I’ll be the first to admit I am not much of a cook. I know how to cook. I just never really went beyond the basics. Whether it’s me cooking or someone like my wife, who has been cooking all her life and makes delicious meals regularly, I do know one thing. For the most part, you must follow a recipe. The few more complicated meals for which I’ve been head chef in our house turned out tasty because I followed a recipe, and like I said, I know the basics.
Whether it’s making food or building Legos or IKEA furniture, some things in life come with a set of instructions. I welcome instructions. As someone who struggles with making decisions and has always been more of a follower than a leader, instructions bring me comfort. Someone else made a set of decisions for me. All I need to do is follow them.
However, for many things in my life, instructions are not included. Sure, there are plenty of self-help books out there, plenty of people willing to help others based on their own experiences (myself included). But not for the simple – but certainly not easy – process of waking up each day, putting one foot in front of the other and dealing with life on life’s terms.
Growing up, everything was relatively structured. The next recommended step was not shrouded in a heavy blanket of mystery. I’m oversimplifying, but it was just school, homework, play, eat, sleep for a while, followed by school, homework, play, eat, sleep for a while more. I do not want to minimize the trials and tribulations humans go through as adolescents. But, at least in my case, a large portion of that time was decided and laid in front of me. I went to school because I had to, and that’s what you do. I went to college because, in my view at that time, that’s what you did after high school.
College is where I took on more decision-making, and the results were less than ideal. The more access I attained in “driving my own bus,” the more things seemed to unravel. The lifestyle that materialized during that time – one fueled heavily by selfishness and instant gratification with absolutely no concern for the future – spring-boarded into my post-college 20’s.
This is the decade of my life I consider myself just lucky to have survived. I mean that literally. Being mostly on my own for the first time in my life, with no real structure or instruction manual, my decision-making was horrendous. I could have easily died several different times.
By the grace of some sort of higher power, I made it through a lot of self-inflicted misery. I still make mistakes and mentally, I am still one of my own biggest obstacles, but the self-inflicted consequences are now minimal. But as I’ve learned, just like when you finally pay something off and some other new monthly bill is right there to take its place, life’s challenges are a never-ending stream. Once you get one thing figured out, something else inevitably bubbles to the surface.
I recently tweeted about a personal struggle. A very general tweet about a new struggle that is scary because I don’t know what to do. To maintain a level of privacy, I will stay somewhat general.
Going through some personal challenges atm. A new struggle & we don’t really know what to do, which is scary. But we’ll work through it.
The fact that I have this place as a safe space & many of you to lean on is something I’m extremely grateful for.
— Scott Rinear (@MunderDifflinFF) April 20, 2022
We are dealing with some mental health issues in my family, something you hope never happens to your own child. But with the genetics my children inherited and exacerbated by the (I’ll keep this civil) poopy-head pandemic, it is not a complete shock. Anxiety and depression run in the family for both my wife and me. Seeing it materialize in a child is heartbreaking. A gut punch. It makes me question why certain things are the way they are in the world. Why is it like this for so many people?
As we are dealing with this extremely fresh issue as a family, we’ve once again learned that there are no instructions. That’s not to say there aren’t any resources. We will do what we think is best, both medically and psychologically. We will likely discuss with other families experiencing similar challenges. We will adjust the routines and details of our home and social lives as we deem necessary.
But there are no instructions. The answers to this problem are not available in the back of the book or written upside down at the bottom of the page. And based on my own experience, I know there are no panaceas for this. It’s about acceptance, adjustment and “living with” instead of trying to make it go away or putting our heads in the sand like some naive ostriches.
The Next Steps
I am confident we will get through this to whatever new normal this creates. I will be there for my kids and my family no matter what. That part is on the cover of the instruction booklet. But the fact that the proceeding pages of the instruction booklet are blank is scary. It’s daunting. I would do anything to make things different for my child. I cannot stand seeing my loved ones, especially a child, in pain. I’m going to feel a certain way about this, probably forever. But one thing I have learned about creating your own instructions is that it’s all about figuring out the next step, or in this case: Acceptance, adjustment and learning to “live with.”
Giving Fantasy Football Instructions
Ironically, a lot of what I try to do as a fantasy football analyst involves an attempt to create sets of instructions (Who to draft, who to start, who to buy, who to sell). I do what I do to try and help other people make informed decisions and win fantasy matchups. Of course, I still want to win my own fantasy leagues, but the more I do give advice, the less I care about my own teams.
An area I’ve been hitting harder this offseason is rookie analysis, and I’ve been doing a large amount of research leading up to the NFL Draft later this week. Rookies can be saviors or landmines in redraft formats. I, as much as anyone, have overreacted to the promise and “new and unknown” appeal of the incoming rookies throughout my fantasy football career. Everyone is trying to predict the next James Robinson (undrafted) or Elijah Mitchell (sixth-round pick), a rookie you can grab at the end of your draft who can provide great value right away.
For this edition of the “Mundie Awards,” I am providing two rookie sleepers to keep an eye on, ones who likely won’t be big shiny names in your redraft league but could be high-value “end of your bench” stashes.
And now, The Mundie Awards.
