As a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I’ve grown accustomed to “Tomlinisms.” These are certain words or phrases that longtime Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says during interviews and news conferences.
While some Tomlinisms are truly odd, most are cliches the coach adapts to his liking. The most popular Tomlinism, of course, is “The standard is the standard,” but the one that always hits home with me is “Don’t live in your fears.”
We’ve probably all received that advice before. Maybe your parents said it to you when you were young, or maybe a friend mentioned it before convincing you to go out for a fun night instead of staying in. Personally, whenever I heard someone utter those words, I shrugged it off. After all, it’s just a cliche, right?
I turn 25 in a couple weeks, and I don’t know whether it’s because of a quarter-life crisis or the chaos of 2020, but I’ve found myself reflecting a little bit on the two-and-a-half decades of my life so far. What have I done well? What could be improved? What have I learned?
When I think about the best decisions I’ve ever made, there was a clear through line: I chose not to live in my fears. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it often. I’d say about 90% of the time, I’m either too shy, scared or embarrassed to do or say what I really want. But some of the most rewarding and exciting moments I’ve ever experienced have occurred because I just went for it. I didn’t think about the potential negative consequences.
After three years of being too nervous to audition for my high school musical, I gave it a shot my senior year. The result? I earned a fun role, made great friends and realized I loved acting.
Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t meet a significant other during college. After graduation, I was scared I would end up alone. I tried the dating scene for a long time to no avail. I strongly considered taking a break from it all, but I decided to stick with it for a few more days, just in case. The next night, I met a girl via a social media app, and we hit it off right away. Fast-forward a year and a half, and we’re together and as happy as ever. It quite literally changed my life.
You get the picture. Good things tend to happen when you take risks and chase after what you truly desire in life. It’s so easy to give up or let the fear cripple you – trust me, I’ve been there. Not every risk you take will yield life-changing results, but hey, there’s always the possibility that it could. Better than living scared, right? Coach Tomlin and I seem to think so.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to play a little “Buy or Sell.” We all know trades in fantasy football are risky. You could be parting ways with the next big thing just so you can bolster your roster now, or maybe you give away a current star while banking solely on a youngster’s potential. Either way, you’ll never know unless you try. With the season only days away, here are some players I’m looking at buying or selling right now:
BUY: Cam Akers (RB, Los Angeles Rams)
Whether you’re in a redraft or dynasty league, Cam Akers seems ready to contribute to your team (and the Rams) sooner rather than later. He’s already getting work with the first-team offense, and beat reporters see him as the favorite to receive early-down action as well as some goal-line work.
The Rams backfield may seem crowded right now between Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown, but expect Akers to separate himself from the pack this season and become a cornerstone of the Rams offense by 2021.
SELL: Mark Ingram (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
After serving as the New Orleans Saints workhorse for years, Mark Ingram landed with Baltimore in 2019 and had himself a nice season. He finished as the RB11, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 10 scores.
But don’t expect that to carry over this year. Not only has Ingram dealt with his fair share of injuries in his career, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30, which – unless your name is Frank Gore – is usually a bad omen for running backs.
On top of that, the Ravens backfield is extremely crowded. Rookie J.K. Dobbins has all the makings of a future star, while Gus Edwards and Justice Hill should get some carries, too. Oh, and they also have a guy named Lamar Jackson.
BUY: Christian Kirk (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
“Chris, didn’t you mean to type DeAndre Hopkins?” Well, not quite.
Hopkins is a top-five receiver who should have a nice first year in the desert, but I’m focusing on a different Cardinals wideout. Unlike Hopkins, Christian Kirk has already played a year with QB Kyler Murray in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense. And unlike fellow Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Kirk is young and explosive.
In only 13 games last year, Kirk saw more than 100 targets. Kirk is currently being drafted as the WR38 in full-PPR leagues, so there is plenty of value to be had if he’s sitting at that spot in your draft.
SELL: Stefon Diggs (WR, Buffalo Bills)
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a little wary of players at skill positions changing teams this season. That includes Stefon Diggs, who was shipped off to Buffalo this offseason after several productive years in Minnesota.
Diggs has always yearned to be a true WR1, and while that dream may come true eventually, don’t count on it this year.
He normally earns his fantasy points by making splash plays for big yardage, but QB Josh Allen was one of the worst deep-ball passers in the league in 2019. In other words, it doesn’t sound like a perfect marriage.
Allen also showed solid chemistry with John Brown last year, and that very well may continue in 2020. There’s buzz around Diggs right now, which makes it the ideal time to sell high.
BUY: T.J. Hockenson (TE, Detroit Lions)
Call me crazy, but I like the Lions offense this year. Matthew Stafford is back after missing time in 2019, and he’ll be targeting receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. But don’t sleep on TJ Hockenson.
The second-year tight end didn’t have the best rookie season, as he caught only two scores and missed games due to injury. But he was a first-round draft pick for a reason.
If he can stay healthy, Hockenson possesses the size, athleticism and pass-catching ability to be the next premier tight end in the league. The No. 1 rule of this column, like the stock market, is to buy low and sell high; Hockenson is an excellent buy-low candidate.
SELL: Rob Gronkowski (TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
After a Hall-of-Fame career in New England, Rob Gronkowski took a gap year in 2019 but has returned to the NFL this season to once again play with his favorite QB, Tom Brady. Reports are saying Gronkowski looks almost like his old self after spending 2019 getting healthy.
But even if he is healthy, Gronk is a 31-year-old tight end who hasn’t played a snap in the league since Super Bowl 53 almost two years ago. The Bucs also employ two other talented tight ends in OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, not to mention two of the best receivers in the league – Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Long story short, Brady has way more options than he did in New England, and Gronk’s health is a huge question mark. You’re better off fielding trade offers for him while there’s still hype.
Thanks for reading. For more takes, find me on Twitter @Chris_Hayes8.