Here I am. My first offseason as a fantasy football analyst. Normally the months of February and March are my sports dead zone, as I am not that into the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), or college basketball, at least not as much as I am fantasy football.
February and March are a hotbed of fantasy football fodder. Speculation about free agency, realities of free agency, rankings that are adjusted too early, dynasty start-up drafts, rookie film, speculation about the draft and entirely too many utterances of the phrase “and it’s not close.”
Wait, did I call myself an analyst? Well, why wouldn’t I? Wait, now why I am questioning whether I should call myself an analyst? Why shouldn’t I? OK brain, what are you up to now, what’s your game here?
Walk with me.
I picture an oval-shaped conference table. It’s not a new table and not a particularly interesting table. There are coffee mug rings randomly dispersed across the surface. Coasters ceased to exist during the last round of budget cuts. It looks similar to a person’s back after receiving that weird “cupping” massage therapy (I’ve tried it. It’s weird. Stop trying to steal my skin with your sneaky hipster mason jars).
I honestly have no idea how many chairs are arranged around this table. I imagine it fluctuates. Exactly who or what occupies the chairs around this oval-shaped and worn table? Unclear.
Hazy is the way of this mind-painting in my brain. I own the museum in which this painting resides, but it must be in some hidden gallery, just on the other side of that door. I walk toward the door but never seem to get any closer. OK. We cannot see and know everything, especially when it comes to the workings of our own minds.
I don’t know and perhaps will never know exactly who or what is sitting around this imaginary table located somewhere in my brain, probably buried in the hills and valleys of grey matter in my prefrontal cortex. But I’m in the fantasy football game, so, speculating wildly, I have given this faceless group a name: The “Itty-Bitty-Shitty-Committee” (IBSC).
If I had to tangibly describe the IBSC, I would wager it in some combination of the following:
- The Leader: My ego
- The Leader’s “Yes Man”: My jealousy
- The Ideas Man: My addict
- The Motivational Speaker: My fears
- The Dude Who Takes Notes and Distributes the Meeting Minutes: My self-doubt
- The Consultant (who everyone else knows could take the top spot at any moment): My imposter syndrome
My high school keyboarding-trained fingers type these specific words on March 16. That was the only “computer” class in existence when I was in high school. So yeah, how the f*#k does this thing work? It is not my intention to turn this column into a journal entry, but noting the date is relevant.
This particular column will be a small glimpse into my mind, a close-to-real-time following of the way my brain functions (or sometimes dysfunctions) over the course of a few weeks.
On this day, the IBSC brewed some particularly strong coffee. Maybe there is some deadline and procrastination is catching up with them. Maybe The Leader is on a power trip and making everyone work overtime for the hell of it. Regardless, the smell of combusted midnight oil is in the air.
Down. Sad. Anxious. Empty. Irritable.
All of these feelings can spring from or be amplified by this borderline ridiculous psychological metaphor. I spend some of my days on this earth in “funks” or “ruts.” Sometimes it lasts for a day, sometimes a week, sometimes longer. The duration varies. The catalyst varies (if I am even aware of a specific cause, which I am often not). The eventual furloughing (but not firing) of the IBSC board of trustees (the upswing would be de-funking) can also materialize from unknown sources and for unknown reasons.
Flash forward to March 31, the current date on which I am now typing these words. The feelings and metaphors described above eventually improved after March 16. There was an upswing, a “de-funktifying” and my motivation resurfaced. I sent out some tweets with abbreviations such as “LFG” or hashtags such as #MotivationMonday.
I used the word “grind” or “grinding” multiple times. My intention was to write about this changing of the seas while it was happening. The tiny circular submarine window into my mind.
But I did not. I do not know why I did not, but I did not. It’s March 31 now and I am back in a funk. Maybe my current motivations to write this column spring from mental struggle rather than feelings of self-worth and confidence. The only thing I do know is that I don’t know.
