Start, Sit & Stop-on-a-Dime: Part Two
You know, sometimes, I feel both life and fantasy football are like a bucking bronco.
One minute you feel like you have it all figured out, and the next? You’re face first in a pile of horse shit.
The real question though becomes, can you get back on?
If you’re like me and have too much pride for your own good, you always get back on. However, sometimes after getting bucked too hard or too many times, getting back on becomes tougher, sometimes to the point where you no longer feel like getting back on the horse at all.
It happened to me for the first time in my sophomore year of college. After my varsity years seemed to be nothing short of a series of unfortunate events, the kind of stuff you would think would be fiction if you read it, I managed to escape it all and began setting the pillars for a successful future. But after some truly stop-on-a-dime kind of moments led to a major family fallout the summer following my freshman year, I was flat on my back once again at age 19.
That semester, I did what I usually do when I need to, I grind and have fun, “happy hustling” as Wiz Khalifa calls it. But at one point, while working three jobs, taking classes and trying to maintain both a relationship and a social life — all while trying to cope with some truly mind-blowing and life-defining events the summer before — the happy hustling became a little less happy.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I could no longer get back on the horse. My normal optimistic attitude slowly faded. My bright outlook darkened.
However, I was lucky enough to have some great resources available at my university, and I was able to start talking with a counselor once a week, something I was always too embarrassed to tell anyone back then but feel ready to now.
Because of my family’s serious history with mental illness, I wanted to be actionable and take control of the situation before it took control of me. I was fortunate, more fortunate than most. After a semester of some really helpful counseling sessions, I was able to make peace with my situation, pick up the pieces and get back on the horse with no long-term issues.
And I’m not alone in my story. Sam Hoppen, (@SamHoppen) “Pod After Touchdown” podcast host, writer at numberFire and data visualist at Establish the Run can tell one oh too familiar as well.
“The summer after my freshman year in college was my stop-on-a-dime moment,” Sam said in a Sept. 28 email. “At the time, Wisconsin’s School of Business primarily admitted students through a sophomore admissions process (students applied in their second semester on campus to be admitted as a sophomore). Because of this, there was a lot of pressure to perform well – both academically and with extracurriculars — so as to stand out from the 1,500+ applicants the school got each year. Regrettably, I took it way too far. I sacrificed any semblance of a social life for the betterment of my resume. Several times throughout the year I broke down mentally, at times going into a deep depression with tears in my eyes, because I couldn’t handle the stress I had put on myself.”
Sam was lucky enough to have a great support group of friends and family and was able to persevere through his struggles with anxiety.
“When I got accepted into the School of Business, it felt like the biggest weight had been lifted off of my shoulders,” he said. “After it sunk in that I had reached my goal, I quickly realized that I couldn’t sustain the lifestyle I held during my freshman year. Since that first-year experience in college, I have become much better at balancing my work life and personal life.”
Since then, Sam has become a well-known mental health advocate in the fantasy football community. In May, he and his team at “Pod After Touchdown,” Andrew Mackens (@AndrewMackens) and Garner (@Garnther), launched the “Fantasy Football Mental Health Initiative,” a campaign to drive more awareness and funding for mental health issues.
With May being #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, I'm excited to announce that my friends at @PodAfterTD and I are launching the Fantasy Football #MentalHealth Initiative, a campaign to drive more awareness and funding for mental health issues! #MentalHealthMatters (1/10) pic.twitter.com/8lh52awQMT
— Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen) May 13, 2020
The initiative is a two-fold project that features a “Mental Health Minute” on their podcast episodes and a goal to raise $4,760, based on the 47.6 million adults that experienced mental illness in 2018.
During the “Mental Health Minute,” the trio covers anything from metal health management resources and tools to articles and videos that discuss mental health issues, to even sharing their own experience and how they manage mental health in specific situations.
“Overall, this is a campaign to drive more awareness and funding for mental health issues,” Sam said. “While a lot of people have suffered from mental health issues, it’s clear to me that there’s a long way to go to reduce this stigma and help those in need.”
