fantasy football

The Mundies: Landmarks

Hey, everybody.

What a fantasy football season it has been! 14 months ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the In-Between Media family, and that is what it has been like. A family. 

It is a part of my life. It is a daily landmark for me that I can look upon at any moment, where things make sense to me amidst a world that seems to make less and less sense as time passes. It is hard to believe I have already written 16 editions of “The Mundies” column series. It has been an amazing and fulfilling experience and I truly appreciate anyone who takes the time to read what I write. I am even more ecstatic if you can take something away from my words to help you in your life.

This is my final column of the 2021 regular season, and I will leave you with a story. One from long ago. The main characters of this story are my brother (John) and myself, with cameos by a seemingly inattentive bus driver and one of the most special landmarks in the Seattle area.

The year was 1989. I was 10 years old and my brother was 7. For some context, in the year 1989, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the movie “Rain Man,” the Nintendo Game Boy was launched and the Kansa City Chiefs’ RB Christian Okoye was the NFL’s leading rusher, edging out Barry Sanders by 10 yards.

In my world, this story takes place in December, with Christmas on the horizon. In 1989, I lived in my childhood home in Lacey, Wash. (60ish miles south of Seattle). My Grandma Chris (yep, the one who is 104 now) and my late Grandpa John lived in Magnolia Wash., a suburb in northwest Seattle. As a kid, we spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas at their house in Magnolia. The only thing 10-year-old me was familiar with about the city of Seattle was the driving route through the city to get to their house. Other than that, Seattle was an inconceivably massive universe.

Seattle is currently the 18th-most populated city in the U.S.

Each year shortly before Christmas, our family would go to a “Santa Claus Breakfast” in downtown Seattle. This is where my 1989 story begins. The breakfast had wrapped up and it was time to head to my grandparents’ house for the day. 

A proposition was formulated that was beyond exciting to my brother and me. My mom, sister and a few other family members wanted to stay downtown and shop. John and I were asked if we wanted to ride the city bus to Magnolia, where my Grandpa John would be waiting at the bus stop for us as he had not partaken in the breakfast that year. This was a big deal to a 10-year-old. 

A plan was put in place to make this adventure run smoothly. We were put on the correct bus to start with, and my mom specifically told the bus driver the exact bus stop where we were to get off the bus.

The bus ride itself is a faded memory. But I do remember what went wrong. We got off the bus at the wrong stop. And not just off by a couple of blocks, we got off the bus about two miles from my grandparents’ house. I do not remember what caused me to take my brother’s hand and lead him off the bus, it may have been I confused the street names, but off we walked, with no protest from our bus driver and his explicit instructions from my mom.

I remember watching the bus drive away and immediately realizing I had no idea where we were. I would have immediately called my mom on my cell phone, but I was 10 and it was 1989. John sensed a problem and started sobbing when I told him we were lost. I knew I had to keep it together for the both of us. Now, we were not lost in the wilderness of Alaska under threat of Grizzly Bear involvement so let’s have everyone just calm down a bit. But as a 10-year-old, I was scared. 

I decided the only path forward was to just start walking in what I thought was the generally accurate direction. So, we walked, somewhat aimlessly but with a perceived purpose and, luckily, what turned out to be kind of the right direction. Seattle is a very hilly city. Magnolia consists of two large hills with a lower valley running north-south down the middle, with the rest of Seattle to the east and the Puget Sound to the west. So, while the topography initially made me think we would never find our way, it ended up being our saving grace. 

The Magnolia, Wash. water tower was built in 1947.

I don’t remember if I thought of it first or if I saw it first, but there is a distinctive landmark in Magnolia. At the highest point of one of the hills is a large, light-blue-colored water tower. There are many places throughout Seattle where you can see it. This is a very special landmark for me because it also happens to be about a block and a half from my grandparents’ house. 

We would often walk over and gaze at its immense size. I remember thinking it looked kind of like an alien spacecraft. After we had been walking for what seemed like an eternity, I caught a glimpse of the Magnolia Water Tower. It was still far away. We were still on the other hill with the valley in between. But I could see it. The moment I remember vividly and will never forget was when I realized we were no longer lost, an intense feeling of relief if you have never experienced it. Safety. I knew all we had to do was get to the water tower and I could find my way to my grandparents’ house. 

