Sometimes we start at the end and end at the beginning. I am writing this paragraph last, at the very last minute in fact. I realized the irony of this column’s topic just as I was about to submit to our editors and go camping for the weekend.
Simply put, fantasy football analysis involves analyzing the past in order to best predict the future. And here I am writing a column about my struggles stressing about the future, and, to a lesser extent, the past. I decided to point this out at the beginning of the column but at the end of my thought process. I want to convey that the irony is not lost on me.
“Future tripping.” This is a term I am all too familiar with. This is a mindset that is a lynchpin of my anxiety issues, at least that which is discernible.
Quite literally, this means tripping out about the future; allowing the future to cause stress, whether it be a fear of the unknown, anticipation of an event, an unanswered question or an unsolved problem. I am a big-time future tripper. If I had to guess, I’d say it is probably a common source of stress, anxiety and/or depression in the lives of many humans.
Is thinking about and planning for the future, inherently bad practices? Of course not. Personally, I wish I had received some earlier education around financial planning and debt and started putting money away for the future at a younger age. Between you and me, I think the lack of basic financial teaching is a significant failure of our education system. It’s almost as if up and coming, still maturing, prospective (susceptible?) high-interest loan/credit card customers might not be so easily lured if there were more basic/public education about finances, specifically that predator-prey relationship.
There are plenty of healthy and reasonable lenses through which to view and think about the future. While I sometimes daydream about being able to turn off all semblance of forethought, I know that is not the way. Honestly, that harkens back to a common theme of this column series, the avoidance of discomfort. Future tripping surfaces, depending on what I am thinking about, how I am thinking about it and how I am reacting to it – whether it be an outward or inward/mental reaction.
There is just one tiny problem with this. What exactly am I doing? What is the purpose of this dwelling, this obsessing with how things might play out? Does my current stress and anxiety in any way change what actually happens once these future scenarios transform into the present? Do I really have any control over results? In my opinion, absolutely not.
So again, what exactly am I doing?
This is how I try to think about it now. The future, and whatever pre-enactment my brain is concocting on the fly, does not exist. None of the 20+ different ways my mind sees a specific scenario unfolding exists yet, and there is a 99.9 percent chance that none of them ever will.
Let’s say by some cosmic coincidence, my stress and anxiety-fueled rendition of the future plays out exactly. I’ve already mentioned my opinion about the likelihood of that, but let’s just say it does. Why not just stress over it then? I’m not saying everyone should be free of stress and anxiety. The general presence of those has nothing to do with self-will in my view.
What I am saying is, if possible, save the stress and anxiety you are feeling toward something that doesn’t exist, and by all means unleash it if that thing actually does happen. But it is completely pointless to put yourself through that preemptively. It does not change anything.
Cards on the table, I am still not very good at doing this myself. Much of what I talk about in these columns is based on experience and perspective I have gained, but often I am still in the early stages of being able to consistently “put my money where my mouth is.”
I future trip all the time. It used to be much worse, but I still have a lot of room to improve. It is similar to fantasy football analysis. Personally, with the people whose content I trust and respect, I could not care less how they do in their own fantasy leagues. One does not need to be a master of results to be a teacher of process. In my life in the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) world, I find some of the most effective learning from others I gain is when said others are pretty much going through the same struggles as me.
Remember how I said the future does not exist (outside of 1.21 gigawatts lore)? Do you know what also does not exist? The past.
I realize I am getting a little “just smoked a joint late at night, maybe my orange is your blue,” but this is how I try to combat future tripping. Obviously “past tripping” is also a worthy adversary. I just personally do not struggle with that as much these days. I know there are hidden and buried issues from my past and I will deal with them when I deal with them, but for the most part, I trip about the nonexistent future rather than the past.
There is a saying that gets this point across rather well:
“If you’ve got one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re pissing on the present.”
In this context, the only thing that exists, the only thing that ever truly exists, is this moment right now. There is an author named Eckhart Tolle who wrote a very interesting book called “The Power of Now,” which I read during a particularly dark time in my 20’s.
I do not remember a lot of specifics, but I do recommend it as I remember it being extremely interesting. In a nutshell, Tolle’s journey in this book is a spiritual and inspirational one, with the power of now being a better and deeper self-awareness and springboard for personal growth. (I have 4+ years clean [1,635 days as of this writing,] I promise I am not high)
Meditation is an obvious strategy to try and hone that focus. I have tried meditation without much success. But I have gotten much better at being in the moment, sometimes even staying in the moment. I realized it’s not a situation where all of a sudden I say to myself, “Hey, I’m in the moment, hooray!” Instead, it is more of a slowed pace moving through my daily life and routines. Focused and deliberate inhaling and exhaling of oxygen. Sometimes when I get spun out in my anxiety, I have moments where it feels like I forgot to breathe. It’s about focusing on the task at hand and not rushing through it. Regardless of the perceived importance or significance of the task.
