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Start, Sit & Veterans

by Seth Woolcock

“Start, Sit & Seth” is the original column of In-Between Media, bridging feel-good lifestyle advice with redraft fantasy football analysis. Consistently following Seth Woolcock’s journey as a young creator, this series is now in its fifth season. Join him in this edition as he shares the stories of three honorable veterans in the fantasy football community and his start/sit selections for Week 10.

The world can feel tense this time of the year.

Debates of politics, checkmarks and perceived washed-up QBs dominate conversation. We’re better connected than ever, yet a divide still remains at large – even if it is duller than two years ago. 

Yet amongst the stark disposition of today’s world, there are a few things we can almost all come together for: cold beer, good football and, most importantly, our freedom.

Freedom Isn’t Free

From the days of the American Revolution, the U.S. has been protected by soldiers – braver than most – willing to lay their life on the line for our freedom. Whether it’s on foreign soil or here stateside, these heroes allow us to not think twice about the horrors war or opposing rule instill.

Tomorrow marks the country’s 69th Veteran’s Day, an annual holiday honoring military veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The holiday hits a bit closer to home this year as my youngest brother, Dakota, is currently in school to finish his certifications as a U.S. Marine. I commend Dakota, his platoon and everyone who chooses to serve.

However, I’ve always wondered what motivates someone to willingly enlist in our nation’s armed forces, signing up for a life of grit, potential deployment and danger. To attempt to better understand the fewer than one percent who choose to serve and their sacrifice, I sought some out some who did in the fantasy football community.

Heart of a Hero

I first met with Brandon Niles, 41, the host of the “2 Guys Podcast.” Brandon, from Portland, Oregon, served four years in the Air Force’s communications.

If you asked him when he first joined, he would have told you he did so because of 9/11. 

“In hindsight, I think I was lost and looking for a reason to get out of my hometown and hit reset on my life,” he said in a Nov. 9 Twitter Direct Message (DM).

Brandon poses for a photo during his time serving.

Brandon was deployed to Iraq for roughly five months during his four-year contract from August 2005 until January 2006.

“The military taught me that I could do well in life,” he said. “The deployment taught me the value of a mission-focused existence.” 

One of the most significant benefits the military offered Brandon was “the reminder of the melting pot idealogy” he’s always valued.

It’s this experience that has allowed him to navigate the fantasy football industry that holds a unique community of diverse people sharing the same experience each season.

Being a veteran has given Brandon more of an identity than almost anything else in his life. He also has a reserved place in his heart for those he met while serving – including his wife, his commander in Iraq and his long-time best friend.

Generational Duty

Tim Bell, 37 and a member of the fantasy football community from Woodstock, Georgia, was also deployed to Iraq. However, Tim was Hospital Corpsman Third Class (HM3) for the U.S. Navy, also on a four-year contract.

Like a lot of veterans, Tim joined seeking structure in life, following family lineage with both his grandfathers and three uncles serving. During his 2006-07 deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Tim learned first-hand the freedoms that some U.S. takes for granted. 

start sit week 10

The Iraq War lasted more than seven years.

Despite Tim acknowledging the toll it takes being away from friends and family and the dangers in a war zone, the only thing he’d change, he says, is not staying in active duty longer.

Today Tim is happily married, going on four years, and has a baby on the way in March. He is proud to be a veteran working for a company that hires them nationwide. He also continues to use his lessons learned from the military, like strategic movements to help your “squad,” preparation and communication, when playing fantasy football.

According to Tim, the best thing we can do to support veterans beyond tomorrow is to continue to support them in their adjustment back to civilian life.

“For a lot of veterans getting out of active duty and adjusting back into a civilian lifestyle is not easy, so just be there for someone when you can,” he said in a Nov. 9 Twitter DM.

Fighting the Good Fight

Also joining the military to get out of his hometown was George Reed Jr., 42 and Break From the Grind (BFTG) Charities CEO, from Titusville, Florida. George served for eight years in the U.S. Marines as an Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crewman, transporting infantry Marines.

Like Brandon and Tim, George was deployed in OIF, finding himself in the Battle of Nasiriyah and in Baghdad when the statue of Sadam Hussein was torn down.

Surviving a battle that killed 32, wounded 60 and had six captured amongst U.S. and U.K. troops, George learned the valuable lessons of being patient and disciplined and never giving up. He translates this into his everyday life as a husband and father of two, in addition to playing fantasy football.

While his life today being self-employed isn’t as exhilarating as it once was, George never forgets what it means to be a veteran.

“This means I was willing to give my life for something bigger than myself,” George said. “That freedom is no more than a generation away from extinction and that we must fight to preserve it.”

Unthinkable Courage

The valor these men showed is difficult to articulate accurately. Maybe it’s why I initially struggled to understand what inspires veterans to sacrifice so much for millions of people they never met.

Perhaps that’s just it. So few have the courage to join the armed forces that civilians can’t truly understand why and how they do what they do. Instead of trying to, let’s do our best to show our support to veterans – not just tomorrow – but every day when we can.

