I am infatuated by the snow. I always have. Since early childhood, as far back as I can remember, seeing a “chance of snow” in the weather forecast has brought me excitement.
I was born and raised in the city of Lacey, Washington. It is a fairly run-of-the-mill city about an hour south of Seattle, immediately adjacent to Washington’s capital (Olympia). I lived there from birth through the age of 18 (1998) and then went off to college on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, in Walla Walla, Washington.
4 years later upon graduating, I set up shop in Seattle and have lived in various locations throughout the city ever since.
One of the main reasons I love the snow so much is its infrequency of falling where I have lived my whole life, at least at sea level. I imagine the lack of snow seems strange to people elsewhere in the country as we are relatively far north, and our two mountain ranges are slammed with the most snowfall in the country most years. That would be the Cascade Mountains and Olympic Mountains.
“Yeah that’s right,” (channeling David Puddy from Seinfeld), we have two of them, and I can see one from my front porch and the other from my backyard. The Pacific Northwest is a special place.
But at sea level, “snow days” are rare. We’ve had a few in the last 4 years, and sizable ones relatively speaking. But still, with the amount of precipitation we get in this area, it has always been weird (and frustrating) that we do not get more snowfall in the winter.
When we do get snow here, to someone like me (and luckily the rest of my family), it’s pure excitement. In my early childhood, there was no internet. I remember in the wintertime, every single morning, grabbing the weather section out of our local newspaper (The Olympian) to check the forecast, always looking at that fifth day in the five-day look-ahead for a chance of snow.
When there was a chance of snow, at night, I would open our garage door, place a stool on the floor, trip the motion sensor light pointing out toward the driveway, then sit on the stool and look where the light beam pierced the darkness, the best place to see if it’s snowing yet in the dark.
In my lifetime, we have had a “White Christmas” a grand total of two times. And I missed one of those when I went to rehab. You can imagine my excitement about 10 days ago when I saw a chance of snow in the forecast for Christmas Day. I do need to mention, with the seemingly perfect combination of weather scenarios required to produce lowland snow in this region, there have been many, many times in my life where a snow forecast did not play out, and like starting Ronald Jones in a championship game, the reality ended up steeped in disappointment.
As Dec. 25 approached, the forecast got murkier. The snow was coming, but would it just be rain on Christmas? As luck would have it, we spent Christmas day at my Aunt Kathy’s house in Issaquah, Washington (good luck pronouncing that). Closer to the Cascade foothills and at a slightly higher elevation, we got to see snow on Christmas while most of the Seattle area only saw a cold rain.
Our girls got to see snow on Christmas. Not much accumulation, but just seeing flakes falling from the sky can be enough to trigger that childhood excitement. It was a beautiful thing! The following day it snowed about five inches (a lot for Seattle) then everything froze for almost a week. We had an amazing week of playing in the snow, sledding, hot cocoa and our big goofy dog being goofy in the snow.
I am writing these words on Fantasy Championship Sunday, and as I type I look outside to rain. The temperature crept above freezing overnight for the first time since Christmas, and it’s now 42 degrees and raining (typical). All our snow will turn into a big slushy mess for a few days. Storm drains will overflow, and in a few days, it will be like it never happened.
This coinciding with the return to work and the post-holiday long, dark grind will likely have me in my feels from time to time.
However, I can also focus on why I love the snow. Along with it slowing down the world around me and blanketing everything with a “loud-world-quieting” layer of frozen water, I love and appreciate it because it’s rare. I am learning to appreciate what we just got to experience rather than dwell on the fact that it’s over. I am always going to want it to snow more and stay longer, for my vacations to never end, but it helps immensely for me, mentally, to at least attempt to spend some of that “boo-hoo it’s over” time being grateful for the experience.
Much like our current snow in Seattle, the fantasy football season is also coming to an end in season-long formats. For many, including myself, it will provide a needed break from the rapid-paced rollercoaster that was the 2021 fantasy season.
