Home Columns The Hard Bargain: The Sneakiest Time of the Year
Week 15

The Hard Bargain: The Sneakiest Time of the Year

by Dave Stewart

It has been a banner week at DaveFantasy headquarters. My favorite people, “the Sneaky Girls,” my twin daughters, turned seven on Monday. 

We hosted their grandparents the day before. I made breakfast for everyone and a lovely dinner of braised short ribs. The Sneaky Girls requested homemade pizza for dinner on their special day. 

My wife enlisted the help of a woman I have known for nearly 20 years, but never realized she made gorgeous birthday cakes. My dad delivered some scooters for them to ride around. Their birthday haul included books, book lights, robotic pets and art supplies. It was a tremendous hit!

The following day, we lit a fire in the fireplace for what I believe to be the first time in their lifetime. The rarely-used television in the den played a Christmas movie. Right now, we are experiencing our first snow accumulation of the season. Weather reports call for one to three inches by tomorrow afternoon. For a week that began with their birthday and will end with the beginning of winter vacation, this has been an exciting one for the Sneaky Girls. 

I am not telling you this to paint our lives as some sort of idyllic Christmas card image. We have simply been fortunate. That leads me to my message for the week, which is having an attitude of gratitude. 

I am a confessed holiday enthusiast, but this year holds more importance for me. Last year, due to COVID-19, we chose to forgo celebrations outside of our immediate family. This year, we have resumed holidays with our families, although COVID-19 remains a concern.

As I mentioned in a previous column, we joined my wife’s family for Thanksgiving and my parents were among the attendees. Next week, my brothers and family will arrive to spend Christmas at my parents’ home. For all of this, I am grateful.

Last month, on a seemingly ordinary afternoon, my daughter told me she is grateful for her mother, her sister and me. While unexpected, it was heartwarming to hear her say those words. She made me think about being grateful and what it means to me. I think being grateful is choosing to view your life optimistically.

I know when my family is here next week, there will be plenty of good times, but there are bound to be squabbles and disagreements. It is not always easy to have a large family group under one roof. Still, I am choosing to approach this as a fleeting opportunity. 

After all, my parents are in their late 70s. I am the youngest brother and I am in my mid-40s. My niece and nephew are soon to graduate high school. We may never be together like this for a holiday again. I choose to be grateful for this time. I intend to be mindful of these experiences. That, to me, is true gratitude.

Being grateful is difficult when it comes to the 2021 fantasy season. Injuries decimated even the best-laid plans this season. Now, here we are at playoff time and COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the league. Facilities are being shut down and many teams are entering enhanced COVID-19 protocols. We are down to crunch time and it is unclear who may or may not be available for your squad. That certainly leaves you feeling less than grateful.

With the playoffs underway, finding actionable advice for your deep (16 team+) leagues becomes more difficult. But, allow me to make a few suggestions that may be available to you this week.

Justin Fields (QB, Chicago Bears)

Justin Fields threw two touchdowns and showed off his legs with 74 rushing yards against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14. Now, he gets a tempting matchup against the Minnesota Vikings who are currently allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. 

In the past three games, the Vikings have surrendered massive games to Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff and Ben Roethlisberger. Look for Fields to take advantage of this leaky secondary en route to a big Sunday.

Dontrell Hilliard (RB, Tennessee Titans)

Dontrell Hilliard is probably only interesting for those teams who are really stuck at running back. But, let’s face it, with injuries and COVID-19 looming you just may be in that boat. With D’Onta Foreman doing the heavy lifting and Jeremy McNichols back to handle most passing downs, the shine is off Hilliard a bit.

Still, the Pittsburgh Steelers have become a dream matchup for running backs. Over the last 4 weeks, the Steelers are allowing the most fantasy points to running backs in the league. They have allowed the most rushing yards and highest Yards Per Carry (YPC) in the NFL this season.

Albeit a limited sample size, Hilliard has posted 7.2 YPC, has a 26.5 percent juke rate, and a 12 percent big-run rate. Three of his 25 carries have gone for over 10 yards and the Steelers have a hard time tackling. Pittsburgh has 587 missed tackles on the year, placing them in fifth in that category. Look for Hilliard to break off a big run or two and post a respectable fantasy day.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, Detroit Lions)

Amon-Ra St. Brown has been hot of late. Over his last two games, he has 18 receptions totaling 159 yards. He also scored a last-second touchdown against the Vikings to give the Lions their first victory of the season. Facing the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona, the Lions will likely find themselves playing from behind, leading to a lot of passing attempts. 

With 24 targets in the last two games and T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift out, St. Brown should be involved in the game plan and make a decent flex play option.

Ricky Seals-Jones (TE, Washington Football Team)

Logan Thomas suffered a torn ACL and is out for the remainder of the season. Ricky Seals-Jones has already stepped up in Thomas’ absence earlier this season. Now, Seals-Jones finds himself the top tight end facing the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the year. Seals-Jones is a solid tight end streamer for Week 15.

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.

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