Start, Sit & Small Victories
These words officially mark the beginning of the 50th installment of “Start, Sit & Seth,” the series that continues to combine feel-good anecdotes and life advice with redraft fantasy football advice.
Over the last three years writing this column, my passion for it and the amount of time dedicated to each piece have only increased tenfold.
I’ve learned that just by the proper strokes on a keyboard, I can take readers anywhere in the world, whether it be my small-town in the middle of nowhere, the Big Apple or the Golden Coast – all to learn something about themselves or the world around them that they didn’t know when they began reading.
With the consistent feeling that so much rests upon each line within the introductions of my columns, one usually takes weeks or months of deliberation and preparation.
However, this column – unlike most – is not one of these.
5:30 P.M., Friday, May 7
There I was, sitting at a pub in downtown State College, Pennsylvania, drinking a draft Bud Light at happy hour after what felt like one of the longest weeks of my young professional career.
My girlfriend and I were celebrating what I referred to as a small victory. With a lot still up in the air, I can’t disclose any further details about the exact small victory we were celebrating that evening. But if all goes well in due time, I will.
As I began to look around the stone-covered walls, I couldn’t help but notice others celebrating their own victory, one much more memorable than my own – their college graduation from Penn State.
It was in this moment that I wondered, “Are there such things as small victories? And if so, what determines the size of said victory?”
Fortunately, to answer this question, I didn’t have to look much farther than my own Twitter feed. Every week I have the opportunity to witness people I call my peers within the fantasy sports industry have victories of their own.
This week, two victories in particular stuck out:
Robbie Rocks It on NFL Fantasy Football’s Mock Draft
Getting to know Robbie and his inspiring story on a recent episode of “The In-Between Fantasy Football Podcast” and The Lateral’s “Weekly Variety Hour(ish)!” it’s easy to tell his growing audience and network is a direct result of his diligent approach and matter of principles to the fantasy sports industry.
That approach was rewarded this week when Robbie was invited to guest appear on NFL Fantasy Football’s Mock Draft episode.
“Going on NFL Fantasy was huge to me,” Robbie said in a May 9 Twitter direct message. “We’re talking a step underneath being on actual NFL Network cable TV or NFL Network’s YouTube channel. I was able to work alongside some amazing NFL Fantasy/NFL Network personalities and show that there was a reason why they selected me to be on that show. I’m a kid from the trenches of [Washington] D.C.; I’m not supposed to be in positions like that. So, for me, it was groundbreaking.”
Robbie, who entered the fantasy sports content creation fulltime in 2018, realizes he’s at a point where so many people are looking at what he’s doing, and he feels like he can’t stop now. That’s the kind of mentality Robbie has: feeling as if he’s carrying a whole city on his back – reminiscent of the late, great Kobe Bryant and his “Mamba Mentality.”
“Your small victories become your big victories,” Robbie said. “Take a couple of minutes or maybe a day and live in those moments. But remember those moments create bigger moments to become, so you have to get ready for the next big thing.”
Cal Inadvertently Ends Matthew Berry’s Career
This week, the “ViperCast,” hosted by Matt Donnelly, Tera Victoria and Major Caldwell hosted none other than the Talented Mr. Roto (TMR), Matthew Berry. During the broadcast, Cal asked Berry a question that lead to a classic TMR rant.
Instead of attempting to explain Berry’s response, I suggest just watching the clip below:
— Cal (@calvinandhobby) May 6, 2021
Cal attested to reading Berry’s columns for at least a dozen years and listening to the original “Fantasy Focus 06010” Podcast with Berry, Nate Ravitz and Stephania Bell on his commute. He and that Berry was the main reason why he joined Twitter in the first place.
“The opportunity to interview Matthew Berry and ‘share the screen’ with him for some time was surreal,” Cal said in a May 9 Twitter direct message. “He’s a gifted writer who is able to put so much of his personality into his work, and I admire his versatility as he’s just as talented on podcasts and on television as he is on paper.”
Cal’s said the appreciation for Berry’s work is what led to the question in which he pronounced his career was over and that he couldn’t have loved it any more than he did.