American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson put it well, “Slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast.”
Once I started being able to do this with at least some consistency, I realized something else about myself. I have spent a lot of my life rushing through everything. The reason for that, I believe, stems from the same issues I talked about in the very first column. The adolescent and underdeveloped part of my brain that wants to be in total comfort all the time, wants to rush through anything it can to get to that place of comfort (nowadays something like lying in bed and binging Netflix). Sometimes I even consciously say to myself, “slow down, there is no reason to rush this.”
What I have found with this imperfect, but improving focus on the now, is it does turn the volume down on my future tripping. It’s still there, but it’s quieter. Sometimes, but rarely, I can completely turn it off as I am doing the dishes or mowing the lawn and just concentrate on what’s in front of me – each brush of the sponge, each blade of the grass.
In my goofy brain, this focusing on the now is similar to redraft formats of fantasy football, which is all about the now. Next year be damned. I am in my first year of playing dynasty fantasy football and I am having a lot of fun.
But redraft is where I have the experience and is where I think I can help people in their leagues. So, as the 2021 season rapidly approaches, I will be shifting my focus in the fantasy sections of my columns to more of a redraft-based theme. It will still be awards-based, and much like “The Ministry of Silly Walks,” I think it will still be rather silly (even without a government grant).
And now, the Mundie Awards.
THE RIGHT HERE & RIGHT NOW AWARD
Tom Brady (QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
It’s possible Tom Brady plays and continues to dominate until he’s 60. What he did in 2020 in his first year with a new team was incredible. But realistically, he probably doesn’t have much longer playing at this level. In dynasty, he’s still an asset, but his age is concerning in the long-term view dynasty requires. But in redraft, I want Brady as my fantasy quarterback right here, right now.
My journey with Brady has been an interesting one. And if that sounds creepy, don’t worry, he doesn’t even know about it. I’ve spent a good chunk of my NFL fandom hating Brady. Unlike most people, my reasons were justified. I was a petty non-Patriots fan who hated on Brady because he was (is) so good and has always won. See? Totally rational.
But something changed this past season. Maybe it was seeing him out of a New England jersey. Or living through a pandemic made me adjust where I focused my energy. Maybe throwing my hat into the fantasy football ring has done wonders for my objectivity. I don’t know. But I’m not a hater anymore. I’m not necessarily rooting for him, but I respect what he’s been able to do in the NFL since the start of this century, coming into the NFL as a 6th round draft pick. Maa! (Sheep say baa, goats say maa, look it up)
Brady has always been an elite QB. And while I no longer see him as a top-five option, he is a perfect QB to target in redraft leagues. Specifically, in One-QB redraft leagues, I have been following the advice of one of my favorite analysts, JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB), and waiting on QB in my leagues for a while now. In 2021, Brady is a great target with that strategy.
I think the allure of Hurts’ dual-threat style and the Julio Jones hype surrounding Tannehill, coupled with the likelihood at least some managers worry about his age, Brady could fall slightly toward that QB12 spot. I say yes, please! I like being the last team to take a QB. I’d rather have Brady over each of the QBs I mentioned, except Rodgers if he stays in Green Bay.
The Buccaneers ranked top 10 in the NFL in total pass plays, percentage of touchdowns via the pass and top five in percentage of pass plays, total touchdowns and passing touchdowns. I mentioned Brady in my last column when discussing Chris Godwin and the positive chemistry that developed between the two.
In 2020, at age 43, on a brand new team, during a pandemic with no preseason, all Brady did was throw 610 passes with a 65 percent completion rate, over 4,600 yards and 40 touchdowns, good enough for QB8 overall (oh and the whole Super Bowl victory from a wild card spot thing).
The 40 touchdowns passes were Brady’s second-highest season total of his career (again, at age 43). The most since the 50 burger he dropped 14 years ago way back in 2007. And in case you’re wondering about where his numbers stacked up in 2020:
- 610 attempts: Second
- 4,633 passing yards: Third
- 40 touchdown passes: Second (tied with Russell Wilson)
Brady had a career year at age 43. He has excellent pass-catching weapons on a Buccaneers team that, loves to throw footballs, and Brady is very good at throwing footballs. And again, I don’t see any reason why anything would drastically change in Tampa Bay in 2021. If anything Brady could somehow be better with a full offseason and preseason. He already showed excellent chemistry with them last year.
I’m targeting Brady as a later-round QB in redraft in 2021, right here, right now. Side note: I don’t typically take backup QBs in this format. In leagues with 12 teams or less, you can always stream the QB position during bye weeks or even with an injury. However, if I can get Brady late, I love also grabbing a player like Trey Lance as a lottery ticket.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” is 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.