The Mundies: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
“The Mundies” is a bi-weekly column by Scott Rinear, awarding life and the fantasy football winners, losers and mirages, starting here, at the conclusion of NFL Week 9. Now in its second year of publishing, this column presents an optimistic outlook on life and an analytical approach to the game.
I am not a fan of changing the clocks twice every year. It has never made sense to me. Rather than changing the clocks twice, we could instead just change them zero times.
I have researched why Daylight Saving Time became a thing in the handful of countries it is recognized. Something about manipulating the clocks, so daylight hours are closer to being in line with the hours humans are up doing our human things.
I realize it isn’t necessarily the biggest deal in the world with everything else we humans struggle with, but enough already.
This past weekend was the “fall back” date in the U.S. (other than Hawaii and Arizona) and various other middle-latitude countries. The “spring forward” set the clocks ahead to save that precious daylight, and we set the clocks back to “standard time” on Sunday morning.
It messes with people. It messes with kids. It messes with pets. Here is how that went for me this year. Granted, the following somewhat embarrassing story has more to do with me having gone to bed too late and waking up delirious. Yet, I am in whiny-pants mode, so here you go.
Typically, my wife and I wake up around 6:00-6:30 a.m. with the kids and dogs. On Sunday morning, I woke up and groggily looked at the microwave clock, which read 5:30. If you have spent any time up very early after going to bed very late, you know the fog of confusion that can temporarily surround your entire existence.
My brief logic? My body wakes up around 6:30 a.m. every day. The clock says 5:30 a.m. Something about needing to change the clocks, the “fog of confusion” and my brain went in the wrong direction. “OK, it’s 6:30 a.m.” is what I thought to myself.
So, I fed the dogs and started the drip coffee pot like any other morning. Then I let the dogs out and climbed back into bed. That’s when I looked at my phone and realized it was not 6:30 AM. It was 4:30 a.m. Thanks, brain, but wrong direction. Of course, I felt like a big idiot as I went back to sleep.
When I woke up a few hours later, my wife’s first question was, “when did you make this coffee, it’s lukewarm now.”
Again, this was mostly my fault, but it would not have happened with zero clock changes per year. And it turned into a good laugh and a good story for our family. As I said, it’s not the biggest deal in the world. But during the “fall back” the blatant and immediate difference is how much earlier it gets dark. Many people don’t like this change, but I welcome the change. I have an interesting relationship with darkness, both literally and metaphorically.
“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend”
Made famous in the 1964 song “The Sound of Silence” by the band Simon and Garfunkel, this phrase has applied throughout my life. I am a night owl. I have always been a night owl. I don’t remember the exact origins of my preference for the nocturnal, but the different directions my life has gone have meshed well with that time of day. I partied and got loaded a lot through the end of high school, college and my 20s. I was largely a creature of the night during these escapades, but not because of them. During my time in sobriety, the night has still been a comfort for me.
Metaphorically, I have been to some dark places. I have discussed that in this column series. But this is more about literal darkness. My tendency to want to hide was made easier under the cover of darkness. I feel more at ease when I know most of the other humans outside my walls are in for the night and asleep.
There is a quietness and calmness in the darkness of night that helps my brain stay quiet and calm. I enjoy it when the very loud world is quiet. That was one silver lining of the pandemic for me early on – the slow-down. The world was forced to slow down for a minute. I know these are selfish thoughts, but I am just being honest about what goes through my head.
Similarly, one of my favorite aspects of the few snowstorms we get in Seattle is that if the storm is big enough, the city shuts down. You walk outside, and there is a silence not often heard in the city. The quietness of a blanket of soundproofing, insulating snow is not normally possible.
A Losing Battle
As I said, my relationship with darkness and the wee hours of the night is interesting. I mentioned not knowing exactly what lead to my preference for the post-meridiem, but I am aware of one of the primary motivations.
