Heatwaves have gripped both U.S. coasts and many areas remain well above normal temperatures. Wildfires are burning across much of the west, marking a menacing annual tradition.
With all-time high temperatures and extreme drought conditions in many areas, folks are bound to be thinking, wistfully, of the approaching fall season. Not merely because fall means football season, but to experience relief from the savage summer heat.
I certainly welcome cooler temperatures, however, I have long been a fan of autumn because it ushers in the holiday season. At risk of sounding, as the kids say, “basic,” I am a holiday enthusiast.
Of course, I do not want to be insensitive. I understand, for some, the holidays do not elicit feelings of joy and happiness, but rather sadness, loneliness and grief. What follows will entail a bit of all these emotions.
Though Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I also maintain a very youthful exuberance about Christmas. It instills in me a very stereotypical, yet genuine warmth towards my fellow humans and a strong desire to surround myself with beloved family and friends.
Yet, this past year the holidays were spent at my own home, with only my wife and my daughters, aka the Sneaky Girls. I’m not complaining about spending it with my favorite people, only that it did not include my parents, my in-laws or any of the extended family. I understood how much I have taken for granted. I really am eager to have a bigger table this year and to, once again, be amongst all my loved ones.
As unusual as the holidays were in 2020, it is the previous year that precipitates the message I write about today. For my family, it was a period beset with pain and difficulty. It was around the middle of 2019 when my wife’s aunt sought medical help after experiencing vertigo and various issues with her balance. Upon further investigation, it was found she had a brain tumor. The doctors determined the tumor was a result of breast cancer that had metastasized to her brain. The diagnosis was stage four breast cancer and the prognosis was grim. She was running out of time.
Having relocated to Oregon, after spending the majority of her life on the east coast, she was far from much of her family. Her children arranged to be with her, and we were to have some family time together, albeit under somber and challenging circumstances. Thanksgiving came and I could not avoid the thoughts that this was likely the last Thanksgiving we would be able to spend with her.
Grief & Loss: An Introduction
My own introduction to the loss of a family member was when my grandmother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. I was 18 years old and I watched my grandmother’s health rapidly decline, passing within six months of her diagnosis. I was aware of the devastation cancer could cause and I was filled with worry that we wouldn’t have our aunt for much longer.
On a Wednesday afternoon in early December, my wife received a call from her mother saying that we should come quickly, to say our goodbyes, because our aunt’s situation was dire. We live an hour away, and as my wife rushed home from work, I prepared the kids and myself for the journey. I drew upon all the strength I could muster to help my wife remain calm as we traveled. The girls were uneasy, as they were aware something was not right. Just shy of 5 years old, they knew nothing of death or mortality. They just sensed that their mother was upset and all was not right.
Though we arrived as quickly as we could, we did not make it in time to say our last goodbyes. All that was left for us to do, in that moment, was to try to comfort our cousins in the immediate aftermath of their mother’s passing. We shared hugs and tears, all while the Sneaky Girls remained outside with their grandmother learning that their great aunt had died.
A Difficult Subject
It is difficult to explain death to a young child. A component that is certainly foreign to their young minds is the finality of it all. I still see their tear-streaked faces and quivering lips as we tried to help them understand that they would not see their aunt again, that she was gone.
They could not take it all in, at the time. The following weeks and months were filled with questions and confusion. When my daughter, Rowan, said, “I’m sad I won’t get to see her anymore. She was my favorite auntie,” I had a hard time holding it together.
I felt fortunate that the girls had enjoyed a close relationship with their aunt. She was truly more like an additional grandmother to them. The love between them was always apparent and I understood my daughters were grieving, even if they were confused about what had actually happened. I spent many conversations teaching them what it means to have a terminal disease. Their only understanding suggested that when you get sick, you receive treatment and recover. They struggled with the concept of a sickness you cannot heal from.
A Hopeful Perspective
As a parent, it is instinctual to want to protect your children from pain and suffering, but they are parts of life. There is simply no barrier you can put up, no way to insulate them from the heartaches that living brings. I felt like the best way to guide them through their introduction to loss was to listen to them when they asked questions and answer as honestly as I could.
Though their aunt was gone from the Earth, we always have the warm and loving memories. When we talk about her, it feels like she is with us again, even if just for a fleeting moment. I explained that the sadness eases over time when we remember her for all the joy that she shared with us. As long as we keep her in our memories, she will not be completely gone.
Loss is a difficult concept, not just for children, but adults, as well. It is hard to say goodbye, whether it be because of death, the ending of a relationship, or a loved one moving away. When someone you care about is no longer around, it is natural to feel an emptiness inside. Hold your loved ones close and appreciate the time you have with them. Those moments are finite and you never know when they may come to an end.
Scott Fish Bowl 11
You will never escape loss in life and, let’s face it, if you are playing in Scott Fish Bowl 11 (SFB11), you will not be able to escape loss there either. It is the world’s largest fantasy football tournament with 1,920 participants. Only one manager can win.
However, everyone participating is going to have fun and the entire tournament is also a charity drive. So, donate to a charity that makes a difference in the world in a way that matters to you. Draft your team, engage in conversations with your league mates, and have a good time.
Just beware of landmines in the draft. It has been said that there are no bad picks once you arrive at the tail end of a draft. Everyone you select late is a dart throw, a wish that you are making. Well, there are some darts I would rather not throw.
In the mock drafts I have participated in, some late-round picks have appeared to me as utter throwaways. In the late rounds, I am absolutely looking for players with upside and a higher ceiling, even if there is a lower floor. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot make a bad pick in the late rounds. Some of the picks I have seen just plain stink.
