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Start, Sit & Tom’s Pizza

by Seth Woolcock

Isn’t it funny how, both in life and fantasy football, once in a while something unexpectedly emerges and becomes a crucial part of you – usually when you need it the most but expect it the least?

For me that something is a place. Tom’s Pizza and Restaurant on S. Seventh Street in Indiana.

Originally founded by Tomes “Tom” V. Karahalios and his wife Smaro in 1970, Tom’s Pizza quickly became a cornerstone of the college town, specializing in Greek food and family.

Now, 49 years later, if you stop in on a Friday night, there’s still more than enough pizza and family to go around.

If you walk up to the counter, you can usually find me, rocking an apron and a classic-green polo, waiting on customers and taking phone calls.

Also, there, amongst the regular lively Friday-night crowd and country music I’ll have playing until I get told to change it, are my co-workers and my boss – a group of people that have become “oikogéneia,” which is Greek for “family.”

I first met Kristina, Tom and Smaro’s daughter, who continues to own and operate the family business, in June 2018 when I applied to be a delivery driver.

At the time, I was just in need of a side-hustle – something to make some extra cash when the writing was done. I had no idea the amount of genuine relationships and connections I would form over the next few years while working at Tom’s.

In addition to allowing me to form strong ties with everyday community members, Tom’s has allotted me to make friendships that I believe will last well longer than my serving career.

See, the special thing about Tom’s is that every Friday, even after a long week of writing, class and other work, I’m still excited to go serve for the night.

Maybe it’s the warm greetings from everyone as I walk through the door or the smell of the creamy potato soup sitting on the stove, but whatever it is, it puts a smile on my face for the night.

However, without a doubt, the best thing about Tom’s – even better than the homemade sausage hoagies and the house special pizzas – is knowing that if you ever needed anything, there’s a family there ready and willing to reach out a hand. 

Comprised of both current and former employees, held together by a terrific owner and the legacies of some amazing men, the family at Tom’s Pizza is unmatched.

Although I wasn’t expecting so much camaraderie and compassion to arise from a little Greek pizza place, it’s been a blessing and truly has helped shape me for the better – even though I didn’t quite know it yet.

And the same thing can be said for fantasy football.

Sometimes you draft a sleeper late and he unexpectedly becomes a fixture of your lineup. Other times, you add a player on waivers who ends up winning you a championship. 

But regardless, both in life and fantasy football, it’s so crucial to recognize those important things and how it has helped you along the way and appreciate it while it’s here. In this case, Tom’s Pizza and the family within it.

Now, let’s get to it.

Quarterback I’d Start this Week:

Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay):  Since telling readers to bench Jameis Winston in Week 4, he’s been QB8 in fantasy. And even as painful as it sounds, I’m starting Winston this week…with confidence.

In a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals that features Week 10’s highest over/under (52), there should be plenty of potential for fantasy points for Winston on Sunday. 

Not only do both of these offenses play at one of the league’s fastest paces, but the Cardinals’ defense also allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks – all coming together to set up one of Winston’s best opportunities of the season.

Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:

Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago):  Don’t you do it. Don’t you dare do it. Yes, “Byepocalypse” in Week 10 can make us all do some pretty desperate things. But do not, I repeat, do not start Mitchell Trubisky this week.

I get that options are thin, and the Lions are bottom-six against opposing quarterbacks, but the keyword there is “quarterbacks.” In seven starts this season, Trubisky has looked like anything but one, as he is yet to surpass 260 passing yards and has scored a total of five – count ‘em, five – touchdowns.

If you are at the point where you were even considering streaming Trubisky this week, do yourself a favor and don’t. Look to see if Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick are available in your league for a spot start instead.

Running Back I’d Start this Week:  

Jamaal Williams (Green Bay):  Since returning from a scary injury suffered in Week 4’s Thursday Night Football game, Jamaal Williams has been an absolute joy to watch during the last month.

At times, he’s proved he can get it done on the ground, with 104 rushing yards in Week 6. 

While at other times he’s proved he has carved out a true pass-catching role. Six receptions for 39 yards and a receiving touchdown in Week 9.

I think Williams’ return to fantasy relevancy stays strong this week when the Packers face the Carolina Panthers, who can be beaten on the ground, allowing more than 105 yards and 23 fantasy points to opposing running backs per game.

Running Back I’d Sit this Week:

Nyheim Hines (Indianapolis):  With so many teams on bye this week and injuries starting to pile up at the position, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich might as well be in your RB2 slot this week. 

But, even with that being said, I think there are more viable starting options than the Colts’ second-year back Nyheim Hines.

On the surface, I get the appeal of the start here. He’s facing the Miami Dolphins, who allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. 

But, considering Hines, RB50 on the season, has managed only  double-digit fantasy points once all year (Week 4) and the necessity for his pass-catching role could be subsidized if the Colts get out to an early lead, I’m calling him a sit.

Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:

Robert Woods (Los Angeles):  After several consistent fantasy seasons in Los Angeles under head coach Sean McVay, 2019 has been a total disappointment for Robert Woods and his fantasy owners thus far.

However, I think Week 10’s matchup in Pittsburgh is Woods’ get-right game of the season, deserving of a spot in your lineup.

In addition to believing that the Rams took the bye week to their advantage to figure some offensive issues out, they might now be forced to game script the veteran wide receiver in more now that Brandin Cooks is going to be out for some time and defenses are at least aware of what Cooper Kupp can do if left one-on-one.  

And while Pittsburgh’s defense is much improved now, it’s still middle of the pack (18th) against opposing wide receivers. 

I think Woods and the Rams get it back on track here in Week 10.

Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:

JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh):  You know what feels even worse than telling readers to start Winston this week? Telling them that I’m perfectly content with benching Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Again, with six teams on bye this week, you might not have better options. But the trajectory of Smith-Schuster producing double-digits against the Rams is not heading in the right direction. 

In addition to coming shy of double-digit fantasy points in three of the last five outings, Smith-Schuster is now likely to be shadowed by lockdown corner Jalen Ramsey – potentially making things even more difficult for an already-deflated Pittsburgh passing offense.

This column was originally featured at ThePenn.org November 7, 2019.

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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