During times of elevated stress and anxiety, especially in the arena of future tripping, I would stay up as late as possible for one reason; to fend off the coming day – an irrational and fleeting attempt to avoid the future for as long as possible. This wasn’t always intentional, but it was regular enough to where it became my way of life. I avoided sleep as long as possible because I knew that the next day would arrive faster once I fell asleep.
Yes, I know that time is time, and its speed doesn’t change. I knew this was a losing battle every time. But our perception of time is malleable. Based on the same motivations for instant gratification that dominated much of my life, I became a night owl. I did so, at least in part, to prolong my comfort by delaying the discomfort that my mind had already convinced me the future held.
This motivation is much less frequent today. Through medication, maturation, being in recovery and being fortunate enough to have an amazing support network, my anxiety and fear of the future have subsided significantly. But darkness and the night are still very comfortable to me.
Nowadays, it is much healthier. I stay up late doing things like hanging out with my wife or researching and writing about fantasy football. Not a night goes by that I don’t lay in bed working on something fantasy football related on my phone.
I do not want it to get dark at 4:00 p.m. all year round, but I embrace that change when it happens each year. And once we get past the first day of “fall back,” I tend not to misread the time by two hours and make pots of coffee at 4:30 in the morning.
And now, The Mundie Awards.
This column was written before the “Monday Night Football” games in NFL Week 9.
THE NFL WEEK 9 MUNDIE AWARDS
The Mundie will be awarded to a player or players who were winners during the previous week(s), whether directly by scoring a lot of fantasy points or from a volume/opportunity standpoint that puts them in a position to score a lot of fantasy points moving forward.
Joe Mixon (RB, Cincinnati Bengals)
On the flip side of darkness, something we all witnessed in the bright light of day is that Joe Mixon is the obvious winner of a “Mundie Award” in NFL Week 9.
Not all of these awards will go to “sleepers” or include my attempt at a clever take. Mixon went full ham and eggs against the Panthers in NFL Week 9, to the point where he threatened the all-time single-game fantasy score by an RB in Points Per Reception (PPR) scoring. Mixon’s 55.1 PPR points against the Panthers ended up ranking seventh all-time according to Statmuse:
1. Jamaal Charles (KC): 59.5 | 2013
2. Clinton Portis (DEN): 57.4 | 2003
3. Alvin Kamara (NO): 56.2 | 2020
4. Shaun Alexander (SEA): 56.1 | 2002
5. Chris Johnson (TEN): 55.4 | 2009
6. Doug Martin (TB): 55.2 | 2012
7. Joe Mixon (CIN): 55.1 | 2022
Keep in mind that Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow had a one-yard rushing TD in the first half, and Mixon rested most of the second half. One more TD and Mixon would be the all-time leader. Mixon scored most of his fantasy points in the first half. He now only trails Alexander in RB PPR points in one half. In route to Alexander’s 56.1 PPR points in 2002, he scored 53.3 of them in the first half.
Justin Fields (QB, Chicago Bears)
Those who were patient with Justin Fields in redraft formats have been rewarded over the last month and likely won their matchup in NFL Week 9 due to the Bears’ QB. Fields is another obvious “Mundie Award” winner because there is no reason to think his recent fantasy explosion will stop.
In Week 5, Fields put up his first QB1 performance (top-12 fantasy QB) of the 2022 season. He barely snuck in as a QB1, finishing as the QB12 on the week with 17 fantasy points. It was a solid performance compared to the first four weeks, but not spectacular. Fields receives this award because he’s finished as a QB1 in every week since, and each week he climbed higher in points scored:
• Week 5: QB12 (17.0 fantasy points)
• Week 6: QB7 (18.4 fantasy points)
• Week 7: QB5 (23.4 fantasy points)
• Week 8: QB3 (26.0 fantasy points)
• Week 9: Likely the QB1 (42.7 fantasy points)
If you were to plot these finishes on a graph, the arrow would be pointing exactly where you want the arrow to be pointing for your fantasy players. Fields has yet to attempt 30 passes in a game this season. Yet, after averaging only 16.8 pass attempts per game in Weeks 1-4, that number has increased to 24 pass attempts per game since Week 5. This includes a season-high 28 pass attempts against the Dolphins.