It’s like the news. There are mot many stories about the guy who got in his car and successfully drove to work and then went home. It’s like offensive linemen. Rarely do they get much attention unless they blow an assignment, allow a sack or commit a bunch of penalties.
Part of the point here is to show you there are manifestations of my character defects that are quite contrary to the person I am or aspire to be and not in line with my values. And that’s OK. Personally, the goal to completely remove these types of thoughts and feelings is more detrimental than just accepting them.
Instead, I work on improving my awareness of them and trying to work through them and – more importantly – not listen to them until the inevitable upswing comes.
The reason, which is also inevitable in this puzzle, is that it’s impossible to accomplish the goal I mentioned. I cannot totally eliminate these funks and ruts I fall into and the emotions that come with them. I tried that for decades with drugs and alcohol.
Spoiler alert, it didn’t work. What ends up happening is my self-worth and self-confidence take unnecessary hits due to yet another goal not met.
What does this look like on March 31?
Jealousy. Feelings of inadequacy. Warped expectations. Unmotivated.
Again, the IBSC is clicking (“spinning” is probably a better verb). Maybe this time they are having a pogo stick race to blow off steam, at least that’s what it kind of feels like. I find myself briefly getting jealous of good things happening to other people. It is not rational, but nothing about what the IBSC does is rational.
I tweet something out.
“What, no likes yet? I must not belong here.”
“No laugh emoji for my comment in a group chat, but that other guy got a laughing emoji? I’m outta here.”
“Matthew Berry hasn’t asked me to collaborate on a brand new podcast yet? Might as well give up.”
Someone Always Knows
Like I said before. Warped, petty and completely ridiculous expectations. Also as already stated, this type of thinking is quite contrary to the person I try to be. In my quest to help others through my own experiences, it is important for you to know that I am not immune to this type of thinking.
My guess? No one really is. I am a positive, goofy, happy-go-lucky dude on social media because most of the time that is what I choose to vocalize. That is my choice. I do not typically tweet a lot about being in poopy funks. This is also my choice.
But I am also honest. I am genuine in my interactions. I might be a bit hypocritical in asking others to reach out for help and then clamming up when I need a shoulder to cry on, but it does not make my interactions and choice to largely focus on the positive any less genuine.
You can choose to believe that or not. The only one who knows for sure is me, so I guess you’ll just need to trust me on that one. Bluntly put, it doesn’t really matter to me if you believe me. True genuineness and authenticity require no validation.
I am writing out the words now for the purpose of this column, but in general, people who are actually genuine and “real” should not have to act or feel the need to constantly tell everyone.
Faking something like authenticity would only hurt me anyway. I remember when the Ideas Man (addict) filled in as The Leader for a while. I would always grasp at the notion that I could do shitty stuff and it would be cool as long as no one knew. That stopped working for me because I very gradually and painfully realized there is always one person who knows. Me.
Doing anything shady these days immediately inserts a pit near the bottom of my stomach. This doesn’t mean I am incapable of lying, cheating or stealing. It just means I have gained the self-awareness of how much that behavior hurts me, not to mention others in my life. And I want to be done with that type of self-harm.
Notice I said “I want to be done with” and not “I am done with.” I am not perfect. This is all a life-long process. Thoughts of perfection are unhealthy and the foundation of imposter syndrome. I cannot always (or maybe ever) control the thoughts that come into my head or the emotions and feelings that can consume my being.
But all is not lost. We as humans do still have some control. One of my favorite mantras, straight out of the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Program, is the following simple, yet profound words:
“Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I say this to myself at least once a day. Even something as simple as that has been helpful.
These IBSC tendencies are what they are and are a part of me. But today I choose to accept that, vocalize it as I am doing in this column, and most importantly (and contrary to what I thought for much of my life), realize that this does not define me.
Having momentary bouts of jealousy does not at all minimize the genuine happiness I have for other people in this space when good things happen to them. It does not need to be one or the other. When the IBSC submits their final plan, I always have the ability to shove it right back in their faces. Revise and resubmit.
