The Mundies: Bubbles
I fondly remember playing the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), as the start of my early life video game playing coincided with the release of the system.
Some of my favorite NES games included “Super Mario 2,” “Super Mario 3,” “The Legend of Zelda,” “Goonies II,” “Strider,” “Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest,” and “Bad News Baseball,” to name a few. I remember this one random game that my siblings and I played for hours called “Bubble Bobble.” It is a goofy game where your character destroys the enemy characters by blowing bubbles at them, aiming to trap them within the bubble, and then jumping on them. It was a multiplayer game with around 100 levels, hence the hours and hours of playing.
Memories of this game are comfortable. My sister, my brother and I still ensconced in childhood, sitting around in a warm house, getting along and having fun together. Thinking back to these times, it felt like we were in a bubble ourselves. A bubble of childhood. A bubble of innocence. A bubble of not knowing, not yet able to comprehend much beyond the walls of our house, the boundaries of our neighborhood.
I remember my idea of an “adult” was someone old and wise who knew everything and had their life perfectly together (I’m laughing right along with you at that one).
“Bubble Bobble” is one of many memories that reminds me of my first experiences with a “comfort bubble.” I believe this comfort bubble naturally exists early in life when we are still learning what makes us comfortable and what being comfortable feels like. As we progress through life, generally, we strive to maintain areas of comfort in our lives, to a wide array of varying degrees depending on the person.
Cookies for Dinner
Personally, in some respects, my aspirations for comfort in life never graduated from that childhood mindset. I use the term “cookies for dinner” to describe some of my behavior as an adult where my own comfort is the top priority.
In my kid brain, “cookies for dinner” sounded like the Shangri La of dinners, but I was not allowed to have cookies for dinner. The difficulty in adulthood is now I am allowed to have cookies for dinner. It’s up to me. It’s my choice now. And even though I know it’s a terrible idea and it’s not good for me, I still sometimes do it.
Instead of referring to the physical act of having cookies for dinner, I mean this in a metaphorical sense. I do things because my brain is convinced it will make me feel good and comfortable. The other complicating factor of adulthood is the older I get, the taller the mountain of evidence gets very blatantly showing me that not only are some of these things not good for me (physically, mentally, socially, etc.), but they also do not generate the intended comfort. My many years of active addiction are a massive example of this. Cookies for dinner.
Flash forward to this current pandemic world we live in. Recently, prior to the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the company I work for set a date for the end of our “Workplace Disruption” designation, meaning back to the office at least a few days a week, and bringing back all of our work equipment (monitors, desk chairs, etc.).
I have been working almost 100 percent from home since March of 2020. You can imagine with what I have discussed so far that this has become a comfort bubble for me. I get my work done in the comfort of my own house. I don’t really want to be back in the office at all, or at least that’s what I tell myself.. Again, Omicron will likely change this plan, but it did create an uncomfortable but necessary internal dialogue.
“Why don’t I want to go back to the office. Of course, I do not want to get COVID-19, but is that still the true reason?” As an introvert, certain aspects of the pandemic have actually forced me into a more comfortable situation.
“Oh, I can’t leave the house? Sounds good to me.” I am much less shy and self-conscious, and much more comfortable in social situations than I used to be. But my natural instinct is still to hide from the world.
So, when I think about moving back to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, there is a part of me that is scared. There is a part of me that does not want to. I think it is only natural to gravitate toward comfort, toward feeling good and not feeling bad. But I am also old enough now to know that humans do not get to just be comfortable all the time. There will be conflict. There will be discomfort. Hiding from it only delays the inevitable.
So, if we do go back to more of a mandatory in-office structure, I need to make sure I am checking my motivations. It is not good for me, physically or mentally, to stay cooped up in my home office indefinitely, no matter how much I think I might want to. No matter how comfortable it is.
I need something nutritious for dinner, ideally including most of the major food groups. Sure, I can have a cookie or two after dinner, but “cookies for dinner” is a pipe dream. It does not exist. And continuing to strive for something I know does not exist is crazy. I have to be willing to leave my bubble from time to time. I always feel better when I do.