“Having followed him for so long, I know he likes to cut up,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for him to go on a fun rant in that famous self-deprecating way that I’ve heard hundreds of time from him. The fact that he did that in response to me was so perfect and made it so memorable for me. Almost like getting to play a pickup game with LeBron [James] and throwing him an alley-oop.”
As for most, getting to interview Berry was a “victory in a sense” for Cal, somewhat solidifying the hard work he’s put in to get better at live streaming. But Cal also recognizes the likes of Donnelly and DLF for giving him opportunities to grow.
“Victories of any kind deserve to be celebrated,” he said. “Life is about progress, not perfection. I have a long way to go as a podcaster, writer and YouTuber, but I know I’m better than I was a year ago. If I keep working, I’ll be better at it a year from now, too. I treat every area of my life that way, and it’s what I teach my kids. When we have those moments when we overcome something that’s been keeping us down, we should celebrate that and keep fighting.”
Small Victories: A Thesis
Together, Robbie and Cal sharing their recent victories have made me form a conclusion about my own and all small victories:
In whatever you do in life, if you work hard enough and long enough being authentic, there’s a favorable chance you’re going to come across small victories of your own.
And though it’s important to celebrate each victory, allow it to prepare and keep you ready for what’s coming next. Because it’s the small victories, like the undisclosed one I was celebrating at happy hour, that can lead to the kind that Robbie and Cal were celebrating.
Similarly to our small victories in life, it’s a series of small victories in the fantasy football offseason, like nailing a mock draft or forming a new conclusion after film or analytic study, that can lead to bigger victories – like winning your league championship.
Hang with me and everyone else here at In-Between Media this summer, and I promise we’ll do our best to get you there.
And for the 50th time, and a victory within itself:
Now, let’s get to it.
The following rising/fading selections are based on stats, trends and film research, reflecting value in Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft Leagues. In salute to small victories, this column’s selections will focus solely on veteran players that were more-subtle winners and losers of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Quarterback I’m Rising On:
Matt Ryan (Atlanta): The Atlanta Falcons signaled they’re going to attempt to run it back in 2021 when they selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts No. 4 overall instead of a quarterback. They also did not trade seven-time pro bowl receiver Julio Jones, despite rumors.
The addition of Pitts, Mike Davis, who caught 59 receptions last season in Carolina, and the return of both a healthy Jones and Calvin Ridley, who posted a career year himself in 2020 with 90 receptions, 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games, should boost Matt Ryan’s value alone.
But it’s the addition of head coach Arthur Smith, former Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator who salvaged Ryan Tannehill’s career and made the Titans a premiere AFC offense, that could really help stabilize Ryan’s fantasy output.
Last season, Ryan finished as the QB12 – his third straight QB1 finish and his ninth in his 12-year career. However, he has a tendency to be streaky. In 2020 alone, he had a streak of both three and four games with fewer than 12.5 fantasy points per game last season – seven weeks total that he desolated your fantasy team if you played him.
Tannehill on the other hand has had just two such games total in his 26 regular-season games as the starter under Smith. Ryan is currently projected to go in the early double-digit rounds. Making him a nice late-round redraft target, especially if you can draft any of his top-three receiving options and complete the stack.
Quarterbacks I’m Fading:
Cam Newton (New England): Allow me to preface this analysis with the notion that I believe if Cam Newton did not contract COVID-19 last season, he likely wouldn’t have played as poorly down the stretch.
The steep variance in his average of two total touchdowns, 238 passing yards and 49.6 rushing yards per game before contracting COVID-19 vs. his one total touchdown, 161 passing yards and 36.9 rushing yards per game is what leads me to believe that the mediocre play was somewhat linked to the aftermath of the virus.
Why Newton is no longer a late-round target for me in one-quarterback leagues or a target at all in superflex leagues is because the odds are he will eventually have at least one poor performance that will get him benched for rookie Mac Jones, who was drafted 15th overall by New England.
In 21.8 percent of his professional starts, Newton has thrown multiple interceptions – a pace of 3.5 games per 16 played. If trends continue and Newton has at least three games of double-digit interceptions, by the third, he is likely benched by Bill Belichick for Jones, possibly for the foreseeable future.
