The Fantasy Kitchen: Something for Everyone
As I have mentioned before, loving to cook and being a dad provides distinctive trials.
I want to explore diverse cuisines and learn new techniques in the kitchen, but I must find a balance between adventurous food preparation and satiating picky appetites.
Fortunately, my daughters, “the Sneaky Girls,” eat things many kids will not. They enjoy sushi, certain vegetables, green salads and most fruit. So, it is not always difficult to feed them a healthy diet, but they do have their peculiarities. One of them refuses to eat mashed potatoes, while the other avoids most meat except hot dogs and various other sausages. We often employ “build-your-own” nights to solve this problem. Sometimes we build our own personal-sized pizzas or top our own burgers. One of my favorite options is a nacho bar.
It is a pretty straightforward concept. You start with a pile of tortilla chips and move on from there, adding whatever topping suits your fancy. This idea was inspired by an attempt to share a plate of nachos at a restaurant. I wanted to hold the olives, one of the kids wanted no tomatoes while the other planned to eschew the jalapeños and my wife could live without the onions. In the end, they brought a plate of chips and cheese with everything else on the side. We each put together our own little appetizer. It worked well enough that we made it part of the normal rotation.
If you ask me, the foundation of a nacho masterpiece begins with the cheese. In my many years of devouring nachos, I have come to one conclusion: Melting shredded cheese over the chips just does not get it done for me. I need a silky cheese sauce to pour over those tiny tortilla triangles.
Therefore, I will begin by explaining how to make a basic cheese sauce. I will also give you a few pointers on customizing it to your liking.
Nacho Cheese Sauce Ingredients
Making a cheese sauce is easy and only requires a few ingredients. You probably already have them in your kitchen or pantry. You will need the following:
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
• 1 cup milk (I prefer whole milk)
• 6 oz cheese (grated)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
• 1/4 tsp ground mustard
Make-Your-Own Nachos Directions
First, you will make a roux. This is useful knowledge, as it is the base for soups and sauces of all varieties. It’s also easy to do.
• Melt butter over medium heat
• Once melted, whisk in flour
• Cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring constantly. You want the mixture to have a golden brown hue. If you undercook, your cheese sauce may have a raw flour taste to it.
• Turn heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring as you pour to prevent lumps. Stir for 4-5 minutes until mixture thickens and bubbles
• Remove from heat and stir in cheese one handful at a time until sauce is smooth. Add salt, pepper and spices.
It is that easy. The cayenne pepper will not make it spicy, but it adds a depth of flavor you will appreciate. If you want a spicy cheese sauce, add a bit more cayenne pepper, use pepper jack cheese or even pour a Tbsp of the juice from a jar of jalapeños right into the sauce.
Or choose a different cheese for a completely new flavor. Gruyere cheese in your sauce and corned beef on your nachos is a fun twist. There are virtually limitless options. That’s why this is so fun. Whatever cheese you choose, I recommend always using full-fat cheese and grating it at home. If you use shredded cheese in a bag, it contains cellulose and other ingredients which prevent it from melting smoothly.
Our favorite toppings include the usual expectations: beans, taco meat, jalapeños, diced onion and olives. Actually, I’m out on olives, but the rest of the family likes them. We get fancy and use pickled onions, smoked brisket, roasted corn or bleu cheese crumbles. Bacon or fried chicken on nachos is pretty good too. Have fun and use your imagination. There is something for everyone when you build your own nachos.
Favorite Fantasy Football Positional Values
There is also something for everyone in a fantasy football draft. So many varying strategies exist that no two managers will approach their draft similarly. There are many ways to build a winning roster. We are in late August, and fantasy drafts are happening now if they have not already happened. So, let me give you a favorite draft option at each offensive position to help you build your team your way.
Matthew Stafford (QB, Los Angeles Rams)
So, you have decided to wait on quarterback. It is not a bad move. Let your league mates take Josh Allen and Justin Herbert while you clean up on running backs and wide receivers. According to ESPN ADP, you have eight rounds of packing position players onto your squad before you need to snatch up Stafford at his overall ADP on 102.1 (QB12) in round nine.
That’s right, everyone in your 12-team league can draft a quarterback, and Stafford should still be there staring you in the face. You know Stafford was QB5 last season. You know he welcomes Allen Robinson to the team. The way Sean McVay talks, Odell Beckham Jr. (OBJ) could be coming back too. Oh yeah, and last season’s top wide receiver, Cooper Kupp, has not gone anywhere.