So, even after our fantasy teams are getting wiped in the early window of games this weekend, let’s be a bit more appreciative for the afternoon slate and the freedom to spend Sundays watching football.

Let’s take in that national anthem a little bit more – what it means – and thinking of those who served and continue to do so.

Alright, and here we go.

The following Week 10 start/sit selections are based on stats, trends and film research, reflecting value in Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft Leagues.

Quarterback I’d Start in Week 10:

Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville):  It hasn’t always been pretty for Trevor Lawrence, yet he’s finished as a QB1 in five of his nine games this season. He has what I believe to a better matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs than the middling stats suggest.

The Chiefs faced rookie Malik Willis on Week 9 “Sunday Night Football,” where Willis completed just five of 16 passes for 80 yards. Yet, they allowed four straight QB1 performances in the weeks prior to Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Allen, Derek Carr and Tom Brady. Aside from Allen, this isn’t a group of world-beaters this season. 

The Chiefs also strangely traded one of their top CBs Rashad Fenton at the deadline for a conditional seventh-round pick. In addition, top CB L’Jarius Sneed was downgraded to limited Thursday after practicing in full Wednesday, dealing with a lingering knee injury.

Quarterback I’d Start in Week 10:

Derek Carr (Las Vegas):  I am still stunned that Derek Carr has yet to eclipse 20 fantasy points in any game this season. Despite having Davante Adams, Carr’s touchdown rate – the metric always holding his fantasy value down – is at a 4.0. This is below his career-average of 4.3. Things might not get much better for Carr as the Raiders have now placed both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller on Injured Reserve (IR).

The Raiders will face the Colts this week, who have been a middling defense against the position of late, despite the craziness ensuing in Indianapolis. I want to do what I can to avoid players in this game that the books have as a 40.5 point line. 

Running Back I’d Start in Week 10:

Jeff Wilson Jr. (Miami):  In his first game as a Miami Dolphin, Jeff Wilson Jr. reminded viewers why he remains one of the most underrated running backs in the league. Wilson Jr. took nine carries for 51 yards with three targets for three receptions, 21 yards and an athletic touchdown.

Wilson joins Travis Etienne, Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, Kenneth Walker and Miles Sanders as the only RBs to have 100+ carries and average more than five Yards Per Carry (YPC) this season. That should continue, and Wilson’s 49 percent snap share likely only goes up form here, reunited with McDaniel.

This week Miami faces Cleveland. The Bengals ran the ball just 10 times for 36 yards on Halloween night, the last time we saw the Browns. However, they allowed an average 233 rushing yards and two rushing TDs per game to teams in the three games prior. A big week could be in store for Wilson and – to some degree – Raheem Mostert.

Running Back I’d Sit in Week 10:

Darrell Henderson (Los Angeles Rams):  The collapse of the Rams’ offense has led to disappointing season for everyone aside from Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee. This includes RB Darrell Henderson, who has finished better than RB35 and score double-digit fantasy points only once in his last six games. Henderson is the back to have for the Rams, but Cam Akers is still getting carries for some reason. Plus, Malcolm Brown is back with the team, averaging 4.7 carries per game in his three active appearances. It’s hard to want any part of an offense that is averaging the second-least yards (286) and points (16.4) per game.

Their matchup, the Cardinals, has been more susceptible to RBs as of late. However, that was against three elite RBs in Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and rookie phenom Walker twice. If you’re looking for five-seven PPR points, Henderson is your man. If not, he belongs on the latter side of your Week 10 start/sit decisions. 

Wide Receiver I’d Start in Week 10:

Michael Gallup (Dallas):  I am not shying away from the Green Bay secondary like I was to begin the season. Packers’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry refuses to let CB Jaire Alexander shadow. The team just lost linebacker Rashan Gary to a torn ACL. And struggling CB Eric Stokes was absent from practice Wednesday.

“Big” Mike McCarthy had two weeks to prepare for his return to Green Bay, and I expect a firework show from the 6-2 Cowboys vs. the 3-6 Packers. Part of that show should be Michael Gallup, who’s been hit-or-miss since returning from his ACL injury. However, Gallup has seen more than five targets in three of five games and is running a majority of snaps. For a traditionally high Yards Per Reception (YPR) receiver, that’s good enough to give Gallup some respectable upside. I’m comfortable rolling him out as a low-end PPR WR3 or FLEX option this week. 

Wide Receiver I’d Sit in Week 10:

Allen Robinson (Los Angeles Rams):  Copy and paste the above notes on the Rams’ anemic offense here, plus add in that Matthew Stafford did not practice again today with signs of a concussion. Robinson has been putrid this season, finishing as a PPR WR3 or better just twice this year. In five of his eight games, he’s failed to hit even six PPR points, despite running 83 percent of snaps or above in every game.

John Wolford has started just two games in his career, one being a playoff game he was knocked out of six attempts in. This appears to be a friendly matchup against Arizona. However, I’m not trusting a QB with four attempts in the past year and a half with an aging Robinson.

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, especially start/sit advice, you can find me on Twitter @Between_SethFF.

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