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The Mundies: Gratitude

by Scott Rinear

Hey, everybody.

They say gratitude and anger can’t occupy the same emotional space at the same time. 

Who are they? I don’t know, get off my back. But I have heard it many times and I think I have earned the benefit of the doubt honesty-wise.

I have discovered one of the reasons “they” say this is because it is true. When I am in a place of gratitude, I am never angry. I am typically not sad, anxious, depressed or short-tempered either. I see it as trying to force two magnets together in the wrong direction. I am not saying other feelings and emotions are impossible when gratitude is at the party. I have found that empathy is closely tied to gratitude. And I have tried many (many) different strategies to calm my brain when it feels like the Indy 500 somehow switched venues to inside my skull. Getting into a mindset of intentional gratitude always seems to do the trick.

But, as with most things, it’s easier said than done. If I could freely and easily move into gratitude every time I’m upset or bummed out, believe me, I would. But I am a human. Humans are stubborn. Humans are easily distracted. Humans (to varying degrees) are selfish and egotistical. 

This human, your current author, has a bizarre (but more common than I thought) self-deprecating desire to swim around in the mental muck once I’m there. For me, it’s immaturity, a residual yearning for pity, an irrational desperation for attention, “woe is me.” If I can get someone to feel sorry for me, then they are paying attention to me.

This and a variety of other reasons and internal forces keep me from developing the world’s first-ever gratitude on/off switch. But as I have discussed about many different topics during this column series, it becomes about progress, improvement and self-awareness. 

The Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Program is where I truly started learning how to practice gratitude. I feel I have always known its importance, but I have led a very privileged life, during which I have taken many, many things for granted. But when I first got clean, when I first felt free of the bottomless hell I had been living in active addiction, I experienced pure and overwhelming gratitude. Being grateful to be alive is common, but it hits differently when it’s about being alive because you could easily be dead.

Nowadays, from time to time, I can get into that place of gratitude through conscious thought, but one strategy that has helped me immensely is physically writing it down, in the form of a gratitude list.

It sounds cheesy, I know. I still think it sounds cheesy, and I still feel a little weird doing it. But even if you only stay in that place for a few minutes, the time it takes to write down some words, that’s still a few minutes more than zero minutes. And if you can turn it into a few minutes a day, that’s even more progress. 

Maybe next time you are feeling lost, overwhelmed or hopeless (speaking from experience), just give it a try. Even though it is a simple task, that does not make it easy, I realize that. In that dark place I go to, that I know many of you frequent as well, even the simplest tasks are borderline impossible. I am just saying give it a try. You may write some words down and not feel a damn thing. That’s OK, try again later. 

And if you think you have nothing to be grateful for, please, hit me up. Direct Message (DM) me on Twitter. Hell, I’ll give you my cell phone number and we can text or actually use our vocal cords. Because for me, outside of general selfishness, that line of thinking was tied to the very negative view I had of myself and my value in this world. 

If you can relate to that, I will guarantee you right now, whether we have met or not, you are better than you think and have immense value in this world.

And now, the Mundie Award.


Deebo Samuel (WR, San Francisco 49ers)

I am only doing one award again this edition because I have a lot to say about this player and very much enjoy writing about him.

I am grateful for Deebo Samuel this season. I wish I had more exposure. I was one of the people who had Brandon Aiyuk ahead of Samuel during draft season leading to more Aiyuk shares across my teams. But I do have Samuel on a few teams. Currently, Samuel is the overall Points Per Reception (PPR) WR2 on a per-game basis. 

Deebo Samuel has eight total touchdowns through the 49ers’ first 10 games of the season.

Every season there are a handful of players that are just fun to roll out there every week. Samuel is at or near the top of that list for me in 2021. 

I have always liked Samuel’s talent.  But no, I did not expect this 2020 Stefon Diggs-level draft value steal with Samuel in 2021. But that was less about his talent and more about injury concerns and the seemingly crowded nature of the 49ers pass catchers’ group. 

Where Samuel separates himself, from not only other wide receivers but from everyone in the NFL, is his Yards After the Catch (YAC). Specifically, his average YAC per reception. Through Week 10, he leads the NFL, averaging an electric 9.6 YAC per reception, 2.4 yards ahead of the next highest (Ja’Marr Chase). If you think about it, in points per reception (PPR) formats, with that YAC, Samuel is roughly two points in the bank for every reception (on average), plus however far the pass traveled.

Now, with a higher YAC typically comes a lower Average Depth of Target (aDOT), unless your name is Chase (YAC: 7.2; aDOT: 13.2). aDOT is simply the average yardage distance a WR is at when they are targeted by the QB. 

Samuel’s aDOT is 8.1 yards, which is on the lower end of the current top 36  PPR fantasy WRs. But a sub-10-yard aDOT by itself is not an indicator for fantasy success/failure for a WR. For instance, here are some other WR’s aDOT so far in 2021:

Volume and YAC (and touchdowns) complete the story that aDOT only partially tells. What becomes statistically visible with Samuel is an ultra-consistent points floor with the added luxury of a high-points ceiling. Wide receivers with the talent to produce a high YAC per reception typically can take a pass to the house on any play, as we saw on the fourth down, 40-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 10. 

One last bit of perspective to emphasize how ridiculous Samuel has been this year is provided by simply looking at YAC per reception leaders over the past handful of years. 

  • 2020: Samuel was No. 1 at 12.0 YAC/reception (on only 33 receptions). No. 2 through 10? All running backs.
  • 2019: AJ Brown finished fifth with the rest of the top-10 being running backs.
  • 2018: The highest a wide receiver finish in this category was 18th (D.J. Moore).

You can see the trend. Running backs make up the vast majority of the top 20 in YAC/reception, with no WR’s really sniffing top dog status most years. And this makes sense. Running backs typically receive their passes behind or on the line of scrimmage (screen pass) or just beyond (dump off), with occasional deeper targets (e.g. on wheel routes). Therefore their opportunity for YAC is much higher with the low aDOT. For Samuel to be leading the NFL in YAC/reception (for the second straight season), with an aDOT in the same range as some other elite WRs, is truly unprecedented, at least in recent history.

This deep dive on Samuel does not necessarily provide much in the way of actionable advice for fantasy football. If you have him, you start him. However, there are a few players every year I would consider a “buy high,” meaning if you want to acquire them, you’ll have to pay up. You’re not buying at a depressed value banking on a surge after you acquire the player. But the player is still worth the price. That is the general concept of buying high. But in Samuel’s case, since he is just now ascending into consistent, locked-in top-10 status, potentially top-5, he may not yet cost what more of a household name top-10 player might cost. 

The biggest for Samuel continues to be injury but as we have seen this year that should be baked into pretty much everyone’s price. After dropping three straight games, the 49ers have won three of their last four, including an obliteration of division rival Los Angeles Rams. 

The 49ers are in the playoff hunt again and have a solid defense. I believe they continue to feed Samuel the ball as much as possible, and the 49ers have a very favorable schedule Rest of Season (ROS). So, if someone in your league thinks they are sellingchigh, check the price, because it still may be a good value for a potential league-winner like Samuel. 

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.

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