There will be no shortage of passing game weapons for the reigning Super Bowl champs. In 2021, Stafford was seventh in the league in pass completions, third in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns.
He posted an impressive 6.8 percent touchdown rate to match his 67.4 percent completion rate. Stafford is among the most efficient passers in the NFL and had a better deep ball completion rate than Patrick Mahomes. Get “your guys” and wait to take Stafford late. You will be fine.
James Conner (RB, Arizona Cardinals)
You opted to wait on running back. You did not choose to go Zero RB, but you waited as long as possible and still landed a top-12 caliber back. Wondering who to target? For me, it is James Conner.
Last season, he finished RB5 in half-Points Per Reception (PPR) scoring. This season he is going in the third round in 12-team leagues. ESPN lists his ADP as 28 (RB13.) Chase Edmonds left town. Yes, Darrel Williams will receive some work, but he is not the talent Edmonds is. Conner is in line for the lion’s share of work in this backfield. As much as fantasy managers want it to be different, Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram are just average players. They do not have the skills to threaten Conner’s workload.
In 2021, Conner had a weighted opportunity rate of 180.8, which was enough to finish in the top 20 even with Edmonds there. Realistically, we should expect a higher number from Conner this season. He scored 15 touchdowns last year, and with his red zone usage, he will score a lot again. It may not be 15, but I feel confident that he will hit double digits again. He and Damien Harris averaged one touchdown per game. Only Jonathan Taylor topped that number. If you are drafting towards the back end of the order, don’t be afraid to grab two receivers and take Conner in the third. Laugh all the way to the bank.
Keenan Allen & Mike Williams (WRs, Los Angeles Chargers)
Justin Herbert has compiled more passing yards and touchdowns in his first two seasons than any quarterback in NFL history. He has more than enough talent to support two top-12 wide receivers, and here’s why Keenan Allen and Mike Williams can do it:
Allen is a consummate professional. Quietly one of the league’s best wide receivers throughout his nine-year career, he is a fantasy machine. He has 100+ receptions in four of the last five years playing in 16 games in four seasons. He is about as reliable as you can expect. Last year he held a staggering 25 percent target share, tying for fifth in the NFL in that category. However, none of the other top five played opposite of Mike Williams, who had 78 catches.
Allen ranked fifth amongst wideouts in red zone targets with 25, while Mike Williams and his 23 redzone targets ranked 10th. Both players will be heavily targeted in the redzone in 2022. With 15.1 Yars Per Reception (YPR), Williams is one of the league’s premier deep targets. Get an elite running back in the first, take another in the second or an elite tight end. In round three, grab a Chargers wide receiver. Get either one; you will be happy with both. I prefer Allen, but regardless, you will love your team build if your roster has one of Herbert’s top targets.
Pat Freiermuth (TE, Pittsburgh Steelers)
You decided to wait on tight end. Of course, you did. There are only a handful of elite tight ends in this league. Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews or Kyle Pitts could give you an aggressive advantage at the position weekly, but they will cost you. So, what you want is a tight end with the potential to be heavily targeted and one who is likely to find the end zone a bit more often than his peers. Pat Freiermuth is your man.
He burst onto the scene last year, wrestling the top spot at tight end from a teammate, Eric Ebron, early in the 2021 campaign. He caught 60 balls on 79 targets and found pay dirt seven times, sixth among tight ends. The Steelers will have a new face under center this season, and the smart money is on Mitchell Trubisky, at least to begin the year. Trubisky and Freiermuth have been earning the praise of Steelers beat writers in practice this past week.
Freiermuth had a solid 58.8 percent contested catch rate. Expect Freiermuth to see a few more targets this year and to finish top-10 in touchdowns scored among tight ends again.
You give up some positional advantage by waiting on a tight end versus snatching an elite option. But, while those others draft Kelce or Andrews, you snag an extra running back or a top-tier receiver, scoop up Freiermuth in the 10th round and celebrate being brilliant.
There are a lot of ways to make a fantasy draft work for you. Untold amounts of roster builds will lift trophies at the end of this season. You can build your own dream team any way you see fit. You can also happily feed your family if you let them build their nachos the way they see fit. In meal preparation and draft preparation, I wish you all the luck and, most importantly, all the fun. Let’s have a great season. Fantasy football is back!
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.