Late-Round Players to Avoid in SFB11
SFB11, like any fantasy league, will be significantly affected by late-round players that return good value based on their average draft position. I hope that by highlighting some players to avoid in the later rounds, I can steer you in the direction of someone who might bring you that desired value towards the end of the draft.
I found one player taken in each of the final eight rounds of the SFB11 mocks that I am not going near and I will explain why.
Round 15: Mecole Hardman (WR, Kansas City)
Yes, I get it. He is fast. He plays on the Chiefs with arguably the best quarterback in football. But, if I am making a selection, at this point in the draft, I am at least looking for somebody who has done something before.
Mecole Hardman had fewer receptions in 2020 than Danny Amendola and Zach Pascal. Other than Sammy Watkins now gone, He has the same wide receiving core, see Demarcus Robinson. And his 2020 target share of 10.3 percent was less than that of Chris Conley, then of the Jaguars and Rex Burkhead, then of the Patriots.
He had fewer red-zone targets than Washington Football Team receiver, Isaiah Wright. Even drafting for sheer upside, I cannot rationalize taking Hardman ahead of names like Gabriel Davis, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Denzel Mims, all players who went in the next couple rounds.
Round 16: Zach Ertz (TE, Philadelphia)
If you drafted Zach Ertz in redraft last season, you are likely quite disappointed with yourself. The once-formidable pass-catcher only hauled in 33 receptions with just a single touchdown in 2020. I saw some interest in Ertz in dynasty during this offseason because Philadelphia reportedly was expected to trade him.
As of now, no trade has materialized for the 30-year-old tight end. His spot on the Eagles depth chart was completely usurped by Dallas Goedert and there is no reason to believe Ertz will return to any kind of prominence. There will likely be a number of higher-ceiling tight ends remaining on the board, like Gerald Everett and Austin Hooper. At this point, the only rationale for taking Ertz is crossing your fingers that a trade will come to fruition. That is just too big of a wish for me.
Round 17: Jack Doyle (TE, Indianapolis)
Jack Doyle is another formerly competent tight end who, like Ertz, is now over 30 and coming off a disappointing season. Also like Ertz, he may be seeing his spot on the depth chart wrestled away by a younger, more athletic teammate in Mo Alie-Cox.
Alie-Cox has not taken the reins the same way Goedert has in Philadelphia. But that time could be coming and certainly, he is a threat to Doyle’s red-zone targets, reducing the likelihood of touchdowns for a tight end who is heavily touchdown-dependent.
I would be more inclined to draft Harrison Bryant of the Cleveland Browns if I was looking for a tight end. If you’re looking for a potential playmaker this late in the draft, look at New York GIants’ rookie receiver Kadarius Toney, who possesses some solid upside.
Round 18: David Njoku (TE, Cleveland)
I know that by now it seems I am just beating up on the tight end position, which is partially true. I do not see the depth at the position that some claim and, as a rule, I am trying to be among the earlier players to dip into the position.
David Njoku is likely entering the season third on the Browns’ depth chart behind both Hooper and second-year man, Bryant. I cannot think of any TE3 on his own team that has much upside for the season ahead.
If I’m seeking a lottery ticket at this stage, I would be more excited about players drafted later like Tevin Coleman, Tarik Cohen or any of the 49ers running backs not named Raheem Mostert or Trey Sermon.
Round 19: Andy Dalton (QB, Chicago)
Andy Dalton is actually not the worst pick you can make in round 19 if you are truly approaching this tournament on a week-to-week basis. To get a quarterback this late that even has a chance to start for part of the year is not really anything to sneeze about.
Still, with Chicago having drafted Justin Fields in the first round, Dalton’s expected time as a starter should be relatively brief. If you drafted Fields earlier, taking Dalton might also make more sense. Nut Cohen went later in round 19 and taking a flier on him seems to be a more worthwhile pick. Dalton should be taken only if you are insuring a quarterback who may not begin the year as the starter.
Round 20: Jacob Hollister (TE, Buffalo Bills)
Back to abusing tight ends, I was quite surprised to see this name come up in several mock drafts. Going into his fifth season, now on his third team, with only one season of even 40 receptions, the upside seems incredibly limited for Jacob Hollister.
He will find himself as potentially the TE2 on the depth chart behind Dawson Knox. Even as a shot in the dark, this seemed to be a pretty weak effort.
Round 21: Dan Arnold (WR/TE, Carolina)
It cannot really be said that Dan Arnold has no upside. As of now, he is competing for the spot atop the depth chart at tight end in Carolina. He will have competition from Ian Thomas and rookie Tommy Tremble, but the path to playing time is more open for Arnold than some of the others I have mentioned here.
Still, Tampa Bay’s OJ Howard was on the board when Arnold was selected in various mocks. Though Howard is coming off an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him for much of 2020, I like the upside of an athletic tight end playing with Tom Brady more than one playing with Sam Darnold.
Round 22: C.J. Uzomah (TE, Cincinnati)
My last-round player to avoid is, once again, a tight end. C.J. Uzomah, like Hollister, has only one season where he reached the 40 reception mark. With competition for the starting role from Drew Sample, I find it hard to have much confidence in Uzomah.
A tight end, taken even later, often as the last in mocks, was Steelers’ rookie, Pat Freiermuth. I am definitely going to look for a guy like Freiermuth ahead of Uzomah, who has a track record of being unproductive. Freiemuth should offer more security as a red-zone target.
Dart Throw to Target: Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, New England Patriots)
These eight players were all selected ahead of players I believe have higher upside. One player, who went undrafted, was Rhamondre Stevenson. Given the potential role of goal-line back for New England, I would be more intrigued by the value of Stevenson than many of these late-round players.
Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content.