the wave of both life and SFB.

Despite everything else that hasn’t swung my favor lately, I’ve recollected that this is exactly what life is:  a rollercoaster of ups and downs.

One day this week, I got a rejection from a new opportunity. The next I had car troubles. The following day, Matthew Berry joined a mock draft with my staff and me. Today? I reflect and just can’t help but laugh about it all.

Because that’s life, and that’s the SFB. There will be ups, and there will be downs. But in the end, it’s what you make of it all.

Now, let’s get to it.

The following start/sit selections are based on not only stats, trends and film research, but also the current Average Draft Position (ADP) each player currently has in SFB11 mock drafts.

For more information about the scoring and rules for SFB11, please visit the league’s official site.

Players I Would Draft in SFB11

Cam Akers (RB, Los Angeles):  Last season, I claimed then-rookie running back Cam Akers off as a bust, and rightfully so. His fifth-round ADP in normal redrafts was a land mine for managers who grabbed him there. But things have changed.

In Weeks 13, 14 and 15 of last season, with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. both healthy, Akers averaged 67.7 percent of Rams’ backfield snaps and averaged 21.6 carries and 102 rushing yards per game. In the playoffs, he was equally as impressive, averaging 110.5 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 carries per game.

As quarterback Jared Goff and backfield-mate Brown exit, enters Matthew Stafford, one of the most pure-talented quarterbacks in the NFL. Last season he peppered Detroit rookie running back D’Andre Swift with an average of 4.4 targets per game in a lesser role than what Akers will have this season.

I’m projecting it all comes together for Akers and the Rams this season and am satisfied loading up on quarterbacks or tight ends early in SFB11 and taking Akers as my RB1 around his RB10-12 ADP.

Justin Herbert (QB, Los Angeles):  Another second-year player, Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert has been sliding in the latest SFB11 mocks, sometimes to as deep as the middle of the second round.

Justin Herbert was the QB10 in SFB scoring last season in 15 games played.

Herbert did a little bit of everything for managers last season, especially in SFB11 scoring. He averaged 291.1 passing yards per game, threw for 31 touchdowns, rushed for another five and boasted a 66.6 completion percentage – higher than the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Ryan Tannehill.

He finished as the QB10 in SFB scoring, playing only 15 games. Keep in mind this was all as a rookie. He now has a younger head coach in Brandon Staley, and Joe Lombardi has come over from New Orleans after being Drew Brees’ quarterback coach since 2016.

The Chargers have also retained all their weapons but tight end Hunter Henry. They also added a solid receiving prospect in rookie Josh Palmer from Tennessee. And returning are veterans Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, all healthy, joined by other promising young receiving weapons like Jalen Guyton who grabbed 28 receptions for 511 yards and three touchdowns in limited action last season.

I would be thrilled to have Herbert as my QB1 in SFB11. If you can get him as your QB2, well, that may be enough to set you apart from the competition and make a serious push.

Adam Trautman (TE, New Orleans):  If you’re looking for a later-round tight end option in SFB11 to add depth to the position, look no further than Adam Trautman. Outside of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, he projects to be the best pass-catching option the Saints currently have.

He had a 38.1-percent College Dominator Rating (percentage of teams’ total receiving production) at Dayton. The Saints also drafted Trautman in the third round of last year’s draft and traded the majority of the rest of their 2020 draft capital to do it.

And the great thing about Trautman is that he’s cheaper, and whoever is under center for New Orleans, Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston, likely won’t change much for him with the 152+ vacated targets available in New Orleans.

Players I Wouldn’t Draft in SFB11

Noah Fant (TE, Denver):  I am all for loading up on the tight end position in SFB11. But just know that there will be landmines. And I think Noah Fant may just be one of them.

Fant is currently being taken roughly as the TE7 or TE8 off the board in SFB11 mocks – despite finishing outside the top 10 in SFB scoring last season, behind players like Eric Ebron and Jimmy Graham.

The issue isn’t Fant’s talent, but rather the inconsistent quarterback play I’m expecting him to face. Projected starter Drew Lock had a 57.3 completion percentage last season, 35thand dead last among qualified passers – behind players like Nick Mullens and Dwayne Haskins.

And I’m not sure that if the Broncos go with Teddy Bridgewater, it will fix a whole lot for Fant. Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught only 21 passes, 145 yards and one touchdown on 30 targets last season from Bridgewater, despite playing 65 percent of the snaps. Unfortunately, at his current ADP, I’m avoiding Fant at all costs.

Diontae Johnson (WR, Pittsburgh):  There is a notion going around the industry now that Diontae Johnson is the receiver you want in Pittsburgh. But I’m not so sure, especially in SFB scoring.

Pittsburgh led the NFL in pass attempts in 2020.

Johnson, now in his third season in the league, lead the Steelers in receptions with 144 last season. However, he had fewer touchdowns than both fellow Pittsburgh receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool. He also averaged far fewer yards-per-reception than Claypool (14.1 to 10.5) and had nine overall fewer receptions than Smith-Schuster, despite getting 16 more targets.

More concerning is that Johnson was stuck right in-between the two in first downs, which are highly valuable in SFB scoring. Pittsburgh is also likely going to throw less in total this season with the addition of rookie running back Najee Harris and their lack of success throwing so often down the stretch last season.

I’ll avoid Johnson at his higher ADP and be content if one of the other Pittsburgh receivers falls to me a round or so later.

J.K. Dobbins (RB, Baltimore):  I’m lower than consensus as a whole on J.K. Dobbins this season, but specifically in SFB scoring. The second-year back currently has a mid-range RB2 price tag after his rookie season 135 carries for 805 yards and nine touchdowns – most of which came toward the end of the season.

The main concern for Dobbins is the lack of first down and scoring opportunities I think he’ll have. Backfield mate Gus Edwards was top-17 in the league last season in first downs with 45 of them. Though Edwards averages 5.2 Yards Per Carry (YPC) throughout his three-year career and actually had more receiving production than Dobbins last season, despite 45.6 percent fewer targets, he is Baltimore’s short-yardage back.

From the quarterback position, Jackson has also averaged 58.7 rushing first downs and six touchdowns himself in each of his three seasons, once again just limiting the overall upside of Dobbins. At Dobbins’ current ADP, I’d take my chance on a different running back or pivot from the position completely and wait if you have the ability to.

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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