And now, the Mundie Award.
THE “COOKIES FOR DINNER” AWARD
Mark Andrews (TE, Baltimore Ravens)
Cookies for dinner every day does not work in reality, but this is the part of the column about fantasy. Fantasy football, in fact. Turns out you can have cookies for dinner pretty much every week with a select few players in the NFL. Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel fit this bill. But I feel like these players and their fantasy success in 2021 have been discussed on a loop for weeks now.
So I want to talk about a player that, at least on my Twitter timeline, seems to be having one of the quietest monster seasons I can remember. Mark Andrews has been providing that tight end positional advantage that wasn’t supposed to be in his range of outcomes. That overall Points Per Reception (PPR) TE5 in 2019 was way too touchdown-dependent they said. Baltimore doesn’t throw it enough they said.
Let’s take a look at those, as they are partially true. Of Andrews’ 207.2 fantasy points in 2019, 29 percent of that came from his 10 touchdowns, the eighth-highest rate among top 10-TEs since 2015. By comparison, when looking at the top 10 tight ends from 2015-2020, the average percentage of PPR fantasy points coming from touchdowns was 20.1 percent (according to fantasydata.com).
Looking at touchdown percentage (touchdowns/targets), Andrews finished at 10.2 percent in 2019, which is the sixth-highest rate in that 2015-2020 span. The average TD percentage over that span (among top-10 PPR TEs) was 7.3 percent. So, Andrews’ 2019 finish being TD-dependent is partially true, he was above the average for percentage of fantasy points from TDs and TD percentage among top 10 tight ends.
The concepts of touchdown regression and a player being too reliant on touchdowns to repeat a given performance are very real. However, Andrews was not far enough above these TD averages for me to chalk up his 2019 performance as simply an outlier. This is part of the reason one of my preseason bold predictions was Mark Andrews finishing as the TE3 (which may not have been high enough). Andrews is an excellent red zone option for the Ravens and they seem to have those valuable TE targets built into their game plan.
If you read “The In-Between Media 2021 Draft Guide” at the start of the season, you may have seen one of my busts being Green Bay Packers’ tight end Robert Tonyan. To me, unlike Andrews in 2019, Tonyan was a glaring example of a very likely touchdown regression candidate, as his touchdown percentage in 2020 was 18.6 percent, which is five points higher than Rob Gronkowski’s highest-single season mark.
Baltimore’s Passing Volume
Onto the “not enough passing in Baltimore.” Again, this is partially true. While the Ravens started off the 2021 season near the top in passes per game, that trend has veered back toward their typical trend.
Entering Week 15, the Ravens were 14th in the NFL in passes per game (35.9) and 23rd overall in pass percentage (53.4 percent). This also has not hindered Andrews’ production as he is now averaging 9.4 targets per game, joining Travis Kelce to lead all TEs in that statistic. After two more touchdowns against the Packers, Andrews is up to eight on the season, accounting for 47 percent of the Ravens’ receiving touchdowns. 2019 was no fluke.
And now with Andrews putting together a so far completely healthy season, he is showing that overall TE1 is in his range of outcomes. Further support of this being sustainable can be seen here: Andrews entered Week 15 as the overall TE1 in total PPR points. Kelce pulled ahead after his monster game on Thursday Night Football. Andrews then took back the TE1 spot from Kelce on Sunday (by fewer than four total points).
Andrews’ current 2021 percentage of fantasy points from TDs sits at 19.9 percent, and his current TD percentage is at 6.6 percent. Both of those are now right near the average compared to the 2015-2020 numbers I showed earlier. His TD reliance has moved back toward the mean. And yet he’s still the PPR TE1 after 14 games.
In my view, this battle for TE1 (total points) between Andrews and Kelce is one of the more exciting fantasy football storylines as this season nears the finish line. Here’s what I mean (both through 14 games played):
- Andrews: 122 targets, 85 receptions, 1,062 yards and eight touchdowns
- Kelce: 122 targets, 83 receptions, 1,066 yards and seven touchdowns
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.