Finally, one of my weapons in this mental battle is self-awareness. Improved self-awareness has been maybe the single-most-important aspect in combatting the IBSC when it’s spinning.
Take jealousy for instance. Like I have said, I am not immune to feelings of jealousy, but I do have the ability to recognize when I am in that place. And here comes the kicker. It’s more simple than I ever would have imagined. I can just not act on it. That’s where I have control. Getting jealous is the “thing that I cannot change,” the thing that I cannot control or prevent. Not acting on the feeling is “the courage to change the things that I can,” and in this case, it’s a change in my active behaviors. And calling this courageous is not hyperbolic. Depending on the action, it takes a lot of self-discipline to “not act.”
I experience this every time I have the urge to cut off the driver who just cut me off. But I don’t do that anymore. And the self-awareness, crucial to understanding this dynamic, is the “wisdom to know the difference.”
In a nutshell, the IBSC lies to me, constantly:
- The Leader (my ego): “It’s all about you, Scott.”
- The Leader’s Yes Man (my jealousy): “Someone is trying to make this not about you, Scott.”
- The Ideas Man (my addict): “Dude, Scott, this would all be easier if you just get loaded.”
- The Motivational Speaker (my fears): “No Scott, these scary things will all come true, it’s not just in your head.”
- Meeting Minutes: (my self-doubt): “You called yourself an ‘analyst’? Yikes, Scott.”
- The Consultant (my imposter syndrome): “You obviously are not good enough for this, Scott. You should just quit.”
Me: “I cannot prevent hearing this from you all, but kindly shut the f*#k up.”
Acceptance will likely be a topic for a future column, but as a trailer I guess, acceptance is one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had. Sure, it sucks to be in a funk or a rut. For me, it feels icky to be jealous or irritable. But, accepting that the IBSC exists and produces feelings and emotions that are out of my control allows some relief during my ruts.
It allows me to take the boot off my own neck and stop kicking my own ass for having these types of thoughts in the first place. And, while I do not have the data behind the Average Length of Rut/Funk (aLOR/F), I like to think this self-awareness reduces the duration of the funky times, therefore increasing the duration of the “LFG” times. At the end of the day, that’s all I can really hope for.
April 2-4, 2021
Upswing complete. IBSC is quiet. The fire is back. LFG!
And now, “The Mundie Awards.”
THE SELF-AWARENESS AWARD
Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys)
Dak Prescott is a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. This is not news.
Personally, I have him as my overall QB2 behind only Patrick Mahomes in “pick any format” for 2021. This is not consensus, but not necessarily unique either. At the moment of his horrific injury last season in Week 5, he was the fantasy QB1. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are one of the best fantasy receiver duos in the league, and with the Cowboys’ defensive issues, Prescott is primed for another huge fantasy season assuming he comes back at full strength.
A fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2016, Prescott came into the NFL as an underdog. I love underdogs. I have been a huge fan of his since his days as a Bulldog, which is saying something because I don’t favor the Cowboys.
In one of my super flex dynasty leagues, I traded up from No. 11 to No. 8 when he was still available, and I’ll never look back on that move. And finally, after much “Jerry Jones-ing” around, Jerry Jones gave Prescott the contract he deserves.
I could bombard you with his impressive statistics (approximately five rushing touchdowns every season for one), but that is not why Prescott is receiving the first-ever “Self-Awareness” Mundie Award.
Prescott receives this award because he had the courage to be open, honest, and vocal about his struggles with mental health issues, which by itself is awesome. But he did so with the intent of using his platform and reach as an athletic celebrity to try and offer help to others with similar struggles. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know how much I respect that.