And the work doesn’t end there for Sam. He consistently brings these issues to light in the community, helping it become a more accepting place of both mental health discussion and story sharing. He even helps guide those who reach out to him for advice on managing their own mental health, to seek professional help if possible.
“I know that one in five adults experience mental illnesses each year, while over 47 million adults experienced mental illnesses in 2018,” he said. “If you think about it, if you’re in a fantasy football league with 10 people, that means odds are at least two people in that league are experiencing some sort of mental illness.”
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do to help others, even if we don’t necessarily struggle with mental health issues ourselves, is to simply listen to others.
“You don’t need to be an expert to listen to others, just a pair of ears,” Sam said.
You can find more of Sam’s work on Numberfire, Establish the Run and listen to the “Pod After Touchdown on Apple Podcasts.
You can also donate to the “Fantasy Football Mental Health Initiative” on the campaign’s GoFundMe.
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 League.
Quarterback I’d Start this Week:
Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers): Justin Herbert posted his first QB1 finish last week against a tricky Tampa Bay defense, completing 20-25 for 290 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
I think he has to do it again this week without running back Austin Ekeler and facing New Orleans, who has allowed 22.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks so far this season (seventh-most) and could be without both of their top two cornerbacks.
Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:
Matt Ryan (Atlanta): Over the last two weeks, despite the Falcons having some garbage time opportunities, Matt Ryan hasn’t had over 13 fantasy points. It seems like without having all his receiving targets healthy, the 13-year veteran lacks consistent QB1 upside.
And the matchup this week isn’t the walk in the park many are projecting. Carolina’s defense has been surprisingly sound, limiting opposing quarterbacks to only 15 points per game (third-least in the league). Until Julio Jones is back fully healthy, I’m trying to pivot away from Ryan.
Running Back I’d Start this Week:
Melvin Gordon (Denver): If the Broncos do get to suit up against the Patriots on Sunday afternoon, it’s not going to look like the most attractive of matches to play Melvin Gordon. As on the surface, we tend to think that Bill Belicheck can and will take out the opposing team’s best player.
But so far this season, every lead running back that the Patriots have faced, from Clyde Edwards-Helaire to Myles Gaskin, has scored double-digit fantasy points against them.
Even with Phillip Lindsay back this week, intertwined with some COVID-19 concerns, I’m leaving Gordon, who’s RB11 on the season so far, in my lineup until I’m told I can’t.
Running Back I’d Sit this Week:
Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams): Head coach Sean McVay went from going with the “hot hand” in Darrell Henderson Sunday, to “Every Down” Malcolm Brown.
But despite playing 61% of the snaps in Week 4, Brown just barely managed to reach double digits, widely thanks to the help of five receptions for 19 yards.
Brown and the Rams will face the Washington Football Team in the nation’s capital this week, who is surprisingly a top-seven defense against opposing running backs. This, along with the inconsistency that McVay uses these backs, I’m not starting any Rams’ running backs here in Week 5.
Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati): This is my yearly reminder that Tyler Boyd is a very good NFL wide receiver and even though he was heavily doubted by many coming into 2020, myself included, he continues to be a reliable fantasy asset.
PPR WR16 and over 16 fantasy points in his last three outings, Boyd should be in lineups this week when the Bengals travel to Baltimore to face their division rivals. We know Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey is great on the perimeter. But, the Ravens are vulnerable to slot receivers, allowing them to reach double-digit points in three out of four matchups this season. I see another serviceable to big day for Boyd come Sunday.
Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:
A.J. Green (Cincinnati): Unfortunately just because I’m starting Boyd in Week 5, doesn’t mean I’ll be firing up his counterpart, A.J. Green.
Despite being in the top-11 in the league in targets and commanding a respectable 18.6% share of Cincinnati’s, Green only has 14 receptions for 119 yards through the first month of the season. He’s the PPR WR79 and should draw the freshly-paid Humphrey, making him nothing more than a desperate WR4 this week.
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.