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The Fantasy Kitchen: Memorial Day & Low-Investment Options

by Dave Stewart

Happy Memorial Day! It is a solemn day where we honor those who have given their lives in service of the U.S. As a son of a veteran, I try to give this day the gravity and respect that it deserves while also recognizing that it is the unofficial kickoff to summer.

Memorial Day, in practice, tends to be a day for friends and family to get together and enjoy one another’s company. Naturally, my greatest interest in any gathering of this sort is the food. As I write, we have quite a spread being prepared. I treasure days like this as an excuse to fire up my smoker.

I have chosen some hands-off recipes for a day like today because I want to be free to enjoy socializing with my gathered loved ones. I have two spectacular additions to any Memorial Day or summer cookout that I have chosen to share:

Smoked Salmon

My daughters, “the Sneaky Girls,” are notoriously picky eaters. Yet they never say no to a nice fish recipe for some reason. I will take advantage of that knowledge today.

Living in Idaho, we have access to some wonderfully fresh salmon in our local rivers. Sockeye and Coho are among the species found around here. Wild salmon tends to be lower in saturated fat than farm-raised salmon. Yet, that natural fat found in salmon is key to this recipe. Smoking salmon is both quick and easy for those that do not wish to spend an entire afternoon tending to the smoker.

For the dry brine:

•  1/2 cup Kosher salt
•  1/4 white sugar
1/4 brown sugar

It is equal parts salt and sugar, but you will be using two varieties of sugar. I recommend wrapping a baking sheet in foil for the dry brining process, as there will be significant moisture drawn from the fish (you know, make your cleanup easy).

Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel and place it on the baking sheet. You will cover the fish liberally with salt and sugar on both sides of the fish. If you have a small rack to set the fish on top of, use it as it allows the moisture to be drawn away from the fish.

Once both sides of the salmon have been coated in your dry brine mixture, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. The longer it sits, the more moisture will be drawn from the fish, which is desirable for smoking.

Upon removing the fish from the refrigerator, rinse well and pat dry, leaving the salmon to air dry for 10 or 15 minutes. You will want to set your smoker to 225 degrees and smoke the salmon at that measurement until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees.

Note:  If you prefer your salmon a little more well done, you can leave it on until it reaches 140 degrees, but should you go beyond that, you will likely find your salmon overly cooked and dry, so be careful and keep your instant-read thermometer close by.

Smoked Bratwurst

Another gem of the cookout day is bratwurst. We all love these German sausages, and they are easily grilled upon any gas or charcoal grill. But you have never fully experienced them until you cook them on a smoker.

If you are preparing the salmon, you can use that time to cook the brats. They will also cook at 225 degrees, and you place them on the smoker for approximately two hours.

 Simply take them from the smoker, allow them to rest for about 10 minutes, and enjoy.

Smoked brats are one of my absolute favorites. And, as you see, none of these preparations will keep you in the kitchen for long. You will be able to grab a beverage and enjoy your company.

Just like a delicious meal that you do not have to invest a lot of time and trouble in, there are fantasy football players out there that may prove to be a delight on your dynasty rosters that you will not have to invest significant draft capital on.

I’ll break down a few of these targets who have had recent developments impacting their value. Be forewarned; none of these players are a sure thing. Yet, for the value, you might not care if they miss. Should they hit, you will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Low-Investment Dynasty Fantasy Football Options

Justyn Ross (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)

Justyn Ross had a nightmare weekend during the NFL Draft. A stellar producer at Clemson, Ross went undrafted due to medical concerns.

Justyn Ross had 1,000 receiving yards and nine TDs as a freshman at Clemson.

Ross was born with Klippel Feil Syndrome, a condition where two neck vertebrae are abnormally fused. Surgery to address the condition forced Ross to sit out the 2020 season at Clemson University. After returning to the field in 2021, Ross suffered a stress fracture in his foot. So, while medical concerns tanked his draft stock, Ross has first-round talent.

He was expected to be a high draft pick at one point. Though he wound up as an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA), he could not have hoped for a better landing spot. Ross finds himself in Kansas City, drawing praise from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, in Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

On a team with a completely rebuilt wide receiver room, following the trade of Tyreek Hill to Miami, Ross will have the opportunity to showcase that first-round caliber talent, and he won’t cost you much currently going in the 17th round of startup drafts.

Bryan Edwards (WR, Atlanta Falcons)

Another team that will have a drastically different wide receiver room is the Atlanta Falcons. Calvin Ridley is suspended indefinitely due to betting on NFL games, and Russell Gage is in Tampa Bay. Opportunities exist for new wide receivers to step up and earn targets in this offense, and Bryan Edwards appears to be in line to earn a starting job with the Falcons.

While Atlanta selected Drake London in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Falcons are currently thin at the wide receiver position, with Edwards and Olamide Zaccheaus slated to start opposite London.

A coveted player from the University of South Carolina, Edwards has totaled just 45 receptions in two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders. Far from a safe bet, Edwards does bring considerable size (6’3” 212 lbs.) and a solid athletic profile to the table in Atlanta.

Newly signed quarterback, Marcus Mariota, has familiarity with Edwards from time spent together in Las Vegas. Edwards will undoubtedly have the chance to shine in Atlanta. He is worth the risk with just a 17th-round price tag in startup drafts.

Avery Williams (RB, Atlanta Falcons)

Two players from the uncertain Atlanta offense? Are we really doing this? We absolutely are. Second-year Avery Williams may just be my favorite speculative add in dynasty.

Avery Williams handled 43 total returns for Atlanta in 2021.

One reason is that he is free. Many of your league mates will not even know the man plays offense. Williams was drafted as a cornerback out of Boise State University. While his defensive acumen is solid, Williams has always been a weapon with the ball in his hands. A prolific kick and punt returner at Boise State, he scored nine total return touchdowns during his collegiate career, including the opening kickoff of his first game as a freshman in 2017.

Williams could see adequate touches in a backfield consisting of Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, rookie Tyler Allgeier, and fellow Boise State alumnus Jeremy McNichols. As an explosive playmaker, the Falcons will likely look to get him the ball in space.

Head coach, Arthur Smith, has already indicated his interest in Williams as an offensive player. It’s unoften that a player changes positions once in the NFL, though Williams might be just the type of player to benefit from such a change. Do not overthink it. If you have an available roster spot, Williams is worth a look.

So, I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing holiday investing little time in the kitchen and little capital in your dynasty leagues with delicious results. Honor the memory of our fallen soldiers and eat well. As always, take care of yourself.

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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