It’s also a bummer to all of us who seem to live and breathe fantasy football. But with an eye toward appreciation of what we just experienced, this edition’s Mundie Award is being given to a player who produced at the end of the fantasy season after being a mere afterthought when the 2021 season began.
THE “YOU STILL SHOULD HAVE DRAFTED NICK CHUBB, BUT IT LOOKS A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN IT DID” AWARD
Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks)
Disclaimer: I am a Seahawks fan. I have been a Seahawks fan since 1988, when I became old enough to comprehend what a home team was.
Admittedly I was a little skeptical when the Seahawks selected Rashaad Penny as a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But I was hopeful. At that time, the 2 years since Marshawn Lynch left had been filled with RB mediocrity. You don’t believe me? In those two seasons (2016 & 2017), only one Seahawks RB rushed for more than 400 yards. His name was Christine Michael.
The hope was the Seahawks had found their next RB. As we all know, that is not what happened. Penny will always have the stigma attached that he was drafted ahead of Cleveland Browns’ running back Nick Chubb, which, in hindsight, is insanity. At the time, even with Chubb coming off an ACL tear at the University of Georgia, I was surprised Penny was selected ahead of him.
It is well-known that Penny’s career has been marred by injury. He only missed two games in his rookie season, but never saw over 12 touches in a game. In 2019, Penny’s sophomore season, he missed seven games and also tore his ACL in December, which basically destroyed his 2020 season, as well.
At a certain point with a player, especially a first-round RB, even if they have not failed on the field, if they have not yet excelled on the field (whatever the reason), they are labeled a bust. With Penny, I held out longer than most, but even I had all but given up after Chris Carson was re-signed this past offseason. And for good reason. Penny’s 2021 started in the same fashion, with him missing seven of the Seahawks’ first 11 games.
Then something happened around Week 13. Penny got healthy. Actually healthy. Not just healthy enough to suit up, but as close to 100 percent healthy one can be late in an NFL season. And, through Week 17, Penny has stayed healthy, which is the piece of this puzzle we’ve never had before.
In Week 13, Penny was back on the field but was still out-carried by Adrian Peterson, whose brief stint in Seattle seems like a fever dream. Penny then took over the backfield for good in Week 14, and in the four games since, Penny has put up three Points Per Reception (PPR) RB1 weeks, including a solid game in the fantasy semi-finals, and a career game in the fantasy championship in Week 17.
- Week 14: 16 rushes, 137 yards, 2 TDs (26.8 PPR points, RB3 on the week)
- Week 16: 17 rushes, 135 yards, 1 TD (19.5 PPR points, RB9 on the week)
- Week 17: 25 rushes, 170 yards, 2 TDs (32 PPR points, currently RB1 on the week)
Granted these huge games have come in positive game scripts against the Texans, Bears and Lions, respectively, but that shouldn’t be too much of a knock. Penny has run decisively, both making would-be tacklers miss or running through them with a combination of quickness and power that is hard to stop and impossible to unleash like he has unless healthy. And he put up these numbers with an offensive line ranked in the bottom-10 in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).
I realize this is a small sample size and recency bias is likely at work. I also realize that perhaps Penny’s 70+ percent RB rush share in these three games (percentage of team’s total RB rushes) is due to the Seahawks having no intention of re-signing Penny.
Their season is over and maybe they are just running him as far as he’ll go. The Seahawks did not pick up the fifth-year option of Penny’s rookie deal and he has not been able to stay consistently healthy, so maybe that’s it.
From a fantasy perspective, I don’t really care why he’s been a PPR RB1 three out of his last five games, and likely the PPR RB1 in Week 17. At a minimum, Penny has shown he’s a legitimate NFL back when healthy who can put up big fantasy days. After a season that saw a week with Duke Johnson as the overall PPR RB1, the more of those we have in fantasy football the better.
Penny will never be seen as the right choice at that 2018 first-round draft pick over Nick Chubb. But it looks a whole hell of a lot better than it did a few months ago.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” will be a lot of fun, but I’d love some help. If you have ideas, hit me up, and I’ll include a shout-out for any suggestions used.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.