The floor and ceiling that are simultaneously provided by Field’s rushing ability, culminating in his 178 rushing yards in NFL Week 9, the week’s highest total for any player. Based on Fields’ cheap price in redraft formats, which included being on waivers in many leagues, he looks to be a league-winning QB in 2022.
THE NFL WEEK 9 BUFFALO BRANCH AWARD
No relation to the Bills. The Buffalo Branch Award will be handed out to a player or players who were “not great Bob” during the previous week(s) and is representative of the trend rather than the exception for that player.
Raheem Mostert (RB, Miami Dolphins)
Raheem Mostert receives the “Buffalo Branch Award” as he is looking like one of the most negatively impacted incumbents by last week’s NFL Trade Deadline. Week 4 is when Mostert took over as the primary RB for the Dolphins. This was positive for managers who invested a late-round or waiver dart throw at the veteran RB because early-season speculation was that Chase Edmonds would be the fantasy RB to roster for the Dolphins. While not spectacular, Mostert has been solid in that role, including two top-10 PPR performances in Week 5 and Week 7.
Then the Dolphins sent Chase Edmonds to the Broncos and acquired Jeff Wilson Jr. from San Francisco. The Dolphins are very much in the playoff hunt in the AFC East, a surprisingly strong division that looks like it will go down to the wire. The Dolphins traded for Wilson for a reason. They likely do not want Mostert to be the “bell cow” he has been since Week 5.
In Weeks 5-8, here were Mostert’s weekly Opportunity Shares (percentage of RB rush attempts plus RB targets):
• Week 5: 60.0 percent
• Week 6: 80.0 percent
• Week 7: 70.0 percent
• Week 8: 71.4 percent
Those are “bell cow” RB usage numbers. For reference, the highest season-long Opportunity Share (OS) entering NFL Week 9 belongs to Saquon Barkley at 83.5 percent. In Week 9, Mostert’s OS fell to 47.8 percent.
Mostert wasn’t even afforded the typical window of opportunity for continued RB volume dominance one sees while newly acquired RB competition gets up to speed. Like Mostert’s proverbial “leg up” at the start of the season, Wilson Jr. also benefitted from the former 49ers connection with Mike McDaniel.
Wilson immediately stepped in and outperformed Mostert against the Bears. Wilson Jr. saw 52.2 percent of the RB opportunities in the game. He and Mostert both had nine rush attempts, but Wilson turned his into 51 yards, 5.7 Yards Per Carry (YPC), compared to only 26 for Mostert, 2.9 Yards Per Carry (YPC). Mostert did punch in a rushing TD which salvaged his fantasy day. However, Wilson Jr. also caught all three of his targets, including what ended up being the game-winning TD reception.
Mostert is not receiving this award because his fantasy value is completely gone. He and Wilson Jr. will likely continue to split this backfield. Honestly, this current scenario is more in line with Mostert’s price of acquisition. But for a few weeks, it looked like Mostert could be a potential steal of your draft or waiver adds, as Miami has a favorable remaining schedule for fantasy RBs. Mostert is a hold for now, but his fantasy stock is pointed down.
Wilson Jr.’s value has been a roller coaster this season, and his fantasy value looked to be gone after the 49ers acquired Christian McCaffrey. But he is now back in must-add territory (if he was dropped in your league), as he has the potential to thrive with the Dolphins.
Thank you so much for reading my NFL Week 9 winners and losers! As I have moved toward more analytics-based fantasy football content, my goal is to provide that content in a manner that is as easy to digest as possible. Advanced analytics are very useful, and I think can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me to explain more about the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.