Running Back I’m Rising On:
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City): Now-second-year Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) left a bad taste in a lot of fantasy managers mouths last season when they drafted him in the first round, only for him to finish the season as the PPR RB22 in 13 games.
Luckily, if you’re not one of those he burned last season, he could be one of the values of this year’s draft. CEH is currently going in mock drafts in the third round, potentially making him your second or third running back on your roster, depending on construction.
But what intrigues me about CEH other than his affordability this season, is the Chiefs retooled offensive line. Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was obtained from Baltimore for the Chiefs’ first-round pick. Former Patriots guard and iron man Joe Thuney will likely slide into left guard.
Second-round rookie center Creed Humphrey should start Week 1, alongside Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who took off the 2020 season to fight on the COVID-19 front lines. This leaves journeyman Mike Remmers likely to start at right tackle and long-time Chicago Bear Kyle Long on the sidelines for relief.
Overall, this reshaped line and cheaper price tag should make CEH circled on your draft boards come August.
Running Back I’m Fading:
Raheem Mostert (San Francisco): Finally, after years of trying to gauge the unpredictable backfield carousel of Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers, we finally thought we had it figured out heading into 2021.
Late 2019-breakout back Raheem Mostert would be the team’s No. 1 back, intertwined with a counter punch off the always reliable-when-called-upon Jeff Wilson Jr. and tertiary support from Jamycal Hasty coming back from a broken collared bone suffered last season.
With the 88th overall pick, San Francisco selected Trey Sermon, who began his college career Oklahoma before finishing at Ohio State. And to make matters even more complicated, a hundred some picks later, San Francisco selected Elijah Mitchell from Louisiana University 194th overall.
The platoon-like approach the 49ers will likely carry once again this season, intertwined with the fact that Shanahan hasn’t produced a PPR RB2 or better since 2017 when Carlos Hyde was the PPR RB8, has me out on all San Francisco running backs until further notice.
Wide Receiver I’m Rising On:
Allen Robinson (Chicago): Thank goodness, after seven years of mediocre quarterback play by the likes of Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, Allen Robinson finally has the potential to play with a sound player under center after the Chicago Bears drafted Ohio State’s Justin Fields 11thoverall after trading up with the New York Giants.
Robinson has now seen back-to-back seasons with 150+ targets in head coach Matt Nagy’s system, securing him WR1 finishes in both 2019 and 2020, despite the inconsistent quarterback play.
The fact that Robinson has been able to put up these historic WR1 seasons, two in Chicago and one Jacksonville, despite playing with both Bortles and Trubisky who boast career average completion percentages of 59.3 and 64, respectively, is a testament at just how elite of a receiver Robinson really is.
If Fields, who carried his Buckeyes to a national title game with a completion percentage of more than 70 percent in 2020, can see the field early, Robinson becomes well worth the current late third-round or early fourth-round pick in redrafts it’ll take to grab him.
Wide Receiver I’m Fading:
Jerry Jeudy (Denver): It’s a sad day when I have to place one of the most decorated collegiate wide receivers of all-time on my fades list, just a year into his career. But with the Denver Broncos ultimately passing on both Fields and Jones in the draft and deciding to stick it out with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at quarterback, I have no other choice.
I’m not concerned with his 14 drops (second most in the NFL) in 2020. But what I am concerned with is that Jeudy saw 116 targets last year, but caught only 52 for a catch rate of 46 percent. I don’t doubt the hands of Jeudy, just if any current Denver quarterback can unlock his potential.
He’s currently listed in FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) as the 86th overall player, or a seventh-round selection in redrafts. For a player who has a mix of both bad quarterback play and a crowded receiver room of Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, who outscored Jeudy on 34 less targets in 2020, and KJ Hamler, it’s too steep of a price to pay.
And to make matters worse, it seems that even if Aaron Rodgers gets traded to Denver, Jeudy is a consistently linked parting piece to be traded with future first-round picks back to Green Bay. Until further notice, the former Crimson Tide is off my redraft boards.
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.