I am not going to go into detail about Prescott’s personal life and some of the truly heartbreaking events he has endured. It’s all public knowledge. Feel free to look into it. Suffice it to say, Prescott has gone through and is going through some stuff. For someone of his stature and in his position to get that real, publicly, is no small feat in my opinion. I won’t try to jump into his brain and tell you how difficult or easy it was for him to make that decision, but I will give my take on the matter. I do think it is courageous. With the way mental health is viewed by way too many in this country, backlash – however disgusting – is inevitable.
Negative stigmas, counter-arguments saying mental illness isn’t real, notions that one can self-will themselves out of these issues – the backlash comes from different places.
And we saw it from “if a dumpster fire were a human” and spokesman for “You wanna buy a creepy van?” Skip Bayless, in a revolting but unsurprising rant about being an NFL QB being more important than mental health awareness.
Hey, Bayless: It is the exact opposite.
And to the “stick to football” crowd, maybe you should stick to extreme selfishness and leave the real work to the courageous and selfless.
It seems none of this matters to people like Prescott (also shout out to Hayden Hurst for the same reason). I have infinite amounts of respect for Prescott. I consider him an idol. He is the answer to the question for me of “who would you most want to meet in the NFL?”
(I know right? Get a room already, right?)
THE NOISE VIOLATION AWARD
San Francisco 49ers & Miami Dolphins
NFL mock drafts are plentiful this time of year, and while there are some pretty good bets with the picks certain teams will make at certain places, the one aspect of these mock drafts that always makes me chuckle is the projected trading of draft picks.
Obviously, I am no NFL insider, and this could be showing my lack of experience in the industry, but it just seems like such a shot in the dark. But it’s something to talk about. Well, two teams gave us an early Easter present this year.
Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Miami Dolphins are co-recipients of this award, for making some serious noise roughly a month before the draft is scheduled to commence.
To recap, the 49ers traded the 12th-overall pick in 2021, a 2021 third-round compensatory pick, and their first-round picks in both 2022 and 2023, in order to move up to the No. 3 three spot in the draft later this month.
Keep in mind the Dolphins’ acquisition of this year’s third-overall pick was part of the haul of picks obtained from the Houston Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade in 2019. As is one of the two Dolphins’ 2021 second-round picks (No. 36 overall), so keep an eye on that in this “gift that keeps on giving” scenario.
Following this first blockbuster trade, the Dolphins turned around and made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to move back up from No. 12 to No. 6 overall. The price for that second move was the 12th pick, a 2021 fourth-rounder and the 2022 first-rounder they had just acquired. Apologies for the convoluted nature of this recap, but personally I love this kind of action, very much like the wheeling and dealing that occurs in dynasty startup drafts.
Both teams violated some imaginary noise ordinance with the volume of these trades, and therefore co-receive the first-ever Noise Violation Award.
My two cents? I like the trade for both the 49ers and Dolphins. The 49ers are obviously trading up to secure one of the highly-touted quarterbacks in this class who would have been long gone at No. 12.
There has been a lot of speculation about who goes where after this trade, but I think amongst all the chatter and abhorrently premature and unsubstantiated reports by the Dan Orvlosky’s of the world – if Justin Fields is sitting there at No. 3 that is who San Francisco will take.
I really like the trade for the Dolphins as well. It tells me they are not concerned about Tua Tagovailoa as the face of the franchise. I do not think they ever were. But sometimes this industry is about who can talk the loudest.
In addition, jumping back up to No. 6 gives them a multitude of great options from that position. The tarot cards have the Cincinnati Bengals selecting either future stud offensive lineman Penei Sewell from Oregon or rookie WR1 Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU.
Whichever of these two does not pack their bags for Ohio would be a smash accept at No. 6 overall. Kyle Pitts, the superhuman tight end out of Florida, is also on the table at that spot. Or they could potentially work another trade with a QB-needy team depending on how the top-five picks shake out and what QBs might still be available.
The point is, the Dolphins are just fine with Tagovailoa. They now sit at a first-round spot with many good options, and still have the 2021 third-rounder and 2023 first-rounder from the original trade. Bravo Chris Grier and Brian Flores!
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.