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sheet pan salmon

The Fantasy Kitchen: Getting Healthy

by Seth Woolcock

I recently had my annual wellness appointment with my primary care physician and received some concerning news.

My blood sugar, which I was supposed to be trying to reduce, had actually gone up. I am very much on the cusp of Type-2 diabetes. So, now I am on medication to bring it down, but one of the most important things for me to focus on is eating a healthier diet. I need to eat fewer carbs and focus on lean protein and vegetable-dense meals. Fortunately, I have found some delicious options. 

I was happy to find a dish I want to share with you today that is not only tasty but wonderfully easy to make. Cleanup is a breeze, too. Fish fits nicely into my diet and salmon is among my favorite types of fish. This sheet pan salmon and vegetables is inspired by the flavors of Elote, Mexican street corn. My entire family was pleased with the results, even the kids.

Because this entire meal is cooked on a sheet pan lined with foil, you will not have to worry about too many dishes to wash. Here is what you will need:

Sheet Pan Salmon & Vegetables Ingredients

• 1 salmon filet cut into 4 pieces (4 to 6 ounces per piece)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups broccoli florets
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup cotija cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
1 dozen grape or cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Sheet Pan Salmon & Vegetables Directions

• Combine mayonnaise and chili powder in a small bowl. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
• Add sweet potatoes into a large bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until sweet potatoes are coated evenly. Place them onto the sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes.
• Meanwhile, add the broccoli to the bowl you used for the sweet potatoes. Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and stir to coat.
• Spread 2/3 of the mayo and chili powder mixture on the salmon pieces.
• When you remove the baking sheet from the oven, stir sweet potatoes and move them to the side of the pan. Place the salmon, broccoli and tomatoes on the pan and return it to the oven for 15 minutes.
• Zest and juice the lime into the remaining Tbsp of mayo mixture and stir.
• Top each salmon piece with cotija and cilantro. Drizzle the mayo and lime sauce over the vegetables.

The result is a low-calorie, high-protein meal with lots of potassium and dietary fiber. Plus, it is delicious. I cannot complain about trying to get healthy if the journey is this tasty. 

NFL Players Returning From Injury in 2022

Speaking of getting healthy, the 2022 NFL season, like every season, will feature players returning from injury and trying to regain their health. When it comes to fantasy football, players in this category can sometimes come at a nice discount. It is natural for fantasy managers to be leery about players with an injury history, but it may pay dividends if you can handle a little risk.

Let’s take a look at a few of these players to see who might be worth taking a chance on:

Christian McCaffrey (RB, Carolina Panthers)

There is not much of a discount to be found here. However, Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best player in fantasy when he is healthy. For the past two seasons, he was the first player selected in most fantasy drafts. Managers who selected him in 2020 or 2021 feel pretty stung by him, as he missed significant portions of both years. 

He was only able to play in seven games during the 2021 campaign, but he was able to total 442 yards on 99 carries. He looked like himself when he was on the field, posting an impressive 17.6 percent juke rate and 20 rushing first downs. He is still only 26 years old. 

For the first time in years, you do not have to have the first overall pick to draft him. Per Underdog Fantasy Average Draft Position (ADP), he is currently going with the third overall pick. Like I said, not much discount. But, if he remains healthy, you can draft the best player in fantasy football after two players are off the board. Please do not be afraid to pull the trigger on this stud if you get the chance.

Michael Thomas (WR, New Orleans Saints)

OK, surely I already used the word “risk” in this column as Michael Thomas is the epitome of risk. Almost nobody can remember the last time he was on the field. But I do. It was 2020! Technically, it was in 2021, but it was January, in the playoffs of the 2020 season. Here we are 18 months later, and he still is not ready to play as of minicamp this year. 

Michael Thomas finished as a WR1 in his first four NFL seasons.

Still, let us not forget who this man is. Before his injury-plagued 2020 season, Thomas had seen at least 120 targets and recorded 1,100+ yards receiving each year of his career, dating back to his 2016 rookie campaign. In 2019, he had 149 receptions, not targets, receptions! He was named the Associated Press (AP) Offensive Player of the Year for that season. 

When he is on the field, Thomas is electric. Even in 2020, he pulled in 40 receptions for 438 yards in just seven games. Underdog has Thomas’s ADP at WR37 (75th overall.)

We are talking about an early seventh-round pick in a 12-team league. Do it. Do it all day. Thomas has a league-winner written all over him if he can stay on the field. I would be willing to take Thomas up to the sixth round to avoid missing out.

Robert Woods (WR, Tennessee Titans)

If you are a regular reader, I have already expressed excitement for Robert Woods in Nashville. Following the departure of A.J. Brown, Tennessee will need someone to step up and fill some pretty big shoes. The team selected Treylon Burks in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and Burks has similar physical traits to Brown. 

However, Woods enters the fold as a seasoned veteran who was reportedly given the opportunity to select his trade destination. Coming back from an early November ACL tear, Woods expects to beat the typical 50-week recovery timeline. He plans to be ready to start the season. 

2021 saw Woods begin the year in an offense that featured Cooper Kupp as the primary receiver, yet Woods still had an impressive 89.3 percent route participation rate. Woods averaged north of five receptions per game throughout his tenure with the Los Angeles Rams. He posted a 68-yard per game average, in addition to rushing for nearly 500 yards in his five-year Rams term. The veteran will add some value as a rusher. 

The best part is that his Underdog ADP is WR51 (105 overall.) If you ask me if I want to roll the dice on Woods in the ninth round, the answer will always be a resounding, “yes.” 

DeVante Parker (WR, New England Patriots)

Another player in a bit of a high-risk situation, DeVante Parker, finds himself in a new locale this season suiting up as a Patriot. Parker played the fewest games of his career in 2021, participating in only 10 contests. He also has a history of soft tissue injuries, including a nagging hamstring injury that again troubled him last season.

Yet, Parker returns healthy ahead of training camp, hoping to secure a significant role in New England’s offense. Despite missing time last year in Miami, Parker commanded a respectable 21.4 percent target share and saw an average of 83.6 air yards per game. If Mac Jones is given a chance to air it out a little more, a big-bodied receiver like Parker could wind up the beneficiary. 

Of course, he comes with significant risk, but Parker has an ADP of WR64 (136 overall.) He is being drafted between Jahan Dotson and Van Jefferson. I would likely lean towards those others in dynasty leagues, but for redraft purposes, I would feel a lot better taking Parker at that draft position. It might feel like a plug-your-nose-and-do-it situation, but Parker has a high ceiling for a 12th-round draft pick.

If you, like me, are trying to get healthy or are merely hoping to select a fantasy squad that can avoid injury, I wish you the best. Take advantage of some of the reluctance of your leaguemates to pursue players with injury risk. Often, the reward is well worth the risk.

My motto in the kitchen is “have fun.” For me, it is easy to keep. I sure hope you have fun in your kitchen preparing food for your friends to eat.

Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content.

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