Disclaimer: My direction in fantasy football analysis is toward the analytics side of things. At In-Between Media, my goal is to include analysis from that angle but in a way that is easier to digest. I am in the process of developing my own model for projecting rookies in the NFL, but for now, I rely on others in the industry who have excelled in that arena, such as JJ Zachariason.
THE PRE-DRAFT RB SLEEPER AWARD
Tyler Badie (RB, University of Missouri)
Tyler Badie is an intriguing later-round RB out of the University of Missouri who I think has a shot at making an immediate fantasy impact. I am writing this column before we know the NFL landing spots of these rookies, but Badie’s skill set and versatility will be a good value to whichever team calls his name. Currently projected as a fourth-round pick by NFL.com, Badie played all four years with the Missouri Tigers. Spending his first three seasons playing second fiddle to Larry Rountree (drafted by the Chargers last year), Badie balled out in 2021 once he took over lead duties, to the tune of:
• 268 rushes for 1,604 yards (6.0 Yards Per Carry [YPC]), 14 rushing TDs
• 54 catches for 330 receiving yards and four receiving TDs
These numbers alone had my attention. Putting up these rushing and receiving numbers in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is impressive.
Digging a bit deeper, there is even more to like. A few advanced metrics have proven to be relatively predictive, meaning players who fared better in certain statistics in college have shown to “hit” and become fantasy relevant more often in the NFL.
With likely future stud RBs like Iowa State University’s Breece Hall or Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, digging below the surface is less crucial for redraft formats because they will be household names come draft season.
However, I like to look a little further down the list of incoming players to find a lesser-known or lesser-hyped player who could end up being a solid value in your drafts.
Some of the RB metrics shown to be useful are:
• Running Back Rush Share (Best Season)
• Rushing Yards Per Team Rush Attempt (Best Season)
• Receiving Yards Per Route Run (Best Season)
• Total Yards (Rushing + Receiving) Per Team Play (Best Season)
• Target Share (Career)
For Badie, here’s how he stacked up against the Top 30-ish rookie RB prospects:
• Running Back Rush Share : 57.8 percent (Third)
• Rushing Yards Per Team Rush Attempt: 3.47 (Second)
• Receiving Yards Per Route Run: 2.62 (Third)
• Total Yards Per Team Play: 2.11 (Fourth)
• Target Share: 18.1 percent (Second)
There can always be the impression of “cherry-picking” stats with analytics, but for a player to be top-five in all five of these categories carries predictive weight, especially with Badie’s mix of both rushing and receiving that is so crucial to fantasy success these days. He also clocked an impressive 40-yard dash time of 4.45 (89th percentile).
Why is Badie not more hyped? Like any player, he has weaknesses too. With Badie, it’s mainly his lack of elusiveness. He is slightly undersized and has not shown the ability to create much more than what is blocked for him, with below-average numbers in forced Missed Tackles, Juke Rate and Yards Created. That’s why I’m not touting Badie as a league-winner to reach on in your draft. Instead, I’m suggesting that he could carve out a flex-worthy role in PPR leagues regardless of where he ends up because of his mixture of rushing and receiving abilities. And if he beefs up just a smidge, he has the skillset and size to be a three-down back in the NFL.
THE PRE-DRAFT WR SLEEPER AWARD
Khalil Shakir (WR, Boise State University)
Khalil Shakir out of Boise State University is another prospect projected as a fourth-round pick by NFL.com. He is the type of under-the-radar rookie WR that I will be targeting at the end of my drafts during redraft season, like Badie.
Shakir played four seasons with the Broncos and led the team in receiving during his Junior and Senior years, and Senior year he caught 77 passes for 1,117 yards and seven TDs. Another aspect of his game that cannot be ignored in today’s NFL is his ability as a rusher, rushing 71 times for 414 yards and four TDs in his Boise State career. He is an ideal size at roughly 6 feet, 200 pounds, and ran a solid 40-yard dash time at 4.43 (85th percentile).
And much like Tyler Badie, if you look a little deeper, you find some intriguing statistics that don’t show up in the box scores:
• Target Share (Career)
• Target Rate (Targets Per Route Run) (Career)
• Receptions Share (Career)
• Receiving Yards Share (Percentage of Total Receiving Yards) (Best Season)
• Receiving Yards Per Team Pass Attempt (Best Season)
For Shakir, here is how he compared to the Top 30-ish rookie WR prospects:
• Target Share: 32.2 percent (Fifth)
• Target Rate: 29.4% (Third)
• Receptions Share: 37.4% (Third)
• Receiving Yards Share: 42.5% (Third)
• Receiving Yards Per Team Pass Attempt: 3.24 (Fifth)
Shakir didn’t blow anyone’s mind with his receiving yards or TDs, but being top-five in these sub-surface metrics increases the odds that Shakir can have immediate success at the next level. And being outside the first few tiers of hyped rookie WRs means he’s another player you can draft in the later rounds. Shakir has his weaknesses too, with below-average Yards After Catch (YAC) numbers and a middle-of-the-pack presence in Yards Per Route Run. However, he has the size, speed and production profile to be a hidden WR gem in 2022.
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 as possible to digest. Advanced analytics are beneficial, and I think they can be explained simply and logically. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter to explain more about any of the analytical concepts I present in these columns. My Direct Messages (DM)s 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.