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Start, Sit & Underdogs

by Seth Woolcock

I’m not sure when it was exactly that I learned I was going to be an underdog. Perhaps when I was 16 years old standing in front of my house as it, along with my and my siblings’ belongings, went up in smoke.

Perhaps it was 3 years later, when I ran away from home with nothing but a backpack with a phone charger in it, after finally discovering the truth about the origin of that smoke.

Whether we like to admit it or not, humans root for the underdogs – the kids from the wrong side of the tracks – that overcame unbelievable odds to make it. I believe there’s an underdog in all of us, and it even somewhat embodies the American spirit … at least what remains of it.

There were some tough nights in my mid-to-late teens where the last thing I could remember before falling asleep were rivers filling my eyes. But through it all, this, putting thoughts to paper – or phone notes – kept me sane, and I learned from each experience.

Without question, writing and the critical thinking that comes along with it saved my life.

Since then, I’ve wanted to use the gift I was given to help others overcome whatever curveball life has or will throw their way. Whether that’s by picking up a pen, visiting their local water tower or whatever your self-reflective method they prefer.

Like any true underdog story, I never want to paint an unrealistic picture for my audience. There will be struggle. There will be days of working sun-up to sun-down. But, if you try to be a good person and give your all to something, there will be moments of triumphs and memories that you’ll take to the grave.

When I first began writing “Start, Sit & Seth” 3 years ago, I was a junior in college and just a kid, trying to once again write myself through one of the most difficult chapters of my life. Through writing these columns and eventually creating In-Between Media, I found exactly who I am and how I can fulfill my goal of helping others in my own way.

My girlfriend, Katie Mest, and I pose for a picture at Jerzee’s Cafe in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 14, while attending the Fantasy Football Expo.

These past 18 months of running In-Between Media at times have felt like a dream. I met people I now consider life-long friends through an app. I’ve gotten to spend time, both on livestreams and in-person, with people I consider my heroes. I even got the opportunity to mock draft with a columnist whose writing kept me alive during those especially dark days.

This journey has also awakened the entrepreneur in me. Now, instead of dreaming of working for one of the top mainstream sports media companies, I aspire to one day wake up with having to only please myself and, of course, our loyal In-Between Media audience.

To help me reach this aspiration, I’m pleased to announce that In-Between Media is partnered with a few great companies this season – one being Underdog Fantasy, a fantasy sports platform that features best ball, daily drafts and pick’em contests.

I’m also fortunate to have In-Between Media sponsored by stellar local companies like Stephens’ Quality Barbering Services in Curwensville, Pa. It’s all come full-circle as I’ve had the shop’s owner and one of my best friends, Noah Stephens, cut my hair for nearly 7 years now since we were both only juniors in high school and it was just on a stool in his parent’s basement.

It’s this kind of support, from local businesses and blooming startups that inspires and supports me to continue to combine feel-good life and fantasy sports advice for our audience. The same audience that’s helped me embrace my underdog mentality and discover who I am. And for that, I am forever in their debt.

Even in my weekly fantasy football start/sit selections for this column, I carry that same mentality, as my starts always feature players most weekly rankings wouldn’t consider a locked-in starter. Just like in life, there is oftentimes more than meets the eye to a person. And I’m here to once again help you find it in a quarterback, running back and receiver each week this season.

Now, for the first time in-season this year, 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 Leagues.

Quarterback I’d Start this Week:

Kirk Cousins (Minnesota):  Look, I get it. Kirk Cousins isn’t the sexiest quarterback to roll out in Week 1. But he may as well finish the week as a top-12 one. Cousins enters 2021 coming off a season in which he finished as a fantasy QB1 in six of his last eight games and was the QB3 during that span.

Kirk Cousins finished as the QB11 in 2020.

Yes, he lost his promising tight end Irv Smith Jr. to a long-term knee industry, but he still has one of the most talented group of primary skill positions players in Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and veteran Adam Thielen.

Cousins’ recent fantasy success, skill position players and matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense, who allowed 1.94 passing touchdowns per game last season, are all reasons I’m firing him up if I didn’t leave my draft with an auto-start quarterback.

And if you’re not rostering Cousins yet, there is still time as he is available in more than 76 percent of ESPN leagues.

Quarterback I’d Sit this Week:

Baker Mayfield (Cleveland):  Though there will be moments this season when Baker Mayfield is a usable fantasy quarterback, I don’t believe Week 1 is one of them.

We know a few things about the Cleveland Browns this season. On paper, both their defense and offensive line are some of the best the NFL has to offer. And that Kevin Stefanski uses and typically succeeds with a run-first approach.

Facing a veteran Kansas City defense that has playmakers like Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones and Frank Clark shouldn’t inspire anyone to start Mayfield. Baking in the fact that the last time the two met in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs Mayfield threw for 204 passing yards with one touchdown and interception apiece, it’s an easy call to sit the former No. 1-overall pick.

Running Back I’d Start this Week:

Ty’Son Williams (Baltimore):  Speaking of underdog stories, how about second-year undrafted free agent running back Ty’Son Williams? With season-ending injuries to Baltimore’s backs, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill and now what looks like Gus Edwards, Williams finds himself atop of the depth chart for the league’s run-heaviest team.

Williams will likely be backed up by the likes of veteran running backs Trenton Cannon, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman (not the most inspiring group), but should see the bulk of the work as the others just recently joined the team.

His opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders, surrendered 4.6 Yards Per Carry (YPC) and 24 total rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last season, which was third-most in the NFL last season. If the ACL tear rumors are true for Edwards, Williams, who rushed for 130 yards on 24 carries his preseason, becomes a high-end RB3 for me this week.

Running Back I’d Sit this Week:

Sony Michel (Los Angeles Rams):  Another running back who finds themselves in a fantasy-relevant player position due to injuries is former first-rounder Sony Michel, who was traded from the New England Patriots to the Los Angeles Rams after the season-ending injury to Cam Akers.

However, I’m not as optimistic for Michel’s Week 1 outlook as I was Williams, specifically because of the matchup. The Bears, the Rams’ Week 1 opponent, allowed a stout average of 4.1 YPC last season.

Likely if you’re playing Michel, you’re looking for a touchdown. And I don’t see him getting it against the Bears who allowed 11 total rushing touchdowns in 2020, the third-least in the NFL.

Wide Receiver I’d Start this Week:

Robby Anderson (Carolina):  It’s a revenge game in Carolina this weekend as the New York Jets come to town to face former quarterback/wide receiver combo Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson.

Anderson, who was a top waiver-wire add after Week 1 last season, proved he was a versatile player as he traded in his deep threat ways for a career-high 94 receptions and 1,096 yards in his first year in Carolina.

With the Jets’ cornerbacks being led by sixth-round rookie Brandin Echols, fifth-round rookie Jamien Sherwood and second-year Bryce Hall who struggled last year, Anderson is an easy slam dunk for your fantasy lineups this week.

Wide Receiver I’d Sit this Week:

Marquez Callaway (New Orleans):  As I discussed on Twitter earlier this week, the Marquez Callaway hype has gotten a bit out of hand since the second-year receiver’s dynamic preseason.

Though with Jameis Winston at the helm, you never really know what to expect, the Saints host the Green Bay Packers this week. Leading the Packers’ secondary is Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander, who shut down some of the biggest names at the position last season, including A.J. Brown, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley and Justin Jefferson, all of who had some of their worst games of the season against the Packers.

Callaway could have some solid fantasy value down the road, but he should go nowhere near your lineups 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.

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