Time marches on, my Grandpa John passed away in the mid-1990s, and my grandma is now in assisted living. The Magnolia house was sold a few years back and Thanksgiving and Christmas have been dispersed to various locations. There isn’t anything that takes me to Magnolia anymore as I live on the other side of the city.

But, since that time, it seems no matter where I am in the city, I can look up and see that water tower in the distance – simply still existing, almost looking back at me – as a beacon of safety. It is the hero of this same story that I would tell my girls at bedtime (over and over again) when they were younger – a very special landmark in the place I call home.

It has also been a landmark year for me in the fantasy football space (#DopeSegway). I have learned so much throughout the season and will look back on this rookie year of mine with fondness. Now that the 2021 fantasy regular season is over, I will conclude my series by handing out a few awards to players who helped me learn something this season.

THE “I WAS WRONG” AWARD (PART ONE)

Mike Evans (WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Leading into the 2021 season, I faded Mike Evans. I thought he was too TD-reliant and would not return on his draft investment with all the mouths to feed in Tampa Bay. In my Points Per Reception (PPR) redraft rankings, I had him just inside the top-24 at WR22 (one spot ahead of Courtland Sutton, big yikes). 

Mike Evans finished the 2021 season as the PPR WR9.

Evans finished as the WR9 in total points and WR10 in points per game. I got this one wrong. What is important is to try and decipher why I got this wrong. What was my logic in fading him to barely a WR2?

I mentioned TD reliance. The classic measurement for this is touchdown percentage (touchdowns/targets). This is a statistic I look at with players at all positions to try and determine if a spike in fantasy points may be due to an unsustainable number of touchdowns. Evans’ TD percentage in 2020 was 11.9 percent, resulting in 13 receiving scores, which was third behind Davante Adams and Adam Thielen

Prior to 2020, Evans’ career TD percentage was 5.7 percent. This almost doubling of his career rate is mainly what led to my 2021 projections and WR22 rank. I considered this an anomalous spike. Where I went wrong was not considering other factors, most importantly, who became his QB in 2020. I held too strong in assuming his 2020 rate was not repeatable. 

Not only did he repeat it in 2021 with Tom Brady slinging the rock, but he exceeded it, finishing with 14 TDs on 114 targets, for a 12.7 percent rate, second only to DeAndre Hopkins (on half as many targets). I will not be fading Evans again.

THE “I WAS WRONG” AWARD (PART TWO)

Adam Thielen (WR, Minnesota Vikings)

See “Mike Evans.”

THE “I WAS WRONG” AWARD (PART THREE)

Josh Jacobs (RB, Las Vegas Raiders)

Josh Jacobs is another player where I made up my mind, perhaps prematurely, and let “take-lock” dominate. Granted 2021 was my first shot at doing my own projections and rankings, but I am not using that as an excuse. It’s all about the process and learning from where you went wrong. 

Josh Jacobs had the lowest season carry total (217) and rushing yards (872) of his career in 2021.

In my preseason PPR redraft rankings, I had Jacobs as the RB20, behind both Miles Sanders and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (whoops). This was following his 2020 season where Jacobs was the RB8 in total points and the RB13 in points per game. 

Looking back, there were specific factors that led to this fade: Kenyan Drake’s presence, a sub-4 Yards Per Carry (YPC), and only 33 catches in 2020. There was a heavy narrative about his lack of receiving work capping his ceiling. This was true to some extent, but there was also hope he just needed more targets. 

Jacobs finished the 2021 season as the RB13 in total points and the RB12 in points per game. He did get more targets and receptions, approximately 20 more of each compared to 2020. 

However, this is a take I got wrong where I do not think my process was far off. Yes, Jacobs has now seen an increase in targets each season since his rookie year in 2019, so perhaps I should not have bought so heavily into that reason. But Kenyan Drake missed five games due to injury and without that, I don’t think Jacobs totals 64 targets. 

Also, with the barrage of RB injuries in 2021, I don’t think my initial rank of RB20 was that far off. I think Jacobs is a very talented RB, and if his uptick to 54 catches for 348 receiving yards is the new normal for him, then he obviously has RB1 upside with his average of 9 rushing TDs per season. To me, this is an example of a call that ended up being wrong, but I am not sure I could have moved him much higher at that time knowing what I knew then.


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.